Onboarding: 5 Key Steps to Ensure A Successful Process

Onboarding is a part of the recruitment process that can often be forgotten and underutilised. Relationships at work are so important and the onboarding process is often the first introduction new starts will have with your team. Therefore, the integration opportunity here cannot be denied. 

In this article, we’ll be diving into onboarding so you can ensure new starts have the best start to life in your organisation. We’ll be covering: 

  • What is onboarding? 
  • The importance of having a robust process 
  • The benefits of onboarding for your organisation 
  • What should be included in your onboarding experience 

What is onboarding?

Employee onboarding is a process that encompasses everything required when a new team member joins your organisation. Through this process, the individual will receive training, information resources and more to help them establish themselves in their role. 

Typically, this process is kicked off when a candidate accepts their first offer and ends after the induction period is over. 

Why is a robust onboarding process so important?

Starting a new role can be overwhelming and daunting for candidates. An onboarding plan can help them to acclimatise to your organisation,  their role and help them to get an understanding and feel for the company culture. 

Onboarding isn’t just beneficial for the new team member- it can be a game changer for the rest of the team too. When you take the time to properly onboard someone, you’re not only helping them get up to speed on your organisation but also setting the tone for their success. By providing clear expectations, resources, and support from their very first day you create a strong foundation for a team that can work together to achieve amazing things. The team involved will benefit as they’ll be able to provide training, reflect on processes, improve communication, and strengthen bonds. It’s a great chance for them to also learn and share knowledge. 

Think about it like this- your new start might have had a 3 month notice period before joining your team. If you have a slick and smooth onboarding process you can spend that 3 months getting to know your employee and having regular touch points before they join. However, without one you leave your employee semi-in-the-dark until they start their first day. 

First impressions, as they say, are everything. So, you want this really important step in the employee lifecycle to get off to the best start possible. We always recommend communication with candidates before their start date- you can achieve this by staying in contact through email or by phone until their first day. Having their line manager reach out and introduce themselves is essential if they’ve not already met through the hiring process. 

The onboarding process is crucial to the new start as it provides an insight into the company culture before their first day, builds relationships and reduces stress for the individual, allowing them to feel comfortable and confident in their new role. 

As well as being beneficial to the new start, the onboarding process is important for the organisation as a whole. It can improve employee retention rates through the new start feeling supported, engaged and connected at the beginning of their working relationship, they are more likely to stay with the company longer-term. As a result, this can reduce turnover costs. Additionally, providing the candidates with contracts, policies and procedures reduces organisational risk to legal / regulatory issues and ensures a compliant work environment from day one. 

What are the benefits of onboarding for your organisation?

  • Better employee experience a good onboarding experience can lead to a great employee experience. It helps new starts to feel supported, involved, comfortable and included in the team. 
  • Higher employee engagement- You’re judging a new start on their performance but it’s important to remember they’re doing the same thing. They’ll be judging how quickly they receive their contract, how their first day in the role has gone and what their experience as a whole in their new role is for example. Positive experiences create better engagement, and that engagement is reflected in your teams.
  • Greater employee retention- An estimated 69% of employees are likely to remain with an employer for over 3 years if they’ve experienced a positive onboarding. This can create employee satisfaction, preparedness for what their role will entail and better outputs. 
  • Increased productivity- when done correctly the learning curve for new employees can be smaller. Good onboarding can reduce the time needed to learn new software, systems and tasks. Enabling your new start to produce a higher quality of work quicker. 
  • Strong company culture- it’s a common problem companies are facing- how to retain employees. Having a revolving door of employees is both time-consuming and expensive. However, when done right onboarding can be very beneficial. Having a core group of longstanding employees will help you to solidify your culture, making the onboarding experience better for your new starts. 

What should be included?

There are no set requirements for an onboarding process. The most important thing is that your process is unique to your organisation and doesn’t feel disjointed or disingenuous to who you are and what you stand for. To ensure you have it all covered we recommend that you follow the 5 c’s of onboarding. 

  1. Compliance- Arguably this is one of the least exciting parts of onboarding, but it is one of the most important parts. Compliance covers the essential elements such as completing paperwork, badging, and equipping employees with the necessary technology to do their jobs effectively. Streamlining this process where you can free up time to shine a light on creating memorable onboarding experiences where it matters.
  2. Clarification- When someone new joins your team it’s so important that they are given the necessary information to fully understand where their role fits within your team, what they need to be doing and how they’re expected to do it. At this stage, organigrams and team structures should be used to showcase how the team fits together.
  3. ConfidenceAn employee that’s confident in both their abilities and their decision to join your organisation is more likely to want to drive the business forward. They’ll want to prove those abilities and will take on new challenges to show they can complete tasks to a high standard. Through the experience you can design an onboarding plan that builds your employees up and provides them with both the tools and the know how to gain confidence and grow into their role. Creating a plan that clearly sets out role expectations, provides them with the necessary tools and resources to complete their tasks and giving them support from the very first day will help them to feel confident. 
  4. ConnectionWorking in a team shouldn’t ever feel lonely. When employees feel connected to their colleagues, you’re likely to see more positive individual and organisational outcomes. Employers should keep communication lines open throughout the employees notice period through line managers, talent acquisition or onboarding teams which will make the new start feel welcome. As a result, this builds confidence in their decision to switch employer. When your new hire joins the team this part of the onboarding journey’s purpose is to help them feel welcome and accepted within the organisation. By creating an onboarding journey that enables people to get to know the teams and people they’ll be working alongside, this will help your new start to establish those all important relationships that will be key in ensuring a positive connection. 
  5. CultureThis is the best time to get your new hires to understand the mission, vision and values of your organisation. Onboarding is an important way companies can form, maintain and also create changes to their culture. Through the process make sure you teach what truly matters in your organisation. Bringing teams into the process will help create cohesion in the new hire experience. 

