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2018 Learning Trends

2018 Learning Trends

Running a business requires a firm focus on delivery and an even firmer control over costs. Which puts training programmes a long way down many employers’ lists. But no employee is perfect which means not training your employees also comes with a price tag. We explore four of 2018’s learning trends and look at how they can be implemented.

Training Distributed Teams

International social media management company, Buffer, employs a global workforce with each team member working from a different location in countries around the world. Learning trends have been carefully considered and are structured around three approaches as described in the image below.

Source: Buffer

When your team is located all around the world, traditional classroom learning is out. Which has pushed Buffer to introduce some novel approaches to develop their staff:

  • Each new employee receives a free Kindle and free Kindle books to help them expand their knowledge and grow.
  • 12-week learning sabbaticals are available on 50% pay.
  • The Helpboard gives employees an online place to let colleagues know that they need help learning a specific skill. Teammates check the board and where they can jump in and help out.
  • Learning groups bring together individuals who want to learn a new skill with someone in the business who can teach it to them.
  • Professional Development Fridays allow people to pursue personal development once they have finished their work on a Friday afternoon.
  • Employees are provided with $20 per month to pursue their own personal development.

Buffer’s research shows that their people often use their budget to pay for courses on low-cost online sites like Udemy. Learning Trends are left in the hands of the individual and they are trusted to identify their own learning needs and fill the gap.

Whether this approach would work for your business depends on your culture and the level of trust invested in your employees. However, if you’re looking for low-cost ways to help employees help themselves these strategies could pay dividends.

Niche Learning Trends

As job roles become increasingly specialised, so the learning these individuals require becomes narrower and deeper. In a word, niche.

Booming industries as wide-ranging as the craft beer and cybersecurity sectors find that traditional training programmes simply don’t cut it. And firms are seeking niche training to ensure their people have the relevant skills to thrive in their roles helping the business prosper too.

As with anything specialist, niche learning comes with a hefty price tag that requires careful thought before investing.

Start by identifying a small number of specialist roles that add real value to your business and understand exactly where their field of expertise is headed. Then match training requirements with the learning outcomes of the course to future proof your team and business.

Ultra High Tech Virtual Reality (VR) Learning Trends

Imagine being able to give your employees real-world training experience without any of the risk. That’s exactly what big business is doing by using cutting-edge VR technology.

By training in virtual simulations of real-life scenarios, employees are able to participate in experiential learning without the prospect of making a costly mistake. That could include dealing with a sensitive customer complaint, carrying out a hazardous chemical disposal or learning to fly a plane.

The potential for this kind of technology to help employees address gaps in experience – not just learning – is huge. However, the tech is not quite there just yet and will need developing before it becomes mainstream.

The other main stumbling block is the eye-watering price. While this technology may be out of reach for many businesses, it’s certainly one to keep an eye on for the future.


65% of HR Professionals believe the skills needed to ensure the success of their organisation is changing. Leadership, commercial awareness and digital skills are all marked as areas businesses need to invest in.

Source: CIPD

Skills gaps exist for a wide range of reasons including the loss of skilled workers from the workforce, insufficient levels of education and a divide between what schools and colleges teach and the requirements of businesses.

Whatever the reasons, employers are often left to pick up the pieces and upskill those already in the workforce.

This has resulted in businesses implementing apprenticeships, college partnerships and on-the-job training programmes to bring existing employees up to speed. Designing an effective programme for your business requires an understanding of:

  • the skills your business needs both now and in the future
  • the skills your existing employees have
  • where your business is heading

This information will help you tailor the development of your people with the requirements of your business and anticipate the skills required as roles evolve. Not only this but you’ll reduce your reliance on the external labour market and minimise associated recruitment costs too.

Without an in-house Learning and Development resource, this feels like a mammoth task that often falls to the bottom of the list. Working with an experienced HR Consultant offers a cost-effective way forward that will boost your business both now and for the future.

If your business could benefit from employee training, contact Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

The HR Questions Small Businesses Are Asking in 2018

The HR Questions Small Businesses Are Asking in 2018

The pressures on small business owners are many and varied making it difficult to know what you should be focussing on for the year ahead. In this blog, we take a look at five questions small businesses are asking us when considering their HR plans for 2018.

HR Questions:

What’s the Best Way to Upskill My Existing Team?

Research form the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that SMEs are facing a growing skills gap. FSB Chairman, Mike Cherry says:

“Productivity is being hampered by nagging skills shortages which are making recruitment a nightmare for small firms. As the UK moves towards Brexit, a technical skills black hole threatens the economy.”

With staff capability crucial to the future growth of small businesses, it’s critical to ensure the skills of your workforce remain up to date. Think about working with an HR Consultant to identify any skills gaps in your business and develop a bespoke training plan. This approach will get your team up to speed and prepare them for wherever your business is headed next.

How Can I identify and Manage Sexual Harassment?

This is one of the biggest HR questions. Sexual harassment has been big news of late and this has led to a rise in the number of people reporting cases in the workplace.

