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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.


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.

5 reasons to outsource

5 reasons to outsource

Whatever your business or sector, you need the right expertise in your business to be successful. You need talented marketers who know how best to spend your marketing budget to deliver a return on your investment. You need an HR outsource team to recruit the best people for your business, drive engagement and deal with people management issues. You need a diligent accountant or even a whole accounting department to make sure you are managing your books effectively and making the most of your finances.

These skilled people all come at a price. You are competing with every other business who also want these talented individuals which could mean you find it difficult to find the right people. Alternatively, you may feel that there is a shortage of the right people to fill your requirements. Whether you can find the right people or not. The costs of recruiting a qualified, talented person, or team, are high, and the time required to manage them means taking you eye off other areas of the business, like working on how to grow it further.

Many small business owners are nervous about outsourcing. They worry about yet another cost to the business and the fear that their precious business information is in somebody else’s hands. There are so many advantages to HR outsource however and here are just a few to try to ease any worries that you may have.

1. A better return on investment

The costs of recruiting a qualified person or team are sky high. Before they even get to work you have to think about the costs of advertising your position or hiring an expensive recruitment agency to do the job for you, not to mention the hours you’ll spend pouring over CVs and conducting interviews. Then, once you have found the correct candidate you’ve got countless other costs to look forward to including salaries, benefits, insurance, payroll taxes, paid time off as well as work space, furniture, computers, software. The list is endless!

The financial savings of outsourcing are significant. Outsourcing allows you to balance your requirements to your business needs and ONLY pay for the actual work delivered, nothing else. Plus, it’s tax deductible.

2. Make the most of your time

The time it takes to manage your teams on a weekly basis can be put to much better use. No more weekly update meetings or valuable time lost from your diary spent managing office operations. That’s what your outsourced supplier will do. You can spend the time instead on activities that are vital to your business objectives like working on growth strategies or building relationships.

3. Benefit from a team of experts

Using your investment on outsourcing functions of your business gives you access to a team of experts. They specialise in what they do and have to continually develop their skills to compete, which means you can trust that the service you are going to receive will be top notch. An HR outsource firm for example will be filled with experienced HR consultants or employment lawyers who continually update their skills and qualifications to retain their competitive advantage, expand their services and remain compliant. A successful marketing firm on the other hand is only as good as the results they generate for their clients. They will have a wide range of skills in house to help you grow your business through a variety of channels. Plus, they will be accountable for the return on investment they have committed to achieving for you.

4. Scale your service requirements in line with business growth

One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing is scalability. As your business grows you can simply add further functions. You can find the right supplier with the qualified team needed to deliver your requirements. You won’t need to worry about recruiting more staff or having to make redundancies should the business take a down turn. What’s more, they are on hand to help you think about your growth strategy, help you earn more money and drive your business forward.

5. Time and speed

By outsourcing you have the flexibility to choose a provider that best suits your business needs. You could choose a provider who has a different time zone. That way, the work you need doing will be done while your business is closed for the day, you can simply wake up to the work delivered to you the next morning.

Setting clear deadlines and deliverables for suppliers can also help you work faster and provide a better service. If suppliers are contracted to performing a task by a certain time you can be sure that it will get done, meaning your product can get to market quicker or your accounts will be submitted on time, for example.

Contact us today if you’d like to HR outsource to make your life and business run smoothly.

How to structure a job description

How to structure a job description

The job description is your first step in recruiting a new employee and arguably the most important part of the entire process. The job description is effectively a piece of direct marketing collateral and you should treat it like one. It is a direct response tool through which you can sell your business to the perfect candidate. How do you make your job description stand out against the crowd? How do you attract the right candidate and make them want to work for you?

Here’s a few points you should consider next time you’re recruiting:

Be personal

As we have already pointed out, the job description is essentially direct marketing. As such you should treat it that way with the words you use to describe the correct candidate and how you sell your company to that candidate. Focus on using the words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ over ‘the right candidate’. Be conversational in tone so they can easily understand what the company stands for and what the role entails. You need to help the candidate picture themselves in the role so they can really identify themselves fitting in and excelling in the position.
When talking about the company, you shouldn’t be too strict and formal. Try and sell the benefits of working for the company over explaining the ins and outs of your business. The candidate will research you and find out your website anyway so use the job description to sell why an employee should REALLY want to work for you.

Be search engine friendly

When it comes to advertising your position on job sites it’s really important to make sure that your job specification is search engine friendly. You need to make sure that the people you want to hire, can actually find your job! To do that you need to think about a few things when writing your job description to ensure the search engines return your job when someone makes a search.

• Keep your job titles short and sweet and a maximum of 80 characters long. This is the optimum length of a title.
• Avoid using caps or special characters in titles. This will make your title easy to read and rank in search engines.
• Use real life terminology for your job title so the search engine knows what the job actually is.
• Use strategic keywords to help your job description rank well. Look at other job descriptions on job sites that are similar to yours and try and find the type of keywords they are using. Also, include more specific keywords in your description to help the search engine match your job to the candidates search. This will also mean you are showing your job to a better type of candidate.

