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HR Folks Might Be Highly Skilled But We Can’t Read Your Mind! Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of A Partnership

HR Folks Might Be Highly Skilled But We Can’t Read Your Mind! Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of A Partnership

As your business grows, you might decide that the time is right to start working with HR. It’s certainly true that having a people professional on hand and on your side can bring huge benefits, and it could be exactly what you need to create steady and manageable growth you’re after. But before setting the wheels in motion, it might be useful to take a step back and think about what you can do to ensure that any relationship reaches its full potential. Let’s explore the practical steps you can take.

Be Open And Honest About Absolutely Everything

When you first start to work with any kind of professional services, there’s always a period during which you’re still getting to know each other. You’ll be asked questions about business, and it can be tempting to try to gloss over the less attractive parts, and not be completely honest about your situation and how you’re feeling about it. Here at theHRhub we’ve seen (most of) it all before, and aren’t here to judge. We just need all the information you can give us – the good, the bad, and the ugly – so we can work out an action plan to get you to where you want to be.

Remember To Use Their Services Strategically

Many people first start working with an HR service  because they have a particular problem that they need expert assistance with right away. It could be an issue with a new recruit, or it would be a routine disciplinary matter that’s gone horribly wrong. It’s safe to say though that most business owners’ first contact with their HR service is the result of an operational matter. And that’s fine, of course. Sometimes, there are things that you can’t cope with yourself, that need to be tackled ASAP. If you really want to get the most out of your working relationship though, recognise the strategic value that is there for the taking. Engage in conversations about the future of your business, the big challenges you face, and how HR can help you to get you to where you want to be with less hassle and less fuss.

Speak Up When You Need Help

The world of HR, just like any industry out there, is full of jargon and terminology that you might not be familiar with. The good news here though is that we at theHRhub will break down everything you need to know, so it’s easy to understand and digest and so that you get to know your TUPE from your EAP. If there’s anything at all that you feel unsure about, don’t be afraid to speak up. As skilled as we are, we can’t read your mind! And we’re always more than happy to go that extra mile so you’re really reaping the benefits of having your own on-demand HR point of contact.

It’s normal to feel slightly overwhelmed at the thought of working with an HR service or consultant. You probably felt the same when you first called upon the services of your accountant. If you follow these steps though, teething problems can be avoided, and you’re likely to quickly discover that taking the plunge was the best decision that you’ve ever made.

Want to have a discussion about how all of this could work for you, in really practical terms? Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk to book in a free consultation.

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HR Horrors: Are you forking out more than you should be on fraudulent expense claims?

HR Horrors: Are you forking out more than you should be on fraudulent expense claims?

4 in 10 respondents to a recent survey (by software company webexpenses) admitted that they had fiddled their expenses. This is maybe not a HUGE surprise to you,  however, shockingly the total sum of those amounts could relate to as much as £100 million a year lost from businesses across the UK.  

Many employees made little tweaks to their actual expense claims, some completely false but mainly it seems, exaggerated, with them citing travel as an area where they didn’t feel guilty elaborating on the truth (almost 50% of respondents said that they had claimed for more miles than they had actually travelled).

Surely a little bit doesn’t hurt right? Of course, the individual exaggerations may be relatively small – which is perhaps why 8 in 10 workers had never had their claims challenged or denied – but if you don’t watch it they can really stack up, and be a real cash drain for many businesses. Adam Reynolds, CEO at webexpenses, mentions that there had been a “shift to more subtle methods” that didn’t raise big causes for concern, and that the culture of fraudulent claims was changing.

So it is likely that you may have the same issue so with the new year approaching, now might be the time to do a bit of an update on your policy, make your expectations on expenses clear and do a bit of scare mongering to throw a bit of caution out there to those that may have been abusing the system slighty. After all, what’s the point in working furiously to achieve your revenue goals, when you’re wasting cash unnecessarily? Take a look below at our top tips for combatting fraudulent claims…

Create a robust policy so your employees know exactly what the process should look like

Do your members of staff really know what’s expected of them when it comes to claiming for expenses? Does your policy clearly state what they can claim for, and how they should do it? Are your current processes clear and well communicated, or are they vague and not really adhered to?

Creating a policy that’s fit for purpose is often the first step towards stamping out any future problems. Everyone from your staff to their line managers should be aware of how they should claim, and what they’ll be entitled to.

Conduct regular checks

The survey found that very few companies carried out adequate checks when claims were submitted. This inevitably means that mistakes are being made – sometimes, even because of genuine human error – and a culture of over claiming can be the norm.

You might decide to give line managers responsibility for carrying out checks at stipulated intervals, or do monthly checks on random claims.  What’s important is that there’s a process in place, and someone really owns it.

Keep things simple

Many companies have long winded expense-claiming provisions that are time consuming for everyone involved (seriously – do you need that many people signing things off??). Improving how you do things isn’t about adding in more hoops to jump through, or making things more complicated. It might even be the case that you need to go back to basics, and take out unnecessary steps in the process .

