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?

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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?

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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

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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.


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Original article from

How to employ an apprentice

  • Understand what is required for training to constitute an apprenticeship.
  • Be aware of the funding system for apprenticeships in England and the role of the Government’s online apprenticeship service.
  • When selecting an apprenticeship, be aware of the different types and levels of apprenticeshipavailable.
  • Select an appropriate training provider to deliver the apprenticeship training.
  • Select an appropriate end-point assessment organisation to deliver the assessment of the apprentice.
  • Consider how much input the training provider should have in the recruitment of the apprentice.
  • Put an apprenticeship agreement in place, ensuring that it meets the requirements of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.
  • Agree a commitment statement with the training provider and the apprentice.
  • Ensure that the apprentice is supervised by experienced and skilled colleagues.
  • Understand that apprentices have broadly the same statutory rights as other employees, including the right to be paid at least the applicable national minimum wage rate.
  • Liaise with the training provider to design an induction period for the apprentice.
  • Deal with any disciplinary or performance issues in accordance with a fair procedure.
  • Understand the organisation’s obligations at the end of the apprenticeship and in a redundancy situation.


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How will an employer be able to access funding from the apprenticeship levy?

Employers that operate in England and that pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to access funding through an online apprenticeship service account. Each employer can register its own individual account, linked to its PAYE scheme.

The Government will pay funds into individual accounts on a monthly basis. The employer can use the money to pay for the training and assessment of apprentices in England. The Government will top up the amount paid into the account by 10% on a monthly basis.

The Government has said that it will use the home addresses of employees, from PAYE records, to work out what proportion of an employer’s paybill relates to employees living in England. This will determine the amount that is paid into the employer’s account. Separate arrangements for funding apprenticeships apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as this is a devolved matter.

The employer must spend the funds in its digital account within 24 months of them being paid in. Employers will be notified in advance when funds are due to expire.

The levy is in force from 6 April 2017 and the new system for apprenticeship funding in England will operate from 1 May 2017. The Government has published guidance for employers on how the apprenticeship levy and the new funding system will work. It has also published final details of its funding policy for England, including funding bands that will apply for existing apprenticeship frameworks and apprenticeship standards from 1 May 2017.


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Original article shared by Xpert HR

What is the apprenticeship levy?

The apprenticeship levy is a levy on UK employers to fund the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment. The levy is set at 0.5% of an employer’s paybill (the paybill is the employer’s total employee earnings subject to Class 1 secondary national insurance contributions).

The levy is in force, as from 6 April 2017.

Each employer has an annual allowance of £15,000, which will be offset against the levy. In effect, only employers with a paybill of more than £3 million will be liable to pay the levy (because 0.5% of £3 million is £15,000). Companies and charities that are connected in a group structure have one £15,000 allowance to share between the group. The levy is paid through PAYE on a monthly basis. The allowance will also be applied on a monthly basis and any unused allowance can be carried forward to the next month.

The new online apprenticeship service will distribute the funds raised by the levy for employers to use on apprenticeship training and assessment in England. Separate arrangements for funding apprenticeships apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as this is a devolved matter.

The Government has published guidance for employers on the apprenticeship levy and the new funding system.

Defamation, libel and slander

Ever wondered what statements you make about other peole are going to get you in trouble?
Or what social media posts that were meant as jokes are going to get you sued?
Well, I’m sure you have heard of the sort of defamation and you have probably also heard of libel and slander.
Libel concerns lasting forms of publication such as print, online or broadcasting whereas slander is a transient form such as spoken words or gestures.

Both concern the publication of defamatory material, that is, something that adversely affects a person’s reputation.
A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.
Katie Hopkins (that lady who was once on the Apprentice and now makes money from her controversial views on anything and everything) has been ordered to pay a ‘fair and reasonable compensation’ for her libellous tweets.

This equated to £24,000 in damages plus £107,000 for legal costs – an expensive tweet!
The judge ruled that Twitter comments made by Hopkins about food writer Jack Monroe vandalising a war memorial were defamatory and that the serious harm requirement was satisfied, ‘on the straightforward basis that the tweets complained of have a tendency to cause harm to this claimant’s reputation in the eyes of third parties, of a kind that would be serious for her’.

Katie Hopkins had previously claimed that Twitter was “just the wild west where anything goes”.
This case shows that the opposite is true and as a result of this ruling, defamation cases will be easier to bring – meaning that we need to be even more careful about what we post on social media and elsewhere.
So the moral of the story is… be very careful what you write about (or share about) other people on social media, ensure that your policy regarding social media is robust, and that your staff understand the implications of using it.

So get in touch and let us help with your HR issues.

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Article from Suzanne Dibble, Small Business Legal Academy


7 things that you need to do when employing staff for the first time

There are 7 things you need to do when employing staff for the first time.

  1. Decide how much to pay someone – you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.
  2. Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.
  3. Check if you need to apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, eg with vulnerable people or security.
  4. Get employment insurance – you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  5. Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.
  6. Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer – you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.
  7. Check if you need to automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.*

If you need any advice, or support, please contact us

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*Information from Gov.Uk