Shift Work VS 9 to 5 image

Shift Work VS 9 to 5

Staff Squared date icon19th March 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

There are so many variables in the working world that can determine the working pattern requirements for a particular job role, or even a company as a whole. You need to take into consideration all sorts of elements, including opening hours, customer requirements (i.e. 24-hour call centre or out of hours support) and industry, just to name a few.

For example, a 24-hour supermarket will need to manage staff using shift work in order to meet both its customer demand and the welfare of its employees. Whereas, an office that supplies a service or goods during the typical Monday to Friday office hours might only need a handful or staff to work the period of the company’s 9 to 5 opening hours.

Pros and Cons of Both Working Patterns

Like anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to whether you work shifts or a set weekday pattern. Ultimately, working hours are a very important factor to consider when looking for employment. After all, the time we spend at work largely influences the way we manage our time at home.

Shift Work – The Pros

Convenience: Working different shifts leaves the door open for shift-swapping and requests for certain hours pending the next rota being created. Having this leeway makes being able to manage work and home responsibilities much easier. For example, if you have to stay at home for a morning utility maintenance appointment, you can ask to work in the afternoon or evening to accommodate that need. Maintaining a good work-life balance is very important.

Alleviates sole responsibility: When you work set hours, usually, your work is your work. You leave it when you finish for the day only to pick it straight back up again tomorrow. The difference with shift work is that once your shift ends, the person who starts work as you’re clocking off will take over where you finished.

Avoid peak hours: Depending on the shift you’re on, there will be times when you are able to make it to work in record time as a result of the mid-morning (or whatever other time of day you find yourself commuting) lull of rush and traffic. In addition, you’ll find activities such as going to the gym or doing your weekly grocery shop much less stressful as you’ll be able to do so when most other people are at work. Not only are places much quieter during the day, but most of them have lower prices during off-peak times. That’s what I’d call a win-win!

Flexibility: Want to take a day off, but have no holiday left? No problem. If you work shifts, you can speak to your manager about either swapping a shift with a colleague or simply working on a different day if the rota is yet to be posted. However, this will always be subject to availability and resource. If your team is short staffed or there’s just no way that your request can be accommodated at short notice, you might be turned down on occasion, so be mindful to let your manager know if you need a day off with enough time to arrange a suitable replacement in your absence.

Shift Work – The Cons

Inconsistency: Probably the biggest disadvantage to shift work is not having a normal routine. There are a few issues with this:

  1. Not knowing what days or hours you are going to work week-on-week makes maintaining your home and social life pretty difficult. Unless you are able to get in there fast to request a certain day off, you can’t commit to plans in advance in case you are scheduled to work. Also, it’s more likely that your friends and family will have clashing working patterns to you, making socialising trickier than if you worked set hours every week.
  2. Shift changes or cover are probable. You may have been scheduled to work on a certain day, only for that shift to be dropped at the last minute, meaning that you could have gone out with your friend, after all; or, like in many cases, if another member of staff calls in sick on your day off, you could also be asked to pick up a last-minute shift, leading to you having to cancel plans.
  3. Eating and sleeping patterns are thrown out if you work night shifts – especially if you work a contrasting set of patterns each week (i.e. one week, days, and the next week, nights). Your body clock is pushed off kilter and problems such as fatigue or insomnia can potentially occur.

Seniority comes first: This might not be the case in all companies; however, it isn’t unheard of for managers to take first dibs on the days and times they want to work, leaving their staff to pick up the shifts that they don’t want to do.

Work imbalance: This is highly dependant on the industry in which you are working. For example, if you work in a 24-hour call centre for a nationally based company, those working late or night shifts are less likely to have much work to do during those hours as the majority of the customers will require assistance in the day-time. However, night workers in a warehouse accepting deliveries might have more tiresome work than their colleagues working during the day.

Commuting: Working late at night or early in the morning when you have your own means of transport – be it your own vehicle or someone willing to drive you to and from work – is one thing; but if you work shifts that start or end at unsociable times and rely on public transport to commute, it may prove more difficult for you to get to work or home. This also brings up the concern around safety when making your way to and from work during unsociable hours.

Zero-hours contracts: Most companies use zero-hours contracts when employing shift workers, meaning that hours aren’t ever guaranteed. You could work 40+ hours one week to get less than 20 the next. Not the ideal scenario when you have bills to pay.

9 to 5 – The Pros

Structure: Having a timeframe and deadlines to complete work in encourages more efficient and productive working, which in turn reaps the rewards of gratitude and appreciation from your employer and fosters a sense of belonging and achievement in yourself. Knowing when you start, finish and break for lunch gives you the structure you need in order to well manage your time and workload.

