INSIGHTS

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HR Horrors: Managing In A Downturn

Restructure. Rightsizing. Downsizing. And any other ‘ing you might use when you are considering making people redundant. It happens to most companies at some point. Even the best ones you can think of – will at some point realise that they can’t sustain themselves at the size and structure they are and look to make changes.

The average person spends around 2 years in tech companies in the UK (can be higher in other industries), so being ‘let go’ is not quite the kick in the teeth it once was to many in this area. However regardless of what is the ‘norm’ in an industry, handing in your notice to trade your skills elsewhere is not the same as being asked to leave and so it will still come as a shock to most in that situation. To help you through such a sticky situation, here’s our quick guide for things to be mindful of when proposing any cuts.

  • Don’t procrastinate too much: over both the decision to make the cuts and the timing of taking any action once your decisions have been made. Some of the companies I most respect are in the successful position they enjoy now because they had courage to make changes in advance of when they needed them rather than waiting and praying for things to improve.
  • Do try and think of alternatives: yes, the consultation period is designed to provide the time to do this, but by and large people see this is just part of the process to follow. And in reality, although an individual can suggest alternatives during that period, it is your role to do this before it even gets to this stage.
  • Know your legals: although evidence suggests that treating people with dignity and respect throughout such a process is the best way of avoiding any comeback, get familiar with what you legally need to provide for all those you are considering losing.
  • Be honest: people can smell fake redundancies a mile off. And while there are many businesses which use a mass change to sweep up a few individuals who they haven’t dealt with at a performance level, if the business needs to change, then be frank about it.
  • Be respectful: for every time an individual hears ‘it’s not you we want to make redundant, it’s the role’ they just hear ‘bullsh**. And following on from this…
  •  Avoid making irrelevant comments: In the past I’ve heard ones such as  “it’s as hard for me to make this decision as it is for you”. It’s not. You are the one in the driving seat, so you will not be thanked for this.
  • Think of the others in your team: By all means, manage a smooth and respectful exit for those leaving, however your real efforts should be reserved to focus those who will see you through the next few months and years.
  • Work on bonding the team back together again: Having a big party post-layoffs will likely be ill-advised, however bolstering your team by spending some time with them re-focussing them on future goals is heartily encouraged. From All-hands, team meetings, 1-2-1’s – you can never over-communicate during this period.

Yes, there is paperwork and a (sometimes complex) legal situation to manage, however having managed many of these situations myself over the years, the best way you are going to deal with this is by treating people with respect, paying above the bare minimum if you can afford it and moving the process through as quickly as possible.

Want some more tips? Check out our YouTube video here.

If you’re considering such a change and worried about how to even start going about it, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk, call 0203 627 7048.

Photo Credit: the scream by Mark Tighe

 

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

HR Hacks: 3 Easy Ways To Save Money On HR

If you’re an ambitious and smart leader, then you’ll already know that spending money on your HR function is absolutely essential. Your people have the power to drive your business forward and are the ones making sure your big vision comes to life. When you get things right, your HR spending is an investment, rather than a cost and can deliver a return many times over.

It’s important to be realistic here though and recognise that there’s a balance that you have to strike. If times are tough and you’re concerned about your budget, then there are things that you can do right away to ensure that your costs aren’t going to spiral out of control. Let’s take a look at some practical considerations that you can action today: 

1. Sort out your admin

It’s a myth that HR is all about admin and box-ticking, but like any good and efficient function, having supportive and streamlined processes will you to focuss on the bits which will really add value to your business. It’s also one of your responsibilities to ensure your paperwork is in order when it comes to your team and is the easiest way to save money and insure against future pay-outs. 

At it’s worst case scenario, great admin and record keeping could save your bacon if you happen to face an employment tribunal: if you can prove that you’ve created and collated all the right documentation during the employee’s time with you, it will make any case you have a lot easier to fight. Many business owners, if they’re being completely honest about things, could make instant improvements in this area.

