INSIGHTS

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Boring-but-important: Changes to Tier 2 Visas Which Could Affect Your Future Hiring

Earlier this year the government announced its response to two reviews of its Tier 2 policy by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and now it’s finally been announced that some of these changes will be introduced on 24th November 2016.

Tier 2 is the main immigration route for non-EEA nationals to apply to work in the UK and the proposed changes are designed to ensure that employers are incentivised to up-skill and train resident workers, whilst ensuring they can continue to access migrant workers when needed.

So what’s actually changed? Below we take a look at the key changes and what you need to be aware of not only regarding the imminent changes but beyond……..

The headlines
For Tier 2 (General) the minimum salary will increase from GBP £20,800 to £25,000. However, the Home Office has agreed to waive these new salary thresholds for foreign nationals applying to renew their Tier 2 (General) status if they obtained their status before the 24 November implementation date. You should note however, that this transitional exemption measure will end when the next planned minimum salary increase to GBP £30,000 takes place in April 2017.

For Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer [ICT] – Short Term Staff) the minimum salary will increase from GBP £24,800 to £30,000. It is important to note that this immigration route is scheduled to close to new applicants in April 2017.

The 28-day grace period for over stayers is to be abolished and any application for further leave to remain by an over stayer will be refused unless ‘good cause’ is given and it is made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring.

Recent graduates and trainees will be given greater flexibility

In an effort to attract more young, well-educated foreign talent to the UK, the Home Office will also make the following changes to provide sponsoring companies with reduced requirements and greater flexibility in hiring recent graduates and trainees:

  • Applications from non-EU/EEA/Swiss national overseas graduates will receive greater weight in the Tier 2 (General) quota system, giving them a higher likelihood of approval.
  • Tier 2 Graduate Trainees will be permitted to change roles to a permanent position within their sponsoring company upon completion of their training period, without the sponsoring company having to perform a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).
  • The number of Tier 2 Graduate Trainees that a sponsoring company can sponsor will be increased from 5 to 20 individuals per year.
  • The salary threshold for Tier 2 Graduate Trainees will decrease to £23,000

Streamlining of the Tier 2 (ICT) Route
Currently, the Home Office offers three primary subcategories within their Tier 2 (ICT) route: Skills Transfer, Short Term Staff, and Long Term Staff. To simplify this highly-utilised immigration stream, the UK authorities plan to consolidate the current three subcategories into a single ICT category based on the following schedule:

  • From 24th November 2016 the Tier 2 (ICT – Skills Transfer) subcategory will close to new applications
  • April 2017 (exact date to be confirmed) – the Tier 2 (ICT – Short Term Staff) subcategory will close to new applications.
  • This will leave a single, long-term Tier 2 (ICT) route from April 2017 going forward.

There’s still more too come…..

Although the majority of changes are about to be enforced you should be aware that there are still more changes ahead and these are:

The Home Office has yet to confirm when Tier 2 (ICT) holders will become subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

Some non-EU/EEA/Swiss dependent parents and partners of work permit holders will now be subject to new English language requirements after 2.5 years of residence in the UK. This new requirement, which comes into force on May 1, 2017, is applicable only to individuals on the five-year route to settlement under the Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

Now is the time that you should begin preparing for the scheduled April 2017 changes which will serve as the final phase of the expected immigration changes adopted from the MAC’s recommendations.

You can find full details on the changes here and of course please do contact us at TheHRHub, 0203 627 7048 for help and support through the process. For a fixed fee (reduced for existing members) we can take all the hassle away from you for the process.

Hiring Your First Employee? Here’s Everything A Startup Needs To Know

When your business gets to the stage where you need to start bringing in extra help, it can be a really exciting time. You’re growing, you’re increasing your bottom line and recruiting your first employee will help you get even closer to fulfilling the vision you dreamed of. 

That excitement can quickly turn into worry and doubt though. There’s no denying that there’s a ton of things that you need to think about and you wouldn’t be the first business owner to wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

You can stop stressing right now though, because we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at what you need to do:

Carry out the appropriate pre-employment checks

It isn’t legally necessary for you to take general employment references (although its advisable to confirm what a candidate has told you on their CV) however it is your responsibility to ensure that your employee has a legal right to work here in the UK. So make sure you ask your team members to bring their passport (or other suitable document) in for you to take a look on their first day in order for you to take a copy and file. You might also have to apply for a DBS check (previously known as a CRB check) in certain circumstances, such as if your member of staff will be working with children or vulnerable people. And although you might think that things like this are merely box ticking exercises, you could face serious penalties if you don’t fulfil your obligations in these areas.

