Past it at 40

Past it at 40

I was very shocked to read that in today’s modern PC lets not offend anyone, totally inclusive, non judgmental (stay away from Twitter), liberal society, women are considered to have reached the peak of their careers at 40 and men at 45. Thats nice isn’t it? A mere 18 years (for women) and 23 years for men (on average) into our working lives we are considered done, has beens. For most of us who have at least 20 – 25 years left to work past the age of 40, that’s an awful lot of years left to go on a downward work spiral. 18% of the UK population is aged 65 and over!

To listen to today’s media you would be forgiven to thinking that only the young in their 20’s and 30’s can invent and be innovative. So consider this, Henry Ford was 40 when he established Ford and 45 when he invented the Model T, Charles Darwin was 50, Samuel L Jackson was 46 when he hit the big time, Penicillin was discovered by a man aged 46 Alexander Fleming who was rewarded for it when he was 56 some 10 years later.

With age comes experience and a level of calmness, you’ve been there, seen that, made the mistakes and found the solution and that is very valuable indeed. More experienced employees are not past it, set in their ways, far from it, todays 45 – 60 year olds started work when email wasn’t even around never mind the internet, most of them didn’t have a mobile phone until their late 20’s early 30’s – so imagine the changes they have seen and dealt with that millennials couldn’t even conceive.

So before writing anyone over the age of 40 off, imagine how much you can learn and benefit from those years of experience and sheer depth of knowledge.

 

Flexible Benefits – What They Are and How to Use Them 

Flexible Benefits – What They Are and How to Use Them 

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.  

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 
  • holidays 
  • 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 hello@crossehr.co.uk. 

 

Menopause – the dirty secret

Menopause – the dirty secret

15.1 million women are at work in the UK. So it’s safe to assume that at some stage in the next 20 or so years those 15.1m women will go through the menopause. That’s an awful lot of people who are absolutely guaranteed to go through a fairly seismic shift in their lives.  Learn more about managing the menopause in the workplace and download our free Menopause HR Policy.

Menopause in the Workplace

We hear a lot of talk about millennials and their issues, but consider this, a huge proportion of the workforce at any given time is going through a massive physical and physiological change and no one wants to talk about it much less do anything about it.

99% of businesses in the UK do not even have a menopause policy, they have Wellbeing policies sure but nothing not a jot, iota or mention of what perhaps 10% of their workforce is going through and 50% will face at some stage in their lives.

We all have mothers, sisters, friends, wives, girlfriends, work colleagues, so it’s safe to assume that all of us know someone that is going through this right now – silently, alone and totally ignored.

The average age for women to go through the menopause is 51, (some go through it much earlier, some later), it can last up to 7 years, yes you heard right, 7 long, upsetting, draining, weird years. Symptoms include interrupted sleep, hot flushes, night sweats, night terrors, weight gain, irritability, mood swings, depression, general malaise, brain fog and a lot more I won’t mention – in short, a fairly miserable set of symptoms.

With the skills shortage in the UK we will all have to work a lot longer (up to 70 and beyond) as we have diddly squat in pensions. But yet, not yet halfway through their working lives, a huge proportion of women are going through the hell that is the menopause – unsupported.

Do you have a Menopause Policy?

Recently I’ve written a Menopause HR Policy, to help all employers and I mean ALL employers deal with this issue. Include it in your wellbeing policies, have it as a stand-alone, it’s as important as your maternity policy. You can download it below for free. So employers start preparing and start by buying fans!

Download your Free Menopause HR Policy

Menopause

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Also check out www.megsmenopause.comh

Employing older workers – the benefits

Employing older workers – the benefits

With more people living longer, the workforce contains a higher proportion of older workers than ever before. And this demographic trend is only going to continue with one in five of the UK population expected to be 65 or older by 2030.  

With pension pots failing to provide people with the retirement they want, more people are working longer. However, many people over the age of 50 are at risk of leaving the workforce early. And not always because they want to.  

With many businesses struggling to recruit due to high employment rates, it’s time to consider hiring older workers and all the benefits they can bring.  

The Challenges Faced by Older Workers 

Older workers are generally considered to be people over the age of 50. However, in some industries served by younger people – think fashion retail or hospitality – older workers could be thought of as anyone over the age of 35.   

According to the Centre for Ageing Better, staff over 50 face age discrimination when applying for jobs or trying to progress their careers. They are also: 

  • more likely to be stuck in low paid jobs 
  • feel most insecure about losing their jobs 
  • less likely to be offered opportunities for development 

In fact, only 25% of employees aged 50-59 and 22% of those aged 60-69 felt their employer encouraged them to take up learning and development opportunities. This is a significant drop compared to 44% of 18-39 year-olds and 32% of 40-49 year-olds.[Text Wrapping Break] 

With older workers forming an increasing part of the workforce, it’s time for employers to change their perspectives and understand what the over 50s can contribute. 

What Older Workers Bring to Your Business  

Older doesn’t mean worse. In fact, many of the UK’s key industries rely on more mature staff. Take farming. The average age of a UK farmer is 59. These people bring years of skill and expertise to their jobs. And the country remains well fed and is able to export meat and other produce because of their work.  

There are plenty of other benefits that come with hiring older employees: 

  • They’re less likely to leave than their younger counterparts – saving you time and money when it comes to recruitment and training. 
  • They’ll understand your ageing customer base better – as the population ages, it’s not only workers but customers who will be getting older. Having employees who are the same age as your customers, who understand their needs and can talk to them on an equal footing will bring major benefits to your business. 
  • Diversity brings additional advantages to your wider team and business – and that includes age diversity. Think fresh perspectives, knowledge sharing, new ideas and improved problem solving. 

