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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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?

EAP

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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CHAS

For over 30 years, the charity Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) has worked in partnership with health and social care to ensure hospice and palliative care services are provided for babies, children and young people (0-21) and their families across Scotland. CHAS support families across Scotland in homes, their two hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch and in hospitals, through the heartbreak of knowing their child may die young.  

Our Challenge

With a clear focus on reviewing and improving the management of health and safety, CHAS partnered with AAB People in March 2023.  With 300 employees across 11 sites in Scotland and around 800 volunteers, the primary aim was to ensure that its policies and procedures were compliant and workable. The plan was to upskill key staff on their health and safety responsibilities with a particular focus on risk assessment, review health and safety training across the organisation, improve the communication of health and safety and develop a health and safety hub where all staff could access and share health and safety documents and information.  

Chief Operating Officer Jane Smith tasked Lee Craig and the health and safety team to guide CHAS on the key priorities for improvement, to review and understand work underway at CHAS through their health and safety Improvement group and to work together to agree a health and safety action plan and deadlines in line with wider CHAS objectives. 

Our Solution

From March 2023, AAB People worked closely with the charity on several fronts including reviewing the existing policy and procedures, carrying out comprehensive site visits at all of the CHAS main sites, and delivering risk assessment training across the organisation. This was followed by risk assessment workshops with each team to understand, review and support their approach and, to demystify misconceptions among staff about risk assessment. 

With their collective knowledge and experience of working within the charity and care sectors, the AAB Team provided an ideal cultural fit in supporting Jane and the wider senior leadership team.  They worked very much in partnership to ensure that recommendations and solutions were not only compliant with health and safety law but also practical and workable within the organisation.

A key objective was to break down any barriers to health and safety. The AAB team quickly integrated themselves within CHAS, working with managers and others to support a range of ongoing and emerging health and safety issues, and building effective relationships with a wide range of managers and staff across the organisation.  The team supported risk assessment for planned events, provided advice and guidance on managing a confined space hazard, reviewed safety concerns in outdoor garden areas at the hospice sites, contributed support and guidance on fire safety and provided general advice on a range of issues being managed by the organisation. 

Aligned with the health and safety improvement plan, CHAS as an organisation was undergoing internal restructuring, including within their facilities team.  There was a clear focus on planning for the ongoing management of health and safety and allocation of important health and safety responsibilities.  Lee worked closely with Jane and the senior leadership team to revise the health and safety policy and to ensure that those health and safety responsibilities were clearly established and understood.   

A strong commitment was made by CHAS to drive through the consultation process, ensure that the improvement plan moved forward, and engage and involve managers and staff across the organisation. 

The focus then turned to embedding the new policy and procedures, reviewing and refreshing training, implementing an audit programme to measure performance; implementing technical solutions to improve the accessibility of health and safety information and planning to go from compliance to excellence.  

A huge amount of ground has been covered by CHAS since March 2023. The management team were focused and driven, proactive and committed to achieving excellence in their management of health and safety.  Their commitment to their staff and volunteers equals their commitment to the children and families that they support on a daily basis.   

AAB People’s role has been to support CHAS on this journey, recognise and understand their values and ensure that our support reflects not just the law, but also the dynamic and culture of the organisation.  CHAS epitomises the HSE essential principles of leading health and safety by providing strong and active leadership from the top. 

Our impact

COO Jane Smith values AAB People’s long-term support and impact from several viewpoints: 

“Lee is fantastic. Her cross-sector background and experience in social care environments has been invaluable. It’s clear to all of us at CHAS that her breadth of expertise sit perfectly with us and align with our values.”  

“What we needed and valued was not just health and safety expertise but her considered, friendly, systematic approach, focused on building lasting relationships right across CHAS and introducing a structure around our activities that everyone understands. She and her team have helped us steady the ship and regularly deliver important milestone goals. They’ve given us the confidence and insight that this is a long-term journey in which we will reach all our health and safety goals. She’s helped us develop a plan that we can take to our Board with assurance that our reinforced controls, checks and balances around risk assessments are the right way forward.” 

