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The Taylor Review – Good Work for All

The Taylor Review – Good Work for All

There has been significant change in the Human Resources landscape in recent years. Inexplicably high levels of employment during a period of economic instability, a spike in zero hours contracts and higher levels of gig working and self-employment. Alongside ongoing issues with national productivity, the government felt it was time to appraise the situation. So they commissioned a report into modern UK working practices called the Taylor Review. What does the report mean for you as an employer? And is there anything you need to do right now?

The Standout Recommendation – Good Work

Following public hearings, round table and small group discussions with entrepreneurs and businesses, the Taylor Review produced a 116-page report. Its main recommendation is that the UK needs to sign up to the ambition of “all work being good work.”

According to the report, what ‘good work’ means varies from individual to individual at different life-stages and is also impacted by personal circumstance. It means changes in legislation and HR practices to ensure: sufficient pay and pay progression; fair treatment of all employment types; and holding fulfilling jobs with realistic scope for personal development. Issues such as good work-life balance, employee well-being and the potential to influence the direction of their job are also considered to comprise quality work.

The Recommendations and What They Mean for You

Here are the Taylor Review’s seven recommendations and what they could mean for your business.

1. A Sense of British Fairness

Fair work means ensuring all forms of employment are entitled to a reasonable balance of rights and responsibilities with a baseline of protection and routes to enable career progression.

What this means for you

Employment contracts may need to be provided on day one of employment for all employees and workers with more detail concerning rights than is currently required. This should give workers additional protections.

2. Employment Status

The report recommends retaining the flexibility of gig working arrangements but recommends making clearer distinctions between employees, workers (to be re-named as ‘Dependent Contractors’) and the self-employed.
The aim is to better protect dependent contractors with improved employment rights like holiday pay and the minimum wage. And continuity of employment may become easier to demonstrate making it easier for workers to accrue more employment rights. Its recommended that after 12 months on a zero hours contracts, an individual would be entitled to a contractual number of fixed hours. For more information on the current position, see our blog.

What this means for you

The good news is that the complexities of employment status should be reduced. The bad news; your employment costs are likely to increase if you employ dependent contractors.

Complex Employment Law – No More

Employment law is currently a complex mix of case law and legislation which makes it difficult for employees to know their rights and for employers to make the right choices. Again, the report’s focus is on ‘dependent contractors’ with a recommendation for additional protections for this group who are most likely to suffer from unfair treatment.

Stronger incentives (read penalties) are also suggested to ensure firms treat this group fairly. People suffering from ill health could also benefit from a right to return to their previous job and the report also recommends extending Statutory Sick Pay from day one of a contract.

What this means for you

Again, costs could increase and you would be required to backfill vacant roles due to long term sickness absence on a temporary contract basis. Employees will become increasingly HR-savvy meaning you need to be on your toes when it comes to employment law. Work with an HR consultant to ensure your processes are fit for purpose.

3. More Responsibility for Employers

How is all this going to be achieved? Through improvements to corporate governance, good management, and strong employee relations. Employers are expected to be seen to take the concept of good work seriously, be open about their HR practices and ensure all workers are engaged with and can voice opinions. The Taylor Review recommends requiring just 2% of the workforce (not the current 10%) to request an employee representative body.

What this means for you

If you already have high levels of engagement, clear people policies that you consistently follow and you regularly consult with your employees about working life (and act on their feedback), keep going. If not, start making these changes now before your competitors do or risk losing employees.

4. Career Development in the Spotlight

The report recommends all individuals should be able to continuously enhance their capabilities through formal and informal learning and on and off the job activities.

What this means for you

Consider developing formal career paths within your business. This will help attract and retain employees who can see a future with your organisation. Alternatively, expose your employees to project work or rotate people into related roles to keep work fresh and enhance business knowledge.

5. Good Job Design for Good Wellbeing

As the Taylor Review says, “the shape and content of work and individual health and well-being are strongly related.” Work intensity, hours, work-life balance and workplace health are all critical in ensuring firms, workers and the public benefit from good work.

What this means for you

Research shows that poor employee wellbeing impacts negatively on your business so if you think you could be doing more to enhance workplace wellbeing, seize the moment. If you’re not sure where to being, contact an HR specialist to light the way.

6. Enabling Pay Progression

While the National Living Wage has improved the finances of low-paid workers, the Taylor Review suggests an accompanying strategy to ensure everyone, but particularly those on low wages, can progress their careers and their earnings.

