Christmas is coming, and with it comes parties, Instagram opportunities, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, extended time off and plenty of time on people’s hands. In other words, Social media and HR.
So what you may well ask has this got to do with me as an employer?
Plenty is the short answer, plenty.
You cannot control what an employee does or says in their free time, but what if it’s being done in your company name, company time or is associated in any way with your company. Do you even know who or what you or your brand is being associated with?
It might be the time to find out or at least set the boundaries around what is acceptable or not.
Quite bluntly, employees should not be associating their employers in any way on any form of private social media, this includes, not stating where they work, no company logos, not discussing company business, clients or other colleagues (even if they are friends) on any of their private accounts.
Many an employee and employer has at the very least been angry the very worst severely embarrassed or reputationally scarred by a rogue employee who decides to post or rant about ‘work’, post pictures of themselves in fancy dress (think that Justin Trudeau post), drunk, on holiday (when they’ve rang in sick), high, taking drugs, espousing views that would make the most ardent left or right winger choke over their cornflakes, engaging in splats on Twitter with a major client, swinging, posing provocative, boasting about all sorts – you get the picture, all the while sitting proudly next to that is your Company name.
So what to do about it, like anything you set the boundaries, and the easiest way to do that is draft a policy into your HR Handbook or Policies & Procedures and make all employees aware of it.
To help you out, I have drafted one here for you for free. Download our Social Media Policy template to enable your business to develop clear policy guidelines around social media usage.
If you need any help with any of the topics mentioned in this blog then please contact us.
Download your free Social Media Policy
We are very honoured to have Emma Spandrzyk of Keelys Solicitors share this guest blog with us. Her piece addresses some of the key insights many of you will have been thinking about when it comes to IR35.
I have recently joined Keelys in the employment department. I have been working as an employment solicitor for 9 years and, most recently, I have worked in-house for the police.
Some of our clients have been asking us about changes to the law on IR35 next year so we’ve taken some time to explain some of what is happening.
What is the current position?
If someone works on a self-employed basis but, in reality, they are an employee, HMRC can recover the underpaid tax and national insurance from the organisation that they work for.
Sometimes, the individual will set up their own personal service company to provide their services. If HMRC decides that the arrangement is a sham and that, if the individual was engaged directly by the client, they would be an employee, HMRC can recover the underpaid tax and national insurance under IR35. Currently, that is recoverable from the individual and/or their company rather than from the end-user. The exception to that is in the public sector, where the end-user will be liable for the tax and national insurance.
What is changing?
From April 2020 businesses with more than 50 employees or a turnover of more than £10.2m will be affected by the new rules. They will, therefore, be liable for tax and national insurance if they are found to be engaging people through personal service companies who, in reality, ‘are’ employees. If your business is smaller than that, you do not need to worry although we would not be surprised if, in future, these rules apply to smaller companies as well.
How to tell if someone falls within IR35?
If you are a larger business who will be covered by the new rules, the first step is to identify the contractors that provide their services through personal service companies.
To assess whether contractors fall within IR35, businesses will need to look at a range of criteria including the following:
- Control – how much autonomy does the contractor have in terms of how they deliver their work? If the business retains full control over how, when and where tasks are completed, this is indicative of employee status and the contractor is likely to be caught by IR35. If the contractor has full autonomy over the completion of tasks, they are more likely to fall outside the scope of IR35.
- Personal Service – does the contractor have to undertake the work themselves? The ability to send a substitute helps point towards a contractor being genuinely self-employed and outside the IR35 rules.
- Mutual Obligation – is there a requirement for both parties to continue to offer and accept work? If the business has an obligation to provide work and there is an expectation that the contractor accepts it, then this will indicate that the contractor is caught by IR35.
As part of the assessment, businesses should also consider factors such as the degree of integration that the contractor has with the business, the level of financial risk they assume and who provides the contractor’s work equipment.
What does this mean for your business?
Businesses will need to show HMRC that they have taken reasonable care in undertaking their contractor assessments. When reviewing assessments, HMRC will look at the size of the business. The bigger the business and the greater the resources available to it, the more effort HMRC will expect in relation to the process.
