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By partnersinhr, Feb 6 2017 03:05PM

With Valentine’s Day well and truly on the horizon, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that cupid’s arrow could strike between your colleagues. After all, when you consider the amount of time they spend with their co-workers on a day-to-day basis, it’s only natural that they might click with someone in the workplace be it a manager, colleague, customer or supplier. Recent surveys suggest that 80 per cent of staff view the office as an ideal place to meet their next mate,

The U.S may have ‘Romance Policies’ but here in the UK, where employers tend to respect the right to privacy of their staff, they are more uncomfortable with the outright ban of office relationships.  Although an office romance can cause issues for employers down the line – depending on the longevity of the relationship – it’s important that you have appropriate ‘code of conduct’ policies in place in order to deal with any scenario you may encounter. It’s also extremely useful to have company policies to hand when briefing new employees, setting expectations and professional boundaries within the workplace.

It is essential to keep business separate from pleasure in the best interests of productivity and credibility so it is important to take time to decide what will work best for your team with regards to personal relationships.  With that in mind, make sure you read the following pointers to consider when dealing with workplace romances; striking the right balance between your employees’ right to privacy and the best interests of your business:

Articulating your stance on workplace romances whilst maintaining equality

Whether or not you decide to include your stance in your employee contracts, you’re likely to want to articulate whether it’s strictly off limits, has to be disclosed or if it’s down to an individual’s utmost discretion in some format such as a Code of Conduct policy or in the staff handbook The most important issue here is to maintain equality among your male and female staff. Don’t give one rule for men and another for women; treat everyone with equal respect to avoid  a future sex discrimination claim.

Handling existing workplace relationships

If you’ve only just discovered about an ongoing workplace relationship, it’s important that you don’t act too hastily. Think carefully about the impact of the relationship on their fellow colleagues, the prospect of any conflicts of interest and of course, the individual’s right to privacy.

You might choose to be open and transparent by speaking to them up front and clarifying their situation. Take into consideration their right to privacy; the last thing you want is to leak such a confidential matter and damage their workplace reputation and credibility.

Fellow colleagues tend only react negatively to the news, resulting in a potential decline in productivity or team morale, if there is perceived to be favourable treatment because of the relationship.  Then you may consider tactfully suggesting moving positions internally. By separating them professionally, you are giving them both the chance to maintain their ‘voice’ and individuality within the company, enabling them to focus on doing what they do best for your business.

Be mindful that if the relationship turns sour there may be repercussions in terms of increased absence, general workplace tension and even the potential for a sexual harassment claim .

Tact is the name of the game; deal with each individual scenario on its merits but have a consistent procedure in place that ensures the best possible outcome for your business and its staff.

At Partners in HR, we're experts in maintaining good employee relations in the workplace. For advice, contact us today.

By partnersinhr, Dec 5 2016 01:01PM

According to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation's 2014 figures, no less than 600,000 people had recruitment agencies to thank for finding them a job. That's a huge figure, and undoubtedly, many of that total will have also gone online to submit job applications. Swayed by the mass movement online, many employers have sought to bypass working with recruitment agencies in favour of what they view will be the value option - placing an internet job advertisement.

This proves that recruitment agencies, of which there are an estimated 8000 in the UK market, are still a valuable force. Why might companies be missing a trick by doing it themselves and channelling all their efforts online?

Time is money

That sheer amount of time it takes to go about producing and placing a series of online job advertisements, vetting applications, conducting interviews and communicating with candidates can be a huge time drain. That's where recruitment specialists come in, taking the responsibility out of your hands and leaving you to crack on with the everyday running of your business.

Quality not quantity

You might see the applications begin to flood in after placing an online ad, but how many of the first round of applicants really fit the bill in terms of the quality of candidate you are looking for? Instead of sifting through a pile of irrelevant applications, allow the recruitment specialists to do the hard graft on your behalf, boiling down to a shortlist of front runners which they can then present you with.