What this means for you

Pay progression goes hand in hand with career progression. So, if you plan to implement career paths or give people additional responsibilities to further their capabilities, you should also consider how to commensurately increase their pay. A well-designed pay structure can also control costs, attract and retain employees.

These are just some of the changes that could be afoot over the coming parliament. Keep your eyes peeled to know when you need to act or work with an HR Consultant to ensure you remain a law-abiding employer.
If you need support managing any element of employment law or your wider people practises, get in touch on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

Will You Still Be Employed in 2030?

Will You Still Be Employed in 2030?

Ten years ago, the phrase ‘unexpected item in the packing area’ would have been meaningless. Today, it’s a frustratingly familiar accompaniment as we scan and pack our shopping bags. The trend for increased automation is set to continue as Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) predicts 30% of UK jobs could be at risk of mechanisation within the next 15 years.  This blog explores what automation is, which jobs it will impact and which jobs are likely to be safe.

What is Automation and Who Will It Impact?

Automation has historically been thought of as the process of removing humans from production through the use of machines. We’re used to seeing robots in car manufacturing plants, the aforementioned self-service checkouts and, on the news, unmanned drone planes.  This kind of automation tends to threaten manual jobs with PwC stating that “the most exposed sectors include[e] retail and wholesale, transport and storage, and manufacturing”. 

But with advances in artificial intelligence, highly skilled, knowledge-based roles could also be impacted.  At particular risk are those roles that undertake rule-based activities, such as accounting or law, elements of which can be replicated by computer programmes.

Three Jobs at Risk of Automation

Lawyers

In recent years, law firms have introduced new technologies to automate some of the more routine legal work.  For example, software that extracts data from the Land Registry and checks the details to saves legal teams several weeks of mind-numbing, manual fact checking.  While more senior legal roles are safe for now, there’s predicted to be less demand for junior lawyers and paralegals.

Farmers

Farming has long embraced new technology to make what was once back-breaking work easier and more efficient.  In this instance, with Brexit looming, farmers may need to replace 90,000 seasonal EU workers with machines, something that’s already happening in other countries.  For example, strawberry picking machines are in operation in Spain and robotic apple pickers are being used in the US to minimise the workforce required. 

This has inspired researchers in the UK to explore whether wheat can be produced without human intervention. With the average age of a farmer at 59, while automation threatens certain jobs, it might be necessary to ensure the future of the UK’s food production.

Taxi Drivers

Uber have been testing driverless cars for some time citing the potential of their project “to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world.”  Traditional taxi drivers are already fighting Uber’s gig-economy service and driverless cars could strike another blow to an industry that employs around 300,000 people in the UK.

Three Safe Jobs

Jobs of the future will require three core elements: qualifications in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM); creativity; and emotional intelligence.  Here are three jobs that reflect this range of skills and will likely be safe in 2030.

Marketing, design and communications

While machines are good at understanding rules and assimilating work based on rational instruction, creativity isn’t easy to replicate.  This means roles in marketing, design and communications will be safe.  According to website, ‘Will Robots Take My Job?’, marketing managers, writers and designers have a 1.4%, 3.8% and 8.2% chance of being replaced by robots respectively.

Robotics Engineers and Technicians

With the rise of the machines comes more jobs in support of this new technology.  Those who have studied STEM subjects will be able to secure this kind of work.  Government and business are encouraging more children to take up these subjects in order to plug the existing skills gap.  In the short-term, these roles may need to be filled with overseas hires.

Psychiatrists, nurses and doctors

Roles that require emotional intelligence and a human touch aren’t jobs that robots or AI are likely to be equipped for.  However, healthcare professionals will continue to rely heavily on new technology as research and development in this sector continues.  With existing staff shortages within the NHS and the potential for Brexit to make matters worse, training to become a healthcare professional, is a safe bet.

Possibility or Threat?

Automation may sound like it poses a threat to the future, but in reality, jobs are likely to change shape rather than be completely replaced by new technologies.  For any business owner impacted by automation, there are a number of people issues to be considered such as workforce planning, training and job redesign. 

If you need specialist HR support to review your people strategy in the face of technological change, get in touch by calling us on 0330 555 1139 or via email at .