Use technology. This is definitely one of those areas where tech can definitely save you bucketloads of time. Requiring staff to keep track of receipts can turn into an administrative nightmare, and there are now tonnes of apps on the market that can make your life a load easier: many of our clients use FreeAgent, Xero and Concur to manage without the piles of paper receipts weighing down drawers everywhere…..

It’s important to recognise that many of your staff members will be making accurate expense claims, and are simply being suitably compensated for costs that they’ve genuinely incurred. It’s never wise to start throwing around accusations or making your staff feel like their honesty is being questioned. But in order to ensure that fraudulent expense claims don’t damage your business, get started with considering how you can implement these key points. 

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

Image : Twenty20

The shift from coworker to boss is a tricky one. What advice could you give to new managers?

The shift from coworker to boss is a tricky one. What advice could you give to new managers?

So you’re looking to grow talent from within, have a vacancy and the perfect employee to promote to a management position. They’re eager, they’re passionate, and they’re full of potential. Help them give it their best shot, however excited they might be to step up and demonstrate what they can achieve, there are a few bumps in the road that they’re likely to run into.

No doubt you’ve experienced some of these bumps in your own career, and if you’ve managed a business for any amount of time, you’ll know that leading a team can sometimes be messy and complex. As the business owner though, you’ve got a role to play in supporting your new manager and helping them to navigate the challenges.

The first step is anticipating the struggles that they may well experience. Let’s take a look at what they are…

  • Making the shift from co-worker to boss: Your employee no doubt already has working relationships with many of the people they’ll now be managing. They might socialise together at weekends, and have friendships outside of the office. A promotion can disturb what’s become the natural order of things, and this can leave your manager and their team feeling a little unsettled.
  • Finding the time for all the new responsibilities:  Previously, the individual might have worked in their own bubble. They managed their own workload, had one set of deadlines to adhere to, and mainly worked independently from the wider team. Sometimes, the promotion to manager can leave your employee feeling like they’ve bitten off way more than they can chew. Not only do they have their own work to do, but they now need to fit all their management activities into their diary. This can be overwhelming and stressful.
  • Not delegating work: It can be tricky sometimes to feel confident in delegating work to a team. There can be a tendency to try to do everything on your own, but as every manager who has ever made this mistake can attest to, it quickly leads to burn-out, and it’s not a productive or sustainable way to operate. Delegating works best when there’s a clear workflow in place, and the manager communicates effectively with the team.
  • Fixing things that aren’t broken: New managers are often bright eyed and bushy tailed. They’re keen to make an impression, and are actively looking for ways to improve the productivity and effectiveness of the business. This can be a very good thing, but there’s a balance to strike. Some improvements might be best left until another time while more pressing matters are handled, or it could be the case that only a small return would be made, meaning that the project isn’t realistically viable.
  • Refusing to ask for help:  Managing people is tough, even if you have years of experience. There will always be new challenges to deal with, situations that are out of your comfort zone, and issues that seem impossible to handle effectively. If your new managers don’t feel like they can speak up when they’re struggling, or they don’t have an appropriate support network in place, then things can quickly spiral out of control.

Becoming a manager is an exciting time for your employee, and they’ll want to thrive and show you that you made the right decision. But as an employer, you need to take the time to think about how you’ll help them to navigate these challenges. Your approach will largely come down to the individual, existing policies and procedures you have in place in your business, and the development path that you offer to your staff.

Are you confident that you’re fulfilling your responsibility when it comes to managing the career progression of your future leaders? And what changes might you need to make to ensure that the promotion process is as smooth as possible for your employees?

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs: providing advice, support and tools, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

Image : Unsplash

Tis the season to crack on…. action plan to stop the Christmas wind down affecting your business

Tis the season to crack on…. action plan to stop the Christmas wind down affecting your business

Let’s face it – it’s that time of year when the mornings are getting darker, people are distracted by festive tasks and busy social lives, and understandably coming to work is the last thing on earth they want to do.  But this time of year is also perfect for reconnecting with employees and colleagues you haven’t spoken to in a while, or even the person you sit next to every day.

Business leaders can still knuckle down on the tactics that they’ll use to make the most of the final quarter.  Whatever your goals are, these strategies can work. By motivating your most valuable asset – your people – you can not only end 2017 on a high but also enter into 2018 with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment from your employees.  

Invest time in refresher training

At this time of the year, exemplary client service can make a huge difference when it comes to your profits. Are your staff comfortable with talking about your products and services? Can they pinpoint opportunities to offer an up-sell? And are they really firing on all cylinders when it comes to their day-to-day work?

Take the opportunity to consider how you can offer training to drill down on key points, and take performance up to that next level. You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on bringing in external providers, so think outside of the box when it comes to how you can deliver. Many sales tools record your calls and can be used to do some internal training within the team. Or how about some e-learning courses to give some focus.

Invigorate the mundane routine and re-establish the immediate goals to focus on

If your staff have been in their positions for a while, then they can really easily fall into a mundane routine. Particularly in the run up to Christmas. After all, everyone’s a bit well, knackered?  Could it be the case that they’re feeling complacent? If so, now’s an excellent time to get your leadership team together and ensure that everyone has realistic but stretching goals to be making progress towards. In the long term, staff value opportunities for professional development, adequate training provision and an appropriate support network far more than you think.