Work-life balance: Unlike shift work where you can’t ever really relax for fear that you’ll be called in to cover a shift last minute, working normal office hours allows you the knowledge that once you’re done for the day and you shut up shop, that’s you done. You can then simply go home, have dinner and put your feet up (or whatever else you like to do with your evenings) and be comforted by the fact that you don’t have to worry about overtime, phone calls or anything else work related until tomorrow morning. The time you spend away from the workplace is your time. Knowing exactly when you are committed to working and when you have free time to do what you like is empowering. You don’t have to feel governed by work because you’re unsure on when you’ll be put on the rota, or by the fear of being contacted to work on your day off – you can simply show up on your contracted days, work your contracted hours and be paid your contracted wage or salary. Additionally, working a 9 to 5 week means that your lunch period will be smack in the middle of the day when all other services are open and readily available to you. This way, you can complete errands during the day, freeing up your evenings and weekends for other, more enjoyable things.

Income: Much unlike shift work, where you can’t guarantee to get given the same hours each week, working a fixed pattern like 9 to 5 means that you will have a steady income (unless of course you are off sick and don’t get sick pay). In this day and age, we all rely massively on our monthly pay packets, so taking home less than expected is not ideal in the slightest. Working fixed hours means that (for the most part) you can avoid this.

9 to 5 – The Cons

Perception of time: While working a fixed pattern gives you a better work-life balance than shift work does, there are still downsides to working a 9 to 5 day. The first of which being that you feel the hours you work more than if you work shifts because you spend so many of your waking hours on a repetitive cycle of wake up, work, eat and sleep; while the weekends fly by in the blink of an eye.

No flexibility: Working a set pattern of days and hours may make life much more straight forward when it comes to making plans and knowing when you can have some downtime, but it also restricts your ability to be flexible. If you’re committed to the same days and hours week in week out, you have automatically ruled out a large chunk of your time for making other plans or arrangements.

Childcare costs: If you work a solid 8 hours a day and you have a young family, the chances are that you will need to arrange some kind of childcare for at least some of the hours you spend at work, if not all. Anyone with small children will understand the stress and financial burden of having to source and pay for decent childcare. On top of that, it can be more difficult to arrange emergency leave to look after your child if the minder or service falls through or your child is poorly one day.

Overtime: Where shift work minimises the chance of being asked to do overtime based on the principle that once a shift is over, someone else picks up from where the last person left off and thus, work is completed as a joint effort; working standard hours increases the potential of needing to put in extra time to complete work to a deadline. If your employer is courteous enough to pay an overtime rate, this might not always be such a bad thing for people who want the opportunity to earn more money; but for most who are salaried, this is not always available – meaning that you put in all that extra time and energy with little to no reward.

How is Holiday Affected?

All employees are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of holiday every year. For full-time workers on five-day weeks, this should be a minimum of 28 days, while part-time workers should be awarded at least 5.6 times their weekly working time.

According to Gov.uk, workers are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of statutory leave that they take (this is only for paid holiday and does not include unpaid leave or other custom absences that your employer may allow you to take unpaid). This is worked out according to the hours that you work and how you are paid for those hours.                                                                

Working pattern: Fixed hours and fixed pay (full or part-time). How a week’s pay is calculated: How much a worker gets for a week’s work.

Working pattern: Shift work with fixed hours (full or part-time). How a week’s pay is calculated: The average number of weekly fixed hours a worker has worked in the previous 12 weeks, at their average hourly rate.

Working pattern: No fixed hours (casual work including zero-hours contracts). How a week’s pay is calculated: A worker’s average pay from the previous 12 weeks (only counting weeks in which they were paid).                    

There are no statutory rights for employees to take bank holidays off work in the UK and any entitlement to time off will be solely dependent on the terms of your contract, regardless of your working pattern.

Written by Clarisse

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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Why you should Encourage your Staff to go Outside image

Why you should Encourage your Staff to go Outside

Staff Squared date icon1st March 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about the impact that snow and other adverse weather has on businesses; so to be turning the focus on the glorious sunshine flooding the great outdoors so soon after feels somewhat bizarre. However, with Spring only three weeks away, it’s got us thinking about how much time we spend outdoors – especially when work has us stuck inside a stuffy office for an average of 8 hours a day.

Humour me, if you will. Take a minute to think about the typical amount of time that you spend outside per day – and before you think about cheating, time spent commuting doesn’t count. Now bear that in mind as you read on.

How Much Time do Office Workers Spend Outside?

In an attempt to understand what employees want from their work environment, Ambius conducted a study of 1,000 office workers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Quite concerningly, although, perhaps not very surprisingly, the findings revealed that office workers only spend an average of 47 minutes outside during a typical working day.