Take out suitable insurance cover

When you become an employer, you need to have employers’ liability insurance. Your policy must cover you for at least £5million, and be issued by an authorised insurer. The damage is high if you fail to do this and get caught with fines of up to £2,500 for every single day that you are not adequately insured….

Tell HMRC that you’re now an employer

You need to let HMRC know that you’re now employing staff, and this needs to be done before the first scheduled payday. The process can take up to two weeks, and (like most things these days) can usually be all done and dusted online.

Ensure that you’re paying minimum wage

If you fail to pay your staff minimum wage, then you’re breaking the law. This is a fairly straightforward consideration, though you need to be mindful that there are different requirements in place for different groups of people. The figures can change on a fairly regular basis, so make sure that you’re keeping up to date with the latest news and legislation. When you sign up for our email updates, you’ll get everything you need delivered directly to your inbox.

Don’t do it alone

Following the advice that we’ve outlined here will help you to get off to the best possible start when it comes to recruiting your first employee. The reality here though is that there are many, many things that you need to consider as part of the process, and it would be impossible to cover absolutely everything.

Have you considered, for example, how much holiday your new recruit will be entitled to? Or what will happen if they’re sick? Or how you’ll encourage them to make the best possible contribution to your business? Or whether you should pay pension contributions on their behalf? When you really start to think about everything that you need to address, you can see that it can be a real can of worms.

Rather than struggling on your own, it makes good business sense to get some help. And that’s where we come in. We can make sure that you’re fully prepared for the future. Get in touch today, and we can arrange to have a no-obligation chat about working together. Call us on 0203 627 7048 on drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk. 

Image by Andreas Klinke Johannsen

Hiring from the beginning: Knowing Your Intern From Your Apprentice

When it comes to hiring inexperienced staff, many business leaders are open to the idea of hiring in some extra help to the next generation of workers: Interns, Work Experience Placements or Apprentices are all considered and for many the terms seem interchangeable. But if you’re interested in hiring any of these routes, you need to understand the key features of each in order to work out which is right for you. 

Here are some of the key features of each:

Type Purpose Length of engagement Entitlement
Work Experience Often created for those students still at school, work experience students  learn about a business by shadowing them or helping out.   Short term – often 1 or 2 weeks Tend to be students c. 16 or younger so exempt for the National Minimum Wage.
Internship Students who are attending higher education may spend time with an employer, learning about the business as part of a higher education course or getting a feel for the type of business or industry they want to be a part of. Short term – a few weeks to a few months Normally graduates who may be entitled to the National Minimum Wage if they are promised further work. Travel and/ or subsistence expenses recommended.
Volunteering To provide opportunities for individuals to work with a charity or voluntary body, there is no particular demographic this group covers and there will normally be no specific duties assigned by the employer. Short term to long term No entitlement to the National Minimum Wage.
Apprentices To provide students or school leavers with an opportunity to complete a qualification whist learning about a business or trade. Apprenticeships are set up within a framework provided by a Learning Provider. Long term – often up to a year Minimum wage from as low as £3.30 per hour for those under 19 or in their first year as an apprentice, rising in some parts of the UK where there is hefty competition for these individuals.

As a bonus however, small businesses can often claim up to £1500 in funding for these.

For any of the types of work placement above which are unpaid, it’s not to say that you shouldn’t contribute anything to their daily grind however, and most progressive employers pay either a weekly allowance or subsistence costs plus travel for those where they have no legal obligation.   

Regardless of pay or title, with anyone working on your premises, you will have a responsibility for their health & safety whilst in your care and you need to make sure that you have sufficient liability insurance to cover them.

Employ 5 people or less? Congratulations, no need to undertake a specific risk assessment. However above that and it’s expected that you will be expected to identify the particular needs of the individuals by undertaking a risk assessment as you would normally in regards to any Health and Safety aspects.

There are numerous ways you can start to offer these opportunities and getting them set up for success and for more ideas, see our post earlier this year on How To Get The Most Out Of Your Work Placement.

If you have concerns or want help hiring and onboarding your newbies, then we can help. Get in touch today athello@thehrhub.co.uk or by calling 0203 627 7048 to arrange an initial, no-obligation consultation. We’ll pinpoint any potential issues that are at play in your workplace, and give you practical advice around what you need to do next.

TheHRhub: The ultimate HR support for startups and SMEs.

Photocredit: Canva

HR Stars: Great Examples Of Employee On Boarding

At this time of year thoughts often turn to recruiting fresh blood. But at the same time, we should also be thinking about how we will keep that new talent and best introduce them to the business.

