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‘Tis the season to be jolly…and tell us all about it

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and tell us all about it

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

Social Media

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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.

How to safely terminate employment

How to safely terminate employment

Taking the decision to terminate an employee can be a stressful one. How do you make sure you have a legitimate case? What’s the correct way to dismiss them to avoid being landed with an employment tribunal hearing? In this week’s blog we aim to shed some light on the factors you need to consider and will also explain the correct procedure to dismiss an employee safely.

What is dismissal?

Firstly, let’s look at the term dismissal. Dismissal is when you end an employee’s contract. There are many different kinds of dismissal including:

• Fair: You have a valid reason for dismissing someone such as redundancy, they committed gross misconduct, they are incapable of, or something prevents them legally being able to, do their job, e.g. they have lost their driving licence.
• Unfair: An employee can claim unfair dismissal and take you to an employment tribunal if they think the reason was unfair, you acted unreasonably or the reason you gave for dismissal wasn’t the real one. There are many reasons that are automatically deemed unfair: these include any discrimination over age, gender or race, pregnancy, acting as a trade union representative, joining or not joining a trade union and many more. You can find out more about unfair dismissal here
• Constructive: When an employee resigns because you’ve breached their employment contract. This could be because you cut their wages without agreement, unfairly increase workload, make them work in dangerous conditions for example.
• Wrongful: Wrongful dismissal is when you break the terms of an employee’s contract during the dismissal process. For example, dismissing someone without giving them propert notice.

What’s the difference between fair and unfair dismissal?

The difference between a fair and unfair dismissal rests entirely on two points; the reason for dismissal and how you act during the dismissal process. You must act ‘fairly’ and ‘reasonably’ and the law has very specific ways of defining these terms. To dismiss fairly you need a ‘fair’ reason such as conduct, behaviour, capability redundancy, breach of statutory restriction or some other substantial reason, such as a restructure. Even if you terminate via a fair procedure, if the reason isn’t ‘fair’ then the dismissal will be deemed unfair.

If your reason is fair, you must then act ‘reasonably’ before you terminate someone. This means you must investigate properly, consider alternatives and be consistent with how you have treated other employees. If you are dismissing an employee because of misconduct, you must conduct a thorough investigation before holding a disciplinary hearing and ensure they have the right to appeal your decision.

How to stay safe

To terminate an employee should be considered as a last resort. You should consider all possible alternatives before taking the decision to terminate. These alternatives will differ based on the particular issue you have with the employee. For example, if you are considering dismissing because of ill health, you should consider how you could get the employee back to work. You may need to consult their doctor, arrange an occupational health assessment or make adjustment to their role/work space if they are suffering from a disability. If on the other hand performance is the issue, then the employee must be warned about their short comings and given the time and support to improve.

If you make sure you act fairly and reasonably at all stages of the process, and have a legitimate reason for termination you should be safe from the penalties you may be concerned about from an employment tribunal. The ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) code of practice has set out clear advice to business owners on how to dismiss someone properly. You can download the full code of practice here.

The implications of getting it wrong

If you are taken to an employment or industrial tribunal for unfair or wrongful dismissal the penalties could be considerable. You may be ordered to reinstate the employee into their previous position or ‘re-engage’ them, (re-employ them in a different job). You may have to pay compensation which varies depending on the employees age, gross weekly pay and length of service. The compensation a tribunal can award is limited unless you are penalised for unfair dismissal in cases relating to health and safety or whistleblowing. In these cases, compensation can be particularly severe.

If you are considering terminating an employees contract be sure to obtain professional advice to ensure you are working to the correct procedures. The team at Crosse HR are here to help whether you are looking for advice or a professional intermediary to ensure you get the resolution you desire whilst staying on the right side of the law.

References

http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1650
https://www.gov.uk/dismiss-staff/overview

St Patrick’s Day: Time for a Holiday?

St Patrick’s Day: Time for a Holiday?

St Patrick’s Day is once again upon us and this Thursday people around the world will be dressed in green and gold, Guinness in hand and post probably having a good’ol time. Whilst not a public holiday in most of the world should workers be given the day off anyway? Would this increase productivity?

A recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute suggests that a majority of workers are cancelling out their own statutory leave every year owing to the advent of handheld devices. Smartphones and tablets were responsible for 4 out of 5 of the 1,500 managers surveyed working an extra hour a day answering out-of-hours emails and going over documents. The extra hours equate to just over 29 days per year cancelling the 28 statutory days leave. The study also suggested that putting in too many hours leads to work related injury, both physical and mental, and may result in burnout.

Recruitment giant Reed.co.uk found that 54% of workers forgo an average of 3 days leave a year and a quarter of Brits would rather forfeit the occasional day of than leave work unfinished or fall behind. There are many reasons workers choose not to take annual leave days and often this is attached to company ethos around the matter; many employees feel guilty about taking statutory leave, further they dread returning to an overflowing inbox and an intensified workload. Studies also suggest that staff who don’t want to take their statutory leave, rolling it into the next year, end up taking sick days which balances the figure out in any case.

The average French worker clocks 1,500 hours per year and can expect to receive 30 days paid vacation. Traditionally the french working week equals 35 hours and any hours worked after this are be considered overtime. The Office of National Statistics released a report in 2013 showing that on average the British worker is 27-31% less productive per hour than their French and German counterparts. Whilst this cannot be attributed to annual leave alone the figures certainly suggest a less is more approach has been paying off on the continent. French companies spend more on labour saving practices rather than recruiting meaning they get more for their money out of their workers per hour.

Some firms have started to adopt unlimited holiday policies which allow employees to take off as much time as they want provided their work gets done. Global giant Virgin is one such company, CEO and magnate Richard Branson notes in his book ‘The Virgin Way’; 

“It is left to the employee to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred percent comfortable … that their absence will not in any way damage the business — or, for that matter, their careers!”

