How To Tackle The Recruitment Challenges and Skills Shortage

Struggling to hire? You’re not alone.

In an eye-opening study by the Open University, 90% of the 400 UK businesses surveyed reported finding it difficult to recruit employees with the required skills in the last 12 months. In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, finding candidates with the right skills and qualifications has become increasingly challenging for employers across various industries. This dilemma is not only frustrating but also costly, as organisations struggle to fill crucial roles and meet their business objectives.

Here, we take a look at the reasons for the current talent drought and what employers can do to address it.

The talent shortage

One of the primary reasons behind the difficulty in finding suitable candidates is the rapid advancement of technology and the changing nature of job roles. According to a recent survey by ManpowerGroup, 69% of employers globally reported difficulty filling positions due to a lack of available talent, with the highest shortages observed in IT, engineering and healthcare sectors.

There are many factors effecting the long-term skills shortages including retirement, illness, and staff salary expectations. In addition, an increase in digitalisation, automation and the net zero imperative are creating demands for new and additional skills in the workplace that are in short supply.

The main impacts of recruitment difficulties and skills shortages were felt by existing staff. 70% of organisations in Northern Ireland say skills shortages have increased the workload on existing staff, with reduced activity or output and decreased staff morale and well-being also being reported.

Tackling the talent pool problem

While the talent shortage presents a significant challenge, there are several strategies that employers can adopt to overcome this obstacle and secure the skilled workforce they need.

1. Invest in training & development

Instead of solely relying on external talent, employers can invest in up-skilling and re-skilling their existing workforce. Providing training programmes, opportunities for promotion and professional development not only enhances employee loyalty and retention but also ensures that employees possess the necessary skills to meet evolving job requirements.

2. Forge partnerships with educational institutions & Grow Your Own Talent

Collaborating with universities and further education colleges can help employers shape educational curricula to align with business needs.   Further education colleges provide short courses focusing on upskilling areas required in today’s businesses as well as longer term programmes to include Higher Level Apprenticeships so you can ‘grow your own’ talent within your business to plug the skills and knowledge gap. Many of these are either fully or part funded. They can even create bespoke programmes for specific niche areas.

Check out what is on offer in your local regional college here.

3. Succession Planning

Managers should identify critical roles within the business and have a plan in place as to where the replacement talent is going to come from.

The 7 step process here is:

  • Identify the critical roles
  • Identify the Knowledge, skills and experience required for each of these roles
  • Determine where your potential replacements are going to come from i.e internal or external to the organisation
  • Consider whether restructuring is required to create a more junior role to allow a phase into the critical role
  • Create a training plan to develop any knowledge or skills that should be developed
  • Ensure there is a plan and sufficient time allocated for the experienced employee to share their knowledge and experience.
  • Ensure to conduct a fair selection process

4. Embrace flexible work arrangements

With advancements in technology, remote work has become increasingly feasible for many roles. Offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and flexible hours, can widen the talent pool by attracting candidates who value work-life balance and may not be geographically located near the office.

5. Tap into alternative talent sources

 Explore non-traditional talent pools, such as freelancers and retirees, to fill skill gaps on a temporary or project basis. Leveraging platforms like freelancing websites, LinkedIn and professional networks can connect employers with qualified individuals seeking flexible employment opportunities.

6. Review and Improve Benefits Package

Many employers have taken a new approach to encourage applicants to apply by focusing their advertisement on the employees benefits rather than the requirements of the role.

You should consider evaluating your benefits package against your comparators and adjust or improve your benefits where possible to not only encourage applicants but also as a retention and reward method to hold on to your top talent once they are recruited.

7. Who’s Assessing Who……..Remember You Are Also Being Assessed!!

According to Forbes, 42% of job seekers decline a job offer as a direct result of a bad interview experience. Therefore, it is vital not to let the right candidate slip through your fingers as the result of a bad first impression. A job interview is a chance for potential employees to find out about your company, just as much as it is for you assess their suitability. First impressions count – for both parties.

The talent shortage poses a significant challenge for employers seeking to fill critical roles and drive business growth. However, by adopting innovative strategies, employers can effectively bridge the skills gap and secure the talent they need to thrive in today’s competitive market.

