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As a busy line manager, just getting the day job done can be a challenge without the added distraction of team members who just aren’t pulling their weight. Wouldn’t it be great if your team took the initiative and sought to resolve some of these issues themselves?

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Finding, gaining and retaining talent is key for businesses to succeed, particularly in today’s world. We share our top HR advice and insight into why you might be losing yours.

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Three years ago Carole Burman set up MAD-HR to bring affordable HR support and advice to businesses of all shapes and sizes in East Anglia and beyond.

Now with the sensational Charlotte Bate by her side, MAD-HR has grown to offer a range of training and coaching – on and offline, as well as the strategic HR planning for business growth and change that Carole has established since day one.

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In 2015, Nicola Thorp, an administrator temp was sent home from a job. Not because of her ability to perform her tasks but because of her refusal to wear 2 – 4 inch heels. Her response was to campaign for legislation to be tightened in relation to “sexist” dress codes: a campaign which gained considerable public support and a petition with 152,400 signatures.

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You will know when you have a great HR strategy when your HR practices and responsibilities are aligned to the organisation’s goals and mission statement, resulting in growth and achievement of your business plan. 

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In this digital age, if you need to know how to change a plug, fix a toilet, braid your child’s hair in a French plait then Youtube is usually your first port of call and there will no doubt be someone there who is more than happy to show you just how to do it. With everything now going online, has the time for face-to-face training passed?

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MAD-HR are running a one day workshop aimed at those people who essentially didn’t move out of the way quickly enough when the MD looked for someone to cover HR or perhaps have assumed responsibility for HR, as they know it’s important, and want peace of mind that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. It is also spot on for those of you who need to expand your team and don't really know where to start. Whatever your reason for needing HR expertise, this course will deliver the bags of knowledge and easy to follow guidance on the fundamentals of employing people robustly and legally. 

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Does your organisation recognise that team productivity is a management responsibility, not an employee responsibility?

 

These top 5 tips from MAD-HR will help you introduce a culture of maximising productivity...

 

1. Training

A trained and developed team will take responsibility for their own actions and engage with the organisation’s strategic direction. As a result they require less supervision, freeing senior managers to spend more time on strategic issues, working on the business, rather than in the business. A double win as not only does the team’s productivity increase, but so does that of the senior management...Read the rest of your tips here...

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You will know when you have a great HR strategy when your HR practices and responsibilities are aligned to the organisation’s goals and mission statement, resulting in growth and achievement of your business plan.
Let’s face it, HR starts as an admin function for the majority of businesses. Most SMEs start with a “muck in” approach and whoever is around at the time will write the vacancy advert….draft the policy…. greet the new recruit. A quick google search is relied on to answer any queries and a “wing it” style is quickly adopted in many areas including HR; whilst many start-ups survive initially with that approach, it can come at a price. Based on a survey conducted by Forbes in 2015, 90% of start-ups fail in first twelve months.

There is no defined point in the life of a business or number of employees, when it becomes time to consider your HR Strategy, however let’s consider one element...Read full article here...

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So, you are running a small business operation, and you do not have an insurmountable number of clients, and therefore you probably don’t need outsourcing, right? Well that’s not entirely true, and there are a few reasons for that.
Regardless of the size of your operation, you should definitely have an outsourcing strategy. In the following article, we will discuss the importance of it and why you should have it in the first place.

Now, let us tackle the topic more thoroughly.

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Hammond delivered what may be considered a fairly lively Autumn Statement, displaying humour and banter with back-benchers, even fitting in a reference to Ed Balls’ (outstanding) Strictly performances; noting how complicated some fiscal announcements are. His performance certainly made it entertaining viewing and perhaps will stand well as his audition for a future reality show himself. But amongst the humour, wry smiles and strategic pauses, there were some significant announcements. Here are the key messages for employers and what you need to know about the Autumn Statement.

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For many, plans are being made to celebrate the festive season with their family and friends and for business owners they see this as a great opportunity to bring their team together – for bonding, boosting morale and saying “Thank you”.
That said, it can be a risky time for employers – we’ve all heard the stories of “the office party” – filled with unwanted advances, inappropriate behaviour, horseplay and so on……
Rather than feel like the Grinch, just put in place a few things that will help protect your business, your company’s reputation and ensure that everyone has a great....read our tips and advice here


We hope that you and your team have a wonderful time celebrating the festive season and if you do have any issues then please do get in touch with us.

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We are often asked “how long do you have to keep employee records for?” If you are looking to save space, reduce cost, minimise the risk of losing or damaging vital information and are moving towards sustainable ‘green’ practices such as going paperless, the following information will help you get your house in order.
This information is to be used as a guideline for retention times....Read on...