Our article Your New Starter Checklist: Ensure Newbies Are Set Up For Success gives you some excellent tips . But if you’re wanting that wow factor look no further. Here is our list of the best employee on boarders in the market:

Mastercard

Pre-boarding – yes it’s a thing. It’s where you get the mundane and boring parts of the on-boarding process out of the way before your new starter’s first day. Newbies at  MasterCard are sent a comprehensive welcome email before they start which includes links to company videos and access to a website where they can “update their employment information, upload a photo for their badge, read about learning opportunities and complete paperwork for benefits enrolment, taxes and direct deposit”. Paperless on-boarding isn’t just something for the airport…..

Netflix

A recent Quora discussion revealed that when it comes to your kit, Netflix gives engineers a choice of laptop and configuration before they start – clearly something that’s hugely important for developers. As well as comprehensive training and meetings with the leadership team early on, a particular highlight mentioned was that new starters were given significant responsibility as soon as they joined, so could make a real impact right from the very start.

Zappos

For American online retailer Zappos, it’s all about culture. They run a detailed 5 week course for new starters all about their culture and values. After the 5 weeks, if they don’t like what they hear – they can leave with $2000 dollars in their back pocket and no hard feelings – but only 1% chose to do so.

Facebook

Facebook have a “45 Minute Rule,” where a new starter should be working on something productive within 45 minutes of walking in the door. Developers and project managers attend their famous 6 week bootcamp – long enough says Facebook for both parties to see if there’s the right fit. Here, engineers get acquainted with Facebook’s codebase and get to work on real problems. The idea behind this is to help them get real, hands on experience whilst undergoing a cultural orientation – the Facebook way, described by the Mercury News as “one part employee orientation, one part software training program and one part fraternity/sorority rush.”

Fog Creek

Software company Fog Creek have found online work organisation tool Trello invaluable for getting new starters up to speed. Tasks for new recruits are assigned and tracked via the Trello work boards and because the boards are shared within the team, everyone knows where the new starter is up to and can step in to help if line managers/mentors are away.

If you’ve not had a eureka moment from the list above – perhaps look at some of the products and services you use within your own business for inspiration. We’ve recently started using graphic design tool Canva which helps complete design novices (like us!) create beautiful content in a matter of minutes. Canva takes you by the hand right from the beginning and doesn’t let go. It urges the user to learn the ropes with a step by step video guide, and imbed their learning with fun design examples. Your first experiences with company are really positive and your confidence is buoyed from the off. And help is always on hand – with timely and efficient email support from operatives who can log in and take a look and what your trying to do. Inspired by this, we’ve all hooked up to Convo – a separate communications stream from regular email making inter-team communications (and help for new starters) quicker and easier. We also have regular video conferencing with the team and suppliers – particularly important when a team is working remotely.

And finally, if you’ve got a new employee starting tomorrow take a tip from Birchbox, and place a flag on their desk that says “Say hi, I’m new” to urge the team to get to know their new colleague. Now, I think we could all manage that one….

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Join us here and get all the HR advice, tools and software you need to grow your business.

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Photo Credit: Playing With The Stars by Pedro Vasquez Colmanares

5 Ways To Manage The Performance Of New Recruits

Recruiting a new member of staff can be an exciting time for any business, big or small. It’s often a sign that you’re smashing through your goals and you’re ready to take things up to the next level, and an extra pair of hands can certainly help you to grow your profits.

When we imagine our new recruits, we often envisage a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed individual, ready to come in and shake things up with their exciting ideas and enthusiasm for the job.

The reality of the situation though is that onboarding a new member of staff is a process, and it’s one that you need to very carefully manage if you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your team.

To avoid unnecessary problems from occurring, it’s wise to take a look at your whole recruitment and onboarding process. High performing teams don’t just happen by accident, and it’s vital that you’re doing all you can to make sure that you’re giving everyone exactly what they need to reach their full potential.

It can be tempting to rush your way through the procedures involved with getting the right person into your business, but it’s definitely worth taking a step back and thinking about how you can make sure that you’re getting everything right from the offset.

In the longer term, this approach will save you a whole load of time and hassle, and will play an important part in driving your business towards your bigger, overarching goals.

Here, we’re going to walk you right through the top 5 tips that you absolutely MUST be implementing if you want to make sure that you’re getting the maximum return on investment when it comes to your newest members of staff, starting from the very beginning of the process.

