Katie Armstrong

WHO I HELP

Start-ups. SMEs. Large organisations. Business owners and directors. Charities.

HOW I HELP

Building line management capability. Planning and managing talent support an organisation. Improving HR functions. Employee relations management. Employment law compliance. Optimising HR processes. HR framework implementation. Pre-employment checks. Salary Benchmarking & Reports. Recruitment and onboarding. Investigations, Panel and Appeals in disciplinary and grievances.

SECTORS/SUPPORT

Family Business. Not for Profit. Construction & Property. Business Services. Food & Drink. Leisure, Retail & Hospitality. Technology. Public Sector.

“CLIENTS EXPECT HONESTY & A FRIENDLY FACE FROM ME.”

Katie Armstrong is an HR Consultant within AAB People – a role in which she takes ownership of projects and looks after all employee relations and employment matters such as disciplinaries and investigations.

Working with clients’ internal HR teams, Katie’s areas of responsibility cover a vast range of matters. She provides expert advice to clients on all employee relations matters, from small issues to large and complex cases regarding legal compliance.

BLENDING THE PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL

“In my opinion, the ideal relationship with a client would be one that is professional, and where they know they can come to me at any time. It’s important for the relationship to remain honest, whether things are getting tough or when things are going well. I like clients to be very clear with me about what exactly it is they want, and I ensure that I’m very clear with them how we do it and how we do it right. Honesty and transparency are probably the most important things to me when it comes to an ideal client relationship.

I also want my relationships with clients to be friendly! I have really positive relationships with clients; we get on really well. Often, there’s a personal relationship that goes along with our professional relationship.”

SPEEDY COMMUNICATION

“Clients expect a friendly face from me, but they also expect me to be honest with them, and realistic about what is achievable. They also know I’ll always get back to them within a good time frame, particularly if it’s regarding a stressful situation. Ultimately, my role is to understand and acknowledge their situation and find the right solution for them.”

GETTING TO KNOW MY CLIENTS

“I really appreciate the varied nature of my work, as well as the relationships I build with clients. Each of my clients is different, with different needs. I enjoy getting to know my clients and working with them to find out what’s best for them. A lot of my clients are family-run businesses, where the impact on them when things don’t go to plan is considerable, so it’s very satisfying to be able to help fix their problems and take away that stress as much as I can.”

BEING PART OF A FRIENDLY & SUPPORTIVE TEAM

“In terms of working with colleagues, we’re very close! Everyone on the team is very friendly and supportive, so I know I can go to them about anything, and vice versa. We always pick up the phone to each other, and we always share our expertise which helps everyone to develop their professional knowledge.”

A BLEND OF COMMUNICATION METHODS

“I appreciate the virtual methods of communication for their speed and efficiency, and for allowing me some time to process whatever information is being shared. But the social side of client relationships is important too, which face-to-face meetings help with. So, I like a blend of different kinds of communication if possible, but it depends on how the client prefers to operate.”

STAYING CALM & HANDLING THINGS COMMERCIALLY

“One of the main challenges in my field of work is that it can be hard to handle difficult situations sometimes. For example, disciplinaries grievances are very time-consuming, complex, and can be very emotionally draining situations for the people involved and the client. I know that these situations can be challenging and sometimes quite damaging for people.

So, in terms of how I respond, it’s about being as professional and commercial as possible. It’s not always possible to make everyone happy, but I aim to be calm, realistic, and communicate in the nicest way possible. I will always try do the right thing, and try to make sure that everybody sees the different sides and the benefits of the situation. It’s usually best to try and handle things commercially, and get the situation wrapped up quickly, to avoid it becoming prolonged and painful.”

OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH

“One of the great things about AAB People is that there’s opportunities – and a really clear pathway – for growth. Working at AAB People offers plenty of exposure to different aspects of the role, and a wide range of experience to help develop knowledge and expertise.”

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

What Does The Historic Election Result Mean For Your Business?

Following the general election and the appointment of a new Labour Government, we can expect upcoming changes in employment law. A “New Deal for Working People” was a key element of Labour’s campaign, committed to giving voices to workers, improving their terms and conditions, and ensuring protections at work.