 

 

 

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When we think about the importance of branding as a marketing tool, it is all about creating a connection with your customers on an emotional level so that they would not think of using any other company other than your own.
Given that many companies use the phrase “our people are our best asset”, it often leaves HR professionals confused as to why companies don’t want to focus on the importance of their brand as an employer. After all, your employees often have more contact with your clients / customers than you or any of your management team – they are your brand.
How can they convey your brand to customers if they don’t get it themselves? This is why it is so important for you to tell that story, so that they can make a strong connection to your business. They are after all emotionally driven just like your customers.
A strong employer brand can be a powerful business tool that can connect an organisation’s values, people strategy and HR policies to the corporate brand.
In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, attracting and retaining the right kind of talent is central to a company’s ability to grow but building your employer brand is by no means an exact science:
• Get it right, and your company will reap the benefits in terms of recruitment, retention and employee satisfaction levels.
• Get it wrong, and you’ll not only be turning off potential employees, but also current staff and anyone they care to tell about their experience with your organisation.
• Crucially, you could also lose them as customers.
The best place to start...Read More here

 

Strategic HR consultancy can help you to build your reputation as a good employer that recognises effort and achievements and invests in training, so your business can grow and prosper with quality, motivated people.
GET IN TOUCH TODAY AND WE’LL HELP TO GET YOUR BUSINESS FIGHTING FIT. Carole Burman is currently offering free, one hour, face to face consultations here

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Companies with impressive employee retention rates and high employee satisfaction levels all have one thing in common – they understand the importance of a strong workplace culture. They also know that you must really invest in your people if you want to get the best out of them.
A poor workplace culture could actually end up costing an employer money, as it could result in absenteeism, employee stress, poor health and a high turnover of staff. So, working hard to achieve a good culture is not only beneficial for those you employ, it’s also good for the productivity of your business.
These things are easy to talk about, but often less easy to achieve. So, what does a good company culture actually look like?
Here are 7 things you need to do to create and maintain a great company culture

Responsive to employee needs

Aside from salary and pension schemes, increasingly employees are attracted by ‘lifestyle benefits’ that respond to their personal circumstances and aid a healthier work/life balance. These can include things like flexi-time working, work-from-home options and study days.
Ongoing development

Is there a culture of developing and growing talent internally in your organisation? It’s important for an employee to feel that their company is investing in their future and supporting their personal and professional growth. This could be through mentoring schemes or training days.
Social calendar

A good balance of social interaction alongside business activity is good for morale. A healthy calendar of social events outside of the office can help instigate inter-team bonding as well as creating a buoyant atmosphere. It may also be helpful to consider involving their families to events to create an even stronger bond.
Open, honest feedback

Employers need to create an open culture that allows employees at every level to share their ideas, suggestions and concerns. With structured feedback strategies in place, employers can then monitor employee satisfaction levels and help alleviate issues as they arise.
A little extra

Alongside the more traditional benefits, employees usually respond well to other smaller, more personalised perks – such as free breakfast, early Friday finish or a charity partnership that’s chosen by employees.
Innovative approach

This applies to the innovative ways in which the company conducts business, but also the way it engages with its staff. Is your company striving to be a thought-leader in its sector? Do employees have the chance to attend industry events to keep up with the latest trends and advancements in their field? Do they feel able to incorporate new ideas and technology into their work?
Committed leadership

A great workplace needs buy-in from all team members – but particularly from those at management level. Clear, committed and inclusive leadership will be an essential component in maintaining a great company culture. Make sure the leaders in your organisation understand the culture and are able to effectively communicate and uphold it.
Get in touch today and we’ll help to get your business fighting fit, whether for now, for later or the long term. Make the most of a free one hour consultation with Carole Burman.

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Welcome to MAD-HR's FREE Email Course on "Annual Leave - An Employer’s Guide"

We have put together this easy to follow, legally accurate and employer relevant e-learning course to support you as an employer.

Gain access to the information you need to effectively manage your teams in bite sized chunks, at a manageable pace.

Simply, sign up below and you will receive an email a day for 5 days. Each email you receive will fulfil the key learning outcomes you require to manage Annual Leave.

There is no set up fee and no course fee.

Check out the course content and sign-up here.