 

Overcoming the Biggest HR Issues for Not for Profits

Overcoming the Biggest HR Issues for Not for Profits

With limited resources and additional scrutiny, managing employees at not for profit organisations comes with extra challenges. Being able to understand and empathise with the difficulties service users face, attracting and retaining the right workforce to do this is key to delivering your mission. As is the effective management of your volunteer workforce.  Get these critical factors wrong and it makes it difficult for you to operate effectively. This article explains how to overcome three of the biggest human resources issues faced by not for profit organisations.   

Diversity

The problem

According to the NCVO, the typical voluntary sector employee is predominantly female, slightly older and university educated.  While the trend towards an ageing workforce is in line with other UK businesses, the racial profile of voluntary organisations is not. 

Only 9% of employees in not for profit organisations are non-white, whereas public and private sector work-forces are more diverse with 11% and 12% from black and ethnic minorities respectively. Add to this the fact that only 35% of the charity sector workforce is male and it’s clear there’s a diversity issue.

Why is this a problem? Not for profit organisations that service diverse communities need to interact with a broad base of service users and understand and reflect the needs of the group. Charities that employ a range of people from different backgrounds are better equipped to do this and they also benefit from more diverse thinking.

The solution

Bringing new blood into organisations relies on your recruitment strategy.  If you often recruit via word of mouth or through referrals from existing employees, you’re likely to get CVs from people similar to your current personnel.  Try advertising on diverse job boards to attract different demographics or use social media to target and drive specific populations to the careers section on your website.

Assess which jobs genuinely require a degree; where it’s not necessary to have one, remove this hurdle from your person specifications to open the door to different people.  It can be tricky to get this right and remain legal, so work with a specialist HR provider to support you.

Attracting and Retaining Not For Profit Talent

The challenge

Once upon a time, not for profit could rely on commitment to their cause to attract and retain employees.  But, in recent years, the landscape has shifted with industry-wide data suggesting that charities are starting to compete with private sector benefit packages.  While salaries remain lower than in other sectors, ensuring your reward package is competitive without breaking the bank is key.  

The solution

Rather than guessing what the market pays, source voluntary sector market data to provide you with the salary and benefit information you need.  There are many benefits to paying for sector specific data:

 

-It stops you over or under paying on salaries and benefits so you can attract and retain effectively
-You can spot trends and changes in the data so you can lead, lag or keep abreast of the market in line with your HR strategy
-By comparing reward packages with other not for profits, you’re competing with the right organisations on the same financial basis
-You’ll benchmark or job evaluate roles in a fair and consistent manner
Market data provides a solid rationale when gaining reward package approval from trustees and compensation boards

 

As with other organisations, people don’t join and stay solely for pay and benefits.  Not for profits have historically been good at providing employees with flexible working and job-sharing arrangements and career breaks.  It’s important to maintain broader benefits like these as they allow you to take a strategic Total Reward approach that can be designed to appeal to the right employee demographic. 

Managing a Volunteer Workforce

The problem

It’s estimated that 14.2 million people formally volunteer at least once a month in the UK.  Managing this workforce is critical, but as with any organisation, managing people is not straight forward. Volunteering Waikato lists ten of the most common volunteer complaints, five of which are people management problems:

-lack of organisation
-being asked to do something other than what the volunteer signed up for
-being asked to take on extra jobs
-volunteers don’t feel they’re making a difference
-volunteers are micro-managed and not trusted

The solution

At the heart of the solution are good people management skills. While salaried employees turn up to work (in part) for pay, volunteers do not.  This means you need to treat them even better than employees.  Because the work itself is the primary reason they volunteer, get everything around this right and you’ll keep them coming back.

Consider writing volunteer job descriptions so people know what’s expected of them.  This will also help your volunteer managers or team leaders to assign appropriate work.

 

-Get organised
No-one likes to give up their time only to find it’s being wasted through poor organisation. Ensure volunteers know where to be, what they’ll be doing, when and how, to maximise use of this resource and make them feel you respect their time.

-Specify job roles
Consider writing volunteer job descriptions so people know what’s expected of them. This will also help your volunteer managers or team leaders to assign appropriate work.

-Recognise and engage
Volunteers have offered to work for you for free because they believe in what you do. Help them feel that their time has been well spent by:
explaining how that day’s activities contribute towards the organisation’s overall mission
thanking every person every time for their help
sending out letters or cards of thanks annually
hosting an annual social for volunteers to thank them for their contribution

-Training and support
It can be tempting for team leaders to feel they need to micro-manage volunteers because they’re new or considered to be less effective than a full-time employee. Where necessary, training volunteers will ensure your organisation manages risk and governance issues effectively and will help project leaders feel more comfortable with the skills of their workforce. Invest in training your managers and team leaders to help them find different ways to manage people. Combined with improved organisation and volunteer job descriptions, those leading activities will feel they can take a more hands-off approach.

