Summer can often be a great time to reset and slow down. But did you know that this time often leads to some of the greatest ideas? We’ve often found that stepping back to enjoy a change of pace brings about some quality thinking time. After all, the time allows for more reflection.
That’s why we’ve gathered a whole host of reading (and listening) from some wonderful business professionals. So, grab yourself a drink and head over to your favourite reading spot to enjoy our specially curated reading list – designed to help you ponder the important stuff.
Adam Insights – Adam Recruitment
The guys over at We Are Adam – a recruitment business based in London – share their wealth of knowledge and experience on business growth and people management.
Over the last year, they have been creating a downloadable content series full of insight. However, their latest download, ‘The Future is Flex: Our Ultimate Guide to Flexible, Hybrid and Agile Working Models’, is an easy-to-consume report that will help business leaders to define the strategy that best works for their business.
This is a great, in-depth read that will help guide anyone who is debating making permanent changes to the way their business operates to some answers.
Check it out here.
R.I.P. warm white wine and lanyards: has the way we network changed for the better? – JB Cole
After hearing that Freshwalks had recently launched in London, this blog piqued our interest.
JB Cole sat down and spoke to Michael Di Paola founder of Freshwalks and Matthew Stafford, co-founder of 90thers, to discuss how they are breaking the mould of traditional networking with events that foster genuine connections and more. There is no better time than the present to get back into networking and stimulate new business but, after a break, it can feel a little tiresome.
Is alternative networking the way you go? It’s time to find your tribe here.
Preventing Burnout in Remote Teams – Enthuse Communications
How are your people finding working from home? Many enjoy the flexibility of home working, grateful to leave the stress of commuting and office life behind them.
But for others, it’s difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance when the boundaries between home and work are blurred, particularly for those with caregiving responsibilities, as we discussed in our blog here.
Enthuse Communications share their thoughts on how you can help your remote teams avoid burnout by strengthening your communications. This is a great follow-on from our discussions around how to create a bond that transcends distance.
Read it here.
Your Financial Strategy Score – Helen Fleet
For those who are regulars, it will be no surprise to see our good friend and Financial Expert, Helen Fleet, pop up on this list.
Helen Fleet’s Financial Strategy scorecard benchmarks your current approach to growing a profitable and cash stable business against her blueprint for clear and focused business planning.
Learn the fundamentals on how you score in each key area and identify opportunities to improve the impact effective financial strategy will have on your profitability and cash flow.
In Helen’s usual style, this tool provides actionable advice that will support you in taking your next steps. This short activity will help provide you with bespoke reading that will help you elevate your business.
Gareth Southgate – The High-Performance Podcast
It hurt. We know. However, despite the result, we’re proud of how England performed in the Euros and how they united the nation like never before and, largely, this was down to the mastermind of one man (and his squad, but that’s just how leadership works).
This podcast from the High-Performance guys is extremely inspirational and shares Gareth’s views on how to be an emotionally intelligent leader.
Take note and incorporate his learnings into your workplace so you can connect with your employees on a deeper, emotional level.
Listen to it here.
We hope you enjoy our summer reading and listening choices as much as we did.
You know where we are if you need us to help you handle any people-based changes you’d like to see in your business.
Have a great rest of your summer!
Although it’s become the norm, working from home is still a polarising concept. While fans of the remote life are keen to make it permanent, others crave the buzz of the office as they grapple with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Yet, despite these feelings being widespread, the government is urging us to continue working from home where possible until all COVID restrictions are lifted on 21 June. A year on, remote working has changed the way we work forever.
So, how can employers keep supporting home workers in the coming weeks – and beyond?
Working from home statistics – an overview
According to the Office for National Statistics, April 2020 saw 46.6% of UK employees work from home in some capacity –86% of them doing so because of the pandemic.
Recent research by the University of Nottingham and Stanford University revealed that post-pandemic, 40% of workers surveyed want to continue working remotely two or three days a week.
