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Members' Blog Feed

These blog posts are written by our members and syndicated from their own websites. Clicking a link will take you to their website.

How To Avoid Workplace Christmas Party Nightmares

It’s fair to say that the workplace Christmas party gets its fair share of bad press. From punch-ups and offensively drunk staff, through to extra-marital activities and unwanted advances, we’ve all heard the horror stories. Depending on just how cautious you like to be, you might think that you’d be better off cancelling the whole thing and saving yourself the headache.

But before you rush into anything, remember that your staff have worked hard, and they deserve an opportunity to let their hair down. A festive get-together could prove to be just what you need to show your appreciation of their efforts and boost morale. What’s important here is that you’re suitably prepared. Here’s what you need to consider…

Remind your staff of your standards

At the end of the day, your staff are adults and should know how to conduct themselves at work and in related social situations, but there’s no harm in reminding them. This is about ensuring that everyone understands what’s acceptable, and what will happen if behaviour falls below the required standards. Now could be a good time to remind your employees about what’s expected from them.

Get yourself organised

Planning is extremely important, so be sure to consider absolutely everything. From where you’ll hold the event, through to how people will get home safely at the end of the evening, through to the arrangements for being in work the next day, problems can often be avoided if you’ve considered your approach in advance.

It makes sense to get your staff involved in the planning process, to ensure that their views are taken into account and they have the option to contribute ideas.

Consider differing preferences

A night of drinking isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, so do think about how you can make the event appeal to your diverse workforce. If you’re providing catering, consider any dietary requirements. You’re never going to be able to please everyone, especially if you have a large team, but it makes sense to consider tastes and preferences.

Finally, on this point, attendance at a Christmas party should never be mandatory, so don’t make your staff feel like they’re obliged to make an appearance.

Relax a little!

At the end of the day, your Christmas party should be fun and enjoyable, and you should be able to let your hair down and celebrate alongside your team. If you’ve covered the points that we’ve discussed here, then it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any significant problems. Your staff are probably just looking forward to having a good time, and aren’t secretly plotting to cause riots or bring your business into disrepute!

More top tips for a happy work Christmas party here.  If you’ve got concerns about this year’s Christmas party, and you’d like to take the opportunity to chat with an HR expert, pick up the phone and give us a call at The Human Resource on 07884 475303.

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Getting laid: is wooden flooring a good return on investment?

Getting laid: is wooden flooring a good return on investment? The Beatles once sang: “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me / She showed me her room, isn’t it good, Norwegian wood? /…” And… Continue reading

The post Getting laid: is wooden flooring a good return on investment? appeared first on AA Editorial Services.

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The Criminal Finances Bill

On 13 October 2016 The Criminal Finances Bill was introduced to the House of Commons. The Bill signals significant changes to the way the government will now tackle money laundering and corruption, recover the proceeds of crime and counter terrorist financing. The latest RFS Financial Crime Briefing addresses this new legislation. Financial crime industry stalwart Sue Thornhill …

The post The Criminal Finances Bill appeared first on Regulatory Finance Solutions.

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What’s so wrong with zero hours contracts?

Zero hour contracts must have attracted more adverse publicity than any other way of organising work this century. 

So, what’s the problem?  And should you stay well away from them as a good employer?

A zero hours contract means that the employer does not guarantee a set number of working hours for the employee.  Depending on the needs of the business, the worker could be asked to work full time hours some weeks and zero hours other weeks.  

This means people’s income can fluctuate significantly and without a regular amount of pay they won’t be able to take out tenancies, loans, credit cards or a mortgage.  High stress level have been reported because of uncertainty about how much work there will be from one day to the next.

On the other hand, the flexibility of a zero hours contract can work well for people looking for casual part-time employment, such as students, home carers and the semi-retired.  A recent CIPD survey found that workers on zero hours contracts were as happy as permanent full-time employees: 65 % of the sample on zero hours contracts said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with their jobs, compared with 63 % for all employees.

The arrangement can help businesses cope with fluctuating demand, enable new businesses uncertain about workloads to get onto their feet, and also provide cover for unexpected sickness absence. They’re widely used by retailers, restaurants, leisure companies and hotels. The care industry is estimated to employ 160,000 workers on zero hours contracts and the NHS has increasingly adopted them.

The problem is that a few “workhouse not workplace” style large employers have exploited the vulnerability of their people on zero hours contracts, with bad practices such as giving unreasonably short notice whether or not they’re required at work, and, if the individual isn’t able to come in when “asked”, firing them without notice or punishing them via the disciplinary procedure. 

Some had even forbidden their zero hours contractors from working for anyone else, so that they were more likely to be available for work at short notice: that is now completely illegal.  Zero hours contracts can’t contain exclusivity clauses prohibiting staff from seeking or accepting work from another employer and people working them can seek additional employment and have other jobs.

Even the most notorious – but by no means only – exploiter of zero hours contracts, Britain’s largest sportswear retailer Sports Direct, has now decided to offer its shop staff the option of a minimum contract of 12 hours’ work per week, in line with other retailers such as Next.

Regardless of the debate surrounding their use, zero hours contracts are here to stay as a flexible alternative to full and part time employment, one that can be useful to both employer and employee in some circumstances.