It can be tempting for team leaders to feel they need to micro-manage volunteers because they’re new or considered to be less effective than a full-time employee. Where necessary, training volunteers will ensure your organisation manages risk and governance issues effectively and will help project leaders feel more comfortable with the skills of their workforce. Invest in training your managers and team leaders to help them find different ways to manage people.  Combined with improved organisation and volunteer job descriptions, those leading activities will feel they can take a more hands-off approach.

Deal with these key people issues to make your not for profit organisation an employer of choice with room for people from all walks of life.  Not only will you attract and retain the best employees and volunteers, but you’ll have a motivated workforce who are ready and able to serve your beneficiaries.

If you need specialist HR support for any of the issues covered in this article, get in touch by calling us on 0330 555 1139 or via email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

 

Salary Sacrifice Schemes –  What You Need to Know

Salary Sacrifice Schemes – What You Need to Know

Providing a range of employee benefits helps differentiate your business from your competitors. Deliver these benefits via salary sacrifice and you’ll gain an additional advantage by making tax savings. But salary sacrifice schemes are not straight forward, and recent changes to legislation mean you’ll need to make amends to the way you operate existing schemes. Whether you’ve got salary sacrifice arrangements in place, or you’re thinking of setting them up, this article outlines how salary sacrifice works, the pros and cons of this approach and details the changes you need to know about.

What is Salary Sacrifice and How Does It Work?

Salary sacrifice is a legal way for employers to provide benefits to employees so that both parties make tax savings. By deducting the cost for benefits from gross pay, both employer and employee benefit by paying tax on the remaining, lower salary.

Depending on how a salary sacrifice scheme is implemented, simply or SMART, either the employee saves on tax and NICs (National Insurance Contributions) or they gain a higher value of benefit than their contribution. With either approach, employers save their NICs on the proportion of the salary being sacrificed.

The table below shows the savings employees on differing tax rates would make if they exchanged £100 of their salary for certain benefits.

Salary Sacrifice Schemes

Is Everyone a Winner?

There are many positive reasons to provide benefits in this way.

The obvious benefit of tax savings
Despite changes to tax legislation in this area (more on this in a moment), there are still tax savings to be made for both employers and employees on some benefits. These savings can make a big difference in terms of helping lower paid employees gain access to benefits they could not otherwise afford.

Enhancing your total reward package
The more cost-effective benefit provision is, the more benefits you can afford to offer and the more attractive and competitive your reward offering becomes.

As a business owner, you can decide what to do with any employer NIC savings; put them back into the business or share them with employees. Some organisations use some or all of their employer NIC savings to make additional pension contributions or fund an additional low-cost benefit, such as a health cash plan. This enhances their employer proposition and makes existing employees even happier.

Keeping your high earners happy
If your business has any high earners, their £11,000 personal tax allowance reduces by £1 for every £2 earned over £100,000. Using salary sacrifice reduces their gross earnings; bring their earnings below £100,000, and their personal allowance will be preserved boosting their tax- free income.

The Drawbacks to Salary Sacrifice

While the tax savings and ability to offer a range of attractive benefits is tempting, salary sacrifice has it downsides.

It’s not straight forward
Operating a salary sacrifice scheme requires a specialist tax knowledge to set the schemes up correctly and to provide the right employee guidance. Administration of benefits, including real-time tax reporting, also needs to be on point to remain on the right side of the law. One way around these issues is to work with a HR consultant to set up a scheme underpinned by the effective processes.

Business risk
Some salary sacrifice schemes entail a degree of financial risk for the business (such as Cycle to Work), where the employer pays for the cost of the benefit up front and the employee makes repayments via payroll. If record-keeping falls down, or a leaver’s final pay cheque does not cover the outstanding cost, you’ll be liable for the expense.

Not everyone can participate
Where a salary sacrifice arrangement would reduce an employee’s gross salary below the national living wage they will not be able to participate in the scheme which can be divisive. Inadvertently take an individual’s pay below the living wage and you’ll need to pay the staff the shortfall in wages and you may incur up to £20,000 in HMRC penalties per employee.