The model is results focused and companies who also adopt a similar system, such as Netflix, expect employees to be high performing rewarding performance with holiday. At Netflix nobody tracks employee’s time; instead of micromanaging how employees do their work the employee is given autonomy over how they manage their time, this is said to promote a more efficient and responsible workforce. A focus is placed on results and managers are kept in the loop though effective communication and accountability policies. It is believed that unlimited holiday attracts talent and pays off in terms of retention and reduced sickness.

However there has been growing concern that this does more harm than good as the lack of a clearly defined annual leave policy makes employees question; how much is too much holiday? Employees are reluctant to take up leave as they feel their asking for leave will have an impact on their career prospects. The lack of clear guidance can lead to employee’s over working themselves which can have the opposite effect on their health and well-being that unlimited holiday is supposed to promote.

Annual leave policies are extremely important for any business given the potentially damaging effects of getting it wrong. It seems that company culture towards leave can have a real impact on employee wellbeing and of course productivity and sickness.

CrosseHR provides consultancy services  to businesses and can help address policy issues, managing leave and sickness as well as improving employee relations. Call 0330 555 1139 or email us at hello@crossehr.co.uk, you can also follow us on twitter for HR highlights, insights and updates.

Get ready for April with CrosseHR

Get ready for April with CrosseHR

 

April is a big month for employers as a flurry new employment legislation comes into force. Small businesses are likely to be under added pressure as they struggle to comply with the colossal changes. CrosseHR has come up with a handy guide which looks at the biggest changes to employment law next month.

1st April – National Living Wage

Perhaps the largest change in employment law to occur this year is the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW); employers will be required to pay employees aged 25+ £7.20 per hour.

Key points:

  • NLW applies to: employees, workers (inc. agency workers), casual labourers, agricultural workers and apprentices aged 25+
  • Failure to comply may result in a 200% penalty on funds owed, unless arrears are paid within 14 days.
  • A maximum penalty of £20,000 per worker can be applied
  • Non-compliance may result in the employer being banned from being a company director for up to 15 years
  • The Low Pay Commission will set all future rates
  • The government plans to raise NLW to £9.00p.h. by 2020

A recent survey conducted by employment giant Indeed shows that 77% of SME’s believe that the introduction of NLW will negatively impact their ability to hire new staff and grow. The care sector is believed to be amongst the hardest hit given many establishments require around the clock staffing. So what can businesses do to negate the rise in wages?

There are a few solutions;

Work smarter – this means an overhaul of current practices and increasing staff productivity. HR policy will need to be reviewed in order to maintain a happy balance between increased productivity and employee engagement. Providing targeted training to both employees and employers around policy changes will ensure compliance whilst maintaining morale and productivity.

Focus on skills – Recruiting more staff will no doubt be a problem for some SME’s and therefore getting the right person is more important than ever before. Understanding the needs of a particular role and effectively communicating that to potential candidates will be a priority as recruiting the wrong person will be more damaging given the introduction of NLW.

3rd April – Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay will be frozen

Statutory maternity pay and other parental leave pay are frozen for 2016/17 at £139.58 per week or 90% of the person’s average weekly earnings if the figure is less than the statutory requirement. The figure usually increases each year with the consumer price index, however there was a slight drop of 0.1% therefore rates will be frozen.

6th April – Statutory Sick Pay will be frozen

The weekly rate of sick pay will remain £88.45 for 2016/17.

6th April – Basic tax threshold will be increased

The new rate of basic income tax will be increased to £32,000. The government introduced a tax lock within the Finance (No.2) Act 2015 which sets that there will be no increase on income tax percentage in the current parliament, establishing a “tax lock”.

6th April – Employer National Insurance contributions abolished for apprentices under the age of 25

In a bid to make it cheaper to employ young apprentices George Osbourne announced that the government would be scrapping employers National Insurance contributions for apprentices under 25. The new exemption brought by the national insurance contributions act 2015 means employers will no longer have to pay class 1 NI contributions up to the upper statutory limit. The Government has provided an in-depth guide. 

6th April – The New State Pension

The single-tier pension announced in 2014 under Pensions Act 2014 comes into force. The new state pension has strict rules around National Insurance contributions meaning there must be at least 35 years of contributions or the credited equivalent to recieve the full amount. The new pension will not be available to prisoner, except in exceptional circumstances and ends contracting-out schemes.

6th April – Limits on postponements for employment tribunals

Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2016  limits where a tribunal can be postponed and creates a deadline after which postponements will be denied. The new rules also mean a tribunal must consider awarding costs where an application for postponement is granted at short notice.

6th April – New salary requirement for tier 2 workers (general and sports person)

Migrant workers who wish to settle in the UK will be required to earn at least £35,000. Workers in shortage occupations will be exempt as will Phd level scientists.
CrosseHR has developed it’s services to respond to changes in legislation and can provide a number of sensibly priced solutions to SME’s. Our services ensure compliance and resilience in the face of the changes, these include;

  • Cost analysis
  • Recruitment: scoping the role, person specification, advertisement language, shortlisting, negotiation of rates
  • Payroll planning and administration
  • Employment law advice
  • Complete HR audit
  • Policy: employee handbook, grievances, performance management, sickness absence, terminations
  • Operating plans
  • Restructuring plans and implementation advice
  • Redundancy planning

CrosseHR provides solutions and dedicated support to employers in all sectors and specialises in SMEs. View the full list of our services or call 0330 555 1139,  you can also email one of our specialist advisers hello@crossehr.co.uk. We will be helping employers throughout the country comply, to keep updated with how others are reacting to the changes follow us on twitter.