Depending when you read this post, it is / was Mental Health Awareness week. This is a week focussed on improving mental health both in the workplace and at home. You’ll no doubt be already aware of the statistic that 1 in 4 people will have some sort of mental health issue or condition during their lifetime – but the question for you as an employer and a line manager is what you can do to help?
People will often avoid talking openly about mental health because perhaps they worry about the reaction they might get when they talk about their illness or in the case of being a line manager are scared of causing upset or offence. But talking honestly and openly is one of many ways managers and employers can help their staff. You don’t have to be a trained counsellor to do this – listening and empathy is key and there are lots of resources out there to help you. (the MIND website is particularly helpful.)
You may also want to promote mental wellbeing to your staff to help them realise that there are some simple things that they can do to keep themselves well. One of the mental health awareness campaigns that is currently being promoted is called the 5 ways to wellbeing. These key ways or things are:
When you look at these in more detail, all of them are easily achievable in any workplace be it big or small. It is a matter of how you engage and encourage staff to take steps to keep themselves as mentally fit and well as they can. It could be by promoting activities such as a skills swap, holding a “bake off” or volunteering in your local community.
There are some excellent resources out there to help you too. You may want to visit the MIND website or that of the Business Disability Forum?
Or if you truly want to put wellbeing – both physical and mental – at the heart of your business why not talk to us about developing a wider health and wellbeing strategy that is tailor made for your business.
Small and growing businesses need to keep a tight hold on their budgets if they are to get through those first critical months and years. One cost that is sometimes forgotten or overlooked is for ensuring that your employees and workers are kept safe, healthy and well at work. If you have more than five people working for you, you need to ensure that you comply with all of the current Health and Safety regulations.
That sounds daunting and potentially expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Now I’d never advocate cutting corners on health and safety to help with the cash flow, but there are ways and means to help your finances. You could spend a considerable sum, and there may be some unscrupulous people out there who will scare you in to thinking that you have to; but that really doesn’t have to be the case.
Often the Health and Safety essentials needed by law aren’t as complicated as they sound, so you don’t need to be an absolute expert to put them in place and monitor them. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have a lot of free, helpful guidance available online and your own industry association / federation may also provide free or reasonably priced guidance too. Essentially it will boil down to how complex and dangerous your workplace is – after all, there is a big difference between working in a small office and a nuclear power station.
Some aspects of health and safety might not cost you anything apart from staff time, as long as you already have the basic skills and knowledge in place. Examples can include ensuring that you have the required welfare facilities (eg. a toilet, wash hand basin and drinking water – hopefully things you already have?), that risk assessments and safe working procedures are in place, that staff take rest breaks and staff know what to do in the event of fire / accident / incident. If you don’t have someone with the necessary knowledge in place already (known as a “responsible person”) you may need to get someone trained or you could buy in the expertise to get you set up.
Other aspects of health and safety will cost you some money, but these could be modest amounts and will certainly be a lot cheaper than doing nothing, only for an accident to occur later. Examples here could include providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – such as warning or hazard signs, “high viz” wear, steel toe capped boots, gloves or safety goggles / glasses – having a basic workplace first aid kit and fire extinguishers. As with most things in life, shopping around and comparing quality and prices is key, as it would be very easy to spend a lot of money when you really don’t always have to.
Health and Wellbeing is a growing area and has the potential to cost you nothing or an awful lot. Keeping your employees healthy and well doesn’t have to involve expensive gym facilities or memberships. Sometimes the most simple things can reap the biggest benefits. Recent research has shown that employees who take even just a 15 minute lunchbreak and spend it having a short walk outside are happier, healthier and more productive than those who don’t. That doesn’t cost you, the employer, a thing – especially bearing in mind that staff typically aren’t paid for their lunchbreaks.
The most successful and effective health and wellbeing initiatives are often simple yet still manage to catch the interest of staff. I’ve worked in organisations where groups and activities, such as a running group or a meditation session, are run by passionate volunteers who are keen to involve their colleagues. Group activities and interaction can really help staff morale and wellbeing even if they aren’t necessarily “active”. A popular workplace choir in one of my former workplaces springs to mind…..
So even if you are feeling the pinch financially, I hope that you do recognise there is still a need to keep your staff safe, healthy and well. It doesn’t have to cost a lot and I can guarantee that even by doing a little, it will help save you a lot more money in the long term.
Are you prepared for the new financial year which starts next week? I’m sure that you’ve been busy planning your budgets and other financial plans too, so here are a few reminders of what you will need to include if you employ people.