I say concerningly, because not only are there a multitude of benefits to be gained from exposure to nature, sunlight and fresh air, but according to UN guidelines, it would seem that those office workers are spending an alarming 22% less time outside than prisoners, who are given a minimum of 1 hour outside every day. Only 26% of the people surveyed concluded that they spend more than 60 minutes per day in the great outdoors.

The Impact on Business

It’s no secret that the wellbeing of employees goes a long way to promote engagement and productivity; but with a large number of office workers getting less exposure to natural sunlight than those who are incarcerated, it begs the question of the impact that has on the interest of employees and on your business alike.

Being cut off from the natural elements has more to answer to than you might have first thought.

A lack of fresh air and sunlight harms the immune system, leaving you open and more susceptible to colds and flu as consistently breathing stale air in and out won’t supply your body with enough oxygen to keep your white blood cells fuelled and functioning properly. It stands to reason that an increased level of illness amongst staff leads to a decrease in attendance, leaving you faced with a financial loss to business and the added pressure of having to arrange cover for your absent staff.

Then, of course, you need to consider that even if attendance levels aren’t too badly affected, mental health is at greater risk as decreased exposure to the sun has been associated with a drop in serotonin levels, which is a leading cause of major depression. Suffering from depression or otherwise being low in mood will have a significant influence on your staff’s performance at work.

In short, time spent outside can only be a good thing as it boosts the sense of wellbeing and helps to endorse good mental health.

What are the Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors?

Now that we have established some of the significant implications that decreased exposure to the outdoors can have, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why times spent outside is so good for you.

Being Outdoors Boosts Energy  

Most of us live for that very first coffee – many even feel as though they can’t function without it. As a whole, we rely so much on caffeine to get us through the day just to combat a constant flood of sluggishness and fatigue.

It’s thought that 20 minutes in the open air gives your brain an energy boost equal to that of one cup of coffee; so by spending just 1 hour a day outside, you are less likely to use caffeine as an energy supplement. Not only will it help you to increase your energy, but replacing that coffee intake with nature’s finest substance also improves your overall health.

It’s Good for Vision

Research shows that spending time outside decreases the likelihood of developing nearsightedness – something that is made all the more probable when your work involves staring at a computer monitor all day every day.

Giving your eyes a break from straining at a glaring screen all the time will also reduce the risk of headaches and migraines.

Sunlight Helps Fight Pain

Both stress and pain can have a significant impact on your focus and attention to detail, which in turn can have a knock-on effect on productivity.

The sun is said to have healing qualities. One study even suggests that exposure to high-intensity sunlight resulted in less stress and pain in surgery patients, leading to 21% less pain medication being taken.

Being Outdoors Boosts your Immune System

Breathing in the airborne chemicals produced by plants, known as phytoncides, increases your white blood cell count which helps you to fight off infections and diseases, keeping you fit and healthy.  

Restores Focus

Have you ever suffered from a mental block that has affected your ability to complete work?

Stepping outside into the fresh air and surrounding yourself by nature not only gives you that well deserved (and probably well needed) break away from your thoughts but it cleanses your mind and clears away the cobwebs that might have otherwise been preventing you from putting your best foot forward. See what I did there?

Next time you can’t think or have writer’s block – try it. Go outside for a breath of fresh air and see what happens.

And Much More…

We’ve covered just a handful of the benefits associated with being outdoors. There are many other reasons why leaving the confines of your four walls is so good for you, including:

  • An increased desire to exercise.
  • A reduced negative impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  • Increased Vitamin D intake.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Improves self-esteem.
  • Improves memory and concentration.
  • Helps you sleep better.
  • Makes you feel happier.

How to Encourage your Staff to Spend Time Outdoors

Your workplace might not be nestled deep in the luscious countryside, but that’s not to say getting outside doesn’t still have its advantages.

While bigger, more corporate companies may have the resources to create areas like gyms, yoga rooms and outside spaces for their staff, the options are obvioulsy a little more limited for smaller enterprises. However, encouraging your employees to get a little fresh air is easier than you think.

Just a few examples:

Create a greener workplace – place plants around the office. It has a positive effect on wellbeing and will make your staff want to spend more time in the open air.

Open windows and blinds –  allow as much natural light into your office as possible and keep a good circulation of air going by opening windows when the weather permits.

Outdoor meetings – if you’re lucky enough to have access to an outdoor space, make it inviting and encourage your staff to take meetings and lunch breaks there.

Walking meetings – Even if you don’t have an outside space at your disposal, implementing outdoor ‘walking meetings’ is a great way to get people moving in the fresh air – it might even lead to more productive thinking and better meeting outcomes.