“As COO, my background is not in health and safety, so Lee’s guidance has had an immense impact on me and my role and responsibilities. I have felt my shoulders drop, thanks to her pragmatism, responsiveness and sheer breadth of expertise in a multi-venue social care environment that has a wide spectrum of potential health and safety challenges.”  

“I particularly welcome Lee’s positive approach to the management of health and safety risks in children and family spaces. Where other policies or advisers might advocate restrictions around certain activities, she has encouraged a ‘we can do it, as long as we do it safely’ approach’, which enables us, for example, to continue to provide a range of fun activities in our gardens and play areas for supporting families – a vital part of our service.

AAB People have been happy to work with us collaboratively on a considerable journey with an understanding that they’ll guide us to the eventual point where we can manage health and safety in-house, supported by their annual reviews and ongoing advice on any emerging issues.” 

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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.

OUR ADVICE & RECOMMENDATIONS

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.

AI

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.

Wellbeing

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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How Can HR Teams Take The Blues Out Of Blue Monday? 

It’s a brand new-year, and for many people this means an exciting, fresh new start. For others, this period (and the month of January in particular) can be the gloomiest in the year. Whilst we all acknowledge that January only has 31 days, it can feel more like 61 days for some, and the half-way point of what is considered the longest month of the year is “Blue Monday”; the day perceived to have the highest workplace absence rate.  

What is Blue Monday and why should HR Teams be aware of it?

Gone, is the festive joy, the last of the Quality Streets and the promised New Year’s resolutions. All that appears left is the extra pounds (on your thighs and not in your wallet), a liver that could do with your attention and that awful sinking feeling that you need to change things in your life, including your job. 

This doesn’t sound like the fresh new start lots of us are looking for with a new year, does it? 

The good news is that Blue Monday does not actually exist and is certainly not a scientific fact. It was a marketing stunt dreamt up by a psychologist who goes by the name of Dr Cliff Arnall  and started almost 20 years ago. It’s supposed to account for the long stretch until pay day, the worsening weather, dark nights and lapsed new years resolutions.  It’s also linked to the “winter blues”, Ior seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which affects around 2 million people in the UK and can affect any age, including children.  

The holiday cheer subsides leaving behind a feeling of emptiness for some which we feel the need to fill. Some of us will think the answer is to change our job role, infact, research published from Glassdoor identified that almost 1 in 5 people in the UK will change jobs in January.  

Navigating the “Blues” and beyond

As Employers, if we acknowledge that employees might start to feel like this at the start of a new year, what are we doing to address this, and what more can we do?  Its important to recognise that not all voluntary turnover is bad, an employee with a bad attitude or one who consistently fails to perform might actually be a welcome relief. Turnover becomes a problem when you cannot hold on to your skilled employees and this negatively impacts the bottom line. 

As an Employer, it is crucial to understand what make your employees “tick” and its not always about money. Giving salary increases is not always the answer and can be a very expensive mistake to make.  

When was the last time you conducted an Employee engagement survey? This is the ideal platform to gain insight as to what your employees like, what they don’t like, why do they enjoy working for you etc. Most importantly, what have you done with this data? 

Top Tips for Addressing the Challenges of Blue Monday

Communication and Feedback

Encourage employees to share concerns and frustrations. Feeling heard and listened to can significantly impact job satisfaction. Carry out an Engagement Survey, share the results and be honest about the changes that can be made and by when. Keep everyone informed of progress made.  

Development Opportunities

Employees are more likely to stay if they feel valued and can see how their role impacts the overall company goals. Ensure annual reviews are completed and objectives are continuously followed up throughout the year, discuss opportunities and invest in training. 

Prioritise Wellbeing

Acknowledge the potential challenges of “Blue Monday” and the post-holiday period. Offer mental health resources, encourage breaks, create a supportive atmosphere and encourage a healthy work life balance by avoiding an excessive workload after the festive period. Be an ambassador and encourage conversations on these. 

Recognition and Appreciation

Small gestures of recognition can boost morale and motivation and a simple thank you can go a long way.  

Team Bonding

Foster a sense of belonging by strengthening connections in the team. See Blue Monday as an opportunity to do something fun with the team.  

