Have You Considered Hiring An Apprentice?

This month I’ve been helping a client recruit an apprentice. There are lots advantages to be had from going down this route, but there are a few points to consider first to make sure that it’s a success for you, the business and the apprentice.

  1. Don’t stereotype – It’s natural to think of an apprentice as a young person not long out of education and looking for their first step on the career ladder, but have you considered an apprenticeship for an existing employee or perhaps someone that’s returning back to work?
  2. 100% funding – You may not feel that you can afford to bring in a new member of staff, but actually with the funding that is available (and the talent that is out there) an apprentice could be a perfect way to expand your business.
  3. Plug the skills gap – Industry specific knowledge is not always easy to find. When you employ an apprentice they will be learning about your industry and with in-house training they’ll be learning exactly how you like it; your way!
  4. An extra pair of hands – We could all do with a little extra help and an apprentice who is made to feel part of the team will be eager to participate and appreciate the valuable business skills you can teach them.
  5. Flexible – Apprenticeships can be tailored to specific job roles to suit the need within your business.
  6. Plan for the future – If you are planning to introduce a new service within the coming year one of the steps to prepare for the event may be to acquire extra man power and the skills to deliver the new service. An apprenticeship is one way you can gear up to achieve this future goal.
  7. Learning on the job – Apprentices often learn within the work place, this means less disruption with time spent out of the office and more impact whilst they are learning within the business.

Please don’t dismiss the idea of employing an apprentice. They could be that little gem you are looking to recruit; eager to achieve, quick to learn, full of ideas and most likely already highly tech savvy!

If you would like to discuss how an apprentice could benefit you and your business please give me a call on 01737 336336 or email me.


SMEs have taken on over ½ million new employees this year and many will have wasted more time and money on this process than necessary.

We’ve been really busy during the latter part of 2014 managing recruitment projects and conducting interviews for our clients so it seemed fitting that the last HR tips for you this year are no this very subject.

Follow these top tips and you will be well on the right road to ‘Recruiting the right candidate’.

  1. Write a job description that also includes some background on your company and the culture, what it’s like to work with you and your team and what future opportunities you can offer.
  2. What are the selection criteria for the job? This could be skills, qualifications, relevant knowledge and experience. What attributes must they have to be suitable for the role?
  3. Use a variety of ways to find the right candidate. If you are advertising be very clear and honest about what the job entails. This avoids misunderstandings further down the line. Ensure that all adverts comply with equality laws.
  4. Promote the job on your website and use social media platforms that are relevant to the candidate to raise awareness of the position you’d like to fill. Perhaps if you have lots of fans on Instagram that is where your ideal candidate is hanging out.
  5. If you use a recruitment agency make sure you get to know each other. The more they know about you and the culture of the business the better job they will do for you.
  6. Can you recruit from within your organisation? There are many benefits to this; offering career progression , enhances morale, reduces cost of recruiting. Be aware though if you do not offer the position to an existing member of staff they may become demotivated.
  7. Delegate the sifting of CVs? If you are not using an agency ask a colleague to help. They will have a good feel for the type of person who is going to fit into their team.
  8. Keep an open mind when it comes to CVs. Often a fit with the company culture is more important and the skills can be taught. This does mean that you may have to speak to more people but it will ensure that you don’t overlook that ‘little gem’.
  9. Take the time to find the right candidate. Don’t settle for second best as it will probably come back to haunt you.
  10. Next it’s the interview, which we covered back in March and you can read our tips here.

Bonus tip

  1. Talk to Lloyd HR Consultancy! If you are about to recruit or have plans to in the next few months, be sure to give us a call and we’ll make sure this process is carried out without denting your budget. We’ll also save you a lot of time. Time that you can spend on developing your business. We’ll find the best candidate for your business.

Would You Know if You Had A Bully Among Your Staff?

The word bully conjures up a larger than life character with an even louder voice, throwing his or her weight around and intimidating others. This person stands out like a sore thumb.

But there’s another sort of bully; one that hides quietly behind emails yet appears totally acceptable in the open.

It’s important to be able to judge if someone’s actions are as a result of a confrontation stemming from a difference of opinion. Perhaps it’s a disagreement that needs to be aired and debated. The difference between debate and bullying may be just in the way it’s said.

Bullying is not always easy to spot and unacceptable behaviour should not be dismissed or excused as ‘robust management style’ or ‘office banter’.

Recognising different types of bullying

Harassment in the workplace

  • Defamatory remarks that are aimed at a personal characteristic that is protected by law relating to race, gender, age, religion, disabilities, marital status, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s bullying.