At Consult HR, we understand the importance of finding the right talent to drive organisational success. By partnering with us, employers can access tailored solutions and expert guidance to navigate the complexities of talent acquisition and retention. For more information, contact Julie by emailing:

April 2024: Employment law changes you need to know

April has brought with it changes to employment rate changes. As an employer, legal obligations require these changes to be put into effect. So what are they, and how can you guarantee your company steers clear of negative attention and substantial penalties for non-compliance? Here, we provide all the details to help keep you compliant and safeguard your business from potential drawbacks, including significant fines and reputational damage.

The start of April marks the legal obligation for businesses to comply with the latest employment law adjustments. A notable area where HMRC is adopting a firm stance is the enforcement of the national minimum wage, firmly penalising companies that fail to adhere to it.

While it may seem straightforward, adhering to the National Minimum Wage can sometimes be a challenge for employers, especially when it comes to making deductions that could potentially lead to breaches. It is crucial for businesses to be vigilant and ensure compliance to protect their reputation and maintain ethical standards.

One common pitfall that can lead to breaching the NMW is improper deductions from employees’ wages. Whether it be uniform costs, tools, or training expenses, deductions must adhere to legal guidelines to avoid underpayment and subsequent penalties.

Another problem faced by several companies is not recognising 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.

Naming & shaming underpayers

Numerous companies have faced scrutiny and legal consequences for underpaying their employees in violation of the National Minimum Wage regulations. The Department for Business and Trade recently named and shamed 524 employers who, together, have left 172,000 employees short of £16 million in total earnings. Notably, numerous instances trace back several years. Recent cases include Greggs, Easyjet and River Island, which were found guilty of underpaying their workers, each of which faced financial penalties of up to 200% of their underpayment.

Rates changes from 1st April 2024

  1. National Minimum Wage

As of April 2024, all minimum wage rates – including the National Living Wage rate are set to increase as follows:

  • National Living Wage (23 years old and over): From £10.42 to £11.44 (21 years old and over)
  • National Minimum Wage (18-20 years old): From £7.49 to £8.60
  • National Minimum Wage (16-17 years old): From £5.28 to £6.40
  • National Minimum Wage (apprentice rate): From £5.28 to 6.40

2. Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Shared Parental and Parental Bereavement Pay

Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, and Statutory Bereavement Pay all increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week.

  1. Statutory Sick Pay

From April 2024, Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £109.40 to £116.75. The lower earnings limit remains at £123.

As we approach April 2024, Consult HR urges all our clients to familiarise themselves with the upcoming changes in rates for employers in Northern Ireland and to ensure compliance with the National Minimum Wage requirements. By staying informed and implementing best practices, businesses can safeguard their operations, support their workforce, and uphold ethical standards in employment practices.

Remember, compliance is key to a successful and sustainable business! 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 have a safe, happy and fallout free office Christmas party

The countdown to Christmas is on, which means that many businesses will be preparing for the time-honoured tradition of the office Christmas party. While these gatherings can be a fantastic opportunity for showing appreciation, team bonding and spreading cheer after a busy year, a staggering 9 out of 10 businesses have reported having an employment issue as the result of a Christmas party. As an employer, it is important to take proactive steps to protect your business and prepare for any potential fallout.

With this in mind, here we share the reasons why it’s important to address this issue, as well as providing some practical strategies to ensure a happy and safe Christmas party.

Christmas party

Ba humbug! Why it’s important to protect your business

Why poorly planned Christmas parties could be costly for your company:

1. Avoid legal consequences: One of the most significant concerns for employers during Christmas parties is the potential for legal action. Inappropriate behaviour, such as harassment, discrimination, or alcohol-related incidents, can lead to lawsuits, damaging your company’s reputation in the process. Being unprepared can result in costly legal consequences and negative publicity.

2. Protect your company culture: A work Christmas party should reflect your company’s values and culture. Failing to address inappropriate behaviour can damage the trust and respect within your team. Employees should feel safe and respected at all company events, including Christmas parties, whether based in the office or somewhere else.

3. Maintain a positive work environment: The fallout from a poorly managed Christmas party can linger long after the event is over. Employees who experience discomfort or harassment may find it challenging to return to work with a positive attitude, leading to decreased morale and productivity and could potentially result in their resignation.

Christmas party

Tis the season to put practical strategies in place

Follow these measures to ensure your Christmas party is free from tears, tantrums and legal action.

1. Set clear expectations: Before the party, make sure your employees are fully aware of your expectations. Remind them of your company’s code of conduct and policies regarding harassment, discrimination, and alcohol consumption. This will serve as a proactive measure to prevent unwanted behaviour.

