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Peter Etherington
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Employment Update for Small Businesses
November 2021

Dear Subscriber

Many of our clients are struggling to recruit enough staff at present. This is a particular concern in the care sector. Salaries are going up and the National Minimum Wage is set to increase considerably next year, and many employers struggle to compete on pay. So what can employers with limited resources do to attract staff? That is the question we explore in this month’s update.
Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.

Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.

Peter Etherington
Tel: 01664 668164


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Peter Etherington
Attracting and Rewarding Staff
Lower Cost Options
Whilst there is no doubt that a good rate of pay is attractive to most candidates, not all employers can afford to be ahead of the curve in that respect and need to find other ways of attracting candidates to their workplace. Of course, it is still important to ensure you are paying the right amount, so benchmarking against local competitors will always be important.

If the rate of pay you offer is about the same as the competition, what can you do to make yourself more attractive as an employer? Well, there are actually a number of ways you can enhance your offering, and they don’t all have to cost a lot of money.  Here are a few ideas.

Be seen to be a good place to work

Social media has its pros and cons, but the simple fact is that virtually everyone uses it. So why not try to use it to your advantage. Depending on the nature of your organisation, you may be able to post regularly to showcase what a great place to work you have. Posts about social and charity events are useful to show the outside world that your staff enjoy themselves at work. If you sell products, why not encourage your staff to share your posts as well and take pride in promoting the products they work on?

If your workplace is interesting and not generally accessible, why not share videos of your inner workings?  This could range from widget making production lines to fun activities with service users in a care environment; and from a busy bustling kitchen to rapid fire picking and packing in a warehouse. No matter what it is, just think creative! It always a good idea to ensure you include willing staff in any videos, all the better if they are clearly having fun and/or taking pride in what they are doing.

Offer welfare benefits

The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the fragility of people’s mental health and how quickly it can be damaged by circumstances. We have seen instances of staff struggling with the lack of direct interaction with colleagues when working remotely as well as some who have been very disturbed by the perceived risk of catching COVID in the workplace. The NHS is not always able to provide the support people need, leading to mental health problems becoming exacerbated and more prolonged.

Employers can consider offering welfare benefits to help staff deal with mental health problems. This can range from advice lines providing lower level support, to funding of private counselling sessions. Whilst both of these options carry some cost, that often more than outweighs the cost of having staff off sick or unable to perform adequately.

The offer of welfare support and private healthcare can be very attractive to potential candidates, as it can offer them some reassurance in case they need to access it and it also helps show that you are a caring employer.

If you would like the details of our recommended private health and employee assistance programme provider, please contact us.

Offer Flexible Working

Thanks to COVID, working from home is now commonplace in many sectors, either on an ongoing basis or as part of a hybrid way of working (i.e. part home-working and part office-based). Generally it seems to work well, particularly in combination with good communications through the use of technology. So why not use this as a selling point? You can make it optional to suit those who thrive in a workplace as well as those who do better on their own.

Part-time working can be popular, so when advertising consider whether you really need someone full-time, or if you could manage with someone who works hard but on a part-time basis. Focus on output rather than hours worked, to see if that would work for you. Term-time only positions are like gold dust and can be very attractive for parents of younger children. Managing the legalities of holidays for term time staff can be tricky, but we can always help you with that. So if you are in an industry that tends to go a bit quieter during school holiday periods, that could be an option.

Flexitime can work well if it does not matter too much when staff start and finish work. Quite often employers will have core hours that must be worked (e.g. 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.) but can offer flexibility outside those hours.

Holiday buy-back schemes allow staff to increase their holiday entitlement in return for a commensurate reduction in their salary. Some schemes allow staff to “sell” holiday back to their employer if they would rather have an increase in their salary.

By being creative when it comes to benefits and promoting these when advertising jobs, you will stand out from the crowd and come across as an attractive place to work.

Look after your workforce

We all know in business that the best way to sell is through word of mouth, making use of satisfied customers. That can work well when it comes to recruitment too. If your staff love working for you and enjoy coming to work, they are likely to spread the word to others. You can even incentivise staff to introduce suitable candidates to you, with a bonus or gift if you take on the person they have introduced.

But this will only work if you put in the effort to keep your staff happy, motivated and rewarded. Reward does not just mean money – a simple thank you and acknowledgement of good work can go a long way.  Staff are likely to be more motivated if they are stretched and given more autonomy, so regular reviews and discussions about development are always a good idea.

If you would like to discuss these ideas further and find out how we can help you with them, please contact us.

National Minimum and Living Wage
New Rates Announced
From 1st April 2022, the minimum wage bands are increasing at a rate much higher than inflation. For employers who have lower paid workers, this is likely to have a knock-on effect at all pay levels, as you will still need to maintain adequate pay differentials within the business. Here are the new rates:

  • to £9.50 per hour (from £8.91) for workers aged 23 and over (+ 6.6%)
  • to £9.18 per hour (from £8.36) for workers aged 21 to 22 (+ 9.8%)
  • to £6.83 per hour (from £6.56) for workers aged 18 to 20 (+ 4.1%)
  • to £4.81 per hour (from £4.62) for workers aged 16 and 17 (+ 4.1%)
  • to £4.81 per hour (from £4.30) for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year* (+ 11.9%)

*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.