Driving diversity and inclusion in your talent acquisition process

For many businesses, inclusion and diversity is one of the leading issues on the agenda as we move into 2021. Although simply saying that you welcome, recognise and champion difference in your workplace seems to be the norm at the moment, actually striving to back up this statement with data can be a little more challenging. The reality is that many employers can struggle to quantify how their talent acquisition strategy does, or in some cases does not, drive diversity and inclusion. If you’re keen to understand and improve inclusion and diversity throughout your talent acquisition process, the following tasks and considerations will help you to recognise, evaluate and better your approach when engaging with new talent, whatever the role you may be looking to fill. Take a closer look at your current data The first stage to evaluating and improving your talent and acquisition strategy in terms of inclusion and diversity is to call on the data you already have readily available within your organisation. Are you failing to attract applications from a certain demographic? Are certain people more prone to applying for a role with you? If so, who are they? By studying existing data, you can pinpoint any areas where diversity and inclusion may be failing within your application process. Flagging this up for further investigation is a powerful first step towards driving truly inclusive and diverse practices across your recruitment activity. Is your application process inherently diversity and inclusion friendly? Delving deeper into every element of your application process can involve asking the tough questions. Could you be unconsciously putting off some people from applying for your vacancies for example? Does the recruitment area of your website depict plenty of white, able-bodied personnel and leave out images of people from different ethnicities say or with disabilities? How (and by whom) are your applications being pre-screened? Is unconscious bias being allowed to creep in even before you get to see the short listed applicants? Could it be that the forms used as part of the recruitment process, or even the job specs themselves, fail to explicitly state that you welcome applications from people with different backgrounds?  Is it possible that your job advert may be off-putting to those with mobility issues thanks to the unconscious use of terminology such as ‘climb the ladder’ or ‘step up to the challenge’? Although these aspects may be subtle, they are barriers to diversity and inclusion in the modern workplace. Reconsider your selection panel Finally, you’ll need to remove any unconscious bias at the final part of the recruitment process. Take a closer look at your selection panel. Are the people seated on that panel representative of inclusion and diversity in your workplace or are they all from similar backgrounds? Have they been given any training on inclusion recently? These are all questions that need to be asked to ensure a ‘recruit like me’ mentality is removed from every stage of the recruitment process. It is only by reassessing your talent acquisition process and asking the difficult, probing questions that turn a spotlight on existing practises that you can truly identify and overcome any barriers towards being a workforce that celebrates, nurtures and champions difference.

