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End of Year Reviews

End of Year Reviews

What a year 2020 has been. It’s put a strain on us all: mentally, physically, personally and professionally. So, as we come to our end of year reviews, how should we approach them?

We take a look at the importance of regular appraisals, emotional intelligence, setting targets for 2021 and how to assess personnel that may have been furloughed or missed a significant chunk of time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read on to discover more…

 

End of Year Reviews

End of year reviews are annual meetings held to evaluate performance and identify any causes of concern or improvement. They provide an important opportunity to:

  • Identify areas of weakness and create a plan to address this
  • Refine responsibilities – referencing priorities and workload
  • Identify opportunities for development – with reference to training or next steps
  • Agree measurable targets and next steps

However, as well as being an opportunity for examination and assessment, end of year reviews also act as a great time for employees to celebrate their achievements. By reflecting back on the year, both parties can recognise the progress made by the employee and explore exciting next steps.

Remember, the review process is the ideal opportunity for employees to share how you can help them perform better!

However, it’s fair to say that this year is a bit different. With many employees absent from the business, forced into new homeworking conditions and mass uncertainty about what the future holds, it’s important to adapt accordingly.

In the next section of this blog, we will advise how you can lead a suitable review in the current climate.

 

Acting with Empathy

Research shows that empathy is one of the key drivers of overall performance and that teams with more empathetic bosses produce better results. Therefore, with a difficult year under our belts, we urge you to actively act with empathy.

Whilst we’re not suggesting that you simply let employees off the hook for the year, now more than ever, managers must apply an appropriate dose of context with their judgements, rather than viewing performance as just black or white.

Employees are facing a multitude of toils and trouble – with fears of job loss, stress and concerns for health having a significant effect on the workforce as a whole. Therefore, having the emotional intelligence and sensitivity to navigate a successful appraisal in the current circumstances could prove more difficult than anticipated.

When assessing your employees, consider:

  • How can I reassure and support the employee?
  • Has the pandemic impacted results?
  • Would I expect leniency if I missed my targets?
  • How can I fairly judge performance?

Whilst analysing progress is key to a successful appraisal, ensure that this is well-balanced with time to check in with the employee, their wellbeing and their plans for the future. Remember, it wasn’t the choice of some to work from home and it could have uprooted feelings of great difficulty or isolation.

Discuss how you can better support them – considering how you can help nurture growth and development. Whilst it’s understandable that many employers wont’ be in a financial position to fund training, pay rises or even promise job security, it may be possible for personnel to utilise this quieter period to undertake free training to further their skills.

It may be useful to point your employees in the direction of The Skills Toolkit for free digital courses that can help teach new skills, recap fundamentals or further knowledge.

 

Looking to the Future

One aspect of reviews this year that will prove to be especially difficult is setting attainable targets for 2021. Whilst the economy is unstable and uncertain, it’s very difficult to predict how businesses will fare. Therefore, this needs to be reflected in targets and the usual increase in performance or productivity may need be reviewed.

It’s important to:

  • Set SMART objectives
  • Be realistic – recognise that targets may need to digress from previous years
  • Focus on what is attainable in the current circumstances
  • Set targets that asses the quality of work produced, not just quantity
  • Consider reviewing targets quarterly

Finally, when making plans for the future and discussing next steps, consider how this will look in the coming weeks and months. Will home working be permanent? How will this affect how employees are measured? Do you need to increase the frequency of reviews or touch-base more? These are all questions that must be answered when putting plans in place for 2021.

 

How to Assess Furloughed Staff:

This year is like no other. Shocks to the economy have meant that much of the workforce have experienced reduced hours, furlough or been absent from the business for weeks or months at a time. So, how should you assess your furloughed staff?

An Employer’s Standpoint:

As an employer, there is no issue in carrying out appraisals whilst your employees are furloughed, since taking part in the appraisal would not count as work.

However, the person who is leading the appraisal (ie, the manager), could not be furloughed whilst appraisals are being conducted. This is because the appraisals are counted as work for the manager or company representative leading the meeting.

Considerations:

Just because an employee hasn’t been present for the whole year, it doesn’t mean that you should skip your end of year appraisal.