If you opt to go ahead and hire staff on zero hours contracts, you must ensure that you provide the necessary legal rights. All zero hours workers are entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage and paid annual leave, rest breaks and protection from discrimination.  Calculating holiday entitlement has to be done in arrears for each individual based on the number of hours worked, taking additional admin time.  Guidelines on employment rights for zero hours workers from ACAS here.

To help staff plan ahead, it’s best practice to give as much notice as possible regarding possible working hours, ensuring the zero hours contractor understands that they can either accept or refuse the work.

If your business needs more certainty and less to-ing and fro-ing to organise enough workers, consider the alternatives such as:

  • Offer overtime to current permanent staff

  • If regular hours need to be worked, recruit a part time employee

  • Offer annualised hours and fixed term contracts to cope with seasonal demand

  • Bring in temp agency workers as a quicker and easier way to fill gaps.

Zero hours contracts are rarely appropriate to run the core business.  Most businesses are providing a regular service or product and have a broadly predictable timetable or output, and so permanent or fixed hour contracts are likely to be a better fit.  And there’s always the traditional British compromise of flexible hours contracts with a certain number of fixed hours plus the option to work additional time if required. 

If you currently operate zero hours contracts, or have considered them and would like assistance and guidance on how to use them properly, please get in touch with us at The Human Resource.


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Look out for persuasive email scam

Word Worker press release Businesses are being warned to be vigilant for an email fraud which is catching out unsuspecting managers and directors. Swindon IT support company Sensata says the email phishing scam – called CEO fraud, or president fraud – isn’t new, but is gaining in popularity among cyber criminals and has the potential […]

The post Look out for persuasive email scam appeared first on Word Worker – making words work for your business.

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Expert Advice from Appliance World Swindon

October 2016 Content marketing piece written Appliance World, Swindon.   The Science of Appliances Expert Advice from Appliance World Swindon Unless you’ve been living in a hermitage in recent years you can’t fail to have heard the term ‘ergonomics’: Ergonomics (or… Continue reading

The post Expert Advice from Appliance World Swindon appeared first on AA Editorial Services.

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Off the cuff: a brief history of cufflinks

November 2016 A recent content marketing piece about the history of cufflinks written for placement on my Born again Swindonian blog. The client is Simon Webb, artisan pen maker. Based in Swindon, Wiltshire, Simon makes hand-turned wooden pens and cufflinks…. Continue reading

The post Off the cuff: a brief history of cufflinks appeared first on AA Editorial Services.

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I’m happy paying for Premium WordPress plugins – you should be too!

Premium WordPress plugins are often overlooked in preference to free plugins. This might not be good for your website.

Your premium plugins needn’t cost much, but could give you a better and safer solution.

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I’m happy paying for Premium WordPress plugins – you should be too! is another great post from: DMJ Computer Services

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Flexing to keep your best employees & attract more applicants

If you want to attract and retain top quality staff – and who doesn’t? –  maybe it’s time to consider some different approaches.  For instance, is the best way to get things done really via a routine of nine-to-five every day in a single place of work?  And is there more you could do to get the very best out of your people by helping them create a happy and healthy work-life balance?

The option to work flexibly is consistently shown in research as one of the most prized benefits.  It’s also the one that’s most likely to retain and motivate existing staff.  Gradually, the focus is beginning to shift away from traditional working patterns, in response to UK population trends like the rising number of working mothers in the UK, the increase in pension age, the rapidly ageing population – and the emergence of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ where individuals are called upon to care for both their children and elderly relatives.  Modern service-based jobs are significantly different to the manufacturing jobs of the past, technology has improved and become widely available and people work differently. 

So the idea is starting to take root that there’s a connection between supporting employees’ work/life balance and retaining and attracting them, with recent research showing:
·         53% of employees would rather have flexible working over a 5% salary increase.  


·         81% look for flexible working options before joining a company, way beyond any other typical benefit such as an enhanced pension scheme (35%), private healthcare insurance (28%) or commission (28%).  Prioritising flexible working when looking for a new role is particularly true amongst parents of young children and with adult dependants.


·         63% wanted flexible start and finish times.


·         SME employers told a recent study that their major areas of focus in 2017 to reduce the likelihood of having to recruit new people to replace those who’ve left will be employees’ work/life balance (35 per cent) and offering more flexible working practices (21 per cent). 

Interestingly, the most significant benefit for businesses embracing flexible working is greater productivity. In a recent study 92% of employers believed that those who work flexibly are just as, if not more, productive than those who work regular hours. 
The other benefits cited were attracting and retaining top talent, a better work-life balance and happier employees. A report by Vodafone showed profits increased thanks to the practice, while Inc. reported that stress increased without flexible working, which in turn reduces profitability.  


Flexible working has a wide number of permutations: flexi-hours, term-time working, annual hour working, job-sharing, 9-day fortnight, 4.5-day weeks, on-call working, zero-hours contracts. 

For any of them to work, the business will need to “trust its employees to take accountability of their own workload and time management to get things done, whether this is at 9am in the office or 9pm at home. If businesses cannot trust their employees to work flexibly then surely they cannot trust them with anything else such as confidential business information and financial details? And if businesses do not trust their employees, then it begs the question of why they hired them in the first place,” says Peter Cheese, CIPD Chief Executive.


For expert advice on creating flexible working arrangements that work for both your business and your employees, and staying within the law if you have a flexible working request, contact The Human Resource today on 07884 475303.






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