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Feeling the pinch? Maximizing Team Potential During Economic Turbulence

Feeling the pinch? Maximizing Team Potential During Economic Turbulence

In the swirling mix of economic forecasts, 2024 presents a peculiar paradox. We’re technically in a recession, yet it doesn’t quite fit the mold of the gloom-and-doom scenarios we’re accustomed to. “Not a ‘real’ recession,” some might say, as they try to pin down the elusive nature of our current financial climate. Yet, the business leaders I’ve chatted with echo a singular sentiment: the road ahead is peppered with challenges.

A common thread among these conversations is the wavering confidence levels. It’s not that customers and clients are vanishing into thin air; they’re just becoming more discerning with their wallets. This newfound pickiness casts a long shadow over budgeting and forecasting, making financial crystal balls fuzzier than ever.

Teams feel this uncertainty keenly.

Watching clients hesitate on the usual orders or campaigns sends ripples of insecurity through the ranks. No one I know has ever enthusiastically embraced downsizing or its myriad of euphemisms (“trimming the fat,” “getting a haircut,” “a close shave”). Yet, when profits shrink, the spotlight invariably falls on the largest expense for most businesses: their people. And believe me, everyone senses when that spotlight turns their way.

Amidst this backdrop, some may adopt a ‘survive until 2025’ mantra, tightening the proverbial belt a notch and looking to make cuts wherever possible. But whilst reviewing all costs is the sensible thing to do when the pressure is on and you enter what is colloquially known as ‘squeeky-bum-territory’, there is another path to consider as well: optimising team potential and steering through the fog, not just waiting for it to lift.

Open, transparent communication with your team can help.

Being candid about the company’s financial health doesn’t mean laying all your cards on the table, but sharing enough to maintain trust. It’s about giving your team a glimpse into the decision-making process, the challenges faced, and the strategies employed to navigate through them.

You can’t forecast the future with absolute certainty, but communicating regularly and openly with your team can dispel as much fear as possible. In times of uncertainty, bold ideas often take a backseat, but it’s precisely these ideas that can pave the way forward.

Acknowledging the economic elephant in the room while encouraging your team to brainstorm ideas and innovative solutions can replace a culture of internal competition with one of collaboration.

Upskilling is also a beacon of hope here too. Whether through internal training, shadowing, or leveraging the plethora of free resources online, equipping your team with new skills can turn the tide and help people see problems with fresh eyes and skills, offering flexibility and resilience in spades.

Positivity will thrive where you and your team have strong wellbeing and resilience.

The cornerstone of navigating these turbulent times is the well-being of your team. And whilst it’s not just all-on-you to ensure that support and positivity thrive, your influence will be considerably stronger than others in the team in this regard.

Paying attention to your own resilience quotient therefore in each of the four key areas – physical, mental, spiritual and social – can help boost your own wellbeing before turning to see how it can help others. From get togethers (social) to regular walk-and-talk meetings ( physical and social) right through to positive self talk and encouragement of feedback (mental), all of these small steps build to create a team with healthy habits and get you all in the right place. External help can also support, including providing tools and resources that bolster efficiency and effectiveness and Employee Assistance Programmes which allow for expert support in areas that you or your managers may not be equipped ( or be appropriate) to discuss.

Explore all avenues (but don’t forget to take your team on the journey too).

Adjustments may be inevitable, including the difficult decision to resize the team. Yet, there are many avenues to explore before reaching that point. I’ve seen businesses pivot to part-time arrangements or explore voluntary redundancies as a first step before making anything more permanent. But even if that is the end result, transparency and openness early on in these discussions can significantly impact how fair and respected team members feel and what this does for your businesses’ long term health.

In the heart of economic downturns lies an opportunity—not just for survival but for growth and innovation. It’s a chance to reframe challenges as catalysts for change, encouraging leaders and teams alike to adopt a proactive stance. Together, there’s immense potential to not only weather the storm but to emerge stronger, more cohesive, and innovative on the other side.

If you want to chat through options to steer your way to success, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or give us a call on 0203 951 1208.

