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Newsletter Spring 2012


Welcome to our newsletter We are pleased to present you with our latest Newsletter. This edition looks at the latest hot topics in HR and recruitment, including rising levels of workplace stress and key legislative changes relating to resolution of workplace disputes.

If there are any areas of recruitment you would like to see covered in future issues, if you have any feedback on this issue, or if you’d like a chat through how we can rapidly provide quality candidates to ease the increased workloads many businesses experience at the approaching end of tax year, then please give Emma or Kerry a call on 01782 338 787.

Workplace stress and the law Legally and operationally, stress is dangerous for your business. All employers have a statutory duty to safeguard their employees’ health, safety and welfare, and if you have more than 5 employees, you must have a written policy for stress management. Research released in January shows stress among UK employees has risen by 10% over the past three years, with an estimated 35% of UK employees now experiencing an unreasonable amount of stress at work. The public

sector, financial services and retail trade have experienced the biggest increase in stress levels since 2008, while those working in the high-tech sector have seen the smallest rise. Rena Rasch, research manager at the Kenexa High Performance Institute which spent four years compiling the data, said: “With the economic downturn, a major cause of stress for many people is a sense that they have no control over the fate of their jobs.”

poor leadership and management behaviour along with worries about job security and pay grumbles are the main causes of employee stress, say the researchers. More than half of employers are taking measures to manage stress, according to a recent survey, but if you are a smaller organisation with a limited budget and resources, what steps can you take to minimise stress amongst your employees?

Conflicts between work and home,

Our three top tips may be able to help: 1. Communicate!

2. Be Flexible

3. Prioritise

Facilitate open and honest communication that allows employees to speak openly without fear of reprisal. Gather your staff together at least once a month in small groups or teams and have an informal conversation about what’s affecting them. This way any issues will arise naturally rather than be left to fester, and can be managed in a productive and supportive manner. Your culture will become one that is supportive and nurturing.

A flexible employer helps to manage their employees conflicts between work and home and thus avoid one of the most major sources of stress. Essentially, flexibility enables both individual and business needs to be met through making changes to the time (when), location (where) and manner (how) in which an employee works. Flexibility should be mutually beneficial to both the employer and employee and result in superior outcomes. Examples are a change in working patterns, a reduction in working hours, special or extended leave, working from home, job share, phased retirement.

What is urgent and what is important? These two questions form the heart of effective prioritisation, and can help staff to manage their workload intelligently, focusing on key tasks. The breaking down of large tasks into manageable chunks, which are then implemented according to agreed and sensible timescales also enable the refinement of priorities. Managing employee health and wellbeing is crucial not just for your business performance but also from a legal perspective.

Legislative updates In a bid to give employers more management flexibility, the government is planning to make two major changes to current legislation relating to employees who bring claims to employment tribunals. 1. Unfair dismissal qualifying period to rise from April The first, which comes into force on 6 April 2012, is that the period employees must have been with an employer before they can claim unfair dismissal is to be raised from one to two years. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has confirmed that the increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims to 2 years will only apply to those starting a new job on or after 6 April 2012. Employees whose employment started before 6 April will remain subject to the one-year qualifying period. This change follows the ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation which launched in January this year. This consultation measures to:



• encourage the early resolution of disputes

• speed up the tribunal process • tackle weak and vexatious (groundless / baseless) claims

If adopted, the first option will be introduced in 2013. The second option requires primary legislation and would not be introduced before 2014.

2. Employees to pay a fee to make a claim to an employment tribunal

These proposals are expected to cut the number of unfair dismissal claims by just over 3,000 claims a year, and, in theory, boost the confidence of employers – particularly small businesses – to create new jobs without fear of being dragged into unnecessary actions should any issues arise with their employees.

The second proposal marks a dramatic departure from the past as the government is planning to charge employees between £150 and £1750 to bring a claim to an employment tribunal. The Ministry of Justice has proposed two options: Option 1 – claimants would pay an initial fee of £150-£250, followed by a fee of between £250 and £1250 if the case proceeds to a hearing. No limit would be imposed on the value of potential compensation.

Other measures the government plans to introduce will be announced in the coming weeks when the government publishes its response to the consultation. Watch this space for more updates (Source: direct gov & ministry of justice)

Option 2 – claimants would either pay a lower initial fee of between £200 and £600 and have their potential compensation capped at £30,000 or pay a higher initial fee of £1750 and be able to seek an uncapped level of compensation. Employees on low incomes could have their fees significantly reduced.

In 2011, employment tribunals cost the taxpayer a staggering £84 million and many employers are backing the government’s proposal in the hope that disputes between staff and their employers will be settled through mediation instead of going through the costly tribunal process.

Job market update Statistics recently released by the government show that there are 40,400 people out of work in Stoke-On-Trent and Staffordshire – or 7.6%. This is consistent with national figures of 7.7%.

Have you registered with our Employer Zone yet? Launched in October, it is a valuable suite of FREE resources including a recruitment toolkit, legislation information, salary survey plus lots more. Register now at:

What makes an outstanding Financial Director? Over the past three years the economy has experienced one of the most turbulent periods of modern times, challenging the existence of many businesses and their management teams. The role of the FD has never been more important. Grant Thorntons accountancy firm recently produced a report that looked at what it is that makes an outstanding FD, and here we summarise the report’s key elements to provoke thought and inspiration.

