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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 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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Watch out for CEO spam

Because we are in contact with a lot businesses and speak to companies about their IT security on a daily basis, we are able to pick up on new trends quickly.

One threat we are seeing more of is so-called CEO Spam, a sophisticated fraud that has resulted in firms losing hundreds of thousands, even millions, of pounds.

Also known as CEO fraud, Whaling, Spear Phishing or BEC (Business Email Compromise), the fraud takes the form of an accounts person receiving an email purporting to come from the MD or CEO asking them to make a payment to a certain account and telling them it is urgent.

The email will look genuine, and may even use all the relevant email signatures. It will certainly come from the right email address.

The European Police Office, Europol, is aware of this growing danger and recently gave details of the characteristics of this type of attack in its 2016 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (see page 32).

The reports says in many cases prior to any attack the criminals have carried out a lot of research, mapping the organisations’ structure and behaviour of potential victims. Letters, emails or phone calls may also come from outside the company, when a payment request is sent by someone purporting to be a trusted business partner or a lawyer.

It says a fraudulent request is usually time-sensitive and often coincides with the close of business hours to make verification of the request difficult.

Recent cases include a Suffolk business paying more than £1million to a fraudulent caller and global fibre optics firm, Leoni, losing €40 million.

Earlier this year, the BBC reported that French businesses have lost an estimated €465m since 2010, with a reported 15,000 firms falling victim to similar scams, including big names, such as Michelin, KPMG and Nestle. In the US, the FBI estimates these scams have cost organisations more than $2.3 billion in losses in recent years.

Our advice to companies is to make sure all employees, not just financial staff, are aware of these threats and that they know the dangers signs. Businesses should also develop standard procedures for paying money, such as only paying against an invoice, or other signed document. In addition, companies are advised to research what information is publicly available about their business and whether it needs to be public.

In the words of Norfolk and Suffolk Police Cyber Security Advisor, “prepare for ‘when’ an attack happens not if”.

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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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Posted by on in Members

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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Posted by on in Members

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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I recently mediated for a husband and wife who had been sorting out their divorce through lawyers. When I initially met them each separately, it came as no surprise to learn that they had spent £80.000 between them. The bit they hadn’t sorted out was the future parenting arrangements for their young children.


Expense of legal process

It’s peculiar, isn’t it, but there are still very many people who are willing to spend £80,000+ on attempting to unravel a knotty problem by going through adversarial lawyers without first seeing whether there might be a better way.


Hostile correspondence

Unsurprisingly, having been subjected to each other’s lawyers’ hostile correspondence, and having been to court twice, by the time this couple met with me their relationship couldn’t have been worse. Yet now they needed to start co-parenting co-operatively. It didn’t look good.


Lawyers didn't refer to mediation

They approached me not because they or their lawyers recognised the benefits of mediation (to children, if not their parents), but because the lawyers had been unable to sort out the future parenting arrangements through their traditional tool of correspondence. Was I surprised? Not at all. No conflict has ever been resolved through letter writing, despite lawyers’ reliance on it.


Lawyers referred because they neede to

No, they approached me because anyone who wants to make a family court application (with few exceptions) must get a certificate from a mediator beforehand. The certificate shows the court that the applicant has at least heard about the alternatives to court. So this husband and wife were planning to go to court - or at least their lawyers were.


Didn't want to go to court

Each having met with me alone and in confidence, it was clear neither wanted to go to court and neither wanted to spend more money on lawyers. While their lawyers had told them that mediation wouldn’t be suitable as they were too “high conflict” (and who caused that I wonder?) both decided they’d like to give it a go.


Started mediating

So they sat down in a room with me. After three two hour sessions over the course of five weeks they had made only a little progress. I was beginning to wonder if mediation was working. Both were in heightened states of anxiety and each showed anger towards the other.


The breakthrough 

But at the beginning of their fourth session - with both of them threatening to make a court application - I invited them to share with each other what it was that was making each so angry. They spent the whole session getting things off their chests. 

Perhaps more importantly, they were listening to each other for the first time in years. Both were able to acknowledge how the other felt and their own contribution to the conflict.



And with that there were tears and they got up and hugged each other. Despite what each had said about it being the last session, they came back for a fifth and final session. They not only sorted the parenting arrangements out, but also resolved their long-standing conflict.  


Mediation works

Courts may make orders, but they cannot resolve deep rooted conflict. Mediation can. That’s why mediation works and that’s why, on average, mediated outcomes are 75% quicker than non mediated outcomes and typically cost around 95% less.


I am Stephen Anderson. I was a practising solicitor. I am a mediator.

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We are pleased to welcome Charlotte Bate to our board of Directors. Charlotte joined this month to support the growth of the business, bringing a wealth of experience as an HR Professional, Trainer and Coach across most industries from marketing to manufacturing, construction and engineering.


Carole Burman, Managing Director of MAD-HR said: “Charlotte will be a real asset to our Company. We’ve worked together previously and so I know that she has a proven record of helping businesses to develop effective, motivated teams lead by capable and inspiring managers”.