Employment Law Update

Paul Burton, Head of Employment Law at Frettens Solicitors provides us with an update on employment law and what has changed since April this year. To say a lot has changed since my last update, would be something of an understatement. At that time no one had heard of COVID, let alone furlough or the R rate, and only a small minority of us regularly ‘zoomed’ or worked from home. The pace of change in both employment legislation and workplace culture has been ‘unprecedented’ (another term that has seen its use shoot up this year). Employers and HR professionals have had to interpret and implement regularly changing guidance amidst a backdrop of economic uncertainty, and I have been fortunate enough to advise and work with some tremendous professionals and businesses who have done so fantastically well. I will try to provide a short update as to ‘what has happened’, as well as touching on some of the biggest issues facing us in coming months, though this could reasonably be out of date by the time of publishing, such has been the pace of change this year. One thing we can be certain of is that many agile businesses have prospered. Lockdown and a move to working from home In March, we were all told to stay at home, save lives, and protect the NHS. We did so in incredible numbers. Shares in Zoom went through the roof and everywhere sold out of cheap home desks. Countless clients have told me that the move to working from home has been beneficial in terms of productivity and work-life balance, and many businesses have reduced their overheads by downsizing or shedding office space. While working from home is not for everyone or every business, all businesses should have a working from home policy, something my colleague Chris Dobbs has written about at length. It should cover the circumstances and expectations of working from home, as well as health and safety, security and supervision, which leads nicely on to my next point. Monitoring employees working from home Most businesses I have worked with, including Frettens, have found that trusting employees to be productive when working from home has paid off. Our productivity has gone up since the mass move to working from home, and employees report feeling empowered when trusted. Some businesses will require a need to monitor employee activity when working at home. It is a complex subject, something we have written about at length on our website and in our regular employment email law updates. The key is to be open and discuss it with employees if it is needed, and covert surveillance should only be used in extreme circumstances and after having sought advice. Furlough A word that is part of our everyday language was known by next-to-nobody at the start of the year. The furlough scheme started in April and has gone through various transitions since. At the time of writing, the furlough scheme has been extended to at least January, and it looks likely to continue through to March in its current format, which, oddly enough, is almost identical to its first format. You can check the latest information on the Frettens website. Returning to work from furlough – Health and Safety We have had a lot of conversations around health and safety of employees. When workplaces began to reopen, significant changes were made to implement safe social distancing, cleanliness standards and appropriate PPE. Some employees have felt unsafe returning to work, and we have spoken with both employers and employees alike about not wishing to return to work from furlough. Chris wrote about this in a lengthy article in June, and under normal circumstances the answer to this is: no. You cannot generally refuse to work without being in breach of your employment contract. Refusing to work is a pretty fundamental breach of contract and in many cases will justify disciplinary action and probably dismissal. The current climate may create situations where a refusal to return to work could be justified. This would be especially true where there is a general risk to health in the workplace or, for specific individuals, where they might be at a particularly increased risk to their health. It is worth noting that none of this has been tested in court yet, so it would be best to speak to professionals before embarking on any disciplinary proceedings. Redundancy Sadly, there have been lots of redundancies made as a result of the pandemic, and we fear that there are more to come. Unemployment figures have been rising, and while the furlough scheme will help to protect many into the new year, what happens when it ends is anyone’s guess. The redundancy process has not changed as a result of the introduction of the furlough scheme. The guidance is that any decision must be fair and that no one has been put at a disadvantage as a result of being on furlough leave. Furlough Fraud The potential scale of furlough fraud was highlighted in a recent report from the National Audit Office. 1 in 10 workers were asked to work while on furlough. Penalties are tough and HMRC has been unambiguous about asking employees to break furlough rules. Our advice is simple, do not do it and, if you believe you have made a mistake in your applications for payments, do contact HMRC as soon as possible.  Immediate action will lessen the possibility of, or at least perhaps reduce, any sanction imposed by HMRC. Want to stay up to date? We will post any announcements, along with advice for employers and HR professionals as soon as we are able. These will be shared on our website and on social media. Our Employment and HR newsletter will continue to be sent out monthly, though as important information is announced by the government, we may send this to you more frequently. Our quarterly employment training sessions are being held online until further notice. Sign up to our newsletter to receive invitations.   Author: Paul Burton | Employment Solicitor | Frettens Solicitors www.frettens.co.uk | pburton@frettens.co.uk Paul is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and qualified as an Employment Solicitor in 2007. He specialises in both contentious and non-contentious matters, including unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, disability discrimination, TUPE, contracts and policies.  

