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Should They Stay or Should They Go? Dismissing or Extending An Employee During Their Probation Period

Should They Stay or Should They Go? Dismissing or Extending An Employee During Their Probation Period

Do I need to wait until the end of the probation period to dismiss? What if I’m not quite sure about an employee by the time I get to the end of their probation period? Should I extend? All are questions we at the The HR hub are asked quite regularly as people struggle to work out what to do when someone they’ve hired isn’t quite the wunder-hire they’d hoped….. 

First some basics on about being ‘on probation’: probation periods are not guided by employment law per se, but instead are a contractual arrangement between your business and their employees. Typically they will be used to set expectations that during the initial period of employment – normally 3 to 6 months – and sometimes are extended to cover a further period if a relationship has not been cemented or performance standards are not met.

Essentially however, yes, you can dismiss an employee before the end of their probation period if you feel things are not working out. But there are a few things you need to be mindful of and it’s not just a simple as saying ‘bye bye’ one morning. You need to give them the correct notice period and, as with any other dismissal of any other employee, it should be for a fair reason, including conduct, capability, breach of statutory provision,  redundancy or some other substantial reason (nb – we find that most situations fall into performance during this period however, where the employee hasn’t demonstrated to the employer that they’ve met the standards needed). 

BUT. Before you have that conversation, take a minute to think whether that  you have really done all you can to make sure the environment is right for their success in this regard. After all that time and money spent on hiring that person, have you spent at least the same again investing in making sure that the newbie understands what’s expected, held their hands a little (at the very least) and given them the support they need to make a success of their role? Often people think they have but then often this is not the case… So I ask again: Have you really done all you can to make sure they had the chance to succeed? Were you clear about what was expected? Did you give them regular feedback on how they were doing and offer them the chance to address any areas which weren’t sitting well? Was there anyone even around to provide regular support to them? If you can’t answer these as honest ‘Yes’es, then I would suggest that you look at giving them one final chance.

According to past research from Spring Personnel, 20 percent of employees fail to pass their probation period in a new role or have it extended, so if you did go down this route you would be in good company.  

Thinking of extending their probation instead? You should always make sure that this provision is written into their contract in the first instance. If not, then although there is nothing stopping you from extending the period and making that clear to the individual, you could be liable to pay them the full notice period laid out in the contract for post-probation should you subsequently dismiss during the extended probation period. As an aside, we also wouldn’t recommend extending their probation for any further than an additional three months: an extended period will impact on their engagement for one and for another, after 6 months in post, you should be able to make a decision one way or another.

Probation periods can be a challenging time for both employee and employer and if you want to find out more about how you’re getting the best out of your team through this time and beyond, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 for your no-obligation chat.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

#probation #ticktock #lightthespark #employeemagic #development

Still Can’t Find ‘The One’? 7 Ways To Refresh Your Recruitment

Still Can’t Find ‘The One’? 7 Ways To Refresh Your Recruitment

We all know that recruiting great talent is one of the top priorities for most businesses. And we all know that it’s  bl**dy difficult to do so (amount of people I’ve ever heard saying in my entire career “ I can’t move for quality candidates”? = zero…). And whilst the buzz that you can get when you finally find the right candidate can be highly energising & worth the wait, even the most experienced business owner or recruiter can feel like getting to that point can be a hard slog when the wind isn’t going in your direction ….

If this is chiming a chord with you, then you need to get out of the rut, step back, re-group, and take a fresh look at what else you could be looking at doing to attract people. Strengthening your branding, positioning and process will certainly come into play and influence your hiring on longer term basis, however if it’s a quicker boost you’re after, then nothing beats getting out there and going on the hunt for talent yourself. To help energise your efforts, we’ve spoken to our own network of gurus from The HR Hub who shared some of their favourite ways to kickstart things:

  1. Use social media in the way it was intended: Taking a peak at people’s professional profiles  on LinkedIn is definitely recommended & not to be confused with stalking someone all over Facebook ….. You can pay right up to a Recruiter seat on the site costing £££s per year, however even as a basic entry level user, you can type in job titles or industries in the search field and a list of those people in your immediate network with those criteria will appear for you to click on. If you see someone’s profile who interests you and who you have in common, then ask for an introduction or use the direct messaging to find out if they’re interested in speaking further. Candidates are always more likely to respond if you are contacting them directly about a role in your business and find this approach more flattering than a spamming/ cookie-cutter approach adopted by some less selective agents, so don’t be shy & get connected!
  2. Be open to talent in unusual places:  One of my favourite recent hiring stories is a long time client of ours who hired someone into their business after they were served by them in a chicken restaurant. The server in question demonstrated such fabulous customer service towards my client that they struck up a conversation and ultimately a few weeks later, the server became her new sales & marketing assistant. It might not work for all roles, however bear in mind that most people have transferable skills and one of the most sought after traits people are after in hew hires is a great attitude!
  3. Tap into your (existing) network: Employees first. I almost left this one off the list as I figured it’s such a common channel for people to use when hiring, but then thought again as it’s value is so important that it’s still worth a gentle reminder for those who still haven’t tried it….. However if you’re not asking your existing team if they know of anyone who might want to come and work for you, then you should do this straight away (& then remember to keep asking on a regular basis to keep it front of mind). Financial incentives can work well in this area and provide a tidy little bonus for those who successfully refer someone they know (one of my former companies paid up to £5k per successful referral which was still less than the average recruiter fee for their industry) but you don’t always need to stretch the budget that far as many will be simply happy to refer people they want to work with. If you are going to provide an incentive for employee referrals however, then make sure it’s clear, consistently applied and isn’t over complicated.
  4. Tap into your (existing wider) network: Referrals from employees are one thing, but a less utilised route is to make your wider network of suppliers, clients and partners aware that you’re hiring and what roles you have. Asking people directly might not feel like the comfortable thing to do in some cases, however adding a note to your footer of your emails or doing a few posts on social media to say you are hiring can be just the jogger they may need to drop “I might know just the person…”.   into conversation when you next speak.
  5. Get objective about your adverts:  I was introduced recently by a client to a wonderful site called Textio, the augmented writing site which demonstrates how your words (in this case , job adverts) will be perceived by others. It’s brilliant in terms of showcasing which words are more persuasive than others as well as highlighting the gender attractiveness of different words and phrases used and is well worth the time plugging your own job ads into their free trial to see how yours can be improved.
  6. Keep track of the numbers: this doesn’t need to be complicated, but in order to track how effective your recruitment activities and processes are (and at each stage), then you need to start measuring them to see which parts need re-visiting and addressing. If you’re using an Applicant Tracking System then many will have these built in, but if not, then set up your own spreadsheet with the ones most important to your business and build out from there. Ones I’ve used in the past include: number of applicants at each stage, time to hire , cost per hire and quality of hire.
  7. Outsource it: (I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention here….) But if you value your time over spending a little bit of cash or don’t have the internal resources to focus on this area, then we have our own service we provide to many customers – one that has been developed from the experience of hiring hundreds of people over the last 15 years and which – for the want of a better name right now – I’m going to call Recruitment-in-a-box.  We take the brief, recommend the media, write and place the advert right through to sifting and conducting first round interviews.

When it comes to channels, there’s never just ‘the one’ however. A lot of people still just stick to either agencies or advertising for any new hires. But by narrowing all channels to just one or two, you rarely see the results you want (and definitely not if you’re hiring for multiple roles). Here at theHRhub, we’ve used dozens of different ways to hire and are all in favour of multiple recruitment channels. But rarely at the same time and always varying the approach depending on the role. Would you woo a Managing Director for a contract worth millions in the same way you would get signups for your SaaS product? No, of course you wouldn’t. Same goes for finding the right people.

None of these on their own are silver bullets and the reality is that (as with any good sales process) you will need to apply these processes in a consistent way over a period of time to see really strong results. But a fresh perspective and a bit of analysis and tweaking can work wonders on kickstarting things again.

