Human Resources

Why Corporate Jargon And Nonsense Stops Businesses Taking HR Seriously

10 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Compensation, Contract of employment, Employees, Employment, Human Resources, people manaagment, Policies and Procedures, Recruitment, training   |  No Comments

(And The Four Processes That Most Business Owners  Need To Go Through When Dealing With Staff)

I’ve been studying and practicing HR for over 25 years. 

Which means that I ‘get it’.  I ‘understand’ it.  However ludicrously worded something is, or however jargonny a contract sounds, I can usually root out the genuine meaning, and what it means in the real world.

However, use the term HR or Human Resources in front of your common or garden business owner and you’ll often get a blank look, especially if they have never worked in large organisations or corporations that have had a whole HR department dedicated to looking after the staff, employees, and contractors.

But here’s the thing, whether you’re Mickey the Butcher or Microsoft, you still need to be able to practice HR correctly – failure to do so puts your business under significant risk from an employment tribunal.

With that in mind, this article is designed to help you to do exactly that, by cutting through the jargon and breaking down the four processes that you’ll need to go through, whether you’ve got two employees or 20,000.

So the first area is recruitment: the hiring of the right staff. 

Make sure that you know the skills that you need and that the people that you are hiring have the ability to do the job, but don’t forget that attitude and aptitude are also really, really important. 

Making sure that somebody has the right attitude, is going to fit in with your business and your culture will engage with your goals and has the ability to learn the rest of the skills that you need to give them is absolutely vital. 

Why?  Nobody is going to come fully formed, so you need employees who can be moulded, and moulding is all about attitude. 

And, as a plus point, when employees are not fully formed, they are generally easier to work with – they don’t have the same fixed ideas about things that someone who has ‘been there and done it’ has.

In addition, it is also really good idea to hire people who are better than you at key elements of the business. You shouldn’t be sweating over the books when someone else will be able to do them quicker, easier and more effectively than you.

Similarly, you may be good and able to type your letters up yourself, but actually having a VA or an in-house PA is going to drive your business forward much quicker for you as they are freeing up your time. 


The second element is Employee Relations

Now, this is a big area for HR!

At the most basic level, it means giving all of the staff that you hire a contract of employment. 

It means making sure that you have made decisions about:

  • How much holiday they are going to have
  • What you are going to do in the event of sick pay
  • What dress code you want within your business
  • What time you want people at work
  • What time they work till
  • How long their breaks are

Sound extreme?  Perhaps.  But by documenting all of these from day one, there is absolute clarity for you and for your staff, and no one can pretend that they didn’t know what was expected of them.


The third element is training, development and learning. 

Now, all three of these take time and happen in multiple phases, but all business owners need to be mindful of them; otherwise, they generally don’t happen.

Generally, the first phase is known as “induction” and when you first bring somebody into the business, the best way to get them to hit the ground running is to induct them properly. 

Once they know what they should be doing, it is all about monitoring and managing their performance so they are performing at the best possible level that they can.

And again it takes practice and they will improve over time, which is why regular documented progress meetings are a really, really useful tool.  No matter what size your business, whether you have one employee, five employees, or 25 employees, sitting down with your staff on a regular basis, sharing your vision, sharing the goals and asking them to deliver key elements of those goals is essential to moving the business forward. 


And then there is reward. 

Reward can come in multiple formats. 

Pay is the most obvious but there is also commission, bonus and other incentives which you give to your staff to encourage them to reach the targets that you set or to reward them for achieving certain outcomes. 

However, reward is also about the environment in which people work. 

It’s about the way in which you treat them, the pizza in the office on a Friday or giving people a day off to go and deal with an emergency because you know that they have been in the office late working on projects for the last three or four weeks.  

Reward is also about the culture and the corporate social responsibility that the business shows. 

Many youngsters nowadays are choosing to work or not work for companies based on the ethos of those companies. 

People are becoming more picky and people want to work for great bosses and brands that they believe in. 

Consequently, positioning your business (no matter how big or small) as an employer of choice will really help you to recruit and to retain the right staff for your business. 

So, as a business owner, the next time you think about your role within the business, you are not only the finance person, the marketing person and the salesperson – you are also the HR person. 

You are responsible for the recruitment and retention, the training and development, the reward and the frameworks within which your staff work and operate. You are also responsible for the way in which your staff are going to help you to achieve business success, by making sure that you are an effective manager.  That takes practice, but as they say, practice makes perfect.