Show Me The Money (But How Much?): Compensation Planning In An SME 💰

Show Me The Money (But How Much?): Compensation Planning In An SME 💰

After a tough couple of years of surviving a pandemic, there were mixed feelings about individuals’ financial well-being. For some, this time presented a saving opportunity:  a non-existent social life meant that the money we would have spent on the weekly trip to the pub, or lunch out was instead put into savings. For others, however, it meant they needed to dig into their savings to make up for the shortfall in furlough pay or redundancy.

Fast forward a year, throw in a global cost of living crisis with soaring energy (& everything!) prices and the outlook makes a pretty grim reading across the board. Having been dancing with recession for the last year, companies are watching the pennies as much as their teams, who are keen to see their salaries rise to match their outgoings.

It’s a question many of our clients have been grappling with as they approach salary reviews (planned and unplanned). At a time when the disparity between wealth and poverty has never been greater, it presents employers with a bit of a conundrum: How can we support our team, without putting the business and the whole workforce at greater risk?

Salary benchmarking is a critical part of any business’s compensation philosophy that involves gathering data sources internally and externally to ensure that employees are paid fairly and equitably to each other but also to the external market. There is a lot of sensitivity about how salaries are calculated, especially now, and so in order for your team to feel they are being paid fairly, they need some reassurance that you’re not plucking salaries out of thin air. Typically this would involve internal and external benchmarking.

It’s not just the ££ that attracts people to your business

The benchmark for your business greatly hinges on the reasons why people choose to join you. For the most part, many people look to work for smaller businesses to gain practical experience, take on responsibility, feel ‘part of something’ and broaden their knowledge base: they are not always drawn to your company solely because of exorbitant salaries or a prestigious ‘name’.

Therefore if you’re looking in the market and being quoted sky high salaries, it’s important to recognise that you are not necessarily always in direct competition with these larger, more prominent organisations. These entities function in a completely different arena, often paying their staff in the 85th percentile or higher. Conversely, as a start-up or scale-up, you would typically fall within the 50th percentile for base salaries, and perhaps add equity or bonuses to supplement earnings.

Why one size doesn’t always fit all

There are lots of different ways to look at how you calculate your salaries. Some companies use a robust formula applied across the board, however others prefer the flexibility of being able to use guiding principles and fundamental data points to ensure they’re making data driven decisions should things in the market or their business change. Typically these will be influenced by the following factors:

  • Getting your internal benchmarking right:  This is about making sure your team is within the same pay bracket as each other if they have comparable roles and skills. This doesn’t mean you need to pay everyone the exact same salary, but it does mean you make sure there are not huge variances in these for people doing the same roles with the same experience. For context, 10% is the variance most companies are typically comfortable with.
  • What are other companies paying? Whilst you won’t always be able to get specific data from your competitors you can get a generalised feel for the market and acceptable rates. Each year you should aim to review your roles against the market to see where your salaries sit against the average. You can engage TheHRhub to help you gather this or do some good old-fashioned research yourself. Once you gather the data, you should then look at the averages of all the data points collected to try and minimise any bias or anomalies.
  • Market rate of the specific skills/experiences we want or need to prioritise? It’s a matter of fact that some skills and experiences are harder to come by or more competitive than others and so you’ll need to pay a premium for these. This reflects the landscape and critical nature of these roles within the business and (quite often) the scarcity of these skills in the market.
  • What is your total compensation? This includes equity, bonus and discretionary benefits such as private health, parental leave etc. As a start-up / scale-up you shouldn’t just look at your base salary as your compensation – you should also look at other elements such as your equity, bonus and benefits.
  • Where are you based in the world? This becomes increasingly important as companies scale and international and national borders become less restrictive. Local benchmarking helps to make sure you’re competing in local regions.

Small print alert: When deciding salaries across regions, you are not comparing apples-to-apples – this is because you need to reflect geographical differences in salaries, supply and demand and cost of living. For example, our friends in America don’t have the NHS or statutory benefits like pension or paid parental leave, whereas countries like Australia have significant statutory pension contribution requirements. As a result, this doesn’t necessarily mean a role in London is paid the same as a role in New York, even if it’s comparable in ‘size’. It’s important that you consider these regional differences when paying salaries.

