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Picasso HR Ltd
Your Human Resource Team
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Beating 'The January Blues'

The festive season can bring a lot of happiness and a great deal of over indulgence, so it’s not surprising that once January comes and we all return to our normal routines we can feel a touch of ‘The January Blues’.

One way to help employees combat the feelings of ‘The January Blues’ is to set goals for the future and to generate enthusiasm for up and coming projects. Many people set New Years’ resolutions and see the New Year as an opportunity to make changes in their lives, so why not capture this spirit and use it as an opportunity to make changes within your business too.

The best place to start is to ask your employees what their thoughts and feelings are so they feel that they are part of any changes you make, after all they are in a great position to know what does and does not work as they are actively performing their jobs on a daily basis.

Show enthusiasm for their ideas and take their suggestions on board. This will help to motivate employees and ensure they feel that they have a purpose within your business. Try not to be negative; instead of asking an employee why they are doing something, ask them what their goal is by doing what they are doing. You will then be able to understand what they are trying to achieve and how they think that fits in with your business. If you don’t think it fits in with the business, have an open discussion of ways to improve their role going forward by setting targets together.

Ensure your employees know how important their role is to the business and make them feel valued. A valued employee is much more likely to achieve their goals, which in turn will enable the business to achieve its collective goals.

If you would like to discuss the best way to motivate staff or goal setting we can offer a full appraisal package, feel free to contact one of our advisor who will be happy to discuss how we can help.
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The Need for Discrimination free Dicisions

During disciplinary and grievance procedures employers should choose managers with no personal knowledge of the employee to make decisions during the process. This will show a fair approach and discourage employees from bringing a claim of potential discrimination.

However, the liability for any discrimination lies with the employer, although individual employees are also liable for their own discriminatory acts. Should a discrimination claim arise, the employer and those individual employees involved in the process should be able to provide reasons and justifications for their actions and decisions, showing there was no discriminatory treatment.

By having clear and coherent policies in the employee handbook, companies can show that they have followed a fair and consistent approach when dealing with these tricky situations. It is also important to keep a paper trail of all decisions made and correspondence during the process. This serves two purposes:

Companies can use the documentation as evidence in their favour for a non-discriminatory approach
Employers can identify significant disparities between groups of people sharing different protected characteristics under the Equality Act. An equality and diversity policy is also essential for discrimination-free decision making.
Employers should:

Follow the procedure detailed in their Company Handbook
Communicate the policies and procedures throughout the organisation
Train managers in how to apply these policies
Demonstrate and emphasise a zero tolerance approach to discrimination
Ensure employees understand they can be accountable for discriminatory actions
Check decisions are documented and justified by non-discriminatory reasoning
If you would like assistance in implementing grievance, disciplinary and capability procedures, equality and diversity policies or training managers in discrimination-free decision making please contact one of our Advisors.
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How to Conduct the Perfect Job Interview

Finding the perfect employee can be tricky. You want to find that perfect person that suits not only the job role but also your organisation. This means your interview should be the best it can possibly be to ensure the best possible outcome. Below are 7 steps to help you conduct the perfect job interview and find the perfect candidate:

1.    Truly understand what you need for the role

Make sure you know exactly what you are looking for.  What experience or qualifications would you like to see?

2.    Determine how you will find that perfect person

If you’re looking for an individual with a professional qualification, should you advertise directly with the professional body? Are you looking for someone from a specific career sector? Is there a job board catered specifically to them?

To make sure you find the right person you need to advertise in the right place. There are now so many ways to advertise your position so get creative!

3.    Thoroughly explain the recruitment process to every interviewee

To make sure that you get a true reflection of the interviewee, they should be well prepared and confident. If they are nervous you may not see what they can bring to your organisation. Therefore, make sure that all applicants know what to expect. Will there be 1 interview or 2? Will there be an assessment or a presentation? If the applicants are prepared they will feel more relaxed and at ease.

4.    Make sure you have fully read the applicants CV

Make notes and write some questions about their CV/application form, that way you will feel ready and know what questions you are going to ask. For example:

What did they accomplish in their previous job role?
What projects did they work on?
Why did they get promoted?

5.    Ensure that the interview is a two way conversation

The best interviews are conversations that flow, that way you learn about each other. Obviously you want to know about the candidate but they also want to find out about your Company.