Labour has pledged to implement this new deal within the first 100 days of being in power, setting a deadline of October. However, the comprehensive details of the plan have not been released yet, and further development is needed over the coming months. We view this as an evolving situation and believe it is unlikely the entire plan will be fully operational within this ambitious timeline due to the need for further clarity and consultation on procedural requirements. Within the new deal, Labour outlined significant changes to be implemented and we have set out a brief summary of some of these below. However, it’s important to remember that it would be premature to make structural changes to your organisation as the evolving situation is exactly that, evolving. With no certainty in this area, our advice is for everyone to keep calm, don’t panic but keep yourself appraised of the situation. That’s why we’ve pulled together some key highlights of what’s been shared so far.

Day one rights – what does this mean?

Employees will have increased rights from day one, eliminating qualifying periods for unfair dismissal, flexible working, sick pay, and parental leave.

Currently, there is a three-day waiting period before employees are entitled to statutory sick pay, but the Government plans to make this a day-one right, which could be implemented quickly given that similar measures were temporarily introduced during the pandemic.

Although no more qualifying periods for unfair dismissal is proposed, we do not see this being an easy thing to implement quickly and Government will need further clarity, and consultation on the procedural requirements before it can be brought into force. If implemented, it is important to note that this will not prevent fair dismissal, organisations will still be able to operate probationary periods and the aim of this change will be to ensure that new employees are not dismissed without reason and will help to drive standards within workplaces.

Single Status of ‘Worker’

Labour has proposed to move towards a single status of ‘worker’ instead of employees, workers and self-employed having different levels of employment rights and protection. This will mean that all workers will have equal employment rights and we believe this could be difficult to implement due to the complexity of determining the employment rights each category of worker currently has, and therefore, we would expect this to fall outside of the 100 days that Labour has committed to.

Living Wage

The Labour Government proposes to make the National Minimum Wage (NMW) reflect the real Living Wage and will remove the age bandings attached to NMW which they believe to be discriminatory to ensure every worker is entitled to the same living wage. If implemented, this could mean organisations being required to give pay rises to their workers. It is likely that this will not be put into action until 2025 as NMW rates are annually reviewed and typically released in April each year. Any proposed changes or new implementations we would expect to align with this timeline.

Zero-Hour Contracts and ‘Fire-and-Rehire’

Labour proposes to make significant changes to the zero-hour contracts, they aim to ban exploitative zero-hour contracts to ensure all jobs have a baseline level of security and predictability and that workers have the right to a contract that properly reflects their regular hours of work. It is important to know that this change will not prevent organisations from offering fixed-term contracts which are important in industries that offer seasonal work.

Labour has proposed to end ‘fire-and-rehire’ so that workers can properly negotiate their terms and conditions with their employers.

Disability & Ethnic Pay Gap Reporting

It will become mandatory to report on disability and ethnicity pay gaps to tackle workplace inequalities. Many larger organisations are already reporting on this, and it will only be mandatory for organisations of 250 employees or more, suggesting that this change may not significantly impact workplaces.

Even though the reporting requirement for disability and ethnicity pay gaps is mandatory for organisations with 250 employees or more, smaller organisations should also be vigilant and ensure they are compliant. By adhering to these standards, even smaller organisations can contribute to combating discrimination in the workplace and promoting equality. This proactive approach not only aligns with legal obligations but also fosters an inclusive and fair work environment for all employees, regardless of the organisation’s size.

Trade Unions

Labour has proposed to strengthen trade union rights. They plan to implement new rights designed to empower unions in their efforts to recruit, organise, and secure improved conditions for their members. These measures include streamlining the process for unions to gain official recognition, ensuring a fair right of entry for union activities within workplaces, and enhancing protections for union representatives and officials.

Given the significant impact of these changes, trade unions will naturally want to be actively involved in the development and implementation of these changes. Their participation is crucial to ensure that the measures are effective and truly beneficial for their members. Therefore, this collaborative process is likely to extend the timeline for these changes to come into action, as it will require thorough discussions, negotiations, and potential adjustments based on union feedback.

How can AAB People Help?

As we adapt to a new Labour Government, it is crucial for us to stay updated on the latest developments and understand their implications for our clients. We are dedicated to ensuring our clients remain well-informed and supported during these transitions in employment law. Our commitment is to provide guidance and assistance in navigating any forthcoming changes, ensuring that our clients are equipped to manage them effectively.

In the meantime if you have any questions or need further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with James Richardson, or your usual AAB People contact.

 

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

Emer Hinphey

WHO I HELP

Leaders within organisations. 

HOW I HELP

Supporting leaders to improve and build their own capabilities. Problem-solving. Advising clients on problems and opportunities. Fine tuning what clients really need and working alongside them to deliver results.