This meeting is greatly beneficial for both the employer and employee to check in, refocus and identify how to progress. Failure to do so may result in:

  • Employee confusion, upset and anxiety
  • Uncertainty for the future
  • Outdated or inappropriate goals or targets

How do you measure new starters? Or those that have returned from maternity leave? Measuring employees on a part-time basis isn’t a new concept. As with most plans this year, it just needs a little adapting.

 

More Support – For Them and For You:

Feedback shouldn’t just be provided once a year in an annual review. In fact, most employees respond best to continual feedback from their managers. To discover more about continual feedback, read our blog here. It’s a great way to provide more support for your employees, especially as many businesses continue with remote working.

For more support and information on how to conduct your staff appraisals, contact us today! We’re experts in supporting you with even the most complicated people-management headaches, so that you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing best by your business and employees.

 

Setting Targets for 2021

Setting Targets for 2021

Setting targets for a business right now feels like an impossible task.

It’s been said before this year that forecasts are pointless because they are so soon out of date. As a result, people assume they don’t achieve anything. Even more so this year, people feel that setting targets when the world changes so much from week to week is a fruitless exercise.

It will not come as a surprise that I disagree.

 

 

Why set targets now?

From experience, it seems that forecasts are prepared and targets are set for two main reasons:

  • To prepare for differing scenarios of business performance
  • To drive a change in behaviour

In 2020 especially, preparing for differing scenarios is key to survival. It enables you to react quickly to changing conditions.

 

Preparation for changes in business performance

Even before the pandemic, clients looked to a forecast to help them prepare for the what-ifs. It helped them to understand the impact – both good and bad – ahead of time.

The most common priorities have been:

  • Planning growth and the related costs – Think recruitment, management investment time, marketing strategy or increased overheads
  • Funding – Understanding what funding might be required to grow the business or alternatively needed to fund any reduction in income
  • Capacity – Do you have the right level of staffing, how can you manage ebbs and flows
  • Scenarios – What would 10% more or less income mean for your profits and cashflow

Once the targets are set, vulnerabilities can be identified and plans to deal with them accordingly.

The next step is to set the detailed objectives required to deliver the targets set.

 

Driving Behavioural change

Our clients are self-motivated and know what they want from their business. They don’t look to a forecast to drive a change in their own behaviour. However, in cascading those targets to employees, they see it as driving behavioural change throughout the business. This goes far wider than the simplest example where sales targets are linked to remuneration.

Sharing the objectives of the business with staff results in:

  • Greater staff retention – Staff are bought into the aims of the business for the year ahead and motivated to help achieve them.
  • Reduced pressure – Sharing the objectives of what you want to achieve and the actions to achieve it with staff doesn’t leave all the tasks at your door.
  • Quicker results – Shared objectives are achieved more quickly and not bottle-necked with you as the business owner
  • Innovative ideas – Openness encourages ideas and staff will contribute new ways of thinking all working to achieve your targets
  • Staff objectives – The sometimes-onerous task of writing staff objectives happens organically with the forecast aims cascaded down into the detailed requirements which can be more easily allocated across the workforce

So, with all this uncertainty around – the reason to forecast is to help businesses cope. It enables businesses to plan for the worst and the best and understand the impacts now. Setting detailed targets for you and your staff follows on from the high-level forecast and will help you to achieve your aims.

 

Get your finances on track with Helen Fleet:

Helen Fleet of HF Financial Strategy works as a finance director and guides companies to delivering their financial and business objectives which can include cash flow planning, pricing reviews and ways to improve profitability.

If you’d like to know more about Helen, visit her website here or follow her on LinkedIn.

 

 

Connection That Transcends Distance

Connection That Transcends Distance

More than a band-aid

Six months ago, businesses were forced to migrate to a new way of working almost overnight as we were urged to stay home to contain the virus. Although many businesses adapted well and remote working became commonplace, the process was rushed – driven by panic and spurred by the need to survive.

These fixes were never built to last.

As we look forward, it seems that remote working is here to stay – with many businesses challenging more traditional setups and looking to ditch or reduce their office overheads. But to be successful long-term, more structure and investment is required – particularly in the effort required to maintain a positive employee connection that transcends distance.

