How to deal with poor time management in your workplace

A new year has arrived and as a business owner or manager, you are probably keen to get the year off to a perfect start! If you’re tired of hearing excuses from employees such as “I didn’t get to it today”, “Something else came up” or “There just aren’t enough hours in the day”, read on as Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her top tips on how to address poor time management in the workplace.

One of the most common things I hear from managers and business owners is that when they ask for an update on a task or project from employees, they are met with an array of excuses. When you realise that something is far from being completed (or even started) it can be easy to react with a tut, sigh or reprimand. While hearing the same old excuses can be tiring and frustrating, reacting negatively won’t instantly solve the problem. The work still won’t be complete and if you don’t deal with the situation in the correct way, it can become a recurring one.

While it may seem like you are just wasting more time by trying to deal with the problem, in the long-run this can stop a huge issue arising, and actually save you time. So, if you have noticed a pattern of poor time management in your office, here are our top tips for tackling it.

Get to the source of the problem for poor time management

While an employee might tell you they haven’t yet completed something you asked of them, there are several reasons why this could have happened. In order to effectively deal with the situation, you’ll need to find out the reason why.

5 reasons for deadline delays

  1. They poorly prioritise workload: While it can seem like a basic skill, some people simply lack the ability to prioritise their workload. Maybe they are procrastinating too much or simply don’t know which tasks are more urgent that others. If this is the case, speaking with an employee once a week to check what’s on their agenda and how they are prioritising their work is an easy way to make sure work is completed on time.
  2. They are easily distracted by others: While it’s essential to create a happy work environment, making sure it isn’t so relaxed that colleagues continually engage in non-work related discussions is key. Consider if the structure of your office or seating plans could be reviewed. Make sure that employees are aware to reserve personal discussions for break and lunchtimes. This should be included in their company induction.
  3. They really didn’t have the time: It might be the case that quite simply, they have an unrealistic workload. Perhaps another employee is off and they are picking up the slack. Or maybe another manager has been assigning them work without your knowledge. Checking in to see what employees have on their agenda will make sure they aren’t overloaded, which can lead to stress and time off work, costing you money in the long-run.
  4. They don’t have the right resources: Whether a programme is out of date and causing delays, or they simply don’t have the training, it is essential that all staff members have the necessary tools and knowledge to complete their work.
  5. They are lazy & unskilled: In some situations, unfortunately it can be a case that they are quite simply, not the correct person for the job.

Deal with each scenario accordingly

In each of the above scenarios, a different remedy is required in order to rectify it. It is a good idea to meet with an employee to try to learn about their workload in order to determine the best course of action to take.

Time management training and offering regular support may be required, while dealing with unproductive employees is essential in ensuring your business operates efficiently.

If poor time management is an issue in your workplace, you could benefit from professional advice. For more information, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email: to discuss further.

How to keep the peace between employees

In an ideal world everyone would get along. However, society is made up of many different personalities, which can cause clashes. Never has this been truer than in a working environment. When you think about it, we can spend upwards of 8-hours a day with colleagues, which is often more time than we spend with our loved ones. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that conflicts can happen. Quite often it can be a dispute that occurred between staff members outside of work, but their differences spills over into the workplace.

When members of a team don’t get along, this can be really hard to manage, which in turn can create a poor, unhealthy atmosphere. The knock-on effect is that people’s mental health can suffer and the employer can be left liable if they don’t deal with it early enough.

In order to keep the peace between employees, you’ll want to successfully navigate any bumps in the road and be proactive about managing conflict. In order to effectively do so, you’ll need to be aware of what to look out for. Furthermore, a clearly outlined procedure for reporting issues is vital.

So how exactly do you keep the peace between employees? Here’s everything you need to know…

The tell-tale signs of conflict in the workplace

While this will differ between workplaces, here are the common signs to watch out for:

An argument: Probably the easiest one to spot, a heated exchange between employees may mean that tensions are rising. This can be awkward for other team members and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Placing the blame: If you notice that an employee frequently blames another for work not being completed correctly or on time, this can be an indicator of a conflict bubbling beneath the surface.

Increased levels of absence: If conflict is occurring and an employee can’t see a way to resolve it, this can lead to stress, which in turn, may mean a spike in the number of days taken off work.

