Interviewer Questions

When you arrive for an interview, do you think about the pressure the interviewer is under?Of course not! You are too busy worrying about the interview and what questions they are going to ask!

Here are a few questions that are good to have in your interview, that are open ended and allow you a greater insight into your candidate

  • Why are you looking for a new job opportunity?
  • What motivates you?
  • Describe a difficult situation that you dealt with at work, and how you dealt with it
  • What do you know about this company?
  • Why do you think you will be successful in this job?
  • How do you manage your tasks and prioritise your time?
  • What did you dislike about your last job?
  • How did you hear about this job opportunity?

For more ideas look at Acorn Support Pinterest – Interview Tips 

If you would like support in specific questions for your candidates, or interview tasks for during the interview we’d be happy to help.

Contact us

01562 881019


Tips for recruiting staff

Recruiting staff, whether it’s the first one, or one of may, can be stressful, nerve wracking and expensive. It takes time, money and patience, so maybe we can help a little with some things to thinks about

  • Check your finances – are you in a position to pay for the costs associated with a new member of staff, not just their wage, but recruitment costs, equipment, training, increase in insurance, travel …
  • Assess your needs – what is it you need your new employee to do? Be very specific when thinking of what you and you company needs
  • Ask where you need help – you can’t do all of the jobs in your company, however much you may want to. Are there areas that you can give up happily to your staff member/s
  • Compliment your skills – you may be an amazing salesperson, but not so good in office processes, or in the numbers department. Ensure that the person you employ fills the gaps that you may have in skills and knowledge
  • Ask your network for recommendations – this may be within your physical network, social media contacts or LinkedIn
  • Ensure you are covered with your insurance to take on more staff, and increase it, if necessary
  • Be specific and focussed in your job description, this will help when writing an advertisement for your job and in the interview process
  • Think about what you need to find out in the interview, and prepare questions and tasks to highlight and observe these skills


If you require additional support, please get in touch.

Contact us

01562 881019

Managing staff absence

Be prepared: Looking after your staff and your business

People are going to be off sick from time to time. Most employees feel bad about letting down their colleagues and most employers are reasonably sympathetic about their staff’s welfare.

But absence because of sickness, or another unexpected reason, can put your business in a tricky situation, particularly if you have no policies in place for dealing with it.

  • You need to know why staff are off, when they will come back and how you will deal with:
    • short-term sickness absence which lasts less than a week
    • repeated short-term sickness absences which may follow a pattern
    • long-term sickness absence lasting several weeks or more
    • unauthorised absence for other reasons.
  • Sickness absence can be caused by a mixture of:
    • an employee’s general physical condition
    • working conditions including health and safety standards, levels of stress, and harassment and bullying
    • family or emotional problems, or mental health issues other than stress
  • Managers and employees often appreciate clarity and honesty about how such personal issues will be managed.
  • There are some legal issues to take into account, but making sure your staff are well, happy and working effectively is largely a matter of doing the right thing and using common sense

If you require additional support, please get in touch.

Contact us

01562 881019



Original information received from ACAS

Holiday Entitlement Advice

Your company may have different entitlement for staff, but these are guidelines for statutory annual leave, if you need support in this area please get in touch.

Key points for holiday entitlement

  • Most workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year (this is known as statutory entitlement).
  • Part time worker are entitled to the same amount of holiday (pro rota) as full time colleagues.
  • Employers can set the times when workers can take their leave – for example a Christmas shut down.
  • If employment ends workers have the right to be paid for any leave due but not taken.
  • There is no legal right to paid public holidays.

Once an employee starts work details of holidays and holiday pay entitlement should be found in the employee’s written contract, where there is one, or a written statement of employment particulars given to employees by their employer.

Note: The written statement is required by law and must be given to employees by the employer no later than two months after the start of employment.

