Business Planning Image

Planning Ahead for 2018

Don’t leave it until the last minute, human resources planning for 2018 should start now!

No doubt the business planning process within your organisation has already started, so you’ll want to consider any impact on your staffing capabilities.

Here’s some tips to help with any resultant impact and at the same time to improve your HR department’s performance by looking at the following areas:

Talent acquisition and development

The world of business never stands still, and there is always a need to recruit new staff. Think about how you could improve your recruitment programme – fill more positions within the target deadline maybe and improve your employee retention rates.

One way to improve retention is to ensure that staff are well trained and being developed so that they can achieve their potential. Look at ways to improve your development programmes; ask yourself how more employees could achieve development goals – and how you can improve the feedback you receive on the development and training programmes.

Performance management

The ultimate goal is that your staff perform to their very best within their targets. Make sure you’re on top of the game by managing performance reviews, so that they happen by the target date and also ensuring that the reviews are a positive exercise, rather than just a box-ticking one. Read more on appraisals here. [Appraisals and Why once a Year is not Enough Blog January 2017]

What incentives are there to help keep employees motivated? Revisit your company’s benefits and incentives programme and decide whether you need to improve it.

Boost employee morale

Consider the morale levels in your company. This is especially important in a worrying economic climate. Are there ways that you could improve the working conditions and recognise achievements that will keep your staff happy? Find ideas on keeping your staff happy on an earlier blog of ours here. [Happy Employees in the Workplace Blog August 2017]

Develop your leaders

Training, professional development and mentor programmes are really valuable to managers and would-be managers within an organisation. Helping people to progress on their career path will encourage them to stay within your company and to pass on the skills they have learned.

Improve efficiency

Work with your managers to increase the efficiency of both individuals and teams within your organisation. Look at work routines and keep an eye out for areas where work is duplicated – encouraging departments to work together can easily eliminate this.

Another way of doing this, would be to automate your HR administration. If you haven’t yet looked at HR software or an automation tool, then now would be a great time to do so – get it in place for 1 January 2018!

HR software takes the hassle out of everyday HR management; providing a self-managing role for staff, managing attendance, family friendly leave, performance, communication and other HR processes. Staff can easily access holiday information, and review and request holiday time from their own home. Find out more on that here. [HR Software Free Trial]

If you would like to discuss this subject further and find out how we can help you achieve your new year goals, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or send an email.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Satisfied employees

Happy Employees in the Workplace

From a rather way out suggestion from a Swedish politician, to some rather more reserved suggestions – there are plenty of ways you can make your workplace a happier place!

HR professionals must have been left reeling in Sweden after a politician suggested that sex breaks in the workplace would be good for the physical and mental health of employees! The vote on his proposal is due in the spring, so we will look forward to seeing the results…

In the meantime, it is worth looking at how you can keep your employees happy in more conventional ways. After all, we all know how ensuring your workforce is content can result in better productivity for any company. It also encourages your people to stay with you, cutting back on time and resources spent on recruiting and training new staff.

Work/Life Balance

We are certainly not suggesting that you introduce conjugal breaks, but ensuring that your staff have a healthy work/life balance will help them maintain healthy relationships outside of work. And people who are in happy, healthy relationships tend to work better and be more focused, which can only be of benefit for your organisation. Considering policies that allow flexible working and discouraging a workplace culture of outside-hours working will also help.

When it comes to relationships at work, you need to consider whether you have some sort of Romance Policy in place, and what needs to happen should romances between colleagues flourish – according to reports around 15% of people meet partners at work, so it’s something that needs to be addressed by HR. I have written about this subject before.

Employee Benefits

A study in the Journal of Labor Economics in October 2015 found that happy employees generated about 12% more work than others, so it really is worth spending the time to ensure your staff are content, especially if you consider that research by employee benefits and perks company Perkbox found that 30% (that’s 6.5 million!) of UK workers are unhappy at work and would move jobs for better benefits.

A massive 69% said company perks and benefits were important to their overall satisfaction and more than a quarter pointed out that lack of reward and recognition for good work was their main grievance at work.

Recognition & Praise

Recognising and acknowledging good work and effort is not hard to do – encourage your managers to praise on a daily basis where it is due – and make sure that it is widely known that recognition can come in several forms, whether verbally, by email or for more major achievements using a more public vehicle such as company newsletter or intranet.

