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Holiday Cover: An SME’s Guide To Drafting In Reinforcements

With holiday requests coming in thick and fast it can be very difficult for SMEs to accommodate everyone and keep the business going at the same time.

The way we see it, you have 5 options. Here they are, in order of preference:

1. Promote & Train Existing Team Members

Holiday cover can be a wonderful opportunity for current team members to shine and take on more responsibility. It’s also a chance for you to assess the leadership talent of the future. Set them up for success though: Brief them properly, define exactly what you need to them do, explain how they will be measured and what success looks like. Make sure you leave enough time for any required training.

2. Take On A Contractor

Contractors tend to be experienced individuals, who are taken on for a specific project. Whilst, this might seem like an expensive option it’s clearly less expensive than hiring another full time employee. It’s also a great opportunity to hire specialist expertise and ‘test drive’ someone you could potentially take on permanently. The great thing about contractors is that they should hit the ground running quickly and start delivering for your business from the word go. Brief them in the same way you would a permanent team member – you get out what you put in here… Recruitment agencies can help you find contractors, but if you’d rather do it yourself, use online job sites, social media and referrals.

3. Hire Temporary Staff

Unlikely to be as qualified as contractors but they can be a good option for few weeks and are easy to get hold of if you go through an agency. If you go down the agency route, ask the agency for references from previous clients who required the same type of workers you need. It’s also important for you to fully understand how the agency recruit their candidates and for the agency to fully get to know the needs of your business. Temp agencies commit to ‘filling the gap’ so if one temp doesn’t work out they should quickly provide you with a replacement.

4. Pass On Menial Tasks To Interns

This will help free up more experienced staff to cover others. Obviously you can’t rely on interns too much, but they can be a godsend when it comes to looking after time consuming, unimportant tasks that just need to get done. They too will want to feel like they are making a real contribution to the business with their time with you – so brief them properly and get the most of them. But remember they are with you to learn. So in return for a bit of donkey work, you should also offer them some really interesting work to do, in line with their studies or career aspirations. Speak to local colleges/schools and/or advertise internally, on social media and in the local press.

5. Say No

Yes, this is always an option. You are not legally bound to give holiday when someone asks for it and sometimes it just isn’t possible. Here are some tips on how to turn down a holiday request without damaging employee relations:

  • Do it quickly: Give them as much notice as you can to make alternative arrangements, as a sign of respect and goodwill. As always, face to face is best.
  • Explain you reasons:  Ensure the individual knows it’s not personal. Talk them through the need to cover off certain business areas over that period. Reiterate the business decision behind the refusal and ensure them that it is nothing to do with their performance (unless it is).
  • Offer an alternative: Such as other dates when a request would be manageable. For accommodating others, some business offer one or two extra holiday days as a way of saying thank you.
  • Tell the how much you value them: When  a holiday request is denied it can make individuals feel undervalued, particularly if they have been performing well. Make sure they leave the conversation feeling positive about themselves and their contribution to the business.

TheHRhub are the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers 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 for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

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Could Your Business Be Making Better Use Of Freelancers?

As well as General Election Day, Thursday 8th June marks National Freelancers Day where independent professionals up and down the country will celebrate the fact that they boldly work for themselves. It’s estimated that there are around 2 million freelancers operating in the UK, and they’ve had their fair share of press recently.

With the gig economy being a key topic of conversation, and firms like Uber and Deliveroo coming under scrutiny for how they treat the people working for them, it’s clear that the world of work is changing fast, and the face of employment is looking very different to what it did just a couple of years ago.

But what does this mean for your business? Is it possible to harness talent on a more flexible basis and keep your reputation as a fair and just employer? And could you be missing out on some attractive business benefits if you’re  sticking with what’s becoming a fairly outdated approach to talent, employment, and getting a good job done?

Let’s consider a few things that you should be aware of…

1. Your relationship with freelancers should be very carefully managed

You might have fewer obligations from a legal perspective, but the reputation of your business could be on the line if you don’t get this right. There are unscrupulous business owners out there who have ruthlessly used the gig economy to drive forward questionable agendas, and it’s vital that you take steps to manage your employer brand and ensure that you’re considered to be amongst the cream of the crop when it comes to really getting this right.

2. You should also think about the potential pitfalls

The benefits can be fairly obvious, but the downsides also need to be considered. Have you thought about how you’ll find the people who you really need? Can you be certain that they’d be as committed to the cause as permanent employees would be? And how are your staff likely to deal with the transition towards working as part of a different kind of team? They’ll have their fears and concerns, and this needs to be managed.