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An employee may wish to make a recording of a work meeting, such as a disciplinary or grievance hearing or a meeting with his or her line manager, for a number of reasons.
Generally, this will be in circumstances where the employee feels that he or she has been treated unfairly and wants either to prevent such treatment or to obtain evidence of it. The employee may think that a recording will provide evidence of unfairness, for example to demonstrate that a grievance meeting was not a genuine attempt to deal with issues that he or she had raised. Alternatively, the employee may wish to have a full transcript of the meeting for use at the next stage of an internal process or in future litigation.
Do they have the right?
Employees do not have the legal right to record an internal meeting. Therefore, if an employee asks to record a meeting, as the employer, you must decide whether or not to permit the request.
If the employer’s policy is that recordings are not permitted, the person chairing the meeting should remind the employee of this at the beginning of the meeting. The chairperson should also make it clear that recording the meeting in breach of the policy would be grounds for disciplinary action. However they do have a right to a copy of the notes taken at a formal meeting.
If the employee refuses to confirm that he or she is not recording the meeting – or confirms that he or she is recording the meeting – it may be appropriate for the employer to adjourn the meeting to decide how it should be conducted.
You may be reluctant to allow recordings. However, rather than automatically refusing all requests, it is advisable for the Chair to ask for the employee’s reasons for wishing to do so.
The employee may have a disability that would make it difficult for him or her to take a written note of the meeting. In such circumstances, you would need to consider if allowing the employee to record the meeting would be a reasonable adjustment.
Employers should be aware of the potential for employees to record meetings without their knowledge and should consider how to address this risk.
Refusing a request from an employee to record a meeting
An employer is entitled to refuse a request from an employee to record a meeting. You may be concerned that it will be difficult to run an effective meeting if participants know that it is being recorded. It is possible that participants will feel uncomfortable and be reluctant to contribute fully to the meeting if they know that their comments may be used against them later. Knowledge that a meeting is being recorded could also lead to a more formal and adversarial approach than would be appropriate.
If your Company policy is not to allow recording of meetings, it should clearly document this in writing, for example in the staff handbook and Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. As this is a personal choice for employers we have not included this within the documents on our online HR Toolkit. However if you wish to include a section on the refusal of recordings, the relevant documents should also expressly state that making recordings in breach of the policy will be grounds for disciplinary action.
There is an alternative, as employers should supply the employee with a copy of its notes from any formal meeting. Employees are also entitled to be accompanied at formal meetings and both can take notes at the meeting.
Permitting a request from an employee to record a meeting
Most employers are unlikely to take an organisation-wide stance that all requests to record meetings will be permitted.
However, you may decide to permit recordings on a case-by-case basis, provided that the person chairing the meeting and other participants agree to the request. In this case you should consider requiring written notice in advance of a request to record a meeting.
If you agree to allow an employee to record a meeting, you should establish some ground rules in relation to how the employee can make, store and use the recording. You should make it clear that the employee is entirely responsible for making the recording and that the meeting will not be delayed or adjourned if there are technical difficulties. You should require the employee to provide you with a copy of the recording. It would also be prudent to ask the employee to confirm in writing that he or she will not broadcast the recording, post it on the internet, or use it for any purpose other than keeping a record of the meeting for his or her own personal use.
Recordings made by the employer
If an employer receives a request from an employee to record a meeting, it could decide to record the meeting itself and provide a copy of the recording to the employee, to maintain control over the process. This may also reduce the chance of the employee recording the meeting covertly. The agreement of the employee will be required for the employer to make its own recording. This approach may not be practicable for all meetings because of the additional administration involved, but for matters that are likely to be particularly contentious or difficult, it may be something to consider.
When making a recording, you should test the equipment and obtain technical assistance if required to ensure that an accurate record is made and all participants in the meeting can be heard. You should also still arrange for notes to be taken.