National Minimum Wage increases – from 1 April 2017
This applies to employees and workers aged from 16 to 24 years of age. The new rates are:
£3.50 per hour (+10p)
Under 18 years
£4.05 per hour (+5p)
18 up to 21 years
£5.60 per hour (+5p)
21 up to 25 years
£7.05 per hour (+10p)
National Living Wage increased – from 1 April 2017
This applies to employees and workers aged from 25 years and above. The new is £7.50 per hour, an increase of 30p.
Increases in pay for shared parental leave and other related payments – from 2 April 2017
This includes shared parental leave, statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory paternity pay (SPP) and adoption leave. The new rate is £140.98 per week, an increase of £1.40 per week.
Increase in statutory sick pay – from 6 April 2017
The new rate for statutory sick pay is £89.35 per week, an increase of 90p per week.
Increase in statutory redundancy pay – from 6 April 2017
A week’s statutory pay for redundancy purposes increases to £489, an increase of £10 per week. This means that the maximum amount that can be paid for statutory redundancy will increase to £14,670. (an increase of £300)
Increase in the maximum award for Unfair Dismissal – from 6 April 2017
This will be used for claims with a termination date after 6 April 2017. Claims may well be raised in April, May or even June 2017 but if employment ended before 6 April 2017 the old maximum award will apply (£78,962). The new maximum award will be capped at £80,541.
Apprentice levy – from 6 April 2017
This should come as no surprise, but if your payroll exceeds £3 million then you will have 0.5% of the total payroll cost to go towards the new Apprentice Levy.
Gender pay reporting reference period begins – from 5 April 2017
Again this shouldn’t be a surprise and you have already planned to report on your pay data if you employ more than 250 staff. Your first report must be published in April 2018 and include all of your pay data dating back to 5 April 2017.
Immigration Skills Charge – from 6 April 2017
If you employ staff on Tier 2 Skilled Worker visas you will be subject to a new “Skills Charge” of £1,000 for each new visa issued or for each visa renewal. If you are a small business (SME) or charity this charge will be reduced to £364 per new visa / renewal.
Hopefully none of these have come as a surprise for you and your budgets cover these. Also be aware that there are more changes planned to employment legislation over the coming year, so watch this space for more information and updates.
French working life has been in the headlines again recently with the government passing legislation about the sending and use of work emails outside of “normal” working hours. Much of the focus was on the belief that the French government was “banning” emails in the evening or at weekends, which isn’t actually true.
What the legislation is actually making French employers do is to come up with a jointly agreed (with the trade unions) policy about the use of work emails outside of “normal” business hours (whatever they may be). That’s hardly the same thing as “no emails after 17.00”, but it is up to individual organisations to decide if they want to go that far or not.
It’s not just the French that have made such a bold statement about trying to clarify the boundaries between work and non-work time. A number of large multi-national organisations, many in the technology / IT sector, have decided to develop similar style policies in the hope that it will reduce employee burnout. Which leads to two main questions – is it a good idea to have such a policy? – is it possible to implement it?
Is it a good idea?
I’m not a fan of having a policy for policy’s sake, however, it is always important to be very clear on what an organisation expects from its employees. If employees don’t know and understand what is expected of them, how can they reasonably be expected to do or not do something? Yes, there may be some obvious or implied things that employees shouldn’t do – for example, punching a colleague – but depending on what sort of culture your organisation has, certain behaviours might happen because no-one actively challenges or stops them. This is where the clarity of written guidance is helpful – it is harder to say you didn’t know that you shouldn’t XXX if there is clear, written guidance saying that you shouldn’t.
There is a potential argument “for” and “against” having such a policy – such as……
FOR: I worked for one organisation where it was common for the senior team to email each other at 3.00am with the expectation that people would reply. These people weren’t in different time zones but were forced to be “always on” because their “boss” was and he expected it of them. To my mind, this isn’t a healthy or sustainable way of doing business and it was certainly backed up by seeing the toll on some of the individuals. Allowing people some down time is vital if you expect them to stay healthy and effective – a policy or guidance could help to create some space for them to do this.
AGAINST: Some people will say that they find they are most productive on an evening, perhaps when the kids are in bed, and use this time to good effect. In fact they use this time to perhaps “make up” their working hours, as they have to fit in school runs, caring responsibilities etc. To stop them sending emails and working this way could well be counter-productive. Should you force “normal” 9.00 to 5.00 working on people who don’t want or can’t work that way?