We can’t magic away inflation or give you an endless pot of money but we can help implement a compensation philosophy, with guiding principles and benchmarking to allow you to make data driven decisions that your team feel confident in. To do so, drop us a line via hello@thehrhub.co.uk, give us a call on 0203 6277048 or pop in a diary time here.

#showmethemoney #lighthtspark #employeemagic #reward

Lifequake Moments: Strategies to Support Employees Through Grief

Lifequake Moments: Strategies to Support Employees Through Grief

It’s an unfortunate inevitability that loss and the grief, will affect every one of us at some point. And whilst it might not seem the most cheery subject to bring up on a wet November morning, there’s a) never a right time to bring it up and b) perhaps one to store away in the files until you might want to re-visit. 

While the death of a loved one is often the cause of grief, it’s important to remember that grieving is not ‘one size fits all’. Studies have found that all kinds of life-changing events can cause feelings of grief. These can include the end of a friendship, the loss of a job, the loss of a pet or a decline in health. Likewise, many different factors affect how we grieve and why, including the support we receive.  

And that goes for the support of colleagues and employers as well as friends and family. 

As a business leader, the process of supporting employees through grief can be one of the most difficult and delicate tasks you’ll face. This is why it helps to have a more comprehensive understanding of what employees value most when grieving in order to formulate how you would provide support in such an event. 

Keep reading for some key strategies on how to support employees through grief. 

Look Beyond the Legal Requirements

Here in the UK, there are certain legal requirements for employers to follow when supporting employees through grief, but only for bereavement. 

Legally, employers must grant two weeks’ bereavement leave to employees following the death of a child under 18 years old and for dependents (such as a parent or partner) you must grant a ‘reasonable’ amount of bereavement leave. Given that in most cases, there is no legal right to any paid time off for bereavement, it falls to you as employer to determine what you feel is ‘right’. 

As a compassionate and emotionally intelligent leader, you can commit to doing more than the bare minimum, something which will be welcomed by any of your team experiencing such loss, as well as other team members who are aware. 

Instead of letting these limited and vague legal requirements guide you, think about the support you would want to receive following a loss. This isn’t always financial and could be in the form of a reduced workload, greater schedule flexibility, or emotional support.  Factors such as the size of your company may limit the leave and benefits you can provide. But there shouldn’t be a limit on the patience and understanding your company offers to grieving employees. 

Formalise Your Procedures for Supporting Employees Through Grief

Whatever decisions you make, we recommend creating a set of formal guidelines detailing how you and your company will support employees through grief. Keep some level of flexibility in it (I know of one business I worked with who spelt out the number of days paid leave provided upon the death of  a very specific list of different relatives which felt a tad too prescriptive) however doing so allows you to take a proactive and considered stance, rather than rushing to react to situations as and when they arise and allow your managers and team members to review rather than just try and ‘fill in the blanks’. 

Creating a framework for supporting grief encourages an environment of awareness and acceptance around the subject. You might also consider some kind of sensitivity training for your employees about the effects of grief and how best to support a grieving colleague.

And for employees who need support through grief, knowing that there is a policy already in place shows that you understand the complexities of loss and grief and are willing to honour that through formal procedures and guidelines. Requesting that support is then less likely to make them feel as though they’re ‘asking for a favour’ rather than getting the support they’re entitled to. 

Following a significant loss, paid time off can be beneficial as it gives your employees the time and space they need to grieve in private. In cases of bereavement and certain traumatic life events such as divorce or loss of a home, they may also need to use this time for attending the funeral or making arrangements.  Knowing that they won’t lose out financially also avoids adding to their stress and forcing them to come back before they’re ready.

Consider Non-Financial Support

But financial help isn’t the only way to support employees through grief. You should also consider how you can help by offering emotional support.

Loss and grief are sensitive topics that call for a delicate touch from the moment your employee makes you aware of the situation. Beyond offering your condolences and reiterating the leave they’re entitled to, ensure that they feel valued and supported as a person as well as an employee. 