Interestingly, 76% of people felt perceptions of home working had improved as a result of the pandemic.
What challenges are homeworkers still facing?
A report from the Royal Society for Public Health revealed 67% of homeworkers felt less connected to colleagues, and 56% found it hard to switch off while home-based. Yet only 34% received mental health support from their employer.
As we face another six weeks of enforced home working, employers must maintain measures to support employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.
WFH employee checklist –
Keep up the support for your remote working team by continuing to:
Maintaining excellent communication levels for the last lap will inform how you shape your working practices moving forward.
Whether it’s a weekly Zoom or a daily call, we all know clear communication channels are the key to a happy remote workforce.
Personalise your approach
Everyone likes to communicate differently, so you have to understand your employees individually to support them effectively. Some may love a daily WhatsApp check-in; others may find group chats overwhelming, so take a sensitive approach to strike the right balance.
Everyday life is challenging for us all, so be open-minded and flexible where possible.
Approachability is critical: if your team feels comfortable giving you a heads up that they’re struggling to meet a deadline, you can make adjustments and stay on track.
Without in-person watercooler chats and Friday pizza, work can feel all-too-serious. So, keep scheduling those virtual coffee breaks and remote socials to encourage your team to switch off and have fun.
And if everyone has Zoom fatigue by now, a surprise early finish or an unexpected brownie box landing on their doorstep can brighten up even the gloomiest remote worker.
How can employers ease the transition into more permanent remote working solutions?
The next step you take as a business could significantly impact your future productivity and morale, so tread carefully to ensure you make the right decisions.
Ask your employees what their ideal situation would be. Do they want to work from home permanently? Are they desperate to get back to the office? Or, is there a happy medium of agile working between the two settings?
Find out what works for your employees, then look carefully at how you can make this work for your business. After all, giving your team the freedom to integrate work more seamlessly into their lives will ultimately boost morale, retention, and productivity.
Making the return to work easy
If you feel you need support welcoming your team back into the workplace, our free return to work toolkit is a great place to start.
It’s full of helpful information, guidance, procedures, and policies you can implement to ease the transition and successfully support your team through the change with zero disruption to your business.
Access more help supporting your team
If you need further help to support your team or you have specific questions about remote or flexible working, we can help. Contact the Crosse HR team by calling 0330 555 1139 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
“Toss a coin and see if you are disappointed”. We used to say this a lot as teenagers when struggling to make decisions or work out if we had made the right one. Today I deal with business owners making decisions all day long big and small. Decision making without proper consideration can result in costly mistakes, whilst slow decision making can cripple a business with indecision and result in lost opportunities.
Consider where you sit on the decision-making spectrum.
Quick Decision Making
Slow Decision Making
Act now deal with any consequences later
Quick sense check of financial impact
Review info promptly, discuss and decide
Canvass multiple opinions
Canvass multiple opinions and prepare multiple scenarios
Think about the impact of your approach, is it right for your business and is it right for you. Would you like to move along the spectrum in either direction or consider what you need to do that?
You don’t need a detailed forecast every time you make a decision, but you do need to understand the financial impact. A couple of examples might be –
Change in sales Mix – Consider if you have the key data established to enable you to understand for example the impact of a change in sales mix. It is often straight forward to pick up the external costs for any changes but think also about the impact on your time, your margins and that of your team of any change.
New clients – Growth requires investment so understanding how much you will need to pay out in outsource costs, product costs, system changes or new staff costs will influence your funding requirements.
Think about who you talk to when making decisions about the business – is it too many or not enough?
Do you currently make all decisions yourself with no additional input and does that feel right to you or conversely do you ask too many people and acknowledge this then delays your decision making?
You need to ensure you are asking the right people the right questions…. think carefully about their experiences, one might be right for financials, one for culture, one for process changes.