One thing is for sure, I’m not suggesting that anyone “bans” sending evening or weekend emails – that is down to individual choice – but reducing or stopping the expectation that colleagues will respond is a different matter. Expectations and clarity are key.
How could or should I implement an out of hours email policy?
As with many policies there is no one size fits all. Yes, there should be some basic points in here (eg. what is and isn’t expected) but the actual detail of how your organisation wants its employees to work is down to you and them.
Some key questions to consider might include:
What does the organisation want this policy to achieve / deliver? (eg. better work / life balance) Are there other ways you could achieve this rather than writing a policy?
Why do you want to introduce this policy now?
What do your employees feel about this issue? Do they believe that action is needed?
What are the key things you will and won’t want employees to do? (be clear and concise)
Will this be a contractual or non-contractual policy? (this will affect how you implement it)
Drafting the policy and / or guidance will be key, as will be the communication and consultation with staff about it. You definitely need to engage staff early and make sure they are onside with this, or launching such a policy could end up being more trouble than it’s worth!
So will I be recommending that the organisations I work with adopt an out of hours email policy? The short answer is “it depends”. Some organisations are mature and flexible enough in how they work that such a policy would be extraneous and unwelcome. For others though, the clarity would be helpful and important to support employee wellbeing so a policy could be very useful and well needed.
After months of rumbling through the political process the much debated Immigration Bill finally received royal assent on 13 May 2016, becoming the Immigration Act 2016.
Hot on its heels came the enabling regulations which will bring many of the measures into force on 12 July 2016, including those detailed below.
The purpose of the Act, put quite simply, is to make it as hard as possible for illegal migrants to live and work in the United Kingdom.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire stated “The message is clear – if you are here illegally, you shouldn’t be entitled to receive the everyday benefits and services available to hard-working UK families and people who have come to this country legitimately to contribute.”
Below are the key changes employers need to be aware of:
The act of illegal working is to become a criminal offence, punishable by fine and/or up to six months imprisonment. Whether those convicted are in fact jailed at taxpayer’s expense prior to deportation will remain to be seen. However, the obvious point is that, as a criminal offence, any “proceeds” (which would include wages/salary) will now come under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and so therefore open to confiscation.
Employing an illegal worker
The penal sanction in respect of employing an individual illegally is to rise from the existing two years to five years, together with a continuing unlimited fine. This is further “beefed up” by amendments to the existing offence. Previously the risk of criminal liability arose if the employer knowingly engaged the migrant unlawfully.
The Act now provides that the offence will be committed if the employer “has reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment.” This is a lower threshold than previously, and presumably is to prevent those who routinely exploit illegal workers, from using plausible deniability to escape unlimited civil penalty and possible imprisonment.
However, for the purposes of all of those other employers who dutifully carry out right to work checks and then monitor the position as appropriate, the stakes have been raised significantly.
At what point, for example, does “reasonable cause” arise, whereby a consequential dismissal may be defended on the basis of “illegality” or “some other substantial reason”? Inaction or delay in this regard may result in an unlimited fine and imprisonment, whereas erring on the side of caution and moving immediately to termination of employment may subsequently result in a successful unfair dismissal claim, with the inherent further risk of an ancillary race claim.
Current new starter processes
Many companies still have out of date or insufficiently robust starters procedures which fail to check properly whether an individual has the right to work in the UK.
Now, more than ever, it is important to get right to work systems and policies up to date, fit for purpose, and in place, as the consequences for failing to do this are now significantly more severe than they were previously.
See our blog on Right to Work checks for our top tips.
HR and Coaching services for public sector organisations
Product 1 – Discounted pre-paid HR support
Annual up front purchase – flexible use within a 12 month period
Can be used to investigate grievances, disciplinary situations, draft policies & procedures, run performance management training, develop or attend assessment centres, reward and incentive reviews, gender & equality support etc
Current rate £POA per day (senior consultant)
0-5 days 15% discount
5-10 days 20% discount
10-20 days 25% discount
20 days plus quotation on request
Product 2 – Executive Coaching
Executive coaching support for senior and ambitious individuals
Current rate £POA a day or pro rata
6 month package £POA
8 month package £POA
1 year £POA
This includes unlimited sessions and support as the individual needs it and seems to encourage people to use us more and develop a supportive relationship. Travel and agreed expenses not included and invoiced monthly. We charge up front for coaching services.
