Tag Archive for: Covid-19

6 tips for employers on how to re-motivate, re-energising and re-train staff as we return to work

6 tips for employers on how to re-motivate, re-energising and re-train staff as we return to work

With restrictions lifting in the last week of May, many businesses are reopening their doors for the first time in almost six months. It’s been greatly anticipated by customers and business owners alike. However, employees may not feel the same.

It’s only natural: staff are returning to work after a 6-month hiatus. Within that time many will have established new routines and adjusted to having a lot more time at home. So, some staff may feel a little deflated and unmotivated. Others may resent having to return to work, even in the most positive of working environments. While this is understandable, it’s not efficient for business.

Until we fully adapt to the ‘new normal’, business owners are responsible for guiding their staff through this exciting, rapidly evolving period. Here are 6 tips for employers to build confidence in staff as we begin to open our doors again:


  1. Safety first

Clarifying and implementing COVID procedures is a crucial first step. Government guidelines change almost weekly in Northern Ireland, so staying up to date with advice is vital. Doing so ensures that you are providing the safest and most comfortable environment for your employees, and your clients. Update employees about internal changes within your company which impacts how they should operate.


  1. Support and adjust early

Over the course of the pandemic many employees may have faced incredibly challenging personal circumstances. Their health and wellbeing, and that of their friends and family, may have been impacted. Extreme changes in circumstances can be reported to the human resources department if necessary.

It is important to offer support, and provide an invitation for employees to bring their concerns forward so that necessary adjustments can be made.

Now is also the perfect opportunity to revise existing set rotas, team structures and employee development plans.

Businesses are facing an ‘evolution’ stage. Areas for improvement and issues experienced prior to the pandemic should be highlighted and resolved alongside the new COVID alterations, while people are already adapting.


  1. Hit the ground jogging?

The lockdowns have severely adjusted the pace of our lives; this is especially true for people who have received furlough and have had a full break from work.

Accept that employees may initially struggle to readapt to the speed and energy required to work. If staff are in agreement and it’s possible financially, offer reduced hours or staggered working days. Working shorter, more frequent shifts opposed to longer days should prevent overwhelming staff until they are ready to return to work at full capacity. Flexi-furlough may be able assist this.

Where this isn’t feasible, collaborate with staff to figure out which tasks need to be prioritised. Express expectations, and implement a plan to determine the best way to move forward with maximum efficiency.

If staff are unwilling to return to work, contact HR about how to proceed. There is no blanket approach on how to treat individual staff members following a pandemic. However, if an employee is unnecessarily underperforming or unreasonably refusing to return to work, disciplinary actions may have to be considered.


  1. Refresh and retrain

Relying on muscle-memory may not be the best strategy to adopt towards people who haven’t been operating in their roles since December.

Providing a mini-induction training to cover the basics and daily operations will provide comfort, and allow staff to readjust to their roles. A refresher course will also instil confidence in staff who may be intimidated at the thought of returning to a job they haven’t worked at for half a year.

For those in the hospitality sector, offering a trial day, for example a friends and family only day, should alleviate pressure from employees and help sooth anxiety among those who feel overwhelmed.


  1. Reconnect through a team building activity

Many people experienced long periods of isolation over the duration of the pandemic. Another thing to consider is that many staff members may not have seen or spoken to each other in almost half a year.

Team building exercises not only reduce potential awkwardness between co-workers, but are proven to increase long term productivity and communication, and reduce the occurrence of health and safety incidents.[1]

Ice-breaking activities encourage collaboration and solidarity among co-workers. They bring people out of their shells, and closer together as a team. As Margaret Carty said, “The nicest thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side.”


  1. Lead staff with compassion and clarity

Gather staff together for a meeting to acknowledge that you appreciate that things have been anything but normal for the past year, and that you understand discomfort – you are only human too, of course. Reminding employees that they are valued and an integral aspect of the business is also important.


Despite the challenges, it is time to move forward. Employees must be onboard and prepare to begin progressing enthusiastically, and as a team. Reinforce that they are still expected to work to a high standard upon reopening, even if that standard has changed.


If you require further support with the Coronavirus please feel free to contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or e-mail julie@consulthr.co.uk. Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk

Tags: Coronavirus, Coronavirus HR, Covid-19, HR, COVID, return to work, adjusting to covid, motivating staff, human resources


[1] https://teambuilding.com/blog/team-building-statistics

Restructuring Your Business in the Pandemic

Covid-19 remains the greatest challenge for many companies, as cases rise dramatically, and restrictions tighten, during this second wave. Unfortunately for many, restructuring your business may be the only option to stay afloat. 