2. Monitor alcohol consumption: While you want your employees to enjoy themselves, excessive alcohol consumption is the main reason that things can quickly go wrong. Consider offering a limited drinks menu or drinks tokens to encourage responsible drinking. Ensure there are non-alcoholic beverage options available for everyone and staff have access to water.

3. Provide guidance on social media use: Being in a setting outside of work can bring out a more relaxed version of people, which might be different to the professional image you uphold of your business. Unsurprisingly, you might not want this to appear online. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a Social Media Policy in place, which advises employees not to place material online which could negatively affect the reputation of the employer, or which breaches its Bullying and Harassment Procedures. Employees should be reminded about the practice of social media in the run up to Christmas and whether this will then be any different for the company Christmas party.

4. Designate responsible staff: Appoint designated staff members to oversee the event and keep an eye on potential issues. They should be trained to handle any misconduct discreetly and professionally, ensuring that employees feel safe and respected.

5. Offer safe transportation: If your party involves alcohol and takes place off-site, consider arranging transportation options such as a bus or taxis to ensure that all employees have a safe way to get home.

6. Encourage inclusivity: Consider the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of your employees when planning your Christmas party. Ensure that the celebration is inclusive and respectful of everyone’s values and traditions.

7. Address misconduct promptly and professionally: If any incidents of inappropriate behaviour do occur, take them seriously and address them quickly. Investigate complaints, implement corrective actions, and ensure the affected employees receive support.

Williams and others -v- Whitbread Beer Company

 In Williams and others -v- Whitbread Beer Company, three claimants were work colleagues who attended a Christmas party, where drinks were available and paid for by their employer. After becoming intoxicated, the claimants were involved in an incident, which resulted in personal abuse and violent conduct of a superior.

As a result of their actions while drunk, the three claimants were dismissed from their positions within the company. The Court of Appeal approved the employment tribunal’s decision that the claimants were unfairly dismissed as the incidents were performed outside working hours and in a situation where a free bar had been provided by the employer. The decision to dismiss was therefore held to be outside the band of reasonable responses.

In this case, different decisions should have been made both before and after the incident in question:

  • Employees should have been reminded of the company’s code of conduct and policies regarding harassment, discrimination, and alcohol consumption.
  • Alcohol consumption should have been monitored or drinks tokens offered in place of an open bar.
  • Post-incident, a proper investigation and findings should have been followed to avoid unfair dismissal.

While office Christmas parties can be a wonderful way to celebrate the hard work of employees and boost team morale, it’s essential for employers to be prepared for any potential fallout. By setting clear expectations, monitoring alcohol consumption, and promoting inclusivity, you can create an environment where employees can enjoy the festivities in a safe and respectful manner.

If you have an issue around an office Christmas party and need advice, contact Julie at Consult HR by calling: 078 5808 9006 or email:

Return to the office: Why bosses are bringing employees back to base

Over the past few years, for many, remote working has become the new norm. Due to the COVID pandemic, companies around the world have had to embrace the concept of employees working from home. While it was beneficial in helping businesses succeed during lockdown, many bosses are now making a U-turn on remote working and encouraging staff to spend more time in the office. Here, we take a look at the reasons why employers are changing their mind and showing a preference for employees to work on-site, as well as research conducted by University of Ulster, taking into account both employer and employees feedback on how to improve the hybrid working model.

Return to the office

The rise in working from home

Research has shown that whilst working from home (WFH) arrangements have doubled since Covid, Northern Ireland has actually seen the lowest increase in its uptake, compared to the rest of the UK.

Furthermore, younger workers are least likely to WFH due to them either being in roles which remote working isn’t possible, or they are in a job where training is required and so in-person support from more experienced peers is necessary.

Hybrid working is most popular for those aged between 35 to 44. It isn’t surprising that it suits this group well, as it helps enable a better family/work balance. The largest percentage of employees working fully remote is in the age group of 65 years and over.

Research has shown that the most common hybrid working policy sees staff working remotely between 2 to 3 days per week.

Top reasons employers are turning their backs on hybrid/remote working arrangements:

1. Makes collaboration hard

One of the main reasons employers are advocating for a return to the office is the belief that in-person work leads to better collaboration and ideas. While remote working can be efficient for individual tasks, it can prevent spontaneous interactions and the sharing of ideas that happen naturally when employees are physically together. Face-to-face communication encourages people to bounce ideas back and forth, which can lead to exciting results for the business.

