Looking to recruit high quality staff but not succeeding?

Despite the looming shadow of Brexit, many UK organisations are still recruiting – albeit on a temporary rather than permanent basis.  Many industry sectors are reporting that it is still difficult to find the right candidates with the right skills and experience, despite the fact that many people are out there searching for new roles right now; myself included.

Is it a matter of the right skills not being out there in the job hunting population or is something else at play?  Here are a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean….

A friend, J, is looking for a new role and career change.  Knowing this he is prepared to take entry level role with the right organisation as long as it gives him what he’s looking for.  J likes being outside, getting up early and working autonomously – he thinks that being a Postman is just the new career for him.  Then he tries to apply for a role with Royal Mail….. To cut a long and painful story short, J’s “candidate experience” is a very negative one.

Why, you may ask?  This should give you a flavour and is not unique to the Royal Mail:

Applications have to be made via an online recruitment portal, which requires you to register, fill in your personal details and to complete an online assessment.  Easier said than done…. J is fairly computer literate and his brother is an “expert” – they try and fail several times to register a basic application.  There is no phone number, email address or help option for him or other applicants to help them with this labyrinthine application process.

If J wasn’t so keen he would give up now. Other suitable applicants may not have the “IT savvy” or the perseverance, so Royal Mail is losing out on a potentially large candidate pool. (how IT savvy do you need to be a Postman anyway?)

  • Where there are multiple vacancies, perhaps with a minor change such as working hours / days or work base, J has to apply separately for each. Each time he applies for a role he has to do the exactly same online assessment again and again.  Frustrating, a waste of his and the Royal Mail’s time (and money?) and it undermines the validity of the assessment. (practise makes perfect – so repeating the test and getting the feedback means you can easily boost your scores).
  • J finally manages to get an application registered and waits to hear. And waits…. And waits. The closing date has been and gone, and despite being told to check his “portal” for progress / an update, there is none.  There is no phone number or email address for him to chase this up so he has to decide whether he waits any longer.  He’s been invited to attend another interview for a different role – so perhaps he’ll just go with that one instead.

I can echo similar experiences to J’s and can add to the what not to do list further:

  • I have a non-standard address and post code – the computer says “no” to allowing me to progress my application. Now what – make one up? (easier said than done)
  • The salary and the exact work location are a mystery. How do I know if the role is paying enough for my needs and am I able / willing to work in that location? (client confidentiality is not an excuse!)  Should I bother to apply?
  • Do I really want to spend hours filling in a very detailed online application form when the majority of this information is on my CV? Can’t I just upload my CV and add in the missing bits?  Also – I can’t save my application part way through – it’s all in one go or nothing.  I don’t have 2 uninterrupted hours available so perhaps I won’t bother….
  • The recruitment portal promises to save my details for next time, should I apply for other roles with the organisation. It doesn’t….  I have to start again if I want to make another application  – do I want to go through that pain again?

So in summary, many of the issues that are putting people off seem to be due to overly automated process with no “human touch”.  Theoretically going for an automated, standardised recruitment portal should make recruitment slicker, cheaper and easier for your organisation – but what about for the candidates?  The initial impression they get from your recruitment system can be extremely negative and it means you have lost them before you even know about them. Employee branding, good PR, your employer reputation and your brand recognition / values aren’t going to change that.

Is it time for a rethink and change to your recruitment approach? We can help……..

www.amelore.com

Company mergers – creating one big, happy family?

 

mergeIn my HR “life” back in the UK, I often found myself providing advice on managing change, whether it be restructuring, TUPE transfers or subtler cultural change.  I now find myself on the other side of things, as Happy Holidays and one of their former competitors, Smiley Holidays, have both been acquired by a large French company.  While these purchases took place a while ago now, it is interesting to see how the changes have now started to trickle down to the staff (me!).

So, can these changes create one new, contented holiday company / family?  At the moment, the views of myself and colleagues are mixed – we’re not entirely convinced that things will be better, or even as good.  What could be done to change our minds and to keep us engaged and motivated?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

With any changes or takeovers there are always rumours about what will and won’t happen.  Clear, regular communication is key if you are to stop the rumour mill and keep staff feeling engaged, rather than worried for their jobs.  A monthly newsletter is better than nothing but it doesn’t really do all it needs to.  How about using social media and other forms of communication too?  – Especially if staff are based in multiple locations or work different shift patterns.  Certainly face-to-face updates and briefings tend to be the most popular method with staff themselves, so can this be done in any shape or form? (Skype, Facetime, podcasts etc)

  • It’s not all about structures…..

