Embrace HR Aylesbury Workplace Cultire

Changes happen all the time, everywhere, anywhere and we have to be prepared to update skills and keep them relevant. Working in the care sector it is vital that employees are trained to an acceptable standard, both for mandatory training but also for specific training that their employer needs.

There is a cost to training, not only financial but in time to attend and complete training, as well as the learning curve to put into practice what is learnt. Employees come and go. How do you capture the financial investment in their development, skills and knowledge? When an employee has worked with a client for a fair amount of time after the training, it is a given that they will have used their investment in training to improve working with the client and making a difference to that person’s care and life. How much can you claw back of the financial costs and when?

Can you recoup the training expense when they leave?

Recouping or ‘clawing back’ training expenses is not an easy decision. If you intend to do so, make sure that your employee knows that this is the expectation. Often the employee contract will detail what and when costs will be recouped. It is a good idea to discuss recouping costs early in the employment relationship, even at the interview stage. Most people want to be developed and are quite happy that they may need to repay costs if they leave.

It should not come as a surprise.

When employees need to attend training that is paid for by you, they should be asked to sign an individual training costs agreement detailing the name of the training course, the training provider, the date of the training and an estimate for the cost of the training. This allows for transparency so that the employee is aware of the investment and their obligations to repay should they leave.

An individual Personal Training Record should be maintained and updated for each new training course or refresher training that is completed.

What training should be repaid?

Every Employer will have a different view on what should be repaid. Below is our view of what might be seen as reasonable to recoup.

a) Mandatory training

Keep a training record with a list of mandatory training courses. A training plan for individual Employees should be discussed with them at induction and periodically during 1-2-1 meetings or supervisions. Where the job requires specific training that is set out in a job advert, the relevant certificates/evidence must be seen and recorded. A manager, team leader or family member can be responsible for this activity, or the HR provider is the ideal person to keep such records. If mandatory training is required to be repaid on leaving, this must be clear at the start of employment. However, since attracting and retaining care staff is challenging, many Employers take a view that some training will not be clawed back.

b) Additional training

What additional training courses relevant to the Employer’s specific needs are required? Prior to training being booked, discuss the training requirements with the Employee as well as the commitment that is made for the investment and for repayment. These discussions could take place at induction for new starters or during 1-2-1 meetings or supervision for existing staff. The overall training plan for an individual should include additional training, with a plan in place for when it needs to be carried out. Conduct a training needs analysis periodically to keep up to date with training requirements as they may change from time to time.

When will training take place?

Consideration must be given to whether training should take place during the probationary period or after employment is confirmed. The probationary period is a trial for both the new starter and the Employer. If neither want to continue the relationship and training has already taken place, will you, as Employer, claw back the cost of training?

Take time to consider training agreements and talk to your employees about its implementation.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.
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Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR Aylesbury adult-brainstorming-businesswoman

Focusing on employee experience is vital if you want to improve recruitment and retain your team. We look at some simple ways to help you make your employee experience better…

How often have you looked at how you can improve your customer’s experience? Whether it is updating the online buying process or improving sales aftercare, it is probably something you do as a matter of course.

And yet while you are busy ensuring that your customers have the best experience – acknowledging that they live in the 21st century and can make the most of all that technology can offer them – many companies are just not doing the same for their staff!

Of course, it is easier for the big names, such as Google, to offer flexible working, staff incentives, team building days out, social opportunities and so on, but there are things that smaller companies can focus on too.

Making sure that your employees get the best possible experience ensures that you will be able to recruit the best people – and retain them on your payroll too. Not only that, but if they are getting the best experience from work, this will be passed on to your customers, with staff being more focused, more efficient and more likely to be enthusiastic ambassadors for your brand.

After all, in so many sectors – retail, sales, media, hospitality and so on – your staff are your best asset. Surely it makes sense to take care of them, including their health and safety etc – the same way you would ensure your lorries were well maintained if you were a transport company, or your servers were looked after if you were an IT company.

Research also shows that a positive employee experience results in better productivity. [IBM Smarter Workforce Institute: The Employee Experience Index, September 2016].

Keep up to date

First, take a look at the tools you expect your staff to use. In a world where virtually every home has a laptop, smartphones, tablets and even smart TVs, coming to work and having to use an out-of-date operating system, or slow laptop can be frustrating and can really impact on their productivity.

Allowing your staff access to social media – in the right environment and with guidance – shows that you respect their work ethic and besides, so much work contact goes on around social media now – LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and so on are useful business tools now, not just time-wasting fripperies. However, it is important to recognise that in some workplaces and certain situations, this would not be appropriate.

You should also be open to your employees’ thoughts and opinions. Organise regular group meetings to bounce ideas around, or where they feel enabled to bring up any issues without fear of retribution. Or perhaps use technology – Microsoft Teams or Yammer maybe – to have group discussions. Particularly appropriate if you have staff who work at home, or from other remote locations.