Why you should evaluate your onboarding process post Covid

Unusually this year for many companies that may have already had a robust onboarding strategy in place, this could be the first time that the majority of new employees are being remotely onboarded, many of which may never have been into your offices or indeed may now be working from home on a permanent  basis. So now more than ever is the time to assess what you are doing and look at ways in which you can streamline and improve the onboarding process. Recruiting the best candidates is just the beginning, welcoming new hires into the team is now a whole different ball game, it’s not uncommon still for candidates to go through a lengthy recruitment process only to not start a role due to lack of communication or leave a role a few weeks later due to a poor onboarding experience. We are now also dealing with remote work life balance, virtual team building , remote training and the element of trust that people are doing what they are meant to be doing. There is a lot to consider. So where do you start?   Assess the Data Where you are now, what is your turnover within a certain period of new hires joining you? Where do you want to be? Set some objectives of what you want to achieve, be it improve retention, engagement, productivity, time to competency. Why not start with a survey to the new hires that you have onboarded since Covid, this will highlight what has gone right and now with the changed landscape what you may need to rethink or improve.  It will highlight trends and themes, strengths and weaknesses of the process, helping to formulate a new best practice. Why not survey the managers paying particular attention to those that have excellent retention rates within their team for onboarding and engagement, gaining insights into what they are doing well and equally those managers who have higher levels of attrition to see what they are doing or not doing that could be increasing those levels and analyse the themes and trends from that data. There could be some quick wins. Preparation Successful onboarding starts well in advance of a new hire joining you, you want them to have already bought into your company’s culture and values so think about how you can reinforce those whilst waiting for the new hire to join you. Communication now is key, let them know that there is a plan in place and what it entails.  Think about administrative matters in advance, setting up virtual workspace, logins and access to equipment to encourage new starters to integrate into their virtual surroundings as early as possible thus freeing up the first few days of their role enabling them to integrate quicker and start to build relationships with their new colleagues. Engagement Onboarding is a chance to really channel the enthusiasm of a new hire, engage with the team and connect with the company’s culture and values. Quicker engagement leads to more embedded employee commitment and could ultimately be the deciding factor in whether they decide to stay or leave. This commitment will ensure they have bought in to what your company’s values and ethos are about that they are committed it . That’s why it’s vital to hold on to your talent in order to unlock people’s full potential. Integration Help them settle in as quickly as possible, give them a buddy, announce their arrival, make it personal; introduce them to their new team and colleagues, (maybe an online team meeting or welcome meeting). Make sure that they are familiar with their virtual workspace, virtual dress codes, lunch arrangements and social media policies. At this stage any guesswork and extra stress should be minimalised particularly as there is so much that is potentially different to being in the office. Set expectations and explain what they need to know before they need to know it, assuring new and existing employees that they are valued and have all the necessary tools to succeed. This clearly shows that you care about your employees and makes it less likely they will look elsewhere and eliminates the stress of starting a new role. Development A new employee needs to get to grips with their role and understand how it relates to your company’s overall structure and the bigger picture. Have regular catch-ups , daily, weekly, monthly etc during the initial probation period to ensure they are on track and becoming competent in the role. These can then become less frequent as time progresses and expectations are met. Whilst it is important to let your new employee know you are accessible, in reality due to business needs you may not be available as much as they would like, in which case, many companies offer a buddy/mentor within the business that can help entrench new employees and ensure a good onboarding experience. Retention According to the CareerBuilder study, seven out of ten workers admit that they search for jobs as part of their “regular routine” and 35% are searching for a job within weeks of starting a new position. In essence, retention of staff for many companies is a key focus and by getting the onboarding process right you will help increase your retention rate and reduce your cost per hire. Turnover is expensive so it’s important to protect your recruitment investment with consistency, engagement and information, without being overwhelming. A report carried out by Oxford Economics revealed that replacing members of staff incurs costs of up to £30,614 per person for employers: and that’s without taking into account the risk to productivity and morale of your existing staff. Expectations Set expectations, now more than ever with you unable to see what is happening within the workplace, it is vital that expectations and deliverables are agreed. Create goals that cultivate retention and from these create the metrics to help measure the success of your new hire, and your adjusted onboarding process. Start with measuring your six month and twelve-month retention rates of new hires and compare the results to when you had a Pre Covid onboarding process. The most important metrics to measuring success are usually employee engagement surveys, retention, and time to productivity. However you decide to do it, proper onboarding gets employees up to productive levels quicker and embedded within your company in a much more effective way.  