So, how can you keep your team engagement and morale high when working conditions are somewhat different to what you’ve been used to? We discuss this and more, with example to the drawbacks and how to address these going forward.

 

Leading from the front

Winckworth Sherwood found that 78% of employers are planning on “long-term operational changes” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 9% considering closing their offices completely
  • 26% considering reducing their office space
  • 47% increasing flexibility around working from home
  • 38% increasing flexibility around set working hours

With huge businesses such as BT and Twitter making the offer to employees to permanently choose how they work it feels like we’re on the precipice of a huge cultural shift.

But, with change comes new challenges. What are the issues associated with managing people from afar and how can you look after your staff when you can’t see them? Let’s take a look.

 

Overcoming barriers to remote working

On the surface, remote working sounds great. It can help employers lure in exceptional talent, reduce office costs, chat and distractions and your employees will relish in their newfound sense of freedom – working how and when they work best.

So, what’s with all the reluctancy and why are some so keen to get back to the office?

Whilst working from home is popular right now, there must be some consideration into the long-term consequences that will begin to appear in the not so distant future.

At this time of great upheaval, we’re going to steer you through some of the HR issues that arise when working from home – with some thought-provoking insight and direction on how to mitigate any hurdles. So, let’s dive in.

 

Negative impacts on employee wellbeing

It is reported that 62% of employees would be “happy” if their offices closed and working from home became a permanent setup. But that leaves a good proportion of the workforce unhappy with this situation.

There are many reasons this may be, as the office can provide benefits for employees including:

  • Social interaction
  • Support – personally and professionally
  • Routine and a change of scenery
  • A place to focus without distractions, such as childcare
  • Relief from home pressures, such as strained relationships

So, without the face-to-face interaction you’re used to, how can you look after employees? Be sure to look a little closer for the signs of someone struggling, including reduced engagement or participation, missed deadlines or overdoing their hours. These may be an indication that an employee’s mental health is declining.

To combat this, consider:

  • Regular team meetings at a coffee shop or co-working space (when safe to do so)
  • Making support digital, such as posting self-help and advice on the intranet
  • Setting up support groups, buddy systems and social nights
  • Encouraging employees to log their hours
  • Reminding employees of their line manager

 

Playing fair

There is some stipulation that the increase in remote working will lead to a more unjust workplace. So how can you play fair in an increasingly competitive environment?

Say there’s a big promotion coming up. Who will be seen more favourably for the leg up: an employee who is frequently present and visible within the office or a team member that may be less well-known working from home?

There’s a great possibility that a two-tier workforce will soon be established – dividing those that come into work and those that don’t. And, with childcare being a key draw for remote working, women are likely to be most affected by this, causing the gender pay gap to be even further widened.

Other concerns include wages being driven down – due to reduced travel expenses, outsourcing and increased competition. Although it’s understandable for businesses to try and reduce costs, this will further suppress our economy and lead your customers to also look for the cheapest option.

Therefore, is leaning towards this remote workforce just a way of shooting ourselves in the foot? Honestly, we can’t tell you how to run your business. However, to stay mindful, take five to contemplate the following…

Consider:

  • Creating a fair criterion for the recruitment process
  • Annually publishing your gender pay report
  • Actively planning to reduce any variance found [see above]
  • Mapping your pay against GDP and inflation

 

Effective work

A huge 46% of HR decision makers are concerned that employees won’t be able to carry out their jobs effectively at home. However, almost half this number of employees have the same concern. So why is this?

A great way to measure whether employees can work effectively at home is to determine what ‘effective’ means to you; take some time to document what a ‘good’ job done looks like.

Consider:

  • Outcome-based measurement
  • Clear communication
  • Realistic deadlines
  • Regular reviews

By measuring outcomes, rather than hours spent in the office, you can then begin to measure whether an employee is effectively working at home or not. Be sure to provide clarity on objectives, detail what is expected from employees and what they need to achieve and by when.

If you have not done the role yourself, you may find it useful to have a discussion with employees to discuss what is reasonable within their time constraints. After all, overly ambitious targets often turn employees off and lead to a decline in motivation, job satisfaction and mental health.