Return to the office

2. Inhibits company culture

Often, when a company is renowned for its culture, this can be a big draw when hiring new staff. Company culture is the heart and soul of any organisation. While remote working can preserve some aspects of company culture, it can’t fully replace the in-person connections and shared experiences that come from working alongside colleagues. Research by University of Ulster has shown that companies believe team culture and team collaboration have suffered the most due to remote working.

Being physically present in the office helps employees feel a stronger sense of belonging and engagement with their organisation. In return, this leads to better staff performance.

Return to the office

3. Hinders career progression

It is extremely difficult to climb up the career ladder without the guidance and support of senior employees. The office environment offers valuable opportunities for mentoring and professional development. It also promotes informal training and the chance to ‘act up’ in the absence of another employee. It can be hard to build relationships and prove your worth when not physically at work.

4. Lack of monitoring & accountability

Some bosses are concerned about the potential lack of oversight and accountability that can come with remote working, whereas others felt that staff are more productive when they work in isolation. A lot of trust is placed on employees when they work from home. While many thrive in a remote environment, some may struggle to stay productive without the presence of team members. Being in the office can make it easier for managers to monitor work, provide immediate feedback, and ensure deadlines are met.

Return to the office

5. Shift in work-life balance

Surprisingly, some employers are encouraging on-site work to help employees establish a healthier work-life balance. Working from home can blur the lines between professional and personal life, leading to potential burnout and overworking. By encouraging employees to work in the office, employers can create clear boundaries and support a healthier work-life balance.

Return to the office

6. Employee wellbeing is lower

The office environment can offer various amenities and resources that support employee well-being. This includes coffee mornings, company perks, fitness facilities, social events, and mental health support. Many employers are reintroducing these benefits by encouraging on-site work, acknowledging the importance of supporting employees’ physical and mental health.

Main challenges employees reported about working from home:

  • Feeling of always being on the clock with no fixed working hours – There is a greater temptation for managers to contact staff outside normal working hours when they are WFH.
  • 20% said they get distracted when WFH – The temptation to catch up on the housework, have an extended tea break, or make personal phone calls is greater.
  • Others had internet speed connections – Often this has a knock on effect on productivity.
  • Inadequate workspace was an issue for some – Without a dedicated work space, employees are less organised and spent more time trying to locate documents.
  • Access to information resources was also reported – Again, this can be frustrating and lead to wasted time.

45% of those interviewed reported no issues associated with WFH.

Top tips on how to get the most out of hybrid working:

Unsurprisingly, one of the perks of working from home is not having to travel. Many employees have said that if their job can be performed from home, they view travelling into work as pointless. With this in mind, ensure the office is an attractable place to work by putting the following measures in place:

  • Organise collaboration with colleagues on the office days.
  • Improve the workplace environment – ensure comfortable workstations, preferable working temperatures and lighting.
  • Have different areas to carry out different types of work, including; a place to stand, a place to sit, a place to do online calls, the ability to move around the office ie a desk on wheels and a place/area if need quiet time.

The return to the office is not just about reverting to traditional working methods. It’s a strategic move by many employers to promote the best of both worlds. While remote work offers flexibility and efficiency, on-site work encourages collaboration, builds company culture, and supports employee development.

The decision to encourage employees to spend more time in the office should be a result of thoughtful consideration of the specific needs of each business. By finding the right balance between remote and on-site working, companies can create a work environment that increases both productivity and employee satisfaction.

If you need help with encouraging the return of staff to the office, contact Julie at Consult HR by calling: 078 5808 9006 or email:


Are you struggling to recruit staff right now?

Employers are currently experiencing a recruitment crisis. The job market is a candidate-driven one, with more positions available than there are qualified candidates to fill them. This is causing a number of difficulties for employers, who are struggling to fill their job vacancies with skilled and experienced staff.

According to a survey carried out by The British Chamber of Commerce, 80% of businesses surveyed (92% of whom are SMEs) attempting to recruit have faced challenges, with hospitality and manufacturing firms the most likely to report difficulties.

If you are struggling to recruit now, this blog post is a must read! Here, we share the common challenges employers are facing, as well as our useful tips that might just help you secure your next new employee.