It’s not always beneficial for employees to reduce their gross earnings
Lower paid employees may find their ability to claim certain means-tested benefits, such as jobseekers allowance or statutory maternity pay, is impacted. That’s because their NICs will have reduced and they may not meet the earnings threshold to qualify for these benefits should they need them in future. Other financial arrangements such as applying for a mortgage can also be affected by reducing gross earnings via salary sacrifice.

Which Benefits Can You Provide via Salary Sacrifice?

Recent legal changes surrounding salary sacrifice mean that not all benefits will continue to attract the same levels of tax savings. From April 2017 onwards, salary sacrifice will continue to operate as normal (attracting employer and employee NIC savings and employee tax savings) for the following benefits:

• pension savings (and related advice)
• childcare provision (including employer-provided childcare and childcare vouchers)
• cycle-to-work schemes
• ultra-low emission cars (CO2 emissions under 75g/km)

However, the benefits listed below can no longer be offered in this way and will only attract NIC savings for the employee:

• company cars (CO2 emissions of 75g/km and above)
• work-related training
• car parking near your workplace
• health screening checks
• mobile phones and computers
• accommodation
• gym memberships
• school fees

This means, if you offer any of the benefits above and retain the employer NIC proportion of your saving, this will now be a cost to the business.

Transitioning to the New Arrangements

The good news is that schemes in place before April 2017 are protected until April 2018. Arrangements for benefits in the second group above will be protected for three years until April 2021. But beware: if you renegotiate your contract before these dates, you’ll need to adopt the new tax legislation from the effective date of your new contract.

If you need specialist HR support to review your position and manage any changes, get in touch by calling us on 0330 555 1139 or via email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

Media Agencies: How to manage effectively without stifling creativity

Media Agencies: How to manage effectively without stifling creativity

Whether your business specialises in creative marketing, web design, UX, PR or the latest tech craze, running a successful agency can be a complicated job. One of your biggest costs as an agency will likely be salaries, but your workforce is also your biggest asset. It’s vital to get the best out of your team, keep them happy and continually improve their productivity to maximise your billable rate.

In this article, we share some simple strategies to help you improve the way you manage your creative talent.

‘Creatives’ are not all the same

Your creative team are the lifeblood of your business, without them your business simply would not operate. However, managing creative individuals can sometimes be challenging. Matching their desire to reach creative perfection with your goal to meet client deadlines and maximise their billable hours can often result in conflict.

So many people make sweeping generalisations about creatives being non-commercially aware or IT specialists being difficult to communicate with. The truth is, everyone is different. So, there is no one size fits all solution to managing creative employees.

Regular one to one’s help avoid problems before they arise

Depending on the size and structure of your team, your creatives could have a range of different roles, from managing projects to producing creative work or even liaising directly with clients. Some will thrive on these extra responsibilities while other will want nothing more than to focus on creative work day in day out because that is where they excel.

It’s important to communicate with your team regularly to find out what they are working on, what they enjoy, what they find difficult and what they dislike. By reviewing their current roles and identifying areas they require support you can put in place development strategies or allocate roles to others that are more suited.

For example, if your creatives are responsible for project management as well as delivery, it’s important to review their processes to ensure they are efficient and effective for the business. Remember to act carefully. It’s natural for anyone to be protective over their processes and be nervous of interference. So delicately work with them to identify any potential blockages or areas for improvement. They may be relieved for the support and welcome solutions that help them spend more time on the work they enjoy.

Time sheets are a great way to understand your team’s capacity

Agencies have a reputation for long hours so keeping a keen eye on workload is a must, you don’t want to risk burning out your biggest assets. A timesheet is a great tool to help you understand where your team are under most pressure. By regularly conducting timesheet exercises you can find out which clients are taking up your team’s time, where there are capacity issues or where there are underutilised team members. This information can help influence your overall team management or form an aspect of your business development strategy.

Be careful to communicate the reason you are requiring time sheets, however, it is to understand processes and capacity issues so you can help your team and build the business, not check up on them.

Plan effectively to reduce resource issues

Forward planning is vital to understand your team’s capacity and reduce the risk of too much or too little work. On a regular basis, you should be reviewing your team’s holidays, meeting schedules, workload and business pipeline so you can understand impacts on your team. Client demands will always change last minute but by carefully planning, you should be able to manage workloads so that both clients and employees can be kept happy without overworking them. This information will help you be able to manage the needs of your team and plan recruitment around business growth.