 

Lack of control (trust)

By having employees under their roof, many employers feel as if they can control their employees better. At the end of the day, the issue is: do you trust your employees?

Failure to trust your employees can lead to wasted time on micromanagement, a reluctancy to take ownership of responsibilities and a reduction in engagement and job satisfaction – with employees viewing ‘spying’ negatively. Trust them too much and you risk them feeling lost or taking advantage.

Therefore, it may reassure you to learn that only 12% of employees struggle to motivate themselves. In fact, employees that work from home tend to work harder due to concerns that it will be perceived negatively or that their privileges will be revoked.

To combat this, consider:

  • Learning what makes employees tick and ensuring they feel supported
  • Checking in regularly to monitor and ensure progress
  • Clearly communicating expectations
  • Set meetings and PDRs to review progress and rectify any issues.

 

Monitoring

We anticipate that AI and monitoring will be stepped up in the months to come. In fact, it’s already happening before our very eyes!

Employees can no longer log in early, collect the kids from school and pretend they were working all along. Technology can now determine when you touch your keypad and will alert your manager if you haven’t been active.

Your emails may be monitored too – determining your intentions and engagement by unpicking what and how you word your emails.

So, with monitoring expected to greatly increase, how can we avoid upsetting employees?

To avoid upset, consider:

  • Being transparent about how technologies works
  • Explaining why it has been put in place
  • Outlining how technology will be used (eg, in PDRs)
  • Addressing any concerns that employees may have.

Remember: any worker that has been with you for at least 26 weeks automatically gains the right to apply for flexible working. If you deem it appropriate to grant requests and feel this will not impact the individual’s ability to perform, this may provide a more open solution that will stop employees feeling the need to deceive their employer.

 

Need more help?

If you are considering whether a return to the office is essential, safe and mutually agreed, check out the CIPD’s useful resource here. It helps point you towards some useful resources and raises some poignant questions.

If you need some support adjusting to remote working and require some assistance motivating and engaging your employees, get in touch with Crosse HR.

Our experts offer shrewd HR solutions that won’t break the bank. Discover more today.

 

 

Office To Let

Office To Let

In March, the general workforce was urged to work from home where possible – to help control the spread of coronavirus. However, despite the guidelines easing in recent weeks, many businesses are yet to make their big return to the office.

Office to Let

It appears that months of enforced working from home has led a number of businesses to consider whether to return to the office at all.

From a financial point of view, it seems like a pretty easy case to weigh up – property costs vs no property costs. However, it’s important to consider the financial impacts of other factors which arise from relinquishing office space.

So, let’s dive in.

Savings

Let’s start with the savings: –

Saving the obvious pennies

There is no denying the obvious and giving up your office will save you direct property costs such as rent, rates and insurance as well as direct travel costs (Petrol, train fare etc).

Saving the not so obvious pennies

Aside from those, it will also save you a few pennies elsewhere such as in personal spend with no posh sandwiches and those little trips into town. Saving on travel time should also mean you are less tired from commuting and as a result will likely be more productive during working hours.

What does this mean?

All the above can amount to some serious cash and a large percentage of monthly overheads, they are easy to measure and you will see the cash impact from day one of being office free.

So, can the costs really balance out those savings?

 

Costs

This is not an exhaustive list but factors to consider should include:

Training

As a simple example I use excel a lot (and I mean a lot) and whilst I’ve attended courses, I have learnt the most from my colleagues, their tricks and tips have saved me hours. Sitting next to someone and seeing how they work, how they approach projects and achieve good results can’t all be taught in training courses. Trying to monetise the benefit of being around others is tricky but consider how your team has improved over time due to informal guidance from their colleagues.

Idea Sharing

Faced with a tricky task or issue, how long will someone spend trying to solve it before it moves from being a useful exercise for them to try to problem solve and become a waste of time. People are more likely to turn to the person in the same room quicker than they are to pick up the phone. The cost of this may be loss of productive time or it may be that the solution reached is not right for your client.

Teamwork

There is no denying some people love to work alone but many of us crave the company of others (and perhaps more so after the last six months). Consider the impact on staff retention if you were to tell everyone to work from home full time from now on. Not everyone has a home conducive to home working – they have made do whilst it has been enforced but it will not be the long-term choice of everyone. The costs of replacing staff are significant including recruitment time, recruitment fees, loss of productivity of the leaver and time to integrate the new starter.