Encourage walking during breaks – suggest to your staff that they go for a walk on their lunch breaks. You could even issue pedometers and promote a company wide initiative to see who can accumulate the most steps each week, additionally boosting camaraderie amongst your workforce while you’re at it.

Whichever way you encourage your staff to spend more time outside, the knock-on effects it’ll have on your business will be positive ones: happier, healthier and more productive staff can only be a step on the right direction – and yes, the pun was intended.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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Fire Safety Laws in the Workplace image

Fire Safety Laws in the Workplace

Staff Squared date icon19th February 2019

Tag iconOperations

It’s without a shadow of a doubt that fire is beneficial to us in many aspects of life. From cooking and heating to lighting and even signalling, fire in its most controlled state is a key factor to the success of mankind. However, when it isn’t managed, it becomes extremely hazardous and destructive.

14th June 2017, saw a fire break out in the 24-storey block of flats in Grenfell Tower, resulting in 70 people being injured and 72 devastating fatalities. It was a tragic and monumental event which has since reminded us all of the huge importance of fire safety and awareness – but what exactly is fire safety, and how can we ensure that we are promoting it?

Fire Safety in the Workplace

We often talk about fire safety and how best to implement fire safety procedures in our homes, workplaces, schools and other public places, but we rarely ever discuss what the term ‘fire safety’ actually means.

To put it simply, fire safety encompasses a series of preventative actions, practices and training that are put in place to help limit the risk of a fire starting and minimise the loss or damage caused in the event that a fire does occur.  

In 2017/18, UK fire and rescue services attended 187,436 fires – a number that, despite recent events, seems to only be increasing. According to figures shown by Government statistics, 53.3% of non-domestic fires happen in the workplace.

Workplace fires are a catastrophic event for any business no matter their size, and many businesses never completely recover from a fire which makes these statistics all the more frightening.

It is for this reason, among many others, that all businesses should have at least one designated responsible person or fire marshal, whose responsibility is to ensure that certain duties are carried out in a timely and satisfactory manner and that action is taken to both prevent fires from occurring and to prevent injury or death if it actually does.   

What are the Fire Regulations for Workplaces in the UK?

UK fire safety legislation is covered by ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’, under which all premises, including commercial and all other non-domestic properties fall. This order details the responsibilities that businesses are expected to meet and maintain.

Fire Risk Assessment

Every business must have a Fire Risk Assessment in place – it’s the first thing that you will be asked to provide when under inspection by the fire authority.

Your Fire Risk Assessment must be reviewed regularly and be documented if:

  • You have 5 or more employees; or,
  • The premises requires a licence; or,
  • You have been issued an Alterations Notice by the fire brigade which states otherwise.

While you are not required to document your fire risk assessment if you have 4 or fewer employees by law, it’s advised that you do for easy reference and universal understanding.

You aren’t required to have a professional fire risk assessor as long as the nominated person to carry out a fire risk assessment in your business is confident that they can:

  • Correctly identify the potential causes of a fire in the business.
  • Identify the people at risk.
  • Assess the suitability of fire safety measures in place, i.e. fire alarm systems and escape routes.
  • Assess the ongoing management of fire safety in the business, i.e fire drills and staff training.
  • Develop a fire safety action plan if changes are needed.
  • Record all the significant findings.
  • Implement the action plan if one is needed.
  • Keep the fire risk assessment updated at all times.

If you do not have a fire risk assessment and appropriate fire safety precautions in place, you can face prosecution, severe fines and, in cases of extreme negligence, prison.

Check out the .Gov website for more information on Fire Risk Assessment guidelines.

Fire Extinguishers

By law, you are required to provide “appropriate fire-fighting equipment”. This usually means having portable fire extinguishers, but higher-risk companies such as restaurants or businesses that store chemicals or flammable materials might also need hose reels or sprinklers.

Fire extinguishers must:

  • Be the correct type for the business you have and the location they are stored in.
  • Be maintained my a ‘competent’ person (usually your Fire Risk Assessor) and in good working order.
  • Have an annual maintenance test.

A minimum of two Class A fire extinguishers must be kept on each storey of the building. UK fire extinguisher regulations also specify that:

  • All premises with electrical equipment must have at least 2kg CO2 extinguishers.
  • Where there is 415 volt rated equipment, then 5kg CO2 extinguishers are required.

Read more about the types of fire extinguishers and their regulations here.

Fire Safety Signs

To be legally compliant with fire safety regulations, you will also need at least two signs (a Fire Action Notice and an Extinguisher ID sign) that are easily visible, but all that apply should be displayed.