A change in atmosphere: The thing about conflict is that it can have a knock-on affect. If you notice a sudden change in staff morale overall, it may be the case that conflict between one or more staff members is at play.


Top tips for effectively resolving conflict between employees

Being efficient is key in preventing conflicts from further impacting your workforce.  Julie Pollock From Consult HR shares her Top tips on how to tackle tension between employees:

Prevention is better than the cure: While there’s no guarantee that all employees will get on, trying to create a positive working environment is a good approach to take. For example, regular team building days are a good way to bring staff together, helping to prevent conflict in the long-run.

Carry out one-to-one meetings: It is important that employees feel that the channels of communication are open. Those involved should feel that they can approach a manager and bring the issue to their attention. This gives them an opportunity to talk in private and share their side of the issue.

Get involved early: In my experience, reacting when the signs are there at an early stage is crucial. Speak to those staff members involved and if appropriate, try to resolve their differences in an impartial way without taking sides, encourage them to put their differences behind them and move on.

Ignoring the signs and hoping that it will resolve itself without your involvement is only allowing a toxic environment to explode in your workplace, which will decimate a team.

Investigate the dispute: If you establish from discussions with the staff that there is something a bit more serious involving inappropriate actions of employee(s), you should consider investigating the issue fully.  Speak to all parties concerned to get their side of the story to establish the facts and determine if potential disciplinary action should be considered.

Have a policy in place: The purpose of company policies are to protect both your business and your employees. Therefore, your company handbook and/or Policies should outline the procedure that staff members should follow in order to try and resolve conflict.

Get expert advice: The best piece of advice we can offer is not to sweep conflict under the rug. Leaving issues unresolved has the potential to spread, impact employees’ health and, in the worst-case scenario, lead to tribunals. If you are worried about conflict in the workplace, get in contact with Consult HR and we can discuss a plan to move forward in the best possible way.

For more information, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email: to discuss further.


Reasons to embrace flexible working and how to make it work

Over the past few years, the term ‘flexible working’ or ‘flexi-time’ has definitely become more prevalent. However, the latest HR buzz word is more than just that – there has been a rise in the number of companies now offering employees the option of flexible working hours. As an employer, you may have overheard remarks from staff, who long for a little more freedom and so this is something you are willing to consider. This begs the question: what exactly is flexible working and how do you make it work? Here, Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her expert advice on this.

Undeniably, flexible working offers the employee many benefits; as well as a better work-life balance, flexi-time can mean no more 6am starts, long commutes in rush hour traffic and the ability to attend private appointments when necessary. But it isn’t all about the employee. Introducing flexible working boasts benefits for businesses too. Employee productivity is increased, you’ll attract the best talent and staff absence levels are reduced.

In fact, Microsoft Japan recently revealed that a four-day work week ‘boosts productivity’, with a 40% increase in sales achieved, during an experiment in which staff worked a four-day week on full pay. As well as this, meetings were restricted to a maximum of 30-minutes and online discussions were encouraged as an alternative to face-to-face meetings. As well as a dramatic increase in sales, Microsoft Japan saw a reduction in electricity consumption by 23% and paper printing by 59%.

Top tips for introducing flexible working

In order to introduce flexible working into your workplace and make it a success, you’ll need to put in some groundwork first. Considering the following points is a good place to start:

Do you trust staff?

Quite simply, flexible working won’t work unless you can fully trust employees to get on with their work. Trust is undoubtedly a massive part of any flexible working initiative. Employers need to trust that the work is being carried out if staff aren’t in the office and employees need to feel trusted to complete the work in the own time, without feeling like they are constantly having to check in with someone.

Do you have the correct systems and technology in place?

To ensure systems run smoothly, it’s vital that the correct systems and technology are in place. If your flexible working policy means employees can work from home, they need to be equipped with everything they usually have in the office, to make sure their working day flows. This may include access to work emails, a mobile phone and any computer programmes they usually use in the office.

Is everyone on the same page?

Flexible working can mean different things to different people and it definitely isn’t a one size fits all model. So with this in mind, here are a few of the options:

Flexible starting and finishing times

One of the most common approaches to flexible working is to offer workers flexible start and end times. Rather than being strict about a 9-5 day, some firms offer the option to work from 10am to 6pm or 8am to 4pm. This hour to play around with means staff can drop the kids off to school, attend the gym or simply miss out on rush hour traffic, all of which ensures a less stressful start to the day.