Need any extra help?  TheHRhub helps ambitious business owners hire, manage and grow their teams in a direct and pragmatic way. Find out more about us here at www.thehrhub.co.uk or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about how we can help.

Succession Planning For SMEs: Managing Promotions Without Starting An Internal War

Succession Planning For SMEs: Managing Promotions Without Starting An Internal War

Within SMEs, career development opportunities can seem few and far between. And within a small team, their impact can be huge. Here are our top tips on how to go about promoting from within – whilst keeping your team intact.

Succession Plan For All Roles

Take it from me, any time taken away from the coal face to think about the development  of your people will never be wasted time. Think carefully about who will be the successors for all roles – including yours – and don’t just go for the obvious. This strategic thinking could impact not only on your recruitment over the next few years but also on your team’s engagement and business strategy as a whole. As a small business grows, many early team members will be concerned that their impact may be diluted by a whole new senior team being recruited externally, so be open with the team about what opportunities there may be in the future and how they may be a part of this.

Be Realistic About Skills Gaps

Where possible, I would always try and recruit from within. If an internal candidate has 70% of what’s required to do the job and that extra 30% can be learnt in house – what are you wanting for? Give them a chance. Witnessing hard work and talent being rewarded can have such positive effect on the whole team. But sometimes, particularly with technically specific roles, to keep ahead of the competition you’ll need to bring the talent in. This can be huge investment, so make sure you do it properly with a well thought out recruitment campaign , carefully considered on boarding programme and (crucially) with the buy-in and/ or involvement of some of your existing team.

Create A Personalised L&D Plan For Each Individual

For every potential internal promotion, think carefully about how you as leader can help individuals get the skills they need to move up. Sometimes this may involve investment in external training. But in my experience some of the most valuable learning opportunities can be provided in-house. Mentorship programmes and job shadowing for example can be hugely valuable, for all parties involved. Empower the team to take ownership of their own learning too. One of my favourite ways to do this is to let each employee expense the odd ebook/podcast/periodical relevant to the business or their function and share their learnings with the team.

Bin The Annual Review

For me, yearly reviews have always seemed pretty pointless. Meet once a month if you can, but at least once every few months. Whilst catching up on operational issues and where team members are vs targets, check in on where they are at with their own development too to make sure it’s moving forward. There’s little point in having an personal development plan if that’s all it remains…. If you demonstrate to the team that their personal development is a priority for you (and action anything you’ll say you do promptly)  it’ll be a priority for them and become part of the culture at your organisation.

Be Conscious Of Those Left Behind

Seeing a close team member move up to a new role without you can be hugely demotivating whether you were in line for the role or not. Communication here is so important – and you must be in control of the messaging. The last thing you want is for your employees to find out about an internal promotion through the office jungle drums. Once you’ve made the decision, let them whole team know asap – ideally at the same time – what is going to be happening and why. And where possible, try and turn what could be a perceived set back into an opportunity for everyone, positioning it within the context of a team re-structure with enhanced roles/responsibilities for all. If you’re aware of a particular individual who might take the news especially badly, take them out for a chat to discuss specifically and head this off. Making sure its you they vent to (rather than others in the team!), will give you the chance to offer some explanation, words of support and help those sour grapes taste a little less bitter.

For help or advice on any HR issue get in touch today at hello@thehrhub.co.uk.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 to speak to our team direct. We’re offering a free initial review to help you understand how to make the valuable changes to best support your business.

Image: Canva

Boom In Use Of Agency Workers Is Set To Continue

Boom In Use Of Agency Workers Is Set To Continue

Recently published research by the Resolution Foundation shows a boom in the use of agency workers by businesses looking to fill their skills gap, and the findings suggest that it’s a pattern that’s set to continue. Almost half (43%) of respondents said that they’d increased their reliance on agency staff during the past five years, and 25% planned to increase their usage even further in the next five years.

It’s thought that the trend is being fuelled by uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and of course the cost pressures that plenty of businesses are facing on a daily basis. Today, it’s estimated that there are around 800,000 agency workers in roles all across the UK.