There are also benefits to the economy as employing more older workers will contribute to tax revenues offsetting some of the costs associated with an ageing population. If everyone in the UK worked one year longer, GDP would increase by 1%. Which can only be good for the economy and, by proxy, your business.  

Managing Older Workers 

Hiring older workers may be easier in some locations than others due to the demographic makeup of the area in which your business is located.  

Cities tend to have larger populations of younger people whereas older people often move away from urban areas. So, if hiring over 50s sounds like a good option for your firm, you might need HR support to attract and retain the right people. 

But it’s not just recruitment that you’ll need to consider. Think about adjusting your workplace practices to create an age-friendly culture that appeals to all generations.  

A key practice that cuts across all age groups (although for different reasons), is flexible working. For older workers this could mean giving people the opportunity to work from home, condense their hours or work part-time or in job shares. These options will allow them to: 

  • achieve better work-life balance 
  • carry out caring responsibilities 
  • manage health conditions 
  • wind down to retirement 

Making flexible working practices available to all staff is a certain way to engage your people, whatever their age.

For older workers you might also need to consider making changes to: 

  • Work tasks – heavy lifting could be a no-go for some older people but judge this on a case by case basis 
  • Training provision – ensuring everyone in your team is up to speed with how you work will deliver best return on your compensation and benefits investment 
  • Technology – not all over 50s are behind the technology times but you might need to invest in technology training to ensure your latest recruit is up to speed. This could mean introducing formal training sessions or learning on the job by being buddied up with a colleague. 

As skill shortages worsen and the working population ages, hiring older workers will be a necessity for many businesses. The workplace imposes barriers on every individual and all employees, no matter their age, have their individual strengths and weaknesses. Your challenge as a business owner is to find out where your staff need support and where you can make the most of their existing expertise.  

Attract, hire, engage and retain staff of all ages with expert support from Crosse HR. Get in touch today on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk. 

The Good Work Plan

The Good Work Plan

No this is not something I have thought up or am promoting, it’s something the government have thought up and it’s coming on the 6th April 2020.

So what’s it about then?

Well from April 2020 instead of putting issuing contracts on the long finger for two months which a lot of employers do, you will have to issue them on the first day of work at the very latest. As well as your employees, workers will also have to have a written statement too – outlining their terms of engagement. The Good Work Plan is going to affect agency workers, casual workers and zero hours contracts the most, in my opinion.

If that’s not enough, there is more:

Some staff will be able to request more stable working hours

The length of time you can claim continuous service is shortening

Calculating holiday pay is changing

New rules around hospitality staff keeping their tips

Recruitment agencies cannot use ‘pay between assignments’ like before

Further information can be found here on this link, but CrosseHR will keep you posted and prepared in any case.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-plan

Breaking up is hard to do.

Breaking up is hard to do.

Everyone of us has left a job, many of us many times, it’s a fact of life if you run or own a business, people will come and people will go. Some will leave with your blessing and leave well, some will be ‘encouraged’ by you to go and others will bawl you out/or you them in a blaze of glory, recriminations and occasionally vandalism.

The good leavers

They are a good sort, usually good employees, who just want to move on for whatever reason, they feel bad but its the right thing to do. They come in anxious and nervous, some cry and tell you they are leaving, thank you for your help, they want to work their notice and want to leave as friends.

What should you do?

Shake their hand, wish them well and start organising the leaving party. On a practical note, agree a last working day, agree whether or not they wish to work right up to their last day or take any leave due to them. Also agree a handover to their successor and/or whether you will involve them in recruiting a successor. Agree with them how they should tell the team and any clients and then start organising the leaving drinks. All’s well.

Then there’s the bad leavers

These come in many forms, here are a few regular ways to exit badly:

The disappeared

One day they don’t show up and you never see or hear from them again. It’s all a bit strange and a bit puzzling and no one is really sure why – they seemed alright at the time.

What do you do?

Try to determine a) if they are alright b) if they ever intend coming back c) if all else just for curiosity’s sake try to establish the reason why. Write, call or email asking them to get in touch. Give them a deadline date to do so, advise them that you will assume they no longer with to work with you if they do not get in touch. There is no point worrying about notice periods etc, it wastes time just pay them up to the last day they worked and any annual leave accrued, issue the P45 and move on.

Out with an immediate bang

They’ve handed in their notice, its all going ok sort of and all of a sudden they tell you, I’m not working to the end of my notice and that’s it.

What should you do?

Well if you were happy for them to work their notice and they don’t want to, they have waived their right to work their contracted notice and for this they do not get paid. Put it in writing and move on.

I want you gone and NOW!

They’ve handed in their notice and things have gone from bad to worse, you can’t bear the sight of them and they have no intention of doing a stroke of work until that last day. You want them gone and now.

What should you do?

If you do then you have to pay for it. You put them on ‘gardening leave’ tell them not to come in anymore and pay them up to the end of their notice.

And finally ……the references

The very least you should do, is give a factual reference confirming job title and dates of employment and always include a disclaimer. Avoid all personal opinions and keep it as benign or as neutral as possible.

Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

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, 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.

New Government Pay Rates

The government has announced the new rates that will apply from April:

Cap on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal: £525
Guarantee pay: £29 per day
Statutory sick pay: £94.25 per week
Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay: £148.68

National Minimum Wage:

Over 25                            £8.21
Adult rate (over 21)                       £7.70
Development rate (18 – 20)         £6.15     
School leavers (16 – 17)                £4.35
Apprentices                                    £3.90

More details can be found here.