For most SMEs, once you reach a certain point in both company size and profit margin, hiring an HR consultant makes sense both operationally and financially.
Often business owners struggle to see things that are obvious and necessary in their business because they are so focused in their everyday operations. Some firms rely on HR telephone support which has some benefits in terms of cost, but there are so many rewards from having an HR expert working IN your business. Here’re just a few.
The results of the EU referendum in June 2016 have rocked the business world. The 52% spoke and now Theresa May is busy negotiating the country’s exit strategy. Few businesses saw the result coming and even fewer made plans for life post-Brexit, it was practically impossible, with so little idea about what happens next. There is uncertainty and scepticism about what is around the corner for UK businesses, particularly from an HR point of view, with implication for trade, the value of the pound, immigration, pensions and employment law.
In this article, we discuss some of the likely outcomes from Brexit and how they may impact your business.
It still isn’t clear how Brexit will affect EU nationals working in UK businesses. There are currently over two million EU workers in the UK which are a powerful asset to the UK economy. There may be changes on the horizon to right-to-work arrangements and a more intensive system of background checks which will add an additional layer of complexity to managing your workforce. On the flipside, any changes to right-to-work will also affect UK workers, working in the EU, making it even more of a headache.
Now is the time to get a firm hold on information about your workforce. Your HR database should be thoroughly reviewed so you can make sure you can quickly react to events if immigration rules change. You should make sure you have as much information about your workforce as possible including their location, nationality, right to work and copy of their passport.
Membership of the EU has had a profound effect on employment law in the UK. Laws concerning anti-discrimination, family leave entitlements, working time regulations, transfer of undertakings and much, much more, could potentially be changed or removed. However, because many of these laws have been implemented into domestic legislation, the position, in general, will be ‘business as usual’.
That said, many people expect changes to several employment laws including those surrounding TUPE, agency worker rules, statutory holiday pay and working time regulations. From a business point of view, it is important to be vigilant and ensure you keep up to date with any legislation changes over the coming years.
The volatility in financial markets caused by Brexit has been plain to see and the instability is likely to increase as we approach our official exit from the EU. This turbulence could have a negative effect on pension schemes as the UK, European and global markets readjust. Many fear that the post-Brexit era will see a negative impact on interest rates and economic growth, affecting government bonds which are the bedrock of many pensions schemes. If government bonds are not producing returns, it could affect the ability of companies to pay pensions.
Without clarity from the government as to the terms of Brexit, the markets will continue to fluctuate and it is impossible to predict what is ahead in terms of our economic future. For up to date information on pensions, be sure to visit the Pensions Regulator website.
It’s impossible to predict the full impact of Brexit until government negotiations are complete and the UK’s route out of the EU is planned. However, it’s safe to say Brexit will almost certainly create more work for UK businesses, from implementing legislative changes to the new administrative responsibilities of changes to migration regulations. If you need support with planning your Brexit HR strategy, get in touch by calling us on 0330 555 1139 or via email at email@example.com.
Whistleblowing is the term used when a worker calls attention to wrongdoing within an organisation. If a worker exposes any information or activity that is illegal, unethical or incorrect, they are a whistle-blower and should be protected by law, as stipulated in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. In this article, we explain your responsibilities as an employer when it comes to whistleblowing, and why you need a comprehensive whistleblowing policy.
What is whistleblowing?
The law translates the term “whistleblowing” to “making a disclosure in the public interest.” If a worker blows the whistle on something that is in the public interest, that concerns something they believe has shown past, present or future wrongdoing, they will be protected and should not be treated unfairly by their employer. Examples of wrongdoing include:
• Criminal activity, such as fraud
• Health & Safety risks, accidents or malpractice
• Risk or damage to the environment
• Miscarriages of justice
• Your company is breaking the law
• Someone is covering up wrongdoing
How to deal with whistleblowing in your organisation
First and foremost, it is good practice to create a company culture that emboldens workers to speak up about any wrongdoing, without fearing penalisation. Workers are usually the first people to witness any wrongdoing and should, therefore, be encouraged to communicate. You should demonstrate at all levels of your organisation that disclosures are welcome and put in place robust systems to ensure workers feel comfortable and confident to do so.
It is not a legal requirement to have an official whistleblowing policy, but it is certainly best practice, as it demonstrates to workers that you are committed to openness and transparency.
A comprehensive whistleblowing policy will help you to:
• Identify wrongdoing quickly and efficiently
• Enable you to respond and investigate promptly
• Give you better control of information to help you make decisions and control risk
• Create a company culture committed to openness and transparency
• React to wrongdoing by utilising internal systems, rather than requiring a worker to go to a third party
What should your whistleblowing policy cover?
All organisations are different and as such, there is no standard whistleblowing policy you should adopt. You may have a variety of different policies for individual business units, a standalone policy, or a policy built into your code of ethics. There is often confusion as to the type of wrongdoing that should be disclosed so you should clearly outline the type of disclosures that fall under whistleblowing and direct workers to your grievance policy for any other matters. Your whistleblowing policy should also outline in detail the steps a worker should take when making a disclosure for them to remain protected by law.
There are several elements your policy should cover including, and not restricted to:
• The type of disclosures that are classed as whistleblowing
• Your procedures for handling whistleblowing
• The correct procedure a worker should adopt to blow the whistle
• Clarification that contractual ‘gagging clauses’ do not prevent whistleblowing
• The feedback a whistle-blower is likely to receive
• The time frame for dealing with disclosures
• Signposts to information or support networks to those thinking of whistleblowing, such as Acas, Trade Unions, Public Concern at Work or the Government.
