Christmas in the Workplace: A How to Guide

Christmas in the Workplace: A How to Guide

Christmas can be a real headache for business owners. There is a range of HR issues that can be troublesome, from granting holidays to the receipt of gifts and much more in between. In this blog post, we explain some of the issues you may face and provide tips on how to deal with them.


Even if you have meticulously planned the Christmas holiday rota, you are bound to have an issue around ¬holidays. Because Christmas and New Year often fall on weekdays, there will always be someone who wants the same day off as somebody else. Plus, most people want to maximise their time off over Christmas by booking holiday between bank holidays. You can’t let everyone take time off, it will cripple your business. No one has the right to a paid holiday without your agreement, but at the same time you must comply with employment law regulations and be sensitive to the fact that Christmas is a family time and your employees will want to spend as much time as possible with family. You must not discriminate between those with families and those without and deal with all holiday requests in a fair and objective manner.


Christmas bonuses are often a controversial issue. Some employees feel it is their right to receive a Christmas bonus and are disappointed or feel unappreciated if they don’t. But unless Christmas bonuses are written into employee contracts you are not obliged to pay them. In these troubled financial times, many businesses do not have the budget for non-contractual bonuses and you should not feel obliged to do pay them, just because you have done in the past. If historically you have paid bonuses, but this year you decide you cannot afford it, that’s perfectly acceptable. But it’s important to be open and honest with your employees as there may naturally be an expectation that a bonus is on its way.

Half Days

Many firms close early on Christmas eve. There is often no need to enforce employees to work a full day as business has ceased trading and employees are no longer motivated to work due to the holiday spirit. Some firms will give employees this extra half day on top of their holiday entitlement as a gesture of goodwill, but if you require them to book this time off using their annual leave you must notify them in advance.

If you are going to let staff go home early, let them know. It can sometimes be de-motivational to leave them hanging.

Planned Shut Downs

Many businesses shut down over the Christmas period and require their employees to use some of their holidays during this period. It must be written into their contracts if this is the case. If an employee doesn’t want to take this time off, but you are planning on shutting the business down, you can legally enforce holiday but must comply with employment law by giving them due notice.

Christmas Gifts

Sometimes suppliers and customers will send Christmas gifts. Have a policy on what is acceptable to ensure you don’t fall foul of bribery rules. You may encourage staff to share gifts between the team but remember that if you do not have a written policy, they are not obliged to do so.

Dress Code

Christmas is a time when most employees like to get in the spirit and you may decide to relax your dress policy by giving them the chance to dress down or even get festive with Christmas jumpers. It is important to respect those who do not celebrate Christmas and ensure any communications around dress acknowledge that it is optional. You may also wish to outline what clothing is deemed unacceptable to ensure it doesn’t go too far. You don’t want to risk causing offence to other employees or risk appearing non-professional to customers.

Christmas Parties

The Christmas party is an issue that requires much more than a paragraph. For a 10 step guide to ensuring your Christmas party goes without a hitch, read our latest blog, The Dos and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party.

For further advice on dealing with HR concerns during the Christmas period contact us on 0330 555 1139 or by email at

How to Avoid Discriminating During the Recruitment Process

How to Avoid Discriminating During the Recruitment Process

Did you know that it’s actually unlawful, under the Equality Act 2010, to discriminate on the grounds of certain protected characteristics such as sex, race, ethnicity, disability, age, gender reassignment, religion, pregnancy, marriage/partnership or belief? The risks of getting the recruitment process wrong can result in being accused of discrimination and being taken to an Industrial Tribunal. This will be damaging for any business and could be particularly catastrophic for SMEs.

Here’s our short guide which explains how you can avoid discriminating when growing your team.

Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail

It’s important that you spend time at the beginning of the process carefully considering the role and requirements of the position you are hiring for. You should create a pre-determined role profile which establishes the key criteria that the successful candidate should meet to successfully fulfil your requirements. This profile should be strictly adhered to throughout the process to ensure that you recruit ONLY to meet the specifications in this profile and do not consider external factors, that could be considered discriminatory.

Use this role profile to create a detailed job description and person specification documents. In these documents, you should clearly describe the daily duties of the role and the skills required from the successful candidate. The duties outlined must be ESSENTIAL for the post as well as RELEVANT, NON-DISCRIMINATORY, and JUSTIFIABLE requirements. This not only ensures you attract the right candidates but also protects you as an employer.