The employer should consider whether to provide the employee with a copy of the recording (if it does, this needs to be in a format that the employee can use) or a transcript. Making transcripts of recordings can be a time-consuming task and a long meeting often takes many hours to transcribe.
Reasonable Adjustments
If an employee has a medical condition that makes it difficult for him or her to take a written record of the meeting or to recall the detail of what was said, it may be advisable for the employer to permit the employee to make a recording of the meeting. This may be a matter of procedural fairness. Where the employee is disabled, it may also be required as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010.
Where an employer is aware that an employee has a medical condition that may impact on his or her ability to take notes or recall the detail of a meeting, the employer should discuss potential adjustments with the employee. For informal meetings it may be that other steps can be put in place to help the employee, such as offering the support of a note-taker or allowing additional time for note-taking during the meeting. In formal meetings you should have already arranged for a note take to be present.
Covert Recordings
An employee may decide to make a covert recording of a meeting instead of seeking permission to make a recording, or after such a request has been turned down. The prevalence of smartphones and other portable recording devices means that this has become easier for employees to do.
Circumstances in which employees may decide to make covert recordings of meetings include:
to gather evidence of bullying or harassment;
to gather evidence for a claim against the employer, such as evidence of a predetermined decision to dismiss made outside the context of a disciplinary hearing; and
where the employee is the subject of allegations, to obtain evidence to defend him- or herself by providing an accurate record of how a particular meeting or interaction was undertaken.
Where a covert recording produces evidence of serious wrongdoing, for example harassment or bullying, the employer will need to consider the contents of the recording and address the issue that it uncovers, even where the evidence was obtained in breach of its policy or without permission. The employer should recognise that such evidence would be difficult to establish through written documentation or public interaction witnessed by others, and that the employee may have felt that a covert recording was his or her only option.
The potential for covert recordings should be a reminder to employers to ensure that managers follow good practice in every meeting, in particular avoiding “letting off steam” or making inappropriate comments if the employee leaves the meeting for an adjournment.
An employer may want to take disciplinary action against an employee who has made a covert recording. The employer must establish the facts of the case, following a proper investigation, and decide whether or not it is appropriate to commence the disciplinary procedure. The employer should consider, for example, the employee’s reason for making the recording, whether or not he or she had been told that recording was not permitted and any mitigating circumstances. An employer will be in a stronger position to take disciplinary action, potentially including dismissal, if there is a clear policy that prohibits recordings and indicates that dismissal is a possible disciplinary sanction.
Employers should be aware that taking disciplinary action because an employee has made a covert recording could amount to victimisation under the Equality Act 2010, if the employee made the recording to provide evidence of unlawful discrimination.
The admissibility of covert recording in employment tribunal proceedings
The use of covert recordings by employees as evidence in employment tribunal proceedings has been considered in a number of cases. Tribunals have a wide discretion to admit covert recordings as evidence and will generally hear them if they are relevant to the case.
Although the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has commented that the practice of making covert recordings is distasteful, that is a separate consideration to their admissibility as evidence. While employers have sought to allege human rights violations to prevent the submission of covert recordings as evidence, it would be unusual for human rights issues to be engaged because the employer would have to show that the relevant manager or HR professional’s right to a private or family life was being interfered with, and this would rarely be the case in a workplace meeting.
Tribunals have drawn a distinction between the open part of a disciplinary or grievance meeting in which the employee is present, and the part where the disciplinary or grievance panel withdraws to consider its decision in private. Tribunals are generally more willing to permit the submission of recordings of meetings where the employee was present.
It is accepted that members of a panel should be able to conduct a full and frank exchange of views on the basis that those discussions will remain private. If the ground rules of a hearing are that such deliberations will remain private, the parties should observe those rules. Nevertheless, where private deliberations contain evidence of discrimination or other unlawful conduct, an employment tribunal might still permit a covert recording of them to be used as evidence.

