people management

121 Review meetings

11 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in 121's, 360 degree feedback, Appraisal skills, Blog, people management, Performance Management, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

These can be held as frequently as the manager and employee feel necessary, often weekly or bi-weekly.

They can all be formal, or a mixture of formal (structured with forms and notes) and informal (verbal, no notes).

At some points notes should be kept on file reflecting discussions, concerns, action plans, commitments and support required.

If at any point an employee is not performing, the 121s and the notes from these meetings may be used in evidence of support offered or commitments made.




Probation Period

06 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Business, people management, Performance Management, Policies and Procedures, Probation, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

This is a trial period at the start of someone’s employment.

A 6 month probation period is ideal as it gives the employee time to learn the role and the employer time to assess performance and to provide feedback, making corrections to performance or attitude if required.

If the new member of staff does not have the right attitude, skills or ability they can be removed more easily during their probation period.

Family Friendly Policies

28 Mar
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employment, Employment Legislation, Flexi-time, Flexible working, gender, Home-workers, HR Policy, HR Support, Human Resources, Job Sharing, Maternity, Part-time Workers Act, Paternity, people management, Policies and Procedures, reduced hours, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

A full set of policies around maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay need to be developed so that employees feel valued and their skills are not lost from the business, but so that they business is able to function effectively with short and long term absences as a result of the prospective and actual birth of a baby.

The law provides for statutory time off and pay, but companies can provide more or structure things differently.



Annual Leave

24 Jun
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Annual Leave, Blog, Contract of employment, Employees, Employers, Holidays, people management   |  1 Comments

Many of us look forward to a summer holiday and a well-earned break. We’re just about to come into that time of year when employers will start to see the ebb and flow of their workforce as staff start to take their main holiday.  It’s important to remember that annual leave is much more than just a benefit; it’s essential for the long term health and well-being of your staff.  As an employer, you probably recognise that many of your employees are working long and hard, perhaps a reflection of the current recession and harder times.  Therefore it’s important and in fact essential that you ensure your team take their annual leave.  A holiday gives a much needed boost to often tired workers.  When working long hours over extended periods of time, mistakes are made and accidents can occur.  It is often the case that motivation and morale can also be low.  By encouraging staff to take time off for perhaps a week’s holiday, preferably two means that those run down batteries can be re-charged!  It is generally a common theme that people return with new-found inspiration, refreshed and motivated which in turn really can energise and benefit a business.

The entitlement to paid annual leave is governed by the Working Time Directive Legislation. This provides all full time employees with a minimum of 28 days leave per year, including public and bank holidays. This is then pro-rated for part time employees – and this is where the complication for many starts.

We find that one of the biggest on-going issues for our clients is calculating part time annual leave entitlements.  It can be complicated so here we provide you with some easy to understand golden rules to enable you to choose the method most appropriate for your business needs.

Rule 1: You cannot treat part time employees any less favourably than your full time staff. Entitlements can be pro-rated, but the base benefit must be the same.

Rule 2: Work out your full time weekly hours as this is the anchor point. If you have two very different categories of staff such as those at head office and those in retail outlets, you may choose to have different full time hours for each category.

Rule 3: Calculate the FTE (full time equivalent) of each member of staff based on your full time hours for that category.  Here’s an example: If your full time hours are 40 and someone works 30 hours, they are a 0.75 FTE if your full time hours are 35 and someone works 30 hours, they are a 0.86 FTE.

Rule 4: Following Rule 3 work out leave entitlement. As both annual leave and public & bank holidays are pro-rated, assuming a full time employee has 28 days, in the first example the employee would have 21 days leave. In the second example the employee would have 24 days. The main thing to note with this first calculation is that the day is a normal length working day for that category i.e. 8 or 7 hours if it is a 5 day working week, Monday to Friday.

Rule 5: Perhaps you are managing annual leave in hours? In some organisations, where staff work a different number of hours on each day, it may be easier to manage annual leave in hours, so that in this example both employees have 168 hours leave (first employee 21 days x 8 hours) and (second employee 24 days x 7 hours). In this case if they take a day off and they would only normally work 6 hours on that day, then it is 6 which is deducted not 7 or 8 for a whole day.