Most people tend to think of “change” as being about restructuring, but that isn’t always the case.  Yes, it can make sense to join up some teams and to make some efficiencies and savings while doing so, however, this shouldn’t be the knee jerk reaction.  If you are keen to keep current brand identities then you need to keep some differences in place, which means not merging and restructuring everything.  Be clear on what structures will change, why and when, so allowing other, not directly affected teams / departments to stop worrying about what might happen to them. (at least for now)  At least they can focus on their roles properly again and not be distracted or worried about what may lie ahead.

  • Timing is everything

Make sure you understand what the businesses do when and why.  Are there any critical or very busy times when it would be unwise to change things?  For example for Happy Holidays, changing all of the company mobile phones over to a new network provider with new phone numbers perhaps should have been done outside of the holiday season!  There would have been no customers in resort trying to call old numbers or not knowing about new numbers, and would have avoided a number of problems, upsets and complaints.

  • Who are we again?  What do we do?

Staff do identify with the organisation they work for and can often be surprisingly loyal to it.  Staff will feel that they have their “psychological contract” in place with their employer, as well as their actual employment contract.  Any change can potentially challenge the trust between employer and employee, and potentially sever the “psychological contract”.

It’s really important that staff can see and understand what the future holds and what will be changing. They can then choose whether they want to be part of this or not, and act accordingly.  This can include seemingly obvious things such as – are we still planning to deliver the same product(s) or service(s) to the same customer(s)?  Will we keep the same company values (eg. “green” or “ethical” commitments)?  Will I still wear the same uniform?  Will I still work in the same place?  Will I be working the same hours?  Things like this can really make a difference to someone deciding whether they will stay and go through the changes, or leave now to avoid them.

Even though this is about the two holiday companies I hope that the suggestions will be helpful for your business too.  If anyone from Happy Holidays is reading this, you know where I am and I’m more than willing to make this change a positive one!

www.amelore.com

Eu exit and the implications for your business

Following the unexpected confirmation of a “leave” vote, many businesses will already be turning their attention to what happens next?

The most important message is that the referendum result does not trigger any automatic legal changes; neither does the UK’s formal notification that it will be withdrawing from the EU.

The UK will continue to be a member of the EU for the time being, and the status and effect of all UK and EU law remains unchanged for now, and possibly for some time in the future.

Beyond that, however, much remains to be debated and negotiated – such as the shape of trading agreements between the UK and the EU, the status of EU-derived law, thorny issues such as acquired rights, and the UK’s relationships with non-EU states.

It’s still business as usual for a while – no immediate changes

Neither the referendum result nor the UK’s formal notification to the EU has any immediate legal effect. From a legal perspective, it will be ‘business as usual’, probably for some time to come.

  • The next step is for the UK to give formal notification to the EU of it’s intention to leave. This will start the withdrawal process, which must be concluded within two years unless an extension can be agreed (which requires the consent of all twenty-seven remaining Member States).
  • The future trading relationship between the UK and the EU could take one of a number of different forms; which form it takes will have significant implications in terms of the movement of goods, services, people and capital.
  • The UK will also need to undergo a major legislative project to identify which areas of EU-derived law will stay, which will be modified and which will no longer have effect in the UK.

Each of these processes is likely to involve much consultation with the UK public and industry. Businesses have an important part to play in shaping the environment that they will be trading in, domestically and cross-border.

Employment implications of Brexit for your business

UK employers are unlikely to see any large-scale changes to current employment law in the short-term as a result of the UK leaving the EU.  The UK’s on-going relationship with EU Member States, as well as our own workplace culture, is likely to demand that the UK retains many of the EU-derived laws that have already been incorporated into domestic legislation.

Free movement of workers within the EU

Now we’ve voted to leave the EU, the free movement of workers will certainly be affected. However, changes to legislation are likely to be gradual rather than immediate.

While in theory citizens of EU member states no longer enjoy the automatic right to work in the UK (and vice versa), this will form part of negotiations to establish the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU.

EU nationals already employed in the UK may already have acquired rights under UK legislation, depending on how long they’ve been here. It’s likely that many will be permitted to stay in return for a similar agreement for UK nationals currently employed in EU member states.