Homeworking: The legalities and the practicalities

Chris Dobbs, specialist employment & HR solicitor at Frettens, has written several recent articles on home-working and the use of employee monitoring techniques. Here, he consolidates these articles and explores this evolving issue as a recent case addresses just how far employers may be able to go without breaking the law. Will working from home continue after lockdown? Homeworking, in some capacity, is likely to become the norm for an increasing number of workers in the coming months and years. There has been a slight historical trend in this direction for certain sectors and the advancements in technology have allowed office-based businesses and those who engage consultants an ideal opportunity to reduce business overheads by having staff work from home. Is a home worker different to an office worker? Homeworking is not a recognised concept in UK employment law; all that really matters is employment status. This means that regulation of homeworking comes from taking existing law and applying it to homeworkers. A worker working from home is still a worker. They are still subject to the terms of their contract of employment (unless this is varied correctly) and they still have all the same rights granted to them under existing legislation. This means that working time, pay, holiday entitlement, data protection, health and safety, and Equality Act rights all continue to apply to home workers. Should every business have a working from home policy? We strongly recommend that businesses introduce homeworking policies if they have any intention of keeping staff working from home in the long-term. Temporary measures to tackle government advice in the current climate might be handled informally but beyond that, you will almost certainly want to govern how requests are made and the basis on which homeworking operates in your business. Writing a working from home policy There are a range of considerations to be taken into account when preparing an effective homeworking policy. I set out a few of these and also introduce our own homeworking policy in this article. It is also important to remember that an employee requesting homeworking may more appropriately be making a statutory request for flexible working arrangements. Whoever is dealing with the request should be able to identify where it might be flexible working as it may also trigger considerations under discrimination law. How to handle data protection and WFH In posting one of my recent articles on social media, we accidentally triggered a discussion about how the wider public perceive homeworking. One of the issues which came up was a concern about the sharing of personal information outside of workplaces. It is true that under data protection law, careful consideration must be given to the security of customer, client and employee information where someone is working from home. This is not as simple as requiring homeworkers to comply with existing data protection policies: the business needs to plan, manage and risk assess for potential data breaches. Remember that a data protection breach can be a criminal offence with individual liability and that breaches of GDPR can result in fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or some £18 million; whichever is higher. Working from home and remote monitoring One of the more interesting questions arising from homeworking also concerns data protection in relation to monitoring employees. We looked at the legalities of this in our recent article that you can read here. Shibu Philips, founder of London-based beauty business Transcend, recently told the BBC he has been using Hubstaff software in order to monitor what his employees are doing. The software allows him to track his workers’ hours, keystrokes, mouse movements and websites. He can look at screenshots and see how much time workers are taking on tasks. Employees are fully aware of the software and can delete websites visited during breaks. The pandemic has created a big demand for this and other kinds of surveillance software. Employers worry that a lack of visibility will impact on employee productivity. Employee wellbeing and working from home Understandably, they want to protect their businesses at what is a crunch time for many. But is software the way forward? Employees have also struggled during the pandemic, worried about their health and families as well as their jobs and prospects. Should employers use remote monitoring software? Introducing monitoring software during a crisis could damage employee trust and confidence at a time when you want to retain your very best people to see you through the crisis. Surveillance software isn’t fool proof – it can’t record thinking time or the creative process in any meaningful way. Employers need to be mindful of employee rights in these situations. Many employees object to being so closely monitored in this way and capturing screenshots carries the real risk of the employer ending up as a data processor for what could be highly confidential information. Employees might not be allowed to be using business IT equipment to access their private email or medical records, but that is unlikely to protect the business if that data is accidentally disseminated. Alternatives to remote monitoring of employees Instead of software, consider whether the softer approach might be a better way to go. Managers should be checking in with staff regularly, especially those who are working remotely and may live alone, to address welfare matters as well as simply productivity. Genuine shirkers should not be difficult to spot, and all staff remain bound by your policies and procedures, so use them. The human touch can be more sensitive than software, and carrots invariably work better than sticks with the employees you want to keep. Is remote monitoring of employees legal? And remember, if you do use surveillance software to monitor staff, have a clear policy, get employees to explicitly agree to its terms and make sure it is used proportionately. Covert monitoring is only ever going to be justified only in the most extreme cases. Monitoring employees’ private communications One recent case (BC V Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland) demonstrates situations where the demands of an employer could be sufficient to supersede the privacy rights of an employee. Working from home and Right to Privacy An individual’s right to privacy stems from Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights. This is not a piece of EU legislation but is instead an international treaty of which there are 47 signatories. Incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act, this says that everyone has the right to respect for private and family life, their home and correspondence. However, it is what is known as a qualified right: there are situations where the law may allow interference with this right. One such example came up in the BC case. You can read the details of this case in Chris’ summary here. A specialist employment solicitor’s view on working from home Homeworking, as it becomes more common, will inevitably bring with new legal issues and new takes on old issues. In due course, there may be some further regulation to try and govern the working style but that seems a long way off and for now we are left with existing law and hammering it into shape for homeworking. There are areas where employers need to be especially careful (health and safety, data protection and employee privacy rights) when implementing homeworking. Ensuring that all policies and procedures are in place and that staff and managers are adequately trained ahead of long-term homeworking will be invaluable in making the transition as smooth as possible.   Author: Chris Dobbs | Employment Solicitor | Frettens Solicitors www.frettens.co.uk | cdobbs@frettens.co.uk Chris is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and qualified in 2017 having spent two years training at a high street practice in Surrey dealing with a broad workload in a variety of practice areas. Chris chose to specialise in employment practice where he gained experience acting for employees and employers in both contentious and non-contentious matters including employment contracts, unfair dismissal, discrimination claims and settlement agreements.  

How you adapt to working from home will in many ways depend on your colour preferences

