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People Matter October 2015

2015 National Minimum Wage changes

As this year’s ghoulish pumpkins are lit up for Halloween, is the real scare for employers in October the revamped National Minimum Wage (NMW)? It’s the start of a journey that will lead to the so called Living Wage of £9 per hour by 2020. On 1 October the headline rate jumped 20p to £6.70 – a 3 % rise, which is the biggest in real-terms since 2008. You can see the other rates in The Indicator below.

As the rate rises accelerate over the next few years, they are likely to put pressure on your business – particularly if you have to manage a knock-on effect up the pay chain. But get the presentation right, and you could also benefit from happier, more motivated staff. The sooner you plan and budget for this the better.

And if you need help preventing NMW spooks lasting long after Halloween, who ya gonna call? The HR Dept!

Supermarkets wage war

Supermarket price wars: you expect them to concern baked beans or a pint of milk – not a race to see who pays the most. Morrisons announced that it’s giving its 90,000 shop floor staff a 20% pay rise. The new rate will be £1 more than George Osborne’s £7.20 National Living Wage. Lidl pay the same, and others are reviewing.

What is the thinking behind this generosity? In Morrisons case they wanted to simplify pay structure whilst being competitive. Analysts suggest it will be an excellent ploy to boost morale and retain the best staff as they try to turn around their business. They also note that like shoppers, employees are getting savvier and can quickly compare employee benefit packages online. Could (or does) adopting a similar higher-pay strategy add value to your business?

Top tip 

A Christmas list normally consists of the presents you would like to receive. But for the owner/manager of an SME it can be more like a ‘To Do’ list to keep the business running over the festive period.

Why not get a head start by encouraging employees to book leave well in advance? It may help avoid disappointment for them whilst letting you sidestep staff shortages or awkward conversations! And what could be the perfect present to help: HR Dept Toolkit of course – it streamlines your holiday bookings process among many other things.

Call for more information.

Getting healthy at work 

Let’s face it. Human beings weren’t designed to work in offices. The sedentary lifestyle can lead to stress, anxiety and depression, as well as heart, back and weight problems. But hold on! Before we all run off to live in the woods, what about solutions within the office?

There are, of course, oodles of things you can do to promote health and well-being in your office. They range from the simple (and free), like simply encouraging employees to take all their annual leave, all the way up to offering full private medical insurance.

Let’s take a look at some of the more unusual ideas out there, which not only boost health and well-being, but also inject some quirkiness into your workplace.

First off: Yoga. It’s been popular as evening classes for years, it was Ryan Giggs secret to playing Premier League football into his 40s. Now you can order it into your office as a lunchtime drop-in class. It’s great for combating stress, improving fitness and can be pitched at any level of difficulty.

If that’s a bit much, then how about a fruit or healthy snack budget? A fruit bowl encourages healthy eating. Plus it looks and smells great (as long as fruit is not left there too long!). Alternatively, you could sign up to a healthy snack subscription service the perfect support for people looking to wean themselves off biscuits.

Sitting down for long periods is not good for you. An answer to this, popular in Scandinavia, is the sit-stand desk. It pretty much does what it says on the tin. It’s a height adjustable workstation that allows users to alternate between standing and sitting positions. It helps users to burn calories and improve posture.

Finally, something no-one could object to: a drop in masseuse! Unknot those back muscles, de-stress and relax. Need we say more!

Good employee health and well-being can increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, attract and retain the best staff and create a pleasant environment. So call the HR Dept today to see how we can help.

Commission holiday pay takes off before appeal 

EasyJet have not waited to see the result of the appeal on the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) decision that holiday pay should reflect commission payments.

This followed the threat of strike action from Unite. Applying to 2,500 staff it apparently almost doubles their current holiday pay award and payments have been backdated for two years too.

As soon as news of the original ECJ ruling broke it was clear it could be expensive to businesses, and this appears to confirm that.

To small business owners who are affected we would generally counsel planning and budgeting for the worst and hoping for the best, as the appeal is still to take place – it is due to be heard in December.

For assistance in managing all aspects of holiday pay speak to your local HR Dept.

How to defend against social media mishaps

Most of us have posted something we regretted on Facebook at some point. But what about when an employee posts ill-advisedly on a company social media account. As soon as that button is pressed it’s in the public domain. And the more excruciating the mistake, the more viral it is likely to go.

That’s what Transport for London (TfL) discovered when a ‘smart Alec’ employee responded to an irate tweet regarding their repeatedly delayed service by suggesting the complainant should try leaving earlier themselves to avoid being late. Unsurprisingly that did not go down well and the recipient found ample support on Twitter. Eventually TfL was forced to apologise.

An ‘incident’ doesn’t need to originate on social media for it to end up as a problem there. When a Sainsbury’s store inadvertently displayed a poster aimed at staff in a shop window (which challenged employees to get customers to spend 50p more per visit), one helpful member of the public let them know by tweeting them a photo. Twitter didn’t take to the tone of the poster leading to widespread embarrassing publicity.

And what about when social media behaviour causes internal problems? A tribunal in Australia recently judged that unfriending a colleague on Facebook constituted workplace bullying, citing that it showed “a lack of emotional maturity” and was “indicative of unreasonable behaviour”.

Having a clear social media policy means you can reduce the chances of these misfortunes happening to you AND make them easier to deal with if they do occur. For help drafting a policy, why not tweet The HR Dept today?

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