Fire safety signs include:

  • Fire Action Notice – shows what to do in the event of a fire and is mandatory for all premises.
  • Fire Extinguisher ID sign – shows and locates each type of fire extinguisher and is mandatory for all premises.
  • Fire Exit signsshow how and where to exit in the event of a fire. These are required for all premises unless the property is small and simple to escape.
  • Fire Alarm Call Points signsare mandatory if you have a fire alarm and identify where to find and activate them.
  • Other Fire Equipment signsif you have a hose reel of a dry riser, you must signpost where they are.
  • Warning and Prohibition signshighlight danger and are needed if there is an extra risk of fire on the premises.

Fire Alarm Systems

Higher risk businesses such as restaurants are recommended to install fire alarms as an additional safeguard against fire. However, if you operate out of small premises where a fire would be obviously visible to everyone either immediately or upon the shout of ‘FIRE!’ from someone to notify others of the danger, you are not required to have a fire alarm system in place, although this is still advised even though it is not a legal requirement.

According to UK fire safety legislation, all other businesses must have an appropriate fire detection system. This means:

  • You will need either a manual or automatic system.
  • You need an automatic system if it’s highly likely that a fire could go undetected or block exit routes.
  • Everyone in the building must be able to hear the alarm clearly.
  • There must be an alarm call point by every exit on every floor.
  • Your fire detection system must be maintained in good working order
  • You must test your fire alarm weekly
  • You must have your fire alarm serviced at least every 6 months
  • The person who carries out the testing and maintenance must be competent (they may need to be certified and approved to industry standards).

Emergency Lighting

In the event of a fire, emergency lighting is essential if normal light fails. You will need emergency lighting is your building doesn’t have enough ‘borrowed’ light to safely exit the premises in the event of a power cut or in any ‘danger areas’, such as kitchens.

Emergency lighting is recommended in rooms that are 60 square meters or larger.

The main purposes of emergency lighting are as follows:

  • Highlight Escape Routes: the emergency lighting illuminates exit routes and helps you to locate fire fighting equipment.
  • Open Area Lighting: also known as ‘Panic Lighting’, Open Area Lighting keeps communal areas lit during a fire to reduce panic.
  • High-Risk Task Area Lighting: provides light to shut down potentially dangerous processes in the event of a fire.

The British Standard recommends that you have a 3-hour emergency lighting test once a year. Turning off your main light circuit will allow you to monitor your emergency lighting to ensure that there are no faults. Alternatively, if 3 hours is too big of a time period for your business to have the main lighting switched off, it is suggested that you carry out 1-hour test twice a year instead.

Fire Safety Training

Above all, fire safety training is a must! All staff should know what to do in the event of a fire and new employees should be informed upon joining.

UK legislation requires all businesses to:

  • Provide refresher training regularly (this is normally done annually).
  • Provide fire safety training updates if there are any changes that could affect fire safety procedures (such as building alterations).
  • Carry out regular fire drills.
  • Appoint people as fire marshals (to be training by fire safety professionals) who do the following in the event of an alarm:
    • Use fire extinguishers where needed.
    • Make contact with the emergency services.
    • Assist with the evacuation.

IMPORTANT: You must remember that while having the above resources and procedures in place,  you cannot guarantee that a fire safety or evacuation procedure works unless you test it in practice. Fire drills and equipment checks are essential to ensure that you and your staff are prepared for a fire in the event that the worst does actually happen.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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Being a Freelance HR Consultant using Staff Squared image

Being a Freelance HR Consultant using Staff Squared

Staff Squared date icon19th January 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

Going it alone to seek the challenge of running your own freelance HR consultancy rather than working for someone is certainly exciting. However, conceiving your new business is only the start – you still have to sell it and become a success.

Needless to say, if you now find yourself in the big wide open world of freelancing, you’re likely to have a wealth of knowledge from the time you spent working for other HR consultancies. You know the law surrounding Human Resources and you’ve handled many complex cases, dealt with trade unions and learned all you know from a highly experienced and clever head of HR; but there’s one thing you don’t have – a HR solution that you can sell to your clients to give them the ‘full package deal’.

That’s where Staff Squared can help you.

What is Staff Squared?

Lovingly crafted by Atlas Computer Systems Ltd in 2011, Staff Squared is a HR system that makes it easy to manage all HR tasks from one web based platform, including:

Onboarding

Giving your clients complete automation of their staff onboarding processes while remaining compliant with UK employment laws and legislation. The onboarding section allows you to engage with new hires from the outset, get staff actively involved in keeping their records up-to-date and automatically request them to confirm that they have read important files.

Absence management

Using an online absence calendar to manage all staff time off in one central and easy to use area, along with powerful holiday management that allows staff to request their own holiday and automates holiday processing for managers, you will be able to help you clients to easily stay on top of their absence management.

Staff Profiling and data storage

Your clients’ data will be stored in a simple, yet effective profile which is encrypted to ensure high levels of data protection at all times. Information relating to contact details, next of kin information and job relevant particulars can all be stored in their respective profile tabs to make for a tidy and attractive profile page that is easy for you to manage on their behalf.