Challenge and Support
Consider who you have around you when making these decisions too – we can all get stuck in our ways. Think about the last time someone told you your idea wasn’t quite right, how did you react- did you listen, and did you consider your position?
Surround yourself with good people with complementary skill sets who you trust and who you know will both challenge and support you.
Consider other business owners with similar challenges perhaps you can create a partnership to challenge and hold each other accountable. You may have other senior team members who you can be more open with and encourage them to bring new ideas and challenge the status quo.
- Be honest about where you are on the spectrum.
- Write three bullet points which state what level of support and challenge you feel you need.
- Consider your wider network and internal team and who could fulfil this role to help improve your decision-making.
Change is coming: are you prepared? This April, the new financial year brings significant changes to the employer landscape – namely, IR35 and the EU settlement scheme. Read on for the key facts and dates you need to know to ensure your business is ready.
IR35 applies to people who work for a business in a self-employed capacity but are essentially employees. Clamping down on this practice, changes to UK law will see HMRC recover unpaid tax and National Insurance from businesses if they believe employers are guilty of using self-employment loopholes to avoid giving employees necessary rights and benefits.
From 1 April 2021, companies that employ more than 50 employees or have a turnover of over £10.2 million will need to pay tax or National Insurance for workers or contractors who are essentially employees.
What’s the difference between an employee and a contractor?
Employees have a contract, paid holidays, PAYE, pensions, and a host of employment rights. Meanwhile, self-employed freelancers, workers, and contractors submit invoices, aren’t entitled to holiday or sick pay, and don’t share the same rights as employees.
EU settled status
Another critical change coming to the world of employment is the EU settled status. This applies to businesses with EU citizens working for them, as the individuals will have to reapply for residency status.
Post-Brexit, EU workers can only remain in the UK if they arrived before 31 December 2020 and have applied for residency via the EU Settlement Scheme.
Once individuals have settled status, they’re free to remain in the UK indefinitely and may be eligible to apply for citizenship.
Pre-settled status is available to those who have been in the UK for less than five years. It permits them to stay for five years, after which they can choose to apply for full settled status if they wish to remain here.
The good news is, there’s still time to apply for EU settled status if you or your employees haven’t done it yet.
The deadline for employees to apply for EU settled status is 30 June 2021. It’s free, and you can do it here: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status
If you’re unsure whether your employees have a legal right to work in the UK post-Brexit, you can check here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checklist
Can I still employ someone from outside the UK post-Brexit?
Free movement between the UK and the EU ended on 31 December 2020, and a new points-based immigration system is in place in the UK.
So, while you can still employ people from the EU to work in your business following Brexit, they must score the necessary points and have a relevant work permit or status, and you must have a sponsor licence from the Home Office.
Skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor must have a skill level equivalent of RQF3 (equivalent to A level), speak English, score 70 points on the system, and earn at least £25,600 (or the “going rate” for the job).
Employees earning lower salaries may still apply by “trading” points, or if their job is on the shortage occupation list.
You may also transfer an employee from another part of your international business to work in the UK via an “intra-company transfer”, but certain stipulations apply.
Need help preparing for IR35 or post-Brexit employment?
Hopefully, this summary will help you work through the changes coming up in 2021.
If you still need any advice or support, we’re here to help. Call us on 0330 555 1139 or drop us a line at email@example.com
You can also take a look at our webinar below, delivered for RIBA West London to share some insight on HR matters currently affecting their members. After many interminable months of furlough doom and gloom, it was great to talk about how businesses can prepare for the future:
- Brexit and work permits
- IR35 and the impact on contracts
- And more
Check out the recording below and ensure you plan for the upcoming change.
Our MD and experienced HR consultant, Olga Crosse, recently joined Fulcrum Care Consulting to discuss what your options are if your staff in care homes refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Olga covers where you stand legally, what the best way to approach your staff is and a ‘last resort protocol’ if staff continuously refuse to take the vaccine. Read on to discover more.