Now is the time

There are a number of recruitment 'hot spots' throughout the year, and the new year is certainly one of them. Many people set their sights on a new job for the new year as they look towards the future. The facts are there for all to see: according to a survey by Investors in People at the beginning of 2016, nearly half of UK workers planned to leave their job by the end of this year. You can put yourself at the front of the queue by talking to Partners in HR about your recruitment plans.

At Partners in HR we don't just help cast the recruitment net and find you the most suitable candidates, we look after the entire process from start to finish. We can help you with workforce planning, how to tailor the recruitment to suit your business objectives as well as completing pre-employment checks, job offer documentation and contracts of employment.

By partnersinhr, Oct 10 2016 12:32PM

Are you experiencing issues with an employee? Perhaps the problem has always existed or maybe it has just occurred out of the blue. In an SME, such problems are very visible and the impact magnified compared to a larger company where the ‘problem’ may be hidden or moved to a different department! It is therefore vital for a smaller organisation to address the problem head on and ensure it is dealt with swiftly, effectively and above all professionally. Sometimes managers shy away from dealing with a ‘problem’ employee but it is not as daunting as you might expect if approached correctly.

Identifying the Issue

Whilst some employee issues are obvious and easy to identify, such as poor time keeping, the reason for the problem may not be. Poor time keeping could be due to a variety of factors such as external pressures such as childcare or carer responsibilities, public transport, increased workload, unable to prioritise/manage time. Some problems need more time, investigation and planning, such as employees displaying low morale, changes in behaviour and health problems. Getting to the heart of the problem will help you formulate a suitable plan of action using your relevant company policies & procedures and ensuring you fulfil your responsibilities in the eyes of the law.

Identifying and Finding Solutions

Communication is key when identifying staff issues and it is important to get all sides of the story whilst also understanding how and when to escalate a potentially complex issue. Often problems go unnoticed or unresolved due to poor communication or a real lack of understanding of the issue at hand.

Below are some of the more common instances that could crop up at any time, along with recommendations on how to find the best solution.

Health Issues: The responsibility for wellbeing and health in the workplace lies with both the employer and employee. There are a number of health reasons that could affect an employee’s performance including long term illnesses, stress, and recovery from injury or mental health issues.

Health should be dealt with in a sensitive manner, and in line with the company absence & sickness policy. It may be necessary to look into stress levels experienced in the role, or the job content and the capability of the employee within the role. Often with long term sickness it would be advisable to seek further assistance from an Occupational Health specialist and/or contact the employees GP.

Poor performance: If an employee has been identified as performing poorly, this needs to be addressed by their line manager to implement an improvement plan. For persistent poor performance employees should be taken down the capability or disciplinary route with escalation to higher management or HR when necessary.

If low morale is the symptom, the cause needs to be identified and help offered to improve personal development through managerial support, training and coaching. Frequent one-to-one appraisals and reviews will help managers to monitor and measure performance against objectives.

Commitments outside of work: What goes on outside of work may sometimes be hard for an employee to leave behind. Caring for children, or sick or elderly relatives can take its toll on performance, morale and health in general.

Addressing the work/life balance can pose a problem for many employees, but there are a number of solutions that can make life easier for employer and employee alike. Communication is key to establishing a way forward. For example consider making reasonable adjustments to working hours, exploring the possibility of a job-share arrangement or home-working.

Knowing which way to turn

When you’re managing a team, or running your own business, handling problem employees and employee problems can become a challenge. It’s essential that any issues are addressed and resolved efficiently and for the good of the business. At Partners in HR, we offer the expertise and helping hand that will ensure all employee problems and disciplinary issues are handled correctly and reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Speak to us the moment you identify an employee issue, or ask us about the procedures and policies you can put in place to reduce the risk of employee issues arising in the first place.

By partnersinhr, Aug 4 2016 03:56PM

Benchmarking is a way of assessing how competitive the pay & benefits that you offer your employees are, compared to other businesses of a similar nature, size and within your geographic region.

Knowing what benefits your peer businesses offer their employees, in terms of pensions, healthcare, company cars, bonuses and shares, can help you maintain competitive edge. This is especially important in a market where you want to attract top talent. But, it's not just about making sure you're offering enough; in some cases, benchmarking can be useful to determine if you're being unnecessarily over-generous, which may not be cost-effective.