How can AAB People help?

Onboarding should not be a forgotten task or even one that has less importance in the new starter journey. It can be a key to success when utilised properly. When you focus on the 5 Cs of onboarding, you’ll be able to create a seamless onboarding journey that ensures your new team members are set up for success. 

Our team of specialists can help you create a bespoke onboarding journey that integrates your new starts seamlessly into your team. Creating a positive work culture and workplace that your people are proud to work within. 

If you have any queries about how to create a successful onboarding process please do not hesitate to get in contact with Rhona Macleod, or your usual AAB People contact. 

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Should we all have the right to disconnect?

The prospect of a UK General Election in 2024 means we may see new items on the agenda which businesses will need to navigate this year, in addition to any legislative updates already on the calendar.

Employee wellbeing is high on the agenda for political parties, and we can look to other countries for inspiration on what could be done here in the UK. One topical change we’ve seen is around the theme of the “Right to Disconnect.”

What is the right to disconnect?

The increase in flexibility at work with more and more employees working from home has blurred the lines between personal and work life.  It can be difficult to separate work and life when you’re working from home which brings a consideration for the ‘right to disconnect’.

It seeks to protect workers health and wellbeing from things like burnout and mental health problems caused by stress by putting in place strong policies and legislation for organisations to follow. Employees are given ‘permission’, to disengage from work outside of their normal working hours. As a result, once employees are off the clock they should not receive or be required to answer any work-related calls, messages, or emails. Effectively allowing employees to revert back to a time, where when you left the office you did not have access to your emails again until the next morning.

Should we all have the right to disconnect?

With ever increasing countries moving closer to giving their workforce the ability to outright refuse to take on any more work once their workday has ended, similar laws are already in place with our European neighbours (France, Italy, and Belgium) and Australia is looking to be the next country in line to pass a bill in Government.

The Australian Prime Minister recently said referencing their recent proposed bill:-

“We are simply saying someone who is not paid 24 hours a day, shouldn’t be penalised if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day.”

Why is the right to disconnect important?

The right to disconnect aims to create a new shared approach to work communication that will not hinder flexible working. At the same time, it allows people to switch off to their workday outside of their working hours.

Work-life balance is a phrase we often hear. People want to work to live and not live to work, which is perfectly understandable. The right supports employees to have a better work-life balance which allows for everyone in an organisation to truly excel. Enabling employees to bring their best and most productive self to work each day is something employers should strive to achieve.

It isn’t just about enacting policies or regulations; it’s about fostering a cultural shift that prioritises work-life balance and mental well-being.  Without a cultural change, simply mandating time away from work devices may not effectively address the underlying issues of overwork and burnout. Embracing the RTD means acknowledging that employees are more productive and healthier when they have time to recharge outside of work hours.

Benefits of promoting a healthy work-life balance

Encouraging a healthy work/life balance can help to boost your organisations reputation. A positive reputation can help you to attract and retain top talent. We know it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for employers to attract and retain, not forgetting the costs to recruit, both monetarily and time invested in training new employees.

Could the UK implement the right to disconnect?

While Australia is looking to implement this now it is not a novel concept. In fact, France was the first country to implement the right to disconnect in 2017. It is something that has been implemented in multiple countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Canada. In each country, the law is slightly different.

The UK Labour party previously stated that they would like to legislate a right to disconnect policy. It’s likely that their manifesto for the general election this year will be largely focused on employees and the workplace, knowing that it’s something current workforces regard as highly important.

The right to disconnect vs the 4-day working week

The case for the right to be implemented is not too dissimilar to the case for a 4-day working week. While there’s pros and cons to both it does raise the question, are we missing an opportunity to revolutionise and redesign our approach to the way we work, whilst building a culture of employee wellbeing? With more countries implementing these laws it shows that there has been a shift, and more importance is being placed on employee wellbeing.

The UK implementing the right to disconnect will not fix wellbeing. Why? Because wellbeing cannot be fixed by one singular action, it needs continued effort, and to be weaved through the framework of every organisation. It would however be a continued step in the right direction.

If you have any queries about how to create a work life balance for your team or implementing a 4 day working week, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Michael Black, or your usual AAB People contact.




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Workplace Wellbeing and Health and Safety At Work

The Health and Safety at Work Act was established in 1974 – a mere 50 years ago.  While we often associate health and safety with physical “safety” the Act recognised that employee “health” is equally important.

Most of us will work in occupations at some time or another that will expose us to health hazards, be that physical stress and strain, exposures to chemicals, noise, dusts, vibration, violence/aggressive behaviours, infection, stress etc.  It’s easy to assume that only employees who carry out high risk work are exposed to health hazards but anyone in any occupation can be affected.

As employers we have a duty under health and safety law to protect workers from the adverse health effects of the work that they do – this is embedded in the principles of risk assessment and risk management.

The most recent set of UK statistics for work related ill health prove that more needs to be done in this area:

  • 1.8 million workers suffering from work related ill health in 2022/23 (new cases and long-stranding)
  • 900,000 workers suffering from work related stress, depression, or anxiety (accounting for 49% of the total cases and the main cause of work-related ill health).
  • 12,000 lung disease deaths per annum linked to past exposures at work (chemicals and dusts)
  • 500,000 workers suffering from work related musculoskeletal disorders (accounting for 24% of the total cases)
  • £13.1 billion annual cost of new cases of work-related ill health.

Work related stress, depression, and anxiety account for almost half of all work-related ill health and 54% of the working days lost in the UK, and post pandemic the trend is rising. It is essential for UK business to understand the causes of stress and ensure that their organisational culture, policies, and procedures address these.