Holiday Entitlement

Finally, while it is still summer – though we think someone may have forgotten to tell the weather – do remember that it is vitally important to have a break. Managers should not only encourage their staff to take at least one long break, rather than lots of odd days, but should also plan in advance for cover and ensure there is a sufficient handover. This will help your staff to go away without fear of being contacted while they are on holiday – and also ensure that the remaining staff members don’t end up doing two jobs while their colleague is away. More advice on this here.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send an email.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Cybercrime Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Fighting Cybercrime

The threat of cybercrime to British businesses is very real – and increasing all the time. This is one subject you shouldn’t ignore…

British businesses lost almost £30 billion due to cybercrime in 2016*. And nearly half fell victim to some kind of cybercrime, whether that was phishing, hacking, denial of service attacks or viruses.

If you are unaware of the damage cybercrime can do – just think back to May, when the NHS was subject to a ransomware attack, which brought down systems around the country, resulting in chaos and cancelled operations.

Is your data safe from hackers?

As hackers increasingly exploit human vulnerability, what can HR do to fight back? Protecting against cyber assaults is a more complex issue than just throwing money into better software and training your IT department. Read People Management’s new report [CIPD: Cybersecurity is too important to be left to the IT department 27/06/2017] to find out about the vital role HR has to play in educating employees and addressing organisational vulnerabilities.

People Management’s report reveals that 46% of UK employees spent half an hour or less on cyber security training in 2016, with 27% having done none at all. A new attitude towards training is clearly needed and Peter Cheese, CIPD Chief Executive, believes the trick to delivering effective cyber security training is to show how cybercrime could affect staff in their personal lives.

Take this free e-learning module [CIPD: Cyber Security for HR Professionals] on cyber security for HR professionals, to learn how to protect yourself and your organisation.

Speaking recently at an event with the Financial Times, Peter Cheese said that lifelong learning will be vital to future sustainability in a world where ‘data is the new electricity’.

So, it’s vital that companies are protected – and it is not just down to the IT department, HR has a role to play too.

HR’s role in cybercrime

The HR role is to educate employees, after all that is your strength. IT staff may know all the ins and out of cybersecurity, but it is the HR staff who have the skills to pass that knowledge on to the staff. And at present, according to Government research, only 17% of businesses are training their staff to be aware of cyber security.

It is obvious that that figure needs to change – and fast. This has to be a culture change within the organisation: you need to make sure employees buy in to the very real threat that cybercrime can pose to the company. They need to be aware, for instance, that you can’t just use random USB sticks in company computers without knowing what’s on them and where they come from.

And it’s not just in-house staff that need to be part of the culture change – freelancers and contractors need to be brought on board and made aware of the risks and the protocol to follow within your organisation.

When it comes to your training methods, if you can make it fun and engaging, you’ll be halfway to winning the battle. For consultancy firm PwC, the answer was to introduce a digital game called Game of Threats, which mimics a cyber-attack on an organisation.

And at the end of the day, companies also need people who are experts in the matter. HR has a role to play in ensuring that IT staff or consultants with specialist knowledge in this area are brought on board and are up to speed with the varying threats from cybercrime, as well as having the tools to tackle it.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

*Data from a report by Beaming [Beaming Ltd: Cyber security breaches cost British Businesses almost £30 billion in 2016 01/03/2017]

The 'Always-on' generation. Image courtesy of nenetus at

The Youth of Today – Are you Ready for Generation Z?

When it comes to managing HR, you need to understand your market, and while you may have got a handle on the Millennials – those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000 – do you know about what’s coming next?

Generation Z (sometimes called the Post-Millennials) are the first generation to have grown up in a truly digital world. They are often referred to as the ‘always-on’ generation. They won’t remember a world without smartphones, and find the idea of being unable to be connected to friends, family and indeed the rest of the world by phone and internet completely alien.

So, have you thought about how you might be planning to attract, recruit and retain this new influx of workers?

The UK also has a severe digital skills shortage, so these young people, with their in-built digital skills are going to be hugely valuable in the workplace. But you need to be aware that their attitudes and expectations around the working environment could be vastly different to the previous generation.