Quotes to note were: “You’ve got to have that commercial and strategic awareness. The functional, specialist piece is a given. You absolutely have to have a feel for how your business operates, what its strategy should be and support the CEO in that strategic journey. You also need strength of character to say no if you don’t agree with your CEO.” Richard Pennycook, Group FD, Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc

The top key attributes identified for an outstanding FD were: • Excellent communication skills – with the board, across the business as a whole and with shareholders “The two most compelling attributes are nothing to do and the outside world with numbers – they are an absolute fascination with • Wider people skills, particularly the ability to lead a the wealth creation process and an extremely high high calibre team emotional intelligence.” • Commerciality and in-depth understanding of the business, its markets and customers • The ability to support and challenge the chief executive • An affinity with numbers and the ability to interpret them for others

Steve Marshall, Chair, Balfour Beatty Plc In future editions of our newsletter, as well as our tweets and blogs, we’ll be exploring some of the issues raised by these high-performing FDs in more detail, including ‘How to be assertive’ and ‘What is emotional intelligence?’

So, if that’s what makes a great FD, how can you spot if your FD may not be up to the mark? Here are the findings:

Warning signs of a poor FD Poor financial reports Lack of confidence from team Lack of attention to detail Late reporting

Warning signs

Poor forecasting Lack of support from CEO Lack of engagement with executive team Weakness standing up to CEO/Chair Poor credit management Lack of gravitas Not enough working hours Working excessive hours Changes/issues in personal life or lifestyle

Peter Donnelly, our Accounts and Finance recruitment expert specialist, has years of experience to bring to bear on your business to ensure you recruit the right financial specialists. He will get to know your business in order to ensure an accurate job spec, and leave no stone unturned with the referencing process. What’s more, he can help your business with personality profile analyses of prospective candidates, adding another safety net to ensure you get the perfect person for your role. You can contact Peter on 01782 338 784 or peter@appointmentspersonnel.

Supplier issues






More importantly, how can your business ensure that a poor FD isn’t recruited in the first place, with all the threats to your business that such a mistake can bring? The research showed various elements of the recruitment process that can be flawed:

What element of the recruitment process was flawed? Poor recruitment process including lack of proper job spec and lack of character assessment Already in place Lack of referencing or listening to the feedback Internal promotion misguided Old boy network Company outgrew FD Other

Quick Guide: Salary Sacrificing There’s been a lot of talk about ‘salary sacrificing’ in recent months with many employees requesting additional benefits such as childcare vouchers or extra holiday allowance in return for a portion of their annual salary. A salary sacrifice happens when an employee gives up the right to part of the cash remuneration due under his or her contract of employment. Usually, the sacrifice is made in return for the employer’s agreement to provide the employee with some form of noncash benefit, for example, childcare vouchers. The sacrifice is achieved by varying the employee’s terms and conditions of employment relating to remuneration.

employee will receive paid cash remuneration of £19,000 a year and 10 childcare vouchers a year, each with a face value of £100. This would be referred to as a salary sacrifice. There can also be ‘one off’ sacrificing, say for example extra holiday allowance where the employee effectively ‘pays’ for time off over that of their contracted annual leave allowance. This facility to take time off with consent is an effective way of managing staff absence and may help reduce the well documented phenomenon whereby staff call in sick to get a few extra days off work

So what are the benefits? So, just as an example, an employee’s current contract provides for cash remuneration of £20,000 a year with no benefits. The employee agrees with their employer that for the future the

• There is a high perceived value amongst many staff, especially lower-paid workers. • Child care vouchers give working parents a tax-efficient way to cover child care.

A reduction of earnings due to salary sacrifice means that an employer will pay less National Insurance and their employees will also see National Insurance savings.

• With certain salary sacrificing, there may be a tax saving as well so it’s worthy of consideration.

Are there any pitfalls? Any salary sacrifice arrangement must be planned and implemented carefully with full communication. Employees should seek detailed financial and legal advice so that they are fully aware of the benefits and possible pitfalls in advance. Tax advice is particularly important to ensure that the arrangements are implemented correctly, work as intended, and do not result in any adverse consequences, such as VAT, on the provision of the benefit. Email for more help and advice.

Appointments Personnel welcomes back an old friend We’re pleased to announce the return of our Recruitment Specialist Vicky, following a career break to raise a young family. With over 15 years experience in Sales and Customer Service, her ability to offer clients the most innovative and cost-effective recruitment solutions has ensured her popularity with local businesses throughout the region. Vicky’s in-depth understanding of the local market and clients’ makes her an excellent point of contact not only for recruitment needs, but also for clients seeking practical help and advice on a range of employment related issues. Having the most up to date recruitment and HR information at the click of a button makes her an information powerhouse her clients wouldn’t be without. We are proud to welcome Vicky back to the Appointments team and she is currently busy enjoying settling back into the role and reconnecting with her clients and candidates.

Bradwell House, 16-18 King Street, Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 1EJ T 01782 33 87 87 F 01782 33 87 88 E


Appointments Personnel Spring 2012 Newsletter  

We are pleased to present you with our latest Newsletter. This edition looks at the latest hot topics in HR and recruitment, including risin...