So if you’re looking to expand your team during 2018, you might want to take a little step back and consider whether working with an agency could be the solution that gives you exactly what you need. Recruiting and selecting the right people is a tricky process, and it can place a real strain on your resources. Outsourcing to the experts is an option that clearly appeals to many.

There is a very important issue at play here though, that plagues the reputation of businesses looking to tap into more flexible ways of finding and working with talent. The gig economy and all the pitfalls associated with it is constantly being debated in the media, and it’s clear that not all business owners are giving proper consideration to workers’ rights. There’s a clear crossover here between issues associated with the gig economy and the use of agency workers, and employers absolutely must proceed with a reasonable level of caution.

The Resolution Foundation offered some practical suggestions for ethically leveraging agency talent, at both a business and government level. The Swedish Derogation, for example, is a controversial piece of regulation that the Foundation would like to see removed. It permits businesses to pay agency workers less than directly comparable employees, and a repeal is currently under consultation, in response to the Taylor Review.

What happens from this point onwards will definitely be interesting from an employment perspective. The pressure on the government is mounting when it comes to workers’ rights, whilst businesses still face cuts and need to look towards less conventional ways of hitting their goals and meeting operational requirements.

If you’re planning to use agency workers, what steps will you be taking to protect your employer brand and maintain a happy and productive workplace?

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing expert advice  and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket – but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

It’s not you, it’s me: How to handle it when your employees say goodbye

It’s not you, it’s me: How to handle it when your employees say goodbye

A resignation – like being dumped – can often feel very personal. Particularly if the person in question has been with you for some time. Particularly if you think they are critical to your business. And particularly if you let it.

I mean, it’s sod’s law isn’t it? Just when you think everything is teed up to have a great 2018: Goals in place? Tick. Marketing lined up? Tick. Sales Pipeline trending the right way? Tick. – when someone pops their head around the door clutching an envelope and utters a few words in ‘that’ tone …”er, can we have a quick chat?’. And it’s the ones who are the most valuable to you which always hit you hardest.

Of course, not every resignation is bad news. If you are planning on going through a restructure or making redundancies and the person in question was going to be affected, then you may have just saved yourself a bit of heartache ( not to mention a few quid). But most are not wanted, downright annoying and expensive too.

With an average employee in the professional sector costing up to £30k to replace , the best way to ensure that you handle this well, is to prioritise keeping your team as you would your clients. And plan for it by doing some of the following:

  • At budgeting time, include staff turnover in your forecasting figures and set targets for turnover. The UK average is approximately 15% but this rises to closer to 20% in the digital sectors. You do need to keep new ideas flowing within the business and adapt to your changing model, so not all turnover is bad and it’s likely that you will want to see some movement to avoid becoming complacent, but set targets for this which you can check progress against. It’ll be less of a surprise.
  • Identify your ‘keepers’. The people which, if you lost, you would be stuffed. And then plan how you are going to to show them the love. To support them in what they want out of the business. Too many business leaders don’t take the time to speak to their teams on a 1-2-1 regular basis to uncover what it is that their people want and show support by their actions. Oh, for the times when I’ve seen an account manager hauled over the coals after a devastating client loss. “When did you last meet with them?” is often one of the first things their manager will ask after the bombshell has been dropped.” How did they seem? Were they unhappy? Did they say anything which gave you a clue?….”
  • Take the time to get to know your team. To know what they want out of life on a wider level than just what they are doing at work. I know it’ll come as a shock to many, but most people don’t simply dream of doing better at work! So find out what possibilities lie for people within the confines of the business and how they can help them get to where they want to be.

And I’m not saying it’s easy by any stretch. It’s a hell of a commitment to meet with your team each week/ fortnight/ build a relationship/ keep it going through the good and the tough times. But people are less likely to leave a place where they feel valued and listened to than anywhere else. And even if you can’t keep them, the chances are that they will feel more comfortable giving you a heads up that they may be off, allowing you a bit more time to plan and handover.