There is a useful tool on the HMRC website that you can use to assess whether someone is genuinely self-employed or should be treated as an employee: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax
Please let me know if you would like further advice on this, which will be covered under your subscription to our Employment Healthcheck Plan. You may also want to speak to your accountant for advice on whether you are taxing staff appropriately.
Performance management used to be a once a year event or twice at a push. Managers set objectives at the start of the year, gave feedback six months later and at the year-end provided an overall rating. If employees were really lucky, they were asked about their career aspirations and development needs.
Following years of feedback, it emerged that this style of performance management wasn’t as effective as employees or employers would have liked. In fact, only two in ten employees believed that annual performance appraisals motivated them to do outstanding work.
Now organisations around the world are trading in their annual process for continual performance management. An approach that’s better suited to modern businesses seeking improved employee performance and enhanced results. We explore what continual performance management is, why it’s favoured over annual appraisals and how to implement it in your organisation.
What Is Continual Performance Management?
Continual performance management is a human resource (HR) process that takes place throughout the year. It’s an ongoing, holistic approach to appraisal that replaces infrequent with regular feedback leading to a more natural employee-manager conversation and healthier, more authentic workplace relationships.
What Issues Does It Seek to Address?
Can you remember exactly how you delivered a piece of work two weeks ago? How about three months ago? What about half a year?
The whole premise of continual performance management is that it’s difficult to remember exactly what we’ve delivered and how we’ve delivered it a long time after the event. This makes it tough on employees to give an accurate account and difficult for managers to make an accurate assessment of performance.
In addition, modern agile businesses move much faster which often results in objectives set at the start of the year no longer being relevant six or twelve months later.
Why Is Continual Performance Management Proving so Popular?
Continual performance management enables organisations to be far more flexible in how they set and evaluate performance. By creating objectives for the next quarter, they’re far more likely to be relevant and aligned to changing strategic objectives. And, by regularly reviewing performance, it’s easy for managers and employees to recall what’s been done and how it’s been achieved. Which should lead to more accurate performance assessments.
Regular reviews also mean that managers are encouraged to provide on-the-spot feedback. This is much more powerful than waiting several months to deliver insight and it enables staff to quickly correct their performance ensuring problematic actions or behaviours are nipped in the bud and minimising the potential for poor performance to spread to other team members.
Feedback about good performance also means that staff are more likely to keep doing more of the right activities in the right way. Which can only be good for business.
How Can You Implement Ongoing Appraisals?
Continual appraisals often include check-ins between the line manager and each employee every month or at least quarterly. These sessions cover:
- Progress against objectives
- Personal development
- Issues or concerns
- Any new or amended objectives
- Agreed actions
Between each check-in, employees work on their objectives and get feedback from their line manager to keep them on course. One of the major benefits is that managers and staff aren’t bogged down completing lengthy forms in one sitting, an approach that many people dread.
If continual performance management sounds like a lot of additional work, it isn’t. Implemented correctly, ongoing performance appraisals offer a more frequent but lighter touch that provides more benefit to the organisation.
What Will Your Managers Need to Implement It?
One of the major concerns among leaders around introducing this style of appraisal is the ability of line managers to have meaningful conversations. That’s why it’s important to train and educate supervisors and managers at all levels before implementing this new approach.
Remember: performance management needs to be followed by every manager at every level of the organisation. If you’re the most senior leader in your organisation, how you performance manage your direct reports will cascade down the organisation. To ensure you get a great return from introducing this change, the new process needs to start with you.
If you need a little more persuading that continual performance management is for you, research shows that high performing companies are more likely to provide more frequent performance feedback and align their objectives closely with strategy. Making continuous performance appraisal a step closer to even greater business success.
For pragmatic support revising your performance management process, contact Olga on 0330 555 1139 or at email@example.com.
If your onboarding programme focuses on getting your new team member up and running as quickly as possible, you’re missing a trick. Staff are at their most motivated when starting a new job. An effective onboarding process not only helps to keep this motivation high but maintains and reinforces it.
The impressions made during the early days with your organisation also have a lasting impact on your new hire’s perception of your employer brand. So setting up a welcoming and effective induction is key to making the most of this time for your new team member and your business.
What is Onboarding?
