SME Agony Uncle with Bobby Kerr

Going the Extra Mile – How Far is Too Far?
First up this week deals with the topic of going “above and beyond” for an employer, with no financial reward. The query comes in anonymously, however, this is quite a common instance among employees. The person in question states that they have become an in-house trainer and also regularly spends time outside of work hours and remit, to attend matters such as repairing computers and other items. Their employer has not acknowledged this extra work by way of salary etc. but this person doesn’t want to stop doing these jobs.  
Bobby's Advice
Firstly, this person has a great attitude and sentiment towards work which is always a great sign, to any employer. Generally, you should always get back what you put in, and this situation is no different. It’s always good to put in the extra hard yards at times, as it helps management see the effort and dedication that is being put into an employee’s work. My advice to this person is that they should put a value on what they do. If it’s gotten to the point where they are working late and working at weekends and outside of work hours, then they may need to re-evaluate the situation. For example, with regard to fixing PC’s and IT systems, they should make known to management what the cost of this is, not just in terms of repair cost but also in terms of the time involved. Going the extra mile at work tends to get recognised, however there are times when you need to hold your hand up and approach management to make the situation known.
How important is Company Loyalty?
The next query deals with loyalty. This person is currently working as a senior manager in an engineering company. The person states that they enjoy their job, however one of the current directors is going out on his own, and they have been offered a partner position in the new firm.  The dilemma here is that the director who is setting up the new firm is the least capable of the three current directors. This person is seeking some advice from Bobby on how to make the best decision, and asking if loyalty plays a big part in this.
Bobby's Advice
This is another common situation that people find themselves in, and there are a lot of factors at play here that need to be considered. Opinions can also be quite varied on how to approach it. The key here is that he mentions that the new firm is being set up by the director that he has the least confidence in, and gets on least with. Alarm bells should be sounding straight away in this instance, and my advice would be to trust your gut, and stay within the team and with the company. He might in fact find that his loyalty may indeed be acknowledged and rewarded by staying with the current company. Loyalty is a two-way street. There’s blind loyalty where you focus so much on the job and the company that you lose sight of the reality, and are extremely disappointed if things don’t work out, and then there’s loyalty from an employer to an employee i.e. not to take advantage and reward accordingly. That being said, I am a huge believer in loyalty both from employees and employers and ordinarily it tends to work out well. Although every situation is different, I try to look at situations glass half full, and in this scenario, I think that by staying with the current company, this will stand to them in the future.
Voluntary Leave and Terms of Agreement
Lastly this week, a very quick one. Siobhan has been offered voluntary leave on return from maternity leave. She has not been given the same terms as her colleagues, and is wondering if she should get a solicitor involved.

Bobby’s Advice
An employer is required to pay statutory maternity benefits, however anything beyond this it is unfortunately the employer’s prerogative. It’s not a great sign that other employees conditions are being made known to staff. IT’s understandable that Siobhan is disappointed, and perhaps demotivated, however I would not recommend getting a solicitor involved in the situation as it could escalate and create a toxic relationship. My simple advice would be to discuss the terms with her employer in the most appropriate manner and get a full picture of the situation before making the decision on whether to seek legal advice.
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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