Get Ahead With Your 2017 HR Strategy

Get Ahead With Your 2017 HR Strategy

It’s almost the end of another year. Can you believe it? Many of us will be starting to wind down for the Christmas break, or, more likely, desperately trying to complete to do lists. In terms of HR, your focus right now is probably managing the Christmas period in the office, or maybe, (though hopefully not), picking up the pieces after the office Christmas party. But before you wind up for the Christmas break, it is important to look ahead to next year and turn your attention to your 2017 HR strategy. Now’s the time to understand how HR will be required to support your 2017 business strategy, and also take stock, learn from experiences and make improvements for the year ahead.

Here’re are a few things to consider for your 2017 HR strategy.

Compensation and company benefits

The new year typically brings with it annual salary increments and bonus payments. Now’s the time to conduct a salary review to benchmark your company against the marketplace and understand the resourcing and retention budget required for your 2017 business plans.

You may wish to offer premium company benefits to be more competitive than other companies in the market. If you have benefits in place already, are you communicating them well enough? Make sure you have an efficient and regular communication strategy in place to improve benefit take up and inform employees of policies and guidelines.

Improve your hiring processes

It is likely that recruitment will be vital to your business growth strategy in 2017, and improving the recruitment process will help you increase efficiency and hire better quality candidates. Consider your current recruitment process. What are the successes? Where can you improve? Consider pre-screening tools, improving job descriptions and reviewing interview processes. For more information on recruitment, read our recent blog posts:

How to avoid discriminating during the recruitment process
How to structure a job description
Recruitment: How to recruit the right people

Do you have an onboarding strategy?

Onboarding strategies offer new employees a better insight into an organisation’s strategy and culture. They also help them quickly get up to speed with their job role. First impressions count. Getting them engaged from day one when they are feeling most positive, will help them bed in quickly, reflect the companies values and increase their confidence in fulfilling their role. Request open and honest feedback from new starters and use it to revamp processes, or improve your onboarding strategy for 2017.

Keep skills up to date

Do you need to invest in training to align the skills of your workforce with your organisation’s strategy for 2017? Training and development are vital to ensure the continued growth of organisations whilst demonstrating that you value, and are willing to develop your team. Training goes hand in hand with employee career progression. The cost of developing existing employees, (with the knock-on benefits to morale, engagement and loyalty) must be considered against the recruitment costs of hiring more experienced team members.

Training doesn’t necessarily need to be costly. You may have the skills in house, in more experienced team members, that can be harnessed to develop those that are less experienced.

Test out a new education initiative, measure the results and strategise for the rest of year.

Employee engagement and culture

Now’s the time to work on your employee engagement strategy. Employee engagement is a vital part of improving motivation, productivity, employee retention and well-being, as well as building a sense of pride and loyalty. Consider mentoring for newcomers, charity projects, celebrating achievement, recognition schemes, social events, feedback exercises, office decoration and team building exercises.

Improve communication

Poor communication is one of the biggest frustrations in many businesses, particularly when they reach a size where there are multiple departments, with competing objectives. Relationship building, however, is vital to productivity, efficiency, and workplace harmony. How can you improve communication processes between departments and team members? Consider the best ways to collect information and the best channels to use to share it, whilst at the same time, avoiding meeting overload!

Time is limited, and energy is often lacking in December, but getting ahead with your HR strategy for next year, will pay dividends. Creating the foundations now will help you hit the ground running in January.

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party

The office Christmas party is the biggest event of the year in the work social calendar. It’s the opportunity show your employees your appreciation for their hard work throughout the year, and it’s the chance for your team to let their hair down and celebrate their achievements. It can also be a place where new friends are made as people get the chance to mix socially with others outside their immediate teams. But it can also be an HR nightmare! It’s often a time when frustrations that have been built up throughout the year are released, and the presence of alcohol can really fan the flames of any bad behaviour.

To help you plan the perfect, and problem free Christmas party, follow our simple ten step guide.

1. Don’t skimp. If you are going to throw a Christmas party, it’s important that it falls within budget, but it’s also vital that your employees feel that they are really appreciated. A good Christmas party can be an excellent retention tool, and also a way to demonstrate your company’s fantastic social culture. A few sausage rolls and an hour early finish is not going to cut it and may run the risk of having the opposite of effect, leaving your team with a bitterness that can last well into the new year.

2. Be personal. If your budget doesn’t stretch to lavish celebrations that’s fine. But try and give your event the personal touch by downing tools early and getting the whole team involved in games and light-hearted fun. Perhaps get each manager to personally acknowledge each of their team member’s achievements or share funny stories. Remember to take the opportunity to ensure your leadership team stand up and thank your employees for their hard work and reward them with a Christmas gift as a token of your appreciation.

3. Make sure everyone is invited. It’s so important to make sure everyone feels included in the celebrations so they feel appreciated. You may have employees on holiday at the time or on long term maternity leave, but they should be included none the less.

4. The party is a work related event. Treat it as such. The same rules you employ for all work events are just as relevant here and employees should be reminded of so. You should have a policy for work events that outline inappropriate behaviour such as aggression, lewd remarks, unwanted advances and misconduct. Employees should be aware that their actions could lead to disciplinary proceedings.

5. Allocate managers to monitor alcohol consumption. There may be some employees who take the free bar too far. Ensuring you have some managers on the lookout for any excess will allow you to keep control of consumption and prevent alcohol-related problems before they arise.