Product 3 – Due Diligence Review (Forensic HR)
One off or Annual Review of all HR/People issues – confidential board level report and recommendations
Our team have all worked in an accountancy/legal auditing/due diligence environment and our process has been developed from that position of expertise.
Ensures full legal compliance and spots problems early.
Fixed price depending on size of organisation, areas to be reviewed & number of Amelore staff required.
We were thrilled with how our event went last week. In total (including raffle tickets sales and donations for our Culture crawl walk in September) we raised nearly £5,000 which is fabulous news but we also had a wonderful evening.
BBC journalist, Steve Knibbs interviewed Sophie and me. Although we have worked with each other and had just spent the weekend together (our husbands are brothers) we have never done an event like that before so we didn’t know what to expect.
Steve began by interviewing Sophie who delighted the audience by sharing some of the highs and lows of her entrepreneurial career so far.
As you know, notonthehighstreet.com has just been an incredible success story. The brand has experienced exceptional growth with TTV (total transactional value) in 2014 reaching £127 million, with year on year sales growth continuing to thrive in 2015. But it didn’t happen overnight.
Fake it ‘til you make it
Sophie told us how it all began with her business partner Holly Tucker. They took a simple online shopping idea and added a lot of energy and determination to bring it to life. They always knew it was a good idea, she said, but needed the money to get it off the ground. Taking from their own savings, maxing their credit cards and borrowing from friends and family. As many business start-ups know, you need the finance to keep it going.
There were many times they thought the adventure was over, but it was still important to present a positive united front.
Like the day she spent the morning going through the figures with Holly and realised they might have to lose some staff, then receiving a call from a national magazine and having to put on a brave face. You have to fake it ‘til you make she told the audience, something that really struck a chord with the small business owners in the crowd!
Behind the scenes
But the night wasn’t just about business start-ups, Sophie and I had really wanted to focus on people and brand values too, such huge parts of business growth and success. What did you find when you first went to NOTHS? Steve asked me. I was honest, it was amazing, it looks and feels on the inside just as it does on the outside.
Years ago I did an assignment at a famous department store and behind the scenes it was such a contrast. Cramped cluttered working conditions with broken desks and poor lighting. Walking into NOTHS was the complete opposite – like walking into Alice in Wonderland with Holly and Sophie just oozing their brand and loving what they were doing. It really showed and everything they did reinforced what they cared about – from how they advertised for new staff to their reception desk and the refreshments that they served their board members.
People and personalities
Something I shared on the night which has been huge with all our clients and was with Holly and Sophie is the importance of profiling personality. You will see in the book “Shape up your Business”, how complimentary Holly and Sophie were to each other. But also knowing their profiles we were able to hire a strong C-suite and support them managing each senior individual in a unique and effective way.
Whether I work with CEO’s directly or am coaching individuals it is the first thing we focus on as it gives you so much helpful information about how people work best, how to communicate with them, what type of work they thrive and flourish in and what their stressors are.
Feedback is valuable
Steve asked me about 360 feedback and whether it worked. I agreed that it had a place but was most effective if done via an independent 3rd party. Thing is that when we get the call to go in and remove a difficult senior individual they will almost always have great 360 feedback. No-one feels truly comfortable to give negative feedback and often it can be career limiting. That’s the truth of it.
Appraisals in general are something that we have been looking at closely as they cost lots of time and money and we aren’t convinced they really drive performance. Plenty of other things do including active career management. But not performance management in the traditional sense.
So here are a few top tips from us both – click on the link below:
Make a plan, set goals and stick to them… It’s key that you know where you want to go and how you plan on getting there. Listen to that voice in your head – the one that sees a need, and an opportunity to meet it, allow yourself the moments of inspiration and most importantly, act! Your time is now, listen to your ideas and make them count.
However much money you think you need, it will be at least twice as much. No one ever went bust with money in the bank, so to give your business the time, and the best chance, for success, never take your eye off that cashflow forecast. Get in money before you’re desperate, and you’ll negotiate the right deal.
Keep an eye on the current trends… It’s important to look at the wider picture and the emerging trends and influences that are shaping the commercial world and the world of your customer. It’s key to stay one step ahead and use new trends to your advantage. Your reaction to these can differentiate you from your competitors, will help you stay on the front foot and will ensure that your strategy continues to evolve accordingly.
Never let your staff get demotivated because… you need them more than you might realise. Your team is what keeps the business alive so don’t forget this – make them feel like they are truly part of the business and keep them engaged. Honesty and openness are key as is communication, remember you are all on this journey and it’s important to take them with you.