The main causes of work-related stress are cited as:

  • Workload pressure including tight deadlines and too much responsibility.
  • Lack of managerial support
  • Violence and bullying
  • Organisational changes at work and role uncertainty

And it’s important to understand that many employees will experience stress in their personal lives, that then carries over into their working lives and affects their ability to cope with their job and to work safely.  Understanding and supporting employees when they are experiencing personal challenges can be as important as taking steps to minimise the work related aspects.

Proactively taking steps to prevent stress occurring is preferential to reactively having to deal with both the causes of stress and the consequences.  Given the current rates of work-related stress etc. many employers will find themselves on the back foot and reactively trying to address issues that have become embedded in the culture, systems, processes and people.

The good news is that there are tools out there to support the management of stress.   Working with HR professionals many of the existing HR policies and procedures can provide valuable information to help identify the extent of the problem, e.g. absence statistics, causes of discipline and grievance procedures, staff retention data, exit interview data; employee surveys etc.

Staff surveys and workshops can help to drill into the finer detail of the day-to-day issues and demands that wear people down, cause frustration and create conflict between staff and management.

HR and H&S policies and procedure can provide some of the solutions and may need to be refreshed and refocussed to ensure they remain effective, e.g. return to work, flexible working arrangements, dignity at work, stress at work, employee health programmes; risk assessment; job evaluation etc.

The Health and Safety Executive Management Standards represent a set of conditions that if present:

  • demonstrate good practice through a step-by-step risk assessment approach
  • allow assessment of the current situation using pre-existing data, surveys, and other techniques
  • promote active discussion and working in partnership with employees and their representatives, to help decide on practical improvements that can be made
  • help simplify risk assessment for work-related stress by:
    • identifying the main risk factors
    • helping employers focus on the underlying causes and their prevention
    • providing a yardstick by which organisations can gauge their performance in tackling the key causes of stress

The management standards cover six key areas of work design that are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates:

  • Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • Support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
  • Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
  • Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation

Employee wellbeing is one of the areas where HR and H&S can work in partnership to ensure that the inherent health hazards associated with work are identified, understood, and appropriately managed.  Working together they have important roles in communicating information to employees on health and wellbeing, providing the necessary policies and procedures to manage the risks and to provide the necessary information, instruction, and training to equip employees with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe and healthy.

If you have any queries about the health and safety in your workplace, or if you are worried about the wellbeing of your employees please do not hesitate to get in contact with Lee Craig, Donna Wrigglesworth or your usual AAB People contact.

This blog is part of our series on Workplace Wellbeing, you can read the first blog of the series here.


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What Is Workplace Wellbeing?

Workplace wellbeing encompasses activities, programs, policies and strategies that aim to promote both positive physical and psychological health at work. However, many also overlap with personal wellbeing outside of work because, let’s face it, employees can’t maintain good wellbeing at home but not at work and vice versa.

Workplace wellbeing has become increasingly important within many organisations in recent years with the rise of hybrid working and the knowledge of research that shows 34% of people say work is the biggest cause of stress in their lives.

Job and financial Security

The last few years have seen many businesses, either collapse or make mass redundancies, often without notice. This news can establish uncertainty in people that may have been a loyal employee for many years, let alone relatively new employees or people working in start-up businesses.

Since the pandemic, both job and financial security have become big worries for millions of people. Whilst no company can be completely sure that they won’t ever have to make redundancies, they can put backup plans and strategies in place to support employees through these difficult times. This can be as simple as ensuring that a reasonable notice period is given to employees to find new jobs and fair redundancy settlements are provided.

As many organisations are currently feeling the pinch on their finances, it can make it harder to fairly compensate employees and stay afloat. Some tips employers can follow to make sure employees are fairly compensated can include: benchmarking job salaries against national or regional averages for the same positions, analysing your gender and ethnicity pay gaps as well as the diversity of your workforce across the organisational structure, implementing career progression and skills development strategies for everyone so that they can increase their career and earning potential, and investing in an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that is rich and diverse in benefits and perks that employees can make use of.

Employee Support

Support covers so many aspects of workplace wellbeing. Ensuring professional support to help employees develop and improve skills or further their career, or emotional or physical support in times of need (for example, financial difficulty, experiencing problematic behaviour, ill-health or simply giving any sort of advice). Support is something that not only senior leaders must be ready to provide but one that all employees can work on.

The bottom line is, if employees don’t feel supported, they are more likely to leave or suffer in silence, which could result in higher levels of absenteeism and presenteeism and lower levels of productivity.

A good work-life balance can mean something completely different to each person, making this almost impossible for organisations to get right when they look to make adjustments in the workplace. However, sometimes simply giving people open options such as the choice to work completely remotely and discussing individual needs like certain days or times off for childcare is one of the best ways to try and cater to a range of different needs.

Employee Health

Both physical and mental health of people has taken a front seat in the last few years. Enhanced sick leave policies that also integrate the need for people to take time off for mental health reasons, EAPs that provide benefits such as private healthcare, access to online GPs, free sight and hearing tests, and general compassion and understanding for those with health issues or who are carers, are all gradually more standard and sought after requirements for employees. However, currently only 25% of UK companies have an employee well-being programme in place.

Stress is one of the biggest causes of long-term sickness, every year millions of working days in the UK are lost due to work related stress. Absence is very expensive for employers due to the loss of productivity and the associated costs of paying sick pay to the absent employee and paying for temporary cover for the employee’s work, whether by employing additional staff or paying existing staff overtime. Where employees experience stress this is likely to have other serious consequences for the workplace. Stress can result in poor performance, low morale, accidents, costly tribunals, and civil claims against the employer.

With all this in mind – What can you do as leaders to prevent workplace stress?

