Common pitfalls of employing people and what to do about them...

As an HR Consultant there are some pretty common scenarios that I come across regularly.

  1. Not setting out the employment relationship or terms clearly.

I do talk about this a lot but it's important to set out the expectations on both sides from the outset. If you don't then you could find that what evolves isn't what you thought you had agreed to and all of a sudden that zero hours worker or contractor is actually classed as an employee due to the way in which they are working.

You can take a free IR35 questionnaire here if you aren't sure. However get contracts in place and make sure they are up to date. The small cost of this massively outweighs the consequences of getting this wrong.

2. Not carrying out a proper disciplinary procedure

Quite often I will be approached by an employer who will say that they have an employee where there is persistent misconduct. In their mind they are moving towards dismissal. They will tell me that they have given them warnings prior to this point. When I review the paperwork I find that these warnings have been issued with no investigation or disciplinary hearing and we then have to start from scratch.

Make sure you have a disciplinary procedure and follow it, if you don't have one or can't afford to get one written then use the ACAS Code of Conduct and guidance. You cannot give a formal warning without holding a disciplinary hearing, the purpose of which is to give the employee the opportunity to respond to the allegations and for you to then make a decision as to the appropriate action to take.

3. Not carrying out an impartial investigation

A grievance has been raised or you have an issue where misconduct has occurred. You speak to those involved, think you have a good idea of what happened or you were a witness to something yourself. So you press ahead with formal action and then things get messy.

You need to make sure that whoever carries out an investigation is impartial. Sometimes this could be someone in the business at the appropriate level who has not been involved previously. Sometimes it's better to get an external HR Consultant to do this. Make sure that all witnesses are cautioned about confidentiality to avoid collusion and get them to sign their witness statements.

4. Not consulting on changes to someone's job, location or in a redundancy situation

Again, often I am asked to come in and help with redundancy situations and when I tell the employer that they need to factor in a consultation period they tell me they don't have time for this. Failure to consult means that the redundancy process and subsequent dismissal could be seen as unfair in an employment tribunal.

Factor this time in, get help early on if you are going to outsource to an HR Consultant. We aren't trying to complicate or delay things we are just trying to minimise any risks for you. You also need to consult on things like minor changes to job descriptions, this doesn't have to be a drawn out process.

5. Rushing the recruitment process

Recruiting takes time, screening applications and interviewing takes you away from the day job. So you invite a couple of people in and after a short chat think yep they can do the job and make an offer. You want them to start asap and they seem ok so that's a done deal. Then after a few months you find that they aren't a good fit or that they don't have the skills that you require.

It's really worth setting out your criteria clearly before you start. Then measuring against this in interviews. Take the time to think about questions that don't just focus on competencies but also that bring out their values, work ethic and approach. Honestly in the long run this time is well spent.

These are just a few examples and I am sure my HR colleagues could site more. For solutions to any of your HR or people problems get in touch

HR - The Business Case

Whilst I see a lot of posts on LinkedIn and indeed am guilty of writing some of these myself stating that businesses of any size need an HR resource, a lot of these seem to focus on the fear factor, i.e. you'll breach employment legislation if you try and manage things on your own. Whilst this is a valid point and indeed I do work with clients who perhaps have had their fingers burned whilst trying to manage a difficult employee issue without professional advice, there are far more benefits that HR can bring to a business and it's worth pointing these out.

We know every trick in the book

Whilst you may not be familiar with a disciplinary hearing or a redundancy process, we have been there and got the T shirt. This means that we have also vast experience of most situations and can think quickly, already have a plan B and know what to say in a meeting.

Recently I was working with a client who asked me to sit in on some redundancy consultation meetings. He was particularly worried about one employee who was to be accompanied by their union representative. There was a point in the meeting where the union representative mentioned something in passing which related to a clause in the employment contract that the employer had opted not to enforce. I immediately picked up that the employee was concerned that this would be enforced and therefore we were able to use this as a point for negotiation. The employer had completely missed this inference but it led us to reaching a mutually agreeable solution for both parties.

We are people experts

People are a resource in any business. An extremely important one and in the words of Richard Branson your employees are more important than your customers. Whatever you think of this statement if one of your company vehicles broke down would you google how to fix it and attempt this yourself? This would be likely to take a lot longer to fix and you could end up making the problem worse meaning the vehicle was out of action for longer. Hopefully you would call in a mechanic. It's fundamentally no different. We know what we are doing, can quickly fix the problem and we have a great network and can source the best deal for anything that needs to be 'bought in' e.g. employee benefits, occupational health, HR software etc.