Some of them you can implement right away. Some of them will take a little more time and energy to perfect. But you can absolutely guarantee that every single one of them will make you a better leader, and put your business in a MUCH stronger position for moving forward.
Ready to get started?

Jump straight in… 


1. Reassess your job requirements – are you really being clear about what’s really required?

We’re living through some difficult economic times, and there are tons of people out there who are looking for work. This can be great news for you, because it means that there’s a whole load of talent that you can choose from. But it also means that you’re likely to get dozens, if not HUNDREDS of applications for every role that you advertise. 

You’re going to save yourself a load of time and money from the very beginning if you make sure that your job descriptions are fit for purpose, and as such, are going to attract the very best people for the role. 

Often, getting this right involves taking a step back and building things from the ground up. Take a look at the role in question, and consider what’s really necessary. 

Speak with the people who are already doing that job. Do they think that your job descriptions accurately portray what’s required on a day-to-day basis? What parts are being left out? There’s sometimes a tendency amongst leaders to gloss over the more undesirable aspects of the job, but this will cause you more problems in the longer term. 

Many businesses focus on creating what’s known as a ‘realistic job preview’, and this can be super powerful when it comes to making sure that you’re recruiting and selecting the best people. Be honest and upfront about what’s involved, and consider how you can share as much information as possible during every step of the recruitment process.




2. Create a solid induction programme

Do you currently have a formal induction process? If not, you need to create one. It’s as simple as that. 

Many of us have experienced the anxiety-inducing ambiguity of not really knowing what’s required of us in our first few weeks in a new job, and no one can be expected to perform to the best of their ability if time hasn’t been taken to welcome them to the business and get them off to the best possible start. 

There are the obvious considerations that should be covered, such as where to go to grab a sandwich for lunch, where to find the toilets, and what to do if the fire alarm goes off, but you need to go beyond this. 

For maximum success, make sure that you have an existing member of staff who takes responsibility for the induction period. If you’re running a small business, this may well be you. In larger organisations, leaders might decide that this is something that’s handed over to individual line managers. 

Regardless of the finer details, ensure that whoever’s in charge knows exactly what’s expected from them, and has a blueprint for fulfilling their responsibilities.




3. Use your probation period  

Regardless of how good your recruitment processes are, you can sometimes make mistakes when it comes to selecting the best person for the job. 

Someone might have all the right qualifications and look like a great fit for your business on paper, and they may have performed very well in the interview environment. But after a few weeks on the job, it could become crystal clear that you made the wrong decision. 

This is why it’s worthwhile considering a probationary period for your new recruits. This gives you the opportunity to assess how they perform in the role, and get a real feel for how they fit into your business. 

Of course, you need to be mindful of employment legislation and make sure that you’re doing things by the book. If you’re thinking about running a probation period for new members of staff, it’s worth getting some professional advice before you roll out the changes. This will give you extra peace of mind, and will help to ensure that you don’t make any costly mistakes that could damage your business’s reputation. 

It’s worth noting here that having a probation period doesn’t mean that you can take a relaxed attitude towards recruiting, thinking that you can simply choose to terminate the contract if individuals aren’t up to scratch. Recruitment and selection can be lengthy and costly processes, so you’ll want to be doing everything you can to make sure that you’re taking on the right person. In an ideal world, your processes will be so good that you don’t even have to consider terminating a contract as a result of the probation period! 




  1. Put performance on the agenda from day 1



Managing performance isn’t about filling in a form and ticking some boxes once a year. If you’re serious about getting the most from your workforce, you need to make sure that you’re embedding performance into your company culture. Are you really doing all you can to encourage your staff to excel? Are you talking the talk, but not really making any meaningful progress? 

Often, results don’t come from the big overarching strategies and mission statements. They come from how you’re leading your business on a day-to-day basis. 

Within the first few days of a new recruit joining your team, make sure that they sit down with their line manager for a discussion around what their role will involve, and the metrics that their performance will be assessed against. This helps to ensure that everyone is signing from the same hymn sheet, and knows exactly what’s going to be expected. 

This chat shouldn’t be about scaring employees into doing their job. Be welcoming, warm, and invite questions. 

At this stage, it makes sense to discuss any extra support that the individual might need. Be sure to schedule in regular informal meetings to touch base and reassess goals and objectives.




5. Recognise the importance of support



Even for seasoned professionals, starting a new job can be a daunting time. There are new people to meet, new systems to get to grips with, and new responsibilities to take on. As leaders, we hope that staff will hit the ground running, but it’s important to be realistic and appreciate the challenges that your new members of staff are likely to be facing. 