From candidates not turning up for interviews, to lengthy application processes, here are some of the most common challenges employers are currently facing:

A shortage of high skilled staff: Following the pandemic, there is a real shortage of skilled workers across many industries, making it extremely difficult for employers to find qualified candidates. Thanks to Covid, we have seen a big shift in several industries, such as catering. Many people who were furloughed, used the time to retrain or take part in online courses, leading to career changes.

Fierce competition: With so many job vacancies available, employers are competing for the best candidates. At Consult HR, we regularly hear how candidates have accepted another job before an employer has gotten around to offering them theirs. Believe it or not, this has actually happened while on the way to a job interview!

Difficulties in attracting candidates: With candidates receiving several job offers, it can be difficult for employers to stand out. Business owners are keen to retain staff so when resignation is mentioned, often the employer will increase their salary and benefits so that they will stay.

Long hiring processes: The hiring process can be long and drawn-out, which can lead to candidates losing interest or accepting other offers. Streamline your recruitment process as much as possible in order to avoid this.

High turnover rates: Once employees are hired, they may not stay long if they are not happy with their job, the on-boarding process or their employer. Furthermore, job candidates may hear of the company’s high staff turnover rates, which in turns causes them to reconsider the role.

If all of this sounds familiar, check out our top tips to help secure your next new employee:

Build a strong employer brand: Your company’s brand and reputation is what potential candidates think of when they see a job advertisement. Make sure your employer brand is positive and attractive to the candidates you want to hire.

Speed up your hiring process: The faster you can hire, the better. Make sure your hiring process is efficient. People crave convenience so make the application stage as easy and straightforward as possible. If you have a long winded and complicated application form, this could potentially put people off from applying. Furthermore, complete the recruitment process without any unnecessary delays to avoid the ideal applicant being scooped up by another employer.

Offer competitive salaries and benefits: Given how difficult it is to secure the correct candidates, this is essential in today’s competitive market. Make sure you are offering salaries and benefits that are competitive with what other companies are offering. Remember to highlight your benefits at application stage so that candidates are aware of the advantages of working for you. Consider whether other benefits like flexible working, private healthcare or increased holidays are an option.

Leave candidates with a positive impression: Make sure the candidate experience is positive from start to finish. Competition is fierce right now and the interview is as much about the candidate sussing out if they would like to work for YOU as it is for you to find out about suitability for the position. Don’t forget to honestly promote the positive aspects of your company culture.

Be prepared to negotiate: Candidates are more likely to accept your offer if you are prepared to negotiate. If you find the perfect candidate, be willing to compromise or risk them slipping through your fingers.

If you are having difficulty with your recruitment process, help is at hand. Contact Julie at Consult HR by calling: 078 5808 9006 or email:



6 easy tips for handing over work before you go on holiday

A chic city break, a relaxing beach holiday to recharge the batteries or an adrenalin-filled adventure break, whatever type of holiday you have set your sights on this summer, no doubt you will want to fully enjoy it without worries about work creeping in. According to a YouGov poll, 38% of UK employees have made or received a work call whilst on holiday. If you are hoping for an uninterrupted break, follow our 6 easy tips for handing over work before you go on holiday.

Tip 1: Plan early

When it comes to taking time off work, the saying “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!” definitely applies. Even if you booked your holiday months in advance, don’t be tempted to leave your handover until the last minute. The first step to carrying out a great holiday handover is to plan early. This will afford you plenty of time to gather all of the necessary information and to make sure that your handover is a stress-free process.

When planning your handover, consider the following:

  • What tasks need to be done while you’re away?
  • Who is the best person to cover for you?
  • What information do they need to know?
  • What deadlines are coming up?

When delegating work, you will need to make sure the person responsible will be able to manage their own projects and yours, without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also wise to double check that they don’t have annual leave booked which clashes with yours.

Tip 2: Be organised

When it comes to planning your handover, organisation is key. This will make it easier for your colleagues to follow your instructions and to keep things running smoothly in your absence.

When preparing for your holiday handover:

  • Create a document or system that outlines all of the tasks that need to be done.
  • Include clear instructions for each task – be precise and practical.
  • Highlight any deadlines to ensure these aren’t missed.
  • Share the handover document with your colleagues in advance of your holiday so they have time to read it and ask any necessary questions before you leave.

