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HR Futures: Engagement With A Fractional Workforce

HR Futures: Engagement With A Fractional Workforce

Fractional: [adjective] Relating to only a part of something; Extremely small or insignificant

The fractional workforce is a phrase new to many. But not for long I suspect.  A term used to loosely describe those who provide work to one or more businesses, it includes many of the 5 million people in the UK who are classified as ‘self-employed’ –   the contractors, the freelancers, the ‘gig’ workers, the temporary staff you have on your books – not to mention those who might be on your payroll on a part time basis. The common denominator of all of these being that they are just not solely dedicated to your business.

But far from these being just the ‘giggers’ who have grabbed the headlines in recent months – those who deliver your food, clean your house or ferry you home at the end of an evening – 60% of these fractional workers are found to be in highly skilled or managerial professions (ONS), and most of whom have turned to fractional work out of choice.

Over half our SME client base are increasing their use these types of workers to supplement their own teams on a regular basis – as accountants, marketeers, designers, data analysts, developers…even HR folks – but a handful have gone one step further by having them as core members of their senior or leadership teams. And anecdotally I know of plenty more highly innovative businesses who use diverse and fractional teams gathered from their wider networks to deliver high profile projects, because they just don’t have the skills they need in their existing employee pool.

But given that many of these highly skilled people turn to fractional work because it supports the things which motivate them most: freedom (in location, work patterns, scope) and ownership of what they do, how do you as a business owner make sure that these broader team members are as ‘engaged’ and ‘onboard’ as your permanent staff members, whilst balancing the risk (and fear associated) that you may lose control over some of the work? From extensive experience on both sides of the fence, here are our pointers on some things you can practically do to rapidly assemble a crack team and get the most out of your working relationships with this group:

  1. Get the basics right, but recognise that a contract simply cannot cover ‘every eventuality’: It goes without saying that a properly worded contract is a no-brainer to manage your legal risks, however our experience is that a properly worded contract is not one which attempts to try and control every single thought and word a person emits during their time working with you (having had many run-ins from those not willing to sign away their entire thought catalogue in a crudely worded IP clause, this is a route which does not bear well with many!). One which seeks to do this beyond what is necessary for the delivery of the work will no doubt hold up the process for any onboarding as wordsmithing goes back and forth, giving your competitors a chance to steal a march on you!
  2. People are people, regardless of ‘working status’ & so speak to them as such: The Contractor’ is not an appropriately named designation for most to respond to and is something which should be reserved only for an introduction by  Hollywood-voiceover-man to something infinitely more fictional….
  3. Treat your wider teams as a community: communities support each other and work for the greater good; they embrace differences, thrive when there is co-operation and provide a vast array of talent for you to pull from which you might otherwise not get access to. Communities do not take the pi** with each other, as they know that they may be the one asking for a favour the following week….
  4. Communicate in a way which is fluid & which builds trust: ask yourself whether you really need different email lists for ‘employees’ and ‘contractors’? Many businesses also exclude non-permanent staff from their communications platforms, however this serves to alienate at best and cause productivity issues at worst. Remember (see point 1) they’ve already signed the same sort of confidentiality clauses as anyone else in the business…
  5. Don’t ignore wider development needs: from onboarding and beyond, make sure you are inclusive and relevant in providing development opportunities. This doesn’t mean sponsoring someone on the MBA if they are only with you for 2 weeks, but may include including them in your onboarding programme, lunch and learns etc
  6. Reward is still important (but outside of traditional methods look to recognition and referral as currency to use): You may think that paying the monthly invoice is reward for these team members done and dusted, however (even if you haven’t read oodles of posts about this one – really??) ‘reward’ to most people is more than just a wedge of cash…. Angela Mortimer, a successful recruitment firm specialising in PA and support staff hold an annual event to celebrate and recognise their temporary staff who don’t get to always get to join in on the social side from the organisations they provide service to or be included in their reward practices. A nice touch I think, which in addition plays to point 3 (above).

This post doesn’t (purposefully) address some of the legal ramifications for employing different types of workers that make up this section of the workforce – that’s definitely for another day and is dependant on ever evolving legal challenges being made – however fractional work is on the increase & those who can strategically think of their workforce as beyond those on their payroll, will already be one step ahead.

For more details on integrating your workforce or any other HR challenges you might have, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048.

Image Credit: unsplash

 

New Toolkit Encourages Businesses To Promote Healthy Eating And Exercise To Employees

New Toolkit Encourages Businesses To Promote Healthy Eating And Exercise To Employees

Public Health England and Business in the Community have published a toolkit in an effort to encourage employers to promote healthier eating and exercising to their employees. Keen to stress the business benefits, the toolkit explains that such initiatives can boost productivity, slash absence rates, and play a key role in facilitating a happy workforce.

And while this might fall into the yet-another-thing-I’ve-got-to-do category (quite far down for many if I’m honest) of what to look at whilst running a business, what is becoming increasingly clear is that the health of the nation is a ticking time bomb. According to the NHS, the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and rising obesity levels continue to grab headlines. As an employer, you have the ability to make a positive impact in your staff’s lives, as well as strengthen your business for the future, so it might be worth having a gander…..