Report Findings

The findings of the Amaze Generation: digital me report which has studied 10 to 15-year-olds over the past five years, are intriguing. It revealed that these young people have developed processes and strategies to deal with the digital world around them, in every aspect of their life from relationships, self-esteem and careers to education, pastimes and shopping.

They are not, as you might have first thought, digital slaves obsessed with taking selfies, instead they are shaping and moulding the digital world around them. See the video here.  They are already digital strategists and content editors – though they may not realise it yet – they edit their own personae online and create their own personal brands. They want constant communication, but in a form of their own – they want intimate networks, not intrusion.

What this means to an organisation

As they come into the workplace, Generation Z will already be able to manage their own lives from a smartphone, and be capable of dealing with the latest technologies or new trends quickly. They will be surprised if their workplace cannot do the same.

They won’t be scared of new technologies and processes, they will be able to work around them, not be scared that a new development will take their job away.

You can expect them to challenge communication technologies and processes, as well as ways of remote working – and coming up with their own, probably improved methods of working.

And for HR…

As HR professionals, we will have to be aware that they are used to getting almost instant feedback and will want their working lives to offer positive experiences. They will be looking for the freedom and flexibility to be creative, and will expect to work in an atmosphere where they feel valued and where they can achieve their potential.

So how can you attract these Post-Milennials to your organisation? Well, make sure they know that they can have an input into the way the company works, and that their ideas will be appreciated. You need to ensure they feel like they will have a future with your organisation – managers should have genuine conversations with them, recognise their good work, and offer decent benefits and salaries.

If you commit to investing in these young employees, allow them the freedom to grow and thrive and they will reward you with their loyalty and their talent.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Election 2017
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What HR Professionals Need to Know about the General Election

From political discussions in the office to what the election result could mean to you, here’s what you need to know…

One of the first issues when a general election is called is the matter of politics within the workplace.

Of course, you can’t ban any talk of politics or the general election – it will be uppermost in many people’s minds and on the news constantly. But you are entitled to stop political campaigning at work, which might cause disruption or upset to your staff or customers – and of course if they try to use work equipment for their campaigning, for instance, using the photocopier to produces masses of leaflets.

You are also entitled to stop any political symbols being worn at work. Do you have a dress code or a policy on political activities in the workplace? Use these to let your staff know about your expectations. And with Brexit being at the fore of all parties campaigning in the run-up to the election, any comments that could be construed as harassment, particularly towards other nationalities, is a strict no-go area. HR departments may need to be prepared for conflict on this matter.

So, onto the election and the policies that could affect those of us working in HR.

Conservative Plans

It is expected that Theresa May is planning to protect workers’ rights, as she is said to want to create a fairer, equal society and to aid social mobility. The Conservatives said they would ‘protect and enhance’ workers’ rights in the Brexit White Paper – which would include the three million EU nationals living in the UK, as well as UK citizens in the EU.

Most parties want to keep the employment rights we already enjoy under the EU, so hopefully most of these won’t be changed much, whoever wins the election.

Hopefully May will also stay firm to her promise to help to end the stigma of mental health in the workplace, and the Tories have already promised to back legislation on the gender pay gap – so let’s hope that won’t change either.

Labour Plans

If Labour come to power, Jeremy Corbyn has promised that they would raise the minimum wage for all to a minimum of £10 an hour by 2020. Good news for employees, although there may be some companies questioning if they could afford it. Labour also want to add another four bank holidays to the calendar – these could be especially significant for companies that work with counterparts overseas who don’t have the same days off.

At the moment, the Taylor Review is looking into modern employment practices, including the gig economy and zero hour contracts – so it is hoped that this does not get forgotten amongst all the political campaigning – and its findings overlooked. Read more on the review here.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.


The Budget and what it means for HR

This is the last time that we will see a Spring Budget – the main budget will be seen in the Autumn from now on – so the way businesses plan their year may also change in response to this.

These are the main points that concern HR and human resources departments:


The announced plan to increase NI rates of the self-employed was met by uproar, especially as the present government has made a pledge to support the small business. As a result, Chancellor Philip Hammond had to make a U-turn on this in the days that followed the announcement. Good news for the moment for the ever-increasing gig economy.  Read our previous blogs on the Gig Economy here.