Stay flexible

Ensuring the satisfaction of employees who don’t come into the office or who work from a less central location is key. Allowing them to book holidays using cloud software, or to update documents and project paperwork held in a central location will enable them to feel more engaged.

Talk to us if you would like to learn more about HR cloud software.

Offering flexible working will also help to retain staff, especially those who may have family commitments. Allowing the opportunity to work at home, or to stagger hours to enable them to drop the kids at school, or look in on an elderly relative can make their lives a lot easier, resulting in less stress for them, and allowing them to concentrate on work during their allocated hours. They are also far more likely to stay loyal to a company that acknowledges that they have a life outside of the office.

Thanks for everything

Recognising your employee contributions is also vital. And it needn’t cost the earth. Just a compliment about someone’s work can be enough – maybe some lovely fancy biscuits by the kettle to say thanks to the team for a job well done? If you can afford a lunch out for the team – great – but grand gestures are not always necessary. If someone has done something to really raise your productivity or made a major sale, a bonus or pay rise may be in order, but it’s amazing how just an acknowledgment of a great idea or creative effort can really boost someone’s mood. As can a chance to advance their career. Offering your staff opportunities to improve themselves and advance within your company will ensure they don’t move on elsewhere.

Not all positions lend themselves to promotion, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer training to help people broaden their skillsets. And in order to help them keep up in an ever-changing world, ensure there are opportunities to gain skills in the latest technological advances – social media skills for the marketing team perhaps, as well as training in any new software that you bring on board.

Employee experience

The user experience for your employees should be as good as the user experience for your customers. Think about the processes within your company. How easy is it for new staff to find out how everything works, how they can apply for holidays, or overtime? If a member of staff needs to take maternity leave, how easy is it for them to access the necessary information?

And how easy is the day-to-day experience at work? Is there car parking? If not, how does your company help them to find or pay for a space? Is the commute to your office a nightmare? Could you stagger office hours to make this easier?

These little things can make a big difference to your staff and allow them a better work/life balance – which ultimately is what many of us are looking for.

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

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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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.

Embrace HR Aylesbury People working

Do you value your staff above all else…?

Is your organisation a People Company? Does it put the success and well-being of its staff at the top of its dream board? And would your staff say this is true?

If so, congratulations, you truly have a People Company!

So what exactly is a People Company?

As we have already stated, it’s an organisation where the staff are highly valued, and where the management know that they need to help their people to develop in order to grow the company. Not only do the company’s leaders believe that, but their staff will know that they are important and valuable to the organisation. In return, these staff will value their place in the company and work to the best of their ability to help the organisation succeed.

One of the most vital factors is that employees actually believe that you, as an organisation, are people-oriented – which means the company’s actions must support this point of view.

The importance of the HR department

To keep and retain the best people, you must take on a proactive role, ensuring that staff are engaged, which in turn will increase levels of productivity. You need to be ahead of the game to succeed, to recruit the right people, to develop their skills, and to keep them on board.

To do this, HR must ensure that it is focusing on the people who work in the organisation. It means automating the processes it can, in order to let its HR team focus on what they are skilled at – getting the best out of the staff.

The importance of automating routine processes

Making it easy to do many HR tasks automatically and online makes sense. For instance, if your staff can book their own holidays using an online system, that’s a routine job that a member of the HR team doesn’t need to handle. If managers can book appraisals and other people-managing tasks online, yet again, it’s a job an HR person doesn’t have to be involved in.

And a new job title has emerged as this trend continues – Chief People Officers. They are likely to appear in the kind of forward-thinking organisations that always spring to mind, such as Google – but even the Cabinet Office has one in the shape of Rupert McNeil [GOV.UK Rupert McNeil] – providing “professional leadership on a range of people issues, including talent, capability, inclusion, capacity, pay and employee deal, performance, employee relations, culture and behaviours.”

It’s all about the experience

However, there’s more to being a People Company though – you need to ensure that your staff are being offered engaging working experiences throughout their time with you. It starts with the recruitment process – companies now must market their own brand to would-be employees, to ensure they attract the best possible candidates.

Finding out about your new staff during the recruitment process is vital – understand them and you’ll get to understand what drives them and what will make them want to stay within your company and succeed.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, 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.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Skills crisis

As Brexit gets ever-nearer, and the world of work changes with technological advances, the UK is heading towards a skills shortage that will hit employers hard…

The UK is falling behind its European counterparts when it comes to education levels and training in the workplace, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

As Britain heads towards a future out of Europe, the CIPD’s report – From ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’: making the UK’s skills system world-class – shows that the UK lags behind most OECD (The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in at least four major skillsets.

You can download and read the full report here [CIPD Policy Report April 2017].