Effective reports

Our powerful HR reporting is instantly available and easy to export. As an HR consultant, all you need to know about your clients and their HR trends will be available to you in real-time. You can even schedule reports to run regularly in your partner portal.

File management

Store all of your clients’ important documents in one secure, online, backed up location. You can also group them so it’s easy to stay organised and quickly find the files you need. Files can be stored in a shared company area, or individually on each employee’s profile. You can even upload files to your clients’ accounts directly from your partner portal.

And Much More…

With notifications for all holiday and sickness requests, handy alerts if you’re about to double book an event and integrations with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars as well as a dedicated Customer Care Team always at hand, Staff Squared is exactly what your potential client base are looking for. Don’t believe us? Check out the testimonials of some of our valued customers.

Want to find out more about Staff Squared? Book a free, no obligation demo now.

The Partner Portal

We have designed a partner portal, specifically with HR consultants in mind. A partner account with Staff Squared grants you access to multiple client accounts all from one simple platform, allowing you to log in and manage their data easily and efficiently.

The portal’s easy to navigate layout allows you to filter between your live client accounts and the clients who are currently trialling Staff Squared – a service available to any new prospective customers on a 14-day free period.

Trial accounts can be managed in the same way as live, paying accounts and, should the client decide that they want to upgrade, all the data that you have already uploaded for them will be exactly where you left it. You and your client can continue to work together in one straightforward and streamlined process.

The best part about the partner portal is that, should your business take off and see you working with other HR consultants in the future, you have the ability to add multiple users, allowing everyone who requires access to the platform capacity to manage client accounts.

Become a Partner

Staff Squared gives you the opportunity to work together with your clients seamlessly as it’s available wherever there is internet access; and here’s the best bit – becoming a Staff Squared partner is completely FREE!

Click here to apply to our partner programme or, if you would like further information on how working with us could benefit your freelance HR consultancy business, contact us on 0800 033 7569 or at support@staffsquared.com.  

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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How to Deal with Bullying in the Workplace image

How to Deal with Bullying in the Workplace

Staff Squared date icon19th January 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

Anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced workplace bullying will be the first to testify that this type of behaviour is not confined to the school playground. Finding yourself on the receiving end of unwanted attention from a bully at work can invoke a wide range of issues that can take a very real toll on both your mental and physical health. Bullying can lead to depression and poor sleep, it can affect relationships with family and friends and may even cause post-traumatic stress disorder.

Is Bullying Against the Law?

It might come as a surprise to some that bullying itself is not illegal. While it is an unpleasant act, the law cannot enforce warnings or punishments on someone who is caught to be bullying another person; however, harassment is against the law. Harassment is any negative or unwanted behaviour in relation to a protected characteristic, including:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sexual orientation

What Constitutes for Bullying in the Workplace?

According to ACAS, bullying can be characterised as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.

Bullying is not limited to face-to-face interactions; insulting or threatening emails, phone calls and text messages are considered as bullying, too.

Some examples of behaviour that could be classified as bullying include:

  • Regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding individuals from work activities.
  • Consistently attacking a member of staff in terms of their professional or personal standing.
  • Constant criticism despite good performance.
  • Having responsibilities removed or being given trivial tasks to do.
  • Shouting at staff.
  • Persistently picking on people in front of others or in private.
  • Setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines.
  • Regularly making the same person the butt of jokes.
  • Discriminating on the grounds of someone’s gender, race, disability, age, religion or sexual orientation.
  • Blocking promotion.

What to do if you’re being Bullied at Work

If you feel that you are a victim of bullying, it is crucial that you speak up. It’s neither fair on you to have to suffer at the hands, words or otherwise unfair treatment of others, nor is it acceptable for them to act as such in the first place.

However, while there is no reason why you shouldn’t look after yourself in this situation, try to bear in mind that there is a difference between a superior criticising your performance or attitude – when it’s justified – and actual bullying. Accusing someone of bullying is serious, so be sure that’s what is happening before you act. We can all let our pride and emotions get the better of us from time to time.  

The best first move is to talk to the bully. If you think you can, of course. There’s every chance that they have no idea that they’ve made you feel victimised and will likely feel terrible when they realise that what they considered to be a joke was something completely different to you. This being the case, asking them to stop what they have been doing to upset you and to be more mindful of your feelings might be the (simple) solution to your problem.

As much as we would all like to believe that our colleagues wouldn’t actively seek to victimise us, bullying in the workplace is an unfortunate reality and so, while misunderstandings can happen, this is not likely to always be the case.

