According to research published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the professional body for HR and people development, 36% of line managers haven't been trained in how to supervise people, which is creating serious cultural problems within organisations.
The CIPD research found that because time is such a scarce commodity for business owners, who must juggle many roles and sort out many things each day, staff management isn’t given due attention.
The organisation is urging businesses to “reinforce the messages of line manager training with clarity of roles and expectations, rigorous assessment processes, and relevant incentives”.
Warning of key dangers, the CIPD adds: “With 24% of managers facing situations where they often have to put the interests of their organisation above the interests of their team members, many might be left confused and aim for quick wins over the interests and wellbeing of team members, damaging important relationships which could otherwise drive high-performance working.”
The survey – Real-life leaders: closing the knowing-doing gap – also found that “efforts to foster positive manager behaviours are being undermined by the lack of a consistent message of what organisations expect of managers”, while 28% of respondents have not taken any action after receiving poor feedback on line managers. Such a high percentage will no doubt confirm suspicions held by many a dissatisfied employee.
Ksenia Zheltoukhova, CIPD research associate, says: “We hear organisations lament the lack and quality of leaders, but we aren’t seeing evidence of their commitment to drive good leadership and management practices.
“For 29% of managers in our survey, other priorities stand in the way of ensuring that [team members’] interests are supported, raising questions about the priorities that managers – and organisations – attach to staff wellbeing. These findings are a wake-up call for businesses to re-align their systems and structures to support leadership development.
“Businesses address issues such as poor customer service or faulty machinery straight away, whereas bad management is tolerated to a shocking degree. Nearly half [of survey respondents] confessed that individuals were promoted into managerial roles based on their performance record rather than people management or leadership skills.
“It’s time for businesses to identify and address the roots of bad management, recognising that a more consistent approach to training and supporting leaders at all levels is needed to drive sustainable performance.”
Social media is a powerful tool. However, if placed in the wrong hands it can be highly detrimental to a business’s reputation.
That’s why it’s so important to have a written policy that provides clear guidelines to employees on what they can and cannot say about their employer, explains the business’s approach to issues such as monitoring social media postings and how disciplinary rules will be actioned.
An effective policy can restrict use of social media websites within working hours, allow you, the employer, to take disciplinary action against comments if necessary and avoid potential liability.
It’s impossible to restrict what employees do in their free time, but if their actions have a negative impact on your business reputation you can act. However, you’ll be in a much better position if you have a written social media policy, backed up by staff training, making it clear where the boundaries are.
The Crown Prosecution Service provides guidelines that aim to raise the threshold against which people can be prosecuted and help to protect online freedom of speech. The guidelines are designed to create a balance between maintaining the law and protecting people's freedom of expression. While only those at the higher end of the spectrum will now face prosecution, employees can still do a lot of damage to a brand’s reputation and cause offence to others if they are allowed to do so.
Consider the encouragement you give employees to use LinkedIn and Twitter to network with clients. What happens if those individuals decide to jump ship and set up their own business or – worse still – join a competitor? Their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are suddenly a valuable way for the departing employee to tell their professional contacts they’ve left and where they can be found.
While it’s good for staff to be involved with clients, businesses should proceed with caution. If a recently departed employee writes to your clients to let them know where they’ve gone, you would consider this solicitation. However, updating their LinkedIn account will have the very same effect. Without tailored clauses in their contract, there’s nothing you can do.
With the number of complaints about crimes involving social media on the rise - 780% over the last four years – having a social media policy in place and carefully drafted restrictions tailored to use of social networking sites can ensure employers are able to act promptly.
Big companies can offer big salaries, big development plans and big brand recognition, but they can also offer big office politics and big anonymity. Therefore, as a small-business owner, you have an ideal opportunity to offer the best careers to the best people. This isn’t always obvious, though. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow, which should ensure you retain the superstars you worked hard to recruit and train.
Strive to make it clear that bigger companies cannot offer what you can. Make sure you have strong relationships with your team, where you speak openly about the differences between your company and an anonymous conglomerate.
In any business, value and trust are essential. In large companies, people may never be given autonomy to take risks. They may never have opportunities to try something new. In a smaller company, you know that you have to take risks and trust people. Remind your employees that this is unique and how much you value their ability to work independently.
In a big company, even the smallest things may need to be approved and approved again. Make your team aware that you trust them to make good decisions. Remind them that processes work very differently in bigger companies and urge them to speak to friends working for large companies to discover how much authority they have. The answers may surprise them!