Staff Wellbeing

We can zoom and MS Teams all day long but it’s much harder to gauge staff wellbeing through a computer screen. Being with your people and supporting them where necessary will ensure your staff are productive, less likely to need time off and again promote that staff retention figure.

What does this mean?

Unlike the savings element, each of these options are far harder to put a monetary value on – but each one of them will cost you money and time if the balance isn’t right.

 

Half and Half

The consensus is that a hybrid is needed to suit the needs of the employees but also to balance cashflow pressures in a time when we are recovering from lockdown.

The good news is that good landlords are moving with the times and see the need to move away from strict six- or twelve-month contracts. Some city centre landlords offering three or five days per week options and the flexibility is clearly there.

It really is too easy to look at property costs as the saving and not consider the other significant impacts which in time will too impact your cashflow.

 

Want to Learn More?

Helen Fleet of HF Financial Strategy works as a Finance Director. She guides companies to deliver their financial and business objectives, which can include cashflow planning, pricing reviews and ways to improve profitability.

If you’d like to discover more about remote working and the HR considerations you should be making, be sure to check out our latest blog: Remote Working – Connection That Transcends Distance.

 

Staying Small

Staying Small

Good things come in small packages – or so that’s how the old saying goes. But if ‘bigger is better’ which should we choose?

When it comes to running your business, no one way is correct.

Yet, the business community is under the impression that growth and speed equals success – despite two-thirds of the fastest-growing businesses ending in failure. So, why does society risk this boom and bust cycle, rather than striving for a small and lean business?

Here we discuss some of the key pros and cons of keeping your business small to help you assess whether a slender approach is right for you.

 

Less Overheads (More Time)

It’s no big secret that staying small means businesses can unlock significantly lower overheads than their larger-counterparts, with savings on costs such as:

  • Office space
  • Expenses
  • Resources

In fact, research from Llyods Bank suggests that, due to a reliance on informal sources, small businesses can continue to save significantly – replacing the financial costs associated with accountants and support services with business advice and favours from friends, relatives and former colleagues.

With significantly reduced overheads and the negated requirement for expensive loans or investors, it is perhaps no surprise that most small businesses start turning a profit by year two with efficiency and their lean structure to thank.

However, for what you save in overheads, you may be paying back in time.

On average, small business owners put in 75 extra days per year than the general workforce. In fact, a whopping 39% of small business owners admitted to habitually working over 60 hours a week.

So, if time is money, where do we draw the line?

 

High Control (High Stress)

Large companies often have thousands of employees in a number of offices – separated by time difference, distance and culture. However, with a small business, this is much less likely, increasing your ability for control.

By controlling all elements of your business, such as overseeing departments, a holistic approach can be applied to business. This may aid you in making informed decisions such as how and where your business operates and give you the ability to take a strategic focus.

However, the dark side to this ability to take control is an inability to switch off.

As a small business owner, you are the business. If you don’t deal with a problem, no one will. So how can you take a break?

Being a small business owner can be a big burden to bear alone. Failure to delegate can lead to overworking and feelings of overwhelm and stress.

On average, small business owners only take two weeks holiday per year – with 81% reporting that they make or return business calls during this time. So, is this an indication that small business owners struggle to relax or is it because they love their job?

You may be surprised to learn that smaller organisations are the happiest at work – with many owners stating that they ‘love’ their job and would do it if money were no object. That said, being a small business owner will still have a significant effect on your lifestyle.

 

Ability to Adapt

With size comes cumbersome red tape that slows down a business’ ability to adapt.

  • Paperwork
  • Processes
  • Hierarchy
  • Slow sign-off

These are just some of the reasons why staying small can help businesses be more nimble, adaptable and agile –positioning them perfectly to respond to change.

We have seen this recently, with the global pandemic taking the world by shock. Many small businesses quickly snapped back into action – moving operations online, changing their offering or even pivoting to take their business in a new direction. This is an unrivalled benefit that large businesses struggle to replicate well.