For prospective employees, however, it may be a different story. While it will still be possible to employ personnel from EU member states, there may be extra administrative costs to be factored in, such as visa applications. An EU employee’s capacity to remain long-term in the UK may also be affected.

There may also be limitations on the type of workers that will be allowed to seek employment in the UK. If we choose to follow a model more like the US or Australia, visas may only be granted for those in professions identified as having a particular need.

Other employment legislation changes

We also expect some piecemeal reform to specific areas of employment law, such as:

  • Clarification of the rules for calculating holiday pay and how holiday accrues during periods of long term sick leave, under the Working Time Regulations (WTR)1998.
  • There is on-going litigation regarding inconsistencies between the WTR and the EU Working Time Directive (which the WTR implements in the UK), creating wide-spread confusion for UK businesses and potentially significant accrued and on-going liabilities.
  • Whilst the UK government is unlikely to repeal current working time rules, it may well take the opportunity to clarify the rules around holiday pay and provide much needed guidance for employers.
  • Pro-business reform of agency worker rights, given the additional costs and complexities of engaging agency workers since the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which implement the Temporary Agency Work Directive.

Whilst the AWR gives agency workers limited equal treatment rights with comparable permanent employees from day one, following a 12-week period, an agency worker has a right to equal pay, working time and holiday with a comparable permanent employee. The extent of any reforms in this area will depend on the exit terms the government is able to negotiate.

KEY THINGS TO CONSIDER NOW

Understand the profile of your workforce. How many are EU citizens? How long have they lived in the UK? Do any have the right to a British passport that you can support?

If you are in a sector recruiting lots of EU nationals or likely to, consider accelerating any planned recruitment before changes are announced to the process. Much more likely that any existing arrangements will be allowed rather than unpicked.

If you are planning to expand into areas of Europe, familiarise yourself with local employment legislation and understand any opportunities to second staff from UK and vice versa.

If you would like to speak to an experienced employment advisor, please contact us.

www.amelore.com

 

M&A – Assessing People and Cultural Fit

So many factors contribute to success in merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions — and many involve getting the right people into the right jobs. Unless the deal involves nothing more than physical assets — which is the exception to the rule of acquisitions in today’s global business world — the acquirer will need talented, high-performing individuals at all levels in order for the deal to reach its full potential.

Consequently, it is critical to assess the target company’s human capital with the same rigor that is applied to the assessment of pension liabilities, inventories, financial statements, and other significant assets. If we agree that people are ultimately a company’s most valuable asset and largely responsible for income generation and revenue growth, identifying and managing people risks and opportunities usually account for the difference between M&A success and failure. In many cases, however, acquirers know very little about the human capital — at least not initially — that may soon be part of their corporate families.

M&A transactions always trigger decisions about individuals. A merger, for example, often produces redundancies; suddenly there are two CFOs, two HR Directors and so on. The question is: Who should go and who should stay (even if in a different role)? In an acquisition, the acquirer must determine whether incumbents from the target are the best people for the job, given the objectives of the new organisation. Talent assessment addresses this important issue.

For each key position, talent assessment aims to answer these questions:

  • Can this individual successfully achieve the business strategy?
  • Has he or she demonstrated leadership that produces results?
  • What is the employee’s industry-specific knowledge?
  • How well does this person manage relationships?
  • Will this individual be able to work within our culture effectively?
  • Does he or she develop the talents of key subordinates?
  • How long will this person stay and remain motivated?
  • Are there any reasons for concern about stability or volatility?

Pre-close pressure

Talent assessment can be completed at any time, but the more information an acquirer has before signing a letter of intent or closing the deal, the better. For many practical reasons, however, this almost never happens. Time is insufficient. Data from the target are spotty or unavailable. Or the target will not give access to its key people. As a result, a big part of talent assessment tends to be done after the closing, when the acquirer has full control.

Thus, organizations should do whatever they can to overcome these barriers as early in the deal as possible. While a full, formal assessment may not be possible in the early stages of a deal, many actions can be taken to begin the assessment process and get an early read on people and potential deal risks that allow for an early determination of whether to proceed with the deal or walk away.

These include observing behaviour during management presentations and meetings, reviewing CVs provided in the data room, conducting internet searches (or “desktop” research), and conducting informal operational or functional meetings as part of the due diligence process.