Most workers – whether part-time or full-time – are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Additional annual leave may be agreed as part of a worker’s contract. A week of leave should allow workers to be away from work for a week – i.e. it should be the same amount of time as the working week. If a worker does a five-day week, he or she is entitled to 28 days leave. However, for a worker who works 6 days a week the statutory entitlement is capped at 28 days. If they work a three-day week, the entitlement is 16.8 days leave. Employers can set the times that workers take their leave, for example for a Christmas shut down. If a worker’s employment ends, they have a right to be paid for the leave due and not taken.

Public holidays

There is no legal right to paid leave for public holidays; any right to paid time off for these holidays depends on the terms of a worker’s contract. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday.

Carrying leave over from one leave year to the next

Workers must take at least 4 weeks of statutory leave during the leave year, they may be able to carry over any remaining time off  if their employer agrees. So if a worker gets 28 days of holiday, they may be able to carry over up to 8 days. Workers who receive statutory leave don’t have an automatic right to carry leave over to the next holiday year, but employers may agree to it.

Workers who are entitled to contractual leave may be able to carry over time off  if the employer agrees, this agreement may be written into the terms and conditions of employment. For example if an employee gets 35 days of leave the employer may allow them to carry over up to 10 days as part of the terms of employment.

When workers are unable to take their leave entitlement because they’re already taking time off for different reasons, such as maternity or sick leave, they can carry over some or all of the untaken leave into the next leave year. An employer must allow a worker to carry over a maximum of 4 weeks if the worker is off sick and therefore unable to take their leave.

If an employee chooses not to take statutory annual leave during sick leave, they can carry forward the untaken leave for up to 18 months from the end of the leave year in which the leave arises. This means that if a leave year ends on the 31 December the worker would have 18 months after that date in which to take the annual leave for that year.

If you require additional support, please get in touch.

Contact us

01562 881019

Information via ACAS

The Positive Workplace

We spend a huge amount of time, and energy at work, and we would hope that we are in a positive and enjoyable environment. At least some of the time. But sadly this is not always the case. Due to the pressures and stresses of deadlines, targets and time, the workplace can become a negative and unfortunate place to be.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. We can work in high pressured and stressful environments, but if we feel appreciated, valued and our worth is recognised, we will enjoy and thrive.

What can we do to create a positive workplace?

  1. Give positive reinforcements – use positive language on specific points, for example, I really enjoy working with you because of your enthusiasm. Or, your really good at understanding what the client needs. This shows that you generally do think they’re doing a good job, and it’s not just a blanket thank you.
  2. Show gratitude – this doesn’t have to be a huge show, but an email thanking a member of staff for a well completed job, in time and under budget. This shows you are aware of their contribution, and the positive comment will ensure they continue to work hard.
  3. Spread happiness – smile, say hello, give eye contact and be present. It’s contagious and makes a massive difference in the feel and the atmosphere.
  4. Celebrate wins – and not just the massive ones. Again, this doesn’t have to be a huge extravagance, it can be a small bunch of flowers, a favourite chocolate bar or bottle of wine. And they don’t have to be only work achievements, but exams passed, driving tests or new home are a good time to show your employees that you care.
  5. Get moving – we all know that sitting our desks for eight hours a day isn’t healthy. Going outside, for only a few minutes, can help massively. It will give your eyes a rest, your mind will be revived and your general outlook is improved. If you are in stuck in a rut at work, or can’t seem to focus on the tsk at hand, have a five minute fresh air break, and encourage your team to do the same.
  6. Listen – and give your employees chance to talk. You can’t take on all their ideas, but you can listen and incorporate ones that will work. Hearing positives, rather than just the negatives, helps your outlook too.
  7. Encourage individuality – we are not all the same, and what a boring and unproductive place of work we would all be in. It is important to encourage a open and welcoming environment, for all colleagues.
  8. Lead by example – this is more important than you think. If your staff are un-motivated, lethargic and miserable and so are you, then who will implement the change? Like it or not, the buck stops with you – so come on let’s get going with a positive.


What do you think?

What works for you, and what doesn’t?

Let’s share the good, the bad and the ugly.