New research has revealed that almost half of all UK workers (48 percent) think their current employee benefits package is not tailored to their needs. Since market salary rates and benefits preferences change over time, businesses should carry out a benchmarking exercise annually. It can also be useful if you're new to a particular sector, you've recently merged, or if you're struggling to fill a top vacancy.

There are various ways you can carry out benchmarking. In some cases, data is free, but in other instances, you have to pay. The more detailed information you require, particularly if it's very specific or niche-related, the more likely you'll have to pay to obtain this data. It could cost several thousand pounds if you use a broker or benefits consultant. Websites, such as PayScale, Reed and Glassdoor, let you compare salary levels for specific roles for free. In addition looking at similar advertised roles on jobsites and in local publications, will give you an indication of what is currently being offered by your competitors.

The important thing to remember when undertaking benchmarking, especially if you're paying for data, is to know what you want to achieve from the exercise and how you intend to use the information obtained. It could be that some incentives offered by other companies may have little value to your employees.

It's also important to bear in mind that if you're a small or medium sized company, you might not have the resources or financial means to match the employee packages of your bigger rivals. With 58 percent of people saying that their employer has never asked for feedback on their benefits programme, employers could be falling out of touch with the needs of staff. In this case, you need to understand what motivates candidates and tailor benefits to suit their preferences. Candidates are increasingly attracted by aspects that improve their work-life balance, such as working from home or flexible working, but you might also want to consider promoting other benefits. You may be able to offer benefits such as greater role autonomy, a cycle to work scheme, employee wellbeing & recognition schemes, free parking and Friday freebies!

Once you've completed your benchmarking analysis and decided what makes up your employee package, don't forget to highlight them in job adverts, to encourage candidates to apply.

If you want to ensure your company remains competitive to employees, Partners in HR can help to fine tune your pay & benefits package.

By partnersinhr, Jun 6 2016 05:16PM

Recruiting a variety of people into your business can be a great way to help workforce planning, invest in the future and encourage fresh innovative ideas & skills.

Welcoming an intern, apprentice or work experience participant on to your team can be a shrewd long term decision, but it can also pay dividends in the short term. First, let's run through the differences between the three and the benefits that they could bring to your business.


Internships usually last between one and six months, but sometimes for as long as a year. Many blue chip companies have long running internship schemes set up to scoop the cream of the graduate talent, but internships can be just as useful for SMEs. While the period can provide very useful productive meaningful experience for the intern, your company can also benefit from having young interconnected people who bring new skills and fresh ideas to the table. By bringing an intern in for a specific project or as additional much needed resource, you will have sufficient time to examine the potential of the individual for a possible temporary or permanent role.

The average annual salary for an undergraduate intern or sandwich placement in the South West in 2015 was £16,968 according to researchers at Rate My Placement. In the past most interns were unpaid but in order to attract the top candidates this is no longer the case

Work experience

While interns are usually under or post graduates, those on work experience are usually of school or college age. Work experience typically lasts for one to two weeks, and in most cases the individual will want to work at your company as it is closely related to the field of their studies. Many companies have built mutually beneficial relationships with local schools and colleges based around an annual work experience arrangement with pupils, and it has been known for pupils to become full time employees at a firm once their studies have ended. Offering social media savvy millennials a chance to experience the world of business can be satisfying for an employer and also provide great PR for your company if they have a positive experience.

The most employers are obligated to pay work experience participants is a sum to cover expenses.


An apprentice is a junior, inexperienced team member brought on board to 'learn the ropes' at a company, often while continuing to work towards an academic or appropriate work based qualification such as NVQs The government has partnered with UK businesses to set up a range of apprenticeship schemes from an intermediate apprenticeship (level 2) all the way up to a degree apprenticeship (levels 6-7). Companies can often access funding and support to enable them to take on an apprenticeship. Offering an apprenticeship is a long term investment as the apprenticeship can last one to four years and requires employers to be a coach and mentor to the apprentice. However, the benefits are training someone in your company environment, helping recruit and train the ‘hard to recruit for’ or specialised roles and ensuring a level of succession planning.