The target’s deal team can begin compiling a list of business, leadership, and other behavioural attributes that begin to tell the story of whether a key or critical employee will fit into the go-forward organisation or kill the deal.

The figure below describes the assessment approaches and tools that can be utilised for a systematised approach to talent assessment that will ensure thoroughness and save valuable time.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 16.58.11

In our experience, there are five steps in the process.

  1. Clarify the business imperative

Always begin with the objectives of the deal and expectations for the new organisation. Talent, after all, must be measured against its potential to fulfil those expectations. A clear understanding of business objectives should guide the assessment. For example, is quick turnaround of the business needed, are growth objectives very high, or is the acquisition in a stable environment that will need little change?

  1. Define the essential success criteria

The next task is to define the success criteria required by the business objectives. Those criteria typically involve skills, knowledge, behaviours, experience, values, and — for executives — leadership ability and strategic thinking.

For example, to fill the CEO position at a target company, it is important to determine:

  • The level and scope of experience required to successfully lead the organization, depending on its size and complexity.
  • The technical skill/industry knowledge required for success in this position.
  • The intensity of ambition, commitment, and personal interest a person must demonstrate in order to achieve the defined business objectives.
  • The balance of strategic and operational focus needed by the ideal leader.
  • The leadership style and fit with culture and core values

Culture is an important part of this step. The acquirer should define the workplace culture it wants its key people to embrace and demonstrate through their behaviour.

In many instances, acquirers want people whose values are compatible with their culture. They know that conflicting values will make for a bad corporate relationship and impair the deal.

  1. Develop role profiles

In this step, the assessment moves from the general to the specific, documenting the success criteria for each position in terms of job scope and responsibilities; required skills, know-how, and behaviours; and experience the ideal candidate brings to the table. Based on conversations with the acquiring company or hiring managers, the assessment team identifies the level of responsibility and job requirements for the target roles.

From this it identifies the requisite skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to carry out the role requirements to their fullest extent. In addition, the team examines what experiences have helped other successful individuals in the past that are relevant to the current situation. This enables the creation of a robust, defensible, and detailed description of the requirements of the target roles.

  1. Assess the talent pool

The first three steps set the stage for the detailed work that follows, gathering whatever relevant data are available on candidates for each key position. The goal is to give decision-makers the information they will need in selecting the best people for each role. These data are gathered by interviewing the board (in the case of CEO talent assessment), hiring managers, or others involved in the acquisition and by gathering any past performance information that is available.

For executive and director/manager positions, the typical selection criteria include leadership ability and leadership style, alignment with the culture of the new organization, potential for future personal development, cognitive ability, and motivation. For professional positions, selection criteria are more geared around specific skills and experience in the job; thus, assessment is heavily weighted toward professional competency, work history, past performance, and future skill-development potential.

  1. Review and select talent

The results of the assessment are presented in detailed reports to decision makers, who use them for review and selection. The quality and extensiveness of these results go a long way toward ensuring the full value of the deal.

CONCLUSION

Indeed, M&A transactions are full of risks and opportunities, and many of those reside in the target company’s human capital. Because of this, it is essential to thoroughly evaluate key and critical talent with focus, rigor, and honesty, beginning as soon as possible and continuing throughout the deal phases.

The consequences of getting people decisions wrong could be the difference between winning and losing in the marketplace — something no company should risk in today’s highly competitive market and volatile economic environment.

Strong HR in a High Growth Business

Research from the CIPD has shown that HR has a vital role to play in driving long-term performance in SMEs, whatever stage of growth the organisation is at, and whether or not it has a dedicated HR function.

The research report (Sustainable organisation performance through HR in SMEs published in 2013) identifies six key insights which can help HR managers – or those responsible for HR – anticipate and respond to the people-related challenges that will inevitably arise as the business grows.

Read on to see if these resonate in your business.