To put this in perspective – the UK and Northern Ireland are at the bottom of 19 countries in terms of young people’s computer-solving skills and in the bottom four for literacy and numeracy for 16- to 24-year-olds.

The research also shows that UK employers spend less on training than the other main EU countries. Back in 2010 the average cost was 266 per employee compared to 511 across the EU – and this disparity is only getting wider.

Employers have been highlighting this lack of skills and the lack of development for more than a decade, but little practical action appears to have taken place. The CIPD has already called for the government to put skills at the core of the national industrial strategy, as well as looking for organisations to invest in more training in the workplace and to look to increase their skills bases. This also means that HR professionals will have a major role to play in identifying where there are skills deficits, and devising strategies to compensate.

When it comes to digital skills, the problem is that some of the jobs that are available now hadn’t really been thought of 15 years ago – just consider social media and digital content vacancies. When Facebook first began 13 years ago, how many people would have imagined that it would be possible to make a living running a social media strategy for a company!

And as technology advances, there are going to be more – not less – jobs that we could not have imagined. HR staff can help by staying on top of advances and identifying where training existing staff will help productivity or where it is necessary to being in employees skilled in certain areas.

It is not only in digital skills that the UK is lacking either – a recent CBI survey [Independent: UK migration figures underscore acute risk of labour shortage, leading business groups warn – 24 August 2017] suggests that the skills shortage in the services sector – is the worst it has been for 19 years. And with the likely exit of many Eastern European nationals – who are at the heart of a number of our industries such as construction and care – who is going to be building all the new homes the government is planning or caring for our elderly in a nation where we are all living longer than ever before?

“The loss of these vital skills should concern us all,” says Matthew Percival, head of employment at the Confederation of British Industry.

Vocational training is necessary to plug this gap – and it needs to happen quickly – with Brexit happening in the very near future, we need to get people trained and ready to work as soon as possible.

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

T: 07767 308717 or contact us via our website.

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.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Cybercrime Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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]

Embrace HR Aylesbury Appraisals

January is a good time to look at things anew – and this month we take a look at sorting out the appraisal process, or you may refer to it as a review process.

Speak to many people – employees and managers – about the annual appraisal and you’ll be met with sighs, muttering and often downright mutiny.

Many people consider the whole appraisal process as a waste of valuable work time, an interruption of their working day, and a pointless box-ticking activity.

Yet the theory behind the appraisal process is a good one – it allows both parties to discuss performance, look at ways to improve productivity, employee engagement and company morale, and can encourage employee engagement – if it is done in the right way.

However, many of the big companies are now scrapping the annual review and turning instead to real-time feedback. Accenture, one of the biggest companies in the world, did just that in 2016 – a massive task considering the 394,000 people involved – as did accounting giant Deloittes.

These organisations have come to the conclusion that the money, time and effort involved did not achieve what it should – that is, better productivity from employees and in turn improved profits for the company.

Instead, these organisations have opted for a ‘little and often’ system, where ongoing feedback is provided after assignments. Small businesses can learn from this, as the big businesses have already done the research!

Is this something you could implement?

It is becoming apparent that having a meeting once a year is not the way. This allows far too much time for anger or resentment to simmer before the employee or manager has a chance to address an issue – be it performance or conduct.

If there are problems with performance, they should be raised when an issue comes to light, not further down the line. There should be ample opportunity for comments about staff’s performance, strengths and weaknesses and discussion of progress throughout the year.

Weekly check-ins are used by many firms now – this could be as simple as a five-minute chat in the corridor after a presentation. It is so important to make dedicated time to speak to your staff. Everyone is busy and oft times staff do not want to ‘worry’ a busy manager and hence ‘molehills become mountains’.

Any sort of appraisal should allow for the staff member to discuss their own ambitions, what training they need, how they feel about their job and if they have any concerns.

If you still plan to use appraisal forms, when they make their way back to HR they should be used as a tool – not filed away to tick a box! It can be used to get a feel for employee morale, the sort of training and changes staff would benefit from, and to identify ways to help employees progress within the company.

Technology and social media have even been introduced by some firms to assist in their feedback system. PwC for example, uses a mobile app called Snapshot. This allows its employees to ask managers or peers to assess them in five areas: business acumen, global acumen, technical capability, leadership skills and relationships. They will be told if they are meeting, exceeding or falling short of expectations.

In our always-on society, where changes take place frequently, information is available at the touch of a button, and where we are used to getting what we need in seconds, it makes sense that appraisals should also happen frequently, with regular updates.

If you would like to discuss how you can update your appraisal system, or 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.






Embrace HR Aylesbury Neuroscience

People tend to get worried when terms such as neuroscience are bandied about. But don’t be alarmed – nobody is expecting HR professionals to start reading up on brain surgery. However, knowing how our brains work can be a valuable tool in your arsenal.