Everyone should understand and recognise the contribution they make to the bigger picture, so make sure they understand the part they play and are recognised, though it’s also sensible to think about how you can encourage staff to work together to achieve bigger things.

Tis the season…

Finally knowing your employees, and providing the right incentives for them to do their best, will result in more productivity and a general “feel good” factor.  Let your staff know about the Christmas plans for your office and get in the spirit with them.

  1. Offer staff a couple of days of festive flexible hours throughout the month, allowing them to re-arrange their hours, working later or starting earlier, so they can balance work with parties, shopping and being with their family.
  2. Relax staff dress codes. There’s no need for them to wear suits every day, if workers aren’t in a customer-facing role.
  3. Organise the Christmas party or team lunch.  If you don’t have a budget, ask workers to bring their own in nibbles, you provide the drinks and have an office picnic with a token gift for employees to take home.
  4. Introduce ad-hoc prizes for staff who hit their targets over the run up to Christmas, such as a bottle of champagne, or theatre tokens.

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

HR Surgery: How do I manage expectations for progression in an SME?

As an SME one of your key assets are your staff, and time and time again we see talented staff leave, simply because they are not being given the career development opportunities they think they deserve or expect.  This is such a easy fix if you just take the time to focus on understanding and exploring your employees career development expectations.

We know finding the time to do this may seem impossible and get pushed down the to do list, but it is absolutely key for engaging and retaining your top talent – so make it a priority, new years resolution even!

As we all know, development is all about making employees feel valued and invested in, but the upshot is by giving them encouragement to progress individually, you will ultimately see them propel your business forward and reward them in the same move as they push into more senior levels of responsibility. Win win.  

The uniqueness with SMEs is that during the Startup phase of a business, the rate of personal growth is often enormous: most people are learning nearly 100% of the time and pitch in on areas that they wouldn’t normally associate with.  Everyone feels important and integral to the success. It’s as you start to scale and evolve that many of the challenges present themselves.  The need for providing learning opportunities continues, but structure and roles are more solid and the informal learning opportunities that once naturally presented themselves, suddenly seem more restricted.  

The great Albert Einstein once said “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”. Its within our nature to grow, we have been growing since we were little and whilst our physical growth slows over time, that ambition of personal growth never goes away.  

If development is disregarded, knowledge becomes out of date, motivation levels stagnate and careers begin to drift and these factors have an obvious impact on hard measures like productivity and staff turnover.  Then you run the risk of getting to the point where training and development comes last on the To Do list, with a common reason being “we just don’t have the budget for it”….

Not everything needs to cost the earth though, if you’re prepared to think creatively and invest a little time, you can easily organise all sorts of focused learning activities. And your team will thank you for it by being brilliant.

  1. Peer to peer learning: Having the respect of our colleagues means a lot to us, so encourage people to speak at conferences, enter competitions, or host meetups  with their peers to share knowledge with others. Sometimes it’s going to be necessary to fund employee’s’ attendance at these external events.  So to maximise your investment in doing this, make it a condition that staff share their learnings when they are back in the workplace.
  2. Everyone needs a sense of purpose: It may be that you aren’t setting out to save lives or some other noble cause, but the chances are that your business has a higher purpose than just simply seeking cash. So help staff understand how they fit into this bigger picture by spelling it out in order to capture people’s true potential.
  3. Allow people to show off what they’ve learnt: Decide on the core skills for your business and each technical function and assign different levels of expertise required for each (competencies) which people can earn credits to show they’ve attained the level.
  4. Share “best practice”: Bring in a recognised expert for your employees to spend some time with: use your network and contacts to find someone you admire and value and bring them into work with you. Get the more experienced members of your team to share some of their past notable successes.
  5. Give them wings: give your new employees more responsibility or ask them to undertake a challenging piece of work or project and don’t be surprised when they rise to the challenge and hopefully surpass your expectations! Give a mini group within your company a real business problem and challenge them to come up with the solution.
  6. Use Skills Already In-House: There are loads of ways you can do this, depending on the circumstances which include asking  team members with specific areas of expertise to deliver short training programmes or presentations for other staff, focussing on their specialist areas; Promote inter-departmental sessions, for example by organising ‘brown bag’ lunches, with each hosted and run by a different department in turn.  
  7. Time out to play with new ideas: Encourage your team to pursue their personal goals by allowing flexible work schedules, the freedom to work remotely, and arranging social gatherings outside of work.
  8. Explore E-Learning: Training courses are no longer just about hotel conference suites and flip charts. These days there’s a whole new world of virtual training on offer, with courses available on almost any topic imaginable.  Online training means staff can learn at their own convenience and pace, with costs generally low and many even free. Check out websites like www.learndirect.com, www.e-learningcentre.co.uk, and www.learningtree.co.uk, to find out more.

We naturally want to become bigger and better than we are, there is no right or wrong way to go about it as long as everyone feels like they are moving forward, no one wants to stagnate, but remember we measure that with different views and on our own scales.

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.