The ability to work from home

While it isn’t for everyone, many people admit to being more productive when they work from home, quite simply because there are less distractions. It also helps with that healthy work-life balance that so many of us crave.

Creating a fusion

And of course, there’s the option to combine these two elements. Perhaps you require workers to be in the office for a set number of hours per week, while completing the rest at home.

If you are considering implementing flexible working and require help getting it started, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email: to discuss further.

What to do when an employee asks for a pay rise

It’s inevitable – as an employer or manager, at one time or another, an employee will ask for a pay rise. In fact, according to, 37% of workers have asked for a wage increase from their current employer.

Perhaps the time is right as you’ve just been reviewing salaries. Or maybe, it’s completely caught you off guard and you’re not quite sure how to respond. This request is quite a common one but some business owners struggle with how to deal with it. So with this in mind, Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her top tips on what you should do in this situation.

The most important top tip we could possibly give you is not to react and regret it. When an employee asks for a pay rise – whether you saw it coming or it’s out of the blue – it’s important not to respond just yet! Acknowledge their request and give a commitment that you will think about it and get back to them soon. After this, take the following points into consideration to help you reach a decision…

Learn their reasons why

Usually, when an employee approaches an employer for pay rise, they are unhappy with their employment so the key is to determine why so that you can effectively manage the situation and come to the best possible outcome.

Common reasons that employees ask for a pay rise is that they are struggling financially, they feel undervalued, they don’t feel their salary is competitive or they think that other staff members are being paid more. Each of these situations requires a different response so nailing down the reasons why an employee wants a pay rise is important.

Consider your options

Perhaps the request is a good time to review what you currently pay everyone. Use the prompt to carry out job evaluations and research what similar local companies are paying staff. Carrying out a full review will give you the chance to put salary bands in place, create a fair system and prevent gender gap issues. Having a system in place will ensure that employees know what is expected of them and how they can progress within the company.

Is it an option for the employee in question to take on more responsibilities, which would justify the raise? Or, in the situation where the salary is actually competitive, are they an asset to your business that you don’t want to lose? If so, highlighting their value by giving a pay rise might be warranted. Finally, in the delicate situation where an employee asks for a rise when they are struggling financially, but it isn’t justified, consider how as an employer you can support them in other ways.

Examine pay rise alternatives

A common reason that may businesses can’t offer a pay rise, is quite simply, that they can’t afford it. If you find yourself in this situation and you want to show a deserving employee that they are valued, there are a wealth of options available, like vouchers, time off or the opportunity for training. In fact, in this blog post, we have rounded up a wealth of ways to reward staff without giving them a raise.

Communicate clearly

When a full review has been completed and you have reached your decision, it’s time to deliver the news. This should be done so in a formal manner and communicated as clearly as possible, stating the reasons you have reached the conclusion. It’s also important to show compassion in the situation where the answer is no.

If you have a staffing problem you would like a solution to, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email: to discuss further.

How To Handle the Top Staffing Struggles in the Hospitality & Tourism Sector

Here, Consult HR Director Julie Pollock shares her top tips for handling common staffing struggles within the hospitality and tourism sectors.

It is fantastic to see that year on year the visitor numbers to Derry-Londonderry and Northern Ireland as a whole are on the rise.

So it is all too important to make sure that businesses in this sector have their staffing right to reap the benefits.

However many businesses in the Hospitality and Tourism sector struggle with issues such as; ongoing skills shortages – a surplus of chefs are as rare as ‘hens teeth’, the continuous rise of staffing costs such as the national minimum wage rates and employer pension contributions and the ongoing searches for quality staff who will deliver exceptional customer service to achieve that 5 star visitor experience.

Julie Pollock, owner & director of Consult HR shares her top tips on how to effectively manage this:

  1. Struggling with recruitment? – choose the correct recruitment method for your target market.

In a recent survey the number 1 recruitment tool to source job seekers was employee referral, followed by the company’s website and social media accounts.

In this competitive market, employers now need to be seen as attractive to the job applicants.