The Insights behavioural model – or ‘colour’ model, as it’s sometimes called – can be a great predictor of how well (or not!) we might handle sudden changes like having to work from home. Depending on our behavioural preferences, we will have more or less tolerance for things like the pace and extent of change, the amount of contact we have or don’t have with colleagues, and how we deal with uncertainty and any problems that arise. Understanding these differences and keeping them top of mind over the coming weeks and months will go a long way to helping us all navigate successfully through these difficult times. Remember, our behaviours are always a mixture of the four colour types, but our strongest reactions will relate to the one or two colour energies we scored highest in. High Sunshine Yellow Energy The motto for Yellow energy is Involve me!, so working in isolation is not something those of us high in Yellow relish. If our home is a busy one with lots of family around, then our sense of isolation won’t be so strong, but we may well miss the social buzz we get when we’re in the office. Handling sudden change is not usually a concern for people high in Yellow energy but having plenty of time on our hands can work against us if we lack discipline. So many distractions, so many things we could be doing other than working! If that’s you, do your best to work to a routine, however loosely, and keep an eye on your priorities! High Cool Blue Energy People who have high Blue energy tend to have a calm and steady approach to most things, so working from home may actually be quite appealing once the initial shockwave has passed through. In fact, the problem could be trying to persuade them to come back to the office when it’s all over. So much time to themselves, so much peace and quiet … or so they wish! If the home environment is an oasis of calm, all well and good, but if it’s a maelstrom of kids and pets and noise, this could be a tricky time for anyone with a strong Blue energy preference. Best advice is to find a quiet space if there is one and keep the family at bay while you’re working. Watch out, too, for getting lost down the proverbial rabbit hole of your own interests (work or otherwise) when there isn’t the immediate pressure of delivering to the demands and timescales of others. For more of our tips to help you work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, click here.  High Earth Green Energy Those of us with high Green energy may feel really quite anxious while the Covid-19 virus grips the world. Of course, we’re all concerned in our own ways, but high Green energy tends to fret and worry about the wellbeing of everyone but themselves, so there’s a risk that a crisis on this scale could be deeply unsettling. Plus, the changes we’re all going through upset high Green’s cosy and familiar routines. Staying focused on the here and now can be sound advice – concern yourself with what you can influence and control closer to home. Stay connected to close colleagues – a good chat to share concerns and gently support one another is a fine tonic. High Fiery Red Energy Frustration could be the name of the game for anyone with high Red energy. Their high drive and energy will want to strike out in a positive, forward motion, and when that isn’t possible, they’ll feel cross, thwarted and impatient. Best solution when home working is to focus on what you can control. Turn your immense problem-solving talents to good use making sure things are going to plan and try – just a little – to cultivate some Zen-like patience until this all blows over.   Author: The Colour Works www.thecolourworks.com | office@thecolourworks.com This article was brought to you by The Colour Works, a team of personal, team and leadership development specialists who have been transforming performance globally for over a decade.  

Reasons to temp

There are over 1.45 million people now working in temporary contracts (according to the Office for National Statistics Sept 2020). If you are considering temporary work (or even if you are currently on a temporary contract) it’s a good idea to understand why companies hire temps, so we have put together a brief overview for you below:   Companies utilise temporary staff for a number of reasons and it can be a fantastic way to provide flexibility and support for businesses through times of uncertainty, boosting productivity, managing heavy workloads, projects and generally getting them back up and running in order to allow them the time to make more informed decisions when confidence returns.   Temporary staffing benefits to businesses: Provides companies greater flexibility to manage fluctuations in workloads, large projects and tight deadlines. It allows companies the opportunity to create new teams, open new areas or expand their markets. Generates cost savings, both in time and money over recruiting permanently. With temporary staff, businesses only pay for a worker when they actually need them which creates greater efficiencies. Cover for holidays, absence due to illness, or sudden departures in staff allowing companies to carry on as normal. For most companies the major benefit of temporary staffing solutions is that they are able to see if workers fit into the company and if they can do the role before they commit on a permanent basis. Workers may start in a temporary role and the company see a number of transferable skills that could be utilised in an open vacancy they have elsewhere in the business or they just didn’t know what they did without you. There are lots of benefits for clients.   Of the 1.45million temps currently working approximately 375,200 people work on a temporary basis because they could not find a permanent job; 363,300 did not want a permanent job; 112,800 had a contract with a period of training; and 603,990 cited other reasons. But what are the benefits for you? Quick Turnaround You could be out of work due to economic uncertainty, be between jobs, or just want to try something new, temporary roles can offer immediate starts. Sometimes you might need to start in a role that is not quite your usual level or it might not be your ideal position or be in the industry you prefer to work in, but it’s a great stepping stone or chance to get your foot in the door and earn some money while you consider your options. Experience New Industries Adding a variety of industry experience to your CV can be a huge benefit, it shows diverse industry experience, versatility or could give you an inroad to companies that are notoriously hard to get into. It will also help you assess whether they are industries you want to be involved in longer term, you’ll  find that after just a few temporary placements, you will be more adaptable, able to pick things up quickly and settle into roles and environments much easier than before, making you appear more adaptable and confident to employers. Try a New Role You may not know what your next step on the career ladders is, we are great at finding transferable skills for roles and offering clients solutions to their recruitment needs. You may want to try your hand at a new role, or we may suggest roles that you never thought of or even knew existed. Notice periods for temporary work are usually pretty short so if the roles not right for you, you can finish the contract and move on to the next role and the nice thing is it won’t reflect badly on your CV as you have been temping rather than starting and leaving permanent roles in short periods of time which can be off putting to future employers. Find your Permanent home One of the real benefits for both employers and temporary staff is the temporary to permanent solution, we have seen a huge rise in this area particularly in times of uncertainty. Temp to perm roles give both parties the opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ so to speak.  It could be you start in the temporary role and the client sees an opening on a permanent basis, you could be covering maternity, it could be a whole host of reasons so don’t rule out temporary work as you never know what opportunities may present themselves during the process!! As you can see there are a number of reasons to consider temporary work and if you are still unsure, temporary staff are now entitled to the same benefits as permanent staff, with training, holiday, pensions and maternity pay. You can see all of the latest Bond Williams temporary roles on our website or by clicking here. Alternatively, contact our temporary teams in each branch to discuss our current opportunities.            

