Agile Monthly Newsletter – January 2021

 

 

January Newsletter 2021

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Government Latest Announcements 

 

With the new National lockdown announcement, you may have employees you now need to furlough. This may be the first time you are considering using the furlough scheme or you may have used it in the last year.

Here is a reminder of the main points on the Job Retention Scheme (furlough):

  • The scheme is currently set to run until the end of April 2021 (there are calls to further extend this).
  • To be eligible for the scheme, the employee must have been on your RTI payroll submission on 30 October 2020.Employees who were not on payroll at that point or who started with you after 30 October won’t be eligible for the scheme (again, there are calls to review this).
  • Employers can ask employees to stop working altogether (although they remain an employee) or ask them to reduce to part time hours (known as flexi-furlough).
  • The employer can claim a furlough grant from the government of 80% of the employee’s usual hours that aren’t worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (pro-rata if the individual is working some hours for you).
  • Unlike the first scheme, the furlough periods do not have to be in blocks of at least 3 weeks, however, claims must be made in blocks of a minimum of 7 calendar days).
  • Employees working flexible furlough hours receive full pay for the hours they work and will receive 80% for the hours not worked (subject to the maximum claim cap).
  • The employer is liable for National Insurance and pension costs.
  • To agree furlough, you should consult with your employees (or recognised Trade Union) to seek their agreement and you must confirm the changes in writing to your employee (they don’t now have to confirm their acceptance in writing).A written record of the agreement must be kept for 5 years.You must also keep a record of your employees’ furlough and working hours.
  • Employees cannot carry out any work for you during furlough hours.However, they can carry out training, volunteer for another organisation or work for another employer (if their contract of employment allows this).
  • You don’t have to furlough all your staff and you don’t have to have furloughed that particular individual prior to October 2020 to ask them to furlough now.You can place them on furlough now, return them to work and furlough them again later (subject to their agreement).
  • Holiday continues to accrue throughout furlough.An employee can take holiday whilst they are on furlough.However, you are able to restrict taking holiday or request holiday to be taken (subject to the correct notice being given).As holiday continues to accrue, it is a good idea to actively manage the annual leave your employees are taking to avoid problems later.Any holiday an employee takes during a period of furlough has to be paid at their normal rate of pay (100% rather than 80%).The employer is liable for the top up to full pay.
  • From 1 December 2020, HMRC will start to publish information about businesses who make furlough claims, to deter fraudulent claims being made.

There are various grants and sources of financial assistance available for businesses, in addition to the furlough scheme.  Use this link to find out what your business may be eligible for: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder

Finally, a reminder that if you employ an apprentice before the end of March, you may be eligible to claim an additional £2,000 bonus from the Government.

 We also have letters available. For further advice and support, please contact Petra Martins petra@agilehrconsulting.com.

Creating an Agile workforce

So, we’re back in lockdown and for many it feels a bit like groundhog day.  However, we do have the vaccine to look forward to and there is a light at the end of the tunnel (go on, squint, you can see it, right down the end there).

What this last year has really demonstrated to many businesses is the need to be able to react quickly, efficiently and decisively to change and to adapt to new business situations with ninja like skills that we could never have accurately predicted.  We need a workforce and systems that are agile (like us).  But how do you create that?