But back to that resignation. In practical and immediate terms, you have a few options:

  1. You can take it very personally, considering it a personal slight that someone would not want to work from you and act out in that manner. One boss I know didn’t speak to their team member for their ENTIRE notice period, leaving him to work in an isolated office away from the rest of the business such was the disgust they felt at their team member leaving them. Their maturity wasn’t lost on the entire company…
  2. Or ( a popular option) you can launch into telling them all the reasons why this is all wrong for them and that if they stayed for another £5/ £15k/ £25k then you will be able to fix whatever it is they are concerned about. One business I know spent more money on retention bonuses for those who had resigned in a particular year than they did on the entire bonus pot for existing employees who had delivered for them that year. The‘retained’ employees in this instance lasted on average another 3-6 months before bailing out for real, leaving a red faced boss and disgruntled colleagues who had found out all about the separate arrangement…
  3. Or you can listen to what they are saying. And then really listen. And learn from it. On the odd occasion I have seen someone ‘bought back’ by their business when they’ve resigned, it’s been because the relationship and loyalty was there already, they’d just let things get stale. The drama of resigning was enough to wake both parties up to see that there were other ways for the team member to grow and they’re very happy.

Option 3 doesn’t always mean they stay and you may well still have to say goodbye to someone you would rather not. But at least by taking the time out to find out what is really going on, you will truly understand why your business is not right for the person standing in front of you. But why it may be for another time. Ah yes, Boomerang employees. Now there’s another post….

HR Folks Might Be Highly Skilled But We Can’t Read Your Mind! Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of A Partnership

HR Folks Might Be Highly Skilled But We Can’t Read Your Mind! Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of A Partnership

As your business grows, you might decide that the time is right to start working with HR. It’s certainly true that having a people professional on hand and on your side can bring huge benefits, and it could be exactly what you need to create steady and manageable growth you’re after. But before setting the wheels in motion, it might be useful to take a step back and think about what you can do to ensure that any relationship reaches its full potential. Let’s explore the practical steps you can take.

Be Open And Honest About Absolutely Everything

When you first start to work with any kind of professional services, there’s always a period during which you’re still getting to know each other. You’ll be asked questions about business, and it can be tempting to try to gloss over the less attractive parts, and not be completely honest about your situation and how you’re feeling about it. Here at theHRhub we’ve seen (most of) it all before, and aren’t here to judge. We just need all the information you can give us – the good, the bad, and the ugly – so we can work out an action plan to get you to where you want to be.

Remember To Use Their Services Strategically

Many people first start working with an HR service  because they have a particular problem that they need expert assistance with right away. It could be an issue with a new recruit, or it would be a routine disciplinary matter that’s gone horribly wrong. It’s safe to say though that most business owners’ first contact with their HR service is the result of an operational matter. And that’s fine, of course. Sometimes, there are things that you can’t cope with yourself, that need to be tackled ASAP. If you really want to get the most out of your working relationship though, recognise the strategic value that is there for the taking. Engage in conversations about the future of your business, the big challenges you face, and how HR can help you to get you to where you want to be with less hassle and less fuss.

Speak Up When You Need Help

The world of HR, just like any industry out there, is full of jargon and terminology that you might not be familiar with. The good news here though is that we at theHRhub will break down everything you need to know, so it’s easy to understand and digest and so that you get to know your TUPE from your EAP. If there’s anything at all that you feel unsure about, don’t be afraid to speak up. As skilled as we are, we can’t read your mind! And we’re always more than happy to go that extra mile so you’re really reaping the benefits of having your own on-demand HR point of contact.

It’s normal to feel slightly overwhelmed at the thought of working with an HR service or consultant. You probably felt the same when you first called upon the services of your accountant. If you follow these steps though, teething problems can be avoided, and you’re likely to quickly discover that taking the plunge was the best decision that you’ve ever made.

Want to have a discussion about how all of this could work for you, in really practical terms? Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk to book in a free consultation.

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