Friday, 14 October 2016

Creating a successful job share

As working patterns become more flexible, job sharing is an arrangement that we’re hearing about more and more.  Britain even has its first ever political job share: Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley were elected recently as co-leaders of the Green Party. They described it as a pioneering job-share arrangement that would help them both balance family and work commitments. 

So if your business has a role with responsibilities that need covering throughout the working day and a well-qualified employee who wants part-time hours, sharing the job between two part-time employees can be an ideal win-win arrangement. 
What’s in it for your business?

Two people sharing one role gives you the benefit of two people’s experience for the price of one - two brains instead of one, two sets of ideas and creativity, and a wider set of skills and approach.  Both job sharers will tend to push each other to focus on the most important priorities as their time at work is limited, giving you two peoples’ judgment call on what really needs to get done.

If the job sharers can be flexible, they can cover each other’s holiday and sickness absence so that there’s better continuity.
And job sharing could mean you keep valued employees who might otherwise leave because of issues with work-life balance.  For example, recent research on women working in senior roles has shown that the option to job share is a critical factor for them in deciding whether to stay in or leave an organisation. 

What makes a successful job share?

Two people doing one job can create complications.  Here are our tips, based on first-hand experience, on how to head off the potential difficulties and manage a successful job share:

1       Manage expectations and perceptions

The priority is that everyone in the team and anyone outside the business who comes into contact with the job sharers has a seamless experience.  Everyone who interacts with the job sharers should experience a unity of understanding and purpose.  No one with a query should be told: "I don't know the answer, my job share partner does that not me."

If the job sharers don’t share an email account and phone number, they must be able to pick up and respond to each other’s emails and calls.  They need easy access to each other’s work information so they can respond to queries in the same way, by sharing PC or paper files.

Any time you or the job sharers talk about the arrangement to co-workers and clients, focus on how it benefits the business especially the ‘two heads are better than one’ and continuity of cover advantages. People want to know how this set-up will be good for them, not for the job sharers.

 2     Set up the communication framework

People certainly don’t want to go through their issue twice and will expect the job sharers to act as one brain!  Most likely, as conscientious employees who care about doing their job well, the job sharers will be only too aware of the importance of excellent communication with each other. 
Reinforce this whenever there is the opportunity: nothing must slip through the net because of communication failure! And if it does, what will they do differently to avoid it happening again?

A regular handover time between the two may help, so that they can fill each other in on what has been happening.  If this isn’t possible, encourage the job sharers to phone each other regularly to talk through the issues and agree priorities, and email to relay important information and pass on work. 

3     Empower job sharers to collaborate, don’t micro-manage

Trust the job holders to organise their work in the best way, to take accountability for their own workload and to manage their time to get things done.  Leave them to plan, set goals and share successes.  Encourage and empower them to work out their problems together, to have the difficult conversations about prioritizing work, communicating, office politics etc, and to work out the best ways to collaborate.

But monitor progress and performance, and be prepared to step in and take the lead when it starts to look like things aren't working.   

4       Divide up the job in a way that works

There are a number of ways to slice any given job in two.  The simplest way is for both to do the same tasks and simply divide up the working days.  An alternative is to split most of the job content but for each job sharer to lead on specific tasks or projects depending on their specialist skills and knowledge. 

For example, this could mean carving out two buckets of work, one being requests from clients requiring a short-term response and the other, longer term projects. Immediate requests are resolved by whoever is working at the time. For the longer term projects, the job sharers decide together who will lead.

At the outset, sit down with the job sharers and jointly plan in principle how they will divide up the job. But don’t set the details in stone — it’s better to let them experiment and make adjustments as necessary.

5       Keep it legal
As part-timers, job sharers have the legal right not to suffer a detriment in comparison with full-time employees.  This means they must have the same employment benefits as full-timers, with holidays pro-rated.  They must also have the same access to training opportunities as full-timers.

If an existing employee requests a job share arrangement, this falls within the statutory right of all employees with 26 weeks' service to request flexible working.  The request needs to be considered in a structured way and responded to within specific timeframes. 

Are you ready to think outside the box and consider alternatives to the standard 9 to 5 arrangements? We can help you at The Human Resource with alternatives that will benefit your business and other ways of retaining your best employees, as well as keeping things legal.  Contact us today on for a no-obligation consultation. 



Saturday, 1 October 2016

Employing students? Top tips for the new term

In university towns and cities around the country, students are settling in for the start of the academic year. As Freshers week comes to an end, many students are starting to look for part-time work to fund living costs for the year ahead. Over three-quarters of UK students work during their time at university, a large labour force.  So if your business is on the lookout for bright part-time temporary workers, this is the best time to find them.
What do you need to watch out for? Here are our top tips when you’re employing students:

1. Go easy but set firm boundaries

Using students for straightforward jobs while they study gives them a taster of your sort of business, one that might sow a seed of interest that develops over time into a lifelong passion. There are many stories of Chief Executives and senior directors who joined their company as a student working part-time and progressed to greater things. 