However, evidence shows that small businesses are less likely to take out loans, with female business owners being particularly frugal with their money. Due to this risk-adversity, although the business is set up with the strategic flexibility to adapt, a lack of resource may hinder this in action.

 

Happy Environment (Harder Cuts)

Instead of feeling like silos scattered with seas and sands between them, small businesses can enjoy the benefits of being one, happy team.

A study by LinkedIn found that employees working for small businesses created the most positive working environments, with 77% of employees reporting that they would recommend their employer to a friend. This is for a number of reasons:

  • Higher control over the work process
  • Sense of belonging
  • Social relationships
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Opportunities for development
  • Ownership of their work

And, with increased productivity being a result of so many of these factors, the argument for staying small is strong. But what’s the drawback?

According to Duréndez et al, small businesses have less formal management, control measures and processes in place – often relying on a single figure-head to make decisions. In small businesses, it was found that close social relationships, for example, friends or family influences, may cause leaders to make bad business decisions, such as keeping deadwood.

In light of the last few months, it leads us to consider whether small businesses will fail due to their increased loyalty and inability to make the tough cuts that may be required to survive. We urge business owners not to make this mistake and to, instead, reframe smaller businesses as a lean and favourable option that sits on the table.

 

Is staying small right for you?

The answer – it depends on you.

Just remember, a smaller, more lean business doesn’t have to be a back step. It can provide a number of great benefits that make your business a more profitable, productive and enjoyable place to work.

Restructuring your business can feel like an overwhelming task. However, right now, many businesses are being forced down this route in a bid for survival.

During these testing times, the team at Crosse HR are trying to do their bit – supporting small businesses by providing free templates to help time and resources go further.

Download our free restructuring toolkit here and take your first step towards a smaller, leaner business.

 

 

Staying Lean, Not Mean

Staying Lean, Not Mean

Businesses are facing many challenges right now as they seek to recover from the shock of the pandemic, recover as best possible and plan for rocky tides that lie ahead. However, perhaps one of the most pressing challenges for businesses post-lockdown is about being lean but not mean.

 

What am I trying to say?

 

I am talking about balancing cashflow and the affordability to resource with customer and employee satisfaction.

Many business owners have had staff on furlough and are trying to get the timing right in bringing those staff back to work, whilst others are debating how much temporary resource they might need and when.

 

How does this impact Customer Satisfaction and Employee well-being?

 

Two examples I have seen this week…

 

Customer satisfaction

I am currently going through a house purchase. Our buyer changed solicitor mid-way through the process as the firm had furloughed so many people, he couldn’t get the service he needed.

 

Employee well-being:

A client of ours was telling us about her husband who is being asked to carry the work of his department of three; to achieve this, he’s having to work twelve-hour days to keep up. The firm can then maximise their use of the furlough scheme.

In both of these examples, the firms are clearly trying their best to manage cash to preserve their future.

However, the outcome is not good for the business with the first example meaning the solicitor lost the work. In the second, the employee, who is already drained after everything we have all gone through in the last few months, due to worries about job security, is sadly expected to accept this increased workload.

 

What can you do to get it right?

 

Plan, plan, plan

Of course, no-one knows what the future holds right now and what the recovery will look like, but you still need to try. Doing so will help to estimate the optimum time at which you will need more resource. My advice; –

  1. Make your best estimate on what income will look like
  2. Assess the staffing capacity you need to service this well
  3. Understand the trigger points in advance on when you need to bring the additional resource into service customers and ensure employee well-being.

 

Consider Capacity requirements

If you have used the furlough scheme, take advantage of its flexible nature. Remember, you can bring people back on any working pattern now so assess what is right for you.

Consider: is it more efficient to bring people back for one day and get everything done for the week ahead or is a few hours per day more appropriate?

If you use any temporary or outsourced resources, talk to them. Make the situation collaborative and discuss what you need, try to be flexible to ensure they can perhaps top up with work from other sources.

 

Cashflow

Once you’ve looked at what income you might get, and the resource required then look at your cashflow.

  • What does that mean for you as a business?
  • Do you need additional funding to get you through the next few months?

 

The balancing act

 

It is very hard being a business owner right now.

We are all trying to manage cashflow as best we can in uncertain times. A little bit of planning will ensure you can look after your employees, your client and your bank balance.