Onboarding new employees shouldn’t be treated as a tick box exercise. It’s a valuable opportunity to show new hires that you value and respect them and to help them understand your organisational culture and how your business works. For many people, starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking time, and a simple onboarding plan can make all the difference to easing them into your organisation.
It’s also a good opportunity to set expectations on both sides: employees need to be clear on what’s expected of them and your managers need to understand what motivates their new employee so they can get the best from them.
Onboarding is also sometimes called ‘induction’ and it refers to orienting an employee with their organisation and socialising them with their new colleagues. Done well, onboarding programmes prevent employees from leaving their role early and helps them to put their best foot forward delivering return on investment more quickly.
Inductions should also extend beyond the first few days or weeks – your onboarding plan should introduce someone new to what they need to do and how they need to do it. And it also provides an opportunity to assess performance and provide feedback using a structured approach.
Who Needs an Induction Programme?
Every employee, no matter their seniority or hours, needs an induction programme. Certain groups will need different support, for example graduates will need different information than those returning from career breaks or more senior staff. One size won’t fit all so it’s worth creating a range of onboarding programmes that will meet different populations’ needs.
What Your Onboarding Programme Should Include
Before you create an onboarding plan, it’s a good idea to consider any areas other new hires have found difficult to navigate, like jargon and acronyms. Then change your programme so these issues no longer exist. Here are some ideas about what the core of an onboarding programme could look like:
- Share communications and information about events
- Provide clear instructions for their first day like the person to ask for at reception and start time
- First day:
- Warm welcome including a welcome pack
- Introduction to the team and ways of working
- Facilities and IT should be ready for the individual to use and payroll already set up
- Tour round the offices
- Clear job outline/requirements and how the role supports organisational goals
- Organisational culture and values
- Health and safety and compliance training
- First week:
- Meeting with senior key employees
- Product and services overview
- Current projects, processes and supporting technology and documents
- Review of total reward and associated policies
- Review of processes like booking holidays and claiming expenses
- Detailed expectations for the first month, quarter and (potentially) year
- First month:
- Development opportunities and career management
- Ongoing performance feedback
- First quarter:
- Probation discussion to advise on performance and confirm if probation has been passed
To carry out an effective onboarding process, managers should expect to set aside plenty of time to spend with their new team member. You can also buddy your new employee up with another experienced team member to show them the ropes and share the onboarding load.
Why Businesses Should Bother With an Induction
A well-designed onboarding programme helps employees integrate into their team and, with clarity about their role and how it links to the organisation’s objective, ensures they quickly become productive, working to their highest potential.
Employee turnover is often best avoided, but this is particularly true within the first 90 days. That’s because your organisation has invested money recruiting and training you new hire and it’s unlikely that they’ll have been able to cover these costs as they won’t have had long enough to deliver meaningful results.
A good onboarding programme helps retain staff which means organisations will:
- Support employees during this difficult period
- Save time and money on recruiting a replacement
- Reduce wasted time for the person giving the induction
- Boost morale for other staff
- Mean the unproductive early learning curve of the new hire won’t need to be repeated
- Boost their employer brand
- Reduce turnover and absenteeism
- Increase employee motivation, commitment and job satisfaction
Although it might sound like a lot of effort to create a range of effective induction programmes, retaining new hires will easily offset any cost. According to research from Oxford Economics, hiring a new employee to replace someone who’s left costs on average £30,000. Which makes an investment in your onboarding process money well spent.
For support developing your organisation’s onboarding programme, contact Crosse HR today on 0330 555 1139 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Successful businesses rely on having the right number of people with the right skills to bring in the business, do the work and make money. At the same time, employing people also means ticking all those employment law boxes. Combining your legal obligations with where your business is heading is the key to great HR planning. As we reveal in this blog.
Factor in Legal, Tax and Fiscal Changes in Your HR Planning
When planning ahead you need to be clear about the immovable objects – the legal changes you must tackle and include in your planning. Employment law, tax and statutory payment changes tend to be introduced around April at the start of the new tax year.
Rates – like statutory maternity pay, tax thresholds, national minimum wage and statutory sick pay – are amended and will need to be factored into your budgets and processes. You can find this information on the government’s website which is updated each year.