How to save money in business

Small and medium-sized enterprises have a poor record for investing in employee wellbeing. Andrew Harris, workplace health and wellbeing specialist at Fit for Work, looks at the barriers they face and how to overcome them.

Almost two-thirds of our waking lives are spent at work. This makes the workplace one of the best arenas to influence positive health and wellbeing.

Why, then, does the cost of employee ill health continue to spiral out of control? Every year, UK businesses lose 131 million days to sickness absence (ONS, 2014). This amounts to a median cost to employers of £11 billion per year (XpertHR, 2015). But how much of this money did we actually have to spend?

In today’s business arena, more than 99% of private companies can now be defined as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The backbone of our economy, it’s a sector bursting with talent, entrepreneurship and potential. It is also one of the worst performing in terms of employee health outcomes, with one-third of SME employees experiencing a mental health problem during their working life (CIPD, 2016).

As evidence mounts, the issue of employee health and wellbeing is one that all businesses must start addressing. Yet the day-to-day pressures of running a small business often mean that a proactive and strategic approach is rarely seen as a priority. The reality is that for many SMEs, the introduction of a health and wellbeing programme too often comes down to issues of size, culture, budget and resource.

Fit for Work was launched in 2015 by the Government to provide support on workplace health to GPs, employers and employees. The Fit for Work team understands the barriers smaller organisations face when it comes to addressing employee health. Our “show-not-tell” approach will help them to overcome these barriers – because an investment in employee health and wellbeing is the best business decision you will make this year.

“There just isn’t time”

The fact is that taking the time now will save you time in the future. Committing the time to identify sickness absence trends and to assess the health and wellbeing priorities of your employees could help to prevent the loss of productivity in the future.

“We haven’t got the budget”

Prevention is cheaper than cure. With the average seven-day absence costing £8,000 (HSE, 2013), and the recruitment of a new team member up to £30,000 (Oxford Economics, 2014), employee health should be seen as a business investment like any other.

The outputs are reduced sickness absence, increased staff retention and enhanced employee engagement. Not only does this save you money, it makes you money – with researching showing that safe and healthy workplaces generate 4% higher profit margins and 20% more revenue per employee (Towers Watson, 2012-13).

You also don’t need a big budget to make a big difference. There are a wide range of options that you, as an employer, can offer at little-to-no cost. Making simple workplace adjustments, offering flexible working hours and ensuring that your employees take a lunch break are all cost-effective, quick wins that start to sew the seed.

If you wanted to go a step further, the British Heart Foundation, National Workplace Challenge, Workplace Wellbeing Charter, and Public Health England all offer free, accessible, evidenced-based health information for you and your team.

“I don’t know where to start”

Giving your team the chance to fill out a simple, five-minute health needs assessment will help you identify their needs and priorities. It’s a great way to get your staff engaged and to find the right starting point for your programme.

The reality is that designing a wellbeing initiative usually requires expertise and experience beyond the skill sets of those employed within the organisation. Don’t be afraid to bring in outside help. It makes good business sense to select dedicated experts to ensure your initiative succeeds.

“I just don’t see the point, what’s in it for me?”

Your team is what’s in it for you. A recent report found 81% of employers use employee benefits as a tool to retain top talent (Employee Benefits, 2016). What’s more, by continually demonstrating a sincere interest in the health of your employees, you will increase morale, motivation and productivity – and that’s got to be good for business.

“We’ve tried it before and it didn’t work”

Remember that well-known saying: “If at first you don’t succeed…”? The fact is that the long-term success of any health and wellbeing programme will ultimately come down to organisational culture, and the attitude, determination and conviction of those at the top.

There is no “one size fits all”. It is about finding the solution that works for you and your team. You might not get it right first time, but rest assured, it will be worth it when you do.

Need support with creating a healthy workplace?

Contact us

01562 881019


Staff Handbooks – a guide

A staff handbook, sometimes also known as an employee manual, employee handbook, or company policy manual, is a book given to employees by an employer. Usually, the employee handbook contains information about company policies and procedures.