3. But there’s a wealth of talent available quite literally at your fingertips

Need a new website and some regular maintenance carried out, but don’t have the resources to hire a permanent developer? A freelancer could help. Looking for an extra pair of hands on deck during a busier period? Maybe a freelancer could fit the bill. Or struggling to find the skills you need in your local workforce? Yep, it’s very possible that a freelancer on the other side of the world could step in and deliver what you’re looking for.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of creating a more flexible and agile workforce, then let’s talk. We can help you to create your plan of action, and put it into practice in the right way. Get in touch today to arrange an initial free consultation. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at

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Calling All Business Leaders: Think HR is boring? Then Read This…

This article isn’t about some new fancy techno widget you can download in a jiffy and implement overnight. No. It’s about HR. The function that helps you get the most out of your people. Hang on, don’t go….

Let’s be honest, we know HR has something of a reputation for being a little bit boring amongst some business leaders. It’s a burden that we’ve carried for years and it’s one that refuses to budge in a lot of circles.

But is there any substance behind it? Are we really just a group of thundering bores who can bring nothing more to your business than bureaucracy and forms to fill in and pointless policies that never see the light of day?

We’re more than willing to look at the arguments….

Here are 3 reasons why HR is vital to your business: 

We Can Keep You Out Of Tribunals

Because the court room is really exciting, right? It’s definitely where most business owners want to end up when they’re in the middle of balancing everyday concerns and striving towards growth. Though of course, it’s not. It’s your worst nightmare and it can be costly and stressful. Good HR practices ensure that you’re not accidentally breaking the law.

We Can Save You A Load Of Money

Is making money more tempting than saving money? It could be argued that it is. If you’re particularly daring, then you might decide to just focus on bringing more in, whilst ignoring the fact that your spending is spiralling out of control and you’re wasting cash all over the place. But good leaders know that it’s a mix of both… And that’s precisely why they use HR professionals to make sure that their staffing budget is invested in all the right places.

We Can Make Your Workplace A Peaceful And Productive Place

Some people thrive on drama and arguments and scandal. They might say that without these things, life is pretty dull. If that sounds like you, then HR might not be your cup of tea. Most managers though just want everyone to be able to get along and form positive working relationships, so they can enjoy their time at work and make a contribution.

Still think these things are boring? Then HR is guilty as charged. But if you recognise that these things are in fact prerequisites for running a profitable and sustainable business, then we should talk. We can bring the right brand of ‘boring’ to your business, and steer you clear of the unnecessary headaches and dramas.

Give us a call today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at to arrange your no-obligation consultation. We might just surprise you.

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Pre Employment Screening: How Deep Should You Dig?

For many businesses, particular those in the finance sector, employee’s pasts have always come under some scrutiny in an effort to limit the risk for those employing them. However these days it’s recognised that risks aren’t limited in this area to just one sector, as more and more businesses understand that their employees are their number one data risk. But if the standard reference checks when recruiting just aren’t enough. How far should you go? Here we delve into the world of pre employment screening, what it means and if it’s relevant to your business:

Pre Employment Screening is an umbrella term for a series of checks which include the following:

  • Credit history
  • Criminal record.
  • Personal information (DVLA, FCA, social media, etc)
  • Identify fraud
  • General reference checking

Credit History? That’s A Bit Much….

Whilst you may think it seems fair that a potential employer can find out if you are who you say you are and if you’ve murky criminal past you’d like to hide, you’d not be alone in thinking that assessing a candidate’s financial position is a step too far. But checking to see if an employee is under financial strain (and thus perhaps more likely to be urged into fraudulent or criminal activity) is relatively commonplace in industries where money or data are the key commodities. 

What Can Employers Really Find Out About A Candidate’s Credit History?

A little – but not nearly as much as a lender might when assessing viability for credit applications. Access to data stored on an individual’s credit file is tightly controlled. Typically, when a pre employment credit check is run, numerous public and private databases are searched for any adverse financial warning signs such as County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies, voluntary arrangements, decrees and administration orders. Oh, and if you were wondering, don’t worry a check like this won’t affect their credit score.

I’m Not In Finance Or Data – Is This Relevant To My Business?

Whilst money and data might not be your business area – there will be functions within your business who deal with one or both of these. So do consider a little extra digging when recruiting for roles in these areas – particularly in your finance/accounts department.

Sounds A Bit Tricky – Can I Get Someone To Do It For Me?

There are a plethora of specialist staff vetting providers out there. If you are just dipping your toe in the water you might prefer to use a credit referencing agency such as Experian who offer up to 10 online pre (or existing) employee checks for £54.99 a year, which includes a basic criminal record check, identity check and adverse financial check.