To start with though, newby students will most likely be facing new challenges and learning experiences just by starting work: a full working day, staying off social media for long periods of time, being punctual and turning up reliably even with a hangover.  If they also need to be on their feet all day, work out change and be courteous to a wide variety of adults, they will probably be shattered initially, so cut them some slack.  

Of course some won't pick up the norms in the workplace very well and you will need to spell out the boundaries more explicitly.

2.   Decide on contractual terms beforehand

Terms of employment are quite straightforward if your business requires the student to work the same hours each week.  Employers must be sure that they do not treat any part-time staff less favourably than those working full-time and they must not be disadvantaged in relation to employment benefits, such as paid bank holiday entitlement.

If yours is the sort of business where demand fluctuates very significantly and is hard to predict, a zero hours contract may work better.  Despite the negative press coverage, the flexibility that can come with a zero hours contract may be very welcome to students. 
You will need to decide whether or not the zero hours contract will have a mutual obligation for you to offer hours to the worker and for the worker to accept the hours offered.  The employer can require zero hours workers to accept the hours they are offered.  However this may be unattractive to students if they have assignment deadlines or mandatory laboratory time as part of their course.

Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which prohibit people from working for another employer, are unlawful.
3. Check for restrictions on working hours when employing foreign students

If you are employing students from outside the European Economic Area, you must check for limitations on their right to work in the UK.  For example, there may be a restriction on the number of hours that they can work while studying.
As well as the usual document checks to establish that they have the right to work in the UK, under Immigration rules you will need evidence from the institution where they’re studying, showing the term dates covering the period of employment.

4. Ensure your payroll system flags up the right time to increase pay

If you are paying any employees at or near the national minimum wage rate, ensure that your system will pick up on birthdays and alert you, so that you can increase pay at the right time:
  • 25 and over, £7.20 an hour;
  • 21 to 24 inclusive, £6.95 an hour;
  • 18 to 20 inclusive, £5.55; and
  • 16 and 17 year olds, £4 an hour.
5. Don’t restrict recruitment to students only

You might be recruiting for a role that you think would be perfect for a student.

However, focusing your recruitment only on students might put you at risk of an age discrimination claim from an older applicant who would have been just as suitable for the job.
So don’t use phrases like “student wanted” in your job adverts.

6. Assess student workers for pension auto-enrolment

If your company has passed its staging date and is now auto-enrolling workers into a workplace pension scheme, keep an eye on your obligations to part-time workers.
Someone working a few hours a week during term time would probably not  earn enough to be auto-enrolled, but if they then work full-time for a period, for example over the summer holidays, depending on their age (22 upwards) and earnings there may be a legal obligation to auto-enrol them.

Even if you don’t have to auto-enrol your student employee, they may have the right to opt in to your pension scheme.  If you do receive such a request, you can congratulate yourself on hiring the most financially responsible student in the country.  And yes, you will need to enrol the student into the scheme.

For practical advice on setting clear boundaries in the workplace, terms for zero hours contracts, equal employment right for part-timers, assessing for pension auto enrolment and all the other issues around employing people, contact us at The Human Resource on

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Hardening Home Office attitude against abuse of immigration rules

You’ll recall that in July immigration officials arrested dozens of employees working illegally in the UK at Byron, prompting mixed reactions from the national media and the burger chain’s customers. 

The company was accused by some of setting a “sting” under the guise of a training event to assemble the 35 workers – from Albania, Egypt, Brazil, and Nepal – in a location where they could be arrested. 

The Home Office denied there had been a sting and told the media that Byron had been fully compliant with immigration and asylum law in how it handled the issue.  It emerged that although the restaurant chain had performed the correct right-to-work checks on recruits, the Home Office had received intelligence that some documents the employees provided were forged.  Once Byron became aware of this, it was knowingly employing illegal workers.  Therefore if it had not co-operated with the Home Office requests it would have faced civil penalties of up to £20,000 per employee.  For 35 employees this would have amounted to a fine of up to £700,000.

Shortly after the arrests new, tougher rules came into force and it’s now even more essential that employers comply with immigration legislation.  Changes include an increase in the maximum prison sentence from 2 to 5 years for employers who are prosecuted.  Before, employers could be prosecuted if they knowingly employed someone illegally, but this has now been extended to employers who have reasonable cause to believe they are doing so. 

While the Byron raid has attracted much media attention, the reality is that the Home Office is auditing companies every day.  Officials have powers to enter and search premises to investigate possible immigration offences, and they use them.  