Before making any moves to report your bully, research your company’s policies to find out their approach with regards to workplace harassment. Your employer has a duty of care towards your health, safety and welfare while you are at work and if you are being bullied, they have a responsibility to investigate and put a stop to the issue.

Keep a log of the harassment – every time you are bullied, make a note of the time, date and what happened. This will make it harder for the bully to deny, easier for your employer to discipline and will also serve as vital evidence in the event that your case needs to be taken to an employment tribunal.  

Once you have your evidence, have a conversation with your manager. Show them what you have recorded and explain what has been happening and for what length of time. Don’t be afraid to express how the bullying is affecting you, either, both personally and professionally.

Your manager will then be able to help you by going through the appropriate channels.

How to Prevent Workplace Bullying from Occurring

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can have a truly negative impact on your staff and, in turn, your company, leading to:

  • Poor morale and employee relations.
  • Loss of respect for management.
  • Poor performance.
  • Lost productivity.
  • Absence/resignations.
  • Legal proceedings which could also lead to compensation.

As an employer, it’s in your best interest to provide a positive and productive workplace for everyone and it’s the right of your employees to work in an environment where they feel valued and confident that they won’t become the victim of someone else’s unpleasant behaviour.

Your care of duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all staff in your employment should lead you to consider several key points that will help you to prevent bullying or harassment occurring in your company.

Have a formal policy – By creating and implementing a zero-tolerance policy, you can clearly outline to your workforce where you stand in regard to bullying. It can be a simple document, but you should consider involving you staff when you write it.

Lead by example – Staff look to their employers and management for an example of how to behave in the work environment. Having a formal policy in place is one thing, but it won’t mean much to your staff if you don’t adhere to it yourself. Put your best foot forward at all times and your employees will most likely follow suit.

Maintain procedures – Bullying is serious and, while it should be the case for all company policies, the rules laid out in your zero-tolerance policy should be a one-size-fits-all deal. There’s no room for one rule for one and another for many. It’s important that you maintain fair and across the board procedures when dealing with complaints from employees.

Make standards of behaviour known – Set out the standards of behaviour expected of your employees in a place other than your policy – perhaps the staff handbook. This information should be available in multiple mediums and should be made known to all staff from the moment they begin employment.

How to Respond to Workplace Bullying as an Employer

Despite your efforts to prevent bullying from happening in your company, occasionally, there might be an instance when you do have to deal with a bullying complaint. If this happens, address the situation immediately.

If your company has a Human Resources department, bring it to their attention and make sure that you are following company guidelines for addressing workplace bullying and harassment – don’t worry if you need to re-read your zero-tolerance policy first. Getting it right is what’s important.

Some companies just starting out or simply small in numbers may not have a HR department, in which case, you should sit down for a conversation with the individual who is bullying their colleague to talk about their actions. Make sure you document everything, including:

  • Details of the incident(s).
  • Dates, times and witnesses.
  • Information about your meeting.

At the end of the meeting, inform the offending employee of the consequences of their actions and what will happen should the bullying continue.

The situation will need to be monitored to ensure that the bullying doesn’t persist, and you should make a point of following up with the victim. Being the subject of bullying can have a lasting effect, so it’s important to make sure that they are okay and have the correct support in place if they need it.

Further Information

Most employees are very hot on keeping on top of bullying and harassment; however, should you or a colleague be experiencing unpleasant or unwanted behaviour from someone at work and don’t feel you can talk to your employer, or that they aren’t handling it in the right way, contact ACAS for further advise.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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There’s Snow Place Like Home: Working Remotely in Adverse Weather Conditions image

There’s Snow Place Like Home: Working Remotely in Adverse Weather Conditions

Staff Squared date icon15th January 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

As a business owner, you must be prepared for when things don’t necessarily go to plan; however, sometimes no matter how much preparation you have in place, you may just get caught off guard. With the threat of more snow hitting the UK in weeks to come, it got us thinking about last year’s Storm Emma and the ‘Beast in the East’.

With the inconvenience that extreme weather can cause business, should companies have plans in place that will allow staff to work remotely from home in such an event of?

What is Adverse Weather?

The term ‘adverse’ is defined as ‘unfavourable’ or ‘harmful’ and is normally a word best used to characterise conditions or the effects that something has on people or situations. Therefore, in terms of natural elements, the phrase ‘adverse weather’ is used to describe a weather event that is significantly different from the average pattern and causes hazardous conditions. These severe weather conditions can include anything from thunderstorms, flooding and snow, to extreme heat.

Where the UK Differs from Other Countries

Across the globe, there are plenty of locations that are no strangers to the impact of adverse weather conditions. Countries like Canada and the northernmost parts of Europe are well adapted to occurrences of heavy snowfall, with efficient infrastructures ensuring that little to no disruption to society is caused in these events. Similarly, countries that lay where the equator falls are well acclimatised to the extreme heat they experience.