You don’t have to be an expert in everything. If you don’t have an expert skill in a particular field… then seek expert help because we aren’t all perfect! That’s what makes a team so wonderful, it’s a group of people with different strengths who combined can build something you could have never done on your own. When building notonthehighstreet.com, Holly Tucker and I were successful because we complimented each others strengths and collaborated in order to achieve.
Ruth’s Top Tips
Your brand is critical….whether you are an individual or a business. If you are an individual take care to ensure that everything about you from how you look to how you respond to others conveys the person you want to be. Businesses should take care to ensure that all internal practices reinforce their brand.
Get the right people and support…no matter how big or small your business, you need to get it right on the people front. If you really want to get ahead make sure you are not bogging yourself and others down with unnecessary HR bureaucracy, rules and regulations. Be an informed leader, especially when you hire managers with more experience than you. If you can’t change the people, sometimes you have to change the people. Not everyone who starts the journey, will be right to go all the way.
Get the right investment……. If you want investors take care to go through a very thorough process to pick those who will compliment you and not try and run your business for you. An investor should never ‘mentor’ a business owner as there will always be a potential conflict of interest. Be clear about what you need to share and what is day to day management is.
Personality, personality, personality……understand your own personality, that of your team and the business personality you want to project. All three need to work for your business to be successful. The quality of your team will be something that future investors or buyers of your business will look at – it will add or detract from the value of your business. Talk to Amelore about personality profiling.
Turn adversity into a positive opportunity…….. Often the things that go wrong in our lives are as valuable as the things that go right. Work with an experienced coach or trusted mentor if you want an external perspective, follow some of the exercises in the Shape up your Business book or talk to Amelore
Motivation in practise – tips for the 21st century…
Thoughts from our French correspondent. Over to you Karen…
It’s been a busy few weeks getting ready for our first customers with a few ‘challenges’ thrown in to make life interesting. Having found myself cold, wet and very dirty late one afternoon, I questioned what it was that was keeping me motivated to carry on. I also spoke to colleagues to get their views on what motivated them (wine is a great motivator by the way…).
Motivating your staff is a key thing a manager needs to do – many books have been written on the subject and theories abound (Maslow’s hierarchy anyone?). However, I’d like to suggest that the things that have kept me and my colleagues motivated in trying times are actually quite straight forward…
The basics – something decent to eat and drink (with alcohol often featuring), somewhere warm to sleep / stay, somewhere to wash, clean clothes to wear, a working mobile phone (with credit / reception) and internet access. Interesting to note about connectivity (mobile phone or internet) is high up on the list now but obviously wasn’t a factor in Maslow’s day.
Enjoying what you do. My colleagues and I are doing our jobs because we really like them and want to make a go of them. It means that we willingly go the extra mile without being asked and often forget that we are actually working well over the French normal working week of 35 hours.
Being appreciated for what you do / have done. This can be as simple as a ‘thank you’, which goes a surprisingly long way.
Knowing that your manager supports you and appreciates your efforts. Thanks especially to my Area Manager who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for us and even cleaned our accommodation for the first night so we didn’t have to do it after a 7 hour drive!
Yes, despite recent research saying that the weather does not affect people’s mood or levels of depression, I disagree. The world is a better place when the sun shines.
So – I’m off to do my laundry, buy something tasty for dinner tonight and then it’s time for an aperitif in the sun while catching up on my emails.
In the next part of Karen’s series she suggests some considerations for how you approach your career future… That said these questions can equally apply to your life… Get busy with them and see how happy you really are and whether you need a change in your life…
Over to Karen…
“If you are contemplating your job / career and the future, you might want to take stock and to ask yourself some of the following questions:
Why do you work? – for money / financial necessity? Status? Personal fulfilment? To fill the time? To socialise? Because others expect or need you to?
What about the financial side of things? How much do you need to bring in to get by?
Are you content to ‘get by’ financially or do you want / need more than that? (would you choose to have a bit less money but more work / life balance, for example?)
What do you like about your job? What motivates to go in to work each day? (hopefully there is at least one thing here, if not that tells you a lot….)
What don’t you like about your job?
How would you feel if you were still doing the same job in one / three/ five years’ time?
What can you do to change your job / work to address the things you don’t like? (if you don’t try, you shouldn’t just moan about it…..)
If you can’t change things, what will you do?
What happens if you leave your current job? What else is out there for you to do?
What is your plan B if things don’t go as you hoped?
So what are your answers to the questions above? I now know what mine are….”