Self Development – Book Recommendations

Remember the days when you had time to sit and read? Remember the days when you wanted to sit and read? Remember those things with covers and pages?

You may of answered yes, no or maybe to the questions above, but many of us still use reading as a method of self development, either in our personal, or professional lives. You may have a stand out book, that changed how you felt about business, that made something inside you click or gave you the strength and knowledge to pursue your dreams. Or, you might not!

Here are some recommendations that we find useful to recommend to our clients to read, and some are suggestions following a discussion on LinkedIn

In no particular order,

Why are some people and organisations more inventive, pioneering and successful than others? And why are they able to repeat their success again and again?In business, it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters WHY you do it.

The motivations behind today’s most successful leaders and entrepreneurs come to a simple yet decisive explanation: there are people who give, people who take, people who match, and people who fake. Our world is filled with these givers, takers, matchers and fakers. Amazingly, those who succeed (not only personally but for their clients and companies) don’t take or match. They give. (Although they’re not necessarily philanthropic.)

Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead.

How to enrich your life and destroy doubt in 5 seconds. Throughout your life, you’ve had parents, coaches, teachers, friends and mentors who have pushed you to be better than your excuses and bigger than your fears. What if the secret to having the confidence and courage to enrich your life and work is simply knowing “how” to push yourself?

No gimmicks. No Hyperbole. No Magic Bullet. The Compound Effect is based on the principle that decisions shape your destiny. Little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default. This easy-to-use, step-by-step operating system allows you to multiply your success, chart your progress, and achieve any desire. If you’re serious about living an extraordinary life, use the power of The Compound Effect to create the success you want.


Back to school

It’s that time of the year when we mourn the passing of the Summer Holidays, and begin to look to the next few month’s leading up to the dreaded Christmas. Our office is an office of parents, and the juggling and military plans of childcare are beginning to come to the end. New shoes, pencil cases and uniform have been bought and everyone is ready for the routine of term time.

It is at this time of year that many of us feel that we are going back to school, too. It’s a great time of year for goal setting and planning, whilst we still have the light nights and warmish days. Many of us find setting goals at New Year stressful, and bound for failure. January is not always conducive to anything much – no money, no motivation and not much sun. No wonder our Danish and Norwegian cousins adopt Hygge.

So rather than wait for 2018, set some goals now.

  • Will they be for business, or personal?
  • Make them as big as you want, but be aware you may need to make smaller goals to achieve them
  • Research what books may hep you – self help, mindset, autobiographies of people you admire
  • Make a regular time to attend to these goals – add it to your diary and make yourself accountable
  • If you struggle with accountability, team up with a friend or colleague. Share your goals and become accountable for each other
  • Watch Ted Talks – brilliant archive for amazing talks on anything and everything
  • Buy yourself some new stationery – pencil case, pens, notebook – whatever floats your boat


Good luck, and enjoy

Employee Induction is important

Starting a new job can be an exciting, nerve wracking and overwhelming experience. The first day in a new job will be the first impression of that company, and it can be a positive or negative experience depending on how it is managed.

If you are a large company, then your HR department will have this one covered for you, but if you don’t then these few tips may help you focus your mind on what is good practice.

  • Ensure they have your new employee has their job offer and contract, as soon as you can. This ensures that you are both clear on what is expected of the role and the employee
  • When a new member of staff starts ensure that you have booked time in your diary to welcome them to the company and the team
  •  It is important to familiarise your new employees with basics such as toilet, kitchen and breakout areas which they are able to use and utilise
  • Ensure that they have time in their first week to speak to their main contacts within the business. This may be with IT Support, Accounts, Warehouse or any variety of departments. This will ensure good communication through the company and employees have the opportunity to build great working relationships
  • It is important that fire practice and health and safety processeses have been discussed
  • Give your employee time to discuss any procedures for signing in and out, breaks, the protocol for notification of sickness
  • Remind the employee has passed the relevant information to payroll


If you need an induction checklist, or any support on employee induction

Contact us

01562 881019

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