It is good practice to take steps to reduce the risk that stress may occur within your organisation, even where you do not consider that any of your employees are currently experiencing stress related symptoms. You could take the following steps to help to prevent stress:

  • Encourage communication within the team:Where employees feel that they can discuss problems with their colleagues this can help to reduce the risk of stress. This could be achieved by holding regular team meetings and encouraging staff to approach you and colleagues informally with any issues that they have.
  • Foster good relations with employees: Taking the time to get to know your team members is key, so that changes to their normal behaviour are easier to spot. Develop an understanding of each person’s stressors in your team.
  • Ensure that employees have an appropriate amount of work to do:Where employees feel that they are unable to cope with their workload, this can cause stress. Regularly review the amount of work employees have, for example at regular one to one sessions. You should consider the impact of absences and departures on remaining staff and how the work can be shared fairly within the team.
  • Ensure that individuals take proper breaks: Checking that employees are not regularly working long hours and that they take regular breaks. If an employee is consistently working through lunch or beyond their contracted hours, you should try to establish if this is because of a short-term increase in work or if it is a longer-term issue. You should set a good example by taking breaks and working appropriate hours.
  • Have regular meetings with employees: Having regular meetings with team members about their work will give you a good idea of what employees are doing and any problems that they have. Set realistic goals and expectations.
  • Provide appropriate training: You should conduct regular reviews to identify training needs for the members of your team. Employees could be involved in identifying their own training needs. Where training needs are identified, you should provide training. Training is particularly important for employees who have additional responsibilities following a promotion.
  • Be alert during periods of change: You should keep employees well informed and encourage them to raise concerns during periods of change, for example when the organisation is going through a restructure. Where possible, you should involve employees in decision-making. You should be alert to the possibility of employees experiencing stress during this time.
  • Recruit employees who have the skills to perform the role: When recruiting, you should consider what the duties of the job will be and what skills and experience the successful candidate will need. This will help to ensure that the right person is recruited to the job, so the job-holder does not feel out of their depth.
  • Do not delay: You should take immediate action when you suspect that an individual is stressed or when an employee informs you that they are experiencing stress. This should help to avoid the problem escalating. You should seek support from HR and Mental Health First Aiders if applicable if in doubt.
  • Empower and include people. Provide them with a sense of belonging
  • Ensure pyschological safety – make sure everyone feels they can speak out without feeling criticised or bullied.
  • Ensure good job design – it is varied and challenging.
  • Give recognition!
  • Promote a good work life balance – role model good wellbeing habits. Don’t email out of hours or at the weekend for example. Promote physical, mental, emotional, social and financial wellbeing.

Health is a key area many employees find they encounter the most troubles with when it comes to disputes with their employers. To tackle these, employers must make sure that they have a better understanding of different disabilities or health issues, what constitutes discrimination based on them and how they can prevent mental health problems or support those with them, especially if they are as a result of workplace bullying, discrimination or harassment. How are employers tackling the cause of the problems as well as the consequences?

Another effective strategy is the implementation of wellbeing awareness training and workshops which address specific concerns, such as burnout, stress management, and the unique challenges posed by women’s health issues such as menopause. These sessions offer practical, sustainable solutions and foster a sense of community and support among employees. Unlike digital tools, they require active participation, which can lead to longer lasting impacts on health and wellbeing. Over and above empowering the workforce, providing employees with knowledge and specific tools to manage their health proactively, they create a culture of inclusion, fostering confidence and helping employees feel truly valued.

If you have any queries about workplace wellbeing please do not hesitate to get in contact with Donna Wrigglesworth, or your usual AAB People contact.

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A Guide to Employee Benefits Schemes

It goes without saying that employee benefits are a common incentive given to employees within a business. They are often used by organisations to attract and retain their top talent. They are an incredibly undervalued tool that can improve wellbeing and aid in fostering a prosperous and positive work culture.

The power of implementing employee benefits can often be overlooked when you’re combatting other challenges and trying to scale your business. In the short term not having them might lower costs for your business but in the long term, it may prove to be a hinderance to your growth and the success of your organisation.

What are the benefits?

A challenge affecting most businesses no matter the sector is attracting and retaining top talent. It’s not just about getting an individual in the door. It’s all about getting the right people for your roles and your business. A good employee benefits package can help you to achieve that. A report found that 69% of employees are likely to stay with an employer with a good benefits package while 68.2% said they were more likely to take a role if a good package was being offered. Having a comprehensive benefits package will also help you to build an attractive employer brand- creating a narrative that you’re an organisation that cares for its employees.

Its more than just a nice to have- employee benefits can advance your workforce and your business.

The cost of hiring, onboarding and going through that process a couple of times is high. You also need to factor in the loss of productivity, the time to train someone new and the knock-on effect this can have on your workforce. Employee benefits are linked to high employee wellbeing. The importance of wellbeing in the workplace is only going to get higher and higher on the agenda for organisations. Organisations where employee wellbeing is taken care of often see stronger job satisfaction, higher productivity, and even lower absence rates.

So, how do you understand just how important employee benefits are and you know that you have to have them. Where you start and what do you go for?

There’s no shortage of different types of employee benefits that you can implement. You could offer any and all but that wouldn’t make sense and it would be like adding petrol to a fire. Your scheme needs to be tailored to the needs of your employees.

Speak to them about what benefits they would like. Doing so is twofold. One- you’ll be able to carefully cultivate a package that meets the needs of your people. Two- employees will feel genuinely cared for and appreciate being asked for their opinion throughout the process.

What benefits should you look to include?


Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) can play a powerful role. They are a benefit that can provide your team with support and also practical advice. They aim to support physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. This can either be online or confidentially over the phone. Access to these services typically occurs 24/7 so employees have access to this support when they need it most.

Often speaking about wellbeing is a challenge for employees but creating a safe space in which they can access information and receive support about issues ranging from workplace discrimination to anxiety or debt will help to create a happier more well workforce.