Keep creatives producing

Don’t forget that your creatives are working for you for one reason. To be CREATIVE. So, help them do so by reducing the amount of non-creative work you throw at them. It is commonplace in the agency sector for employees to be quite transient, moving between agencies to keep work interesting and keep their creative juices flowing. To stop this from happening it’s important to retain your best talent through keeping them happy, engaged, creatively fulfilled and bought into your company’s culture. In times when work is slow, encourage professional skills development, competitions, skills shares or put them to work refreshing your own brand assets.

Always be recruiting

With the best will in the world, there will always be some staff turnover and as work comes in there will also be a need for new recruits. Successful agencies are always in the process of finding and interviewing candidates so that when work comes in, they are in an immediate place to deliver it.

Always be on the lookout for top talent and keep in touch with those that fit your requirements and company culture. Having a database full of potential candidates ready to go when you win your contract or need to replace an employee, stops panic recruiting, helps you recruit the right people and reduces expensive recruitment costs. However, you should never recruit team members until you have won the work. Recruiting, without work in place to pay for it is a recipe for disaster.

Managing an agency is both exciting and challenging. As contracts are won and teams are built, many agency owners must quickly change from creatives to managers in an instant. To retain and grow your team and continue to achieve your agencies targets you need to know how to nurture and manage your greatest asset, your workforce.

For advice on people management in your agency get in touch by calling us on 0330 555 1139 or via email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

To have your hand held, or to hand it over? When should you let someone else do the dirty work?

To have your hand held, or to hand it over? When should you let someone else do the dirty work?

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 hello@crossehr.co.uk.

Get Ahead With Your 2017 HR Strategy

Get Ahead With Your 2017 HR Strategy

It’s almost the end of another year. Can you believe it? Many of us will be starting to wind down for the Christmas break, or, more likely, desperately trying to complete to do lists. In terms of HR, your focus right now is probably managing the Christmas period in the office, or maybe, (though hopefully not), picking up the pieces after the office Christmas party. But before you wind up for the Christmas break, it is important to look ahead to next year and turn your attention to your 2017 HR strategy. Now’s the time to understand how HR will be required to support your 2017 business strategy, and also take stock, learn from experiences and make improvements for the year ahead.

Here’re are a few things to consider for your 2017 HR strategy.

Compensation and company benefits

The new year typically brings with it annual salary increments and bonus payments. Now’s the time to conduct a salary review to benchmark your company against the marketplace and understand the resourcing and retention budget required for your 2017 business plans.

You may wish to offer premium company benefits to be more competitive than other companies in the market. If you have benefits in place already, are you communicating them well enough? Make sure you have an efficient and regular communication strategy in place to improve benefit take up and inform employees of policies and guidelines.

Improve your hiring processes

It is likely that recruitment will be vital to your business growth strategy in 2017, and improving the recruitment process will help you increase efficiency and hire better quality candidates. Consider your current recruitment process. What are the successes? Where can you improve? Consider pre-screening tools, improving job descriptions and reviewing interview processes. For more information on recruitment, read our recent blog posts:

How to avoid discriminating during the recruitment process
How to structure a job description
Recruitment: How to recruit the right people

Do you have an onboarding strategy?

Onboarding strategies offer new employees a better insight into an organisation’s strategy and culture. They also help them quickly get up to speed with their job role. First impressions count. Getting them engaged from day one when they are feeling most positive, will help them bed in quickly, reflect the companies values and increase their confidence in fulfilling their role. Request open and honest feedback from new starters and use it to revamp processes, or improve your onboarding strategy for 2017.

Keep skills up to date

Do you need to invest in training to align the skills of your workforce with your organisation’s strategy for 2017? Training and development are vital to ensure the continued growth of organisations whilst demonstrating that you value, and are willing to develop your team. Training goes hand in hand with employee career progression. The cost of developing existing employees, (with the knock-on benefits to morale, engagement and loyalty) must be considered against the recruitment costs of hiring more experienced team members.

Training doesn’t necessarily need to be costly. You may have the skills in house, in more experienced team members, that can be harnessed to develop those that are less experienced.

Test out a new education initiative, measure the results and strategise for the rest of year.

Employee engagement and culture

Now’s the time to work on your employee engagement strategy. Employee engagement is a vital part of improving motivation, productivity, employee retention and well-being, as well as building a sense of pride and loyalty. Consider mentoring for newcomers, charity projects, celebrating achievement, recognition schemes, social events, feedback exercises, office decoration and team building exercises.