SECTORS/SUPPORT

All sectors. 

“Being a leader requires assertiveness, bravery, & an ability to make sure your voice is heard.”

Based in Belfast, Emer Hinphey is a Partner in AAB People. Emer was the CEO and Co-Founder of Think People Consulting, which has become part of AAB People. Emer’s approach is the same as AAB People’s: practical and pragmatic; bespoke to the size, culture, and objectives of each unique organisation. Emer works with the team to develop and implement business-propelling people and culture solutions and sustaining lasting partnerships with clients, many of whom Emer has worked with for years, even decades! 

A HISTORY OF STRONG, HONEST RELATIONSHIPS

“I have a history of building strong, honest relationships with clients, some of which I can now call friends. It’s hugely rewarding to help a client either individually or for the sake of the business, to bounce off ideas and develop approaches that optimise opportunities for them in the short and long term. I really thrive in client facing work and have enjoyed the opportunity to work across industry sectors and with scaling business to global PLCs. It can be challenging at times to juggle the differing demands, I really enjoy the range of work involved – it suits my personality and certainly never gets boring!” 

DELIVERING ON A GLOBAL SCALE

“We’re a people-centred business but tech is certainly where a lot of the future opportunities lie. We’re benefitting greatly from a tech-enabled approach that sees us delivering leadership programmes around the world. 

We also work on global face to face projects.  One of our high-profile global clients recently commented on an event we ran for 120 of their leaders coming together from around the world: “this is the best quality event we have run for many years.” We can be perceived as small being based on the island of Ireland, but I’m proud that the knowledge and skills we have as team and AAB Group are world class!” 

ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET

“Having co-founded a business myself, I bring an entrepreneurial mindset to the job and can relate to the feelings and situations that a lot of my clients experience. Being a leader requires a level of assertiveness, bravery, and an ability to make sure your voice is heard in a way that people respect and hear you. I believe the success of our client base is a testament to the level of new thinking we bring to an organisation and individual, no matter where they are in their journey.” 

HR IS A CORE FUNCTION

“It’s important that HR people see themselves as businesspeople and build the expertise required to deliver genuinely differentiating commercial and strategic solutions for the organisation. The industry is improving but there’s still a long way to go – if we can learn anything from the past few years, it’s that people and culture need to be seen as a strategic component, not just firefighting!” 

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

Chris Deary

Who I Help

Private organisations. Charities.

How I Help

Learning and Development Solutions. ILM-accredited qualification programmes. DiSC ® Psychometrics. Soft skills development.

SECTORS/SUPPORT

Private Sector. Public Sector. Not for Profit.

“I always bring professionalism, genuine curiosity, & a willingness to help.”

Chris Deary is a Senior Learning & Development Consultant based in our Belfast Office. He supports a diverse range of clients across the private, public and third sectors across the United Kingdom and Ireland with bespoke learning & development solutions. Chris is a firm believer that people are integral to an organisation’s success, and he supports and helps his clients to create that success through developing the capability of their people.

Alongside delivering bespoke solutions, Chris is the programme director for our ENGAGE management development academy. ENGAGE was created with managers at its core and offers the ILM-accredited Level 4 Certificate in Leadership & Management.

Pride In The ‘Eureka’ Moments

“When working with clients there’s three things I always bring- professionalism, genuine curiosity, and a willingness to help. I want the best for my clients so that means always asking the most pertinent questions to fully understand their context and challenges they’re facing. I’m also willing to take the time to reach the right conclusion, solution, or outcome. When we take the time to work with clients, we can help them diagnose problems and reach solutions that get to the root cause of the issues they face. I’m passionate about building lasting, trust-based partnerships with my clients.

There are many things I love about my job but achieving those ‘light bulb’ or ‘eureka’ moments during a workshop or meeting is extremely satisfying and encouraging. It leaves me feeling great knowing that the support I’ve given to them has resonated and that they understand something they might not have understood before. To see the learning material or guidance truly resonate with the client, I can’t think of a better feeling.”

Challenging The Status Quo

“I build relationships with clients through giving open, honest feedback and often challenge the status quo and strongly held views, doing so at all times in a values-led way and to help the client to address the true root cause of the problem / place their focus on the issues that truly matter most. The great thing about our team is the open and ready diffusion of knowledge and skills that exists across the team – we truly are a “Learning Organisation”.

Together… We Can!