It saves you time

You started your business because you are an expert in .........

You are the face of your business, the one every customer wants to speak to and you frequently find yourself switching cogs because lets face it whilst you might have a loyal and hardworking team of employees, they don't have the same vested interest in the business being profitable that you do. So you spend your day being pulled in a variety of different directions and making what feels like every decision no matter how small.

Is this really the best use of your time?

Imagine what you could be doing if someone came in and took the day to day people administration off your hands? You could be strategising, planning world domination or merely doing the parts of your job that you enjoy, the reason you set up your business in the first place. Ultimately making your business more successful!

The numbers add up

Imagine a world where Jack, who has worked for you for 10 years came in on time, didn't take at least 10 days off sick a year and was actually working to full capacity when he was in the office. Imagine the rest of the team not feeling demoralised by the fact that Jack gets away with this behaviour and spending at least half an hour a day moaning about it in the kitchen.

Here is a rough calculation of what Jack is costing your business each year.

Annual salary £30,000

Daily rate £115 x 10 sick days £1,115

Average loss for Jack being 15 mins late each day £996

Loss of productivity each day £7475

Loss of productivity of the rest of the team £7,968 based on 30 mins today and 4 team members earning the same as Jack.

Total in money you are paying people for no return each year £17554

Now imagine a world where this time is not lost.... how many extra sales would that generate? How much more capacity would you have to take on new clients before having to recruit an additional member of staff?

Compare this to the rough cost of employing an HR Consultant for 2 days per month for a year which on that level of retainer equates to £7,200 per annum.

It's a no brainer really.

Get in touch today or 07960 934428

Outplacement support - what makes a provider stand out?

With redundancy and redeployment featuring heavily on Linkedin feeds at the moment it's worth considering the benefits of good outplacement support and what sets these providers apart

Frequently we think of outplacement as help with CV's and interview techniques.   Whilst this should be provided as standard with any package, there are other vital elements to the package, that Mint HR Solutions have designed our services around.

  1. Remaining up to date with current job search methods
  2. Helping the individual to move on both physically and mentally
  3. Helping to build confidence in an individual
  4. Being flexible to the needs of the individual

Sometimes, identifying a provider can be a bit of an after thought or a tick box exercise but if done well, choosing the right provider can make a huge difference.

1. Remaining up to date with current job search methods

A good career coach should ensure that they are constantly up to date on the latest methods for job searches.  With employers and recruiters now using social media as standard to advertise jobs, research candidates and attract new talent it is essential that any outplacement provider has an in-depth knowledge of these methods as well as the latest selection techniques.

2. Helping the individual to move on both physically and mentally

Being made redundant is one of the most stressful situations an individual can face.  In some situations they will be working a notice period and whilst it's difficult to avoid a level of negativity during these difficult periods, a good outplacement coach will provide support not only with helping them to find a new role but also in helping them to move on mentally.  This not only benefits the individual but also the Company as it shows the staff that are staying that their colleagues are being treated fairly and are accepting the change.

3. Helping to build confidence in an individual

Often redundancy brings with it a crisis of confidence, especially in employees with a long period of service.  Outplacement support should include coaching on building confidence to enable someone to use the opportunity to re-evaluate their career goals, perform to the best of their ability at interviews and to ensure that the transition to their new role goes as smoothly as possible and they are excited about the challenges ahead.

4. Being flexible to the needs of the individual

Each individual will have different needs and abilities and a good outplacement support coach will be able to provide support in all areas.  Some will be looking for a new role, others might want to start their own business or go freelance.  Some will need extra support getting to grips with technology and others might really struggle to sell their skills at interview.

5 Reasons why it's important to get your HR Documents right

1.  First Impressions Count

Ensuring that contracts, employee handbooks and template letters are all in line with legislation and up to date creates a last impression.  Not just for your employees but also if you were ever unfortunate enough to end up in an Employment Tribunal the evidence you present will show a Company that takes this responsibility seriously.

2.  Clear Expectations

Having clear policies and written statements of terms and conditions (contracts) provides clear expectations for both you and your employees.  The same goes for job descriptions, getting these right sets out for both parties what is required.