Rule 6: Be clear on the Bank Holidays! Bank holidays notoriously cause a problem. The key is to record every absence whether it is a personal holiday or a public holiday. So if the employee usually works 8 hours on a Monday and Monday is a bank holiday, you deduct 8 hours (or 1 day) from their leave entitlement. If the employee does not usually work on a Monday, there is no change to their leave record.

Rule 7: Sunday working; where an employee works short days on a Sunday, it is important to ensure that they don’t use all their annual leave entitlement to take every Sunday off! Therefore it is essential that your policy is well written restricting this practice so that may mean no more than 6 Sundays per year and that your managers are trained to manage holiday absence efficiently and ensure adequate cover for the business.

Rule 8: Where an organisation has staff who do not work regular weekly hours, managing holiday accurately is much harder. We recommend accruing holiday based on actual hours worked on a weekly basis. The accrual rate is determined by your full time hours and normal leave entitlement. Then for every hour worked, holiday is accrued. If the person works every week (or most weeks) then they need to be able to take their leave. If they are a temporary member of staff or only work periodically, then it may be better to pay them each month for the holiday they have accrued. This should show as a separate line on their pay slip.

Getting holiday right is important, legally, morally and for the sake of the business. We recommend you ensure you have a clear policy which supports your business needs and culture.  Understand what you have to do and clarify what you want to do. Communicate it to staff and if in doubt, seek advice. Ensuring staff use their annual leave entitlement is for the long term health of your business as well as for good morale. Oh, and don’t forget to lead by example. You are no good to your business if you are exhausted.  On that note, have a good holiday; we’re off to book ours!

For more information, or for help with drafting your annual leave policy, contact us on 01923 504100 or at

Is there an alternative to redundancies?

08 May
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in pay cut, people management, reduced hours, redundancy   |  No Comments

Recession and redundancies, two big ‘R’ words on many people’s lips. But when times get tough and employers have to tighten their belts, is redundancy the only options, or indeed the best option…….

Thinking about one of my clients, things were financially bad, very bad – so bad that if immediate action was not taken to cut costs, the business would have folded within three months. 15 years of hard work, dedication and achievement down the pan in the period of least than 12 months – unimaginable, but a harsh reality.

So what were the options?
Firstly, move the offices to a smaller, less a prestigious location – a real possibility until the costs were really assessed, with 6 month break clause fees, the cost of finding new premises, the cost of having them made fit for purpose, the cost of informing everyone of the move and updating all company paper, cards, marketing etc…… the savings required would take far too long to achieve, if in fact they could be achieved at all.

And so, cut marketing spend…… this was done to some degree, but then how do you generate new business to keep the business going – not the ideal solution and again not going to achieve the results needed in the timescale required.

So then lets look at the biggest cost – oh yes, people – lets get rid of some of them and then we will make a ton of savings – right? WRONG.

The cost of redundancy was high due to the age and service of the employees, paying that out was not going to save money within three months. In addition, everyone in the company has an area of expertise and as with many small companies there is not a lot of overlap, so by getting rid of one person, the company loses the ability to service those clients, lose the business and end up no better off than if they had kep the employee in the first place.

So what are the options?
The ideal solution is actually a combination of measures and the exact combination can be achieved by identifying exactly what the business needs now, what it might require in the future as business returns to ‘normal’ and what it can sustain in the interim.

By introduing a combination of the following measures the company achieved it’s aims:

  • Reducing hours for some employees
  • The 2 business owners took a 50% pay cut
  • Reducing pay for all senior staff by 20%
  • Reducing pay of 4 junior staff by 10%
  • Placing one employee on a zero hours contract and using him to deliver to a specific client base as and when there was work in his area of expertise
  • Stopping company pension contributions which was up to 10% depending on service
  • Introduing a bonus pay system directly related to new clients and specific targets

A proper consultation process was entered into with all employees. They were given a very clear picture of the company’s financial situation, they were presented with the options and the company’s proposal and asked to respond with their thoughts but also with alternative ideas for cost savings.

The outcome was that all employees agreed to the proposed changes and were given reassurances that the situation would be reviewed every three months with a view to improving the terms and conditions as soon as feasible, even if it was in stages.

Retaining quality employees who have been loyal over the years, understand the company and their clients and have the skills and experience to consistently deliver to a high standard will play a vital role in the company’s ability to survive and then thrive into the future. The recession will not continue forever and companies have to focus on how they want to come out the other side.

Managing employees within the law and in a morally sensitive way is vital to company survival.