INSIGHTS

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How To Deal With The Influx Of Bank Holiday Weekends

Everyone loves a good old bank holiday weekend. More time with the family, an opportunity to unwind, and weather permitting, maybe even a barbecue or two. As a business owner though, long weekends bring some key challenges. With four bank holidays appearing in the springtime calendar in the UK, it makes sense to be prepared, so you can prevent the common issues from knocking your business off track.

Here are a few things that you should consider, sooner rather than later…

Make sure you have a policy that’s clearly communicated to all staff

Many problems can be avoided by simply making sure that your staff know what’s expected from them. Dropping the bombshell that you’re cancelling the long weekend at the last minute isn’t likely to do you any favours when it comes to getting your workforce onside.

Sometimes, depending on the nature of your business, it’s just not possible to allow everyone to take the day off. If that’s the case, make your stance clear in advance, and ensure that everyone knows what you’re working towards.

Carefully plan out operational requirements in advance

Your business no doubt has deadlines and priorities that need to be handled. If your staff will be out of the office, then you need to understand how this might have a knock-on effect, and how you’ll manage that.

Some forward planning here can go a long way. Make sure that you get your team involved, and everyone understands how their workload for the week will be managed.

Know the relevant legislation

Your employees don’t have a legal right to receive extra pay for working bank holidays, unless this is something that you have promised in the contract of employment – or if it is implied because of historical practices within your business.

In terms of asking your staff to take annual leave to cover the holiday, this is an option, providing that you give notice that’s twice the length of the holiday period that you are asking them to take.

Remember that your staff should receive a written statement within 2 months of starting their employment that covers their entitlement to holiday, including provisions for public holidays, and pay.

If you know that your policies and procedures could do with a refresh, then let’s talk. Give us a call today to arrange your no-obligation consultation. Call us now on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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Pre Employment Screening: How Deep Should You Dig?

For many businesses, particular those in the finance sector, employee’s pasts have always come under some scrutiny in an effort to limit the risk for those employing them. However these days it’s recognised that risks aren’t limited in this area to just one sector, as more and more businesses understand that their employees are their number one data risk. But if the standard reference checks when recruiting just aren’t enough. How far should you go? Here we delve into the world of pre employment screening, what it means and if it’s relevant to your business:

Pre Employment Screening is an umbrella term for a series of checks which include the following:

  • Credit history
  • Criminal record.
  • Personal information (DVLA, FCA, social media, etc)
  • Identify fraud
  • General reference checking

Credit History? That’s A Bit Much….

Whilst you may think it seems fair that a potential employer can find out if you are who you say you are and if you’ve murky criminal past you’d like to hide, you’d not be alone in thinking that assessing a candidate’s financial position is a step too far. But checking to see if an employee is under financial strain (and thus perhaps more likely to be urged into fraudulent or criminal activity) is relatively commonplace in industries where money or data are the key commodities. 

What Can Employers Really Find Out About A Candidate’s Credit History?

A little – but not nearly as much as a lender might when assessing viability for credit applications. Access to data stored on an individual’s credit file is tightly controlled. Typically, when a pre employment credit check is run, numerous public and private databases are searched for any adverse financial warning signs such as County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies, voluntary arrangements, decrees and administration orders. Oh, and if you were wondering, don’t worry a check like this won’t affect their credit score.

I’m Not In Finance Or Data – Is This Relevant To My Business?

Whilst money and data might not be your business area – there will be functions within your business who deal with one or both of these. So do consider a little extra digging when recruiting for roles in these areas – particularly in your finance/accounts department.

Sounds A Bit Tricky – Can I Get Someone To Do It For Me?

There are a plethora of specialist staff vetting providers out there. If you are just dipping your toe in the water you might prefer to use a credit referencing agency such as Experian who offer up to 10 online pre (or existing) employee checks for £54.99 a year, which includes a basic criminal record check, identity check and adverse financial check.

Employment references are a dying breed

For compliance purposes, employment references are useful as they confirm whether an employee was where they said they were employed. However that is where their use pretty much stops. If you think that an employment reference is going to tell you all you need to know about how your soon-to-be employee performed and behaved whilst in their previous employment, then think again. Not only is relying on them one of the weakest ways you can predict performance (think about it – most only provide names of people that they know will provide a positive reference) but many companies are fearful of the comeback from any litigious employee and these days shy away from providing anything more than a perfunctory ‘Jane Smith was employed between the period of x and y’. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately pre-employment vetting can’t tell you if a candidate is trustworthy or not. Indeed, someone’s personal financial situation may have little impact on their professionalism and ability to do a good job. All these checks can do is highlight any anomalies that might put someone’s character into question – the interpretation is down to you.

