At this time of year our helpdesk always gets busier. Here are some tips taken from all the queries we have answered in December for the past 3 years.

H – Holiday rules. We get lots of questions about this. The main issues are Annual leave entitlements, Employees fighting over holiday dates and Holiday approval disputes. All much more easily resolved if you have a clear policy and HR system in place to manage it. Harassment claims do rear their heads around now and are to be treated seriously.

A – Arguments just seem to increase about now. Do try and resolve informally and listen to both parties. A is also for Adults and that is generally how we want people to behave; but if you feel further investigation is needed, do one. Alcohol is something that needs managing especially if you are offering it to your staff. Provide alternatives as well and food to soak it up.

P – Pregnancy is wonderful! It leads to the creation of little humans and is to be celebrated regardless of gender. Take a festive look at your parental policies.  P is also for Promotion. Remember that a talented employee remains talented regardless of any assumption you might make about their ambitions because they are about to become a parent.

P – PARTY TIME!  Christmas party for the office can be lots of fun but also might cause a few problems; also, from the effects of attending too many! Decide what your approach is going to be by the culture you want to create.

Y – Young People under 25 are often in need of a bit more guidance at this time of year.  Unplanned absence is often a problem. Help them understand what is OK and what they must avoid.

C – Coughs and colds are rife. There are a lot of germs around at this time of year so manage absence according to any policy you have but remember no-one can prevent the lurgy. Having the goodwill of your staff is everything but so is being fair and consistent.

H – Home is a good place to be and fine for staff to be based there or work remotely. Think about whether this could become more of a thing for you in 2020. In a positive way rather than putting energy into stopping it.

R – Reward time for all that hard work. It’s the season of good will so thank whoever has helped you. Don’t forget the contractors and consultants. Everyone is a worker in your business. Resolutions to make changes at work often happen about now. Make sure you go one step further and get a plan in place.

I – Icy outside so take care and make sure avoid anyone having an accident on your premises. However, don’t stray into giving staff too much advice about how to handle ice and snow.  Other than to enjoy it! Decide what your position is if there is a snow day before you have a snow day! I is also for Image.

S –  Self-care is king. If you feel someone is frazzled or stressed and hasn’t booked holiday or isn’t looking after themselves intervene! Great companies help their staff. S is also for Stay interviews. The opposite of Exit Interviews. Do these for the people you want to keep whilst you still have them. Shutting the door after the horse is bolted is not where you want to be. To be called in and told you are part of the future is powerful.

T – Tribunals are actually quite rare. Don’t overreact if someone mentions one. It’s to trigger you into offering a settlement often. Just take good advice from a professional that doesn’t benefit from going to an ET, follow a process, know your rights and obligations.

M – Mince pies are delicious. However every day from now until Christmas Eve might just be making your workforce feel slow sluggish. Get the Satsumas in!

A – Ameliorate –meaning ‘to better or improve’ your performance review process. Lots of tech solutions out there but often un-needed. Just think about how you can have regular supportive conversations with your teams. That are two way.

S – SAR’s requests. Sorry but they spring up like mushrooms at this time of year. Often deliberately timed to run over the Christmas period. Don’t panic – you can ask for an extension but also, we really like this company who can help the process. It’s the redaction and GDPR that take time. S is also for Single. Remember that some staff struggle at this time of year which is very geared towards couple and families.

If you would like to find out more about subscribing to the Amelore HR Helpdesk for unlimited access to HR support, please email us at





Performance Management in 2017

Companies Must Become Active and Responsive – interacting with everyone working in their company.

Today’s workers expect change. Constantly. And feedback. Specifically, they expect to have the ability to change their goals as business and their own needs change. They also expect to make changes using technology. And any technology solution should mirror the experience they have in their personal lives – it should be intuitive, responsive, relevant, and immediate.

Not only should any technology be up-to-date, it needs to provide immediate feedback.

For example, when you deposit a cheque using your banking app, it tells you immediately whether that transaction was successful. Same when you purchase something using your tablet.