Here are some innovative recruitment ideas to consider:

  • Job fairs: Try showcasing your business by hosting an open house for the public or holding an internal job fair.
  • Non-traditional methods: A written job description on a job search site won’t necessarily make you stand out. A video or podcast however, will do just that. Using non-traditional recruiting media is also your chance to convey your brand and what it is like to work there. It could be a fun video on YouTube, or a podcast where a current employee describes the position and your company.
  • Look for talent in other industries: Are you receiving great service at a store? Let that person know that there are opportunities at your business. You can teach the skills required, but it is much harder to teach someone the willingness to go the extra mile or bring passion to the work place.
  • Use multicultural newspapers and community centres to attract newcomers.
  • Add a line to your company email signature indicating that you are hiring to spread the word.

  1. How do you ensure your staff stay?

Staff turnover in the hospitality and tourism industries is set to be around 66%. Why? The key is demographics: 2016 is the first year that millennials outnumber every other demographic group in the workforce.

The expectation of the millennials is different from other demographics. These are workers who expect to set their own career path, whose loyalty to an employer is lower and whose demand for feedback is higher than ever.

Examples of how to encourage staff to stay in your employment include:

  • Introduce a buddy system so staff feel welcomed from day one.
  • Introduce recognition schemes so that staff feel valued i.e. employee of the month.
  • Introduce a staff suggestion scheme with a reward scheme attached.
  • Find out what each individual employee wants out of their career and how you can help them achieve that.

  1. Does you staff really know what is expected of them?

I have seen it so many times where an employee is recruited, they are given a job title without an explanation of what it is that their manager wants them to do. The employee goes off undertaking the tasks that they ‘think’ they are expected to do.

So the manager gets the impression the employee is not ‘fit’ for the job because they are not undertaking the tasks they wanted/expected them to do, but in actual fact this may have been down to a lack of communication.

So be clear on what their responsibilities are, what you expect them to do on a day to day basis, draw up a job description of their duties and set out what targets you expect them to achieve in their role. This will avoid any confusion and misunderstanding of roles.

  1. What are the benefits of proper employment contracts?

It is a legal requirement that employees in all sectors are issued with terms and conditions of employment within 8 weeks of commencing employment.

Within the hospitality and tourism sector it is renowned that a significant number of staff are hired for a specific period to cover peak business periods and return to that employer year on year to work.

Employers should ensure that they issue their staff with contracts clearly specifying their employment period with start and end dates. This will ensure that staff do not claim continuous service for several years and will protect your business from exposure to claims such as unfair dismissal, redundancy payments etc.

We are here to help. If you have a question or need some expert help with an employment issue, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email to discuss further.

You can also connect with us on Linked-In, Twitter or Facebook for regular updates on managing staff.

Reasons why employees are taking sick days & how you can reduce them


Whether employees call in sick for legitimate or not-so-legitimate reasons, it can have a huge knock on effect. Either the work is neglected, others have to pick it up, causing stress due to increase workload, or you have to pay overtime, or hire temporary staff, all of which can impact on the profitability of your business. Therefore, it is in your best interest to understand why employees are taking sick days and the steps you can put in place to reduce levels.

In the UK, one of the biggest causes of short term sickness (55%) and long term absences (63%) is stress attributed to the workplace (source: Chartered Institute of Personnel Development CIPD). Other top causes of short term sickness were minor ailments such as colds, flu, headaches, migraines and upset stomachs. Each week, 1 million workers will take sick leave in the UK alone.

With sickness undoubtedly costing companies millions in increased labour costs and loss of profit, Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her top tips for effectively getting a grip on employees taking too many sick days off work.

sick days

Causes of too much sick leave

When it comes to absenteeism in the workplace due to illness, there are two main reasons: a genuine illness, or an abuse of the system by workers who are fit to work but who have chosen to call in sick. Both of these reasons can be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Actual physical or mental illness
  • Personal issues in their private life
  • An unhealthy lifestyle
  • Problems in the workplace, which are causing either short or long term stress
  • The need to care for family members
  • Low job satisfaction
  • As general unwillingness or want to work

Getting to the source of the problem

With such a wide and varied scope of reasons as to why employees could be calling in sick, finding a standard solution which works in the majority of situations is impractical. Therefore, a good place to start is by analysing the main reasons employees state for taking sick days to find out which comes out on top. Armed with this knowledge, you can come up with a practical solution.