While you may not think it’s a problem in your organisation, research shows that one in five women has been sexually harassed at work. If you have a young workforce, your business will be at greatest risk because cases are highest amongst women aged 18 to 24.

Failing to identify and deal with such behaviour could lead to an increase in sickness absence and makes the chances of a tribunal being brought against you more likely. Particularly now that the fees to bring a case have been removed.

Employers should be seen to be doing everything possible to guarantee the safety of their workforce. Make it clear that sexual harassment has no place in your business and ensure your anti-harassment policies are in writing and that anyone who comes forward feels supported by senior leadership.

How Can I Make HR Digital?

Digital transformation has swept through a range of sectors including retail, transport and education Now it’s time for HR to join the revolution. Digital tech and consumer marketing are informing new ways of working, recruiting, learning and engaging employees.

Integrated HR applications and software can streamline HR processes and transform employee experience via an all-inclusive hub. Your managers will also love being able to handle all HR requests – from holiday requests to annual appraisals – in one place helping them to lead more effectively and more efficiently.

How Can I Enhance Employee Experience?

As the link between employee engagement and customer experience becomes ever clearer, small business owners are recognising the importance of a happy workforce. While employee engagement isn’t exactly a metric of the past, the focus of employee engagement measures has moved on.

Instead of looking at how engaged employees are through the eyes of the business, leaders are  examining their team’s experience from their team’s point of view. A key component of this approach is to stay connected with your employees and understand changing attitudes and feelings about the workplace.

Large firms are pointing the way by asking their people what they think about:

  • The physical working environment
  • The tools and equipment they are asked to use
  • How they learn best at work
  • What kind of support they would like with their financial education
  • How they prefer to receive communications
  • Work culture

Try this approach with your workforce to inform HR activities like training interventions or when considering an office move. You’ll still achieve your end goal but you’ll be keeping your employees happy too.

What Do I need to Know About Worker Status?

A number of big court cases have raised even more questions about worker status making it more important than ever for SMEs to be on their toes when hiring services from the self-employed.

If you don’t want to end up like Uber, you need to conduct a review of any arrangements you have in place for services delivered by freelancers, contractors or the self-employed. For full details on what you need to know, take a look at our blog posts on this topic.

If you would like to ask any more HR questions or would like a chat about how you can overcome any of the challenges in this article, contact Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

How to Run Appraisals Properly

How to Run Appraisals Properly

Performance appraisals are a critical part of your organisation’s performance management plan. But what should you do to prepare effectively for staff appraisals? When should you begin? And is it all about performance?

Perfect Appraisals Start Long Before Performance Ratings Are Due

As a manager, keeping your team on track means continuously assessing their achievements. While formal appraisals might only take place once or twice a year, they should be part of an ongoing performance conversation.

This means you should be regularly referring to your team’s objectives and taking notes throughout the year to support their formal appraisal. Not only does this give you a good idea of the performance of each member of your team, but it lowers turnover and improves employee engagement.

Prompt Employees to Prepare

To give employees their best chance of fully representing themselves, give at least two weeks’ notice of their appraisal. Provide them with the self-assessment form or access to your online appraisal system so they can review their objectives and consider their performance and development needs.

Make Time and Space

Book a private room where you won’t be disturbed. You will need at least an hour, possibly longer, and you should ensure you have enough time to hold any additional follow-up meetings that may be required. This means scheduling sessions well before your need to submit performance ratings or paperwork.

Suggest a Structure But Be Flexible

Think about how you plan to structure the session. While there’s no need to stick rigidly to the plan, it can help set expectations and calm any nervous team members. It’s good practise to start with the good and then move onto the negatives, ideally finishing on a strong point so you can both leave on a positive note.

Measure Performance Appraisals Against Clear Criteria

An appraisal should be a two-way conversation that, in part, concludes earlier performance discussions and helps you finalise your performance ratings. For those of you who have established clear SMART goals, assessing performance using the measures you’ve set should be easy.

Of course, not all appraisals are glowing reports; giving negative feedback needs to be handled delicately and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you’ve waited all year to give an unfavourable review, prepare for your employee to shocked and upset. Really, the end of year appraisal should summarise the conversations you’ve been having all year.

Understand Exactly What Each Performance Rating Means

To award performance ratings consistently and fairly, you need to ensure you fully understand the definition of each ranking. Consider individuals’ performance in relation to others on the team and discuss your interpretation of each rating with other managers. This will help to drive an equitable approach across the business.

Link Performance Appraisals to Pay Where Appropriate

If your pay and bonus schemes are performance related you should be able to explain clearly how ratings impact compensation. It’s unlikely you’ll be in a position to give figures just yet, but you need to be able to be able to explain the schemes in general terms. Your HR team should be able to provide training, information and guidance so you’re fully equipped in advance of your appraisals.

It’s Not All About Performance

Once you’ve got the performance section out of the way you need to discuss the individual’s development. Although you’ll ask them what kind of support they need from you, you also need to be prepared to offer your own take on what you think their areas for development are. Thinking about this before the appraisal will help you give the right guidance.