“As the AAB portfolio expands, so too does its service offerings. I’m excited at the prospect of being able to cross-sell our broader range of services to our existing clients as well as those who may initially enquire about HR and Learning and Development interventions. Collaboration is our superpower, and I am a great believer in the idea that ‘together… we can’! I always start out a project by asking myself – ‘what knowledge and expertise on this is there among the team and how can I draw on and build upon this for my particular client and their context’? My strong collaborative working ethos allows me to readily build rapport and strike up positive working relationships with colleagues and clients alike. “

Capable & Competent Strategic Partners

“I’m keen to banish the often-stereotypical view of HR as either performing a ‘policing’ role on the one hand – the custodian of policy and procedures – or dealing with the ‘pink and fluffy stuff on the other’… the reality is, we are capable strategic partners to the business. Some of the most important issues to address in the areas of people management and leadership are recruitment and selection, talent attraction and retention, leadership development, equality, diversity, and inclusion. These matters are becoming increasingly prominent due to the ever-tightening nature of the labour market, so we work to assist clients to respond appropriately to these matters by providing bespoke solutions learning and development interventions that best address their particular needs to ensure they do things right – procedurally correct – and do the right thing – always considering their decisions through a moral and ethical lens.”

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

Jacqui Jolmes

Who I help

SMEs. Start-ups. Family businesses. High-growth businesses. Multinationals. Higher education. Charities.

How I help

Building tailored & impactful programmes. Delivering high quality leadership solutions.

SECTORS/SUPPORT

Public sector. Not-for-profits.

“I Deliver learning & development solutions that transform leaders.”

Jacqui Jolmes is a Principal for Learning and Development. Based in our Belfast office she helps clients by delivering high quality leadership development solutions throughout the UK and Ireland. She’s a firm believer that people are organisations biggest differentiators and are at the heart of organisational success.

Jacqui’s goal is to foster brilliant leadership at all levels. Through tailored, impactful programmes, we inspire leaders that stand out for their ability to inspire, connect, and make a lasting difference enhancing their organisations’ performance and shape their industries and markets.

Realising Potential

“When I work with clients, I integrate the latest insights from behavioural change, neuroscience, and leadership best practices to craft optimal development solutions. My greatest joy comes from seeing a people apply their learning, realising the difference it makes and fostering an appetite for continuous personal development.

I am certified in DiSC and Insights Psychometric Tools. I’m an advocate for these tools to enhance self-awareness and see them add value to learning and development solutions by providing individuals with a deeper understanding of their behavioural preferences, communication styles, and interpersonal dynamics. This awareness is a foundation of personal and professional growth, as it allows individuals to identify their strengths, areas for improvement, and how they can adapt their behaviour to work more effectively with others. In learning and development solutions, these insights facilitate more targeted and impactful leadership development, foster better teamwork, decision making, and resilience, all of which link directly to sustainable organisational performance.”

I fundamentally believe in leaders and their potential, and in our ability, at AAB People to guide and shape that potential. The values I bring to my work are curiosity, openness, excellence and inclusivity.”

No two days the same

“One of my favourite parts of my role is the diversity of every day. One day I’m helping a team understand their different personalities and communication preferences to foster better ways of working. The next day I can be working with a group of future leaders helping them engage more strategically within their business. What stays constant though, is my strong desire to bring a fresh approach and encourage positive change.

The range of learning and development solutions I lead includes tailored management and leadership development programmes, high potential and emerging leaders programmes, graduate development programmes, career navigation, learning calendar solutions, communities of practice, team development activities, stand-alone workshops on specific topics such as communication, resilience and change navigation.”

Crafting tailored solutions

“Always listen first is my motto. Before crafting a solution I must understand the client’s values, strategy, culture, and goals for the project. This ensures that we deliver highly relevant interactive, engaging and thought-provoking learning experiences.”

Making a tangible difference

“I appreciate that our clients need to know their investment in learning and development is providing a return for the business. Good leadership development leaves clues and we work with clients from programme initiation to identify measures for success that demonstrate the impact of leadership development on business results.”

Excited for the possibilities the future brings

“At AAB People we work across the UK and Ireland. With so many specialists and truly innovative and excellent people in our team, I’m constantly inspired to work harder, do better, be better and achieve more. Working in a team like this is motivating and helps me work towards my career goals.

I love being able to support members of the team with their personal career goals as well. As a principal I’m able to share my knowledge and experiences with them and to see them grow in confidence, ability and competence is amazing. As leaders I think we have a really important role to help shape our own successors – it’s something that I take very seriously and am passionate about.”

