SME Agony Uncle


Each week broadcaster, entrepreneur and agony uncle Bobby Kerr joins The Hard Shoulder to answer all your employment-related questions.

For many, the modern workplace can be an extremely stressful place and Bobby kicked off this week with some thoughts on managing your mental health - and keeping staff productive, safe and sane week-to-week.

It comes after a leading campaigner in the UK warned that one-in-four workers experience mental health problems - which in turn affect their own performance and well-being, as well as that of other workers.

Speaking to the British Safety Council, Cambridge Professor Carol Black warned that smaller companies - who cannot afford to have employees not working to their full capacity - are particularly at risk.

Money is no longer the be-all and end-all for the modern worker and Bobby warns that employers who fail to foster a friendly working environment risk losing their best workers to rival companies.

While “every workplace is going to have stress at some level,” a warm, friendly environment generally leads to fitter, healthier and more productive staff.

For our first texter however, the fitness of her fellow employees is neither here nor there - it is her fit boss that is the problem.

Bobby, I have developed a mad crush on my boss who is 10 years older than me. He flirted with me a bit recently at an office night out and I think he might like me. We are both single so no one else would be affected. As an agony uncle what would your advice be?

“I’ll tell you what I would do here Róisín,” says Bobby. “I would run a mile from this.”

“If you are really interested in this guy - and he is your boss who is ten years older than you - change your job and then have a relationship with him.

“Don’t do it on his watch. Don’t do it when he is the boss and you are the reportee because it will end in tears. It will end badly.”

For Bobby' happily-ever-afters are the “exception rather than the rule” when it comes to workplace romance - and if Róisín really wants this guy, she should wait till they go their separate working ways before making her move.

Can you ask Bobby if the expectation is there from employers to work more than 40 hours a week, would he argue that it is fair to push back from time-to-time and decline?

Under the Organisation of Working Time Act, employees can work up to 48 hours without overtime - but there are certain exceptions to that rule.

There are plenty of websites that will outline exactly what your rights are and for Bobby, you need to be careful how you approach these things.

“Most people would probably consider this a two-way street,” he says.

"Is the boss working more than 48 hours a week? I would say he probably is and then again, that sets the culture.

“If the boss is reasonable and the guy wants an extra day off after a bank holiday or to go early on a Friday - don’t be afraid to ask for that on the basis that you worked seven days two weeks ago."

You can listen back to all of Bobby’s employment advice from Tuesday’s The Hard Shoulder here:

If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to [email protected]

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