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Sleeping On The Job: The Trouble With Presenteeism

According to recent research from Canada Life Group Insurance, ‘presenteeism’ is still a very real issue for UK employers. In fact, 9 out 10 staff said that they have gone into work whilst feeling ill. Though some might say that their dedication to the job is admirable, it’s something that can cause as many problems to employers as absenteeism. 

Presenteesim Is Often Counter-Productive

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why having sick people at work might cause issues: coughs, sniffles, and sickness can easily be spread amongst staff, and before you know it, you could have a situation on your hands that is starting to look distinctly like an epidemic. One colleague’s ‘sharing’ their germs can mean a whole host of ‘lucky’ recipients all fall down the week after…

Company & National Culture Could Be Factors Here…

These issues could perhaps be linked to traditional British culture. We like to adopt a stiff upper lip, and just get on with things. But sometimes it’s less to do with our national culture and more to do with people feeling guilty or fearful of being absent for any period of time. 

Of course though, there are certain things that you can do as an employer to make sure that presenteeism doesn’t knock you off course…..

4 Great Ways To Combat Presenteeism In Your Business

1. Ensure that you have a sickness and absence policy that’s fit for purpose: They should focus on supporting your staff as well as achieving your goals and objectives. A policy can rarely cover every instance of sickness or absence, however you can use it to set expectations on what you want team members to do in certain situations e.g do you let people work from home when they’re a bit ‘coldy’ but otherwise happy and strong enough to function (but when they are still likely to spread germs) ? Or do you have a firm ‘go-home-log-off- and-get-better’ stance?

2. Lead From The Front: When you or a member of the senior team are ill, make sure the policy guidelines are followed correctly – it’s the best way for behaviours to become part of the cultural norm.

3. Address workload issues: 28% of employees who took part in the study said that their workload was too great to call in sick. It may be time for you to take a look at your wider practices, and assess where problems might exist that need to be addressed. For example, is the distribution of the workload amongst the team fair and correct? Is there low value, frustrating work that can be farmed out elsewhere? And crucially, is the total work required for a project by an individual or team realistic in the time given? All this of course can only be brought to light if employees feel able to raise the red flag in the first place and let you know when things are getting too much…

4. Consider Mental As Well As Physical Sickness: 80% of staff said that they would not take time off work for stress-related illnesses. It’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of supporting staff with mental health issues, and tackling the stigma that often exists around non-physical health and wellbeing. When creating your sickness and absence policies, it’s vital that you consider how you’ll be playing your part in creating positive change.

If you have issues in your workplace surrounding sickness absence, then it may be time to call in the professionals. We can assess the effectiveness of your existing policies and procedures, ensure that you’re compliant with relevant legislation, and help you to move forward towards exemplary leadership.

Get in touch via or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about how we can help you on the road to employee magic!

TheHRhub: on demand and online HR support for startups and SMEs

Photocredit: istock

Look To The Future: Key Employment Law Changes Coming Up In 2017

There are a few things that you can guarantee in life. Death, taxes, and employment law changes. As we make our way further into the new year, it’s essential that as a business owner, you know exactly what’s coming, and how to prepare for it.

Do you think that you can just hope for the best and plead ignorance if you’re caught out? Well let’s be honest, you don’t really believe that’s an option!

You need to be compliant, and we’re here to help you. Let’s take a look at the changes that you need to pencil in your diary for 2017…

Gender pay gap reporting

For the first time, private sector, public sector, and voluntary sector employers with 250+ members of staff will be required to publish information relating to the gender pay gap, and how they are performing in terms of driving forward equality.

At the moment, the exact requirements are still being drafted, though it’s expected that the deadline for the first report will be 4th April 2018, based on data from 2016/2017. We’ll release more guidance on this once it’s available.

Changes to regulations surrounding employment of foreign workers

From April 2017, employers sponsoring foreign workers with a tier 2 visa will have to pay an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker. This will be reduced to £364 for small employers and charities.

In addition to this, the minimum annual salary threshold for ‘experienced workers’ applying for a tier 2 visa will be increased to £30,000. If you employ foreign workers, or plan to open up your recruitment channels in the near future you need to make sure you’re compliant.

National minimum wage and living wage changes to be aligned

The dates for changes to national minimum wage and national minimum wage will be brought into alignment, so the good news here is that there are less dates to keep track of!

From April 2017, the national living wage for staff aged 25 or over will increase to £7.50 per hour.

Changes to salary sacrifice schemes

If you are offering employees any salary sacrifice schemes you will need to review these as many salary-sacrifice schemes will be abolished from 6 April 2017.

Schemes related to pension savings (including pensions advice), childcare, cycle-to-work and ultra-low emission cars will not be affected.  Schemes in place prior to April 2017 will be protected until April 2018, while arrangements related to cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Although GDPR does not come into force until May 2018, the scope of the changes under the new Regulation means that preparing for the GDPR will be high priority for employers in 2017, even for those in small businesses.