The modern workforce wants that type of feedback about their performance because they have choices to make about their careers and they know it.

Regular performance feedback isn’t a Millennial thing. Every employee wants to know where they stand; what their future is; if you rate them and what for; what the niggles and opportunities and challenges are. Don’t wait until they have resigned to tell them you saw them as a future Director. It will ring hollow no matter how sincere.

Likewise any feedback does not and should not exclude contractors, consultants and other individuals working with the company.  Today’s workforce is flexible moving very between employment and self employment to suit them. Don’t miss out on interacting with everyone that is working for you.

Active Performance Management enhances the Modern Workplace

Any Active Performance Management solution should take the best of the traditional performance management process and combine it with the needs of today’s workforce. It provides a structure that managers and employees want so the process remains fair. It can also include the documentation aspect necessary to support job changes and promotions.

By making the process technology driven, it can take the traditional performance management one step further and facilitate real-time feedback conversations that employees want to move to the forefront. It can also utilise downtime.

Real-time feedback piece is so important to everyone that wants and values it. Waiting once a year (for a performance review) doesn’t work. It’s time to move to real-time system for performance, with frequent touch points between the manager/client and employee or worker.

5 Key Elements of Active Performance Management (APM)

2017 is the right time to introduce active performance management. There are four key elements to changing current performance management processes.

  • Regular performance conversations. Most organisations have some mechanism in place requiring managers and employees to meet once or twice a year. With active performance management, employees and managers meet more often. The timeliness of performance feedback helps the employee perform at a higher level.
  • Peer-based feedback. In addition to increased manager feedback, employees learn how to provide each other with performance feedback. This can be just as valuable – if not more so – than manager feedback. Employees collaborate with different colleagues every day and need positive working relationships with their peers.
  • Focus on current and future projects. More frequent performance conversations mean less time is spent rehashing old behaviour. Workers and managers already know what happened in the past. The conversations are spent on future performance, talking about how to accomplish goals.
  • Development at every level. Every worker becomes skilled in delivering performance-related feedback. This helps them take ownership of their career development.
  • Looking to the future – The elephant in the room is often that both sides know that to truly realise ambitions the individual may not stay in the same place until retirement. Working in a new way means such ambitions can be captured and companies can stay in touch with their future talent even if they aren’t currently working for them.

When you implement active performance management into an organisation you may wish to phase-in different key elements.

Phased implementations can be very successful and embed ways of working firmly. Performance Management facilitated by technology will allow the flexibility to introduce the entire process or each piece separately.

Active Performance Management Leads to Talent Activation

Organisations must create processes that result in having the best talent in the right positions. Those processes need to include creating an environment where all their workers (current, future and past) feel empowered to ask for and give feedback and that any training/development they need to be available in a timely manner.

When employees are engaged with their work, their performance improves and organisations begin to set the pace rather than react to the pace of the market.

We all understand the opportunity cost of not being agile in business. Think of companies like Uber, Airbnb, and the new Amazon app-based grocery stores. These companies shouldn’t have been able to disrupt the way that they did had “legacy” brands kept up with or innovated within their respective spaces. Increased agility enables organizations to increase the speed at which they conduct business and innovate, which improves the bottom-line.


Taking people costs out of your business

January is the perfect time to start thinking about how you’ll reduce costs and achieve growth in the year ahead.

In difficult trading conditions, companies often jump straight in and make redundancies when a prudent review with an experienced eye would reveal significant savings and avoid such drastic action.

In our latest blog, we look at where savings can be made. If you’re interested in a review of your organisation’s people costs and growth potential, get in touch.


Here are some typical areas where costs can be shaved.

Administration – if you still have manual systems requiring data entry you are costing yourself money.  It is worth investing in a good self service system that links directly to payroll. Likewise administrators will always ensure they have enough work. Consider outsourcing administration to a third party or removing it all together.

