INSIGHTS

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Boom In Use Of Agency Workers Is Set To Continue

Boom In Use Of Agency Workers Is Set To Continue

Recently published research by the Resolution Foundation shows a boom in the use of agency workers by businesses looking to fill their skills gap, and the findings suggest that it’s a pattern that’s set to continue. Almost half (43%) of respondents said that they’d increased their reliance on agency staff during the past five years, and 25% planned to increase their usage even further in the next five years.

It’s thought that the trend is being fuelled by uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and of course the cost pressures that plenty of businesses are facing on a daily basis. Today, it’s estimated that there are around 800,000 agency workers in roles all across the UK.

So if you’re looking to expand your team during 2018, you might want to take a little step back and consider whether working with an agency could be the solution that gives you exactly what you need. Recruiting and selecting the right people is a tricky process, and it can place a real strain on your resources. Outsourcing to the experts is an option that clearly appeals to many.

There is a very important issue at play here though, that plagues the reputation of businesses looking to tap into more flexible ways of finding and working with talent. The gig economy and all the pitfalls associated with it is constantly being debated in the media, and it’s clear that not all business owners are giving proper consideration to workers’ rights. There’s a clear crossover here between issues associated with the gig economy and the use of agency workers, and employers absolutely must proceed with a reasonable level of caution.

The Resolution Foundation offered some practical suggestions for ethically leveraging agency talent, at both a business and government level. The Swedish Derogation, for example, is a controversial piece of regulation that the Foundation would like to see removed. It permits businesses to pay agency workers less than directly comparable employees, and a repeal is currently under consultation, in response to the Taylor Review.

What happens from this point onwards will definitely be interesting from an employment perspective. The pressure on the government is mounting when it comes to workers’ rights, whilst businesses still face cuts and need to look towards less conventional ways of hitting their goals and meeting operational requirements.

If you’re planning to use agency workers, what steps will you be taking to protect your employer brand and maintain a happy and productive workplace?

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing expert advice  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.

It’s not you, it’s me: How to handle it when your employees say goodbye

It’s not you, it’s me: How to handle it when your employees say goodbye

A resignation – like being dumped – can often feel very personal. Particularly if the person in question has been with you for some time. Particularly if you think they are critical to your business. And particularly if you let it.

I mean, it’s sod’s law isn’t it? Just when you think everything is teed up to have a great 2018: Goals in place? Tick. Marketing lined up? Tick. Sales Pipeline trending the right way? Tick. – when someone pops their head around the door clutching an envelope and utters a few words in ‘that’ tone …”er, can we have a quick chat?’. And it’s the ones who are the most valuable to you which always hit you hardest.

Of course, not every resignation is bad news. If you are planning on going through a restructure or making redundancies and the person in question was going to be affected, then you may have just saved yourself a bit of heartache ( not to mention a few quid). But most are not wanted, downright annoying and expensive too.

With an average employee in the professional sector costing up to £30k to replace , the best way to ensure that you handle this well, is to prioritise keeping your team as you would your clients. And plan for it by doing some of the following:

  • At budgeting time, include staff turnover in your forecasting figures and set targets for turnover. The UK average is approximately 15% but this rises to closer to 20% in the digital sectors. You do need to keep new ideas flowing within the business and adapt to your changing model, so not all turnover is bad and it’s likely that you will want to see some movement to avoid becoming complacent, but set targets for this which you can check progress against. It’ll be less of a surprise.
  • Identify your ‘keepers’. The people which, if you lost, you would be stuffed. And then plan how you are going to to show them the love. To support them in what they want out of the business. Too many business leaders don’t take the time to speak to their teams on a 1-2-1 regular basis to uncover what it is that their people want and show support by their actions. Oh, for the times when I’ve seen an account manager hauled over the coals after a devastating client loss. “When did you last meet with them?” is often one of the first things their manager will ask after the bombshell has been dropped.” How did they seem? Were they unhappy? Did they say anything which gave you a clue?….”
  • Take the time to get to know your team. To know what they want out of life on a wider level than just what they are doing at work. I know it’ll come as a shock to many, but most people don’t simply dream of doing better at work! So find out what possibilities lie for people within the confines of the business and how they can help them get to where they want to be.