Have a written selection policy

Add an extra layer of protection to your recruitment process by ensuring you have a written policy covering your selection process. This should cover the content of the job advertisement and selection procedures and how to conduct interviews. Train all interviewers thoroughly on this process to ensure there are no breaks in the chain.

Document genuine occupational requirements

There are times when you genuinely need to positively discriminate. For example, if you require a male only nurse to care for male patients to protect their dignity. In these instances, it is justifiable to discriminate but it’s always best to check with the Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure you are compliant with your legal obligations.

Be careful with the language you use

When creating job descriptions, adverts or person specifications, be careful with the language you use. Phrases like “fit” or “energetic” could be seen to discriminate against those with disabilities while requiring a minimum number of years’ experience could equally be seen to discriminate on the basis of age.

Have an equal opportunities statement

It’s always good practice to feature your equal opportunities statement in your job advertisement to demonstrate your commitment right from the start.

Make reasonable adjustments for the right candidate

You are legally obliged to recruit the person who best fits your job profile. If they tick all the boxes of your person specification but have a disability, you are legally obliged to consider making an adjustment to the role, your business or premises to enable them to perform their duties.

You are able to request information from applicants as to whether they have special requirements to undertake the role. This will enable you to make any adjustments required to enable them to attend an interview.

Structured and systematic interviewing

At the interview stage, you should have clearly defined selection criteria and weightings that are objectively justifiable. Questions should correspond directly to the job description and you should have a standardised scoring system. This will help you objectively evaluate all candidates on their SUITABILITY FOR THE ROLE only and not on other factors.

Test with caution

Tests are required sometimes to assess a candidate’s experience or suitability. For example, if the role requires candidates to be competent using a certain piece of software. Tests should only be used if they are both relevant and justifiable for the selection process. There should be no discriminatory aspect to the test and the business should make reasonable adjustments to allow every candidate to take the test.

Document everything

By documenting every part of your recruitment process you can ensure that your recruitment decisions are justifiable should you ever be challenged on your decision. Make sure you keep records for at least 12 months.

Equal opportunities monitoring

It’s good practice as a business to collect information for equal opportunities monitoring but this information should be kept completely separate from the selection panel. Selectors should never be provided with this information.


It is vital to consider every aspect of your recruitment process to ensure you are protected from being accused of discrimination. Always ensure that every part of the process is relevant, non-discriminatory and objectively justifiable. For professional advice on your recruitment process or equal opportunities policies, contact us by calling 0330 555 1139 or email us at

Dawn of the Millennials

Dawn of the Millennials



At this time of year we look to all things new; this week CrosseHR is looking at millennials (those born circa 1982 and 20 years after) and how they are shaping the world of work. So what do the studies show? Well…

They’re connected

Millennials are constantly sharing and communicating with others, putting forth their ideas and creations and working together to make them better. We only need to look at social networks to see this is true; it’s a common misconception that people only use Facebook to post mundane and self-righteous things about themselves, which is true in some cases but certainly not the majority of millennials. If we examine social media use for what it actually is millennials post things that they have thought about, are interested in or have created, opening themselves up exposing opposite or similar opinion, interests and creations constantly building upon each other. Collaboration is key to the millennial’s success, they build together rather than fighting it out for the best idea. If we look at google for instance; collaboration is at it’s very core and employees work in groups to find solutions to the worlds problems. A correlation can be drawn between workplaces which have free flowing communication and good employee satisfaction, 47% of millennials are likely to remain with a firm for 5 years or more which achieve both.

They’re not as loyal

A quarter of millennials expect to have 6 or more employers in their lifetime signalling higher employee turnover for businesses, further this figure has risen from 10% in 2008 perhaps indicating future rises. The other headings in this article may go some way in explaining this, there is certainly an emphasis on work/life balance and that the money is no longer the key driving factor. Perhaps a presumption can be made; millennials seem to factor in personal happiness in their career choices so are less likely to stay in a job where they’re not happy. Another factor is flexibility; they actively seek it. Many workplaces work within traditional rigid hours and emphasise punctuality, whilst for some workplaces this is of course vital, millennials enjoy the freedom of being able to work where and when they want. Flexibility doesn’t mean the work doesn’t get done but instead means if you as the manager need something done by a certain time and to a certain level than it may be in your interests to employ flexible hours. Studies have shown when workers are allowed to set their own working hours and workplace they are likely to be more productive and their work of a higher quality. Perhaps it’s time for the world of work to recognise that traditional systems are not fit for the modern workforce, especially taking into account the pull factors for millennials, they are unlikely to change their way of thinking to fit traditional practice. 71% of millennials in the UK expect to leave their current organisation within the next 5 years.