Make sure that you listen and acknowledge what the candidate is saying, which leads us on to your next point…

6.    Always ask follow up questions

Often, the most revealing information comes from follow-up questions. Listen to the candidates initial answer, then ask another question. For example:

How did this situation turn out?
What was learned from this?
Follow-up questions enable to candidate to go into more detail.

7.    Describe the next steps in the process

At the end of the interview always describe the rest of the recruitment process. Explain what you will do and when you plan to do it so that the candidate understands and knows what’s going to happen next.
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Are You an Effective Leader?

It is a well debated area as to what makes an effective leader but attributes such as high IQ, good technical ability and excellent communication skills often crop up when identifying what makes a highly effective leader.

However, a large body of research suggests that it is mainly ‘human skills’ that set effective leaders apart from the rest. These skills include confidence, commitment in achieving goals despite setbacks, staying calm under pressure and the ability to persuade and influence all members of the Company. The ability to be aware of your own emotions as well as understanding the situational context has been shown to be a powerful tool in leading a team.

Researches have dubbed this behaviour as ‘emotional intelligence’, consisting of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. By being ‘emotional savvy’, leaders are able to engage their team members in their work. Retention issues often stem from a lack of understanding from the leaders, resulting in disengagement and doubt. By adopting emotional intelligent behaviour and attitudes, leaders can improve team members’ motivation, reduce staff turnover and improve productivity.

Emotional Intelligence is a skill which can be learnt; it is not necessarily innate. The four main competencies which can be developed in each leader are:

Self-awareness: This can be broken down into ‘emotional self-awareness’ (the ability of a leader to recognise how their feelings affect them), and ‘self-confidence’ (having a kind of gravitas).

Self-management: This includes abilities such as self-control and the ability to stay calm under pressure, especially during a crisis, as well as maintaining focus on the task at hand.

Social awareness: This includes abilities such as empathy; cognitive empathy (understanding how others think about the world) and emotional empathy (understanding immediately how other people feel).

Relationship management: This can be achieved through exceptional teamwork and collaboration, as well as identifying and facilitating any necessary change.

Emotional intelligence is not a pathway for leaders to manipulate team members into practices and decisions which are against their best interests. Instead leaders should consider the values associated with effective leadership, including employee motivation, improved job satisfaction and better employee well-being.

Essentially, being an effective leader is not so much about handling circumstances and people proficiently, but more about knowing how to and truly wanting to create an encouraging environment for people to work as a member of a team.

If you are interested in becoming a more effective leader, please contact us to discuss possible training and development options.
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How and When Contracts Can Be Lawfully Changed

From time to time organisations may need to reorganise or restructure and, as a result, may need to amend their employee contracts. These factors create change in an organisation and can be both internal and external, for example:

Enhanced competition
Lack of skills and knowledge
Changes in law and technology
Harmonisation of terms and conditions  
A change in contract should have a solid business reason behind it and should only be changed by mutual agreement. If it is not mutually agreed or there is little justification to the change, then the employee could claim a breach of contract. It is unlawful to bully or force an employee to sign a new contract.
Employers must consult with the employees, their representatives or the trade unions to come to an agreement. This must be recorded and all changes to the contract must be written up within a month of the change happening.
In some scenarios an employee may not wish to agree to the amendments but, if an employer is able to prove they have a business justification, consulted with the employee and acted reasonably, they can unilaterally make the changes.  Alternatively an employer can terminate the contract and reemploy the individual on the revised terms and conditions.  However both of these options could invite claims for breach of contract.
If you would like any assistance with changing contracts of employment, please do not hesitate to contact one of our advisors. 
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How far can you go with background checks during the recruitment process? Recruiting and hiring staff can sometimes be a lengthy process; you want to make sure that you have the right person, in the right place, at the right time. After spending time and effort in creating a suitable advert for the position, and interviewing and screening the prospective candidates, you naturally want to make sure that there will be no hidden surprises down the line.

So what kind of checks can you perform?

Right to work in the UK: Employers must check that job applicants are allowed to work in the UK before they hire them. An employer can be fined up to £20,000 if they can’t show evidence that they checked an employee’s right to work in the UK.

Criminal records check: DBS checks will need to be carried out on candidates applying for jobs within healthcare or working with children before they can start. Unless there is a specific need to check someone’s criminal record for a job, it’s against the law for employers to refuse to employ them because of spent convictions.