And of course, for some offenders there will always be a first time. And no amount vetting is going to help there. So regularly review your working practices with fresh eyes – focussing on any possible loop holes that could allow fraud or other criminal activity to occur.

For help with recruitment, or any other HR issue, contact thehrhub today. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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Why Free Lunch Could Be The Key To Increasing Productivity

Have you noticed that several years ago the office lunch hour looked very different than it does today?  I’m not sure about you, but when I entered into the working world, nearly everybody in the office was either heading out to M&S or Greggs to get a sandwich (or Subway when it emerged on the high street in the 90’s) or bringing in their lunch from home.

However, there has been a change to this in recent years and there is an emerging trend of companies providing free lunches or, at the very least, basic materials to allow employees to have the comfort of not leaving the office to source their lunch.

Back in the millenium free lunches used to be considered a bit of a perk, normally provided during an internal meeting (for those of us who remember the economic downturn this was one the first things to be cut by companies!). But  now  free lunch is no longer just a perk, and it can be a boost for culture, morale, and productivity, in turn elevating it to a benefit comparable to some other lifestyle benefits such as health care.  

But What Are The Benefits For My Business?

I hear you cry.  Although a free lunch is not going to instantly add money to your bottom line there are some long term benefits for both you and your employees. To start with, employees will spend much less time “doing” lunch when you provide it for them than when they had to walk somewhere, wait in line, eat, and then get back to their desk. Your team will also spend much more time together naturally discussing work issues in a casual way so, not only are you feeding your employees but you are also feeding their relationships and – providing the food you offer is healthy – it can also increase employees brain power to.

It’s Also Proven To Have Positive Effects On Productivity And Morale

The main benefit according to researchers is that time spent together in this way can boost your employees productivity and morale.  Just think about it for a second. Who doesn’t love it when you feel like your company values you enough to give you something for free?!  There are countless studies that have shown that the happier your employees are the more productive they will be and in-turn how engaged they are you’re your business. At Best Companies, employee wellbeing is one of the 8 key factors which is used to determine levels of engagement amongst staff. This is simply because, the better you take care of your people’s wellbeing, the more likely you are to achieve sustainable growth over time.

So How Can It Work For An SME?

City firms and large technology companies including Facebook and Google are some of the most generous providers when it comes to free food and drink. Their canteens are filled with hot meals, desserts and drinks at no cost to staff. Of course as an SME you won’t be able to match these offerings but you can consider some of these options and introduce something once a week to get you started and until you are in a position to provide more:

  • A continental breakfast. Consider bagels, muffins, coffee once a week – a nice way to start the day.  When you consider that you can get a bag of bagels for £1 and a pack of 8 croissants for less than £2 – that’s very little outlay compared to the benefits you will gain.
  • Pizza Friday. Provide lunch on Friday giving employees the chance to reflect on the working week and spend time together
  • Consider providing basic lunch and/or breakfast materials in your office such as bread, milk, butter, porridge, healthy snack bars etc.
  • Provide a fruit basket on a weekly basis (an oldie but a goody!) To save money do an online shop with a supermarket and get all your office supplies delivered in one go.
  • Provide afternoon snacks. Think of something healthy like nuts, healthy snack bars to increase employees brain power and avoid a sugar dip later in the day. Some companies now provide healthy snack dispensers for employees, similar to the breakfast cereal dispensers that you find in hotels.

A Word Of Caution

Now just before you go online and order a plethora of snacks and fruit for employees, consider your approach and what you are trying to achieve. Also be mindful of how your business has been doing over the last 12 months –  for example, if pay and benefits have been squeezed it might be wise start small as your employees are not likely to be impressed with free lunch if they have not had a decent pay rise or bonus for a while!

Most importantly, whatever you do, make sure that as the business leader that you also participate. There’s little point banging on about being more collaborative and then being too busy to join in (plus it will provide you with invaluable face-to-face time with your employees on an informal basis)

So, don’t totally discount free lunches as just another cost to your business. The real benefit comes not only in the increase in productivity and collaboration but also in the form of competitive advantages in recruiting – although you may not necessarily be able to offer the top salaries you can offer a great culture that people will want to be a part of. Just don’t forget to offer some vegetarian and gluten free options, too!  
For advice and support with any HR issue contact us today for a no-strings chat about your HR needs and how we can help. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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Training: How To Make Sure It’s A Good Investment For Your Employees AND Your Company

Training can often be a costly business for SMEs especially as your business grows and you try to retain your key talent. Have you ever paid for an employee’s training believing that they would remain loyal to your company only to watch them leave for another job? It’s truly gutting, and hard not to take personally. Whilst there’s precious little you can do about that particular situation now, you can take action in advance to limit your financial exposure in the future.