Be lean but don’t be mean.

 

About Helen Fleet

 

Helen Fleet of HF Financial Strategy works as a Finance Director and guides companies in delivering their financial and business objectives. These can include cashflow planning, pricing reviews and ways to improve profitability.

Follow Helen on LinkedIn here.

 

 

Focusing on Finances for a Post-Lockdown World

Focusing on Finances for a Post-Lockdown World

Remember your swimming badges at school… My least favourite was the one where – after you had already swum multiple lengths and dived in for a brick – you still had to swim a length in your pyjamas. I remember feeling tired, my swimming stroke wasn’t particularly strong and the weight of my wet PJs made the last bit pretty tough.

I think a lot of us feel like that now, having got through the last few months and fortunate to still have a business, we now must turn our attention to making it post-lockdown. We all feel a bit beaten up by it all. That’s why I’ve decided to share a few tips to get you energized and ready to tackle the post lockdown period.

 

Growth

We are all in a growth phase now as we rebound from this period, but this is different from when you started your business and grew from nothing. Now you can use everything you have learnt from the first time you did it and grow faster and more profitably.

My two key questions to consider;-

Who you want to sell to?

Is it the same people you sold to before or do you now better understand the profile of customer you want to work with? Think about the size of customer, the sector they are in, the location or even the number of decision makers you have to deal with.

What do you want to sell?

Do you know which of your products or services are the most profitable? Can you drop services you didn’t enjoy delivering, have you pivoted during lockdown and have great new offerings to get out there?

 

Capacity

Do you know the maximum capacity you could deliver right now based on your existing cost base?

It’s important to understand this and compare it to what you are delivering and think you may be able to in the coming months.

If you realise you are currently over- capacity, then consider:

-Use of the flexible nature of the Job retention Scheme from 1 July. Understanding what staff you need now is key and knowing your trigger points in terms of sales vs capacity, so you bring people back at the right time.

-Unfortunately, you may need to make redundancies now to preserve the long-term future of your business. If based on realistic sales this is necessary, then do not take too long making this decision.

If you are under capacity because business is going better than anticipated, then think about whether you really need to employ or are you better surrounding yourself with a network of good quality freelancers. The second option puts less pressure on fixed cots during what may be a volatile time.

 

Forecast

In such an uncertain time there is no getting away from the fact you need to forecast your cash flow.

Factors to consider:

Income – So hard to really know what will happen- will recovery be U or V shaped- who knows. Start with your best guess based on what you know now.

Costs – Ensure you build back in any costs which have been reduced during this period e.g. rent reductions, other premises related costs. You may also want to build in costs to help you re-build such as advertising or marketing.

Loan repayments– any loan repayment holidays may be about to expire so ensure you have considered these.

Tax deferrals – If you deferred Vat as part of the Vat deferral scheme ensure you rebuild in repaying this before 31 March 2021.

Sensitivity – Now you have done all this look at how sensitive you are to change – if sales were 10 or 20% lower than you have forecast what impact will that have on your cashflow

Financing – Now you know your position consider if you have the right financing in place.

So deep breath folks, we made it this far. You built your business before and all of this will help you to build faster and more profitably second time round.

 

More Support

Helen Fleet of HF Financial Strategy works as a finance director and guides companies to delivering their financial and business objectives which can include cashflow planning, pricing reviews and ways to improve profitability.

Helen kindly crafted this blog as part of our Return to Work Toolkit. You can download it for free here.

 

The Good Work Plan

The Good Work Plan

April marks that time of year when you can expect a whole new raft of employment changes. And 2020 is no exception with the government’s Good Work Plan. This article explains what the Good Work Plan is, why it’s happening now, the employment law changes it’s introducing and what you need to know and do as an employer.

 

What Is the Good Work Plan?

 

Remember the Taylor review? That was the 2018 government-issued independent review of modern working practices carried out by Matthew Taylor. The Good Work Plan report has been written in response building on some of the recommendations made to tackle new and emerging issues in the modern workplace. And it’s also the vehicle intended to capture the prime minister’s commitment not to maintain and enhance workers’ rights following the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Good Work Plan sets out how the government intends to do this with a clear vision for the future of the UK labour market as one that: “rewards people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and that is ambitious about boosting productivity and earnings potential in the UK.”