Taking action on repeat offenders

A pattern of sick leave abuse can generally be identified in someone who has repeatedly – over a period of time – violated the organisation’s attendance policy. In order to take appropriate action, it is important to have a clearly written policy in place, specifying your company’s standards and employee requirements. The document should state the process which employees are expected to follow should absence from work arise. Having clear attendance and absence policies will keep employees versed on the standards expected of them, as well as assisting managers when dealing with proceedings. Furthermore, the policy should be readily available to staff, such as on the company’s intranet. This easy access and high visibility will enhance its importance. Finally, asking employees to read and confirm they have understood the procedures regarding absence helps improve compliance and stops them using the excuse that they didn’t know what procedures to follow.

Other measures to reduce employees’ absence due to sickness

  • Look for changes in workflow and attitude, paying attention to subtle indications of unhappiness, stress or tension in staff.
  • Offer an incentive to employees with zero absenteeism rates.
  • When hiring new employees, check their records of absenteeism with previous employers.
  • Ensure new employees are fully aware of your company’s policy’s regarding sickness.
  • Research methods for reducing physical injury at work, especially for workers who are standing all day or carrying out repetitive movements.
  • Ensure management and supervisors are fully trained in how to effectively deal with staff with high levels of unexplained sick leave.
  • Offer opportunities for exercise, either on-site or with a local gym.
  • Consider offering staff additional days off as part of their annual benefits, which are specifically for ‘preventive health care’.
  • Don’t punish genuinely sick workers.  Make sure to consider their overall attendance record, if they are generally a good attender but are having a period of bad health, use your discretion and don’t be too quick to jump to formal disciplinary procedings.

Adopting a firm yet compassionate approach to managing sick leave in the workplace, will help you effectively deal with the few employees who are taking advantage of it. The key is to clearly communicate your policy on reporting sickness from the outset.

If you are struggling with high levels of absenteeism due to employee sickness, help is at hand. At Consult HR, many companies have benefited from our outsourced HR services. For more information, get in touch here.

5 top tips for welcoming new employees to your company

It’s long been said that first impressions count and no more so is that true than when a new employee starts. The first couple of days in a new role can greatly determine not only how the job is done but if they stick around.

It’s natural to sigh with relief when you hire someone new, seeking reassurance that a role has been filled. However, the work doesn’t end there. A good induction should be an integral part of your employment process. Those first few interactions are key in promoting good engagement and high retention rates.

Therefore, with this in mind, Julie Pollock from Consult HR shares her top tips for welcoming employees.

Give them their contract

An offer letter, and contract of employment should be sent out as soon as possible. In fact, a contract of employment is essential and employers can be fined between 2 to 4 weeks pay per employee for failing to have written terms and conditions issued to staff. The contract should include:

  • Details of the position offer, including job title
  • Primary duties and responsibilities that the role includes
  • Details of salary
  • The duration of employment, whether it is permanent or for a fixed period of time
  • Details of any benefits such as holiday entitlement, pension, bonuses, health insurance plans etc
  • Restrictive covenants or a non-compete agreement, stating the employee cannot work for a competitor or start a competing business within a specified time frame, if necessary
  • Reasons and grounds for termination
  • Confidentiality guidelines

Read more about contracts of employment in detail in our blog post here.

Stay in touch

Often, when changing jobs, employees are required to work a notice period, meaning there can be a lengthy gap between them accepting the job and actually starting. This is especially true when filling a new-grad job, with interviews often taking place months in advance. Therefore, it is good practice to stay in touch, to keep them engaged. Inviting the new employee to a team event, is a great way for them to meet the rest of the team ahead of their start date. Or, if you have an internal company newsletter, subscribe them to it so that they can keep up to date with what’s been happening. This is an easy, yet effective way to help them feel a part of the team and excited about starting their new role.

Preparing for day one

Everyone undoubtedly feels nervous on their first day in a new job, but thankfully, with a little preparation, you can make this process as smooth as possible. Ahead of their start date, make sure they have all the necessary equipment available to them such as computer, programmes, a phone etc. Set up an email address and add them to any projects that they will be a part of. Having everything ready in advance means they can hit the ground running. Plus, there won’t be any awkward waiting around for things to be ‘sorted’. First impressions matter and entering a well structured, organised environment is the best possible start you can give a new employee.