2. Use the power of technology to boost your reach

You might be amazed to hear that there are plenty of business leaders who are still carrying out most of their HR tasks manually. Maybe you’re one of them. But while it might have been true that it seemed easier to do things yourself in the early days when you didn’t want to invest in solid systems,  the increase in accessibility of many systems now available and the lowering of the cost of these through cloud based delivery, gives no one an excuse anymore in these areas.

Many businesses get to the point though when they’re wasting a ton of time and money by doing things the old fashioned way. It may be time for you to admit that things have to change, and that technology could make your life a lot easier. Payroll is always a key area to have oversight of (after all, your costs here are likely to be a high perecentage of your costs) however manually intervening in preparing this is unnecessariy these days. Imagine how much simpler your role would be if you knew that all of this was taken care of automatically. Fantastic HR software is included comes free with the monthly membership subscription option to theHRhub – find out more here.

3. Audit your practices and procedures to pinpoint problems before they arise

There are a ton of costly HR mistakes that could be easily avoided by just ensuring that you’re regularly reviewing the way that you do things and calling in a little professional help. Legislation, for example, can change often, and you may find it hard to keep up. The truth here is that you could be breaking the law without even realising it. Check out your own HR Health by taking our short survey here: you’ll get a written report outlining any risks your business may have & the peace of mind of knowing how to set things right. 

If you’re concerned that you’ve let things slide, get in touch today. Investing in some advice is likely to be more affordable than you think –  and it can definitely be kinder on your finances than the alternative. We can have an open and honest discussion about where you are right now and what you need to focus on to get the most out of your HR budget.

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

Image by OTA Photos

Uber Confused? How The Recent Legal Ruling Could Affect Your Team’s Employment

Last week an employment tribunal determined that drivers of Uber – the world’s largest platform for individuals to find and pay for private taxi hire – were not self-employed (as stated in their written contracts) but were instead deemed legally to be ‘workers’, with a right to paid holidays and the minimum wage.

The decision is significant. And not just to Uber – who in light of this will have a serious hit on their payroll and business model – but to those other businesses who employ those on the basis of being self-employed.  The focus in many articles written has been about those who work in the ‘gig’ economy, where armies of freelance staff carry out tasks such as delivering packages or undertaking chores.. However there are risks for everyone who employs people on a self-employed basis and rely on just the written contract for this to be so, regardless of industry.

The lines between being Self-employed versus Worker versus Employee status are often blurred

There are three distinct categories of working individuals in the UK. These are the self-employed, workers and employees………..And as a small business you need to be mindful of the difference between each of these groups and ensure you are providing them with their minimum legal entitlements.

Whilst it is relatively clear cut what rights each group has, there is no ‘checklist’ unfortunately where you can categorically state that someone is deemed to be self-employed or not. After all, if there was, one imagines Uber’s in-house legal team would have been all over it. However some of the indicators of the truly self-employed are that they have control over how and when they do their work, they’re able to provide substitutions to undertake the work offered if they are not available, they aren’t beholden to undertaking all work offered without recourse, they can work for other people and they can make a profit or loss on their own business, which they run. Those who are self-employed also therefore take care of their own taxes and are not subject to PAYE.

The first point to note, for those concerned that this means all freelance staff might consider themselves permanent employees, is that the tribunal deemed the drivers to be ‘workers’ and not ‘self-employed’. And whilst this is one step closer to that of ’employee’ status, it falls short of it, meaning that although these drivers now have the legal right to claim and be paid the minimum wage and paid holidays as per the Working Time Directive, they do not accrue the additional rights of ’employees’ which include paid sickness, the right not to be unfairly dismissed, the right to request flexible working, to name but a few.

Uber may be frantically re-counting the impact of the additional holiday pay and increase in wages into their spreadsheets – and one suspects they have been doing this for quite some time….- however they do not (at this stage), have to contend with including sickness and notice pay in these calculations.

But what if my team want to be Self-employed?

The gig economy is triumphing at the moment and it shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. By 2020, the gig economy (or Uberisation as it’s sometimes referred to) is forecast to be worth nearly $63 billion globally, and £2 billion in the UK alone and as this trend gathers force, people who work for themselves are going to become an ever-more powerful economic and political force. Many of them by their own absolute choice.