  1. Anticipation is key:  HR needs to have a clear understanding of where the business is headed.  They need to be deeply familiar with the strategy, vision and values, so that they can anticipate key stages of growth and transition and plan for any necessary shifts in the way HR challenges and processes are managed.
  1. Values and purpose should be the bedrock of the business.  One of the biggest challenges facing SMEs is how to retain the heady excitement and ‘family’ feel of the early days.  HR has an important role to play in preserving the vision of the founder or leader and embedding it in all aspects of people management.  Are people engaged with the overall purpose of the business and clear about how they fit into the bigger picture, for example?  If innovation and creativity are valued in the business, are there mechanisms in place to reward employees demonstrating these behaviours? Make sure HR processes are set up to reflect the way the business wants people to work on a day-to-day basis and are not time consuming or complicated.
  1. HR and business strategies need to be aligned.  In the early days, it can be difficult for HR to make itself heard in an SME.  Owner/managers often see it as something they ‘have to do’ rather than a strategic tool they can use to support business growth.  HR needs to work hard to demonstrate that well-thought out people processes can play an important part in building the high performance the business needs if it is to sustain long term growth.  Having up-to-the-minute information about everything from head count to available skill sets is a good way to build credibility and get your voice heard.
  1. Keep processes simple.  As an SME grows, it inevitably needs to move to a more structured approach and to introduce more formal people processes.   It’s important, however, to find the right balance between structure and fluidity so that agility and entrepreneurial spirit are not stifled or undermined by bureaucracy.  Many Office Managers given HR responsibility will implement inefficient and out of date practices due to lack of training or the desire to create a job for themselves. Many processes should become automated.

The latest HR software allows employees to access and update their own data – and makes it much easier for line managers to manage processes such as holidays and absence.  It cuts down on the paperwork, ensures consistency and makes HR processes simpler and more transparent.

  1. Strike the balance between preservation and evolution.  As the business grows, it’s important not to be sentimental about what has always been, and to let go of processes or aspects of the business culture that no longer support its vision or priorities.  In today’s environment, for example, highly formal team meetings are often giving way to more immediate and engaging forms of communication.  Likewise annual appraisal processes are increasingly being replaced with a constant feedback loop and a greater focus on career development. SMART objectives are now seen as a bit silly.
  1. Lay the foundations for the future.  In a busy SME, it can sometimes be difficult to see beyond the immediate operational issues.  HR people in small businesses often find themselves caught up in a relentless cycle of recruitment as the company grows, and barely have time to lift their heads to look at what strategies they should be putting in place to prepare for the future.  Make sure you are not getting so caught up in short term solutions that you are missing golden opportunities to support longer term goals. Sow now what you later want to reap.

The way forward

What HR strategies are you employing to support growth in your SME?  How do you manage to make time for the strategic issues? How scalable are your current practices if you continue to grow at the rate you have?

If you are planning a lot of recruitment when did you last review your recruitment and attraction practices, your employee benefits package, how you manage talent?  No point in putting lots of effort into recruitment if you have a revolving door straight back out to your competitors. Both expensive and a waste of your time.

Whilst your business may not need a full-time senior HR practitioner, working with someone flexibly to help set the direction internally and pin down your strategy for how you handle the people side of the business just makes good business sense.

More about the Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill 2015-16, which is currently working its way through parliament, is intended to clamp down on illegal immigration, tackle the exploitation of low-skilled workers and punish those that facilitate this exploitation. Small business owners need to be alert to developments in order to avoid severe punishment heavy fines.

While employers are already required to prevent illegal working in the UK by carrying out relevant document checks in accordance with guidance from the Home Office, the new Bill will provide immigration enforcement officers with considerable more powers and also increase the penalties handed out to businesses who fall foul of the law. The government already publishes lists of companies that are served civil penalty notices, thereby ensuring maximum damage in both monetary and reputational terms.

Small firms and startups that employ a considerable proportion of low-skilled workers, for example retailers, independent hotels, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops etc. should start preparing now because the repercussions of failing to ensure that there are no illegal immigrants amongst a workforce will be severe. If the Bill progresses without any problems, as anticipated, it will become law by July 2016.

What are the main changes?

For small business owners the most significant proposals are the additional powers that will be given to immigration enforcement officers.

Firstly, the Bill will enable officers to seize the earnings of anyone found to be working illegally. Naturally, this will affect an employee more so than the actual employer but the Bill will also tighten the rules that determine if a worker has been employed illegally. Not many business owners are aware of the criminal sanctions related to illegal working as the Home Office often publicises the £20,000 civil penalty scheme on the basis that it is easier to administer.

Currently, an employer commits a criminal offence if they knowingly employ an individual who did not possess the relevant permission to work in the UK. This is being amended slightly so that an employer may still be guilty if there was “reasonable cause to believe” that a person was an illegal worker. There has also been an increase in the maximum sentence period from two years to five years (upon conviction on indictment).

