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People Matter March 2015

Help us help you – and win

On 20 March you will receive a customer satisfaction survey from us via email. Please, please, please complete it to give us the information we need to give you even better service. Last year one out of every two surveys was completed. We value everyone’s feed back and would love to get this number as high as possible.

What’s in it for you? A fair question, as we’re sure you are busy and get many such requests. First, we genuinely do take notice of every response. It’s great that last year satisfaction was measured at 93.5% but we are just as interested in service gaps, or if you feel we have fallen short – so we can rectify it. This is how we will push towards the Holy Grail of 100% satisfaction! And as proof we do act on what you tell us, as a direct response to feedback from last year’s survey, we introduced our Flying Start Programme to specifically help micro-businesses.

If the first reason to complete the survey is so you continue to get great and improving service, the second reason is good old-fashioned bribery. Everyone who completes the survey before 8 May will have their name entered into a prize draw to win £100 of John Lewis vouchers. You could get a stylish addition to your wardrobe, some fancy tech or some tasteful home ware.

We hope you find that sufficient incentive to complete the survey. It will be issued from Nicki@sugar-bullet.co.uk via surveymonkey.com so keep an eye out for it in the second half of March.

Wish you weren’t here

Easter is known as the second most contentious time of year after Christmas for employees clashing over holiday-leave bookings. People clamour to get more bang for their holiday-leave buck by booking time off next to the double bank holiday weekend. And there are plenty of clashes over the Summer holidays too – demand for time off to coincide with school breaks is strong.

There have even been reports of some co-workers taking it to a whole other level, by maliciously booking time off when they know a colleague was planning to go away. Others, aware of the levels that some can sink too, refuse to talk about their holiday plans at all. Or even give false information with a view to double bluff their colleagues cum dastardly adversaries.

As is so often the case, it tends to be the manager, HR representative or owner who ends up having to deal with the fall-out and work out a solution. Having clear written policies in place is a big help. It at least sets some ground rules, even if some employees may try to play dirty. But what else can you do?

Knowledge is power and being in control of all relevant information can make things so much easier. That’s where HR Toolkit comes in. It’s a low-cost, web-based HR software system that can manage the entire holiday leave process. Everyone in the company can log on but with different access levels: so basic employees can see their own record and book time off, a manager can see records of employees they are responsible for and approve or reject holiday time. Meanwhile, the business owner or HR manager can access all records.

HR Toolkit actually does much more than just manage holiday leave – it can bring the same level of efficiency to many other areas of the HR function too including training, appraisals, and employment contracts among other things. To discover more about this must-have HR accessory for this year’s Easter and Summer holidays, speak to your local HR Dept today.

Avoiding staging date fright

Auto-enrolment – the compulsory government scheme that opts just about every UK employee into a pension – is in full swing. It went live in October 2012 with larger companies required to comply first. Now in 2015 it is the turn of smaller companies. The staging dates for companies with fewer than 50 employees run between 1 June 2015 and 1 April 2017.

However, some surveys suggest SMEs are in the dark when it comes to auto-enrolment, with about 50% knowing little or nothing about it, and three quarters having done nothing to prepare for their staging date. The Pensions Regulator has wide-ranging enforcement options including issuing stiff penalty notices. So, to avoid auto-enrolment stage fright, and the penalties that come with it, speak to the HR Dept today and get prepared!

How not to reject someone

It’s not uncommon for an unsuccessful job applicant to hear nothing, or get an obviously generic letter.

What’s less common is for an unsuccessful interviewee to receive a written tirade attacking them personally and professionally. That’s what happened to James Allen, an interviewee at Right Price PVCU. His rejection letter included: “[you are] one of the most irritating, rude, obnoxious and arrogant people I have ever had the misfortune to meet” and “…I actually have a job, and other things to do with my day other than replying to you…” as well as offensive comments regarding his appearance.

However tempting it may be to unleash, it’s important to remain professional, keep criticism constructive and if in doubt count to ten before sending (or show it to someone else first). Otherwise, like this case, you may end up spread across the national press! For help running a professional recruitment process call the HR Dept.

National Apprentice Week (9-13 March)

The government is pushing apprenticeships, but what are the pros and cons? On the plus side apprentices are cheap, with wages way under the National Minimum Wage. Statistically they’re more loyal than staff that trained elsewhere and you can mould them into your business culture. All rosy then? Not quite, because while cheap they still represent a commitment – lasting up to four years and with normal employee rights. Productivity may fall in the short-term as you will have to devote resource into training. So, not altogether straightforward – for guidance speak to us.

Uh oh, there’s a calculator        

It’s worrying when a new rule needs an online calculator to help you understand it. And we are not surprised that Shared Parental Leave has turned out to be one such rule. Statutory leave here, flexible leave there. Employers potentially juggling staff members taking alternate blocks of leave over a whole year. It’s no wonder heads may be spinning. While the new rule came into force last December, it only affects the parents of babies born after 5th April 2015. But with that date bearing down upon us, the first requests for this leave will be in. Have you received any, and do you know what to do?

Don’t worry, there’s always the DWP calculator! And if that fails, call your trusted local HR Dept and we will help you get your policies in place and apply them.

 

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