“Her work focuses on helping clients’ businesses to thrive rather than survive. Being an employer is a serious undertaking but with Charlotte’s ability to provide clear, concise and commercial advice and support to clients blended with a friendly and positive approach made her a perfect choice to join our team.”


Charlotte added: “I am excited to hit the ground running. We have plans to grow our training and development offering as we continue to provide flexible and affordable HR support to businesses in the region. I am really pleased to be working with Carole again. We share the same ethos which is a client-focused approach and I know that we make a great team.”


MAD-HR offers commercial HR consultancy to a wide range of businesses of all shapes and sizes across East Anglia as well as offering an Online HR Toolkit for SMEs. Find out more at

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Whether you’re introducing a new initiative or about to launch a new product or perhaps you’ve identified that there are mistakes happening with the processing of orders or duplication of effort – dealing with the demands of change is the biggest challenge facing every business today. 

Walk any ten year old through your home and point out everything that didn’t exist when you were their age.  You will find lots of examples where we have updated / upgraded things in our home as we have felt that any such change will make our life better or make us more comfortable.

Change confronts and challenges our ability…

When change is at our behest, we always feel more comfortable and in control and yet in your business, you will almost certainly see more change in the next three years than in the last five.  Change confronts and challenges our ability to create value for customers, keep our employees engaged and remain relevant in our market sector.

In light of its importance, where do you start and how do you ensure that you manage this process effectively?

Of course, managing change in the workplace isn’t as simple as implementing some revolutionary change management model. If it was that easy then anyone could do successfully implement it so here are some simple key principles that you should also ensure that you consider: 

Quality Leadership

First, it is vital that managers understand how to engage their team, and lead the business and collaborating around change. Businesses must consistently identify and resolve critical change issues, innovate the way they work and find new and different ways to grow and often that involves utilising a key part of their business that gives them competitive advantage which is their team. 

Responsibility for managing change is with management and executives of the organisation – they must manage the change in a way that employees can cope with it. The manager has a responsibility to facilitate and enable change, and all that is implied within that statement, especially to understand the situation from an objective standpoint (to ‘step back’, and be non-judgemental), and then to help people understand reasons, aims, and ways of responding positively according to employees’ own situations and capabilities. Increasingly the manager’s role is to interpret, communicate and enable – not to instruct and impose, which nobody really responds to well. 

Process, skills and tools

You need a process, skills and tools.  An effective process, centred around driving change and growth, may also employ tools such as small working groups that are championed by line managers to drive a specific issue to a conclusion. Effective managers establish meaningful communication and engagement with their people (like many things in life, this is always easier to talk about than it is to do) as a key part of rolling out change initiatives with a team or across an organisation. 

In doing so, these managers understand the barriers that block change and the emotions that are experienced during any change process, such as how people react to change, why people resist change, what motivates people to change and what people need to know in order to embrace change. But why is all that stuff important? Because action (change) is always preceded by dissatisfaction; comfortable people have no motivation, urgency or tolerance for change. So if people, at any level, perceive that the results they are achieving today are ‘good or good enough’ (reality is irrelevant, it’s what people perceive that counts) then they will resist the change, no matter how compelling its benefits may be to some. 

For these reasons, managers who tell rather than sell, who force change on people can irreparably damage morale and productivity. The manager who knows how to influence positive change however will have much greater success in seamlessly introducing new initiatives and maintaining a workforce that’s connected and committed / engaged, to helping the business achieve its objectives. 

Understanding how change affects people

Before considering any change initiative, managers must appreciate how change affects employees – both how readily they will accept the change and the emotional ‘pain’ that always accompanies change.

By understanding the interplay of these psychological issues with the actual change, managers will ensure that they concentrate on the objectives of the change (not the problems) and increase their ability to effectively implement change. 

Managers need to be able to gauge how readily their people will embrace change.  There will be those who are prepared to take a leap of faith because they are risk-takers or they have higher levels of trust in the leadership of the organisation.  Conversely, there are some people who can exhibit more resistance to change, partly because they require more time to analyse and digest information.  

It is important to be able to understand where the team are on this spectrum so that you can ensure that you adapt your approach and style to each person. 

Do not ‘sell’ change to people as a way of accelerating ‘agreement’ and implementation. ‘Selling’ change to people is not a sustainable strategy for success. When people listen to a senior management person ‘selling’ them a change, decent diligent folk will generally smile and appear to accept what is being said, but quietly to themselves they are thinking, “I don’t like this. I’ve not been consulted or involved. I am being manipulated. This change will benefit the directors and owners, not me, so actually I won’t cooperate, and I might resist and obstruct this change, in every way that I can.” And that’s just the amenable types – more forceful employees will embark on a more serious transition from solid employee to organisational terrorist! 

There’s no ‘good’ or ‘right’ end of this spectrum, only differences. What’s important for managers to consider, however, is where each of their people lies on the spectrum so that they can address them accordingly.   That’s why all of your people need to understand and engaged with, any change initiative – managing resistance to change is an essential aspect of this framework – and it helps to understand who you will need to spend more time with to deal with their objections.