6. Make sure your party is inclusive. You should make sure all your staff feel welcome. Perhaps some do not drink, or others do not celebrate Christmas at all. Make sure you think about these members of staff as taking the time to consider their needs will make them feel truly appreciated and included in the celebrations.

7. Investigate and take action. In the unfortunate event that someone oversteps the mark at your party, it is your duty as an employer to investigate the situation and take action. Just because it is the Christmas party does not mean it’s a free for all for antisocial behaviour and you have a responsibility to the rest of your team to ensure any misconduct is dealt with in line with your disciplinary policies.

8. Office romances. Love can often blossom between employees at the Christmas party. In a recent survey, 55% of people admitted to a festive kiss with another employee. Perhaps it’s all that mistletoe! Be clear on your stance on office relationships. If you require them to be disclosed, make that known and take action if necessary.

9. Be careful of social media. Social media can be an excellent way of demonstrating your company’s amazing culture by sharing photos and updates from your party. On the flipside, it’s important to have control over what is shared. Inappropriate photos can damage your reputation. Also, some employees may have grievances with their embarrassing photos being shared online. Ensure you have a carefully considered social media policy in your business to protect yourself and your staff.

10. Deal with staff absences. If your Christmas party falls on a weekday, it’s no surprise that you may find yourself with surprising numbers of absences the next day. Your teams should be reminded that the following day is just like any other work day and that they will be expected to act professionally and arrive on time. Use your HR team to deal with any unauthorised absences.

By following these simple rules, your employees should leave your Christmas party full of festive spirit, without leaving any nasty HR headaches for you to deal with. For further advice on dealing with HR concerns during the Christmas period contact us on 0330 555 1139 or by email at

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

Ask & Listen: Valuing Employee Feedback

Ask & Listen: Valuing Employee Feedback

CrosseHR affordable hr solutions

Knowing how the workplace feels is perhaps one of the most effective ways of pre-empting HR problems and averting them. Getting a feel of how your employees view you is the first step in increasing morale and productivity, if you listen to feedback of course. CrosseHR has come up with a quick guide to seeking, replaying and valuing employee feedback;


The best way to gain honest and valuable feedback from your employees is to seek it, constantly. Enshrining feedback into daily emails will make for a workplace with free-flowing constructive feedback, it also creates an ethos of open communication. You could ask a simple question at the end of an email like: How do you think we could address this (problem) better? How do you think we have handled this? The question will of course be specific to the email but the point is to seek it as much as possible, it will make employees feel valued and part of the decision making process.

Making feedback anonymous can be enormously beneficial and there are online platforms that employers can integrate into their Intranet such as . We will be interviewing founder Neil Chandler shortly for this blog.

Another technique is to come up with an employee satisfaction survey. A survey is one of the best ways of seeking feedback and getting a real picture of the workplace as asking a number of employees the same questions will enable you to see the bigger picture. Anonymity is key here to gain honest feedback, employees will of course fear reprisal or a relationship breakdown with you as the employer. Making the survey anonymous disbands any negative bias you may have towards an employee, which you undoubtably will even if you don’t admit it, ultimately you will take all feedback as equal and will regard all submissions as genuine.

You will want to think carefully about the questions you ask, making sure your questions don’t restrict feedback or only allow for one possible answer. Firstly ask questions you genuinely want an answer to, perhaps you have an inclination about some employee relations issues going on or you want to know if there is anything that will make your employees more productive.

Here’s some examples;

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
  2. What do you enjoy least?
  3. If you were a company director what would you change first?
  4. How do you think our customers view us?
  5. What could management do to make you more successful?
  6. How do you think productivity could best be improved?
  7. I feel valued when my manager __________________
  8. I feel undervalued when my manager________________
  9. I work best when _______________

There are a number of applications online which offer free anonymous surveys check out:

Survey Monkey

Google Forms

Kiwi Surveys


Replying to feedback is just as important as seeking it, getting the reply right is vital as the consequences of not doing so are far reaching and detrimental to morale and productivity. The key here is to make the employee feel listened to even if their feedback isn’t particularly helpful.

Follow these top tips to getting the reply right:

  1. Thank the employee no matter whether the feedback is good or bad.
  2. Ask for more details; no only will this assure the employee your listening to them but will also enable you to discern whether there underlying issues at play or whether the problem is connected to other feedback you have received.
  3. Reply quickly, it doesn’t mean you have to reply the same day but it shouldn’t be more than a week before the employee knows you have acknowledged their feedback.
  4. Avoid a standard reply, genuinely look at the feedback and address the issues raised in it.


So now you have the employees feedback, act on it. The valuing stage turns feedback into value for the company, addressing the points raised will up productivity and will have far reaching benefits which go beyond the bottom line. This stage requires an open mind; dismissing feedback you have received should not be done lightly. Your employees know your company too, collectively they have more eyes and ears than you and may think differently about what you are ‘sure’ on. The saying goes two heads are better than one so imagine the value of having multiple minds thinking of ways to solve problems and ultimately building a better company together. You may think you know how your customers view your company but having a collective approach to identifying your true image will help you to identify aspects you have missed or could act upon to gain stronger customer loyalty and a bigger customer base.

CrosseHR provides a number of employee relations services and can advise employers on gaining feedback and improving communication in the workplace. Call us on 0330 555 1139 or drop us a line To recieve HR insights and free resources follow us on Twitter or connect to us on LinkedIn.

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