Even organisations that have robust processes in place need to assess their systems, policies and procedures, as GDPR draws closer. This Regulation applies to all processing of personal data, from collection, through to storage, distribution, retention and protection of data, security and cross-border data transfer.

As the GDPR will come into effect before the UK exits the EU, organisations that are not compliant by May 2018 risk fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.

Apprenticeship levy introduced

The apprenticeship levy is being introduced on 6th April 2017 but employers with a paybill of £3 million or less will not be liable to pay it.  Those not liable to pay the levy will be able to receive government funding towards the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment.

All things considered, there’s plenty to think about in 2017, and plenty that you need to plan for. And of course, there’s the tricky issue of Brexit…

There’s still a grey area over what we should really expect, though things are likely to become clearer in the coming months. As always, make sure that you keep an eye on our updates for practical, no-nonsense guidance on what you really need to know.

If you need help ensuring that you’re compliant with the upcoming and changes and legislation we can help.

Get in touch via or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about your HR needs.

TheHRhub: on demand and online HR support for startups and SMEs

5 Easy Ways To Improve Employee Strength & Wellbeing In 2017

At this time of year, many of us are keen to get back on the right track after plenty of indulgence over the Christmas period. The selection boxes are empty, plenty of fruit and vegetables are back on the shopping list and ‘Dryathlons’ have sprung up everywhere.

It’s fair to say that you’ve probably already considered your own health and fitness, but have you thought about your employees? If you want your team to be firing on all cylinders, then it makes sense to consider how you’re enabling them to live a healthier and more balanced life. When it comes down to it, encouraging your staff to take care of themselves can have many business benefits. If you want a productive and present workforce, there are several things that you can do.

Here, we explore your options:

1. Rethink Workplace Traditions

Everyone deserves a little bit of cake on their birthday. Annual treats are unlikely to do anyone any harm. But when your workplace traditions include fried breakfasts on Monday mornings, pizza during Wednesday meetings, and beers on Friday evenings, the impact can quickly mount up.

Rather than taking away existing provisions, think about how you could put a more positive spin on them. Could you encourage staff to bring in their own healthy bakes? Could you reward completed projects with fresh fruit platters? Could you liaise with local juice providers to supply energy-boosting pick-me-ups during busier periods? Creating new traditions could be just what your employees need.

2. Get People Moving

It could be argued that sitting behind a desk all day is a pretty unnatural state for a human being. Of course though, operational constraints often mean that to a certain extent, you’re stuck with more sedentary ways of working. Small changes can make a huge difference, so don’t overlook them.

Encourage staff to walk to their colleagues’ workstations instead of sending emails. Rather than conducting sit-down reviews, go for a stroll outside. Too often, it’s easy to fall into the trap of getting stuck with existing routines, when alternatives are simple, low cost, and highly effective. When’s the last time you considered doing things a little differently?

3. Create A Friendly Sense Of Competition

People often love a challenge at this time of the year. You can use this to your advantage and encourage good behaviours whilst also encouraging individuals to collaborate towards a goal. You could divide your workforce into teams, and set a milestone, with a reward for whichever group gets there first. It could be miles walked, pounds lost, or something entirely different. Think about the common goals of your staff, and how you can incorporate that.

It should go without saying, but you do need to exercise a degree of common sense here, and do all you can to ensure that you aren’t discriminating against any of your staff. Think about how disabled people may be able to get involved, and don’t make participation obligatory.

4. Protect Them From Stress & Burnout

An overloaded workforce can soon buckle under pressure if steps aren’t taken in advance. Whilst you might not be able to do anything about their workload, you can try to alter how they feel about it.

Encourage the team to take small breaks throughout the day to refresh their minds and keep them energised. You might need to actually diarise these to start with. And make sure it’s not encouraged for employees to work past 6pm – everyone needs a proper evening to relax and unwind in order to be on form the next day. When trying to introduce new cultural norms remember it has to start with the team at the top – so you must be seen to be walking the walk too.

5. Consider Safeguarding Their Financial Wellbeing 

Money worries can significantly add to employees’ overall stress levels. And working hard day in day out with your personal finances in a mess can be hugely stressful as well as demoralising. So there’s an argument to say that their is a legitimate role for employers to safeguard the financial wellbeing of their teams too.

As well as ensuring employees’ pay goes up along with inflation every year, you could also offer them a session with a financial advisor (in confidence) to make sure everything is in good order. So that when they are at work, they feel more motivated as they are genuinely working towards a stronger financial footing for themselves and any dependents.

At first thought, you may think that the health and wellbeing of your employees isn’t really your responsibility. This isn’t the case though. With workers spending more and more time in the office, many would consider it a moral responsibility for businesses to ensure that some kind of balance is achieved. And the business benefits can be plentiful when you get it right….