And I’m not saying it’s easy by any stretch. It’s a hell of a commitment to meet with your team each week/ fortnight/ build a relationship/ keep it going through the good and the tough times. But people are less likely to leave a place where they feel valued and listened to than anywhere else. And even if you can’t keep them, the chances are that they will feel more comfortable giving you a heads up that they may be off, allowing you a bit more time to plan and handover.

But back to that resignation. In practical and immediate terms, you have a few options:

  1. You can take it very personally, considering it a personal slight that someone would not want to work from you and act out in that manner. One boss I know didn’t speak to their team member for their ENTIRE notice period, leaving him to work in an isolated office away from the rest of the business such was the disgust they felt at their team member leaving them. Their maturity wasn’t lost on the entire company…
  2. Or ( a popular option) you can launch into telling them all the reasons why this is all wrong for them and that if they stayed for another £5/ £15k/ £25k then you will be able to fix whatever it is they are concerned about. One business I know spent more money on retention bonuses for those who had resigned in a particular year than they did on the entire bonus pot for existing employees who had delivered for them that year. The‘retained’ employees in this instance lasted on average another 3-6 months before bailing out for real, leaving a red faced boss and disgruntled colleagues who had found out all about the separate arrangement…
  3. Or you can listen to what they are saying. And then really listen. And learn from it. On the odd occasion I have seen someone ‘bought back’ by their business when they’ve resigned, it’s been because the relationship and loyalty was there already, they’d just let things get stale. The drama of resigning was enough to wake both parties up to see that there were other ways for the team member to grow and they’re very happy.

Option 3 doesn’t always mean they stay and you may well still have to say goodbye to someone you would rather not. But at least by taking the time out to find out what is really going on, you will truly understand why your business is not right for the person standing in front of you. But why it may be for another time. Ah yes, Boomerang employees. Now there’s another post….

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

Companies With Women Executives Perform Better – So Why Has Representation Stagnated?

The results of the recent Pipeline’s Women Count survey have been published, and they raise some pretty interesting and important questions about female leadership, and the progress we’re making towards ensuring that women are given the opportunity to thrive in senior roles.

Companies With No Women In Leadership Roles Performed Worst

It was found that FTSE 350 companies with no women on the leadership committees performed the worst out of all groups that were surveyed, whilst those which had at least 25% of their executive boards as women had almost twice the profit margin as those with none.

It’s safe to assume a link here. Forward thinking businesses who ensure that women are given the support and opportunity they need to create successful careers as leaders are the ones which will reap the benefits.

But Female Representation at Board Level Has Still Stagnated  

Not all businesses are stepping up – far from it. The percentage of women on executive committees remains at 16%, and the number of companies without any women has increased since last year’s survey.

Whilst The BBC Comes Under Fire For Gender Pay Inequality

Of course, the findings from the report came at the same time as the BBC revealed some pretty shocking information on how it pays its presenters. Only a third of those earning more than £150,000 per year are women. It’s interesting to wonder whether the new Dr. Who star will be paid the same as her previous male counterparts.

Is All This Because Companies Have ‘Bigger Fish’ To Fry Right Now?

Lorna Fitzsimons, co-founder of Pipeline, told the Financial Times, ‘With agendas dominated by Brexit, the focus on gender diversity at senior levels has been slipping. In this climate of low growth, companies cannot miss out on this profit margin advantage’. She raises a pretty good point. It would be a stretch of the imagination to say that big business leaders are sitting around actively looking for ways to stop women breaking through the glass ceiling.

The real problem is likely to be that with other priorities rising to the top of the list, issues like diversity and equality are pushed aside – and of course, the impact is tangible. Looking at this year’s survey results, it’s would be fair to say that companies are taking their eye off the ball.