Appraisals – So many businesses still have clunky manual appraisal systems eating up time, money and morale – rarely are they the performance driver some HR professionals would claim they should be.  There are much more cost effective alternatives. Make sure you know about them!

Employee Benefits – It’s always important to review the cost of employee benefits annually and look at alternatives. If your business has grown since you first chose a provider, you may have more bargaining power for a better deal.  Consider removing benefits and replacing them. Ask your staff what they would appreciate from you.

Terms and conditions – If you have made your benefits contractual, re-negotiate contracts with staff to give yourself flexibility again. Take the opportunity to look at the  hours your staff work, how much holiday they are entitled to and the terms of your sickness absence policy and procedure compared to reality (i.e. many companies have contracts saying they only pay SSP yet they regularly pay staff in full when they are off sick).

TUPE staff – Since the change in TUPE regulations in January 2014, it is now possible for employers not to have to honour so called static terms negotiated by collective bargaining. This is particularly relevant if you have taken staff from a public sector environment.

Equally if the economic trading environment you are operating in requires you to harmonise terms and conditions to avoid making redundancies you should do this.  Take care to ensure it is not seen as directly connected to the TUPE transfer.

Salaries – Make sure you are fully informed about the market rate for key roles in your organisation.  It’s absolutely fine to pay over the odds or a premium for someone that will be key to your business but do this too often and you will become uncompetitive.  Remember that recruitment agencies have a vested interest in pushing up salaries so make sure you are independently informed.

Recruitment – If you are fast growing, recruitment can become a big part of your people costs.  Are you paying out recruitment fees to a variety of agencies or have you negotiated a good rate with a few.  Would an in-house resourcing specialist be better for you.  Advertising directly via Indeed and Linkedin can provide good results. So can using university careers services for graduate level positions.

Overtime – If overtime is habitual it makes sense to incorporate into the individual’s salary and remove the entitlement. Take care to go for an average figure to ensure you make some savings.

Bonus – Bonus payments can be a great incentive when things are going well and targets are met.  However if you don’t have the results don’t pay them to avoid your staff feeling upset.  Make sure you have communicated with them about this and consider an alternative to soften the blow.

Review Flexible working – This can be a great way to hire and retain talented staff that want to work in a flexible way, often part-time or remotely.

However if your business has too many people working part-time and you are having to double up on costs to ensure the smooth running, you can review this and restructure.

Part time staff and holidays – Make sure that part time staff have pro rata and not full time holiday entitlements.

Managing poor performance – Let’s throw in a nice controversial one.  It is never ever cost effective to try and manage poor performance.  Especially at senior levels. It is actually much kinder to agree a settlement and move on.  Clearly in unionised environments or in large organisations there will be long winded policies to manage capability.  Our advice is to cut through this and reach an agreement.

Employees v freelance staff/outsourcing – The living wage is coming in as is auto enrolment making staff more expensive. Employers are increasingly use freelancers or outsourcing specific functions or tasks. Often things can be done quicker and more effective with freelancer or outsourced staff working along side in-house staff.  Consider whether this option is a route you should be considering.

Risk adverse HR advice – This will without doubt be the most expensive people cost in your business.  If you feel you are getting this, get a second opinion and compare and contrast.

Amelore can provide a complete review of your HR, people and employee admin costs. Contact us…….

Coaching, a strategy for goals and personal growth.

Why work with a coach?

Coaching is an area of our business that is really growing. It’s something that I personally do more and more and really enjoy. With careers become more fluid and individuals running portfolios, aspiring to self employment or considering radical changes, the timing has never been better to work with a coach.

In the sports world an athlete doesn’t get to the top of their profession without the guidance and support of a coach. Without a coach they would not be at the peak of their performance, achieve the goals they set themselves and gain the success they so badly want.

Whatever your ambitions, be they running your own business, wanting to progress in your career or achieve a happy work-life balance we know that:

  • If you commit your goals to writing you are 40% more likely to achieve them.
  • If you tell someone else you are 60% more likely to achieve them.
  • If you have a coach you are 95% more likely to achieve your goals.