 

What Does the Good Work Plan Aim to Deliver?

 

The plan commits to a range of policy and legislative changes to ensure the following key deliverables:

  1. workers can access fair and decent work
  2. both employers and workers are clear about their employment relationships
  3. companies and individuals continue to benefit from the rise in more flexible and varied ways of working without the erosion of key worker protections
  4. the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose

Based on the idea that all workers deserve quality work, the Good Work Plan aims to build on five foundational qualities that constitute good work. These are: satisfaction, fair pay, participation and progression, well-being, safety and security and voice and autonomy. You’ll find these themes reflected in the changes that come into effect in April 2020.

 

The Changes You’ll Need to Make

 

There’s quite a lot to do before 6th April 2020. From adapting when you issue contracts to how employees request more stable working hours and a whole lot more. It’s all outlined below.

 

Issuing Contracts of Employment

 

From the 6th April 2020 you’ll have to issue a contract of employment on the employee’s first day of work at the latest. Both employees and workers will also need to be provided with a written statement outlining their terms of engagement.

 

Working Hour Requests

 

The government recognises that flexibility works for many businesses and their employees and does not want to stifle this. However, some employers have used the rise of flexible working arrangements to offload business risk onto their employees through zero hours’ contracts. And other organisations have expected significant flexibility from workers while offering little in return.

To counteract these issues it will be a legal requirement for businesses to empower all workers to be able to request a more predictable and stable working contract after 26 weeks of service. This could mean requesting greater certainty around the days the individual works or the number of hours. Employers have three months to respond to any request.

 

Continuous Service Shortens

 

In the current system, employment rights are accrued over time. People who work intermittently for the same employer can find it difficult to gain or access some of these rights due to difficulty building up continuous service.

A one-week break in service allows employers to start an employee’s continuous service record from zero so employees end up back at square one without any employment rights, even if they’ve worked for the same employer on and off for years.

You’ll only be able to declare a break in service after an employee has not worked for you for four weeks or more. This is intended to make it easier for employees to accrue rights.

 

Holiday Pay Calculations Are Changing – Again

 

All employees are entitled to paid time off as a basic protection. However, some individuals and employers are unaware of holiday pay entitlements, highlighting a need for more and better information. There’s also evidence that some individuals have been prevented from taking their leave and that seasonal workers have been impacted by the 12 week reference period used to calculate holiday pay.

To counteract these issues the government is providing:

  • an awareness campaign for workers and employers
  • new guidance to help businesses comply with the law
  • an updated and improved holiday pay calculator

When calculating holiday pay, you’ll need to expand the timeframe used from 12 to 52 weeks.

 

Hospitality Staff Must be Allowed to Keep Their Tips

 

Although most businesses act in good faith and pass tips on to workers a small number of employers do not. Legislation will ban businesses from retaining tips resulting in a fairer deal for workers and a level playing field for employers.

 

Recruitment Agencies Cannot Use Pay Between Assignments

 

Agency workers used to be able to give up their right to equal pay (in comparison to permanent staff doing the same or like work) in return for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments.

Investigations revealed this was not happening for some agency workers who were on long assignments. This effectively removed their right to equal pay without the benefit of between-contract pay as there was no between-contract period.

You can no longer use this type of contract to guarantee equal wages with comparable permanent workers for all long-term agency workers.

 

More Consultation Rights For Employees

 

Employees are already entitled to be consulted on major workforce reforms like restructuring. However, to set up information and consultation arrangements in a business, 10% of employees must support the idea. This is dropping to just 2% with a minimum threshold of 15 employees in agreement.

 

What Next?

 

To enforce all these legislative changes, the government is bolstering the penalties businesses will receive if they flout the law. Instead of a maximum of £5,000 for an aggravated breach, this figure will rise to a maximum of £20,000. And where employment rights are repeatedly ignored by the same employer, tougher penalties will ensue.

This makes it vitally important that you make the relevant changes to your HR policies, processes and paperwork before 6th April 2020.

Get an experienced helping hand with all this change. Contact Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk to ensure you’re compliant.