The initial decision was intended to help even up the tax benefits between employed and self-employed people, with Hammond stating that there was around a £4,000 disparity between the tax paid by an employed and self-employed person each earning £32,000. However, as critics have stated, the self-employed don’t benefit from the likes of sick pay, holiday pay and maternity pay to name just a few.

But as more people diversify in their working lives, experts say that this has only served to highlight that issues with taxation will become ever more complex – and could be a threat to the gig economy if people can no longer afford to freelance.

Back to work

An interesting development for those of us in HR is the promise to support those returning to work after a career break. A total of £5 million has been set aside to help these people, which will of course include many women coming back into the workforce after having children.

Business rate

Business rates are set to be capped, so that they will not rise by more than £50 a month. A £300m discretionary fund will go to local authorities to enable them to help businesses with their rates where they see fit.

National Living Wage

As we know from the Autumn Statement, the National Living Wage is set to increase to £7.50 this month. The personal tax allowance rises to £11,500 and the higher tax rate now starts at £45,000.

Educations, skills and training

Technical skills come into focus, with the launch of T-Levels, for those training in the sector from age 16-19, while the number of technical courses available will be cut in order to raise the quality of the remaining ones. £40 million will be ploughed into the Department of Education to test and pilot a number of lifelong learning projects. Increasing STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and maths) in schools is also going to be a priority.


And finally, you should have heard from the Pensions Adviser or someone in your organisation who may have information about your staging date. Most payroll companies use the auto-enrolment software and can set up the scheme, but if you have any queries please contact us at

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.


Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Aylesbury Business of the Year Award

Embrace HR Wins Aylesbury Business of the Year Award

Cecily Lalloo is delighted to announce that her company – Embrace HR Limited – has won ‘Aylesbury Business of the Year’ Award at the inaugural SME Buckinghamshire Business Awards, which took place at the Double Tree Hotel, Milton Keynes, on Thursday 30 March 2017.

As Cecily Lalloo was out of the country at the time of the award she invited her team, clients and other small businesses who had supported the company’s growth to attend on her behalf – “I’d asked Shirley Parsons to accept on my behalf as I have known her since 1996 as my former employer, and then client and mentor. Everyone was so excited on my behalf and FaceTimed me the news.”

The requirements of the award, sponsored by Events & PR, were to show outstanding initiative, boldness and imagination, as well as sound management practices. In addition to being based in Aylesbury, entrants to this award were also expected to demonstrate sustainable growth combined with a degree of commercial success that is exceptional for the size of the business.

Embrace HR Limited was started in 2009 and, as the company gained more clients, Director, Cecily Lalloo recruited VA’s (Virtual Assistants) and other HR associates to support the business, growing quickly to a team of six. In March 2016, the business moved to premises in Porters Lodge, Aylesbury.

The awards were launched on Valentine’s Day, inviting business leaders to show the love for what they do. In the business community, SME stands for ‘small to medium enterprise’ but in this instance, said Ian Cording, FSB Regional Chairman, “stand for ‘smooth, mad-for and embrace’”.

Cecily Lalloo, said “I am absolutely over the moon! I am passionate about my business and the work that we do and extremely proud of Embrace HR, so its lovely to gain recognition by winning the award. Like many other small businesses, I work with other small businesses and find this works well for us all.”

For further information, visit or contact Cecily Lalloo on telephone: 07767 308717 or send a message.


Statutory Sick Pay

Getting Back to Work

Employees who have been off work with a long-term illness could still be paid Statutory Sick Pay when they return to employment, if proposals from a recent government Green Paper go ahead.

The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper revealed that sickness absence costs employers £9 billion a year, while the additional cost to the NHS of treating long-term health conditions that keep people out of work is estimated at around £7 billion per year.

Work, Health and Disability Green Paper

The Paper proposes a number of measures to help those with long-term health conditions get back to work.

Included in the Green Paper are recommendations for a review of Statutory Sick Pay and GP Fit Notes in order to help people get back into their jobs more quickly, and to stay there for longer. The aim is that these changes will help to encourage more supportive conversations between staff and employers and enable phased returns to work which, in the long term, should improved retention, employee engagement and productivity.

The proposals look at encouraging GPs to talk to people about what work they might be capable of doing, and for attitudes to change among employers, with the intention of encouraging more contact between employers and their sick employees.