The M Word – Why Menopause Matters

I have thought long and hard about the ‘appropriateness’ of writing about what has, until very recently, been a taboo subject. However, when I read that the CIPD had produced the People Professional’s Guide to the Menopause at Work, I decided that I would – after all, if no one writes about taboo subjects, nothing will change. Why is it so important to me? As a 55-year-old woman, part of the answer to that question is obvious – it’s a very personal subject. I also have four children, three of whom are girls and the other one of whom will probably find himself ‘on the receiving end’ at some point in his life. I’m also advising employers about people issues every day and can see the impact of the menopause in the workplace on a regular basis. My own ‘journey’ started in 2010, when I was 46, with erratic periods, ever-increasing and more frequent PMS type symptoms that made me grumpy, short tempered and tearful. That was ‘fun’ for me and everyone around me! I was expecting the typical symptoms – loss of libido, weight gain and hot flushes, but nobody had prepared me for the crippling anxiety and panic attacks that struck so hard in the summer of 2015 that we had to come home half way through a family holiday to Majorca. My (male) GP wanted to put me on anti-depressants, but I knew I wasn’t depressed and refused the medication. I was kind to myself and scaled back on my work and slowly, gradually started to come out the other side of what had felt like a living nightmare. Then the hot flushes started – no sweating, just a feeling of intense heat that comes from nowhere. In my case, in the middle of the night, roughly every hour, up to five or six times, constantly interrupting sleep. You can imagine how that makes you feel when it goes on day after day, week after week – exhausted, drained, unable to think clearly, struggling to function. Getting menopause of the equality agenda The CIPD Guide highlights how outdated the stigma surrounding this natural process is and aims to equip employers with the knowledge and tools to tackle it. Gender equality and the gender pay gap are high on the agenda but the menopause – clearly part of a broader gender and age equality issue – hasn’t been on the agenda at all. Supporting female employees through the menopause should be part of an organisation’s approach to developing an inclusive workplace that encourages women’s progression. Research has previously shown that, by taking the menopause seriously, organisations can help mitigate the potentially negative impact of symptoms on the individual and the business, including higher sickness absence levels and an increased desire to leave work altogether. I’ve learned that symptoms vary considerably from person to person and from time to time. There is no single menopause journey, although it will typically hit a woman any time between the ages of 45 and 55. For many, it is a long term, fluctuating condition that requires the same level of support and understanding as any other long-term health condition. I’ve been enormously grateful for the support and understanding of the people around me and the love of my family – especially my husband, who has pretty much accepted everything I’ve thrown at him (not literally, I might add!). I am my own boss, so I have been able to flex how much I’ve worked when times have been tough and, as far as I am aware, until now, no one has noticed – I’ve just extended the deadlines if I’ve needed to. My business has continued to grow steadily and I’m very fortunate to be doing a job that I love. I chose not to take HRT. By changing my diet and cutting right down on alcohol, I’ve lost weight and, as a result of weekly personal training and Pilates, I’m much fitter now than I’ve ever been. I’ve also appeared on national television, talking about the menopause and recently appeared in a national women’s magazine – a great boost to my self-esteem. Create an inclusive environment Change happens when people stop and think and creating an inclusive environment where women don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about what they are going through is fundamental to that change. There are 4.4 million women aged over 50 in the workplace. My hope is that employers will embrace the CIPD Guide and find ways to offer more support and understanding to those women. One thing is certain, every woman will go through it at some point and the vast majority will do so during their working lives.       Author: Rosemary Darby-Jenkins, Director, Signpost HR Solutions www.signposthrsolutions.co.uk | rdj@signposthrsolutions.co.uk Rosemary has over 30 years’ experience in HR for the private and public sector and now runs her own Dorset-based consultancy. She and her team specialise in employee relations, change management, HR strategy, organisational development and reward and job evaluation.      