The Bill will also enable immigration enforcement officers to shut down any business suspected of wrongdoing for up to 48 hours and there is the potential that closure could be extended should the appropriate court order be obtained. Immigration officers will also have increased powers to search a business premises and seize documents should they believe those documents to be related to suspected illegal activities such as suspected illegal working.

The consequences for employing illegal workers were always serious but the new proposed measures add a new level of severity to the situation.

What are the most likely pitfalls?

All of the above proposals are centered on the notion that employers should bear responsibility for who it is they employ and the status of those individuals.

The difficulty that employers face is the ever changing nature of the right to work checks, and so mistakes will inadvertently happen. This is particularly the case for smaller organisations who do not have the luxury of an HR or compliance officer.

There are a number of common pitfalls which can trap employers:

  • Employers forgetting to record the date on which a check occurred – this can be done on the actual photocopy of the document or noted on an internal or on-line HR system.
  • Employers forgetting to make follow-up checks at the correct time – important to diarise when checks should happen.
  • Additional checks are required if the employee is a student with work restrictions. Employers must also obtain, copy and retain details of a student’s academic term and vacation times so that employers can ascertain independently when it is that a student can work full time
  • Employers frequently get caught out by not retaining evidence of their checks for the necessary period of time or by not retaining copies in a secure manner (i.e. an unlocked cabinet in an unlocked office)
  • Photocopies are unclear or not complete. Historically a partial right to work check would be considered a mitigating circumstance but this has since been done away with meaning that a correct check is now more important than ever before
  • Employers can also enter into difficulties by conducting a right to work check after an employee has already started work. All initial right to work checks must be conducted prior to the individual commencing work.

Employers now front line immigration control

The attempts of the Home Office to simplify the right to work checks as well as the desire to make it harder for illegal migrants to work in the UK has resulted in employers being on the front line of immigration control in the UK. Most employers who receive a civil penalty notice only do so due to poor and weak practices – all of which can be avoided with some training and careful planning in advance of the new requirements becoming law.

As always having strong HR procedures that are regularly reviewed will provide a solid foundation for your business to grow. If you are unsure how up-to-date or good your existing practices are, why not get someone external to conduct an operational review? Many employment lawyers offer a legal compliance review and HR consultancies will check that as well as designing and implementing suitable practical procedures if required.

Not making the right checks and potentially employing someone illegally is an extremely serious matter which will be both distracting and damaging to you and your business. Avoid this by getting ahead now and making any necessary changes.

Upcoming employment law changes for 2016

In 2016, employers will begin to feel the impact of the employment law reforms made by the first Conservative Government in nearly 20 years, with some controversial decisions affecting a number of areas in the world of employment.

Employment law dates at a glance

11 January 2016 Zero hours employees and workers gain protection rights against employers trying to exercise exclusivity clauses.
1 April 2016 Prospective enforcement date of a cap on public sector exit payments.
6 April 2016 ‘National Living Wage’ (NLW) will be introduced for workers aged 25 and over. A 50p premium will be added to the existing National Minimum Wage.

For more information see the Government’s National Living Wage policy document page.

Jan – June 2016 Gender pay gap reporting draft regulations.
Jan – June 2016 Consultation expected on extension of shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents.
October 2016 Earliest likely implementation date for measures in the Immigration Bill 2015-16.
April 2017 Apprenticeship levy due to take effect.
September 2017 30 hours free childcare becomes available for 3 and 4 year-olds in working families.
2018 The government plans to extend ordinary parental leave, the 18 weeks unpaid leave that may be taken by a parent until their child is 18, to grandparents as well.

The introduction of the national living wage sees a major change to minimum pay levels; this will be a big issue for many employers as they consider how to introduce it.

For the first time, large employers will also be required to publish details of their gender pay gap.

Aside from these two big reforms, other changes to which employers need to pay attention include the Trade Union Bill and new rules on exit payments for public-sector workers.

Read our guide to the key employment law changes in 2016 to ensure you have a head start to the year ahead. 

  1. Gender pay reporting begins

We know that regulations must be introduced by 26 March 2016 that will make it compulsory for organisations with 250 or more employees to publish information about the difference in pay between men and women. This will need to include details of the gap in bonus payments.