Blue Monday may a have a rather gloomy reputation, but hopefully we can use this day as a reminder to prioritise  and value our people. If you would like to discuss any aspect of blue Monday, employee engagement, workplace wellbeing or any other HR or people challenges, please contact Frances Wood, or your usual AAB People contact. 

 

 

 

 

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Calculating Holiday Pay- What Do I Need To Know?

It’s that time of the year again- the time of the year to start calculating holiday pay for your employees. In theory that sounds like the most simple thing, however it can come with complications. Earlier this year we provided an overview for employers on the Updates to Calculating Holiday Pay that centred around the Harpur Trust v Brazel (2019) court ruling. Since then, there’s been further updates that all employers should not only be aware of but should be taking notice of before they make any calculations.

Harpur Trust v Brazel (2019) – A REMINDER

To recap, the Harpur Trust v Brazel case involved a music teacher on a zero hour contract who disputed her employer’s calculation of her holiday pay. Initially, the school calculated her pay based on a fixed percentage of her earnings at the end of each term, which resulted in less holiday pay for her. The employee argued that her pay should be based on an average of her earnings over the previous 12 weeks (from 6 April 2020 this reference period was increased to 52 weeks), which would have resulted in a higher amount of holiday pay.

The case was initially dismissed by the Employment Tribunal but was later reviewed by higher courts, including the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of the employee. The courts concluded that part-time workers and those on zero-hour or casual contracts should receive a full 5.6 weeks of annual leave, calculated based on a 52-week average of earnings.

This ruling caused concerns among employers, as it increased costs and impacted flexible working arrangements. The government then added this topic to a review they were completing to assess the ruling and determine if it should be overturned or made permanent legislation, taking into account the impact on employers and ensuring fair annual leave entitlement for all workers.

THE OUTCOME OF THIS RULING

The long-awaited outcome was issued by Department for Business and Trade on 8th November 2023. The highlights of the outcome in relation to concerns around the Harpur Trust v Brazel case were:

  • Introduce an accrual method for calculating holiday entitlement for part-year workers and irregular hours workers, and will be the method of calculation in their first year of employment and future years. Entitlement will be calculated as 12.07% of hours worked in a pay period. Other workers will continue to accrue leave at 1/12th of their entitlement on the first day of each month during their first year of employment. Workers will NOT be able to accrue more than 28 days statutory annual leave.
  • Sanction rolled-up holiday pay (RHP) to be allowed for part-year and irregular hour workers only. This was previously found to be unlawful by the UK Government but following the review can be used by employer, it must be calculated at 12.07% of the worker’s earnings during the pay period.
  • To define in legislation what the government means by part-year workers and irregular hour workers. Stakeholders requested that the Government is clearer on who this captures in relation to the effect of the Harpur v Brazel judgment.

CALCULATING HOLIDAY PAY – A REMINDER OF THE BASICS

It would be remiss of us to provide an update on calculating holiday play, and to predict any changes which may come, without providing a roundup of the basic details every employer must adhere to when calculating holiday pay.

Further to the update to legislation in April 2020, employers must also ensure that if there employees receive “variable pay”, they complete a 52-week look back to confirm what the employee’s average weekly earnings would be. This pay should include any overtime, commission, bonuses or other regular payments. If an employee has not been with their employer for the full 52 weeks, you should asses from the start of their employment. It is important employers to keep an up-to-date reflection of the average weekly pay to ensure employees are pay correctly when they do take annual leave. If you are unsure of how to calculate an employees pay if their hours fluctuate frequently or are not sure if a payment would be considered as a regular payment, please seek out professional advice.

OUR ADVICE & RECOMMENDATIONS

Calculating holiday pay should be relatively straight forward. However, tribunal cases such as Harpur Trust v Brazel, changes to employment case law and changing work patterns continue to give employers additional factors to consider.

It is unclear at this point when the government will formally make the aforementioned changes to legislation or introduce new legislation following recommendations as appropriate. This will likely take time to be implemented, if the changes are likely to take place prior to the next general election should be confirmed in coming months. Employers should stay up to date with developments in this area and seek legal advice to ensure compliance with any changes to the law.

If you have any queries on calculating holiday pay, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Georgia Wilson, or one of our HR & Employment Law Specialists.

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