The employee handbook can be used to bring together employment and job-related information which employees need to know.

  • It typically has three types of contentCultural: A welcome statement, the company’s mission or purpose, company values, and more.
  • General Information: holiday arrangements, company perks, policies not required by law, policy summaries, and more.
  • Case-Specific: company policies, rules, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and other information modeled after employment laws or regulations.

The staff handbook should be part of a company’s induction process for new staff.

A written employee handbook gives clear advice to employees and creates a culture where issues are dealt with fairly and consistently.

An employee handbook, sometimes also known as an employee manual, staff handbook, or company policy manual, is a book given to employees by an employer. Usually, the employee handbook contains information about company policies and procedures.

Need support with creating a staff handbook?

Contact us

01562 881019


Help, I’ve lost my mojo!

Where does your drive come from?

What makes you start each day with passion and excitement?

What do you do when your mojo is lost?

Some people are naturally prepossessed with a get up and go, and zest for life. But some people are not, but still manage to tackle each day, and each situation with zeal. What do these people channel to ensure that they keep striving for the best, and don’t let the daily problem grind them down?

I suspect that we only see these people at their best, and if placed in a Big Brother/The Island type situation, we would eventually see that this type of behaviour, 24/7 is difficult to maintain. We all need down time and moments alone to recharge.

What do you enjoy in these times?

Here are some suggestions, let us know what helps you

  • Music – lifts our mood, helps us recall different times and can be a real mood changer. So stick on you favourite track, grab a hair brush (optional) and sing along.
  • Videos of cute pets – have you ever spent time searching on YouTube to be distracted by a cute kitten, cuddly puppy or cheeky panda? Not ideal to be doing in work time, but in your own time a perfect antidote
  • Books – these may be inspirational tales of overcoming adversity, such as I am Malala, they may be a self help style book, for example The Chimp Paradox, or something that removes you far away to a different place, try 50 Beaches to Blow Your Mind. You might also find that reaching to a book to help within your business may help clarify solutions, and make you feel less alone – an old favourite with many being How to Win Friends and Influence People.
  • Inspirational quotes – we love scrolling though Pinterest and it’s quotes, again not in work time! But it’s a feast of quotes, business ideas and mojo enhancing boards and pins. Give it a go and see what you think – here’s our Words of Wisdom board
  • Exercise – many people swear by the power of exercise in mood lifting, and therefore, the mojo finding powers of exercise – whats your go to exercise?

However you find, keep and enhance your mojo, keep doing it!


Helping businesses with their HR needs and employee development

Contact us

01562 881019


Apprenticeships – an overview

Apprentices are aged 16 or over and combine working with studying for a work-based qualification – from GCSEs or equivalent up to degree level.

Apprentices can be new or current employees.

You could get a grant or funding to employ an apprentice if you’re in England.

You must pay the apprentice at least the minimum wage during their placement with you.

Your apprentice must:

  • work with experienced staff
  • learn job-specific skills
  • study for a work-based qualification during their working week (for example, at a college or training organisation)

Hiring your apprentice

There are several steps to taking on an apprentice.

  1. Choose an apprenticeships framework or standardfor an apprenticeship in your industry and at a suitable level.
  2. Find a training organisationthat offers apprenticeships for your industry – they’ll handle your apprentice’s training, qualification and assessment.
  3. Check you’re eligible for a grantand apply.
  4. Advertise your apprenticeship – your training organisation will do this for you through the find an apprenticeship
  5. Select your apprentice and make an apprenticeship agreementwith them.

To find out more about employing apprentices or providing traineeships, use the National Apprenticeship Service’s enquiry form.You can also call them using the number on the form.

You can use an apprenticeship training agency if you want to employ an apprentice without the responsibility for running the apprenticeship scheme.

How long it lasts

Apprenticeships can last from 1 to 4 years, depending on the level of qualification the apprentice is studying for.


Need support with apprenticeships?

Contact us

01562 881019

Original article from