It’s also worth being in the know about employment law changes in advance so you have plenty of time to prepare. Typically, updates will have a long lead-in time so you have plenty of time to prepare. Keep an eye on HR industry blogs, like this one, for details about new rules your company will need to abide by. Then factor them into your HR plans.
Be Clear on Where the Business is Heading
With your legal obligations clearly mapped out, it’s time to turn your attention to your business’ goals. They will provide the context for your HR plans. For example:
- Business growth – could mean new roles, redistributing work between individuals, increasing people’s hours, upping overtime or taking on additional headcount
- Business slow down – stagnant GDP growth might mean your business needs to tighten its belt. Perhaps you need to reduce headcount or ask your staff to increase productivity. However you decide to do more with less it will impact your HR strategy.
- Business stasis – if your business is neither growing or shrinking, there’s still a lot you can do. Tightening up on people processes, developing your team to ensure you future-proof your business and finding ways to positively impact the bottom line are all possible with good HR planning.
Anticipating your future HR needs should also look beyond your immediate situation and be based around economic and technological changes as well as what your customers will need in one, three and five years’ time.
With your legal and business priorities clear, you can now identify your HR priorities. You might decide to go for some quick wins first or tackle those issues that are causing you the most pain.
Alternatively, complete tasks that will add to the bottom line: this should create additional revenue that could be fed back into the business. Reinvesting in your people is one option that frequently drives even better business results.
Choose the Right HR Strategies, Systems and Providers
With a solid understanding of your current and future people needs, you can start choosing which areas of HR to dedicate the most time and resources to. If you anticipate significant talent gaps, training, recruitment and performance management strategies should help. Or, if your business is facing a tough time, a restructuring programme could be the key.
Getting this right is critical to the health of your business so if you don’t have sufficient HR support, it’s worth investing in an experienced HR consultant to provide expert advice and practical help.
Part of your HR planning should include a review of the systems you have in place to support your plans. There’s a wide range of HR technology available that:
- Makes it more efficient to administer your human resources
- Provides options for employees and managers to process standard requests like holidays
- Keeps track of employee data and gives you insight into your workforce with online reports
So, if spreadsheets aren’t cutting it any more, it could be time to consider going digital with your workforce administration.
Communicate Your HR Planning
Once you’ve firmed up your plans and put timescales, resource and budget to your changes, it’s time to communicate with your team. Start with leaders first to get their feedback and input if you’ve not already done this. Then roll out your plans to staff. Be prepared to answer questions like:
- What’s in it for me?
- Is my job at risk?
- Is the business stable?
- Where is the business heading?
- Will you provide training to help me adapt?
If your planned changes are significant you might want to hold face-to-face town hall meetings backed up by written communications including FAQs. Where changes are more incremental, cascading communications through line managers is a good approach.
With your HR plans in place, you might think you’re done for the next twelve months. But my experience tells me you’ll need to keep on top of any changes that the business and your people face. Combining annual planning with this level of flexibility will mean you’re ready to take care of any human resource issues that come your way.
Get your HR plans squared away with pragmatic, adaptable HR support from Crosse HR. Get in touch on 0330 555 1139 or at email@example.com.
Over the past few decades, lifestyles have become more flexible and people are able to differentiate in their choices about practically everything. This isn’t just a consumer trend: businesses have also become wise to the fact that their employees all have different needs that need to be catered for through flexible benefits.
This has resulted in organisations taking a more individualistic approach to benefit provision.
In this blog, we explore what flexible benefits are, why they’re a popular choice and how your business can implement and get the most from them.
What Are Flexible Benefits?
All organisations provide employee benefits which are usually determined by grade. In most instances, the more senior the role, the more valuable the benefits package. Depending on seniority, core employee benefit packages, where the benefits are paid for by the employer, typically include items like:
- company car
- private medical insurance
- critical illness cover
- long-term health cover
- health checks
In addition, employers also often voluntary benefits like think discounted gym memberships, dental insurance and household or holiday insurance. Employees can choose to take up these products voluntarily, paying for the benefits themselves, usually out of their pay.
This approach is fine if the core benefits on offer meet every employee’s needs. But what if your employer provides a company car but you don’t drive? Or you’re already covered on your partner’s private medical insurance so you don’t gain any advantage from this benefit? Or you don’t have any dependents but your employer insists on providing life cover any way?