Enhanced parental leave

For this benefit- there is a statutory minimum organisation must apply. You can however choose to provide more.

Women are entitled to a year’s maternity leave. During this period, eligible mothers will get 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay. This equates to 6 weeks at 90% of full earnings and 33 weeks at statutory maternity pay.

With paternity leave you are entitled to two-week paid leave once the baby is born.

Shared parental leave is also an option- this is shared between both parents and consists of 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. This will be shared between both parents.

There are no legal requirements to offer enhanced leave or pay. However, doing so will help to demonstrate that you’re a family friendly organisation that people won’t be punished for wanting to grow their family. Whilst this is an exciting time for new parents, the financial burden can provide unnecessary stress. Enhanced packages not only give you a competitive edge against your competitors, but they also show that you care and are likely to result in anyone returning from leave feeling less stressed.

Flexible working

Flexible or hybrid working has become something of a buzz word in recent years. However, post pandemic the work life balance has become increasingly more important to employees and employers and one tool that helps is to have that is flexible working.

Flexible working can take many different forms. This may range from being able to finish later after an appointment or starting earlier because you have evening plans, working a four-day week because that suits you better or offering your employees the opportunity to create individual working patterns that help you to thrive and be your most productive. Flexible working can also allow your people to work where they feel the most comfortable.

Not that it has to benefit you too. But from an employer perspective flexible working can:

  • Improve loyalty.
  • Create a good employer brand.
  • Support your reputation.
  • Empower your workforce.

Physical health is really important. Organisations that show they care and want to protect this will help in boosting their employees mental and physical health. This might be a local gym or somewhere located close to your office. It Is important to ensure that such a benefit is not only an inclusive one but is also one that caters to staff of all ages, life stages and fitness abilities.

Private medical Insurance

This is often a sought-after benefit as it entitles your employees to have private medical treatment if they fall ill or sustain an injury. Health insurance not only has a positive impact on employee wellbeing, but it also can help reduce absenteeism and attrition within your company.

It’s no secret that the NHS is currently under strain and stress. As waiting times increase an estimated 20% of employees have made a reduction in their working hours to wait for treatment on the NHS. This percentage is likely to rise in the coming years. When employees have the choice of going private through work it can help them to feel cared for and in turn reduce the number of hours employees are off sick.

If a happy and healthy workforce is your aim, then implementing private medical is a good way to go.

While creating an employee benefits programme can be daunting you don’t have to do it alone. Alongside our colleagues at AAB, we can help you to create a bespoke employee benefits scheme. From initial conversations to finding the best benefit deals around. We’ll spearhead your project and deliver a scheme you can be proud of.

If you have any queries about setting up an employee benefits scheme, our specialist employee benefits team are on hand to provide you with advice and support in creating a bespoke scheme. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with Robyn WhelanRhianne Stewart, or your usual contact.

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The Importance Of Celebrating National Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Friday of March every year. It’s important to make your employees feel appreciated and valued every day. However, this day is a great opportunity to do so on a bigger scale.

Showing your appreciation and thanks for your employees doesn’t have to break the bank. When employees feel valued, they are more likely to perform at their best. If you’ve not already planned, you still have time. This day is a great platform to roll out year-round recognition for a job well done that will quickly become part of your culture.

What is Employee Appreciation Day?

The day was originally coined by Dr Bob Nelson to celebrate the publication of his book ‘1001 Ways to Reward Employees’. In his book he highlights that it’s not an increased salary or a promotion that motivates your employees to do well. It’s actually intangible, unexpected, and genuine gestures that signify real appreciation for a job well done. The importance of recognising good work can sometimes be a huge difference maker when it comes to retaining top talent.

It’s often the case that feedback is only given when a problem has occurred or when a task hasn’t gone to plan. While that’s not an issue, when positives are always ignored it can leave doubt in an employee’s mind of their ability to complete their work to a high standard. Especially when the good more often than not outweigh the bad.

Do I need to get involved in Employee Appreciation Day?

You might be thinking- is this day just performative do I really need to get involved? Failing to show appreciation and thanks for your teams at all might be a huge mistake. After all, employee engagement is one of the strongest ways you can drive employee success. How? Motivated and satisfied employees create a better and more positive culture which in turn delivers a productive and high performing team.

Top tips for Employee Appreciation Day

Here are just some examples you could implement on the day and thereafter:

  • Investing in wellness for your employees- this could be providing them will wellness apps such as headspace or organising workout classes such as Pilates or Yoga within the office.
  • Hosting an awards show specific to your organisation- this will involve the whole team as they vote for the person they think deserves the award most. Boosting employee engagement and morale as the team recognise their achievements.
  • Bringing sweets and snacks into the office for everyone to enjoy- sometimes it’s just a small gesture that works too.
  • Team building activities- who doesn’t love a quiz or a challenge? Some healthy competition can be fun and can also help to bring the team closer together and help them get to know one another better.
  • A simple thank you- no matter what you do this Employee Appreciation Day make sure that the first thing is to thank your employees. This will go a long way and should be something you implement regularly.

Employee engagement

While Employee Appreciation Day is a great starting point it’s not itself going to transform your working environment or culture. There are roughly 250 working days every year. So, recognition on only one of those days isn’t going to cut the mustard. Instead, you want to invest in a clear Employee Engagement Strategy year-round.

How do I create a successful employee engagement strategy?

Ultimately the best employee engagement survey is one that is tailored to your organisation. The most important part of creating such a strategy is hearing from your teams themselves- what they think might be missing, what they’d like to see and what they’d like to stop. Once you collate this information you can share findings and next steps with your team.

There’s no magic wand for us to wave and fix a disengaged employee or negative culture. However, we are on hand to support you to start those conversations and create a bespoke employee engagement strategy that meets the needs of your people and your organisation. Creating a strategy that will bring you success is only doable when you have the data to back it up. We’ll ensure we provide you with regular feedback session touchpoints after implementing a strategy. Reviewing progress will help us to see how the strategy is working and if there’s other room for improvement.