The importance of communication
You should communicate your commitment to whistleblowing, and your whistleblowing policy, regularly and through a variety of means. This could be via your company intranet, company newsletter or through team meetings or 1:1s. Keeping workers regularly informed through communication and training will reinforce the importance of openness in your company culture.
If a worker has made a disclosure, you should explain your procedures to deal with it and explain how you intend to keep them informed. Many whistle-blowers will expect to be kept in the loop and your policy should outline the information you intend to share with them following their disclosure. It is best practice for organisations to provide feedback on how their disclosure has been dealt with. Lack of communication can cause resentment or frustration from the whistle-blower and could result in them looking to a third party to take the disclosure further, a scenario you would probably wish to avoid.
It’s vital to be prepared
Whistleblowing should not be a source of fear in your business. By implementing a thorough policy, and instilling a culture of transparency, you will be able to deal with issues quickly and robustly before they turn into even bigger problems. For more information on your responsibilities as an employer, this guide from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is particularly helpful.
For further advice on implementing a whistleblowing policy, or if you have a case of whistleblowing with which you require professional support, we’re here to help. Call us for an informal chat on 0330 555 1139 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Successful business people know that they need to delegate administrative tasks, to concentrate on driving revenue. There will come a time when you either need to recruit someone to look after time-consuming tasks such as HR or outsource responsibilities to an external agency. When it comes to outsourcing HR there is a range of solutions available to business owners including ‘off the shelf’ document and procedure packages, HR support lines or a face to face consultant.
But which solution makes sense for your business? There are several questions to consider before you decide.
Do you spend too much time on non-revenue generating activities?
The first question you should ask yourself is, ‘how much time am I currently spending on people management?’ Time spent on non-revenue generating activities hits you directly in the pocket. It can be incredibly frustrating for business owners to devote time and energy to dealing with people management issues and risk missing out on valuable business. Administrative activities such as payroll are time-consuming enough but when you start having to deal with disciplinary issues and recruitment you will notice that a significant proportion of your day is focussed on these necessary, but time-consuming, tasks. Outsourcing and delegate these HR activities helps you to focus on the things that matter in your business.
How many people do you employ?
Most small businesses do not have the luxury of an HR team. If you have fewer than 50 employees you may find that you are dealing with people management issues yourself, or leaving the responsibility to other directors or individual managers, who may be inexperienced or side-tracked by their own workload. Depending on the structure and size of your business, you may require support with a range of tasks from payroll to engagement, disciplinary to recruitment and much more in between.
What can you afford to delegate?
Many people often think that they are saving money by looking after everything themselves and not being able to delegate. Putting lost revenue making time aside, is your time best spent looking after HR? Off the shelf, policies are a great starting point but you really need someone skilled supporting your business, to make the most of them.
Are you an employment law expert?
You may be very capable of dealing with day to day administrative tasks but require help with ensuring you are compliant with employment law when dealing with more complicated scenarios like disciplinary issues. In this scenario an HR Support Line may be all that is required, to give you the guidance and confidence to deal with situations yourself. However, you may feel safer by taking on a consultant who can review all your policies and procedures to ensure consistency across the business. Particularly, if you have several managers addressing HR tasks with various approaches and experience levels. It’s a consultant’s job to stay on top of changes to rules or legislation so you don’t have to. They specialise in what they do and must continually develop their skills to compete. A skilled HR person must be an expert in rules around recruitment, collective bargaining agreements, disciplinary procedures, training and much more. Can you honestly say you have enough time to become proficient in all these areas and run your business at the same time?
Does dealing with people fill you with dread?
Many of us find confrontation terrifying. We may be experts in our field and fantastic at driving business, but really struggle when it comes to dealing with the difficult scenarios we can, and usually WILL find ourselves in, when dealing with employees. If this sounds familiar, then you should really let others do the dirty work. It’s not just a case of passing the buck, delegating challenging people management issues to an HR professional will also ensure they are tackled professionally and in the interests of your business. An HR Support Line would be useful in this instance but taking on a consultant will help you to take a step back from the situation, safe in the knowledge it is being dealt with professionally and in the interest of your business.
Do you want a partner to delegate to who can help your business grow?
There are many circumstances in HR where having someone IN the business, rather than down the end of a phone, is much more effective and productive. Partnering with an HR consultant gives you the opportunity to have a “face” in your business. Someone who can get to know your business, your culture, your staff and your plans, from the inside out. Someone who can create your HR strategy in line with your objectives and proactively manage any issues that arise, before they become a problem. It’s just like having your very own HR department.
Do you need help planning for growth?
Businesses need to be nimble and quick to respond to opportunities. But as your business grows, you will require more people to deal with the increase in workload, which in turn makes people management much more complex and time-consuming. If you involve a consultant in your business you will have a specialist on hand to help you quickly find, hire, train and manage the individuals you need. Losing an opportunity because you or your team lack capacity or skills gives the advantage to your competitors.
Is your current HR person over stretched?
You may look after HR yourself, or have employed someone to delegate it to. But is there enough time in the day to look at the bigger picture? If you or your HR manager are tied up with managing payroll and recruitment, then you may wish to take on a consultant to help you with other tasks such as developing your company benefits package, writing your employee handbooks or ensuring your team are fully trained, to be the best they can be at their jobs.
HR can be complex but it doesn’t have to be a headache. For advice on the right solution to help your business grow, contact us for an informal chat on 0330 555 1139 or by email at email@example.com.