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

Louise Cheyne

WHO I HELP

Any private or public sector organisation.

HOW I HELP

Whistleblowing Service. Fraud Prevention and Investigation. 

SECTORS/SUPPORT

Food & Drink. Retail. Healthcare Not for Profit.  

“PROVIDING A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT.”

Louise Cheyne is a Whistleblowing Assistant Manager. Her role is to implement confidential whistleblowing arrangements for our clients to enhance their corporate governance and ethical framework.   

Based in Aberdeen, Louise works with clients from various industries to provide their employees, subcontractors’, and third-party members with a safe confidential space to report any concerns they have of unethical behaviours that are occurring in their workplace. Alongside the team she helps clients to identify, prevent and deter unethical behaviour, assist them with promoting a culture of honesty and transparency across their organisation by providing their employees with a safe and supportive environment for them to raise concerns.  

ENHANCING CLIENTS’ BUSINESSES

“We mainly work with our clients HR departments to support them with delivering a robust whistleblowing arrangement for their organisation, but we also work with compliance officers, health and safety officers and finance managers who are responsible for investigating reports received through our services. The type of service we provide means that these clients expect us to deliver their services with minimal input from them. As our services are focussed on their employees, they expect us to support their staff when they contact us but also ensure that we gather all the relevant information to enable a thorough investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing. 

“An ideal relationship with a client is one where both parties work together to deliver the services that benefit their employees whilst also enhancing the organisations corporate governance. This is what I always strive for.”  

IMPROVING WORKPLACE CULTURE

“The services we provide our clients is always virtual. We provide our clients employees with hotline numbers and online web forms that their employees can use to make a confidential disclosure. This can be a challenge, in that we need to ensure that our services are known to our clients’ employees. We respond to this challenge by providing a suite of marketing materials to allow employers to promote the services across their workplace locations.

The aspect I find most satisfying about working with our clients is that the services we provide help our clients to improve the culture in the workplace. Whistleblowing is often viewed in a negative light when it should be considered a positive. Blowing the whistle enables employers to know what is going on in their business and allow them to put in place the appropriate corrective measures.” 

EMPOWERING CLIENTS

“The greatest compliment that a client has paid me came from a whistleblower who stated that without our services they would not have felt empowered to raise their concern with their employer. I believe that my ability to listen and understand our clients’ frustrations and deliver a solution that helps their business is one of my greatest strengths. I have a genuine passion for my role and helping my clients and am excited to continue to learn more about my industry to allow us to continue to deliver exceptional service to our clients and their employees.”  

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

Ursula Henderson

WHO I HELP

Start-ups. SMEs. Investor-Backed Businesses. Internal HR Teams. Business Owners & Directors. Medium-Sized Companies.  Large Organisations. Large International Organisations. 

HOW I HELP

HR Strategy. Improving HR Functions. Employee Relations Management. HR Meeting Support. Coaching & Supporting Managers. HR Strategy Development. Investigation & Disciplinary procedures. Managing Grievances.

SECTORS/SUPPORT

Industrial. Not for Profit. Public Sector. Leisure, Retail & Hospitality. Professional Services. Family Business. Technology. Construction & Property.

“WHEN A CLIENT BRINGS A CHALLENGE THAT SEEMS INSURMOUNTABLE, I CAN LOOK THROUGH THE DATA & START A POSITIVE CONVERSATION THAT WILL HELP BRING ABOUT A SOLUTION.”

Ursula Henderson is a Senior HR Consultant based in our Belfast office. Ursula’s main role is engaging with management and employee teams to understand the root cause of any issues, and providing expert advice and guidance to bring about a lasting resolution. She works with many clients on long-term improvements for their human resource response to reduce the number and significance of issues that arise over time.

Ursula works across a mix of public, private and third sector industries, for companies ranging from large scale manufacturers to smaller independent businesses and charitable organisations of all sizes.

MUTUAL TRUST

“To my mind, the ideal client relationship is one that is based on mutual trust; where they trust the support that I give them, and I trust that they have given me all the information I need to provide that support. My clients can always expect expert knowledge, reassurance and professionalism from me, as well as solutions that are tailored to their specific needs.”