Appreciation for your employees should never occur in isolation. It’s important to remember to continually thank and praise the people who are pivotal in driving your organisations success. Creating a positive feedback culture and taking steps to creating a more engaged workforce will help you to retain top talent. If you have any queries about how to create a successful employee engagement strategy, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Ailsa Smillie or your usual AAB People consultant.

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Strachan and Kemp

Our Client

Based in Scotland’s central belt, Strachan and Kemp Commercial Services Ltd provide a complete contractor solution to commercial property clients. They deliver a diverse range of services to support every aspect of property related services including full Hard and Soft Service provision, ranging from the smallest of routine repairs, time-critical emergency works and Planned Preventative Maintenance through to refurbishment and dilapidation works. 

Formed in 2014, the now 60-strong firm has enjoyed rapid growth in the demand for its services and plans to expand its geographical base beyond Scotland. 


Our Challenge

AAB People began advising Strachan and Kemp as part of a North Lanarkshire grant-funded project. In September 2022, our team were taken on directly by the firm to provide a retained consultancy and practical support for their managers on a range of HR issues. The permanent employee headcount has grown to seven with 50+ remote and casual staff providing the bulk of the commercial services.

Strachan and Kemp sought ongoing guidance and in-person visits by AAB People to assist with contracts, compliance and a diverse and sometimes challenging range of employee relations issues. 


Our Solution – HR

Our role has spanned many aspects of HR, from practical documentation and daily HR admin needs, to advising on a range of sometimes complex employee relations issues. We introduced a bespoke employee handbook to all staff outlining all the entitlements and policies available and serving as an educational guide for managers on company processes.  

We support the directors, service manager and cleaning managers with processes they may not have dealt with previously, provide a guide for how to handle them, draw up any relevant documentation and attend meetings with management on request. 

A significant part of our work has been helping with internal communications around employee relations, sometimes involving sensitive issues and complex individual situations.  We contribute to meetings with staff and management where required and have regular calls to discuss a wide range of people management needs 

We also advise on contractual issues including those related to TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment rights).  TUPE is the law that protects employees, and their benefits, when their employment changes hands. 

Our Solution – Health & Safety

Strachan and Kemp also asked us to review their Health & Safety systems and policies as part of their business growth requirements. Our dedicated Health & Safety team assigned a consultant to become an integral part of the client team and act as a retained, ongoing first port of call.

A full review, a new bespoke action plan and upgrading of policies and procedures followed in Autumn 2023, including a review and simplification of documentation. The review included several risk assessments, including fire risk, and a series of training sessions for the field team on dynamic risk assessment in core business areas such as roofing, cleaning, security, drainage and waste management. 

All Health & Safety materials were revised to create maximum efficiency and user-friendliness and tailored carefully to fit the specific needs of Strachan and Kemp as a diverse and growing business. AAB People are retained as regular advisors for all day-to-day enquiries as they arise and treated very much as part of the in-house team. 

Our Impact

Business development director Megan Smernicki values the sound knowledge, experience and reassuring level of support that Georgia and team bring to the business: 

“AAB People’s depth of experience is fantastic and the value of working with them is second-to-none – both with HR and Health & Safety. Ours is a complex and diverse business and they’re a great support in helping us get our policies and procedures to where they need to be.”

“They’re a next level, integral part of our team – there’s no divide. It’s like having an internal HR manager. Georgia and team are always on hand to guide us and suggest practical solutions. They do so much more than just advise – they take control of projects, create templates for action and help us do the work that needs doing.” 

“We wouldn’t be where we are without them. They guide us on difficult situations and always come with solutions thanks to their vast range of experience across the wider team. In complex situations, we find it very helpful that they can advise as a collective.” 

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How Are Organisations Attracting and Retaining Top Talent?

Attracting and retaining top talent is a crucial challenge for companies in 2024. Employee turnover rates are at an all-time high since 2020 and in today’s talent market offering a competitive salary and benefits package isn’t always enough to attract or retain talent, most likely because that’s what competitors are offering too. So, how can we combat it?

Let’s start with the true definitions of attraction and retention. Attraction is determined by what kind of talent you are finding and interviewing before solidifying a job within your company. Retention is how companies are creating structures, procedures and processes that keep their employees engaged. Attraction and retention go hand in hand as its not only about attracting top talent, organisations also need to understand how to retain talent.

There are a number of reasons why organisations should focus on attraction and retention as it leads to many benefits such as improving company performance, productivity, employee morale and encourages a positive employer branding.

Why a strong Employer Value Proposition is important

A strong employer value proposition is vital for the recruitment stage, this is what initially attracts and draws new talent to your organisation. To ensure this is embedded in your company culture, it needs to be lived and breathed within your organisation to retain employees. This is important to organisations as it reflects what employees can expect from you as a company and also what companies can expect from their employees.

So how can organisations ensure they are considering ways to attract and retain their top talent?

Competitive compensation and benefits:

Offering competitive salaries and benefits is a popular way to attract and retain your top talent. This can include health insurance, flexible work schedules, signing bonuses, commission schemes etc. However, this is simply not enough on its own, companies must adopt other ways to attract and retain.

Professional Development opportunities:

The top talent will often seek continuous learning and development opportunities to grow their own skill set. Through investing into employee training programs, workshops, credited courses and mentoring programs, these are all ways to help create career progressions and professional development. In turn, by investing into growing your employees’ skill set companies gain the return by broadening the role responsibilities and allowing those companies to have qualified and trained professionals. Offering opportunities for advancement in employees’ careers.