Look to the Future

Be ready to discuss next year’s objectives. Ideally, you should have a good idea what these will be so you can set them during the appraisal. Helping your team to understand the company’s priorities for the coming year and how their objectives fit into the overall picture will enhance their sense of engagement with the business.

Staff appraisals have the potential to form fantastic foundations for the year ahead. Prepare for success by doing your homework and helping your team to deliver their best performance yet.

For any help and support in planning for appraisals, contact Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

How to Deal with Resignations

How to Deal with Resignations

Giving people time to think can be a dangerous thing for businesses. And, with many employees taking a full two weeks off over the festive period, there’s plenty of time to take stock. Come the new year, organisations experience an uptick in the number of resignations and a load of letters giving notice. To help you prepare for the inevitable, here’s our guide to dealing with the fallout.

It’s Emotional

Being told that one of your team is handing in their resignations can be a shock and it’s not impossible that you’ll find yourself doing a goldfish impression for a couple of seconds. Try to remember that this is a stressful situation for both parties and act accordingly.

Respond by letting your employee know how you feel; it’s ok to say you’re shocked or that you had seen this coming. Although, if you’re pleased to see the person leave, it’s probably best to keep that reaction under wraps.

Ask what’s prompting their resignations, what job they’re going to and where and remember to congratulate them on their move. If the split isn’t amicable, suggest that you would like to find a way to work together for the remaining few weeks or months for everyone’s benefit.

Refer to Your Recruitment and Succession Plans

Once you’ve got over the niceties, it’s time to refresh your memory of your HR recruitment and succession plans. You’ll be glad you have these strategies in place, particularly when you’re under pressure to fill a higher number of vacancies than usual.

Start by checking your leaver’s notice period to give you an idea of the timescales you have to secure a new hire. And you don’t always think outside the box; your succession plan could identify suitable internal candidates to fill the role. If there isn’t anyone suitable, you will need to advertise and recruit externally.

Start Recruiting

Job descriptions can quickly become outdated, particularly in fast-paced sectors so ensure the job description is up to date and accurately represents the role. Your job advert should be well-written and targeted at the type of candidates you want. This will reduce the number of CVs you need to sift from inappropriate candidates and save you a whole lot of time.

Prepare your interview questions off the back of your job description review to ensure you drill down to the right information. And, once you have a shortlist of CVs, write down any specific questions you want to ask each candidate. Your recruitment policy might specify the way your organisation prefers to interview, for example using behavioural questions or competency based interview techniques. If there’s a preferred style, ensure your questions are written in this way.

Don’t forget that new hires will also have to work a resignation period so you may not get someone in before your existing hire leaves. If you can’t cope with a gap in cover, look to recruit people who can start quickly like people who are currently unemployed or on fixed term contracts that will be ending shortly.

Consider Cost

While getting someone in quickly means you can have a handover period, you’ll also incur additional cost with double wages for the duration. Alternatively, if your resignee was underpaid, you may have to find more money to attract a new employee with a higher salary.

If the person who has resigned is someone you want to keep hold of, and pay is the main reason for leaving, you could make a counter-offer. This isn’t always a good option if your colleague is already mentally halfway out of the door. But if their departure signifies a major disruption or loss of specialist knowledge for the business, asking them to extend their notice period could be an option. Depending on the individual’s circumstances this could be a possibility and will buy you more time to recruit.

Transfer Knowledge

Before your soon-to-be ex-employee leaves, you need to get them to put all their knowledge and expertise down on paper. Ask them to update project plans and provide a summary of where all their work is up to. They may need to create a detailed handover document for their replacement or upskill existing team members to plug any gaps in knowledge when they leave.

Let Others Know About Resignations

Ask your leaver to keep their resignation confidential for the time being. This is particularly important for leadership roles or if you have a number of people leaving at the same time. Big changes can cause uncertainty and discontent among other employees and there’s a possibility you could be faced with more resignations.

It’s likely that rumours will circulate. While you can’t control gossip, you can control the messaging when you announce the individual’s resignations. Many leaders do this once they have secured a new hire so they can calm nerves and give the remaining team confidence that the change is being managed.

Keep your announcement upbeat, let people know when their colleague will be leaving and thank them for their service. You may decide to tell the individual’s local team first before making a company-wide announcement.

Understanding Resignations

Employees can leave for a variety of reasons but if there’s a particular factor causing people to flee, you need to understand what it is. According to a survey from Glassdoor, the most common cause for leaving a job is low salary with a need to feel challenged and boring work the next two most popular reasons for leaving.

The good news is that all three of these issues can be addressed. Reviewing your rates of pay to ensure you’re competitive can help resolve the salary issue. If you’re losing more people than you’d like in a particular role, you may need to adjust the salaries of existing employees to ensure you secure their continued service.

Boring work and the need to feel challenged can be resolved by training managers to have more open and honest conversations with employees. This will help your leaders to identify flight-risks and find ways to rearrange work or include people in more interesting or challenging projects long before they think about resigning.

If your business needs recruitment support, get in touch with Crosse HR for pragmatic, hands-on help. Call on 0330 555 1139 or email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.