As the end of 2020 draws near, there remains no vaccine. It appears that society and the economy will be deeply affected for some time. If you have not already thought about restructuring your business, now is the time to do so. Restructuring can be a way to be future-proof on profit. 

Consult HR are here to provide some guidance on navigating the challenges.

How to Assess Your Restructuring Needs

Before you start, you need to know where your business is going under restructuring arrangements. What areas of service or production are you concentrating on? What areas are you cutting? Which staff do you need to retain? Where do you need to cut back? 

You may need expert HR advice at this point, to ensure that you are taking the correct strategic approach.

Restructuring and Redundancy Procedures

The other thing you need to take into account, is that there is a strict regulatory framework to follow. For example, there are statutory consultation periods (depending on the number of redundancies being made) and procedures to be followed.

Many employers think they can ‘hand pick’ employees they are considering making redundant – it is not that straightforward.  Whilst you will be able to justify that you need to make redundancies, the selection process needs to be fair.  This is critical to whether you will win or lose a case in tribunal.

You may face extra penalties if these are not followed correctly, so expert HR advice is essential to protect your business. Find out more here about Consult HR support for restructuring and redundancy. 

A man in a blue shirt signing important documents at work

Pandemic Restructuring & Communication

Restructuring a company is not an easy or pleasant task. It involves difficult decisions and conflict. Management will of course feel anxious about making cuts. 

Staff are individuals, with their own challenges and anxieties, during this pandemic. If a company keeps this in mind, then the process is likely to go much more smoothly. 

Management should communicate well with each other about proposed plans, and final decisions. But management should also communicate with their staff, about such huge changes. 

Recently, Cineworld decided to lay off up to 5500 workers. Staff did not know of this decision, until it was reported on by the media. This is an example of how NOT to manage lay-offs. Staff should be informed of crucial decisions BEFORE they are made. This will go some way to reduce conflict and uphold morale. 

HR professional advising clients

Photo credit Tim Gouw @unsplash

Restructuring and Equality

Another key area in restructuring and redundancies is the issue of fair redundancy selection criteria. You may think it makes sense to select workers close to retirement age or the newest recruits to the company. However, companies should always bear in mind their obligations around Equal Opportunities. 

Age is a protected characteristic under the law. If your older staff are the only ones to be made redundant with no clear justification, this could be costly. A company could find themselves being taken to an employment tribunal and paying compensation (which unlimited in discrimination cases). This also causes damage to reputation.

When making redundancy decisions, management should aim to maintain a diverse workforce, retaining their strongest people to support their business. Consider knowledge and skill set. Long standing employees may have shown loyalty, but newer recruits may bring innovation. The selection process should consider the skill set, knowledge and expertise, for the long-term future of a business. 

A woman sits on a chair, on her laptop, smiling

Consult HR Help for Restructuring and Redundancy

Restructuring a business and making redundancies, is one of the most stressful processes a business, and management can go through. It is crucial that restructuring is well thought out, and carefully planned.

For bespoke guidance on restructuring your business, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email julie@consulthr.co.uk 


Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk 


How to Manage Your Staff Remotely

Fresh concerns and restrictions over the spread of Covid-19 may mean that you now manage more staff remotely again. Even with some office-based work, most managers will still be working virtually with many of their team.

In our experience, many offices are working on a hybrid basis. This involves staff spending a day or two in the office and the rest of the time at home. This reduces the amount of interaction but also removes the feeling of being isolated. In addition, it allows for those essential team meet-ups to discuss key work duties. And, it enables teams to have those face to face chats that are difficult or not as effective virtually.


Whatever formula you are using, you still need to brush up your remote management skills.  Consult HR are here to help you out with a quick look at some of the key areas and some tips for making things easier and more effective.


Communicating with Your Remote Staff Team

Online meetings and communication are crucial to the success of managing a remote working team. You should stick to normal meeting routines, such as daily or weekly team meetings. Just switch to online platforms like Zoom instead of face to face. You may feel all Zoomed out, but the platform’s popularity means people are familiar with its use.

If you need more specialised or secure platforms, research the best options for you and your business.  But don’t forget, everyone needs to be able to access it and use it. Team members may have

If you were in the habit of one-to-one discussions with individual team members, keep this up too. Use video calls or phone calls in preference to email, text or online chat for these kinds of chat.

If you need an open platform for team chats, then make sure to agree a platform that suits everyone. For example, WhatsApp is popular but it can be easy to miss key messages if you are in too many chat groups. Consult and agree the best choice for your team.

But also try to avoid communication overload too as this can be a real drain on team energy. This may mean putting limits on chats, out of hours emails or texts, encouraging people to use meetings more effectively and using online project tools (see below).