FINDING THE BEST FIT

“I like to look at any situation that is brought to me from all angles, just because a company has ‘always done it this way’ does not mean that it has to continue to do that. I feel that it is my responsibility to generate a solution that will resolve a situation, and if that is very different to how the business operates, I see it as my responsibility to help the client understand why this is the best fit and how to implement it so that it is its most effective. At the same time, I quite like Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over the World is one of my favourites, so if a tried and tested method is the best solution, I am equally happy to go down that route!”

A BLEND OF BOTH WORLDS

“When it comes to methods of communication, I believe that a blend of both worlds works well in this industry. With people, it’s important to make sure that you are using the best communication method for any given situation. The best may be the quickest, therefore you can have a Teams call, or it may be that a face-to-face meeting is required due to the nature of the issue, in which case, of course, it’s crucial to be there in person. It is a decision that we make every day, and we’ll always try to advise and promote the best method for the client and for the situation at hand.”

PEOPLE: BOTH CHALLENGING & REWARDING

“The biggest challenge in my area of work is also the most rewarding aspect: people! People often take sides and can make assumptions, misinterpret things due to cultural differences or only hear part of a communication. But without doubt, people are also the most gratifying aspect for me. Getting colleagues and clients onto the same page and allowing them to see things from the other perspective not only produces the best results usually, but is also a fantastic feeling.”

PROVIDING A SEAMLESS TECH-ENABLED EXPERIENCE

“As AAB Group grows I am excited to be part of that growth. Developments in technology are helping us reach more and more clients, and customers are reaching out to us with more diverse needs. So, having a broader service offering means that we can provide our clients with the whole package – a more meaningful, seamless service that includes finance, recruitment, learning and development, organisational development and employee relations.”

CLIENTS’ CONCERNS ARE OUR CONCERNS

“When working with clients I always look at situations first and foremost through the eyes of the client. With over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources across three continents, I have a good insight into how diverse our small planet is, and I can help companies understand the complex people issues that arise. I like to feel that we and the companies that we work with are all part of a wider team; their concerns are our concerns. This makes helping to resolve an issue to their satisfaction of all the more rewarding. Similarly, coaching and nurturing the developing talent within the team of AAB gives me great satisfaction.”

A ‘GLASS HALF FULL’ PERSON

“AAB is an organisation that allows me to be myself, and I am a ‘glass half full’ person. I enjoy seeing the positive in every situation and helping clients to get there too.

One of my other greatest strengths is resilience. When a client brings an issue or challenge that seems insurmountable, I can look through the data and start a positive conversation that will help bring about a solution. A client once said that they were so worried about and consumed by a situation until they spoke with me and realised that there was a way forward. I’m always looking on the bright side of life and the culture of AAB is very much the same.”

BEING PART OF A CLIENT’S TEAM

“The best compliment I can receive from a client is when they include me as part of their team and treat me as one of their own.”

ENABLING PROGRESS

“Human resources are often positioned as the company police or the department that takes away all the fun. However, I prefer to see the function as being the team that enables communication when it breaks down, enables progress when things have reached a standstill or a deadlock, and enables development when more skill is needed. We enable the fun stuff to happen – we can’t have fun without people!”

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

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. 

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

Charlotte Eakin

WHO I HELP

SMEs. High-growth businesses. AAB People team. Business owners & directors. Medium-sized Companies. Large organisations. Large international organisations.

HOW I HELP (EXTERNAL CLIENTS)

Salary benchmarking and reports. Investigations, panel and appeals in disciplinary and grievances. HR meeting support. Absence management. Occupational Health referrals. Time and attendance issues. Review of HR documentation and policies/procedures. Day-to-day HR queries.

HOW I HELP (INTERNALLY)

Improving Process Efficiency. Supporting HR Advisors. HR Administration. Business Operations

SECTORS/SUPPORT

Business Services. Not for Profit. Construction & Property. Family Business. Public Sector.

“ONE OF MY GREATEST STRENGTHS IS THE ABILITY TO REMAIN LEVEL-HEADED IN STRESSFUL SITUATIONS WHICH ENSURES I AM THINKING CLEARLY & LOGICALLY.”

Charlotte Eakin joined the team in May 2023 as an Associate HR Consultant on the Graduate Training Programme. She assists in a wide variety of client work, meaning that every day is different in Charlotte’s role! So far in her role, Charlotte is involved in providing background support to the lead consultant with clients so typical activities could include benchmarking research, drafting letters and policies, note-taking during meetings and answering telephone queries that come into the office.