How can employers support staff with gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is currently a hot topic of discussion. It has already been reported that demand for transgender healthcare is expected to accelerate. In fact, Dr James Palmer, the Medical Director for specialised services at NHS England said that referrals to adult services have increased by 240% over the last five years and nearly two million Britons could question their gender in the coming years. In the future he expects up to 3% of the population to make contact with transgender health services at some point in their lives.1 What is gender dysphoria?  Gender dysphoria, sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), is a diagnosable medical condition, where a person experiences discomfort and distress because of a mismatch between their biological sex (assigned at birth) and their gender identity (the gender a person identifies with). There are no physical symptoms of gender dysphoria, but people may experience and display a range of feelings and behaviours. In some cases, medical treatment is appropriate and aims to help people live the way they want to, in their preferred gender identity. Gender dysphoria treatment Gender reassignment can be a very lengthy process, often taking years from the initial consultation to completion of treatment. There can also be a wide range of supporting treatments and ongoing drugs in addition to the surgical requirements. Adults with gender dysphoria should be referred to a Gender Identity Clinic. But with only eight NHS commissioned Gender Identity Clinics, there can be up to a two-year wait following GP referral. These clinics offer ongoing assessments, treatments and the appropriate support and advice for people with gender dysphoria. The NHS guidelines state that the individual will have to live as their chosen gender role for at least two years and then satisfy the Gender Recognition Panel that they intend to do so for the rest of their lives. They will then be eligible to proceed with surgery. However, there is no defined treatment pathway and the gender dysphoria treatment chosen will vary from person to person. Some trans individuals will live permanently in the gender role that is most comfortable for them without ever seeking medical treatment. In many cases people who are experiencing transgenderism have a combination of hormone medication and surgery. The social gender role transition is usually completed within two years and surgery can be considered to permanently alter a person’s sex. What are other employers doing to support staff with gender dysphoria? Employers are striving to be diverse and inclusive towards their staff. And employees who feel supported and able to be their authentic selves, are less likely to suffer stress and anxiety that can lead to mental health issues. Mercer has already announced that they now offer trans benefits for treatment of gender dysphoria as part of its UK employee private medical insurance scheme. This incorporates comprehensive cover for gender dysphoria including consultations, diagnosis, mental health and surgical treatment. The insurance industry is already responding to demand from larger organisations to develop products that include treatment for gender dysphoria. The options available vary from provider to provider. For example, some will offer optional benefits to larger corporate clients who are either self-funded (via a healthcare trust or cost-plus type funding arrangement) or fully insured but of a sufficient size to cover the additional claims cost. Most providers have started to include benefits for gender dysphoria, focusing on either the physiological or surgical aspects of treatment, or in some cases, both. But they have stated any cases will have to follow the NHS guidelines before surgery is authorised, which includes two years of psychological adjustment and hormone therapy. However, some insurers believe that further due diligence is required to understand the skills and expertise of private surgical facilities, including how they are regulated and how their services interact with the NHS to ensure continuity of care, should the member’s private healthcare benefit cease. Although gender dysphoria is increasingly talked about, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and the full cost of treatment is relatively unknown. Employers looking to offer benefits for employees with gender dysphoria should be aware of the possible requirements for ongoing treatment for this patient group, such as psychological support to treatment of complications. Also, you must be clear on the level of cover available under any benefit including guidance on underwriting, any operational constraints to NHS transfer and family cover. Unfortunately, we are a way off yet from insurers offering universal and blanket coverage for gender dysphoria and other associated conditions. However, progress is being made towards the inclusion of gender confirmation benefits to corporate healthcare plans. It is important for employers to obtain expert input to ensure their benefit structures are consistent with the level of support they plan to offer, as well as the overall message they wish to convey to their employees.   Author – Mercer Marsh Benefits Award winning insurance brokers providing expert advice to businesses on insurance, risk management and employee benefits. www.mercermarshbenefits.com     1 Health Insurance Daily ‘In the spotlight: Transgender and gender identification’, Dec 2018