When benefits aren’t suitable for employees, companies are paying for benefits that aren’t used or they’re providing an unappetising benefit offering to their staff that fails to engage.
Flexible benefit programmes provide a solution to this problem. Instead of offering standard benefit packages in the usual way, flexible benefit packages enable employees to vary their pay and benefits to meet their personal requirements.
In most schemes, staff can retain their existing salary while selecting the right mix of benefits for them. Or they can adjust their salary up or down by taking fewer or more benefits.
Let’s look at some examples to explore how this works:
- A single employee rejects the family private medical insurance cover they’re entitled to due to their grade and opts for single cover only – they receive the cost difference in cash
- Someone who doesn’t take all their holidays each year chooses to sell five days holiday and uses the saving to take up family private medical cover with the rest taken as cash
- An individual who doesn’t drive forgoes the company car benefit and takes the cash instead – they use it to buy more holiday and take up dental insurance and gym membership
These are just a few examples of the sorts of flexibility flexible benefit schemes can offer. However, not all programmes will be this flexible; some employers decide that their staff must take a certain level of benefits (usually items like life cover or other insurances) as a minimum. And there are other considerations, like minimum pension auto-enrolment contributions, that need to be worked into the scheme.
How Many Companies Use Flexible Schemes?
According to Aon, just 12% of employers operate flexible benefit schemes. Which is surprising given research from Willis Towers Watson which shows that:
- 66% of employees who are offered choice in their benefits report their benefits meet their needs
- 30% of employees who are not offered choice in their benefits report their benefits meet their needs
However, the answer could lie in the perceived challenges associated with setting up and running a flexible benefit scheme.
What to Consider When Setting Up a Flexible Benefits Programme
There’s a lot to think about if you want to set up a flexible benefits scheme in your organisation:
- Online or paper – this might work for smaller businesses or those where staff don’t have access to computers. Otherwise online options, although more expensive, tend to offer ease of use and greater flexibility.
- Choosing benefit options – it’s easiest to transition your existing benefits to a flex scheme before expanding the options available. You’ll need to decide which benefits must be selected or whether you want to allow a more flexible approach.
- Keeping schemes up to date – every change in your benefits, tax and legislation must be reflected in your scheme which involves additional work in terms of configuring scheme rules, calculations and systems (if online).
Although each of these sounds fairly straight forward, flexible benefit schemes can quickly become complex and require technical decision making which requires HR specialist knowledge.
However, the pay off could well be worth the effort as flexible benefits help organisations stand out in the recruitment marketplace. And they can also be a powerful tool for retention as your benefit package will meet the needs of every segment of your workforce, regardless of life stage.
There’s a lot to think about if you want to set up a successful flexible benefits scheme, so consider working with a seasoned HR consultant to ensure you deliver legally and secure a great return on your investment.
For flexible support with all your HR projects, get in touch with Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employee engagement. Everyone wants it, but what does it actually mean? And how do you create it if you don’t have a heap of money to throw at any engagement challenges? We answer all these questions and more in our latest blog.
One Term, Many Views
Look up the term “employee engagement” and you’ll find lots of different definitions.
At Crosse HR, we believe employee engagement is a state of being that’s reflected in higher levels of employee motivation and job satisfaction. This results in an increased commitment to an individual’s role and the organisation. And discretionary effort over and above that which people would normally give to their role.
A wide range of research has shown that higher levels of engagement result in motivated workforces, improved talent retention, reduced absenteeism, enhanced employee wellbeing and, ultimately, a better bottom line.
No wonder businesses are keen to ensure high levels of engagement amongst their workforces.
However, most organisations have no formal engagement strategy in place and two-thirds of employees are disengaged.
So how can you get ahead of your competitors, do what’s right by your people and achieve employee engagement, even on a small budget?
Low-Cost Employee Engagement Solutions
Ask and You’ll Receive
Employee engagement initiatives need to be well, engaging. Research often identifies issues like poor management or a disconnect with the organisation’s mission, vision and values as drivers of poor engagement. However, before you invest time in engagement activities, it’s worth understanding your organisation’s specific issues so you can deliver focussed solutions.