Help you can offer include regular check-ins, an open-door policy, and colleague support networks. 

Giving Time

One of the best ways to support your employees through grief is by being patient and listening to what they need. Some people may want to return to work to keep themselves busy. But for those who need more time, you might consider offering reduced hours or more flexible schedules. Easing workloads and adjusting expectations can give your employee space to heal following a loss. 

Although this can seem risky when running a business, planned absence is always preferable to unplanned absence. As well as supporting your employee’s healing process and fostering loyalty, addressing the issue head-on allows you to plan effectively to ensure the work still gets done. 

Depending on your business environment and resources, you might consider offering a transition period back to a normal routine. This period could involve working from home more often or a lighter workload. You may also need to help them avoid situations, tasks, or environments that remind them of their grief. 

Use External Sources if Needed
Remember, as well-meaning as your intentions are, you may not always have the necessary training and tools to support a grieving employee in-house. 

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can arise or worsen following a significant loss. If you notice worrying signs or become concerned that your employee isn’t coping well, don’t hesitate to take advantage of outside resources such as Cruse Bereavement Support or these useful contacts supplied by Mind. 

Also, if your workplace offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that includes access to a grief counsellor, you should ask employees if they’d like you to put them in touch. 

Devising Your Strategy to Support Employees Through Grief

Knowing how to support employees through grief can be difficult. Not least because grief is a very individual experience that often defies prediction or definition.  

But as an employer, by defining and formalising your company’s grief support framework now, you’ll be well prepared to provide the right kind of support for your employees when they most need it. 

For more information on tools and techniques to support and empower your employees, feel free to contact us via  hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call on 0203 627 7048.

5 Tips For Creating a Culture Of Unity in Your Team

5 Tips For Creating a Culture Of Unity in Your Team

We spend a huge proportion of our lives at work, surrounded by colleagues, clients, managers, and team members. We’re immersed in the culture of our workplaces. And if we’re a good ‘culture fit’, this can feel great. We’re empowered, challenged, and supported.

Working somewhere with a great culture allows me to perform at my best. So as a leader, I want all of my team members to feel the same way. I want to create a culture where we’re all pulling together, supporting each other, and building something incredible.

In TeamHRhub, we call this a culture of unity.

This kind of inclusive, team-based culture creates an enjoyable working experience and a healthy workplace. People who see themselves as an integral part of a team are happier and feel more fulfilled in their work.

A culture of unity also makes it easier for team members to open up about their struggles, enabling you to offer the help and support they need. This is important for both their physical health and their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Creating a culture of unity isn’t just about making people happier — it’s also a great business decision. This type of environment is inclusive and welcoming, attracting high-quality talent with ease. We also see improved staff engagement and retention, leading to better performance and output.

So, how do we create a culture of unity? Here are our 5 tips for lighting that spark…

1. Open communication

The first step is to ensure that your team members feel able to express themselves openly and honestly.

Ask yourself how your team are able to tell you about any worries or concerns they might have, and consider whether you can offer any additional paths of communication. It’s essential that you make yourself available to hear what they want to tell you.

Think about whose voice you hear. Are there any people or groups who don’t seem to step forward? A culture of unity doesn’t just rely on the ‘squeaky wheels’, so look for ways to reach out to quieter team members as well.

As leaders, we also need to think about how we respond to staff concerns. Giving team members space to speak isn’t enough. How are you showing that you’re listening? Take concerns seriously, handle them openly where possible, and give updates on your progress.

Handling today’s problems well is the fastest way to build trust for open conversation tomorrow.

2. Define your company values

The clearer you are about your company’s values, the easier it is for everyone to be guided by those values.

Everyone in your organisation should be able to express your values statement — not because they have been made to memorise it but because it’s a meaningful part of your culture.

Help make this a reality by turning abstract ideas into something more concrete. Talk about your values. Discuss what ideas like integrity, teamwork, or fairness mean to you. How do you recognise them? How can you embody them?

Having a set of values that everyone understands helps make sure that your entire team is on the same page and pulling together to achieve the same goals.