The simple fact of the matter is that the UK is just not accustomed to experiencing extreme and adverse weather. While there are historical instances of these events occurring, they are few and far between. Before the snowfall that started to hit on Monday 26th February 2018, the UK as a whole had not experienced such severe weather since December 2010.

A few inches of snow and most of the UK was ground to a halt, with many rail services being greatly restricted or, in some cases, cancelled completely, and roads too treacherous to drive on. This is down to many contributing factors, including lack of preparation and ageing infrastructure.

Why it’s Important for Companies to be Prepared for Adverse Weather

Regardless of the reasons behind the struggles we face as a nation when it comes to adverse weather, it is important to recognise that the disruption it causes has a massive impact on businesses. Most obvious is the issue of staff actually being able to make it into the office.

With hazardous road conditions and major disruptions to public transport, it is unsurprising that employees will struggle to make it into work safely or on time. Working parents will experience the added pressure of school closures, with no alternative child care arrangements; meaning that they will have no other option but to stay at home.

In some cases, where instances of high winds or thunderstorms occur, the issue may be that the weather affects the office environment, making it impossible to carry out work at all. For example, where a power line comes down or internet connections are disrupted or lost.

Even if staff are still able to make it into work during a bout of severe weather, it doesn’t necessarily mean business as usual. With the unpredictability of mother nature, management will still need to keep a ‘weather eye’, so to speak.

It is important in these situations to keep tabs on the real-time progression of both the weather and the forecast throughout the day, to ensure that staff will be able to make it home safely before weather conditions become too dangerous.

With this in mind, we believe that it is important for companies to cover themselves for the inevitability of an (albeit irregular) bad weather day.

Things to Consider Before Closing the Office due to Adverse Weather

If employees are going to be spending hours struggling to make it into work and you are fortunate enough to have the resources to allow staff to work from home, they might as well use the time more effectively, working where they can rather than wasting valuable time.

Not only does allowing staff to work from home during these occasions mean that they are both safe and able to continue with work, but it enhances morale and staff productivity. If you decide to keep the office open, even during hazardous weather, and expect your staff to make it into work without fault or delay, it is likely that they will not feel valued or cared for, potentially leading them to be less responsive to their work duties.

The key to being able to successfully facilitate remote working during adverse weather is planning ahead. As instances of adverse weather leading to office closures are rare, it stands to reason that employers should be prepared for unexpected situations.

Before making the decision to close the office, it is important to consider the following points:

  • Do staff have the means to work from home? In some cases, they may not have adequate equipment or software to allow them to continue with their work.
  • Do you have measures in place to enable staff to complete work from a location away from the office? For example:
    • All systems needed to pick up work must be accessible.
    • An effective office communicator is not essential but would be beneficial in enabling staff to correspond with one another.
  • Can you provide work tasks for staff? You should also ensure that they understand what they are required to do and that they have a means of contacting a member of management if they find any difficulties throughout the day.

What Else Should be Included in an Adverse Weather Policy?

First and foremost, an Adverse Weather Policy should be used to balance the protection of employee health and safety with the assurance that the business can continue to run as efficiently as possible, given the circumstances.

This is especially important in the extreme event that a business is forced to close its office during a turn of adverse weather. In conjunction with this, an effective Adverse Weather Policy should also include procedures surrounding:

Travel Disruptions

A vast majority of employees are commuters, having to travel to and from work either via public transport or by other means. Unfortunately, travel disruptions are unavoidable at the best of times, especially during a turn of the elements. Be sure to include the procedure you expect your staff to follow in the event of travel disruption.

Absence and Pay

While it is not a legal requirement to provide pay for absence as a result of adverse weather, it is important that staff are made aware of your policy. You may wish to offer a goodwill gesture of up to a specific number of holiday days redeemable to compensate for work missed due to the weather. Alternatively, you might not want to offer to pay for these instances at all. Either way, full transparency is a must.

In the event that your office has to close due to the severity of weather conditions, you must detail your employees’ right to pay.

School Closures or Childcare Issues

Employees are entitled to take unpaid time off in the case of an emergency where a dependant is involved, including the disruption of care arrangements. All working parents should be made aware of this right.

Training and Disciplinary Aspects

Any training relevant to the policy and its procedures should be provided to those who will be dealing with the day-to-day aspects of weather disruption. The policy should also outline the steps an employer must take in the event that they feel a staff member is taking advantage of bad weather as a convenient excuse not to come into work, including any disciplinary action if necessary.

Further Information

If you require any further information regarding the effects adverse weather on businesses, visit the ACAS website.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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