Managers must also understand the emotional ‘pain points’ associated with change. Any of these may cause people to hesitate in embracing a change initiative, or in resisting it altogether. These mind-sets can include: 

  • People experience discomfort

Change requires people to do something new, and that often forces them outside their comfort zone. So everyone experiences discomfort to some degree, but the anxious the person is, the more discomfort they feel. 

  • People feel they need to give something up

When change is initially introduced, people usually view it in the context of their current situation. This means they only consider what they must give up, not what they may gain. In order to balance this, managers must position the change as a vehicle that will help them grow and fulfil their own objectives. 

  • People feel alone

Often people will feel as though change requires them to go through it alone, that they must be a pioneer and take a risk. But as humans, we want to be part of a winning team or group. Therefore, managers must ensure that their people never feel as though they’re working in isolation. Instead, the change should be positioned as a team effort that will be supported 100% by management. 

What motivates employees to change?

By understanding these mind-sets, managers will appreciate how they come together to form the basic motivations of change. 

First, action (change) is always preceded by dissatisfaction. That’s because pain – such as any combination of the three mind-sets of change – is always involved in change. So without a source of dissatisfaction, people will have no motivation to bear the pain. And even then when people are dissatisfied, if it’s not significant enough, they’ll still bear the pain of the status quo rather than face the pain of change! 

Second, in order for people to embrace change, the benefits must outweigh the pain. Note that these are perceived benefits based on management’s communication to the team. So just because the manager believes in the change, or because senior management believes in the change, people won’t commit to the change until they believe that the benefits outweigh the pain.

What do people need to know to embrace change?

Change is rarely easy to implement because people almost always think that their current situation is good or at least good enough. Perhaps things at the moment aren’t great, but as long as people think they’re good or good enough, they won’t have sufficient tolerance for change. So how can managers implement change when their people think that things are good or good enough as they are? You have essentially two options: 

  • Attack what they’re doing now

In other words, managers can try to increase the perceived pain that their people currently feel. For example: “I know you think you’ve been doing well, but you’re mistaken.” We don’t recommend this approach. When you attack what people are doing now, you’re attacking their intelligence, their confidence, their professional skills and their abilities. You’re attacking them personally, and people resist this very quickly. 

  • Offer an alternative that provides greater benefits

In this case, managers increase the perception of benefits – the fulfilment of personal objectives – that will come from the change. If people truly believe that the change can help them achieve their goals, then they’ll embrace it. 

How to implement change in the workplace – the three questions to answer

To effectively lead change, managers must help people satisfactorily answer three questions that people will ask themselves when it’s introduced:

  • What is the change?
  • Why is the change being made?
  • How will the change affect me?

Too often, we find that when managers introduce change, they only share the ‘what’. When people press them for more information, such as when asked for the ‘why’, managers will sometimes answer with a ‘who’. For example, “because someone said so.” People will never fully embrace change when its dictated with little or no reasoning, let alone when a non-specific answer such as this makes it sound as though you have no idea of the ‘why’ yourself! If managers are to get people to embrace and commit to change, they must ensure that they answer the ‘what’, the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. 

An important note on answering the ‘how’: a manager’s first instinct is usually to provide an advantage that relates to their people’s work, such as “it will help you be more productive”. But just as people want their jobs to be made easier, they also need to win personally. So be sure to not only give them a work-related win but also a personal win, something that will make them feel good about themselves. 

Using face-to-face communications to handle sensitive aspects of organisational change management is critical.  Often there is a heavy reliance on email and / or written notices but these are extremely weak and helping to check for understanding of key messages.  It is also a poor way to develop a level of trust that needs to be in place when effecting change.  People will want to have faith and confidence that the future is going to be stronger and brighter after the change. 

Managing change effectively requires that you understand how people think

As we started out, leading change requires managers juggle a host of psychological factors: how people think, how they perceive their current situation, how they will perceive a new change, etc. In fact, one could argue that the actual process of communicating the change is the easiest part of all. 

Understanding how and why people think the way that they do, and make the decisions they make is why many organisations lean on their HR teams when it comes to implementing change.  They recognise that they need to have their expertise to deal with the psychological impact that change can have when you are trying to shift people’s thinking, decisions, and their behaviours. 

To ensure the success of any change initiative, the lion’s share of a manager’s effort should go first towards thoughtful planning and sensitive implementation, considering how your people will perceive the change, planning and structuring your communication strategy accordingly and practicing your plan. When you’re confident in your rationale and delivery then you’re in a position to present it to your team. 

How we can support your change process

At MAD-HR we know that things change. Your business changes. It’s identity and plans change. Defining your strategic vision is vital if you are going to grow and achieve, taking your team with you. MAD-HR provide strategic HR consultancy services to help you do just that. Contact us today for a free, no obligation (and we mean that), discussion to see how we can fit into your business. Whether it’s for now, for later or for the long haul, feel free to call us.  

Do your research…get to know our team and experience. MD Carole Burman has over 20 years of blue chip experience. She has transformed organisations.  “Only when you have the right team behind you with the right skills will you achieve your goals and succeed. We want to be part of that team.” 

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