What Could Be More Important Than The Future Of Your Business & The Quality Of The Team That Runs It?

We understand that you’re busy. We get that you have a never-ending list of tasks that need your attention, from the changes that are developing as a result of Brexit, to the general day-to-day management of your workforce.

But if you want to cement your reputation as the cream of the employer crop, then it might be time to take a step back and reassess what you’re doing to go the extra mile. Of course, it’s easy to get stuck in firefighting mode. In truth however, that isn’t what builds exceptional businesses.

If you know that you’re being reactive instead of actively striving to be the best leader that you can be, then let’s talk. Getting some strategic HR help can take your business from average, to truly exemplary. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

HR Housekeeping For The Summer Break

For many businesses, the pressure eases off slightly over the summer months when customers and clients are away on holiday. This downtime can be an important opportunity to address those admin tasks you’ve been putting off to help clear the decks and ensure you deliver the rest of the year with aplomb.

Here’s a checklist of the important HR tasks to address during the summer slowdown:

Consider your cold, hard figures

When some leaders think about HR, they think about fluff without any real substance. But we’re now long gone from the days of it being known as the department of “tea and tampax” (genuinely how the function was described to me when I first joined….) and HR has evolved into something the smart money knows isn’t just a ‘nice to have’. In fact, it’s completely non-negotiable if you’re serious about sustainable growth. So with this in mind, and considering the fact that we’ve just come to the end of another financial year, it’s time to look at your numbers. How much are you spending on staffing? And more importantly what activities are bringing the greatest return on investment? Only once you know where you are, can you create a map to where you want to be.

Look At Your Leadership Funnel

Who are the managers of tomorrow, who is their back-fill and how are your developing them all to prepare for their next move? L&D doesn’t need to cost the earth – a lot can be done in-house through on the job training and mentorship. Individuals should also take responsibility for their own learning too – keeping themselves up to date with the latest trends in their business function.

Review Your Hiring Strategy

If gaps are appearing in your staff and you’re looking to recruit in September think now about how you can attract the best talent possible and how will they be on boarded to set them and the team up for success? Is there anyone internally who, with the right support and training, could take on the role instead?

Give Your Company Culture An MOT

Is it what you’d hope it to be when you set out or is it veering off course? As leader, it’s for you to set the tone of the business and reign things in if they go astray. Of course it’s only right that your culture is shaped and adjusted when you bring in new talent, but your core values (and, more importantly how these are demonstrated in practise) should remain constant. Step back and ask yourself if this is really the case and think about how to implement any changes you need to make.

Refresh Your HR Policies

Yes I know there’s always something more pressing to do than update your HR policies. Truth is, you never experience their true value until you need to use them. And if you don’t have the necessary policies in place when you need them, it’s too late.

Surprisingly there are only 3 policies that are required by law.

These are:

But there are also a number of policies that you should provide because they have legal minimum requirements.

These are:

Pay Legally you must pay your employees at least the National Minimum wage and ensure Equal Pay; you must also provide an itemised pay statement and not make any unauthorised deductions from employees pay
Equal Opportunities Legally you must not discriminate against staff or allow harassment and bullying and you must make reasonable adjustments for staff in the work-place if they are disabled
Working Hours and Overtime including rest-breaks and holidays Legally  you must comply with Working Time Regulations provisions for employees and workers
Sickness policy and unauthorised/authorised absence Legally you must make statutory sick pay payments to employees and allow them time off for dependant emergencies, Jury Service etc.
Maternity, Adoption, Paternity Leave, Parental Leave and Shared Parental leave You must make statutory maternity / adoption / paternity payments to employees and give the appropriate leave
Flexible Working You must consider all employees flexible working requests

There are few other policies that you could  consider to ensure consistency within your business. For example:

  • Personal e-mail / Internet Usage
  • Dress Codes
  • Data Protection
  • Expenses
  • Smoking
  • Holiday