Neuroscience refers to the impact the brain has on behavior and cognitive functions and how it reacts in certain situations – for instance ‘fight or flight’. It can apply to how the brain develops, memory and learning, sleep, stress and the senses.

Understanding what can help the brain can be invaluable

Understanding what can help the brain, and what can hinder it, can be invaluable when you are trying to work with staff to improve their skills and productivity.

For instance, when you send someone on a training course, they don’t necessarily retain a large percentage of the knowledge that is imparted. But if that course is delivered with consideration about how the brain actually learns and retains information, you get much better results. In fact, some companies are introducing exercise into their training courses, as aerobic exercise (along with decent sleep) can contribute to a better learning environment.

Being able to work with the brain has to be advantageous

And being able to work with the brain and its functions, rather than fighting against it, has to be more advantageous for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.

HR professionals can also practice what they preach. By understanding how the brain works and reacts, they can help their people when they are under stress or in difficult circumstances. Communicating with them in the right way can have a huge impact – and help them improve performance and productivity, as the brain cannot function properly if it is under too much stress.

And by helping the people within the organisation to recognise how the brain works, they can also help themselves. For instance, by understanding their personality and why it makes them behave the way they do; recognising the way other people’s minds work can help them to function together as a team; and of course recognising how they learn best and so choosing the right kind of courses or other ways of learning new skills.

Utilisation of this science can help

Neuroscience is not all new – and indeed you may be using some of these techniques without even thinking about it. But the utilisation of this science can help in so many ways:

  • Performance: Managers can be helped to work on giving ‘brain-friendly’ feedback, which will leave their staff open to their comments, rather than shutting down.
  • Learning: Your average workshop produces knowledge retention of around 10 per cent. If you can deliver it using ‘brain-friendly’ techniques, you can substantially increase that figure.
  • Productivity: Some tasks are by their very nature, mindless and repetitive. But productivity can be improved if the workers are aware that what they are working on will be of benefit to someone else.
  • Coping with change: neuroscience can be used to help to improve employees’ resilience and thus support them when they have to adapt to change.
  • Engagement: Improve employee engagement by focusing on people’s strengths

If you would like to discuss training, change management or your HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

Embrace HR Aylesbury holidays

A healthy workplace is vital, and HR has a major role to play in creating the best conditions for staff.

Staff ill health can cost the UK around £14 billion a year according to the CBI’s 2013 Sickness Absence survey, and the CIPD 2015 Absence Management survey reckoned the average annual median cost of absence per employee was £554.

And these figures may not take into account indirect costs, such as a drop in employee morale, loss of productivity and reduced customer service; things that can have a very real effect on any business.

Ensuring that your people take all the holiday they are entitled to is just one way in which to ensure employees keep healthy and happy.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, workers (including part-timers and most agency staff) have the right to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave each year.

However, according to research commissioned by Elance-Odesk, an online marketplace which connects businesses and freelancers, British workers are subject to an extra 6.5 extra working hours each week because companies don’t prepare properly for the holiday season.

So how can you prepare for holidays?

By this time of year, you should have a reasonable picture of when staff will be taking their long summer vacations, and have checked for any potential clashes.

If you don’t, do make sure that everyone is aware of the holiday request procedures and how much leave they have remaining.

  • Once you have holidays in place, ensure that your teams are aware of what recurring tasks need to be carried out over the period when you have people away, and manage how those tasks will be redistributed and what deadlines are looming.
  • Find out whether extra cover will be needed to ensure your operation continues to run smoothly, and allow time for training temporary staff if necessary.

Depending on the size and nature of your organisation, it may not be able to cope if too many people are away at the same time. If this is the case, the individuals must be informed as early as possible about the situation and how it will be handled.

Likewise, if you need people working over bank holidays, plenty of notice is needed. You could offer incentives such as reduced office hours and time off in lieu.

Before they go on holiday, make sure that your people set up appropriate out-of-office messages for email and phones, and provide a detailed handover document if required.

Encourage staff to take holidays

However challenging it may be to sort out holidays, especially in smaller teams, it is imperative for the morale and wellbeing of your employees.

Not all holidays need to be long ones, though. Encourage staff to take short breaks, which will allow them to return to work relaxed and invigorated, in between any longer vacations they may take.

If staff aren’t taking their holidays, look at the reasons why, and what you can do to help. Is their workload too heavy, are there too many project deadlines, are you short-staffed or do some Managers make it difficult for staff to take their holidays?

Automated holiday management systems

If you have various staff working shifts or part-time hours it can be a challenge to keep track of what time off they accrue.

You could consider a cloud-based personnel software system, such as Staff Squared, which can manage all your employee data and files, and let your staff request holidays using an intuitive calendar. Find out more at Staff2.

For help with your human resources requirements, issues and activities, please contact us for a no obligation discussion. 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.  Email us or phone Cecily on 07767 308 717.