Employment references are a dying breed

For compliance purposes, employment references are useful as they confirm whether an employee was where they said they were employed. However that is where their use pretty much stops. If you think that an employment reference is going to tell you all you need to know about how your soon-to-be employee performed and behaved whilst in their previous employment, then think again. Not only is relying on them one of the weakest ways you can predict performance (think about it – most only provide names of people that they know will provide a positive reference) but many companies are fearful of the comeback from any litigious employee and these days shy away from providing anything more than a perfunctory ‘Jane Smith was employed between the period of x and y’. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately pre-employment vetting can’t tell you if a candidate is trustworthy or not. Indeed, someone’s personal financial situation may have little impact on their professionalism and ability to do a good job. All these checks can do is highlight any anomalies that might put someone’s character into question – the interpretation is down to you.

And of course, for some offenders there will always be a first time. And no amount vetting is going to help there. So regularly review your working practices with fresh eyes – focussing on any possible loop holes that could allow fraud or other criminal activity to occur.

For help with recruitment, or any other HR issue, contact thehrhub today. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at

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Will Facebook’s New Jobs Feature Make LinkedIn Obsolete?

For the past couple of years, LinkedIn has well and truly had a monopoly when it comes to being the social network of choice for recruiters and small business owners on the lookout for top new talent. With the new changes recently announced from Facebook though, the more ‘professional network’ might have a fight on its hands.

Of course, many business owners have been using Facebook for recruitment informally for quite some time now. We’ve all seen the posts from companies letting their followers know that they’re hiring. This new feature simply makes the process a little more intuitive.

As soon as the job listing is posted on Facebook, anyone who visits the page will be able to make an application. There’s even the option for candidates to auto-fill their information based on the details that Facebook holds on them, such as name and location, to make the process a little speedier.

Similarly, Facebook will allow page owners to pay to ‘boost’ their job ads to reach more people, based on their demographics and interests.

The feature’s brand new right now, so it’ll be interesting to see how it works out over the coming weeks and months, and how businesses manage to leverage the power of Facebook to find their top talent. Still though, the move demonstrates that online recruitment is very much a growing phenomenon and it’s something that businesses absolutely can’t afford to ignore. Putting an ad in your local paper is not likely to cut it anymore and you need to make sure that your recruiting toolkit is bang up to date.

With Facebook more traditionally being the less formal social network, favoured by those looking to connect with their friends rather than seek out professional opportunities, these new developments raise some interesting points about how the world of business is changing. The lines between work and play are becoming more and more blurred – both a challenge and an opportunity for small business owners.

Need some help with your recruitment or any other HR issue? Get in touch today for a no-strings chat about your business needs and how we can help. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at
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Onboarding: How To Mentor A First-Time Mentor

A new employee’s onboarding programme and on the job learning should always be the responsibility of their line manager. But it’s wise also to allocate each new starter a mentor who can offer further advice, specific training on a particular skill and generally be the first port of call when their boss isn’t around. As well as being a hugely important person for the mentee, being a mentor can be a crucial developmental step for future line managers. Given this, new mentors need to be supported and set up for success too. Here’s our advice on how to mentor a first time mentor:

1. Brief Them Fully

Take them through the onboarding programme (again, the line manager should be the owner of this document but it’s a wise move to ask the mentor for their input so they feel actively involved).

Carefully outline your expectations – be specific about their responsibilities and how long you see the mentorship going on for. Urge them to set up regular meetings with their mentee and make an effort to track the mentee’s progress effectively.

2. Measure Their Success

You want them to be successful in this role. To ascertain that be clear from the start about how that success will be measured. It may be there’s a specific skill you need the new starter to be trained in to a particular standard within a certain amount of time or a certain project that needs delivering that they have early involvement in. 360 feedback from the mentee and wider team members could be an important early gauge of the new starter’s engagement and overall potential if you feel its too early to measure performance. You may also want to ask the new mentor themselves how they would like to be measured.

3. Encourage Them To Be Proactive

In addition to the onboarding programme and their outlined mentorship responsibilities, other learning opportunities for the mentee are likely to arise in the first few months such as an interesting meeting, work project, course or social occasion. Mentors should definitely be encouraged to suggest a new employee’s involvement in anything that will further their immersion within the organisation.

4. Expect Them To Give Constructive Feedback To Their Mentee If Appropriate

This is often something that new mentors find very difficult to do. Whilst it’s important not to quash a new starters’ confidence (delivering good and bad feedback with a 70:30 ratio is a good steer here), if mentors have constructive feedback to give advise them do it quickly, in person and in private, always giving examples and coming to a mutually agreed course of action to ensure improvements are made.

5. Lead By Example

Be punctual, respectful and prioritise your own meetings with the new mentor so they appreciate how valuable their contribution is. Be an active listener, maintain eye contact, nod, and be interested in what they have to say. Demonstrate coaching skills yourself – asking them what they should do in particular situation rather than telling them how you would do it. In this way they will understand more than any other how you expect the role of a mentor to be carried out.

For advice and support on any HR issue contact theHRhub today for a no strings consultation about your HR needs and how we can help. Call us today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us an email at

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