Training is an integral part of a job and investing a little time in this initially goes a long way in ensuring a new employee’s success. Planning a workflow and overseeing tasks for the first week or two is good idea. You should also ensure a thorough induction is carried out. Not only should this involve going through their job description, but introducing them to the team and anyone else they will be working with. Lunchtime on the first day can be overwhelming so arranging a colleague to take care of them will be warmly received.

Policies and procedures

Many businesses are guilty of overlooking this process, dealing only with issues as they arise. However, get things off to a smooth start by explaining terms and conditions of employment, health and safety and policies such as booking annual leave, or what to do if they are sick.

A final note on retaining staff

From my experience, businesses are struggling with skills shortages and in many cases holding on to good staff is a struggle, which compounds the issue even further.

Recruiting good staff is a competitive market, and you need to appeal to those thinking about applying to your vacancy that your business is a good place to work.

Once you have found your ideal employee, you should ensure you hold on to them. Staff will leave and go and work elsewhere if you are not providing them with what they are looking for in a job. We are moving into an era where millennials will make up a high proportion of our workforce; they expect to set their own career path, their loyalty to an employer is lower and they demand regular feedback so employers now need to implement systems that are going to tick these boxes.

Employers need to be more aware of what employees want and what they should do to try and keep them. Gone are the days where employers should expect employees to be thankful they have a job.

If you need help with retaining staff, contracts of employment or new starts, get in touch today. Call Julie on: 078 5808 9006 or email:



Top tips for managing employees’ mental health

With this month being Mental Health Awareness Month, and in fact, 13th – 19th May serving as Mental Health Awareness Week, now is the time to talk about mental health in the workplace.

With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem each year in the UK, it’s highly likely that we all know someone affected by depression, anxiety or stress. And so of course it affects us at work – in fact poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99 billion each year.

Employers are affected by working days lost due to absence, have experienced staff leaving their employment and staff not performing in their jobs.

Therefore, as an employer, taking steps to manage employees’ mental health in the workplace has never been more important.

Each new case of stress leads to an average of 29 days off work…can your company afford this?

So with this in mind, here we share 6 top HR tips for effectively managing mental health at work.


1. Ask the difficult questions

It is not unusual for business owners and managers to fear talking to staff about their health. They don’t know what questions they can ask and they are frightened of overstepping the boundaries of asking the wrong questions. But in reality, if you don’t ask the questions then you don’t know how to help. There’s no denying that mental health isn’t the easiest topic to talk about, especially at work. Employees may worry that sharing details of their mental health may lead to them being treated differently. However in society, in recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes towards mental health.

Conducting return to work interviews will provide you with the opportunity to discuss the employee’s absence, identify early signs and put supporting measures in place to help the employee.

2. Don’t be the ostrich – Early intervention is key

44% of people who suffer from stress have cited that the cause is heavy workload. In such situations if the matter is not addressed, a fitness to work certificate citing ‘Stress At Work’ is highly likely to land on your desk.

Ignoring this only leads to the situation getting worse and could result in:

  • The employee’s absence being long term, which was avoidable
  • Working relationships break down
  • The employee submits a grievance
  • The employee’s health deteriorating
  • You lose very experienced, reliable staff
  • Claims are taken against the company for their treatment

Have open communication with your staff, listen to any issues they raise and seek a resolution early.

If the employee does go off due to stress at work, ask them to explain what the cause of the stress is and work through a solution to enable the employee to return to work as quickly as possible.


3. Remove prejudice

It’s essential that if an employee shares details of their mental health, that they are still given the same opportunities as other staff members. It’s easy to unconsciously make a decision such as giving a candidate a new project because another employee’s work life is stressful. It is good practice to have conversations with employees who have cited mental health problems and discuss how their work can be managed in order to help alleviate this.

4. Awareness sessions

Educating staff on how to build their mental health resilience is an excellent way to reduce mental health absences and improve the overall wellbeing of staff.

One way to do this is by holding an awareness week or awareness sessions at regular intervals throughout the year, inviting speakers in to share their experiences or offer education sessions. Opening up the channels for communication is the perfect place to start.

From this, staff can identify the signs of depression, stress and anxiety at an early stage and implement some of the tips and recommendations from the sessions to prevent their health deteriorating.