3.  Employment Legislation

There are frequent changes to employment legislation and you could unknowingly fall short if you don't keep up to date with the latest changes.  It's important not to let your Employee Handbook get dusty in a draw, it should be regularly reviewed and published to all staff.

4.  Clear Processes

If you do encounter an issue such as a disciplinary or grievance, there are clearly outlined processes for both you and your employee to follow.  An Employment Tribunal will always look at whether an employer has followed their own policy so getting these right and sticking to them is vital.  

5.  Consistency

Having processes in place ensures that everyone is dealt with fairly and consistently, avoiding ill feeling amongst staff who may feel that they have been treated differently.  Frequently you will also be asked to provide policies to accompany a tender such as an Equal Opportunities Policy so it could help you win future business too.

Mint's Quick Interview Tips

One of the questions I get asked frequently is how to conduct an interview well.  So I thought that I would share some quick tips.


Remember that the candidate is also assessing you and the Company to see whether it's somewhere they would like to work.  Therefore you need to create a good first impression.  Ensure that the area you are conducting the interview in is quiet, private and tidy.  Remember to offer the candidate a drink and put them at ease, explaining the format of the interview and introducing any members of the panel.

2. ASK

Take the time to plan questions in advance.  This means that all candidates are being assessed on a level playing field.  It's often best to start by asking the candidate to talk about themselves e.g. tell us about your career to date.  This is something they will be able to talk confidently about and will help them to relax.  Make sure you take notes and be aware that a candidate can request a copy of their interview notes up to 6 months after the interview.


Give the candidate a chance to ask you any questions.  Ideally they will feel confident enough to do this as you go along which makes the interview into more of a two way conversation.  However always check at the end that they don't want to ask anything else.  The interview is a chance for you to explain more about the Company, yes they should have done some research in advance but it's an opportunity to for you to expand on the role they have applied for, why it has arisen and where it fits into the overall strategy.


This section might sound obvious but I was once told by someone that they felt pressured into offering someone a job at the end of an interview because they didn't know what else to say to bring things to a close.  Once the interview is over, explain what the process will be from here on and also the likely timescales.  

5 Tips for happy staff

Happiness in the workplace leads to increased productivity, lower turnover of staff and creates fantastic ambassadors for your brand.

love my job.jpg

Here are Mint's top tips for creating a happy workforce:

1. Show your appreciation
Recognising and acknowledging good performance doesn't have to cost money. Saying thank you or sharing successes leads to employees feeling appreciated and they are more likely to go the extra mile in future.

2. Communicate
Keep employees up to date with what is going on with the business. A lack of internal communication can lead to frustration, duplication of work and sometimes a feeling of being kept in the dark which can lead to a lack of motivation. Send a quick email each week or take the time to go and speak to your staff and find out what is going on with them.

3. Work life balance
Remember that your staff have families and a life outside of work. Allowing some flexibility and being sympathetic when they are facing issues outside of work can pay dividends in terms of their commitment to their job.

4. Provide Employee Benefits
These don't have to cost the earth. Providers such as provide free samples of products to your staff in exchange for feedback and the best part is it costs nothing to sign up.

5. Get to know your employees
Whilst everyone is busy, taking the time to get to know your team leads to a more engaged workforce. If you take the time to ask them how they are or arrange social events for people to get together outside of work from time to time this will create a feeling of belonging in your business. 

Mint tips for managing attendance

So today brings yet another train strike for Southern and thousands of people will struggle to get to and from work.  This is the 29th strike in this dispute and it seems that a resolution is still a long way off.

So here are our top 5 tips for managing attendance during these types of untoward incidents.

  1. Ensure you have a clear policy regarding absence due to travel interruptions, adverse weather, family emergencies so all employees know what to do and what options are available to them in these circumstances.
  2. Flexibility goes a long way on days like these. If you are able to then allow people to work from home or change their hours in order to maintain productivity. Again a work from home policy would be a useful addition to your handbook.
  3. Ensure that those who aren’t affected by the strike are afforded the same flexibility and empathy on occasions where they require this.
  4. Plan in advance where possible e.g. if you have scheduled a team meeting on a day where travel is difficult look to rearrange it, change the venue or perhaps utilise other means of technology e.g. video or telephone conferencing facilities.
  5. Work with your employees to come up with solutions. Could they group together and share a taxi to work or car share. Remember if you fund transport such as taxis this can be seen as a taxable benefit so it’s worth bearing this in mind.

For further advice or the drafting of any policies get in touch today.