  • The bully says, ‘you had better do as I say or I’ll make sure that you never get put forward for promotion’.

Controlling, dominating and competitive aggressive behaviour

  • The bully deliberately speaks over a colleague in a meeting not allowing other’s opinions to be heard
  • Shouting and aggressive body language
  • The bully takes credit for work that others have done

Emotional blackmail

  • The bully influences his/her colleague to take action that they are not comfortable with
  • Pushing someone to the limit so that they act under stress
  • Using language that makes someone feel bad or guilty

Slanderous behaviour

  • The bully bad mouths or attacks someone’s reputation. Sometimes this can be done so subtly that it’s difficult to spot
  • Making insulting remarks about colleagues

Dishonesty and cheating

  • The bully doesn’t face up to their short comings but blames others for their own mistakes
  • Holding back information that puts their colleague in an awkward situation or doesn’t allow them to achieve the results that they might have done
  • Lies, lies and more lies

What can you do about bullying in the workplace?

Creating a bully free culture has to come from the business owner and senior management, demonstrating that every member of the team is valued.

All employees should know that bullying is not tolerated and considered gross misconduct for which they will be dismissed.

As I’ve demonstrated bullying comes in many guises; verbal, written, body language and physical. Training may be required so that it is clear what constitutes bullying, the signs to spot and how to deal with it.

Let employees know that any reports of bullying will be taken seriously and make sure they are familiar with the grievance process that will be followed.

Employee Handbook

Capturing people’s interest on a subject that can at times be quite mundane and boring is always going to be a challenge.

That’s why this month I want to talk about creating an employee handbook that actually gets read.

An employee handbook is an important part of a new starter’s induction. It’s where all the company policies and procedures can be found. A great source of information.

But, it can be heavy going for a reader to plough through.

So my suggestion is to make it fun and appealing. Of course it needs to have the serious stuff in it but here are some ideas that can lighten it up a bit.

Easy to read – don’t use words that are likely to be unfamiliar leaving the poor reader no choice but to search for the meaning in the dictionary.

Keep it short – this goes for the sentences as well as the book itself.

Be positive – focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t do.

They’re grownups! – Your staff are not children so avoid language that treats them so. Allow them to use common sense and encourage them to ask questions if they’re not sure.

A picture paints a thousand words – as well as breaking up the text, images are a quick way to get your message across and understood.

Index – be sure to add a contents page. This allows the reader to quickly find what they are looking for.

Add humour – let the culture of the business shine through. Of course there will be serious sections, but think how you can also bring a smile to the readers face. This could be with funny images or industry jokes.

If you would like a hand to lighten up your company handbook, or indeed create one if you don’t yet have one, give us a call on 01737 336336 or email us.

Social Media in the Workplace

There is no doubting the fact that Social Media can benefit your business greatly, especially for brand building and greater awareness. However, as an employer you will naturally be concerned about the risks social media also brings. One inadvertent tweet or comment about an awkward customer on Facebook can cause a great deal of harm to your carefully built reputation.

Therefore, social media during and out of working hours needs to be managed. I cannot advocate enough how important it is to have a social media policy. This will protect both the employee and the employer.

Here are some thoughts to consider regarding social media in general and when writing a social media policy:

  1. Be positive. Include what can be done and what is best practice rather than focusing on what cannot be done.
  2. Does the person responsible for social media understand the company’s social media plan?
  3. Who has access to the user names and passwords for each social media account?
  4. The password is owned by the company not the user
  5. Company logo can only be used when authorised
  6. Is the company portrayed consistently in everyone’s LinkedIn profile?
  7. Sharing sensitive or confidential information regarding the business could lead to dismissal.
  8. Be aware that the use of social media by employers has to be balanced by the employee’s right to private life. The employer could be subject to unfair dismissal claim.
  9. Do you need to create a policy for each social media platform or will one cover all suffice?
  10. Employees’ comments on third party websites about any aspect of the company’s business should clearly identify themselves as an employee and include a disclaimer.
  11. A disclaimer can be ‘these views are my own and not necessarily reflect those of the company’.
  12. Cross reference the social media policy in the employee handbook and employment agreement.
  13. Ensure that all employees are aware of and understand the social media policy.

If you would like help creating a social media policy please call us on 01737 336336.

When the Weather Gets Hot…

Anyone for tennis?!

Okay, I’m well aware that at the moment everyone is talking about football and the World Cup, but my minds already turned to strawberries and cream, a pint of Pims and Wimbledon!