Since the start of the Covid vaccine roll out we have been asked by a lot of our clients who operate in the Care Home space ‘what should we do with some staff who are refusing to have the vaccine, can we force them to?’.
According to Andrew Gregory of the Sunday Times it is expected that between 6% and 8% of the 1.5 million people who work in social care will refuse the vaccine. It has been reported that the National Care Association (NCA) is taking a legal opinion on whether or not care home staff can be ‘made’ to accept the vaccine as they are concerned that as many as 40% of care home staff may refuse the vaccine. On the plus side Nadra Ahmed Chairwoman of the NCA has said that between 50% and 60% of care home staff will definitely have the vaccine. So where does a care home provider stand legally?
Where do you stand legally with the Covid vaccine?
There is no simple answer to that, as a rule you cannot force anyone to accept the Covid vaccine if they do not want to and there is plenty of legislation that protects that right e.g. The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 specifically states that a member of the public should not be compelled to undergo any mandatory medical treatment, including vaccinations. An employer may fall foul of the Equalities Act 2010 if someone objects on religious or other grounds not to mention breaching Article 8 (right to family and a home life) of the Human Rights Act.
Is there anything else that you can do?
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 which states that employers have a duty of care to ensure a safe working environment might actually go some way in solving the Covid vaccine conundrum for care homes. Basically, employers have to ensure that the people they care for are not exposed to any risks. In that case, it could be deemed reasonable for a care home employer to insist that employees are vaccinated in a care home setting, in order to protect the residents that are being cared. Care Home employers could even make that a pre-condition of employment, which according to Lee Peart of CHP (Care Home Professional), Barchester Healthcare have done just that, and said that they won’t hire anyone who refuses to take vaccination on non-medical grounds. They have made it a condition of employment for any new hires and that is acceptable in that context, however as always we urge employers to proceed with caution before they do anything like that and always take HR and legal advice.
Consultation and communication with care home staff
Persuasion is always better than mandating anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. As with most things, it’s the fear of the unknown, and lack of communication that scares people the most. Therefore, we recommend care home owners (and employers in general) consult with their staff, listen to any concerns, act on those concerns and put measures in place to protect them to try and persuade nervous or dissenting employees to actually take the vaccine.
What should you do as a last resort?
As a last resort, if consultation and persuasion doesn’t work, care home employers could then take the nuclear step and specifically ‘instruct’ the employees to take the vaccine (as the vaccine is there to protect the residents and the staff, this could be seen as a reasonable management instruction) and any refusal to do so would be seen as ‘refusing a reasonable management instruction’ which is a disciplinary offence, which could potentially lead to an employee’s dismissal. We would urge caution before taking this route and try as much as possible to get consensus and agreement first. It is always better to persuade than to impose and legally a lot safer.
Other employers outside of the care home sector need to be very careful in insisting employees take the vaccine (Pimlico Plumbers springs to mind) and making it a condition of employment. Insisting might not be seen as reasonable in any other context and again might be in breach of a number of pieces of legislation, and you could be sued, so if you are a care home owner be sure to proceed with caution and to take HR and legal advice before you take any actions outlined above.
Fulcrum Care Ltd is a dedicated management support consultancy for care homes. Whatever the nature of your query, whether relating to help with a CQC inspection, improvement programmes, care compliance activities, best practice advice or management support, please get in touch for an initial discussion on finding the right solution for you and your care home.
How can you prepare for the weeks and months ahead? Right now, it’s difficult. That’s why, Finance Director, Helen Fleet, joined us to share 10 questions that business owners should be asking themselves as they head into 2021.
1. What do you want from your business?
Time out or a slowing down of work last year has given some business owners time to really think about what they want. How many hours do you want to spend working, how much income do you need and what really drives you? This has sparked thoughts with our clients on succession planning and personal work life balance.