Charlotte is part of the HR Consultancy team providing support to clients, both on retained and project packages, where the aim is to act as an extension of the company’s team to provide specialist HR support. Already, Charlotte appreciates the strong relationship that the consultants here have with their clients and how committed they are to providing the best services for them.k

Working on such a huge range of client work also helps her to expand her body of knowledge. She benefits from the opportunity to work alongside different consultants within the team and observe the approach each takes with their client work to develop my skills for the future.

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

“In my opinion, the ideal relationship with a client is one in which you are able to build a strong partnership with them and work closely together for the benefit of the organisation and its people. It is essential that the client can trust their HR Consultant and have faith in the work that is carried out. One of the best methods to achieve this is through effective communication via phone, email and face-to-face. I believe for the relationship to strengthen and develop in the long-term, it is important to ask for client feedback and invite them to offer suggestions for improvements to ensure that we are continually striving to provide the best bespoke service for them.”

EFFICIENCT & HIGH QUALITY

“HR Consultancy is a fast-paced environment and there are times when clients require work to be completed on an urgent timescale whilst ensuring not to sacrifice on excellence. Therefore, I would say that clients expect high quality work within a quick turnaround time.”

A REWARDING JOB

“One of my favourite aspects of consultancy is the variety of clients you are able to meet and work with and the opportunities this brings in terms of growing your network and being able to experience snippets of what each organisation and industry is like. Already, by speaking to clients on the phone, I can see how much they appreciate the expertise and guidance that they receive which makes the job very rewarding.

With regards to being a part of the AAB team, so far one of my favourite aspects is how willing every colleague is to help each other out, no matter their level of seniority. As a graduate starting out on my journey in HR and hoping to develop my knowledge and skillset, this is a huge support mechanism for me that is really appreciated.”

BEING DISRUPTIVE & ASSERTIVE

“AAB Group has a reputation for being disruptive and assertive, and I think any HR professional has to portray these values to an extent in order to be able to make a difference in the workplace. HR can sometimes disrupt the ways of working for some clients, but it is for the better! There are times when clients struggle to embrace change which requires a hint of assertiveness from the HR Consultant.”

THE HYBRID APPROACH

“Having worked both fully remote and fully in-office in previous roles, I am thoroughly enjoying the hybrid approach adopted by AAB. I definitely believe initial introductions to clients should be done face-to-face, if at all possible, to lay a good foundation for the relationship. However, when dealing with client queries and pieces of work, it saves both parties time and can be more convenient if they are done virtually.”

ONGOING CHALLENGES

“One challenge facing HR professionals is the ‘Great Resignation’ and concerns about retaining talent and managing employee expectations. As well as this, organisations are also dealing with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, so they are forced to find the balance between attracting candidates and setting realistic objectives. Diversity & Inclusion remains a continuous area of focus as well, particularly around expressions of gender identity, for example, so it is important to stay up to date with employment law updates.”

EXCITING OPPORTUNITIES

“I am extremely excited about my future in HR as I feel that I am starting my career in the best place possible in order to learn from top professionals in the industry. There are so many opportunities to develop my career here at AAB.

The future is exciting here at AAB as the journey is also just beginning with the company joining the wider AAB Group and enjoying continuous expansion. The opportunities this provides for business development across Northern Ireland, Ireland and the rest of the UK is very exciting to see how the company can grow.”

APPROACHING PROBLEMS AS A TEAM

“As I mentioned above, the willingness of the team to share their knowledge and work together is brilliant, and really lives up to the AAB Group value that ‘Collaboration is our superpower.’ The saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ rings true and by simply asking on a query you are not sure about, it is likely that someone else within the team will have some experience of it and they are always more than happy to share their expertise.”

THE ABILITY TO REMAIN CALM

“One of my greatest strengths is the ability to remain level-headed in stressful situations which ensures I am thinking clearly and logically. I believe this is an important attribute to have for working in HR as always staying focused is imperative. I’m also always keen to help in any way that I can.”

NOT A CASE OF ‘HIRING & FIRING’

“My personal pet peeve about HR is the negative portrayal it has by those who do not work in it. It’s disappointing that the concept of ‘hiring and firing’ is associated with as HR, especially as HR continues to have a growing strategic influence on the performance of organisations. This is particularly relevant as we continue to adapt to the workplace changes implemented by the pandemic which has resulted in organisations recognising the importance of focusing on the people within your company.”

Proud to support a diverse range of clients

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.

 

 

 

Proud to support a diverse range of clients