Coaching can come in many forms – but a coach is someone who will enable you to improve, motivate you and hold you accountable to set and achieve your goals, enabling your personal growth. When we ask people about personal growth it is often something they abandoned long ago as other responsibilities crept into their lives. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Some of the positive benefits of working with a coach are:

  • Time to focus on YOU and what you want to achieve.
  • Achieve greater results in less time.
  • Someone to challenge, motivate and support you.
  • Enable you to come up with a fresh approach to an old problem.
  • A safe supportive environment to discuss your issues and test out your ideas.
  • Your personal development mentor.
  • Give you accountability and commitment.
  • Create an action plan and support you in achieving it.
  • Someone to provide unconditional support and praise or give constructive feedback.

Coaches provide:

  • Regular focus, motivation and make you clearly accountable
  • An objective impartial point of view.  Unlike your friends, partner, family, work colleagues or boss.
  • A different perspective – allowing you to step back and take a fresh look at things.
  • A safe environment in which to talk through your challenges and issues.
  • Questions that will uncover the source of any problem or blockage.
  • Identify what is really important for you.
  • Challenge – to stretch you and nudge you out your comfort zone.
  • A sounding board for your ideas.

The future of work – HR implications

Last week it was a pleasure to speak at an event organised by YunoJuno (a freelance resourcing company) about the future of work and HR implications.

It’s a hugely exciting topic and the audience which was predominantly start ups and fast growth businesses were great.

Here are some of the key messages from the night together with a few things I didn’t get time to say.

Conventional HR doesn’t work for dynamic tech companies.

Amelore worked with in the early days when it was just an amazing idea and later when it was an amazing profitable company and later still as it became a household name. People were a huge issue. Who to hire and occasionally who to fire. What structure, what skill sets were needed as the product range and services grew. When they moved over the rubyonrails that had significant implications for recruitment and how you managed tech folk along side everyone else (answer – you don’t manage them you guide them).

HR had a huge role to play in supporting the founders grow and develop with their business. Everything happened very fast and working in a pacey agile way was key. And always saying yes we can do that.

Workforce is changing, people are working in different ways and value work-life balance. More working longer.

We know that people entering the workforce or at different stages of their careers, want more choice about what they do and when. The removal of statutory retirement means some individuals are thinking actively about careers that they can continue with into their 60’s and beyond. Consultancy and coaching are good examples.

Flexible working is no longer just an option for those with caring responsibilities. More and more people are going freelance.

Technology being used more and more (though not in HR)

Technology is here to stay and is everywhere you look. But most HR departments will focus any effort and budget on HR databases that require lots of feeding. Much documentation is still hard copy and not automated. Identifying and investing in the right systems is important.

Organisations are increasingly using flexible labour

Freelancers are increasingly being used by companies that want to hire specialist skills for a period of time or for a particular project. Peopleperhour estimate that by 2020 upto 50/% of the workforce could be freelance.

Many organisations are paring down or closing their HR departments to use skilled innovative external support when they need it. Many HR professionals traditionally just focus on employees, employment legislation and contractual terms whereas they should be creating an environment and culture that means that is easy for everyone to settle in.

The 5 key things ALL workers need are similar to anyone playing a game.

  1. clear goals
  2. obvious rules
  3. room to manoeuvre
  4. information transparency
  5. real-time feedbackCompany structures are getting flatter

Start ups and growing business tend to have a team with a leader or a few partners and then a workforce. Introducing conventional HR tools like appraisals can create a burden for the 1 or 2 people leading having to appraise everyone.

Our education system is not producing the skills employers need or giving good careers advice

Employers are delighted about the IT skills of those entering the workforce but less so the appitude and attitude of some employees who lack initative. Whilst careers advice can be quite progressive at university level it is severely lacking much earlier on (aged 13/14 yrs) when young people are making important choices and almost exclusively led by educators and not employers.

