Employment Update for Small Businesses
January 2018

Dear Visitor,

Happy New Year!

This month it is all about looking ahead with excitement and ambition!  From a business point of view, that means setting targets, and planning how to achieve them.  In HR terms, that means ensuring your appraisal process works for you, and making sure that you are able to manage staff performance effectively.  So read on for some practical hints and tips to inspire and enthuse you!

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.

Regards
Peter Etherington
Tel: 01664 668164

www.etherington.co.uk

Is Appraisal Working for You?

Making appraisal a meaningful and positive experience

The New Year is a good time to look ahead and to consider the future for your business.  This will often involve taking stock of your staff, and thinking about their development needs in order to help you meet your business goals.

Ideally, you will have clear business targets established, which can then be cascaded down to teams and to individual employees in terms of their individual objectives.  Employees who have clear and achievable objectives that they can see are aligned to Company goals are much more likely to feel empowered to achieve, and to have a clear focus throughout the year.

But, having clear objectives at the start of the year is not enough.  Employees need to maintain that focus, and the best way of doing that is to make sure their objectives are kept at the forefront – by having them clearly published, by reviewing progress on a one to one basis regularly, and by reporting regularly on how the business is doing in terms of its overall targets.

A good appraisal scheme should help employers keep this focus without tying them up in knots with administration. There does need to be a record of appraisal meetings, and objectives clearly need to be formally documented, but the process does not need to be overly complicated.

If you want to kick-start your appraisal scheme, or need some help starting from scratch, please contact us for support.

Are you Managing Performance Effectively?

10 practical steps to managing staff performance

1. Provide a comprehensive induction for new starters

Starting a new job can be very daunting and you can make sure you get employees on your side from day one by making them feel welcome.  A well planned induction shows that you value your employee and engenders their loyalty.  It also ensures that they learn all the important issues in a structured way.

2. Provide good supervision

Make sure someone is responsible for taking the new starter under their wing.  In small companies this could be the owner/MD, in larger companies it may be their line manager.  Sometimes providing a mentor, who need only be a more experienced member of staff, works well (it can also give a boost to the mentor to be recognised in this way).

3. Provide a job description

It sounds obvious, but employees need to clearly understand what they are expected to do at work.  A basic job description, which sets out the employee’s key responsibilities, can ensure this is clear and that there is no confusion.

4. Remember the two year rule

No matter how good your recruitment procedures, it is always possible that you find you have recruited the wrong person, or someone who started out full of enthusiasm goes off the boil.  The first two years of employment are key, as employees cannot normally claim unfair dismissal if dismissed during that time.  It is important, therefore, that you tackle any issues at an early stage and ensure that you are happy to keep someone on well before they reach the relevant anniversary.

5. Use a probationary period

Rather than rely on the two year rule, it is often effective to have a clear probationary period (three months or six months are both popular).  During this time you should monitor performance, provide whatever support is necessary and carry out regular reviews.  At the end of the probationary period you can then either confirm that they have passed, terminate employment, or extend probation if you are still unsure.

6. Set objectives

Once your new employee has settled in and completed the induction, you should agree a few objectives with them to cover the following 12 months or so.  Make sure that the objectives can be measured, meet the needs of the business and are realistic.  You shouldn’t set an objective for every task the employee carries out, just a few key areas are normally enough.

7. Monitor performance

You should meet your employee regularly on an informal basis unless you work alongside them anyway.  That way you can keep tabs on how they are getting on and that they are on target to achieve their objectives.

8. Hold an appraisal

At least once a year you should hold a formal appraisal meeting with your employee.  You should discuss their objectives and decide whether or not they have been met.  If not, explore the reasons for this and see if there are any training requirements that can be met.  If the reason is poor performance, this should be noted at the appraisal but hopefully you will have already started to tackle this through a performance management procedure (see below).  Finally, make sure new objectives are set for the coming year.

9. Deal with poor performance in time

Don’t let poor performance drag on; deal with it at the earliest opportunity (don’t forget the two year rule, above).  Initially you should discuss this with the employee on an informal basis.  If it still persists you should follow a performance management procedure (which may be the disciplinary procedure or follow similar steps to it).  The employee should be warned that they are not performing to an adequate standard and be given a period over which to improve (with any additional training necessary and/or additional supervision).  Ultimately if the warnings do not work, the employee should be dismissed.  As long as a reasonable procedure has been followed, the dismissal is likely to be fair.

10. Reward good performance

Everyone likes to hear that they are doing a good job so don’t forget to tell employees that you are pleased with their performance when appropriate.  You don’t have to wait for the appraisal to do that.  Small rewards, such as meals out or an afternoon go-karting, can often have a significant positive impact (they can also help reinforce good team spirit).  Sometimes more structured financial awards can work, such as bonuses, but they need careful management and can sometimes lead to jealousy or other morale issues within a team.

Please contact us if you would like further advice and guidance on performance management, or if you would like to arrange some training for your line managers on performance management.

National Minimum and Living Wage Rates

The current rates for the National Living Wage (for those aged 25 and over) and the National Minimum Wage are as follows:

£7.50 per hour for workers aged 25 and over
£7.05 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24
£5.60 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20
£4.05 per hour for workers aged 16 and 17
£3.50 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year*

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