The average UK apprentice salary varies depending on age although the government can provide financial support to apprentices in the first three months of their schemes.

Which is for me?

Depending on your company's main objectives, you could feasibly employ a combination of all three positions at any one time, given the space and the budget. A work experience participant is a good choice to help with tasks which may require more effort than skill. Internships are useful if you are genuinely looking for a new employee, but wish to see their work first hand over a period of time. Meanwhile apprentices could be for you if you have the infrastructure and training time to mould an employee that initially has more enthusiasm than skills.

If you'd like help deciding which of these three options would be best for your company, contact Partners in HR today for some expert advice and support.

By partnersinhr, Mar 16 2016 01:26PM

For every business, no matter what its size, the challenge is for owners to ensure staff are motivated, engaged and passionate about achieving the company's goals. But how can you make sure that this is happening, especially if you have a multitude of other business functions to fulfil on a daily basis?

The key to an efficient and hardworking workforce is to get it right at the recruitment process. When hiring new staff be clear about exactly what the role entails, what is expected from the candidate, and what the company can offer them. This is your chance to sell your organisation, whilst highlighting the key goals, purpose and culture of the company, to ensure you attract the candidates that best fit in with your brand values. Detailed job and person specifications are vital for capturing the best talent, and tailored recruitment can ensure you're searching for the right person, in the right place. No longer do you have to go down the traditional route of one off interviews for permanent staff. Instead you could ensure you recruit the right person by hiring a contractor in the short term, employing an intern or offering an apprenticeship.

Your goal for achieving a hard-working workforce doesn't stop beyond the recruitment process, however. Even the best-fit candidates can lose motivation further down the line. You need to keep reinforcing the company goals and values regularly, so that staff share your vision for success. Staff need to know what is expected of them and how their individual contribution influences the success of the business. Regular feedback is vital, so encourage communication processes and always keep staff in the loop of any changes that may affect them or the business.

If you want your staff to be as passionate about the business as you are, they need recognition for their successes, and to be rewarded appropriately. Clarity and vision of career enhancement can improve relationships and foster employee engagement. Although it might be unfair to expect staff to put in as much work as the owner of the company, they should be instilled with the same values and beliefs that contribute to the success of the business and be able to see how their hard work is valued and makes a difference. Firms such as Innocent Smoothies have effectively managed to create an engaged and motivated workforce, where workers at every level share the same passionate philosophy for achievement. They encourage all staff to learn about the wider workings of the business right from the start and empower them by giving them responsibility and freedom early in their careers. For them perks include the chance to win a £1000 scholarship to do something they have dreamed of doing.

Although not as exciting as giving away free smoothies to staff, businesses still need to set up frameworks, policies and procedures to communicate goals, monitor progress, promote equality and fairness, and encourage the necessary behaviours which are all essential to achieve staff collaboration. For small businesses, a lack of resources may impinge on fulfilling these strategies, so it can be a worthwhile investment outsourcing your HR functions to experts such as Partners in HR.

If you’re having trouble motivating and engaging your staff on a consistent basis - we can help. Complete our free HR review and we’ll be in touch.

Blog Index:


GDPR & the future of data protection compliance for HR teams.  


Whats the difference between capability and conduct?


Getting to grips with work place stress and pressure.


Help! I have no idea what my boss is thinking!  


Difficult conversations, encouraging staff to take pride in their appearance


How to deal with an office relationship with professionalism.  


Recruiting? Tops 3 reasons why you shouldn't do it all in house.


How to deal with a 'problem' employee the right way 


Am I paying my employees enough?


Why should you hire an intern, work experience student or apprentice?


How do you ensure your employees work as hard for your business as you do?   


How do you handle that difficult conversation with an employee?           


Social Media & the workplace: friend or foe?  


The problem with presenteeism.


When does your growing business need HR Policies?


Why HR is a waste of time and money!


Factors to consider when drawing up a contract


How much time is actually wasted in the office on Social Media?



Holiday Pay - Implications for Employers



Shared Parental Leave