2. How long do you want to run your business for?
With little spare cash around, pension payments may be something you have had to pause in 2020. Think about when you want to finish work and speak to an IFA about your plans. Financial advisors have some great tools to map out current pension payments and projected retirement income. Even if you can’t meet those payments now you know what you need to work towards.
3. Growth or Maintenance?
After twelve months of uncertainty, what do you want moving forward: – a return to where you were, a smaller leaner business or growth on your pre-pandemic position.
4. What will your business do?
2020 may have meant a change in your product or service offering- is this temporary or has this put your business on a more stable footing with a broader offering. Think about your service and client mix how this has changed and how you want to build from here.
5. How will your business be structured- office or home workers?
I think the office is crucial for team building, knowledge sharing and employee development. We all accept a hybrid model is probably more likely moving forward so how will you structure this – hot-desking, a permanent but smaller office space.
6. How will your employees be supported if they are home-working?
Do they have the space and the right equipment to be homeworking? Not everyone has space for a home office and how long will the lack of commute outweigh working from a bedroom. Consider how you will ensure team working continues, how knowledge will be shared and how any new employees will be onboarded.
7. Is your business profitable?
Given any changes in product offerings, is this work more or less profitable? Have the changes above had an impact on how you deliver your product or service? Do you have visibility of which work or client is more profitable?
8. How are you managing cashflow?
Chris Whitty said there may be further restrictions next Winter – what would this mean for your business. Cash reserves took a massive hit last year so do you have anything left for a bad month? Can you restrict spending for the next few months to build up reserves?
9. Do you know your cash position?
There are still some government support packages in existence and decisions to be made over the next few months. Do you need to use the flexible furlough scheme between now and the end of April? Did you defer your Vat last year and are you going to repay this in one go pre-March or take advantage of the ability to pay by instalments? If you took out a CBILS or a Bounce Back Loan are you going to repay over the next five years or take advantage of the extension available and repay over 9 years.
10. What are the non-work things you have enjoyed about 2020- can you make time for more of them?
I hope that it hasn’t been all bad. For all the grimness that we have lived through there have been moments of joy; – extra time with family, time for walks, new hobbies maybe, zoom quizzes. Give some thought to the things you never usually have time to do but have done last year. Life is not all about work and if we can all find more time to do something joyful then we can at least take something good away from 2020.
Need help with your finances?
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.
If you’d like to know more about Helen, visit her website here or follow her on LinkedIn.
With the (dare we say it?) unprecedented events of 2020 behind us, it’s time to look ahead to 2021. January is the ideal time to reflect on lessons learned in the previous year and prepare for a successful 12 months.
Now, more than ever, it’s vital to tackle the year head-on armed with as much information and foresight as possible.
Read on to see what we gleaned from the challenges of 2020, and how you can set your business up for a fruitful 2021.
How did we support you through 2020?
Hopefully, we were able to support you and your business during the trials of 2020, whether as a client or simply by reading our blogs for HR advice and suggestions on navigating the many issues the year threw at us.
In a rapidly changing landscape of furlough, redundancies and working from home, we sought to be your HR helpline and respond to your shifting needs. As well as providing plenty of free advice, we also created useful resources to address topical challenges happening in your business.
Finding the positives in 2020, we posted a guest blog full of insightful advice on maximising efficiency, income and budget, as well as encouraging you to recognise your strengths and congratulate yourself on surviving what was undoubtedly one of the most challenging years in business.
Appreciating your positive qualities is a fantastic way to grow, both personally and professionally.
In July, we created a free restructuring toolkit to help you work through the changes in your business from an HR perspective. The kit featured advice on redundancy, a business plan template, meeting record templates, at-risk employee communications and a redundancy notice period template.
Aimed at maximising your reduced budget and limited time, the kit is still available for free on our website – download it here.
Return to work toolkit
Bringing your employees back to work after lockdowns and furlough periods was another task to overcome in 2020. To ease the transition, we created a free HR return to work guide. This pack included risk assessments, Covid-safe workplace advice, office hours tips, flexible working support and wellbeing guidance.