Tip 3: Use the opportunity to offer training

The key goal is to ensure your work is picked up by someone capable but why not consider whether the situation can be used to help a colleague expand their role or earn a promotion? Going on holiday offers the chance for someone more junior to ‘act up’, and take on more responsibility, perhaps learning more about a role they wish to peruse in the future. If your workplace lends itself to this idea, having the person shadow you is a good way for them to train and see what the role entails before you take time off.

Tip 4: Make sure they have everything necessary

Avoid your holiday being interrupted with unnecessary phone calls by making sure the delegated person(s) have access to everything they need to perform your role. Whether it is user-permissions within software, passwords for accounts that you use or physical access to tools and equipment, consider everything they may need in your absence.

Tip 5: Before you go…

In addition to the tips above, here are a few extra tasks you can carry out to ensure a smooth holiday handover:

  • Make sure that your email inbox is organised and that you have a system for dealing with urgent messages while you’re away.
  • Set up an out-of-office message that includes contact information for the person who is covering for you.
  • Keep a record of your handover documents in a safe place so that you can easily access them if needed.
  • If it is absolutely necessary for you to be contacted while away, specify times that you can be contacted in an emergency so that you are not constantly interrupted.

Tip 6: Debrief when you return

Once you return from holiday, it’s important to debrief with your colleagues. This will help you get up to speed on what happened while you were away so that you can pick up where you left off or deal with any urgent matters.

By following these tips, you can conduct a great holiday handover that will help to ensure that your work is covered while you’re away, leaving you to relax and enjoy that well-earned break.

How to create a company culture that your employees crave

The culture of a company is a set of shared core values and practices that define an organisation, both internally for employees and externally as part of its public image. The more well-defined a company’s culture is, the more likely they are to attract top talent and retain current staff!

This is why paying particular attention to your company culture has never been so important as we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic and now find ourselves in the midst of the Great Resignation.   With companies struggling to successfully recruit new staff and adapt to new ways of working, ensuring your company culture is on point is vital.

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about the culture within your company:


  1. Establish Trust

As a leader, it is important for you to build a trustworthy relationship with your employees. When your employees trust you, they believe in your decisions. But trust is not something that you can gain overnight; you have to earn it over time with conscious effort.


  1. Define the Ideal Workplace Culture

Before you shape the existing culture in your company, define the ideal qualities that you want to integrate with your company culture. There is no culture that fits every organization, different companies have different priorities. So, define your ideal work culture based on the vision you have for your company.

  1. Set Clear Expectations and Goals

Employees should clearly understand what’s important and what’s not. As a manager/ leader, it is your responsibility to set clear goals for them and make them understand how their personal goals can contribute to organisational success.


  1. Measure Success and Give Feedback

The next step after setting goals is to regularly measure them and give feedback. If you want to achieve a goal, then monitor progress. It is said that monitoring progress frequently increases the chances of successfully meeting your goals.

  1. Recognise Good Work

Workplace culture is not just about changing the behaviour of your workforce; it is about how you act at your workplace. Appreciate and reward great work. Employees have busy schedules and a list of tasks that they have to finish before deadlines. So, when employees perform beyond their expectations, as a leader, recognise what they’ve done and reward them.


  1. Develop Employees

When you monitor an employee’s performance, as a manager/ leader, you should be able to help them perform better the next time. Establish a culture of continuous learning in your company.  Mobility policies along with CPD will help to encourage your staff to reach their full potential.


  1. Focus on Employee Engagement

Employee disengagement is a common issue at workplaces at present. As a manager, you have to find a way to keep your employees happy and engaged at work. Focusing on employee engagement helps you understand your employees and create a positive workplace culture, which aligns with the individual values of the employees as well as the organisational values.


By taking the helm and addressing the impact that your company culture has on your employees, you could be mitigating future losses of staff and boost your retention rates.  If you feel that this is an area where you may need some help, contact Julie at Consult HR today by emailing or call 07858089006.

Tips for successful employee appraisals

Performance appraisals are important within the workplace as they provide a forum where employees can discuss their past performance and future development opportunities with their manager. They allow for a dialogue between manager and employee to develop where team and business objectives can be discussed and linked to the employee’s personal goals.


Many employees do not like appraisals and many managers find it difficult to do them correctly so here are a few tips to help you along.


  1. Brush up on your appraisal skills


If you haven’t received any formal training on performance management, now is the time to look into it. Even if you have, consider seeking a refresher to ensure you’re up to date on company policy. Consider asking your peers for some honest feedback on your management style as this could affect your ability to undertake effective appraisals.