So the simple answer is that if your team want to be self-employed and are legitimately running their own businesses, then they will be unlikely to challenge it in court and you have little to worry about. The trouble comes when one party feels the employment relationship has shifted and the other party doesn’t. Something that becomes more likely the longer, and more regular, an arrangement takes place.

We would therefore advise reviewing not just your contracts on a regular basis, but also your actual working arrangements to make sure that they are supporting both parties intentions.

Now is the time to make sure everything in order and as a minimum you should conduct a review of your current staff and employees status to ensure that there are no grey areas and your workforce is correctly classified. For help on this, or other matters concerning your team, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk.

Photo credit: Erich Ferdinand

Sorry, What did you say? Top Tips For Communicating As Your SME Grows

“Do you have a communications strategy?” I was asked when I started out. Err, well not one written down. Or really articulated. Ok, nope.  

Partly because this is definitely something I put in the ‘BIG Business’ Box. Partly because I really didn’t think I needed one (I mean, there were just a couple of us, chatting away over mail or phone?). And partly because in the long list of to-do’s, this was an area I definitely thought I could wing it. ..

But of course, that’s exactly the time where the clarity should start. Because getting great communication is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses as they grow and something that we have seen first hand in both every employee survey that we at TheHRhub have ever managed and the number of hours spent ironing out disputes and gripes in businesses which have been caused by (weak) communication). Just scanning back at the results which cover hundreds and hundreds of companies, the phrase“ better communication needed” is in the ‘ things to be improved’ section of over 90% of the results.

But it’s such a big area and it means so many different things to people, that you need to really drill down further to understand what lies behind it ( hint: it’s not just “oh, I didn’t get that memo…”).

The fastest, smartest ways of empowering people and solving any business dilemmas (HR or otherwise) are to keep communication and conversations on a basis of information flow. But as Stephen Covey knows only too well “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” And he should know a thing or two about this having written “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

For communication to be good in your business, it needs to be open, transparent and consistent. And it starts with HOW you communicate. If you follow that mantra, communication becomes the way in which you empower and involve your team members, keep everyone aware of what’s going on and where you’re heading.

Including a communications plan as part of your other strategic priorities and owning it is key. Why? Because if you don’t write it down and plan it like every other aspect of your growth, it’s easy to let it slide and you end up having no consistent voice in your business.

Communication should breathe life into you and your team and help to motivate fantastic performance and drive your customers and clients forward.  Some our top tips for daily and weekly practices which in turn form the cultural tone of your business are shown below:

  1. Be omni-channel: make sure your plan includes how you want to channel communication through your business (i.e. systems) as well as what you want to say and when. Time and money is lost where you use 3 three different systems to do the same thing. Businesses I know use Slack, Convo and Google+ (to name but a few) successfully to share information in real time.
  2. Be transparent: most leaders worry about how much information to share with their teams, but well timed information shared with a goal for the team to get behind is a valuable way of making the team feel included.
  3. Be vulnerable: go first to inspire trust from those around you and talk about where you have challenges and what help you might need.
  4. Be constructive: when there is a whiff of dissent, show that you are interested in what is being suppressed and allow it to safely surface so others can discuss it honestly.
  5. Be clear: with your goals, your direction and all you need from your team so that people know what is expected.
  6. Be bold: confront difficult issues and don’t let problems fester. Speak out but make sure the person is clear what was expected and the consequences of the failure in accepting accountability.
  7. Be inclusive: with any goal, focus on the collective outcomes.
  8. Be energetic and start as you mean to go on: have buzz sessions at the start of each day to rev up the energy and keep everyone on track.
  9. Be adaptable: for managing important information, consider several “channels” for making sure the information hits home – a face-to-face conversation, followed up with an email and maybe a poster or a catch up at the end of the week.
  10. Be timely: Avoid long meetings. It sounds obvious but it can deplete energy very quickly. Best to start with a clear agenda, sent to everyone at least a day in advance and requests for contributions then follow up with notes afterwards to make sure the information is fully understood.

If you want to chat about how outsourced HR can boost your business and employee success, then we can help. Get in touch today at hello@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.

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