Don’t delay if you want the best candidates

With unemployment having increased to 4.5% as reported by ONS it is not surprising that some companies are being inundated with applications. Indeed have recently reported 1.2 million job vacancies across the UK, the market is busy. That said, there is being busy responding to applications and then there is actually filling your job, often the two don’t go hand in hand and that’s where being overwhelmed and the candidate experience can often fall down or you risk losing those exceptional candidates by getting bogged down with the admin. With many companies reporting hundreds, possibly even thousands of applications that’s a lot to manage especially if it is just one part of your day job. Hiring can be a challenge, from initially deciding that you actually want to hire to the actual time taken to hire. No one wants to make a mistake, hiring the wrong person can be costly so it pays to get it right but taking too long can cost a lot more in the long run! Too longer advert window can result in too many applications and a long lead time from that first application. Taking too long to interview can put off candidates and make them think that it is not a business they want to work for, taking too long to make an offer can make candidates doubt that it is a brand they want to work for and during all this poor recruitment process, the overall effect is how very damaging it can be to a brand in terms of candidates future applications or not even wanting to be a customer, not to mention telling their friends and family of their negative experience. Benchmarks from Glassdoor 2020 shows the average length of the job interview process in the UK is 27.5 days. If your recruitment process is longer than this, here are three reminders why an efficient recruitment process and candidate experience is important. You risk losing the perfect candidate If you are trying to attract top talent there is likely to be competition and you risk the applicant dropping out if you don’t offer an interview or the job quickly enough and your competitors do.  If you recognise a really good fit for your vacancy, don’t delay in issuing an interview date or job offer, or you may find yourself pipped to the post or part of a bidding war. Delays damage your brand It’s a fact that poorly managed recruitment processes damage brands and create negative impressions.  Glassdoor reported recently that when making a decision on where to apply for a job, 84% of employees/job seekers say the reputation of a company as an employer of choice is important. Lack of communication and process gives the impression that the company could lack interest in its people not to mention common courtesy. The impact on productivity On top of all this a lengthy recruitment process could leave a role unfilled and that work not getting done or creating further pressure on others which can create even more issues longer term including increased turnover in the department, stress, reduced productivity etc… So how to overcome a slow recruitment process Review the current system you have in place, nail down the process, set timeframes and dates for each stage of the process and the people involved.  Once you have identified the time you need you can plan your resources accordingly and hopefully quicken the process or alternatively now you know what’s involved why not consider using a specialist recruitment agency? At Bond Williams we can kick start your recruitment process, we recruit all day every day that’s our job and we draw on our 300 years of accumulative experience to do it! We will expose your job advert to relevant candidates who are actively looking, match your criteria and in turn drastically streamline the job of short-listing thus giving you the time back to do your day job. With a detailed understanding of a company’s unique recruitment needs and tailor making our service we can accurately match and reduce the time it takes to fill a vacancy.

Finance Professionals in Demand in times of Covid

The south coast is an important location for the financial services sector, with several major practice and industry employers choosing to base themselves here. At Bond Williams, we are currently seeing a high demand for a variety of roles within our specialist Accounting & Finance division, many of which are working from home entirely or a split office/home working arrangement.   Audit/Accounts – Practice Audit staff remain an ongoing requirement for accountancy firms whether this is as a team member or Senior handling planning and overseeing annual audits at client premises.  Excellent engagement skills, previous audit in practice and a full or part qualification (ACA/ACCA) will often be required. Tax – Practice This is another specialism within accountancy practices that is in high demand and can be handling Personal Tax or Corporation/Business. Both areas can be highly varied and therefore, rewarding and many practices now have a specialist advisory team concentrating on special projects. A full accounting qualification is often required along with ATT or CTA taxation qualifications. Payroll An organisation’s payroll is a huge expense and has to be accurate to satisfy and retain employees but also meet HMRC compliance regulations.   Payroll specialists work as part of a team, for a payroll bureau or in a stand-alone position and are very sought after.  They have been very valuable during the Covid period calculating furlough pay, together with dealing with pensions, RTI and the standard tax/NI and other deductions. Many companies look for CIPP qualifications to support experience but this is not always essential. Credit Control Responsible for chasing and recovering outstanding debts and dealing with the sales ledger, credit controllers need to be able to build strong relationships with customers to secure payment as well as internally – particularly with sales teams because they may be the person who prevents products or services being delivered if payments are not made. They will also be required to carry out credit assessment and come up with strategies to mitigate credit risk. Management & Financial Accounting Companies are always looking for good management and financial accountants to handle their compliance, reporting, forecasting and budgeting in order that they can see their business history and plan for the future.  Good Excel and other IT skills are high on the list for requirements, together with a formal qualification or the plan to study.   If you are searching for you next finance professional to complement your team, just need some advice or are searching for the next step in your career, contact Louise Woodward at Bond Williams Accounting and Finance on 01202 233777 or email louise.woodward@bondwilliams.co.uk . Louise alone has over 30 years’ experience recruiting finance professionals in the Dorset area you would be hard pushed to find someone more experience to help you!