Be specific

Be specific throughout the document, starting with the job title. Don’t get bogged down in technical internal titles. Be clear with the title so that they can quickly understand what the role entails. Keep it short and easily understandable. For example, if you’re recruiting for a Marketing Manager, say so. Rather than use titles like ‘marketing wizard’ or ‘growth specialist’. Specify years of experience, qualifications and specific skills you’re looking for.

Be clear with what the job entails. Perhaps include a paragraph on ‘Your typical working day’ to help the candidate picture themselves in the role. Using our Marketing Manager example, perhaps the role entails developing and managing the marketing strategy and managing a small team? On the other hand, their day could be 60% focussed on content production. If it does, say so. Use this paragraph to help candidates understand what they will actually be doing on a day to day basis.

Be honest

Try not to sugar coat negative parts of the role. If the successful candidate will end up doing a lot administrative work that may be considered a little laborious, it is perfectly fine to say so. Candidates should have a clear picture of what the job entails so that there are no nasty surprises when they start.

You should also be honest about the key objectives of the role. The job description is your first opportunity to outline any key performance indicators you will be using to measure the performance of the candidate. The candidate should completely understand how performance will be managed so that there are no surprises when it comes to performance reviews in the future.

Be snappy

Try and cut out the waffle. People’s attention span is limited these days and you should make it easy for them to understand your job description.
• Use short snappy paragraphs and bullet points.
• Direct attention with sub headings or bold/italic fonts.
• Avoid buzzwords and corporate jargon, use real life language.

Contact us today for more information



How to boost productivity

How to boost productivity

Every business owner wants a more productive workforce and in these challenging times, it is vital that your team is working to it’s potential before you can even consider investing in further recruitment to grow your business. In order to maintain your position in the market, or overtake your competitors, a yearly increase in productivity is key. In most industries, productivity increases of between 10 and 25% are the order of the day. Can you honestly say that your team is delivering this year on year?

We could talk for hours on productivity factors as there are just so many things you should consider. As a starter for 10 here are our top 10 factors you should consider.

1. Great managers are worth their weight in gold

Managers play a vital role in delivering workforce productivity. They should be supported by HR to grow and develop to become great leaders. On the flip side, HR should endeavour to remove ineffective managers as they can be toxic to the morale and productivity of their teams. Managers must communicate goals and objectives clearly and hold employees to account. At the same time, coaching, mentoring and developing their teams is crucial to success.

2. Hire the right people

One of, if not THE most important factor you must consider is the people you hire. Work with your HR team to identify and employ high performers. People who will go the extra mile for both the business and to develop their own skill sets. Self-motivation is key and employees who are committed to personal development will be the key to driving your business forward. Even the best managers will struggle to motivate those who do not have personal drive.

3. Get your team bought in to the business strategy

Communicate the strategy of the business to your entire workforce and ensure that each team has defined and individual responsibilities in achieving this goal. Every employee should feel like a vital cog in the success of the business. The feeling of job satisfaction is often much more important to employees than financial reward. Share and celebrate successes and thank your workforce for the part they played. A simple thank you goes a very long way!

4. Control your control mechanisms

While it’s important for teams to be managed effectively, too much control can strangle decision making and employee development. It is a fine balance but one you must understand to create effective teams. Too little control can create waste and lack of focus. Too much can create blockages and hinder efficiency. Make sure you have the right balance.

5. Manage the working environment

There are so many parts of everyday office life that can have a real effect on the morale and productivity of the workforce. Get them wrong, especially if you have been informed of problems by employees, can quickly lead to a feeling of a lack of care and consideration. This in turn will have a knock on effect on morale and productivity. Take control of the simple things. Are there annoying lights flickering? Is it too hot or too cold? Are employees comfortable at their desks? Is it too loud or too quiet in the office? All these environmental factors play a part in daily productivity output.

6. The importance of goal and objective setting

Managers, teams and individuals should have goals and objectives that stretch them, but that can also be reasonably achieved with hard work. Employees should be coached to achieve them and praised for doing so. Goals should be measurable so progress can be easily communicated.

7. Prioritise objectives and tasks across the business

Throughout the business, tasks and objectives should be prioritised. This should filter down to teams and individuals so everyone is on the same page when it comes to the priorities they should make in their daily working lives. Many employees will spend hours on successfully completing a task. But if that task is of low priority to the business, then that time could be much better spent elsewhere.

8. Reward your employees

Monetary rewards have a big impact on performance and productivity. They should however, be tied to the achievement of goals and performance metrics. Monetary rewards on their own however are not effective at driving continual productivity growth. They should be used in conjunction with excitement factors and a team based company culture.

9. Encourage your teams to collaborate

Many processes and learnings can be shared between teams to improve efficiency. For example, if a team develops a solution to a problem it should be shared with others in the business that may also be suffering from the same challenges. Not sharing information and forcing each team to overcome the same obstacles by learning from their own mistakes is a sure fire way to lost productivity.

10. Ensure you resource effectively

Teams and individuals are often held back by resourcing issues. Perhaps they do not have an adequate budget to complete their tasks. Perhaps it is a lack of training or technology that is holding them back. Enable your employees to have the confidence to communicate these issues to their managers and empower your managers to provide solutions.

Contact us today to find out how you can boost your team’s productivity.