They want a quick climb

Millennials look to the stars and want to get to the ceiling as quickly as possible. The number one pull factor for millennials is career progression, 54% said that progression prospects make an employer attractive, this trumped competitive salaries with 44% citing wage packets. Millennials have grown up in a world where anything is possible, their generation is truly one of ambition and technology is often their way of achieving it; they understand it, harness it and make the workplace smarter, quicker and profitable as a result. A survey carried out by Deloitte found that 71% of millennials are likely to leave their job within 2 years if they felt their leadership skills weren’t being developed, 57% leaving their job within 2 years if they felt they were “being overlooked for leadership positions”.

They’re ethical

It’s a common misconception that millennials focus on a businesses “buzz” says Deloitte, which rings true. Many employers think that a companies age and standing are a huge factor; the glittering skyscraper, global head count and power of a company just isn’t that impressive anymore. The focus is no longer on what the company is but more what are they doing? The millennials focus on ethics; when asked “what are the values a business should follow for long-term success” the two most popular answers were employee satisfaction/fair treatment and ethics/trust. The millennial is socially aware and politically active; they care about the issues which affect wider society and seek to work with ethical companies making a change.

What is clear from research is that there is a real gap between what workplaces are and what millennials want them to be, which is ultimately what they will become. This is a generation which shrugs off the old, thinks differently and cares about the long-term. Millennials certainly cannot be ignored and many business have implemented strategic plans for attracting them, recognising them as assets in the world to come.

CrosseHR offers sensibly priced consultancy services to SME’s and NGO’s seeking strategically targeted recruitment and retention plans. We offer a number of recruitment services which can be found on our solutions page. To contact us email alternatively call 0330 555 1139. You can also follow us on Twitter or connect to us on LinkedIn for further HR updates.


PWC: Millennials at work

Deloitte: 2016 Annual Millennial Survey

Holacracy  – part 2

Holacracy – part 2

I’m rather taken with this new notion of Holacracy first coined by Brian J Robertson, so in my earlier post I just provided an overview. After a bit more research I am able to provide you with a more in depth view of how it works which is described below.

Further information can be got from

Circle organisation
To say there’s no hierarchy in a holacracy is inaccurate. There is, but it’s much less rigid than a traditional structure. Its constitution is made up of semi-autonomous circles, with each circle having its own goals and responsibilities. Every circle has a ‘lead link’ that designates people certain roles. Each circle exists within the context of a higher-level circle, but no circle is fully autonomous.

With holacracy, governance meetings structure how the work gets done, making it clear who is responsible for what and with how much authority. Each employee has complete control over the roles they’ve been assigned or elected to. However, they are still accountable, so if there’s a problem or they have an issue with a colleague, it’s their responsibility to sort it out.

Hiring and firing
In a typical top-down management structure, the power to hire and fire is usually in the hands of managers. With holacracy, it’s less personal, making it more about who is the best fit for each role. But because there are no managers, who actually does the hiring and firing you might ask?

As with any business, employees can be removed, but the process needs to be decided upon by governance, a committee sometimes referred to as an anchor circle. A circle’s lead link can remove someone from a role and find a better fit from the talent pool available if necessary. An employee may also be removed if they can’t find enough roles to do within the company.

Is holacracy right for you?
A company without managers might sound like a recipe for chaos, but supporters of holacracy say it actually has the opposite effect because a workplace free from office politics results in fewer tensions and empowers employees. Ultimately, it gives everyone a voice, which fuels more ideas and opportunities, and is extremely flexible, which is paramount for success in a modern workforce.

However, it isn’t for everyone, and shouldn’t be undertaken without due consideration. Without any one person truly in charge, it’s not always clear where the buck stops when it comes to issues such as company under performance and finance. Also, because staff aren’t promoted or given a clear career path, they may be tempted by more lucrative offers elsewhere. It might also be difficult for current managers to relinquish power.

Employee engagement UK – who is happiest

Who Are the Happiest Workers in the UK An infographic by the team at

Unum UK

I am starting to get addicted (haven’t you noticed?) to info graphics, I really like this one which is a map of employee engagement across the UK. The ladies are happier than the men, pay causes the most problems and people in Plymouth are happiest of all! There is so much organisation’s can do (that do not cost a lot) to improve employee engagement and turn their organisations into great places to work and it can happen quickly. The crew here at Crosse HR have plenty of tricks up our sleeves to help you increase your employee engagement, just give us a call. Failing that then lets all move to Plymouth!

Unum UK