Make sure that everyone knows where they can turn to if they have any questions, and consider the mechanisms that you have in place to support your workforce. 

And finally, never underestimate the value of communication. Will you be checking in with your new recruit and their line manager, to check that everything’s running smoothly? Will you be inviting their feedback around their experiences during their first few days and weeks in your business? Problems can often be nipped in the bud at an early stage if you’re encouraging open and honest discussions.

NEXT STEPS…

Managing performance can often feel like a balancing act. You want to get the most out of your workforce and ensure that everyone’s suitably supported, but it can be difficult to take a step back from your day-to-day responsibilities and make sure that you’re doing what’s really necessary to create a positive and productive workplace culture. 

The good news is that the above tips can be applied in any business, and they can be excellent starting points for aspiring leaders who are ready to take things up to the next level. 

Perhaps you’re at the stage though where you know that you need some help to get your business on the right track, and you’d like to speak with a professional about your unique challenges and opportunities. If this is where you’re at right now, then we can help. Get in touch today, and we’ll arrange an initial no-obligation consultation.

Get in touch today by dropping us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk, calling 0203 627 7048, or book in here for a no-obligation chat about how we can help you improve your on boarding and performance management process.

For more reading on how else you can tackle thorny issue with confidence, then download our new eBook: Leadership 101: The Ultimate Guide to Being an Inspirational Leader.

TheHRhub: the ultimate support for startups and SMEs. Sign up here for free tools and guidance.

Photo By Anne

Social Selling: The Qualities To Look For When Recruiting Your Next Sales Person

In her guest appearance on Seth Price’s podcast The Craft of Marketing entrepreneur, consultant and sales guru Jill Rowley defines social selling as “using social networks (such as LinkedIn and Twitter) to research the buyer and their sphere of influence, to be relevant and to drive revenue, customer lifetime value and advocacy”. She describes it as an additional channel (it doesn’t replace phone or email) – that helps sales people find, listen, connect and engage with their buyers – as it’s not not just who you know its what you know about who you know. And done well, social selling is ultimately about being found by your buyers.

If you’re reading this and wondering if social selling is relevant to you consider this:

By 2020 50% of the world’s workforce by 2020 will millennial (aged 18-30). By 2025, 75% of the worlds work force will be millennials. As this generation becomes a bigger portion of the workforce – these are your buyers, your competitors and your employees – and they are digital natives. Navigating ‘social’ is a natural to them as reading or writing. The end is nye for the old school sales professional.

Social ‘selling’ is about serving your customers. Yes you can use social channels to talk about new news, product launches etc but to be interesting you have to be interested in your customers and what they find interesting first. It’s about using social networks to not only find about your buyer but to help/serve them and their interests. And what’s great about social is that these interactions will then be amplified and seen by a much wider audience.

To ensure social selling becomes second nature in your business, here’s what to look for when recruiting a modern sales professional:

Do they have a compelling online profile?

This is something you can assess when weighing up whether to even interview a candidate. Indicators that they ‘get’ social are not only a full and updated LinkedIn profile (with headshot picture) but evidence that they are connecting with and researching existing and potential customers. It’s also a great sign if they are using social to build their personal credibility through involvement in group discussions and blogging. Some candidates may even have their own personal website.

Have they worked successfully with other functions? 

Social selling is a cross-functional exercise. You need input form marketing especially in order to create content that serves and engages the target customer and their influencers. So look for evidence in their CV that they have worked closely with marketing, feeding into the strategy as well as shaping relevant marketing collateral.

How would they like to be measured?

This is a really interesting question to ask at interview. Social selling is a much longer ball game than some of the other sales tools and is about investing in longer-term relationships. Finding out their thoughts on how this aspect of their role could be measured and incentivised will reveal how comfortable they really are in using social as a channel for sales success.

Potential KPIs for social selling on LinkedIn include:

  • Number of 1st degree connections
  • Number of 1st degree connections in prospect companies
  • Number of 1st degree connections with influencers
  • Number of updates per week
  • Number of shares or comments on updates in a week
  • Number of blogs published a week
  • Number of blog shares a week
  • Number of inbound requests to connect 
  • Number of profile searches
  • Number of profile views

But you don’t necessarily have to buy in new resource to expand your social selling activity. Your existing team may just need some good training. The ‘bread and butter’ sales skills of cold calling, email etc are still crucial. And the softer skills of relationship building couldn’t be more relevant – it’s just that now they can be enhanced and showcased through effective use of social media.

To discuss your recruitment and training needs contact theHRhub – the ultimate HR support service for startups and SMEs.