For advice on support on employee wellbeing or any other HR issue, contact theHRhub now for a no strings chat. Call 0203 627 7048 or drop us an email at

Showing The Love: The Best Employee Retention Strategy There Is

January is the busiest month of the year for recruiters. Unfortunately, its not just employers they’ve got on their books. There’s something about the new year and spending time with family and friends over the festive period that can give employees itchy feet and a longing for pastures new…

You might be doing a mental tally right now of the likely suspects to jump ship in your team. Perhaps your quite relaxed as they seem a pretty replaceable bunch. But what if one of your best employees hands in their cards out of the blue? Someone you really can’t afford to lose? What then?

One of the best ways to try and prevent this from happening is to simply demonstrate and articulate to them how much they are valued by the business.

Here are our top ways to show your employees how much you care:

  • Say thank you when someone does a great job: every time this tops the list. Every. Time.
  • Listen to them: most people naturally have a slight initial aversion to receiving ‘constructive feedback’, however those close to you and – crucially – to your customers may well have suggestions on how do things better which you will never get to hear if you don’t give people the chance.
  • Spend time with them: you don’t need to workshop or provide counselling every time you sit down with them, but make sure you give your team regular time to catch up with and the opportunity to talk to you
  • Let them know what’s going on: if people ‘know’, they feel involved. If people feel involved, they are feeling the magic.
  • Give people autonomy in their role: less micro-managing makes people feel less stressed.Instead, give them clear direction and then support and autonomy to get on with what you’ve asked for.
  • Note the little things: remember their kids/ partners/ dogs names and ask after them. If you think it’s not important, think about the last time someone you knew remembered something you had told them earlier about your plans/ family etc. I  used to think that the talent I have for remembering these type of things was almost totally useless ( I’d like to add at this point that this is countered by being able to have a total lapse in memory for things like major deadlines!). But how wrong I’ve been proved.

As in ‘real’ life however, actions mean more than words, so go the extra mile by:

  • Taking action on the suggestions your team has provided to show you’ve heard them: if you can’t address their concerns or suggestions, the action is to let them know why.
  • Having policies that aren’t punitive but supportive: I know that paid sick or compassionate leave can seem like pouring money down the drain, but imagine how you would feel about a boss you had who deducted money from your pay packet when you’re unable to get out of bed? I exaggerate to prove a point.
  • Having an employee recognition scheme whereby people can ‘thank’ others in the team – either at your team meetings or by an on-line recognition tool
  • Give them spot rewards based on interests they have
  • Giving them opportunities to develop and showcase their talents: it’s human nature to want to grow, so show them support and you will be rewarded tenfold

Showing you care doesn’t make you seem like a soft touch. It makes you a savvy leader.

For more tips on achieving  leadership savviness, theHRhub team are ready to help. So sign up to receive the ultimate online HR support for Startups and SMEs here.

Photo Credit: Flickr – High Five!

Expensive HR Mistakes That Many Small Business Owners Are Making

Would you call yourself a ‘reluctant leader’? It’s a title that many small business owners, if they’re being completely honest, might identify with.

You started your company because you had an exciting product or service to share, and you believed in the impact that it could have on the world. As you grow though, there are a ton of extra responsibilities that end up on your agenda.

One of these is building and managing a team of productive and motivated individuals who can help you to reach those big goals. And it’s a whole lot easier said than done!

There are some all-too-common mistakes that tons of small business owners are making, and they often don’t even realise. Let’s take a look at what they are, and what you should do about them…

Acting with the best intentions, but without understanding the law

You value your staff. You want to do your best by them. And you have absolutely no intention of doing anything that could potentially harm your business or bring it into disrepute. The reality here though is that simply trying to do what feels right and fair often just doesn’t cut it.

Employment law can be complex, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that you’re compliant. Do you understand, for example, the legislation around acceptable working hours? Or how you should support disabled members of staff? Or what to do if a worker is expecting a baby? If not, then you need to either improve your knowledge, or take advice from an expert.  

Developing policies and procedures as the need arises

Perhaps you’ve never really considered how you would handle the situation if a member of staff started to underperform, or if their behaviour became unacceptable. Surely, you can address issues like this as and when they arise? Well, this approach certainly isn’t ideal, and it can result in all kinds of problems.

If you don’t have robust policies and procedures in place, then consider this your wake-up call. Not only will making changes reduce your risk of running into difficulties, but it can also help you to drive your business forward.

Believing that investing in help is just for the big fish

When many business owners think about working with an HR consultant, they imagine that it might be something that they’ll do years in the future, once they’ve built a huge team. In actual fact though, we have provided affordable solutions to businesses with just a few employees, and really helped them to nip problems in the bud, and create a clear growth plan for the future.

Seeking out help earlier can ensure that any niggling issues don’t become deeply engrained in your workplace culture, and can give you a massive amount of peace of mind in your role as an employer.

If you’re reading this guide and you know that you’re guilty of making these mistakes, then get in touch. We can arrange to have a no-obligation consultation, and make a plan for getting you firmly on the right track!

Get in touch via or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about your HR needs.

TheHRhub: on demand and online HR support for startups and SMEs

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