 

So, take the opportunity to ask yourself is your house in order. Updating and implementing new policies and procedures around disciplinary and grievance, for example, doesn’t have to be cumbersome. The MAD-HR online Toolkit holds 1000+ documents, templates and policies. All kept up to date and all accessible via an online portal when you subscribe. It takes just 30 minutes to have a tour and see how this could set you up to protect your business, save time and money.

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When an employee is left feeling that they have no other choice than to leave their job due to their employer’s behaviour, you’re on course for a constructive dismissal claim. If the employee can prove that their employer’s behaviour was a fundamental breach of contract, in effect forcing them to resign, they may have a case and furthermore, if they’ve been there more than 2 years, could progress a claim for unfair dismissal.
So, here’s some key examples of what may prompt an employee to make a claim:
Unfounded allegations of poor performance
A reduction of pay or not being paid at all
Bullying or harassment
Failure to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disability
Breach of health and safety laws
Claims for constructive dismissal can be costly, not only financially but also in management time, staff morale and reputation.
You can avoid these claims and manage them more effectively if they come your way by taking on board these 5 top tips.
As a bonus, they can also boost performance and motivation, which will positively affect your bottom line. Winner.
Get your house in order
Comprehensive, up to date policies and a handbook, accessible to all, will ensure that everyone knows exactly where they stand and what to expect. It is not enough to merely plonk a new recruit in front of your handbook on their first day, expecting them to absorb (let alone grasp the sentiment of) all that good stuff and retain it for the duration of their employment. For one thing, as the company evolves, so do its policies and procedures, in addition to this there will be oodles of changes to employment law and best practice. It is a valuable exercise to actively revisit policies and procedures periodically with managers and then roll them out again to the team(s). Moreover, take the opportunity for engagement, feedback and contributions.
Accepting there is no such thing as ‘no risk’, a well written, clear, up to date handbook is likely to be valued by staff, looked upon favourably by a tribunal chair, as well as solicitors or other advisors. It indicates that you have your house in order and know what you are doing. You’re now in ‘low risk’ territory. Demonstrating how this is communicated also key.
D & G
That’s disciplinary and grievance not Dolce and Gabbana. It is not advisable to merely ‘go through the motions’ of following your disciplinary and grievance procedures. Train managers to fully understand, not only the procedures but also, the reality of dealing with people. Ensuring your leaders have the confidence, sensitivity and diplomacy to deal with situations appropriately and professionally pays dividends. Don’t just ignore issues, take the time to discuss grievances and invoke the disciplinary procedure to maintain standards and expectations. Getting to the nub of the grievance by dealing with it appropriately using your policies and procedures is vital in order to avoid a constructive dismissal claim or strengthen the company’s position should a claim be made.
Performance Management
Effective performance management that drives the right behaviours in a business should be a continual process, not just once a year at appraisal time. By weaving an effective performance management process into a regular weekly or monthly routine, everyone will know the standards and expectations upon them and their colleagues and they will be far less likely to feel aggrieved and take formal action. Ad hoc, emotionally charged performance discussions can lead to employees (at any grade) feeling humiliated. Being overly critical, without reason and evidence, is unlikely to lead to increased productivity; it may well however lead to a constructive dismissal claim. Therefore, training managers on how to implement an effective performance management process, having difficult conversations and providing constructive feedback is essential.
‘It’s good to talk’
Clear, concise, honest two way communication goes a long way to building an engaged, motivated team. Engaged employees who understand their role in the organisation and who feel they are part of the solution rather than the problem, are much more likely to be happier and more productive at work. Therefore, less likely to become disgruntled and claim constructive dismissal. Developing effective communication channels so that employers and employees can regularly communicate, update and exchange ideas will not only lead to better relationships, increase creativity and innovation, it enables employers to nip potential issues in the bud, before they escalate into formal grievances.
“That is SO UNFAIR!”
Ask yourself, ‘would you like it if someone was treating you or your loved one in the manner you are treating a colleague right now?’ If the answer is no, the chances are you are not being fair and reasonable. Treating all employees fairly, consistently, ensuring their health and well-being is key to avoiding constructive dismissal claims. To be super clear on what’s is fair, you should take the time to ‘gen up’ on the Equality Act 2010 as there are further obligations on the employer for employees with some additional needs, such as making reasonable adjustments. Taking the time to read case law and outcomes also gives you an evidence based and better sense of what is required by a Tribunal. For example, when considering if an employer has acted reasonably, a tribunal is likely to take into account whether the company’s policies and procedures covered the situation, whether the employee was aware and whether the employer followed their own procedures. So perhaps it is time to dust off that trusty old handbook! We refer you to Top Tip 1.

 

You may have an HR Team, you may not, you may have one so busy that you need a hand sorting this all out and putting your reviews and ideas into action. If you would like to discuss this, or any of the situations we cover in our articles, feel free to contact us. We offer free consultations.

When you’re ready, call and see how MAD-HR can fit in and work with your teams to protect your business, saving you time, money and worry.

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On 01 October 2016, the Statutory Payment rates for 2016/17 were updated. Here, we share them with you in a handy table.

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Your client is about to expand their business and you’ve been helping them get to where they are today.
You’ve helped form the infrastructure of their company and have developed the financial side of things so that they’re ready to go and to grow.
How do you help them take the next step?

The step that will see them with employees, with premises, and all the vital processes and procedures in place that will help them accelerate growth.
Skills for growing a business

As your client’s business develops, their finance arrangements will become more complex and that’s well within your remit, of course, but they’re going to need more help with marketing, with HR, health and safety, new equipment and IT systems.
The learning curve is steep and they need strong pillars in place to help them succeed. Your role is one of trusted advisor and you want to ensure that they see you them in the direction of people and businesses that you and they can trust to help take them to the next level. This is never and easy thing to do!
Be sure of your recommendations

The people and businesses that you advocate reflect on you, so you need to know that the businesses you recommend to your client are ones that really will deliver. They MUST give them what they need. At MAD-HR we recognise that and we’re practised at helping growing businesses put the right structures in place. Our highly experienced HR professionals know that while every business is unique, the demands they face can be similar. We work with each business to maximise growth in a way that’s sustainable and stable, advising them along the way. We help them to become proactive rather than reactive.
Businesses grow through good reputation and we can help your business AND your client’s business thrive.
To become an Introducer for MAD-HR call Carole Burman today on 01473 360160 for more information.
When you clients sign-up to the Online HR Toolkit through your business, they benefit from 20% off their subscription for the first 12 months.

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