 Implications for the HR profession

As the world of work changes so must HR.

A venture capitalist shared recently that when she invested in a company, she always advised the CEO that they must spend about 90% of their focus in the first year on people issues. But she said she would never advise them to hire an HR Director because rather than giving them competitive advantage by helping them make quick decisions, she feared they would slow everything down and cripple the business with policies and processes and rules and regulations.


In a flat structure with a mixture of employees and freelancers, how do you ensure your reward strategy retains all your valuable workers? What else will you offer and will this be available to everyone that works for you or just those with employment contracts? Many companies are still talking about employee engagement which immediately excludes your flexible workforce.

Career progression

In a high tech or fast growing environment flatter structures mean less space for promotion. Even though their remuneration and skill set are progressing, individuals still aspire to that traditional recognition that they are valued. Important to address this with some new and creative thinking unique to your business.


As we work longer, produce more, expect more – we can burn out. Creating space in your organisation for all your workers to think, to grow, to develop, to innovate and be creative is hugely important for your competitive advantage.

Recruiting & developing the workforce of tomorrow

Careers advice is still led by the educators whose skills set is education. Employers especially smaller ones tend to feel that any activity to guide and develop career choices is wasted however if every employer undertook to influence the careers choice of students in schools or colleges close to them that would have a huge impact on career choices. Corporate career responsibility has a big role to play in inspiring, recruiting and developing the workforce of tomorrow. Who may not all want or need to go to university.

Performance management

At Amelore we have been doing some of our own independent research into the cost and effectiveness of appraisal systems. One organisation with 400 employees is spending approximately 750k on conducting them each year. Hard to quantify the ROI. We think appraisals have had their day for a variety of reasons. They exclude anyone that is not an employee. Most staff don’t value them. Most managers don’t feel they have the times or the skills set to do them properly. If there is an issue people tend not to give honbest feedback or ignore it all together. And most importantly most HR professionals know they don’t work. Many large corporates including Accenture and Deloittes are dropping them in favour of alternatives.

So we firmly recommend you stop appraising and start ameliorating!

And finally

So, be you a business leader or a professional, let me leave you with this thought…

How much of the HR/People related activity in your organisation is focused on things going right rather than things going wrong?

How much of that activity is spent on the majority of your workforce rather than a small minority?

Will that continued focus make you more profitable and competitive? If the answer is no – why are you doing it? Would this focus be acceptable in other departments?

Remember that the definition of madness is continuing the same patterns of behavior but expecting things to turn out differently.


Wake up more self disciplined… here’s how

Self discipline is a topic that comes up time and time again for me. Personally and with our clients. Particularly at this time of year when the children are off school and I want to manage my time in terms of how I can fit more in, still see them and get everything done that needs my attention. I know that I am better when in a routine and this time of year, that routine is thrown a bit.

Self discipline is often a topic that comes up in coaching or as a training request – though it’s usually called Time management or Personal organisation.

jimmy-edwardsAnd actually it is not that complicated. Self-discipline is nothing more than a.  It is your ability to self manage your own thoughts and actions, regardless of your emotional state.  And it is something that EVERY successful person on this planet has had to develop at some point.

Just imagine for a second that your mind is like an untrained dog on a lead.  Even though you may be holding the lead and you ‘feel’ like you have control, you will quickly realise how wild and unruly an untrained dog is… He will end up dragging YOU along, going wherever he’d like to go without any regard or concern for anyone else around him.  The dog will just impulsively go where he wants…

The untrained mind acts the exact same way.  Our minds will habitually seek out pleasurable experiences, avoid uncomfortable situations, and continually ‘trick’ us into giving it what it wants.  If we don’t learn to train the mind, the mind will always have control over us… We will fall into the trap of living life on a lead and not achieve our full potential.

A trained mind is essential for anyone who is looking to grow and become a more effective, more powerful human being.  And I’ll be the first to admit… I wasn’t born with a whole lot of self discipline.  It’s something that I’ve had to consciously develop and work on for quite some time now.  But my lack of self-discipline really became apparent when I entered into the world of entrepreneurship.