Tools and Equipment for Staff Working Remotely

Make sure staff have access to the equipment they need to work remotely. They may need a better laptop or office chair.  There may be IT or security issues with accessing central data. Talk to them to find out what they need to work better from home.

Tools like Trello and Asana can help with team project work. Find out more about top online tools here.

Measuring Staff Activity & Productivity

Don’t automatically assume your staff need to be under your eye to work effectively and productively. Some of your team may enjoy the flexibility that remote working offers and this can enhance productivity.

Some staff may need this flexibility if there are small children at home. For example, they may prefer to start work earlier and work in the evenings. Work around this if you can and where it works for your team and business. If there are limits to the flexibility you can offer, then negotiate an agreement that will work for the team.

Use meetings to get feedback on how work is progressing. You can also use tools from Excel sheets to Trello boards to monitor tasks and progress. If you feel someone is not pulling their weight, don’t let it slide. Have a one-to-one chat and express your concerns. If there is an ongoing performance problem, then you may need to use disciplinary procedures. But make sure to get HR advice to ensure you comply with the regulations.

remote-working-Brian Wangenheim-unsplash-photo-1588346986082-dbadd9babce0

Mind Mental Health

Remember the obvious – we’re all in the middle of a crisis with the Covid pandemic. You need to be mindful of your own mental health and your team’s. You or any of your team may have serious concerns about older relatives, vulnerable children, or loved ones with immune problems or who are ill.  Some may be dealing with bereavement or isolation.

A team that works well together remotely can also be a supportive team, for you and for them.

For information or advice on managing staff remotely, Contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email julie@consulthr.co.uk.

Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk


Why You Need a HR Professional on Your Team

How do you know when it is time to get expert HR Advice? We are all facing a volatile working environment at the moment due to Covid-19. Employers have to make difficult decisions on staffing levels.  

This creates an increased risk that an employee will seek compensation if you get it wrong.  So now is the time to ensure you get professional HR advice, to protect you and your business.

HR professional advising clients

Should You Outsource HR or Keep it In-House?

Outsourcing works best for small and medium-sized businesses who don’t have their own HR departments. Given the current economic uncertainty, it may not be the right time to expand your management team. However, at such times, it’s crucially important that you have access to HR expertise.

Outsourcing your HR offers a flexible solution to match your needs and your budget. Contact us to arrange to discuss your HR needs on  07858089006 or email julie@consulthr.co.uk.

How a HR Service Can Ease Your Business Through This Pandemic 

Running a business during a global pandemic is a constant challenge but good HR makes sure you have a strong team to help. A specialist HR service supports your business with cost effective and flexible advice to get you back on track. 

HR experts like Consult HR can help you make the changes needed to navigate the post-Covid business world.  We have the experience you need to offer year-round support in key areas like employment law, redundancy and restructuring We also help you shape the management team you need to lead your business through this crisis.  

Covid-19 and Company Staffing 

For businesses who need to streamline their staff, redundancies may have to be an option. The redundancy process can be a complex area and the procedures vary depending on the number of redundancies involved. 

Redundancies and Covid-19

You may need to reduce your staffing costs but don’t know how. We help businesses map out their options and guide business owners through the statutory procedures Let us take care of the legalities and provide you with the framework to streamline your business. We create plans to deal sensitively and supportively with staff, while providing on-site and offsite support, as needed. 

HR professional consulting

Restructuring During Covid-19

Where appropriate, HR professionals can provide advice on alternative options to redundancies. We support business owners to create a plan that fits with the vision of their business.  Restructuring your business does not need to be a difficult undertaking and may allow you to keep on staff you’re reluctant to lose. Sometimes job losses can be avoided by changing the role of staffHR professionals can guide you through the legalities of restructuring your business and creating new positions for existing staff 

Employment Law during the Covid Pandemic

Most business owners do not have the time – or inclination – to learn the ins and outs of employment law. This is where a specialist HR professional can save you a lot of time and money. A good HR provider will work with you to develop robust terms and conditions of employment. They will ensure these terms comply with legislation and are specifically tailored to suit the requirements of your business. 

At Consult HR we take care of all aspects of employment policies and procedures for the businesses we work with. We ensure your business is compliant with all employment legislation, which can also protect your Company in litigation claims. 

HR proffessional working

 Coronavirus and Dismissals 

 Employment law is particularly important right now, as many business owners are letting go of staff. Consult HR can advise and guide you through the process to ensure you comply with legislative requirements  

Consult HR are experts in the field of employment law and can provide you with advice on legally binding agreements. This helps you to avoid future litigation and unfair dismissal claims through the industrial tribunals.  