Occupational health isn’t just about ensuring your staff have comfortable chairs to sit on (although yes, that is one of thing basics…) as the real benefits will be gained by those who are more proactive with their responsibilities as employers, tapping into the opportunities that exist for all of us to have a much more holistic impact on our team’s lives.

The toolkit includes:

  • Suggestions that healthier food and drink options should be available within the workplace, including at meetings and events
  • Ideas around organising ‘family days’, so staff can get their loved ones onboard with healthier habits
  • Advice for managing shift workers and remote workers: two groups of staff that will experience unique difficulties when it comes to maintaining their health and wellbeing
  • Guidance for handling sensitive mental health issues in the workplace

Though the suggestions are comprehensive and provide a lot of food for thought for employers, it’s also stressed that there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all approach. Businesses are encouraged to involve their staff in any initiatives from the very earliest stages, giving them a voice and the opportunity to hone a way forward that’s really going to work for them. After all, if your staff aren’t engaged and onboard, then your efforts are going to fall on deaf ears and fail to meet their objectives.

We recognise that employers have a lot on their plates. You may well think that you simply don’t have the time to consider promoting better levels of health and wellbeing to your staff. You’ve got performance reviews to handle, back to work meetings to schedule, and a whole load of paperwork that seems to mount up on your desk on an hourly basis. 

But there are benefits to be had by adopting some of the suggestions here ( others we’ve seen and shared previously), so if you can find the time, you should definitely give some careful consideration to how you can ‘borrow’ a couple of the ideas in order to boost the long-term prospects of your business.

Not got the time but like the idea? Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a quick chat on how we might be able to help or call 0203 627 7048.

Image: Unsplash

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.

theHRhub is the ultimate online support service for startups and SMEs. We provide software, templates, expert advisers, a community forum and up to date news and views – straight to your tablet or mobile device.

It’s like having an HR Director in your pocket!

Find out more here

Photocredit: Kenny Louie Ahhhhhhhh

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.

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.

Managing the practicalities of the Christmas workplace (without being a Grinch)

Managing the practicalities of the Christmas workplace (without being a Grinch)

Tis the season to be jolly…. but as a small business owner the idea of Christmas can understandably bring with it a slight feeling of dread. All that time off, the great wind down, the slow down from clients, lack of productivity and the season for winter bugs, it is a lot to contend with.

You are not on your own, every year at around this time, we receive a ton of questions about workplace issues at Christmas. From parties to time off and everything in between, is your business really ready for the festive period?  Don’t panic you are not a Scrooge to your office of Bob Cratchets, all of these are perfectly normal and practical questions to ask and we hear all of them, a lot, at this time of year.

Do I have to host a workplace party?

Unless a party is agreed to in the contract of employment, you don’t have to offer one. It’s worth noting here too though that if you’ve always held an event previously, it may be the case that it’s now expected. It’s true that parties can often throw up a range of HR headaches, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate with your employees and take the opportunity to thank them for their good work throughout the year. You don’t have to break the bank, and it could be a great morale booster. Remember New Year is around the corner with tempting new opportunities for your talent to eye up other options – so hosting a party, lunch or drinks is a nice touch to remind them that this is a great place to work.

What do I do if I suspect someone is throwing a sicky the day after the Christmas Party?

Unfortunately not a lot! Suspecting faking illness is incredibly hard to prove and a very sensitive subject.  You are much better off taking preventative action up front to discourage this behaviour.  Make your expectations clear, you are throwing this party for everyone to enjoy and celebrate the end of the year together, you expect everyone to be in the office the next day even if you are all feeling a little worse for wear.  If you are feeling generous, you could offer a slightly later start time to pre-empt any late excuses – or lay on some bacon butties to get them all back into action.

Do I have to grant all requests for time off?

No. It’s not always going to be possible to give all members of staff the exact leave that they request, and it goes without saying that you have operational requirements that you need to fulfill. What’s most important here is that your policy around leave requests is very clearly communicated, and that you take a fair approach.

Can I make employees take annual leave if I close down the place of work?

Yes. If you will be closing the workplace for a period of time over Christmas, you can require staff to take that time out of their leave allocation, as long as there is no agreement to the contrary. You do need to give appropriate notice though – you’ll find the festive spirit might be lacking if you only inform them right at the last minute! – and the arrangements should be covered in your relevant people policies.

What can I do to avoid any issues arising?

Communicate well with your team: understand what people are doing and when they have time planned off. Your role is to continue to motivate the team and being proactive could save you a load of time, money, and hassle. Take the opportunity now to ensure that your expectations over what needs delivering by year end are made crystal clear, ensure  any relevant policies are up to date, that your managers are onboard, and that you’ve pinpointed how to minimise any risk. You may even want to consider issuing a statement to staff about acceptable codes of behaviour ahead of any functions or events. 

If you know that you need to do some work to ensure that the festive season passes by without any hiccups, get in touch. We can help you to make any necessary changes, and provide you with the practical guidance you need.  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.