  • Create flexible spaces and mindsets – When you create the space and environment for flexible working, people perform better.  They are able to work when and where is comfortable for them and which supports their outside lives, and this allows for more creativity and innovation.  Many businesses have found that contrary to their concerns, since lockdown forced flexible working, productivity has gone up.  Flexibility also allows you to respond quickly to changing circumstances such as customer and supplier needs by being there when they need them rather than just between core office hours.
  • Build trust – Trusting your teams to do their work without micromanagement or constant physical visibility is key to creating an agile workforce.  Where you build trust, you are building a culture that supports creativity and a safe environment for employees to try out new ideas without the fear of failure.  Of course, support for development is important and if this is carried out in an environment where the employee feels trusted and supported, you will unlock their full potential, loyalty and adaptability.
  • Have and encourage a growth mindset (i.e. a belief that development and improvement are continuous and not fixed) – Having a mindset that sees change as an exciting challenge rather than something to be feared and avoided creates an organisation that can quickly recognise, embrace, adapt to and take advantage of new opportunities, technologies and ways of working that keep you ahead of the competition.  To develop a growth mindset in your teams, encourage accountability for one’s own actions and inactions, create space for everyone to have a say and to collaborate, be mindful of how your behaviours and actions affect others in your business, encourage learning and development, take risks and accept failures and encourage innovation at all levels.
  • Actively manage people’s potential and skills – If you are able to readily recognise and use your teams and individual’s expertise, skills, knowledge and potential, you are much more likely to be able to swiftly deploy the skills you need to the areas of the business or to projects that need them.  By exploring latent (those not used in people’s current roles) and developing potential skills, you can redirect your resources swiftly and wisely.  Your products and services are easy for your competition to replicate.  Your people and the way they work are not – this is your competitive edge.
  • Be clear and create a vision – By being clear and consistent with your teams about your ambitions for the business and for the future, by clearly defining what ‘good’ looks like and what you value in your people, you are encouraging a culture where people clearly understand the direction of travel and their contribution to making that happen.  People who understand what the businesses wants and how they fit into the bigger picture are more able to be flexible in their thinking and working to reach those goals.  They are more likely to collaborate and share ideas and experiences that contribute to long term success.

For further advice and support with taking steps to create an agile workforce contact jenny@agilehrconsulting.com

What’s that you say?  There is life after Covid? Climate Change – the new focus for 2021

We all hope that Covid recedes into our memories throughout 2021 and we at Agile HR hope that the new talk of the town will be how we can work collectively to tackle climate change.
We all know there is a limited and ever decreasing window of opportunity to reverse the effects of climate change through our actions.  We’ve all enjoyed watching Blue Planet and have watched with interest the Greta effect. 
However, doing something positive ourselves can feel overwhelming with the enormity of the task.
In November 2021, a Climate Conference to be held in Glasgow will see world leaders come together to agree and set targets for climate change action, which are billed to be significant as the targets agreed at the 2015 Paris summit fell well short of what was needed and even then, haven’t been met.
There is likely to be renewed commitment to steep carbon emission cuts and to invest in renewable energies (just look at the Tesla share price hike for evidence of that!) and legislation is likely to be recommended that enforces businesses to report how their operational and financial actions and decision making processes contribute to these global and national targets.

From a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) perspective, investors and customers are increasingly likely to focus on businesses that have clear strategies and strong climate change ethics.

So, it makes financial and business sense to focus on climate change.  To attract and retain top talent in your organisation, you should expect to be asked to identify and explain your positive actions and ambitions on environmental matters.

No matter the size of your business, small steps can mean you are doing your bit for the planet, are preparing your business for a greener future and are staying ahead of game for mandatory rule changes.

Here are the top things you can do as a business to tackle climate change:

  1. Audit your working environment.Do you have recycling stations (and are they used), have you done away with disposable cups and plates, do you encourage lift sharing or environmentally friendly ways of travelling to and for work, have you carried out an energy survey and replaced old lightbulbs to LED, are you reducing your energy consumption where possible?
  2. Look at your financial investments.Are you steering away from investing in non-renewable energies and businesses that do harm to the planet, are you consciously investing in ‘green’ businesses?
  3. Audit your supply chain.Are you reducing your carbon footprint within your supply chain as far as possible?
  4. Create and strategy and intentions.Do you have a CSR/environmental strategy to which all your employees have contributed and can work towards, are all your employees, customers and stakeholders aware of your commitments and are they working with you to reduce your carbon footprint?
  5. Make it fun! Find fun ways to promote, incentivise and reward actions that help your business reduce its carbon footprint.
  6. Monitor your progress.Consciously examine your progress.Celebrate your wins, grow your ambitions and adjust your targets where you need.

For more information and guidance on how you can do your bit for our natural world, contact petra@agilehrconsulting.com

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