People need to have meaning in their lives and work often takes up a huge part of life. In a large company, employees may feel that they are small cogs in a big wheel. Happily, and inevitably, in a small business, every person counts. All contributions make a difference and you stand a much better chance of having your opinion heard. People can feel they are making a real difference. Never under-estimate the value of this!
Everyone hates office politics. Happily, a small business is often far too busy selling, growing, and making products better. There’s neither the will nor the time for politics!
The most important element of any business is its people, something recognised by Anne M. Mulcahy, former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, who stated: “Employees are a company's greatest asset. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company's mission”. And in no place is this more possible than in a small business.
By law, if your business employs five or more people, you need to have a written health and safety policy. If you own a business where your employees face risks, whether that’s manual labour, operating machinery or handling hazardous chemicals, you need to understand your responsibilities as an employer to control, promote and develop health and safety policies and practices.
An effective health and safety policy doesn’t necessarily need to be difficult or time-consuming. Here is my ten-step process that will give you an idea of what you and your employees will need to do.
Who’s in charge?
Depending on the size of your business or the specialisms of particular employees, you will need to assign someone to oversee your health and safety duties. It is a good idea to work alongside someone who has prior experience or knowledge of health and safety. If no one fits the bill, you can always seek outside advice or consultancy.
Starting the policy
Initially, depending on your industry, it is worth looking into specific laws relating to high-risk workplaces. Your health and safety policy will communicate to your employees your ongoing commitment to the issue.
Does that look like a risk to you?
Health and safety is all about risk prevention, and in worst-case scenarios, what to do if an accident occurs. First, start by assessing potential risks in the workplace. Once these have been documented, state what you are doing, or have done, to control those risks.
What do your employees think?
Once you have done your risk assessment, consult your employees and communicate your findings and solutions. It may be that the people who work in these risk-filled scenarios can produce a more effective solution – or point out additional risks you may have not considered.
Every employee, whether they work onsite or are regular contactors/self-employed individuals, should be given information relating to risk management and health and safety policies. Regular training is crucial in delivering this, as well as updates if new risks or equipment arise.
Create the right conditions for safety
In order to have effective health and safety in the workplace, you need to have the right kind of workplace. There should be universal facilities catering to all employees, especially access for people with disabilities. Again, it is worth looking again at the laws relating to high-risk workplaces.
What to do if an accident occurs
The most important step to take in having the right procedures in place if an accident or illness occurs is first aid. This can be crucial in saving lives. Have a first aid box, as well as employees who are trained in first aid. If an incident occurs, make sure it is logged. This will indicate if a pattern emerges, as well as being useful if an employee makes a claim.
Ensure a health and safety law poster is visible
It is your legal duty as an employer to display the health and safety law poster in a prominent position where all employees can see it.
Assurance through insurance
If one of your employees chooses to claim compensation after a work-related accident or injury, employers’ liability insurance will help meet the cost of any compensation pay-out. By law, employers must have employers’ liability insurance.
Review and develop your policy
There are many factors that could change once you write your policy. Health and safety laws could be updated, your workplace may relocate or you may want to adopt more efficient policies learned from partners or competitors. Review your policy regularly and make sure that all of your employees are educated on any changes.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is now responsible for the child maintenance system in the UK. It funds information and support for separating parents and runs the child maintenance schemes. As of the beginning of 2014, all CSA maintenance cases will be closed or transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
The government is keen for families to make their own private arrangements for child support, however, if they cannot, there are other options.
This calculator (available on the CM options website) can give you an idea of how much you can expect to receive or pay in child maintenance.
(Gross income is defined as before tax and NI deductions, but after pension contributions have been taken)
Gross weekly income up to £800 – BASIC RATE applies
One child 12%
Two children 16%
Three more children 19%
Gross weekly income £800-£3,000 – BASIC PLUS applies to the excess over £800
(£3,000 is the highest gross that will be taken into account)
One child 9%
Two children 12%
Three or more children 15%
For example: Andy has three children and has a gross weekly income of £1,200 after pension deductions. To calculate child support he would have to use the basic plus rate.
Andy will pay 19% of £800 = £152. He will also have to pay 15% of £400 = £60. Total £212
If parents cannot agree on how much maintenance should be paid, the paying parent might have to pay a default rate based on the number of children, until the CMS has the information required.