Promoting healthy work life balance:

Companies that support flexible schedules, remote work options, and reasonable working hours are more likely to attract and retain talent. By offering flexibility to employees, this may lead to increased retention and motivation. Studies show that 6% of employees changed jobs last year due to lack of flexibility and 12% left their profession/sector altogether.

Company Culture:

A positive and inclusive company culture is attractive to not only the top talent but to all your current employees. Organisations that prioritise a supportive and collaborative environment tend to retain employees longer. Skills and experiences can be taught almost anywhere, a strong positive company culture will set apart the reputation to candidates in the recruitment process.

So how do organisations benefit from this?

Focusing on the key benefits and offerings an organisation can make to its employees will ensure they have a higher competitive advantage, increased productivity from employees, adaptability and trust to change, enhanced reputation and employee morale and engagement. All these factors contribute to the long-term success of a company.


Companies should look to incorporate not just one method of attracting and retaining new talent but should combine multiple methods to increase their likelihood of success. There are not a one size fits all approach, doing research into what works well for other organisations in your industry, assessing your specific budget and available time you have to invest and engaging with current staff to find first had suggestions will help you to find out what works best for your business.

If you have any questions around what you can do as a company to improve your attraction and retention methods please do not hesitate to get in contact with Robyn Whelan, Georgia Wilson or your usual AAB People contact.

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Gender Pay Gap Reporting 2024

As we approach April 2024, UK businesses must turn their attention to an increasingly relevant issue – the gender pay gap. The need for accurate and timely submissions of gender pay gap data is not just a statutory requirement; it’s a testament to a company’s commitment to proactively taking measures to consider and improve diversity, inclusion and fairness in the workplace.

In today’s world, the gender pay gap remains a significant barrier to equality. Despite advancements in many areas, discrepancies in pay between genders persist, hindering not just individuals, but businesses and the economy overall. A diverse workforce, where everyone is paid fairly, is a more innovative, creative, and productive one. Hence, addressing the gender pay gap is not just ethically right, it’s a practice we would consider commercially astute too.

If you would like to discuss your Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements, you can book a free consultation with a member of our team here.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting Requirements for Employers

The process of gathering and submitting gender pay gap data, however, is far from trivial. It requires meticulous data collection, sorting, and analysis. Payroll software can support with this, but our experience tells us that often the numbers can be more complex to manage than initially expected and shouldn’t be underestimated.

The Gender Pay Gap data must be accurate and submitted on time (by 04th April 2024, and public-sector organisations must report by 31st March 2024); otherwise, running the risk of non-compliance with regulations and potential reputational damage. It can be a time-consuming process, but it’s a necessary one.

Having said all that, it’s important to note that submitting your data is just the initial, surface level requirement. The real work lies in interpreting the data and crafting a narrative around what it means for your organisation in practice. This narrative is crucial because it provides context for the numbers and can help explain why the gap exists, what steps are being taken to close it, and how it aligns with the company’s broader diversity and inclusion goals. It’s the most visible part of your submission and is likely to be scrutinised by your employees, investors, competitors, media, and the public. So getting it right is essential!

Gender Pay Gap Reporting Guidance

There are numerous resources available for employers who are required to submit a Gender Pay Gap report, but the process is time consuming and can be complex depending on the structure of your organisation.

A brief high-level suggested summary of the steps required for submitting your Gender Pay Gap are noted below:

1. Determine Applicability: The regulations apply to employers in the UK with 250 or more employees. Organisations must complete their report for each separate ‘legal entity’, if you are part of an organisation or group with more than one legal entity. The 2024 reporting deadlines for submitting the gender pay gap report are as follows: 31 March 2024, and 04 April 2024.

2. Gather Data: You should base your gender pay gap calculations on payroll data taken on your snapshot date (which can be confirmed on the gov.uk website). Collect relevant employee data, including the proportion of male and female employees in different pay quartiles.

3. Prepare Your Data: From the data you have gathered prepare the following:

  • Create a list of relevant employees, and a list of full-pay relevant employees
  • Add how much ‘ordinary pay’ you paid (full-pay relevant employees only).
  • Add how much bonus pay you paid.
  • Add employees’ weekly working hours (full-pay relevant employees only).
  • Work out your employees’ hourly pay.

4. Calculate Key Metrics: Calculate the following metrics based on the collected data:

  • Mean gender pay gap.
  • Median gender pay gap.
  • Mean bonus gender pay gap.
  • Median bonus gender pay gap.
  • Proportion of males and females receiving a bonus.

5. Prepare a Written Statement: Provide a written statement signed by an appropriate senior individual, such as a director, confirming the accuracy of the calculations.

6. Prepare Supporting Narrative & Action Plan: This step is not a legislative requirement but is strongly advised because a supporting narrative and action plan can help people understand why you think you have a gender pay gap and what action you have taken to analyse and close it. Including this step in your Gender Pay Gap reporting process can positively impact an organisations reputation.

7. Publish the Gender Pay Gap Report: Publish the report on the company’s website and report to the government via the designated online reporting service.

8. Promote the Report: Ensure that the report is easily accessible to employees and the public. Consider providing a narrative to explain any identified pay gaps and the actions being taken to address them.

9. Review and Update: Regularly review and update the gender pay gap data, at least annually, to track progress and assess the impact of any measures taken to address the gap.

10. Addressing Pay Gaps: Consider implementing strategies to address identified gender pay gaps, such as training, mentoring, and policies promoting equal opportunities.

11. Plan for Next Year’s Report: Establish an end-to-end process with key milestones and deadlines to ensure the organisations gender pay gap reporting process can not only tick the legislative requirements of the report but can provide as much value as possible to the organisation. HR and Employment Law specialists can assist with planning and preparing Gender Pay Gap reports, reflections, and action plans.