Health checks: health checks can be required if it is a legal requirement (e.g. eye test for commercial vehicle drivers) or if the job requires it.

But what about more personal background checks?

Social media has become increasingly popular during the jobseeking process, especially for young people as they attempt to build an online career presence as well as seek out new job opportunities and directions.

For employers, social media throws up both opportunities and challenges within the recruitment process. There is the potential for speed, efficiency and the ability to target and attract specific candidates. There is also additional information on their personal life which may not be captured within the more traditional methods of recruitment.

However, how this additional and private information is used throws up a number of issues. Ethical questions arise as to how appropriate or relevant it is for employers to seek information about candidates’ private lives. Reasons for not short-listing candidates should not be based on the fact that you have found a few eyebrow raising pictures, which may be seen (in your eyes) as provocative or inappropriate.

A further issue of using social media within the recruitment process is that employers may leave themselves open to charges of discrimination; those who do not have access to social media are less likely to be successful in the recruitment process. Similarly, social media users tend to list personal details, such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion and political view amongst others, which makes it easy for candidates to claim unfair discrimination if they are not selected. If employers choose to use social media within the recruitment process, they need to be aware of their own biases which can easily creep in to the process.

Employers also need to be aware of data protection laws which posit that candidates should know what information will be sought about them and from whom. This includes any ‘non-obvious data’ that you might collect, which arguably, Facebook falls into.

But, you will only run into problems if you actually ‘process’ this information which could include:

Printing off a copy of their profile
Forwarding the link to a colleague
Making a reference to a Facebook search in any recruitment-related documentation
So as long as you only view a candidate’s profile, it is unlikely that you doing a quick Facebook search would breach any data protection rules. Therefore, it is best to use social media alongside other recruitment methods in order to reduce the chances of discrimination.

If you need any help with your recruitment process please contact one of our Advisors.
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Employee Personnel Files

No matter how large or small your organisation is, it is imperative that you have complete personnel records for all employees, regardless of whether they are full time, part time, temporary or permanent employees.

A good personnel file will include the following to name a few:

A Personnel File Checklist
An Offer Letter
A Contract of Employment
A CV/Application Form (for all roles applied for not just the current one)
Evidence of right to work in the UK (see below article)
2 references from previous employers
Emergency contact information (ensure this is up to date on a regular basis)
Letters to confirm any changes to T’s and C’s
Having complete up to date files will ensure you are on top of legislation along with being able to quickly and effectively update any details when they are required, making a smooth transition for the business.
If you would like assistance in undertaking a complete personnel file audit, along with a full report of recommendations, or a review of all your HR documentation and forms, please contact one of our Advisors.
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Here at PicassoHR some of us will be 'Going Sober' in aid of Women V Cancer, raising funds for 3 fantastic female cancer charities. If you would like to show your support please visit our JustGiving page at, all donations welcome.
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The Importance of Exit Interviews.

Coming to the end of an employee relationship can be a difficult and a daunting experience. Employees spend an estimated 75% of their waking hours in a work-related activity, so ending the employee relationship is a big step. It is important to establish positive ‘closure’ when an employee leaves your Company.

The feedback which can be gleaned from the exit interview can be highly valuable, even if you think they are leaving for an obvious reason, such as starting a new job.

It is often useful to wait until the person has left the Company before you conduct the exit interview, as the person may feel uncomfortable and clam up instead of being open and honest. In an open conversation, you can explore deeper into the generic statements they may give, such as ‘career development’. Was it the desire for training? Were there no suitable positions above them?

The honest conversation will flow as long as you have built up good rapport. You want to create a discussion, not an interrogation. The exiting employee needs to feel at ease, and so it is important to reassure them that no negative consequences will result from this honest discussion.

Traditional exit interviews often focus on issues such as compensation, benefits and working conditions. Although important, these factors are not always critical in an employee’s decision to leave or stay. More important factors centre on the employee-employer relationship and personal alignment with the Company’s mission and values.

The feedback and details uncovered in the exit interview need to be utilised, otherwise the exit interviews are a waste of time for everyone involved. Analyse the results and bring them to the attention of the line managers. Act upon the results in order to help you retain other talent and keep employees motivated, instead of tempted in looking for other opportunities.

If you would like help conducting an effective exit interview, please speak to one of our advisors.
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