Actually, the process of recouping costs is relatively simple and straightforward. It involves you entering into a formal agreement with an employee before they start their training.

Follow these simple steps to ensure that you have some comfort of seeing a return on your investment:

  • Discuss what benefits the requested training will have for the employee and your business.  Only offer to provide funding for training when you can see a direct benefit for your company.
  • Once you have agreed to pay for all (or some) of the training course agree what the terms of repayment are going to be if the employee resigns. The most effective way to do this is to decide on a staggered system of claw back whereby the amount to be repaid by the employee decreases with time until a certain period has lapsed after which no repayment is due. You can calculate your own specific rules with regards to claw back but a common approach is to stipulate a repayment of 100% of the training costs if the employee resigns within 3 months of completing training; 75% repayment after 3 – 6 months; 50% after 6 – 9 months and 25% after 9 – 12 months. After 12 months, no repayment would be due.
  • Put the agreement in writing and give the employee a clear explanation of what the terms mean. You should also make sure that the employee signs the agreement to give their consent to the repayment terms. Such repayments cannot be implemented retrospectively without the employee’s consent because the repayment constitutes a deduction from pay. A deduction of this kind that is not agreed with the employee beforehand is an unlawful one.
  • Remember that you can only put a formal training agreement in place for training outside of any regular in house training that you offer as a business (such as the costs associated with their induction). The cost of on-the-job training is something that you should budget into your normal expenses and is not something you will be able to recover, even if your employee leave 2 weeks after the training.

Although training can be costly to your business, work-related training courses can be an invaluable investment for both you and your employees: your employee spends their time learning new skills and widening their knowledge; your business benefits from an individual who can play a more significant role in the business, in turn contributing to increased profits, more streamlined internal processes etc.

Need help formalising your training agreements? Contact us at theHRhub on 0203 627 7048 for more information on how to support your employees training needs. Or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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Why You Should Never Download Your People Policies Online

If you’re like most employers, then the very first time you realised you needed some people policies to make sure that you’re compliant with the law and/or drive performance and engagement, you probably carried out a quick Google search to grab what you needed or dug out the old ones from your last firm. Sound familiar?

And for many it seems like the obvious place to start. After all, “in Google we trust” is the mantra of many….

But sometimes of course, it pays to exercise more than just a little bit of caution. You’d hope to know better than to search for specific medical advice online (“there you go, there might just be the need for the 7 years plus medical school training after all” being the words muttered by my husband’s consultant as the patient in question had just wrongly diagnosed any eye injury), or just hope for the best when it comes to pulling your finances together… So would you really risk a search engine to give you the policies and templates that have the power to make or destroy your business??

Here’s why you might want to have a rethink…

You Have No Real Idea Where Your Advice Is Coming From

You don’t have to be an expert legal advisor, or even an HR consultant, to knock up a website and share your views and opinions online. Pretty much anyone with a laptop and the patience to watch a few YouTube videos can do it. You might say that it would be pretty pointless for someone to intentionally give you the wrong advice, and that’s probably true. But it’s not worth leaving anything to chance.

Working with a skilled HR professional will make sure that your documentation is informed by legal requirements and cutting-edge best practice.

The Law Changes Regularly

What applies right now in terms of good HR advice isn’t necessarily going to be good advice 6 months from now. New legislation is released on a regular basis, and it’s your job to make sure that you are compliant.

When you access information and templates online, you can never be certain when they were last updated. Of course, we always keep you up to date with what you really need to know, so it pays to sign up for our free updates.

One Size Doesn’t Necessarily Fit All

It’s true that the law applies across the board, regardless of what kind of business you run. You’re not exempt from following the rules just because you have just a few employees, for example. Still though, there are certain things that only apply to businesses of a certain size, and what works for a large multinational corporation isn’t necessarily going to work for a small family business.

When you work with a professional to get what you need, you can ensure that your practices are fit for purpose. Your HR consultant can get to know your individual needs, and craft a strategy accordingly.

There are times in your business when doing a few online searches is going to give you exactly what you need. But when it comes to managing your most valuable asset – your people – it’s never worth cutting corners.

If you’re concerned about whether your practices are hitting the mark, get in touch today and we can have a no-obligation chat about where you stand, and what your options are. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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