Ensure Everyone Knows Where They Are Headed For The Rest Of The Year

Energise the team on their return to work by recapping on the objectives for the end of the year and where their individual contributions fit into the bigger picture. After the summer holidays is a good time to galvanise some team spirit with an away day, so you could start planning now – and don’t worry they don’t need to cost the earth… Check out our article here

Book Yourself In For An HR Health-Check

The vast majority of business owners do everything they can to comply with relevant employment legislation and create practices and policies that make their workplace a happy environment. Let’s be honest though – we all have constraints on our time, and it’s not always possible to go the extra mile. If you know that you’ve been putting HR on the backburner, then there’s no time like the present to review how you’re really performing, and what you could do to improve your business.

If you’d like a little ad-hoc assistance without committing to a tying contract, then you’re in luck. Our HR health-check service is just the ticket if you feel like it could be time to step back and take stock, before creating your plans for the future.

Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or give us a call today on 0203 627 7048 to book yourself in or find out more.

Image: Canva

Holiday Cover: An SME’s Guide To Drafting In Reinforcements

With holiday requests coming in thick and fast it can be very difficult for SMEs to accommodate everyone and keep the business going at the same time.

The way we see it, you have 5 options. Here they are, in order of preference:

1. Promote & Train Existing Team Members

Holiday cover can be a wonderful opportunity for current team members to shine and take on more responsibility. It’s also a chance for you to assess the leadership talent of the future. Set them up for success though: Brief them properly, define exactly what you need to them do, explain how they will be measured and what success looks like. Make sure you leave enough time for any required training.

2. Take On A Contractor

Contractors tend to be experienced individuals, who are taken on for a specific project. Whilst, this might seem like an expensive option it’s clearly less expensive than hiring another full time employee. It’s also a great opportunity to hire specialist expertise and ‘test drive’ someone you could potentially take on permanently. The great thing about contractors is that they should hit the ground running quickly and start delivering for your business from the word go. Brief them in the same way you would a permanent team member – you get out what you put in here… Recruitment agencies can help you find contractors, but if you’d rather do it yourself, use online job sites, social media and referrals.

3. Hire Temporary Staff

Unlikely to be as qualified as contractors but they can be a good option for few weeks and are easy to get hold of if you go through an agency. If you go down the agency route, ask the agency for references from previous clients who required the same type of workers you need. It’s also important for you to fully understand how the agency recruit their candidates and for the agency to fully get to know the needs of your business. Temp agencies commit to ‘filling the gap’ so if one temp doesn’t work out they should quickly provide you with a replacement.

4. Pass On Menial Tasks To Interns

This will help free up more experienced staff to cover others. Obviously you can’t rely on interns too much, but they can be a godsend when it comes to looking after time consuming, unimportant tasks that just need to get done. They too will want to feel like they are making a real contribution to the business with their time with you – so brief them properly and get the most of them. But remember they are with you to learn. So in return for a bit of donkey work, you should also offer them some really interesting work to do, in line with their studies or career aspirations. Speak to local colleges/schools and/or advertise internally, on social media and in the local press.

5. Say No

Yes, this is always an option. You are not legally bound to give holiday when someone asks for it and sometimes it just isn’t possible. Here are some tips on how to turn down a holiday request without damaging employee relations:

  • Do it quickly: Give them as much notice as you can to make alternative arrangements, as a sign of respect and goodwill. As always, face to face is best.
  • Explain you reasons:  Ensure the individual knows it’s not personal. Talk them through the need to cover off certain business areas over that period. Reiterate the business decision behind the refusal and ensure them that it is nothing to do with their performance (unless it is).
  • Offer an alternative: Such as other dates when a request would be manageable. For accommodating others, some business offer one or two extra holiday days as a way of saying thank you.
  • Tell the how much you value them: When  a holiday request is denied it can make individuals feel undervalued, particularly if they have been performing well. Make sure they leave the conversation feeling positive about themselves and their contribution to the business.

TheHRhub are 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: Canva