And along with that comes the sunshine; at least we hope that it does! Sunshine means heat, which can have an impact on your staff and your business.

As an employer you have a responsibility for the wellbeing of your staff whilst in working hours. Employees need to be aware of the policies and procedures that apply when we are experiencing extremes of temperature.

The aspects to consider cover Health and Safety, Dress Code and Absenteeism.

I have complied my top tips to help you deal with HR matters that might arise due to extreme heat.

  1. Whilst there is a guideline for minimum temperature of 16˚C or 13˚C if the work is physical, when it come to maximum temperature, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that:

    During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

  2. Well what is reasonable? Especially as people are affected differently by temperature. At what point should you conduct an assessment of the situation?

    The Health & Safety Executive suggest that:

    1. For air conditioned offices – if more than 10% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
    2. For naturally ventilated offices – if more than 15% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
    3. For retail businesses, warehouses, factories and all other indoor environments that may not have air conditioning– if more than 20% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
    4. In short, you should take adequate steps to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature. This could be as simple as making sure there are enough fans to go around the office.
    5. Purchase your fans before the hot weather comes! When you need them they’ll be either out of stock or too large (or too small) for the job.
  3. Encourage your employees to drink plenty of water. Do you have a water machine? Perhaps it would be a good time to invest in one before the hot weather arrives. Keeping hydrated will help to keep productivity levels up.
  4. Do you have a dress code policy? If you don’t maybe you should. The dress code will depend on your industry. The official dress code may need to be relaxed during hot weather, in which case your employees need to be completely clear about what is and isn’t acceptable. For example T-shirts and flip flops may be unacceptable but polo shirts and deck shoes are acceptable. You need to be very clear and the guidelines need to be understood.
  5. The beautiful sunny weather can be the cause of increased absenteeism. For some the temptation is to turn the weekend into a sunny long weekend. How do you tackle this problem?

Flexible Working Hours

There’s been a lot of talk about flexible working hours recently. This is because as of 30th June 2014 all employees (not just parents and carers) have the legal right to request flexible working.

This can be a real concern to employers and I’ve had a number of conversations recently about the best way to deal with such requests. So for this month’s HR tips I thought it would be useful to provide you with a list of Frequently Asked Questions so that, should an employee approach you with such a request, you know exactly what you can and can’t do.

Here are the most common questions I’ve been asked about flexible working:

  1. What exactly is flexible working?
    • Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs. This could be flexible start and finish times, or working from home.
  2. Can you give me examples of flexible working
    • Job sharing where two employees undertake one job and divide the hours.
    • Working from home or elsewhere that is not the normal place of work for some or all of the time.
    • Part time. This may be working fewer days or less than the normal full time hours.
    • Compressed hours. This is working full time hours but over fewer days.
    • Flexitime. This is when an employee decides when to start and finish work within an agreed period and works within agreed ‘core hours’. Core hours could be 10am – 4 pm.
    • Annualised hours. The employee has to work a set number of hours during the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. This will be within agreed core hours during the week, but the rest of the hours are when the demand requires it.
    • Staggered hours. This is where an employee has different start, finish and break times from other employees.
  3. How long does an employee have to work for me before they are eligible?
    • Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.
  4. Am I obligated to review the request?
    • Employers must deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’. The guide to what is considered to be a reasonable manner is:
      • Assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application
      • Holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
      • Offering an appeal process
  5. Can I refuse a request for flexible working?
    • You can refuse an application if you have a good business reason for doing so. The refusal must be made in writing giving a clear explanation.
  6. What constitutes ‘good business reason’?
    • Employment Law applying to refusal flexible working requests states the following:
      • The burden of additional costs falls on the employer;
      • There is a detrimental effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand;
      • Your inability as an employer to reorganise the work within the existing workforce;
      • Your inability as an employer to recruit additional staff;
      • It has a detrimental impact on quality;
      • It has a detrimental impact on performance;
      • The employer has an inability to reorganise the work within the exsiting workforce;
      • There is insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work;
      • There are planned structural changes.
  7. What is the process for an employee to apply for flexible working?
    • Firstly, the employee will need to put the request in writing
    • Next the employer has three months in which to consider the request and makes a decision
    • If the employer agrees to the request the employees contract will need to be updated
  8. If the employee does not agree with the decision are they able to contest it?
    • Yes. The employee may complain to an employment tribunal.

If you have a question covering flexible employment that I’ve not covered here, please email me at enquiries@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk or call me on 07751 225803.