But employers with solid policies and processes in place for checking right-to-work documentation are in a stronger position to defend their case if they’re found to be employing someone illegally.  As an employer you aren’t expected to be a forgery expert: unless documentation is obviously fake, you wouldn’t be expected to spot it.  As long as you’re aware of your obligations and have the correct evidence on file, it’s unlikely you’ll receive a fine.

How to stay on the right side of the new law

With such tough penalties and compliance visits in place, employers will be pleased to hear that it’s reasonably simple to head off any charges.  Three administrative steps can protect your business from liability and criminal prosecution:
  • always obtain an original right to work document from the Home Office’s prescribed list before employment starts;
  • check the authenticity and validity of the document in the presence of the employee in question; and
  • keep a clear electronic and/or paper copy of the checked document with a note of the date of the check and initials of the individual who verified the document.
Employers are also responsible for ensuring their employees continue to have the right to work throughout their employment.  This means completing follow-up checks on those who have time-limited permission to work in the UK before their status expires.

For more detail, here’s the link to a factsheet from the CIPD on Immigration law changes.  More here from The Human Resource about your legal responsibilities as an employer.  

Thursday, 22 September 2016

How To Use Your Greatest Asset To Maximise Profits in The Final Quarter

At this time of the year, savvy business owners are starting to really knuckle down on the tactics that they’ll use to make the most of the opportunity that’s presented in the final quarter. Perhaps you’re rolling out special offers to entice festive spending, or maybe you have an exciting new line of products that you’re expecting to fly off the shelves.

These strategies can work, for sure, but if you’re serious about really upping the ante and ending 2016 in the best position possible for the business, then it’s time to think about how you can leverage your best asset – your people.

Here, we’re going to share some practical hints and tips that you can start implementing right away.

 Consider whether you need to roll out refresher training

 At this time of the year, exemplary customer service can make a huge difference when it comes to your profits. Are your staff comfortable with talking about your products and services? Can they pinpoint opportunities to offer an upsell? And are they really firing on all cylinders when it comes to their day-to-day work?

Take the opportunity to consider how you can offer training to drill down on key points, and take performance up to that next level. You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on bringing in external providers, so think outside of the box when it comes to how you can deliver.

Ensure that individuals and teams have goals to be working towards

If your staff have been in their positions for a while, then they can really easily fall into a mundane routine. They turn up to work, do their bit, and then go home. Could it be the case that they’re feeling complacent? If so, now’s an excellent time to get your leadership team together and ensure that everyone has realistic but stretching goals to be making progress towards.

 Individuals should understand and recognise the contribution they make to the bigger picture, though it’s also sensible to think about how you can encourage staff to work together to achieve bigger things.

Work out how you’ll incentivise outstanding performance 

Think that it’s enough to pay your staff the money you owe them at the end of the month? and then expect them to thank their lucky stars that they’re so generously rewarded for their work? Think again.

 Pay is only one part of the story here, and you need to consider how you can make sure that your employees know that their contribution is valued.

 Again, this doesn’t have to be something that puts a strain on your budget. There’s a ton of things that you can do to offer an attractive inventive for outstanding performance, even if you’re on a tight budget. And, of course, you should never underestimate the value of saying thank you.

The year’s speeding to an end, but if you start taking action right away on the points that we’ve outlined above, you can make a big difference to your final results. So what are you waiting for?

If you need some help with managing that final push for the last quarter, then pick up the phone and contact us at The Human Resource on 07884 475303. We’ll be looking forward to having an initial chat about how we might be able to work together, without any obligation or pressure.


Monday, 19 September 2016

Growing your employees: it makes business sense

Are you growing a small business and recruiting more and more people into new jobs? 

And has it reached the point where you can see that if you’re to carry on being successful, the skillsets of your staff will have to change and develop too?  Maybe you've reached the point where your better people are starting to lose their spark and stagnate, or perhaps you’ve received a resignation you really didn’t want, with lack of advancement given as the reason.

What to do when you run a small business with no budget for external courses or bonding team building experiences?