3. Hire according to these values

Everyone in your organisation contributes to your culture, so make sure that your new hires will be bringing the right mindset and values with them.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a variety of voices and different backgrounds. Far from it. We shouldn’t allow our culture of unity to become a hotbed for groupthink. Our aim is to hire diverse voices who all support our overall goal.

Avoid discrimination by hiring for culture growth rather than culture fit. Rather than asking whether someone will fit easily into your team (which can promote ‘like me’ hiring and reinforce stereotypes), give candidates the chance to show what they will add to your culture.

Discuss your values with prospective new hires. Ask questions about how they understand your mission and find out where they see room for growth. The best candidates will engage with these ideas and want to be an active part of creating a great workplace culture.

4. Put the spotlight on employee success

A great team celebrates together.

A good manager highlights the ways in which individuals have contributed to the success of projects and uses those moments to reinforce team values and unity.

Be liberal in your praise when things are going well. Talk about how their success empowers the rest of the team and/or relates to your company’s values.

Remember — the little things really do matter. Make a point of thanking team members for the little things they do every day to facilitate the smooth functioning of the team, such as staying late to finish a task that might otherwise delay a colleague.

And always share your limelight. Praise from senior management or clients doesn’t always filter down to the staff on the ground. Get used to phrases such as “it was a team effort”, “I couldn’t have done it without…”, and “my team really pulled together to get this done”.

5. Assume ownership

It’s important to share our successes, but that doesn’t mean we should also pass the buck with responsibility. When things go wrong, the best thing for team unity is to take responsibility for any errors.

Failure isn’t the time to point fingers and assign blame. It’s a chance to show your team that they can rely on you to protect them and for all of you to learn and grow.

Ownership of mistakes can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Nobody is perfect and instead of viewing a mistake or slip-up as a failure, embrace it as an opportunity for growth.

Taking ownership of any failings gives your employees the psychological safety they need to examine mistakes and learn from them. This encourages them to be more open, honest, and confident.

If you want help in building unity in your team  drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call on 0203 627 7048.

Have you got the MAGIC touch?

Have you got the MAGIC touch?

Here at HRHub towers, we’ve long believed that great HR can scale your business and over the past few years we’ve worked with over 250 companies to do just that. So we have been working out how to distil our knowledge and experience down to share with others in an easy way.

Our MAGIC Scorecard will help you identify some key areas to focus on if you’re serious about your team’s success.

Everyone has the capacity to inject some MAGIC into their team and be on the road to success. So if you’re setting out your plans for next year try our new easy tool to help identify any gaps.

Whats your MAGIC Score?

Distilled from over 20 years plus experience of working with fast growth and successful businesses, we’ve summarised 5 key areas which will help boost a companies chance of success whilst growing:

  • Meaning: Everyone goes into business for a reason. What’s yours? And how does this comes across to your team? Your purpose, vision and values are all critical to how teams feel about their work. 
  • Accountability: Accountability leads to a strong culture of trust & engagement in business.  It’s therefore key that all team members are clear on ownership & responsibilities in order to achieve this.
  • Growth: No-one wants to stagnate & development is a core need we all share as human. Personal growth is a key  driver of motivation and engagement for team members, which will in turn help your business grow.
  • Inclusion: Having a strong culture of diversity, equality and inclusion is essential in any successful business. It creates a myriad of benefits, including increased creativity, happiness and (ultimately) greater revenues.
  • Care: Everyone wants to feel valued in life and showing care and interest in the wellbeing of your team ensures this as well as leading to a healthier, happier workforce.

This scorecard has been developed to quickly and painlessly produce a score based on your answers. In under 2 minutes you will generate results with tailored tips on how to create the MAGIC in your HR practices.

No gimmicks, no time-wasting, just some simple yes/no questions to set you off on your personal growth journey!