Now we’re in our third lockdown, this pack will once again prove useful when your team returns to the office. Download yours here.
Why is HR important to your business in 2021?
With constant changes occurring in the world of work, HR is the cornerstone of your business and can enable you to support your teams through the pandemic’s everyday challenges.
As HR specialists, we understand your employees’ needs and can help you implement processes and procedures that will support your teams and safeguard your business.
Plus, we stay on top of HR trends, technology and challenges to communicate the critical takeaways to you in a simple, digestible format with clear advice on how you can keep your business protected and productive.
Why you need to start planning your year
Forget diets and detoxes: top of your list of new year’s resolutions should be business planning!
Plotting out your objectives and targets for the year may seem tricky at such a confusing time, but it will provide you with a roadmap through which to steer your business through the coming months.
Setting targets helps you prepare for all eventualities, meaning no nasty surprises. Plus, it can encourage positive changes in behaviour which spark higher retention rates, less pressure and increased productivity among your team.
What’s more, planning the year will enable you to react fast to industry or nationwide changes, understand your budget and funding options better and manage staffing levels successfully.
A crucial part of your planning for the year should include your appraisal schedule. As every business tries to perform to its potential during challenging circumstances, appraisals can help you assess what’s working and what’s not. In doing so, you can carve out a clear action plan to ensure your business maximises its resources to hit key targets.
Find out more about appraisals and download your free guide here.
HR changes post-Brexit
January 2021 sees a new points-based immigration system implemented in the UK, so employers who wish to recruit or retain non-UK citizens must follow specific processes to stay compliant. Plus, employees themselves may have the reapply for residency status.
If you’re unsure about these issues and how they might affect your team, check out our blog on the subject here.
Keep following our blog and social media channels to stay updated on all the latest post-Brexit HR news as it develops over this year.
Preparing for IR35
Originally scheduled to be introduced in April 2020, the IR35 tax legislation will now come into play this April.
For a full explanation of the changes due to be implemented – and how you can prepare for them – check out our blog on IR35 here.
Here to support you
As you take your business into 2021, we want to reassure you that we’ll be here with you every step of the way.
HR is a critical element in the smooth running of your business, especially during challenging periods. So, we will be providing advice, support and guidance at every turn.
Whether you’re a client or you use our free HR resources – like the restructuring toolkit, the return to work toolkit or the appraisals toolkit, for example – we will be working hard for you throughout 2021 and beyond.
Remember, we’re always available for a chat, advice or support – please contact us if we can help your business with any kind of HR guidance.
Recently, people have found people management particularly hard – with HR departments spread thin, furlough and just getting out of the routine. It’s been a hard year with priorities all over the place. But, as we head into 2021, we’re here to help you get back on with your appraisals and objective setting.
Download our free guide here.
Why should I bother?
You may be wondering what the point is. Since March, you’ve kept moving and your employees clearly know what they’re doing. But, with the distance between much of the workforce, appraisals are more important than ever – offering opportunities to touch base, ensure your employees are happy and they’re receiving all the support that they require to thrive.
Equally, in difficult times, it’s important to be lean. Appraisals can help you:
- Identify what’s working well
- Uncover what’s not working
- Create an action plan to address this
So, now is the time to set your objectives for the year – determining how you’ll drive forward; make your business more efficient and support your workforce with a full and proper appraisal process.
With that said, we’ve taken the time to collate everything you need to implement a thorough and efficient appraisals process – with plenty of support on how you can set SMART objectives.
A free guide to appraisals
Our free guide to appraisals is a handy download, including:
- Appraisal training workshops for employees and managers
- Formal appraisal policy
- Appraisal and PDP pro forma
- Monthly 1-2-1 progress tracking document
- Appraisals and you – employee support
- Appraiser’s checklist
- A guide to setting SMART objectives
- Setting objectives – a template
- Expert HR support