22 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Video   |  No Comments

Testing applicants is a great way of determining whether they can actually do the job you need them to do. You can test for skills, aptitude, personality etc. There are hundreds of tests on the market and selecting the right one is really important. You also need to ensure you know what a pass or fail looks like and why.

More nuggets for you in the video


PeopleTalk – May 2013

02 May
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Newsletter   |  No Comments


Welcome to May 2013 and our 6th Birthday celebrations. As we enter our 7th year, we have taken the opportunity to look back over our first 6 and reflect at how far we have come and how exciting the future is for DOHR.

Over the years we have supported approximately 140 different clients, from individuals and companies with only one employee to multi-nationals with over 30,000 staff. We continue to support a number of clients on an on-going basis with our retained HR support service, as well as providing a one stop shop HR consultancy service for clients requiring ad hoc advice and help with their employees.

The business has also grown from just our founder Donna, to a team of 3 now able to offer recruitment, training and reward as well as employee relations – we really are a one stop shop.  As well as our HR services, we regularly blog, write for business publications and you often can find Donna guest appearing on BBC 3 Counties Radio.

At DOHR we are increasing the number of clients we are supporting on a regular basis and increasing the services we offer. So, if you or people you know need help with any aspect of their Human Resources Management, do get in touch.

Annual Leave

We know …… spring is barely here and we are already talking about the summer holidays, but as the warmer months approach, it is essential that we turn our heads to summer and start thinking about the leave that our staff will inevitably want to take off at some point. Employees are always taking days off here and there, but it is the two or three week blocks that everyone wants, and often at the same time during the school holidays, that causes problems, especially for small businesses.Holiday

So, what can employers do to protect themselves, their sanity and their business during the holiday season?

The first thing is to plan. Make sure your staff know what entitlement they have and any rules around taking leave are clearly documented and communicated.  A holiday policy may include a cap on the number of days that can be taken in one go, a cap on the number of people allowed off at the same time, a minimum notice requirement i.e. at least a month if you want a week and two months for two weeks.

Secondly, ensure that any black out periods are clearly communicated well in advance. Examples of a black out period may be two weeks during an end of season sale or tax year end for an accountancy practice.

In addition, it is important to ensure that staff do get a proper break, not just a series of 1 and 2 days at a time. This is essential for motivation, recharging the batteries and the good health of the employee. Ideally, managers should try to ensure that holiday is spread evenly throughout the year and that an employee does not get to the end of the year with three weeks left to take.

Get planning now, the holiday season will be here before you know it.

Discrimination at work

It seems like discrimination cases are never far from the news whether it is older ladies not being allowed to read the news for the BBC, BA employees wearing a cross or Registrars being forced to marry gay couples.

As an employer, it is essential that you are continuously aware of the risks of discrimination, but don’t become obsessed by them. Recruitment, training, promotion, dress code and disciplinary are all areas which regularly come under the spotlight as they differentiate one person from another or seek to treat everyone the same, thereby ignoring individual differences.

The best ways to avoid the risks of discrimination are to have clear policies, properly communicated and easy to understand. Managers and staff should be trained properly (if appropriate) and policies and procedures should be followed at all times. Even for small companies, there is the risk of a claim as the law applies equally to everyone regardless of size. The difference is; if as a small employer you end up in a tribunal with a case against you, the fines and costs are likely to sink your business.

The key is to be aware, be cautious and be prepared, but don’t become paranoid. 

DOHR on tour

At DOHR, we recognise that small businesses don’t usually put their HR in place proactively – we would love you to, but we are also realistic! Many of our clients only come to us when they have a problem and sometimes this makes our job slightly harder and a little more protracted, but we always work with employers to resolve their HR issues.

So that our future clients can find us, we are very active on social media (and I urge you to connect with us online in the usual ways) and regularly exhibit at local business shows.

On 16th May, we will be exhibiting at the Best Business Expo at The Riverside Centre in Luton. We will also be offering mini consultations at the event and encourage you to book your slot now by emailing us on As a special show offer, we are offering a 10% discount on an annual subscription to any new client signing up as a result of their consultation at the show.

June 6th and 7th sees us attending The Business Show at Excel. This is a massive show with some amazing business names. We will send out separate booking information for this show, so do keep an eye out for more details. Donna will be holding one of the business seminars at the show 3:30 on Friday afternoon, so do make sure you join us there.