To quote the title of a famous Sam Cooke song, one of the many consequences of the lockdown is that we have all had plenty of time to think, ruminate and ponder about our lives. For us business owners, this time of reflection has extended to include our businesses.
As a result, many may well be facing the prospect of changing their business to adapt to the changing times – be it out of necessity or because you have finally had the time required to get your house and business in order and consider the future.
In short, whether we like it or not ‘A change is gonna come’.
Restructuring Your Business
Whether a restructure is a choice or your only option, it can feel like a pretty overwhelming task to approach alone… So, where should you begin?
Below, we share some of the common questions we get asked about restructures and provide clarity to help you on your way.
“Can I just ‘do it’?”
Yes, you can. However, we recommend getting a restructure plan in place first.
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy or a scary task. Just write out your rationale for doing it, the consequences it will have, the timeline for carrying it out and the process that you will follow.
Doing so will help you gather your thoughts and put some structure around it, so that you can communicate it to your staff.
“What is consultation?”
Consultation is borne out of Information and Consultation Directive, where employers are obliged to consult with employees on any aspect that will affect their employment.
Before you moan, you really should do it!
However, be sure not to confuse consultation with negotiation. Whilst you should take on board your employees’ views about the restructure, you are under no obligation to actually implement those views.
“Do I have to consult?”
Yes, because failure to consult can cost you.
An employment tribunal can award a penalty for failure to consult. And, in the case of TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings – Protection of Employment Regulations), that award is 13 week’s salary.
“How long should consultation last?”
There are no hard and fast rules if your business has less than 20 employees. However, it should be no less than a week and as much time as possible.
“Can I use Last In, First Out?”
We’re telling you now – no you can’t. We’re not sure where the LIFO philosophy came from but forget you ever heard of it.
“Does furlough cover redundancy?”
The short answer is no.
If you are looking to end furlough to make your employees redundant, seek further support or contact us.
“What is selection criteria?”
Selection criteria is the basis by which you will select employees for redundancy.
The criteria can be based on attendance, performance, disciplinary, experience and qualifications to name but a few. Some businesses choose to base this on a competitive recruitment process.
Helping You Restructure
We decided, as part of the Coming back from Covid series, to give you a quick guide to restructuring.
Whether you are just moving the chairs around the room or making people redundant, our Restructuring Toolkit should provide you a great place to make a start.
As we are a generous lot here at CrosseHR, we’ve also included a few templates to help you along – helping you make the most out of your limited time and budget at this difficult time.
And remember, if you need any further help with your restructure or any HR concerns, we are just a phone call away: 0330 555 139.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Thrive and Survive is a community created by a collective of business people who are coming together to help you overcome the current financial crisis and come out of this with a stronger business.
I recently shared my thoughts on the HR implications of COVID-19 in a webinar that covered:
How to deal with 3 scenarios of people ‘out of the business’ with COVID-19 related reasons
Furloughing workers – who’re eligible, what are the rules and how to do it
Common questions on partial furloughing
Advice on keeping in touch with staff, engagement, and productivity
Lots of chat on the positives arising for business and the opportunity when this is all over
Please excuse the noise in the background – we can thank the joys of remote working in a busy city for that!
Hopefully, it’s not too distracting and you find it useful.
[PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST UPDATE]
Since recording this webinar, a lot has changed. It seems that every day new data comes to light, so we just wanted to drop in a little more information to support you with the HR implications of COVID-19.
Since the government briefing on 10.05.20, lockdown restrictions are beginning to lift for certain businesses – but this doesn’t mean you should be too hasty in heading back to work. Let’s take a little look at why…
Health and Safety:
It is important at this point to remind you that it is your moral responsibility to protect the health and safety of your colleagues. Before rushing back to work, ensure you address some primary concerns, including:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Cleaning, including providing ample hand-washing facilities
Before inviting your employees back into the workplace, ensure you follow the guidance of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As well as directing you towards some useful resources, including industry-specific support for certain work settings, they are regularly updating their website with guidance to help your safe transition back to work.
Talking to Your Employees:
In this stressful time, we must not neglect our duty to check in on our employees.
This high-stress environment is unsettling for everyone, especially those with vulnerable or shielded loved ones. Ensure you communicate with empathy as you seek to return to normal and make reasonable adjustments where possible.
Return to Work Interviews
If you have had members of staff on furlough for a number of months, it may also be worth considering whether a return to work interview would be of use. This short, informal meeting may help you address your workforce’s concerns and facilitate a successful transition back to the office. If you need a little guidance, why not lean on our slick and consistent process here?
Involving Employees in the Process:
By consulting and involving your employees in the steps you are taking to manage the risk of coronavirus in your workplace you can:
Explain the changes
Illustrate the safety practices in place
Make sure changes will work – their operational input may be vital
Hear their ideas and address their concerns
Continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak
It is also recommended that you share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. Where possible, publish the results on your website (note: the government expects all employers with over 50 workers to do so).
If you are unsure where to start with this, HSENI has released an example COVID-19 risk assessment to help you on your way. You can download via their website.
Need some advice?
If you have any questions about the HR implications of COVID-19 or you’d like to discuss how to run return to work interviews, please do get in contact. We hope this has been of use during this stressful time.