As an entrepreneur, I had no one telling me what to do, when to do it, or how to structure my workday.  I was completely on my own, I had no one looking over my shoulder, and I was accountable to no one but myself.  This was a major challenge for me because I was used to the discipline of working in a large corporate organisation and having a managed diary and day with a big team to do things. Over time, I have had to learn this skill of self discipline… It’s not always an easy one, but it is absolutely necessary.  Without self discipline, there is no structure, no routine, no habits… And success is ultimately a HABIT.

Become a conscious observer of your thoughts

First and foremost, you have to learn the skill of mind observation.  Most people are so consumed by the thoughts in their head, that they don’t even question them!  They take everything to be true and let the ‘untrained dog’ blindly lead them.  So it’s critical that you create some space between your thoughts and the observation of your thoughts.  Spend some time observing your mind. You can take mental notes or even keep record with a journal, but just make it a point to start observing your thoughts throughout the day.

What you will most likely find is that your mind is quite unruly!  It is constantly jumping around from one thought to the next, and most of the thoughts that go through the mind are not even based in reality.  The mind will seek to ‘get what it wants’ at any cost.  When you learn to observe your thoughts, you will learn to take a bit of space before you automatically and unconsciously go along with the whims of your mind.  You begin to become the observer of your mind.  And from this place, you can start the practice of self discipline.

Create A Routine

Having a daily routine is a fundamental part of self discipline.  This will lay the groundwork and create the infrastructure for massive productivity.  When I get up in the morning, I make a cup of tea and take the dog for a walk to clear my head and plan the day ahead. If I am back before the family are up I sit down to work for a bit. Often I draft a blog entry or tweak our business plan. After that, I feel energized and ready to start my work day.  This morning routine definitely helps me to start my day on the right track… And the days where this doesn’t happen, I feel a lot less organised and less productive.  Having a daily routine is like driving with Satnav… You know exactly where to go!

Create A To-Do List

Being an entrepreneur can get quite distracting sometimes… With all of the information and entertainment out there on the web, it can be easy to get distracted and completely off track.  This has happened to me numerous times… I’ll sit down to get some work done and before I know it, I’ve just spent hours responding to emails (other peoples priorities) and web surfing!  So a great idea for cultivating more discipline throughout your work day is creating a to-do list.  Start with the most important or most difficult activities first and check them off as you go.  This will give you some clear direction and keep your level of productivity high.

Delayed Gratification

One of the best practices for self discipline is delayed gratification.  As children, we are taught to finish our chores and homework BEFORE we can go out and play.  This same practice is incredibly effective for adults, too.  Make it a point to reward yourself after a productive work day.  You can pour a glass of wine, sit down with your favorite book, go out for a nice meal, or any other pleasurable activity that you enjoy.  Just make sure you reward yourself AFTER you get your work done and only then.

Set Clearly Defined Goals with Deadlines

Initially you need to be very clear about why you want to become more self disciplined in the first place. What is your ultimate goal to which you are devoting your working life. Once you have that I would suggest starting out by creating a goal for the next 90 days.  After that’s clearly defined, create a goal for the next 7 days… And then you can start setting very small, daily goals that go along with your to-do list.  Review your goals everyday and this will keep you on the right track.

Persistence and Consistency

It’s not enough to practice self discipline one day and then forget about it the next.  You have to stay consistent and make it a daily priority.  Stay consistent for 30-60 days and your perseverance will transform into a habit.  Once you consciously create an engrained habit, it will become so much easier for you to practice self-discipline…. It’ll just feel natural.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on the path towards true effectiveness, productivity, and success.  When you train your mind and train your actions, you can then honestly say that you are ‘your own boss’!  No one else can be your internal manager but you…even if you have a manager, he or she won’t have the time to get too involved in your work. So it’s your responsibility to step up to the plate and train yourself to become the empowered and successful person you know you can be!