5. Stress is not always created in the workplace

We all lead very busy lives and commonly employees’ mental health suffers as a result of something that is happening outside of work, in their personal lives such as:

  • Marriage break-up
  • The loss of a close friend or family member
  • Financial worries
  • Caring responsibilities

Even though this has resulted from external factors, this can still impact on the individual at work.  So remember to acknowledge that they are working through a difficult time in their life and offer support where you can.

6. Encourage a stress-less environment

Doing what you can to promote a stress-less work environment will work wonders. Start by instilling a good work-life balance, in which long hours and out of office emails are not a part of your company’s culture. Remember, employees who are less stressed are more productive. Appreciating employees and advocating empowerment go a long way in promoting a happy team.

This is a growing area that employers are struggling with. If you need help with an employment issue that involves mental health, get in touch today. Contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email to discuss further.

April 2019: Employment law changes you need to know

With the arrival of April comes a reminder of employment updates that you need to aware of. As an employer, by law, these changes require implementation. So what are these and how can you ensure your company avoids negative publicity and hefty fines for non-compliance? Here, we share the changes you need to know about, in order to avoid huge fines and public shaming like some of these companies…

The start of April is when businesses are required by law to adhere to the new employment law changes. One area in particular where HMRC is taking a firm stance, is the national minimum wage, coming down hard on firms who refuse to adhere to it.

This has resulted in a series of high-profile court cases against some big name firms including Iceland, Wagamama, and Sports Direct, damaging both their reputations and bank balances in the process.


Getting clear on ‘working’ time

One common pitfall faced by many firms is failing to recognise what constitutes as working time. Not only should this include time at work, but also time spent travelling to and from different places of work, or time spent waiting to start or finish a shift.

A prime example is a recent retailer, which was fined because factory staff were spending extra time queuing to clock out after the shift, for which they were not being paid for.

Uniforms and equipment

Another common issue many employers have been penalised for is failure to note any elements which might reduce a worker’s overall gross pay, which therefore pushes their income under the National Minimum Wage threshold.

For example, if staff members are required to wear certain clothing or purchase items as part of a uniform, employers may be required to compensate low paid workers.


Beware of salary sacrifice schemes

Iceland recently made headlines for running a Christmas Club savings scheme for staff, which was intended as an optional benefit, as deductions were taken directly from employees’ pay. This meant that the salary of some staff members fell below the current NMW.

Failing to adhere to new rates changes could result in additional payments to the individual, while penalties of up to 200% of the value of the discrepancy (which is capped at £20,000 per worker) can be charged by HMRC. Furthermore, public naming and shaming for non-compliance will undoubtedly damage a brand’s image.


Don’t make the mistakes of these companies. Ensure you are clued in on employment law changes to avoid hefty fines and naming for non-compliance:

1. Changes to pensions auto-enrolment

From 6th April 2019, changes will come into place for pensions. The minimum level of employer contribution will increase from 2% to 3%, with an increase to the employee contribution from 3% to 5%. The total minimum contribution therefore increases from 5% to 8%.

2. Changes to the national minimum wage

From the 1st of April, the national living wage for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour.

Other national minimum wage rates also increase with hourly rates rising as follows:

  • £7.70 for workers aged 21 to 24
  • £6.15 for workers aged 18 to 20
  • £4.20 for workers aged 16 to 17
  • The apprentice rate will increase to £3.90 per hour

By law, workers are required to be paid at least the national minimum wage rate that applies to them. Furthermore, adequate records of all payments should be kept in order to prove you are complying with the national minimum wage rules.


3. Increase in statutory family-related pay and statutory sick pay

From 7th April 2019, the weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increases to £148.68.

From 6th April 2019, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases to £94.25.

Staff on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave and on sick leave are required by law to be paid these statutory minimum rates.

A review of policies and documents that mention the rates, such as their maternity policies and sickness absence procedures, is required.

4. Income tax

From 6th April 2019, the personal allowance increases from £11,850 to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold from £46,350 to £50,000.

5. Adjust your organisation’s statutory redundancy pay calculations

New limits on employment statutory redundancy pay come into force on 6th April 2019.

An employee with a minimum of 2 year’s service  who has their employment ended due to redundancy will be entitled to a redundancy payment.  The cap for redundancy pay will increase to £547 per week effective from 6th April 2019.

If you need further information or guidance on any of the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch today. Email: or call: 07858089006.