Improve communication

Poor communication is one of the biggest frustrations in many businesses, particularly when they reach a size where there are multiple departments, with competing objectives. Relationship building, however, is vital to productivity, efficiency, and workplace harmony. How can you improve communication processes between departments and team members? Consider the best ways to collect information and the best channels to use to share it, whilst at the same time, avoiding meeting overload!

Time is limited, and energy is often lacking in December, but getting ahead with your HR strategy for next year, will pay dividends. Creating the foundations now will help you hit the ground running in January.

How to Avoid Discriminating During the Recruitment Process

How to Avoid Discriminating During the Recruitment Process

Did you know that it’s actually unlawful, under the Equality Act 2010, to discriminate on the grounds of certain protected characteristics such as sex, race, ethnicity, disability, age, gender reassignment, religion, pregnancy, marriage/partnership or belief? The risks of getting the recruitment process wrong can result in being accused of discrimination and being taken to an Industrial Tribunal. This will be damaging for any business and could be particularly catastrophic for SMEs.

Here’s our short guide which explains how you can avoid discriminating when growing your team.

Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail

It’s important that you spend time at the beginning of the process carefully considering the role and requirements of the position you are hiring for. You should create a pre-determined role profile which establishes the key criteria that the successful candidate should meet to successfully fulfil your requirements. This profile should be strictly adhered to throughout the process to ensure that you recruit ONLY to meet the specifications in this profile and do not consider external factors, that could be considered discriminatory.

Use this role profile to create a detailed job description and person specification documents. In these documents, you should clearly describe the daily duties of the role and the skills required from the successful candidate. The duties outlined must be ESSENTIAL for the post as well as RELEVANT, NON-DISCRIMINATORY, and JUSTIFIABLE requirements. This not only ensures you attract the right candidates but also protects you as an employer.

Have a written selection policy

Add an extra layer of protection to your recruitment process by ensuring you have a written policy covering your selection process. This should cover the content of the job advertisement and selection procedures and how to conduct interviews. Train all interviewers thoroughly on this process to ensure there are no breaks in the chain.

Document genuine occupational requirements

There are times when you genuinely need to positively discriminate. For example, if you require a male only nurse to care for male patients to protect their dignity. In these instances, it is justifiable to discriminate but it’s always best to check with the Equal Opportunities Commission http://www.eoc.org.uk/ to ensure you are compliant with your legal obligations.

Be careful with the language you use

When creating job descriptions, adverts or person specifications, be careful with the language you use. Phrases like “fit” or “energetic” could be seen to discriminate against those with disabilities while requiring a minimum number of years’ experience could equally be seen to discriminate on the basis of age.

Have an equal opportunities statement

It’s always good practice to feature your equal opportunities statement in your job advertisement to demonstrate your commitment right from the start.

Make reasonable adjustments for the right candidate

You are legally obliged to recruit the person who best fits your job profile. If they tick all the boxes of your person specification but have a disability, you are legally obliged to consider making an adjustment to the role, your business or premises to enable them to perform their duties.

You are able to request information from applicants as to whether they have special requirements to undertake the role. This will enable you to make any adjustments required to enable them to attend an interview.

Structured and systematic interviewing

At the interview stage, you should have clearly defined selection criteria and weightings that are objectively justifiable. Questions should correspond directly to the job description and you should have a standardised scoring system. This will help you objectively evaluate all candidates on their SUITABILITY FOR THE ROLE only and not on other factors.

Test with caution

Tests are required sometimes to assess a candidate’s experience or suitability. For example, if the role requires candidates to be competent using a certain piece of software. Tests should only be used if they are both relevant and justifiable for the selection process. There should be no discrimination aspects to the test and the business should make reasonable adjustments to allow every candidate to take the test.

Document everything

By documenting every part of your recruitment process you can ensure that your recruitment decisions are justifiable should you ever be challenged on your decision. Make sure you keep records for at least 12 months.

Equal opportunities and monitoring discrimination

It’s good practice as a business to collect information for equal opportunities monitoring but this information should be kept completely separate from the selection panel. Selectors should never be provided with this information.

Summary

It is vital to consider every aspect of your recruitment process to ensure you are protected from being accused of discrimination. Always ensure that every part of the process is relevant, non-discriminatory and objectively justifiable. For professional advice on your recruitment process or equal opportunities policies, contact us by calling 0330 555 1139 or email us at hello@crossehr.co.uk.