One child £39 a week
Two children £51 a week
Three or more children £64 a week
Note that the age limit of the ‘child’ has increased to 20 from 19, provided the ‘child’ is eligible for child benefit
Second family children living with the non-resident parent (NRP) are referred to as 'relevant other children'. The number of 'relevant other children' in the household reduce the gross weekly income of the NRP by a percentage as follows:
For one 'relevant other child' reduce gross weekly income by 11%; for two relevant other children reduce gross weekly income by 14%; and for three or more relevant other children reduce gross weekly income by 16%.
For example: Peter earns gross £500 a week, after deduction of pension. He has two children not living with him by his ex-wife and one child by his new partner. To calculate child support, deduct £55 (11% of his gross income). This leaves a balance of £445. For the two children not living with him, he pays 16% of the balance (£71.20).
The amount of maintenance to be paid is worked out as a flat rate of £10 in the first £100 of gross income, plus a percentage of the gross weekly income over £100. The percentage varies according to the number of qualifying and relevant other children, to ensure that liabilities increase smoothly as gross income increases from £100 to £200.
Parents on benefits will pay a flat rate of £10 a week.
If parents share care of their children, the amount of maintenance to be paid by the non-resident parent can be reduced to reflect this. If there is to be shared care arrangement and the number of nights spent with the non-resident parent is one, a deduction of one-seventh will be made. If two nights each week are spent with the non-resident parent, a deduction of two-sevenths will be made.
For example: Chris has one child with his ex-wife who does not live with him. He earns £450 gross per week, after deduction of pension. His daughter, Amy, spends one night a week with him. He is liable to pay 12% (£54 a week) less one-seventh (£7.70) so Chris will pay £46.30 a week.
Families dutifully doing what the government wants and making their own arrangements for child maintenance might leave mothers, in particular, hard-pushed to take on a mortgage for the former marital home. Some mortgage providers won't take child support into account at all, and others currently demand a court-order as evidence of income. But a family which has followed the government's advice on making their own arrangements won't have a court order, so there are fewer mortgage options to choose from.
We've already seen legal aid withdrawn from matrimonial cases to encourage separating couples to use mediation instead and come to mutual agreements. Until finance and mortgage providers recognise that this is, or will be, the new norm there's still a disincentive to proper co-operation away from the courts.
Blog provided by Frances Place of Bristol-based Progressive Mediation.
The controversial topic of zero-hours contracts and the impact they have on employers and employees has been a hot topic of late.
Zero-hours contract arrangements can provide flexibility to employers, particularly those operating in sectors that often experience fluctuations in demand and where it is beneficial to engage workers on a genuine ‘as and when required’ basis.
However, many employers fall into the trap of offering these types of contracts to mask or hide true employment relationships, which involve regular hours consistently worked over an extended period of time. The risk to businesses operating this way, however, is that if faced with a tribunal, the true nature of the working arrangement will be closely examined and exposed, which could mean expensive claims being made against them.
If there is any doubt, it is advisable for businesses to ensure they take appropriate legal advice before putting such contracts in place.
On the flip side, employees working on a zero-hours contracts can feel disposable. This can lead to low morale and poor performance – which can have a negative impact on other colleagues and the performance of the business as a whole.
Small businesses using zero-hours contracts correctly are less likely to experience this. By selecting employees who are well suited to the terms, while carefully listening to and adhering to their reasonable needs, employers are more likely to ensure their employees remain satisfied with this working arrangement and avoid the risk of any claims arising against them.
Zero-hours contracts offer employees a great deal of flexibility and can be a benefit, especially if employers plan and manage workload fluctuations well in advance. For employees with childcare commitments, for example, the flexibility provided by this type of arrangement can go a long way in securing positive morale and loyalty.
However, the lack of regularity and security can be detrimental, because it can affect their ability to obtain mortgages and loans or receive sufficient working hours and wages.
Therefore, during the recruitment process employers should clearly outline their expectations to ensure they hire people who are well suited to zero-hours working arrangements. Business owners should also plan and manage their staffing needs correctly so that workers are informed of available shifts and potential downtime in advance.
Although the future of zero-hours contracts is currently under review, implementing this type of working arrangement can be a valuable solution to SMEs operating in certain sectors when implemented correctly.
Blog supplied by Debbie Stuttard of Linder Myers Solicitors.