How to handle millennials in the workplace

Millennials, Generation Y, Gen Y… whatever you choose to call them, when I speak to business owners about the new generation of staff, they say they are hard to manage, they lack work ethic, they fall apart the first time they receive negative feedback and they don’t want to do the hard graft that they were used to when they joined a company.

This generation is so interesting that entire studies have been devoted to them. As the workplace shifts to integrate new age groups, the dynamics definitely change.

The big message for business owners and managers is that your usual approach to managing staff needs to adapt. Employers need to sit up and take note of this as by 2020 your workforce will be made up of almost 50% of millennial employees.

Thankfully we’re here to help. Bring your management style up-to-date and effectively manage not only millennials, but all employees, thanks to our carefully curated top tips.


Understanding millennials

First up, it’s important to try to understand millennials. This group definitely get a bashing for their kale and avocado loving ways, but the truth is that recent grads aren’t any more disruptive than the generation that preceded them. When Gen X (those born in the mid-1960s to early 1980s) started working, their Boomer predecessors viewed them as aspirational slackers. But with that being said, where millennials do differ is their unique quality of going against the ‘typical’ characteristics of what is viewed as ‘office norm.’ Therefore, understanding what it is that they want and need in the workplace is key to effectively managing them so that productivity and morale aren’t compromised.

Encourage opportunities for learning and development

While millennials might have received a bad rap in recent years, it’s undeniable that they have a great work ethic. In fact, they crave progression and learning in the workplace. Those born in the nineties have grown up in an era of stimulation, thanks to the introduction of the internet, social media and apps. Eager for new experiences, they work particularly well when given short term goals. Keen to take their career to the next level, they thrive on being assigned new projects or temporary positions which allow them to ‘act up’ with a sense of purpose.


Create the perfect work-life balance

While all of us aim to find this balance, no one craves it more than millennials. A generation of multitaskers, their personal lives are just as busy as their careers and they crave flexibility. Many don’t want to be tied to the culture of 9am – 5pm office working, and prefer to work from home or enjoy flexi from time-to-time so it’s worth considering whether this approach can be introduced in your workplace.


It’s more than just money

While money is definitely an incentive, in recent years, there has been a shift towards finding value in the job itself, with a focus on location, ability to meet new people, office relationships and a relaxed atmosphere receiving more emphasis. Things like vouchers, extra days off and reward schemes are considered extremely rewarding and motivating. Millennials also thrive on being able to demonstrate their potential to bosses so definitely relish a challenge to exert their skills and capabilities in the workplace.

Recognise that they are fearless

By this, we mean that they don’t fear change. Their decisions are usually more autonomously than other generations. They have goals in mind and won’t sit around waiting for them to happen. If they can’t identify their purpose, feel they don’t have a good work-life balance or have poor relationships with their peers, they will find a way to move elsewhere. Therefore, it’s important to have a plan in place for retaining staff. Frequent appraisals and opportunity for growth within the company are key.


Don’t be bossy

It’s widely viewed that millennials push back against traditional forms of authority. In an era where everything is instant, they don’t respond well to rigidity or power plays. Therefore, acting as a mentor rather than an authoritative boss lends itself well to this style of worker.

Place an emphasis on company culture

By now, you’ll probably have come to the conclusion that company culture is important. Millennials thrive on feeling that what they are doing is worthwhile. It is about the experience and purpose than just the pay slip at the end of the month. Therefore, consider your company culture and how it could be improved.


Recognise achievements

One of the biggest lessons that social media has taught us is millennials’ need for approval, and this also applies in the workplace. Understanding that they need recognition from both their peers and superiors will go a long way in retaining them.

Understand their marketing capabilities

Millennials are their own biggest advocators, as they regularly promote aspects of both their personal and work lives on social media. This generation can make for wonderful brand ambassadors, so don’t overlook their ability to promote your firm. From involving them in branding tasks or focus groups, to bringing them along to job fairs or making them a spokesperson for your company on social media, they will relish the opportunity to have their voice heard.


In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on the negative traits of so called millennials, but the fact is that there’s so much to this complex group, which can be immensely positive in the workplace. From placing emphasis on job satisfaction rather than money, to craving learning and progression, there’s no denying that their fresh approach to working can have a positive impact on your company’s culture.

We are here to help

For expert advice on effectively managing millennials in the workplace contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or to discuss further.