  1. Preparation is key


Arrange a private meeting venue with as few distractions as possible. Give the employee sufficient notice (two weeks is ideal) and an overview of the process in advance. If your organisation asks staff to complete a self-appraisal form, ensure this is issued well in advance of the meeting.


  1. Encourage a two-way, open discussion


Ask the employee open questions relating to their performance. Offer positive feedback, thanks and praise for areas in which they have excelled. If they identify any areas for development, acknowledge these and steer the conversation towards ways in which these might be improved through training or additional support.


  1. Remember to listen


It is vital to actively listen and consider non-verbal cues such as body language. Don’t interrupt the employee when they are speaking, although you may wish to ask probing questions to clarify meaning. Before moving on to the next discussion point, take a moment to summarise the conversation and check mutual agreement and understanding of future expectations.


  1. Incorporate the 7 drivers of employee engagement into your discussion


This will enable staff to reflect openly on how they are feeling within the workplace. You could ask employees to answer the following questions using a Likert scale, for example 0 (never) to 5 (always) – this is a good way to track any changes.


Freedom – do they have the flexibility to choose and make decisions?

Clarity – are there clear goals and a purpose?

Challenge – do they have enjoyable and relevant work?

Growth – do they have opportunities to develop?

Recognition – are they receiving praise and appreciation?

Togetherness – is there cooperation, support and trust within the team?

Voice – are their ideas and opinions respected?


  1. Offer regular feedback


Give staff the opportunity to discuss their performance on an ad-hoc basis – not just at their annual performance review. Take the opportunity to discuss performance both formally and informally, ensuring training and development are regularly offered when required.


  1. Ensure objectives are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound


Make sure the employee is in agreement with all of these points before finalising the objective, as they may have a different view. Objectives should also be aligned to overall business goals so that employees can see where they fit into the ‘bigger picture’ and how they can make a positive contribution. Consider taking copies of your own personal objectives, team goals and the business priorities over the coming months and years so they can be considered as part of the objective-setting process.


  1. Document a record of the discussion


A copy should be issued to the employee as soon as possible after the meeting. Offer them the opportunity to suggest any required changes once they have had time to reflect.


Effective appraisals should be a positive experience for both manager and employee where discussion should be honest and two-way.  If this is an area that you struggle with within your company, there is help out there to make it easier. If you feel that your business can benefit from external guidance on this or any other HR related issues, contact Julie on 07858 089006 or by email to

Onboarding – The Best Practices

If you have just gone through a recruitment process and found your ideal new employee, your job is not done.  Your focus now needs to shift to ensuring you hold on to them and they stay!!

As we find ourselves in the thraws of the great resignation with the added pressure of increasingly high numbers of job vacancies and no applicants to fill them, it has never been more important for a business to retain the employees they already have, and it’s never too soon to start the process.   Onboarding is a critical component of a company’s success and it is paramount that they make the investment in their employees as they join the workforce.

Onboarding has a wealth of benefits for both the employee and the company where inclusion and belonging can be facilitated easily allowing a new employee to settle in whilst conveying the inclusive nature of company culture.  The easier it is for a new employee to settle in, they will be less inclined to look for alternative employment.  According to research from the Brandon Hall Group, great employee onboarding helps to improve staff retention rates by 82%.  Onboarding is also beneficial in setting clear expectations of the company and by showing new employees they have support is an excellent way to boost productivity and allows them to jump straight into their role.  New hires want a seamless transition into their new jobs, and the onboarding process is a big part of this.


Here are a few tips for a successful onboarding process!

  1. Start before their first day

Once you have found your new employee, you can start to build your engagement with them straight away.  You can begin to do this by sending a welcome email or a new-hire welcome pack or invite them for a site visit and encourage them to ask questions.  This will endeavor to ease any nerves and to build confidence before they begin their new role.


  1. Pre-boarding

Historically, your first day at a new job was spent aimlessly sifting through paperwork and doing the all the awkward introductions but thanks to technology, all of this can now be done before the new employee starts.  Emailing documents such as employee handbooks and asking for E-signatures will get the monotonous tasks out of the way and a team’s call will allow a new employee to meet the team before their first day.