For genuine staff insight, try gathering employee feedback via surveys or focus groups. It can pay to hire someone in from outside your organisation to carry out the research to ensure you get completely honest responses.
Not got the capacity or budget to carry out a survey or hold a focus group? Our article on the different demographics in your workforce and their needs gives great insight into what each age group values.
Communicate What’s on Offer
If your people don’t feel well rewarded for their work, the chances are they won’t give their best effort. Put this right by helping your staff understand what’s in it for them with total reward communications.
Comms can explain any bonus schemes, demonstrate the value of your pension contributions or show staff the benefits and discounts they’re entitled to. It’s worth asking your benefit providers to help you get the word out with branded posters for example. This kind of support is usually free and helps your staff understand what’s in it for them.
Words Are Valuable and Cost Little
Communication – lack of it or not the right sort – is often a major employee complaint. And it can be really damaging to employee engagement.
Businesses often focus on what they want to tell employees rather than what employees want to hear. So taking the time to understand which communications your employees want will pay dividends. Particularly if you create opportunities for two-way communications.
Allow your people to have their say with engagement or pulse surveys and other opportunities to feedback directly to leaders. This will allow employees to express their views while giving you the opportunity to find out what’s irritating them so you can take action.
Investing in this virtuous feedback loop will ensure your organisation continues to improve taking employee engagement to new highs.
Create a Culture That Works For Everyone
Modern employees want to work with their employers not for them. Which means taking a collaborative, partnership approach to working relationships.
What does this look like in reality? You could:
- Make your mission, vision and values clear and give broad direction that’s aligned to them rather than micro-managing your staff
- Show people that you trust them by treating them like adults, for example allowing flexible working and enabling people to work from locations other than the office
- Give employees a hand in their own job design and objective-setting, helping them play to their strengths
- Facilitate whole person growth by funding personal and career development activities
Recognise Your People
Those two little words – thank you – are more important than many managers realise. Not hearing them enough is one of the main reasons people leave their employer.
Doing the basics, like taking your team out for a drink after work or paying for lunch can go a long way to saying thank you. If your recognition budget is zero, you could award an employee of the month certificate, create a wall of amazing customer feedback or give top performers an afternoon off.
Driving employee engagement is every business leader’s responsibility. Changing your business can’t all fall on one person’s shoulders, so ensure your managers are brought into any changes to ensure their success.
If employee engagement is dragging your business results down, work with Crosse HR to diagnose your issues and prescribe a range of effective solutions. Whatever your budget, get in touch on 0330 555 1139 or at email@example.com.
This is the time of year the rows start – the annual leave booking season. Wall calendars and online calendars are pored over and leave is booked, most of it around the same time, there will be rows between parents and non parents about who should take priority and why and on we go.
So it makes sense to have a few set of rules to try and take the tension out of the whole thing.
Firstly be clear about how much leave can be blocked in one go i.e. one, two week blocks (financial services now insist on this), if there is a cap i.e. two weeks maximum etc.
Secondly, be clear how much advance notice must be given, a month’s notice is usually acceptable if you want to book a week, 2 days is not acceptable if you want to book anything at all and if leave needs to be approved by a manager or some such.
Thirdly, be clear leave can be refused, obviously as a last resort and with good reason but it’s good to get the story straight.
Fourthly, be very clear about how many employees can be out at the same time. It never ceases to amaze me, no matter how often you say it and set the limits, they will give it a go anyway and all book the same time off and fight about it for weeks afterwards.
Fifthly, be very clear what precedents you want to set i.e. if you had the first two weeks off in July last year, you might not get it this year, same goes for half terms, school holidays and Christmas.
Sixthly, what the rules are if you are sick on holidays (holiday can be claimed back if proven), if your flight is delayed (usually unpaid, get proof) and you don’t get back when you are supposed to, the rules around social media and mixing the professional with personal, working on holiday, using the work mobile on holiday etc.
And as an aside, it’s amazing how many of my clients who are schools that have set holidays agreed years in advance, encounter the same problems with leave! So if you are a school struggling with leave requests outside of school holidays, call me 0330 555 1139.
Finally, when it comes to annual leave, be fair, consistent and apply the rules to all staff, no exceptions.
If in doubt contact CrosseHR, we’ll draft a policy for you to be proud of.