However, further details of what this means for employers are yet to be disclosed, including the particulars that they will need to provide and where the information should be published.

It is expected that employers will be given time to get to grips with the legislation before the reporting requirements come into force.

  1. 2. National Living Wage introduced

A significant change for the lowest-paid workers is the introduction of the national living wage on 1 April 2016.

For the first time, employers will need to pay staff aged 25 and over the national living wage, which will work as a new top rate of the national minimum wage. For those aged under 25, lower national minimum wage rates will apply.

The national living wage is initially set at £7.20.

The national living wage is separate to the living wage, a recommended rate based on the cost of living, used by the Living Wage Foundation.

Another change concerning minimum pay is the doubling of the penalty for failure to pay staff the national minimum.

  1. Statutory parental pay rates and sick pay frozen

The Government has proposed that the annual increase in the weekly rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory shared parental pay will not happen in 2016.  The rates normally increase every year, but a fall in the consumer prices index has meant no uplift for 2016/17.

Statutory sick pay will also remain the same.

  1. Restrictions placed on public-sector exit payments

Payments made to public-sector staff when they leave their job are subject to new rules.

First, to limit excessive payments, exit payments for public-sector staff are capped at £95,000.  There is no confirmed implementation date for this change.

Second, from 1 April 2016, there will be a requirement for public-sector employees with annual earnings of £100,000 or more to repay exit payments where they return to work in the same part of the sector within 12 months.

  1. Trade union law amended

The Trade Union Bill reforms the law applying to trade unions, including placing more stringent requirements on trade unions before they take industrial action.

The measures include: increasing the voting threshold to 50%; introducing a requirement that 40% of all those entitled to vote in the ballot vote in favour of industrial action in important public services; setting a four-month time limit for industrial action after the ballot; and increasing the amount of notice to be given to an employer of strike action.

  1. Workers given power to seek redress where employer ignores ban on exclusivity clauses.

Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts were prohibited in 2015. New regulations that apply from 11 January 2016 aimed at addressing avoidance of the ban, give employees the power to make a complaint to an employment tribunal where they have been dismissed or subjected to a detriment following breach of an exclusivity clause.

  1. New rules to protect apprenticeships

The Government bans organisations from using the term “apprenticeship” where it is applied to describe a scheme that is not a statutory apprenticeship, for example in a job advert.

There will also be an apprenticeship target for public-sector organisations.

  1. Updating laws on employing foreign workers

The Immigration Bill makes various changes to the law applying to foreign workers, including: creating an offence of illegal working; requiring all public-facing public-sector employees to speak English fluently; and introducing an immigration skills charge for employers that use foreign workers.

If your organisation would like any help and advice about the implications of any of these areas please call us on 01453 548070 or visit our website www.amelore.com

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…….

Do As You Would Be Done By – Working With Associates

 

For us the most important thing is to give our clients flexibility and the right expertise, no matter what issue crops up. It’s also about running a fluid business that can change and expand when it needs to.

We work with a group of trusted (and vetted) freelance HR professionals but we put simple systems in place to ensure that their work represents the standards we set for ourselves. We insist all documentation is stored on our secure shared drives, that all work or advice is quality checked and we hold regular case conferences. We also offer payroll, HR software and other integrated services that it is harder to replicate as a freelancer. We recognise that flexibility and professionalism are key… on both sides.

We also reward our freelancers for their efforts. If a freelancer comes to work for us and brings existing clients, we charge no mark up on that work, if they want to use our systems and bill through us. Maybe even benefitting from our P.I. insurance cover. It helps us grow our business and develop a rewarding supportive relationship with them.

If an associate takes a client

But what if an associate does go behind your back and work directly for a client? We know this happens and what it
should do is provide an opportunity to look at your own business and find out why. Is there a wider issue? Was your client concerned about cost and are they getting a better service working directly with an individual. Maybe your systems, response times or SLAs need reviewing.

It’s obviously in breach of your associate’s agreement with you to do this but perhaps they’ve taken the view short term work is worth more than developing longer term relationships.

So what would Amelore do? It might surprise you to know that we wouldn’t do anything at all. If either party had asked we’d probably have said yes anyway. At the end of the day personal integrity, personal brand and relationships are critical in business. We are all in business to make a living.

Our working motto is do as you would be done by. It influences all our relationships and approach. With clients, staff, suppliers and our business partners. That’s the Amelore way.

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.