This could see HR departments conduct a vital role in liaising with employees who are off work with long-term health problems, with a view to helping them to get back to work – perhaps on a part-time or remote basis.

In some cases where the return to work is phased, employees will still be able to claim sick pay once they are back at work.

At the moment, staff who may be entitled, can claim £88.45 a week in statutory sick pay if they are too sick to work for up to 28 weeks (see the website). But that does mean that should they return to work part time – because it is all they can manage – they lose that sick pay, even though they are not earning a full-time wage.

This change could encourage people to go back to work earlier – doing what they can manage – even if that is a part-time role.

Health and Wellbeing

The move comes as part of a realisation that getting back to work can actually help people’s health and wellbeing. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “With all the evidence showing that work is a major driver of health, this is a big opportunity – to make sure that people get the support they need, improve their health, and benefit the NHS all at the same time. I hope that health professionals will contribute their expertise so that we can ensure the best possible outcomes.” 

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, commented: “Our health, wellbeing and happiness are inextricably linked to work. People in work generally have better health. So it makes perfect sense for the government to do all it can to support employers to close the gap around employment, disability and illness and to enable people to work when they can.”  

If you would like to discuss how the new Green Paper may affect your organisation and employees or to have a chat about your general HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.


Mental Health – The Invisible Problem

It’s easy to know how to deal with someone who breaks their leg and has to take time off work because they are unable to travel in or need to go to physio appointments – but dealing with mental health in the workplace is harder because it is invisible.

Mental health and stress is the main cause of absence at work

And yet it is something that anyone working in HR must address.  In 2015, for the first time, the CIPD Absence Management Survey cited mental heath and stress as the main cause of absence in the workplace and now states that reported health problems at work has risen from a quarter to almost third in the past five years (and to 46% in the voluntary sector).

One in four suffer from a mental health condition

With one in four people in the UK suffering from some kind of mental health condition, this is not something that can be swept under the carpet. If you knew of a condition that could potentially affect a quarter of your staff, surely you would be encouraging staff to share experiences, maybe even form some sort of support network…

Mental health problems in the UK adds up to £26 billion a year

And yet the sad fact is that many people who are open about their mental health issues find that they become sidelined at work – albeit discreetly. Not only is this very unfortunate for the staff involved, it can also open up a new can of problems for the employer. Staff affected by a mental health issue are not going to perform to their best ability, and one employment lawyer told us that he is seeing more and more claims from employees who are feeling under pressure to walk out of their jobs and are making claims for constructive dismissal. And the Centre for Mental Health estimated that the total cost of mental health problems for UK employers adds up to £26 billion a year.

But it is not just about absenteeism. According to the CIPD research, around half of people experiencing mental health problem still go into work – which can result in them finding it hard to concentrate, having difficulty making decisions, and taking longer to carry out tasks.

Steps you can take as the employer

So what can you do to help? An open culture that makes employees feels comfortable about revealing their mental health issues, without fear of redress, is vital. In the Employee Outlook report from the CIPD (July 2016) only two in five respondents said they would feel comfortable disclosing mental health issues with their manager or employer. But they also need to know that being honest about their problems will be met with understanding and support. Helpful, and yet quite small changes, such as adjusting working hours or workload can make a big difference.

Of course, understanding the range of mental health problems is also an important part of the procedure. Depression and stress may immediately come to mind but there are other issues, such as panic attacks and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Colin Minto, founding partner of Big Idea Talent, a network of HR and resourcing associates, suffers from OCD. It’s not all about obsessive cleaning, as some would have you believe, but the obsessive compulsion can attach itself to all kinds of scenarios. Yet, Colin says on the CIPD website, it is not always a disadvantage: “I see benefits to my OCD. I can see on a page of writing, a half point-size difference between two letters. I can analyse things and spot a risk a mile off. I’ve been told I think differently at work – I bring a different perspective to other people. In some ways, OCD helps me do my job better.”

He would love employers to see how people’s ‘differences’ could actually help improve their business.

“I want businesses to realise it doesn’t need to affect productivity and performance – on the contrary, if you support people, it could actually increase them. People who are different come up with different, sometimes better, solutions, and form better teams.”

Embrace HR Limited, based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, helps SMEs who do not have their own HR departments, or those who need HR support from time to time. Please get in touch if you have any questions or require more information on this article by email: or phone: 07767 308 717.