The good news is that opportunities are all around you to develop your people - you just need to look out for them in day-to-day work, and be creative and proactive about making them happen for the right person at the right time.  Here are some ideas:
  • Cross-training so that people can carry out parts of each other’s roles.  This gives the business more flexibility and the individuals greater understanding of the tasks their colleagues do.
  • Workshops or lunchtime lectures where employees present on their areas of expertise to the rest of the team.
  • A business issue such as a customer complaint needing a “fix-it” solution.  This gives experience in analysing business problems, fact finding and practical problem solving.
  • Representing the company at seminars and networking meetings.Self-managed networks where staff can discuss problems and share solutions.
  • Responsibility for mentoring a new or inexperienced employee.  This grows skills in learning how to coach, explain things and support people.
  • Being in charge of a project where there’s likely to be a high degree of resistance or conflict.  This provides practice in handling conflict, negotiating, influencing others and building support.
  • Being in charge of a cost containment project with specific results expected. This gives exposure to commercial reality, the profit/cost balance and numerical analysis. 
  • Complete responsibility for managing a complex project from start to finish.
  • A lateral move into a different job for a limited time, for example when someone resigns and there’s a vacancy.
  • A project that requires dealing directly with your own boss.  This provides wider exposure and experience working with senior executives. Webinars and other online learning directly relevant to the job.
Give some direction and structure, preparing the way to avoid misunderstandings.  Monitor how things are going, keeping an eye open for difficulties and slip-ups, balancing your own responsibility for results with the need to allow the employee to develop through his/her own experience and build a sense of achievement. 
Personal growth is about challenging employees daily, giving them opportunities to grow and learn, and this doesn’t necessarily mean expensive training courses; you can use internal expertise and experience and share this knowledge with others who want to learn.
Research shows clearly: among the most critical drivers for employees are training that enhances the work experience and improves long-term career prospects, and opportunities for advancement and greater responsibility.  Where people don’t rate their job as good for their personal growth, they’re much more likely to leave if they can find another job. Helping your people with personal growth will not only make a difference in their lives, but will also bond them more closely to your business and increase their motivation and job satisfaction.
If you would like to explore ways of improving learning activity within your team, developing your coaching skills and building the expertise you will need as the business grows, contact The Human Resource on

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Learning and the business: how one can revolutionise the other

Often learning is seen as an academic activity – maybe a hangover from our school days or just some misunderstanding about what learning is.  Common descriptions used when describing learning include education, schoolingtuitionteachinginstruction.  We often see learning as a separate activity, remote or distant from the reality of work / life.   

But in fact learning is all around us every day.  Sometimes we just don’t call it that.  Learning is a part of life and business.

Learning takes place in many ways: when we are thinking, doing, experimenting or reflecting on what has occurred. Some really fundamental learning can take place as you start to question “Why is this like that?”  “What would it be like if it was different?” “How do we make this work better?”  Reflection is one of the most powerful forms of learning.  To make the most of your learning, end each day by saying to yourself: “What have I learned today?” and “What does my business need to learn to be even better?”

 For learning to be effective it needs to be both active and meaningful:

  • Active learning occurs when a person takes control of their learning experience. Since understanding information is the key aspect of learning, it is important for learners to recognize what they understand and what they do not. By doing so, they can monitor their own mastery of subjects.
  • Meaningful learning is the concept that learned knowledge (e.g. a fact) is fully understood to the extent that it relates to other knowledge. It’s making sense of things combined with taking action - such as doing something about it.
For those people who like formulas, sometimes learning is described as L=P+Q+R where L= learning, P= programming (knowledge) Q =questioning and R = reflection

Or to put it another way: What, So What, then Now What?

Many research studies from large organisations and international consultancies like McKinsey’s have shown time and again that learning on-the-job, coaching and mentoring provide the best return and most significant learning for organisations.  For example:

·        Cisco found in their employee development strategy that 70% of effective learning came from experience, 20% by exposure and only 10% by education.  This demonstrates the importance of relevance, timing and being able to relate to the learning.

·        Hewlett Packard found in their strategy for development that the use of stretch assignments and applying experience gave the most significant learning gains, supported by effective reinforcement through mentoring.

In these examples the use of effective coaching and mentoring helped to embed the learning and promote the active learner approach to business improvement.  The same principles apply whatever the size of business.

Relevance of the learning is of the upmost importance: Just-in-Time as well as  The Right Time learning create both immediate and long term gains. Immediate gains are how business problems are solved when reflecting on our learning.  The long term gains are the lessons learned, that change our business habits, thinking and beliefs to form new insights and awareness and create new directions and fundamental shifts in thinking

As you reflect, try using a simple recording system to encourage a little and often approach.

Six key questions for this are:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not working?
  3. What needs to start happening?
  4. What do we need to do more of?
  5. What do we need to do less of?
  6. What do we need to stop doing?
If you’re running a small business, this is how you can create a learning environment to really benefit and grow your business.  Start with small ideas, learning in small chunks, making learning easy to do and rapid to understand, encourage everyone to reflect more and gain real insight. 

 Businesses of all sizes that learn the best survive the best - and thrive the best.

The is a guest blog by Peter Mayes, a development coach who helps organisations, teams and individuals recognise when and how to collaborate for success, through Leadership Coaching, management development and Performance Coaching for teams and individuals.