At this time of great upheaval for businesses, a professional HR service can ease the burden and hassle of employment issues. Consult HR have a range of service options to meet all businesses needs and budgets, from project work to pay as you go. Contact us today to find out how we can support your business,  


Contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email julie@consulthr.co.uk.  

Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk 






Coronavirus: Top tips for working from home

The hashtag #wfh (working from home) is currently trending online, which isn’t surprising, considering that millions of us are working remotely due to the coronavirus crisis. With lockdown expected to last for another few weeks yet, it’s likely that for some, the novelty of working from home will wear off soon enough. If you find yourself in this situation, panic not. Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her top tips for working away from the office.

  1. Get up & dressed as normal

When working from home, there is obviously the temptation to wear pyjamas or loungewear all day long. However, you should dress for your work environment. Wearing such clothing is likely to have an impact on your mood and therefore impact your productivity.

You don’t need to dress as formally as you might usually do but the act of actually getting dressed sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to get to work. How often have you spent the day or weekend lounging about, only to finally get showered and dressed before admitting that you “Feel more human”? The same applies when you’re working remotely. The way to think about it is that you should always be prepared for unexpected video calls from colleagues or managers, so get ready each day with that scenario in mind.

2. Create a designated workspace or office

For those who work remotely from home full time (such as freelancers) one of their biggest challenges is separating their work and home lives. One way to ensure that you can fully disconnect from work is by having a physical area for it. If you have a home office – great! If not, you’ll need to find somewhere that serves this purpose and which is distraction-free. If you can, avoid working from the kitchen table, sofa or bed. Having an area – such as a dining room – so that you can physically close the door at the end of the day is ideal.

Set up the area as best as you can so that it resembles a workspace environment. Consider what you use on a daily basis in your office and make sure you have access to any computer programmes or software that you might need. Place your desk where there is good lighting, make sure the temperature is comfortable and that you have stocked up on pens and stationery.

3. Stick to working hours

There is always the temptation to sleep in and start work later, but it is better to stick to your usual working hours. This means that you are more likely to be productive during this time and being on the same schedule as your co-workers makes things easier for everyone. If you live with other people, or find that others in your household are also working from home, separate yourself from them and establish boundaries in order to limit distractions during the day.

That way, when you are finished for the day, you can give others your full attention. Carving out a separate time for work will ensure you are more present in your home life.

4. Incorporate travel times & rituals

The physical act of getting ourselves to work each day actually sets us up for the day ahead. As mentioned above, it’s best to avoid lying in each morning. You might think that you are saving yourself commute time and therefore it’s warranted. However, use this time to set yourself up for the day. If you usually listen to your favourite podcast or playlist on the way to work, continue to carry out this ritual.

Likewise, the act of travelling and arriving home serves as a wind down time each day, so again, try to continue with this. If, for example, you usually walk the dog before making your dinner, make sure you do these things. This way, you will remind both your mind and body that you have finished work for the evening.

5. Avoid distractions

It can be tempting to sit down in front of the TV at lunchtime but before you know it, you’ve been sucked in and find yourself saying: “Just one more episode.” Taking breaks are important but make them just that. Throwing on a load of washing or emptying the dishwasher is fine but don’t be tempted to take on bigger tasks which can easily take over your day.


6. Communication with your team is key

There is a certain level of trust that comes with working remotely. One thing that is expected to come out of the current crisis is that more employees are likely to request working from home and employers will to be more open to allowing this to happen. This is your opportunity as a manager to test the water and see how this works.

The key is to communicate clearly with your staff. Whether it’s a Zoom call in the morning, outlining the schedule for the day, requesting a report at the close of business showing what each team member has achieved that day or a weekly team meeting, when everyone is on the same page and are aware of what is expected of them, things run more smoothly.

Finally, don’t be tempted to default to text-based communication. Don’t email someone if it is something you would usually speak to them about in person. Pick up the phone, or better still, jump on a video call. Seeing and speaking to people is an easy way to ensure we all feel connected.

7. Remember to socialise

One of the big things we’re seeing is just how well people can stay in contact, despite being separated. So many apps such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and House Party allow multiple people to engage in video calls at the same time. Have a virtual 10 O’Clock coffee break with the team or if you have a Friday ritual of a drink after work, there’s no reason why you can’t continue this. Getting everyone on the same call – even for just a few minutes – will keep morale high and connections open.

If you require further support with the Coronavirus please feel free to contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or e-mail julie@consulthr.co.uk. Visit our website here: www.consulthr.co.uk