Drop us a line via hello@thehrhub.co.uk, give us a call on 0203 6277048 or pop in a diary meeting in here

Scrapbooks and Stats

Scrapbooks and Stats

Sorting out some boxes in our attic the other day, I came across a couple of scrapbooks I’d been encouraged to fill when on Summer holidays as a child. Amazed that these were still intact, I browsed through the first one and was transported back to ’84 immediately via fuzzy photos of the Epcot Centre, tickets to attractions that are faded beyond recognition, a Mickey Mouse sticker and many (many,…too many!) different-yet-all-slightly-out-of-focus shots of my family on a miscellaneous beach in Florida. It was clear this was my first Summer let loose with film….

I didn’t capture all that we did that Summer in the book of course, but the essence of what a fabulous time we’d had was unlocked as soon as I looked through it (together memories of some epic fights I’d also had with my siblings over Pacman scores too) and it reminded me how lovely it can be to have such a chaotic way to capture a period of time. Sadly, I didn’t keep it up for much more than a couple of Summers, however it certainly brought on a flurry of  hastily downloading and creating photobooks (so much more reliable than an old pritt stick!) from my phone to keep more recent memories alive.

“Some” might say that a post like this belongs in the ‘back to school’ category of early August (and it may be that I’ve broken some unspoken Marketing Calendar rulebook – whoops!) however in the HR Hub world ‘Summer’ breaks are never just confined to July and August and the rolling nature of them are an essential part of what energises us throughout the year. Cue my first attempt above to capture some of what we as a team have been up to!

This Summer our relay of HR Hub team breaks (so far – still a few to go) has taken us to Athens, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Athens again , the Canary Islands and then most recently, mainland Spain again. Oh, and let’s not forget Suffolk & the South Downs too: bathed in glorious sunshine, the likes of which England hasn’t seen in years.  In short, we do holidays as well as we do HR!

During these times, we’ve been swimming, cooking, done some epic walks, paddle-boarding, sailing, not to mention indulging in food, friendship and family along the way. And of course, let’s not forget the spot or two of reflection that comes with the territory of such downtime ….

I know that I’m not alone in the fact that a change of environment and a break from a ‘typical working’ day is always a trigger to start thinking about what I’ve done or not done in the last few months or year. And whilst I’d be lying if I said that there was no negative self talk at all (beating myself up about not doing everything on my ‘list’ is a ritual and activity which has always featured….) , over the years I’ve taught myself to minimise the ruminations and instead think about the steps forward we’ve taken, the impact we’ve had and what myriad of fun plans may take shape in the future. It’a a great way to recognise progress and spur yourself on.

This year I reached the positive stage pretty quickly however, because despite needing a new code for the team in our time tracking to show ‘getting your passport stamped’, during this same time period we’ve delivered some fabulous programmes for our clients, making it one of our busiest (and most enjoyable) Summers ever at HR Hub towers.

I often describe HR as a ‘bit like being a GP’, however the following categories describe just how varied some of the help we’ve provided to our clients:

  • Supported our client’s expand by hiring numerous roles end to end across functions as broad as Finance, Development, SEO, Account Management, Sales, Data and People functions
  • Upgrading the onboarding experience for new hires 
  • Increasing personal and management skills through, training and coaching to multiple clients reaching hundreds of teams across subjects as diverse as new manager ‘bootcamp’ training,  courageous conversations, setting direction, creating a culture of inclusion, financial wellbeing and general mental health to name a few 
  • Undertaking successful due diligence & compliance work for those clients acquiring funding (yep – there’s still a lot of it about despite what you might read this week!) 
  • Resolving multiple concerns team members and managers have had about their work environment, roles and relationships and setting them on a path which is much more constructive
  • And last but by no means least….building confidence in leaders to create their own version of magic in their teams through 1-2-1 support, advice and discussions.

Reflecting on all our delivery these last few months,  we’ve definitely managed to pack in a lot! And whether it’s training or trekking, the stats we’ve collected over the last few months are incredibly motivating in terms of recognising progress. I’m immensely proud of our team for supporting each other and our clients to find the right balance for them. 

If you want to create great memories with your team and could do with a little help and support as you grow and thrive, drop us a line  hello@thehrhub.co.uk, give us a call on 0203 6277048 or pop in a diary time here.