Gender Pay Gap Service

AAB People understand the complexities and challenges of the gender pay gap submission. We have the expertise and resources to help you navigate this process seamlessly. We can assist with getting your data into the right place, complete the analysis, and also help you craft a compelling narrative to comply with regulations and set you on track to focus your future strategic aims.

The gender pay gap submission due in April 2024 is not just about meeting a legal requirement, it’s an opportunity to reflect on and improve your company’s diversity and inclusion practices. It’s about taking a step towards a more equal and inclusive future and we would be happy to work with your organisation on this together.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Gender Pay Gap reporting process, please contact Rhona Macleod or your usual AAB People contact.

If you would like to discuss your Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements, you can book a free consultation with a member of our team here.

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Four HR Trends To Expect In 2024

The world of HR and the workplace has undergone so many changes in recent years. Through technological advancements and shifts in cultural opinions we expect that the workplace in 2024 will continue to adapt and change. It can be easy to continue on as before however, business that cannot or who refuse to adapt and change run the risk of getting left behind and missing the opportunity to be leaders of change.

We’ve pulled together the HR Trends that we think are going to make the most impact for organisations. The most important ones for employers to focus on in the year ahead.


It’s become something of a buzzword in recent years but it’s clear that not only is AI here to stay- it’s also going to transform the workplace. At it’s very core this is a technology that has been introduced and can be trained to perform both menial and also advanced human tasks. Exploring ways AI and other digital transformation can be utilised to support transactional activities and free up time for employees to add value in other ways is key. It’s important to note that this will likely require a redevelopment of skills for many people within your team.

AI isn’t here to replace your team- it’s important you make this clear and bring them on the journey with you. This is something new not only to the team but also to you. Look at the bigger strategic picture and work to ensure team members have the skills they need so their energy can be focused on what matters. As Forbes said, the greatest benefit of AI is in augmenting and improving processes that already exist with the people already in your team.

Employee Experience

Following trends such as the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting individuals are much more willing to move from role to role in the pursuit of better development and pay. Why? Because of the growing demand for better work experiences. The employee experience stretches beyond just their experience in the workplace. It extends to aspects such as their job design. Now more than ever employees are looking for non-traditional job designs that help them balance work and life. For example, employees are more likely to stay in a role or move to a role that offers flexible arrangements for their overall wellbeing. Tailoring job design to your employees and your organisation will be key in 2023. It will be the year of inclusive and engaging work environments. Job design is such an (important?) tool to enable this to progress.

The individual contributions of our people go hand in hand with your organisational goals. Progressing in their career is important to people. Supporting the development of your team will boost morale, help with employee engagement, benefit your work culture and help with not only retention but also talent attraction. If this is your workforce, they’re going to want to your business to succeed. This will prove to be important for 2024 and beyond.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

In 2023 EDI was thrown to the forefront of many senior internal conversations. A question that has likely come up time and time again ‘are we doing enough?’ followed by ‘if we’re not, what should we be doing?’ in the wake of one of the largest social justice movements many organisations made ambitious statements and commitments to EDI that they haven’t been able to fully stand by. Coupled with a divided society that brands some actions as “woke” and others as “performative” it’s understandable that organisations are somewhat wary of EDI.

It’s important to remember that EDI stretched far beyond just race. While that has it’s importance and is still an element you need to consider. EDI covers many other aspects. For example gender, neurodiversity and sexual orientation. It’s becoming increasingly more important to potential employees to work in organisations that best align with their personal beliefs and places that sit right within their moral compass. With a study showing that 95% of candidates compare EDI efforts when picking job offers- EDI is more than just a buzzword to be used to make your organisation look and feel good. It has to be a commitment you make to create the kind of workplace where everyone feels valued, safe to show up as their truest self and welcome when they do so.

EDI initiatives and the employee experience go hand in hand. It’s all about developing a positive employee culture as a whole and embracing a real approach to the wellbeing of your people- not just talking about it.


It’s often the case that wellbeing is used as a tool. Something organisations talk about but within their workforce the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. This is called ‘wellbeing washing’ where there’s no tangible actions to back up what you’ve said. Wellbeing is a non-negotiable for organisations in 2024. In 2023 we’ve seen issues such as mental health, burnout, and musculoskeletal as key indicators for absences. With workplace wellbeing challenges on the rise, the new year is the perfect time to address and put in place solutions.

Company culture

We’ve all heard of toxic work cultures, but what actually are they? They tend to be workplaces where employees aren’t supported, valued or respected. It’s likely that the people within them have high levels of stress unmanageable workloads and little to no opportunities for growth or development. More often that not a toxic work culture will trickle down from the very top. If you’re an organisation using 2024 to catapult yourself to long-term success, then creating a positive work culture isn’t just a nice to have. It must become the focal point for your work culture. In turn you will create an engaged, positive and loyal workforce.

Managerial relationships

Do your employees feel comfortable speaking to the leaders in your organisation about any struggles they might be facing? It’s common for employees to avoid discussing any non-physical health issues with their manager. Employees want to feel supported and psychologically safe at work. The line manager is such an important element in the pursuit of good health and wellbeing in the workplace. A recent report by CIPD found 43% of line managers don’t feel they nave the necessary training, skills or confidence to support the mental health of employees. This common challenge can act as a blocker for employee wellbeing.

The decisions you make have far reaching consequences, that we might not even see for years to come. Choosing the right path for your organisation will be a journey. It will take innovation, authenticity, and also strategic foresight to ensure you make the right decisions. The changing nature of HR means that ignorance is not bliss- and choosing to ignore the trends can have a negative impact on your organisation and in turn the success of your business.

Making important strategic decisions for your organisation isn’t something you have to do alone. Our dedicated HR & Employment Law Specialists are on hand to help you make the right decisions to support your organisation. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in contact with James Richardson, or a member of our HR & Employment Law Team.

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