It’s also very important for the employer to make preparations for the new employee’s commencement by doing things such as setting up IT requirements or preparing desk space for them.  This sounds pretty basic but welcoming an employee to an organised, structured first day will provide them with the confidence they will fit in to your business well.  First impressions are critical and can be the difference between someone returning or not after day one!

3. Set Expectations

Its always good practice to ensure that a new employee is fully aware of what their role entails and what the company’s expectations are of them from the very beginning.  An important part of the onboarding process is setting clear expectations and highlighting how the business will help new hires achieve these expectations.

This is an opportunity to inform new hires of useful information about the company so they can hit the ground running such as the company culture, rules and where to go if they need assistance.

4.Regular check in’s

Just as employee onboarding doesn’t start on a new hire’s first day, it doesn’t finish after their first day either. Employee satisfaction and performance requires continuous communication, so it’s important to check in regularly.


Regular check-ins can help both sides set and manage expectations and can be a great way to continue evolving an organization’s onboarding process. New hires can be a great source of feedback, so employers ……..don’t be afraid to ask questions!


Aim for check-ins on day 1, 7, 14, 30, 60 and 90 — as a minimum.


These are just a few of the key areas to consider within the commencement of a new employee’s employment.  At Consult HR we can guide you on how to implement a successful onboarding process.  Contact Julie on 07858 089006 or email for further information



What Employment Law Changes Should Businesses Be Aware of In 2022?

We are now well into the second month of 2022; a year where no one really knew what to expect following on from the constant restrictions and uncertain futures we saw in 2020 and 2021 thanks to Covid-19 and Brexit.  As HR professionals, we have been sitting tight to see just how January and February have panned out in terms of what should we expect to see in terms of legislation changes as the year goes on.  Here are just a few measures that employers should be aware and planning for:-


  1. National Minimum/ Living Wage

The first change we know for certain that is coming is the increase of the National Minimum Wage at the beginning of April.  In an effort to counteract the rise in inflation rates and the increasing living costs, the government are applied the following minimum pay increases as follows:

The national living wage rate applies to those employees who are 23 years of age or older.

This is one of the highest pay increases applied since the introduction of the national minimum/Living wage rates with some rates seeing an increase of almost 12%!!


This brings with it another problem, employers are now seeing the pay gap narrowing between the higher skilled and experienced staff and those who are less so.  This has resulted in additional financial pressure to push those experienced workers pay rates up to avoid disharmony, recognise their additional responsibilities and contribution they bring to the business and also as a retention strategy so these key people don’t ‘walk’.



2. Increase To Other Statutory Payments


Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental, and parental bereavement pay will also increase from £151.97 per week to £156.66 per week along with statutory sick pay increasing to £99.35 from £96.35.



3. Holidays

To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the late May bank holiday, which normally would have fallen on 30th May 2022, will now move to Thursday 2nd June 2022, and there will be an additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June 2022 making way for a four-day weekend.  Not everyone will be automatically entitled to this bank holiday and will be dependent on what your employment contract says:-

  • If the employee’s contract says they are entitled to, for example 20 days plus bank holidays and does not specify the bank holidays or the number, the employee will be entitled to the additional bank holiday.
  • If the employee’s contract specifies the number of bank holidays or total number of holidays including bank holidays, the employee will not be automatically entitled to the additional bank holiday and therefore it is up to the discretion of the employer if they wish to give this additional holiday to their staff.



4. Family Friendly Rights

The beginning of February saw a bill of rights being passed in Stormont allowing Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay to be brought into line with the rest of the UK which strengthens an employee’s rights in the event of loosing a child.  In another revolutionary move, Northern Ireland is also now the first jurisdiction in Europe to have legislation in place for miscarriage employment rights, the finer detail is expected later in 2022.

We are also expecting a number of other employment bills to be finalised this year namely the introduction of statutory neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies requiring neonatal care, and the extension of the redundancy protection period for employees on maternity leave to up to six months after they return to work and the introduction of carer’s leave.



5. Third Party Harassment

Changes to harassment laws are expected in 2022, including an extension to the time period employees have for raising tribunal claims and enhanced protection against harassment from third parties, such as clients, customers and members of the public.  There is currently protection for sexual harassment from third parties already in place but this protection is likely to be expanded into other areas. Training for employees will need to be updated on this point, as will organisational policies.


If your require HR support or have any staffing related issues you could benefit from some seeking advice on, please get in touch with Julie on 07858 089006 or by email to