HR U Can Trust Blog

A blog providing trustworthy Human Resources advice to business owners, managers and employees plus the occasional LOL true story from the workplace.

Your guide to minimizing conflict in a family business

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Your guide to minimizing conflict in a family business

Being part of a family business can seem like a dream come true for many people. The opportunity to work alongside your nearest and dearest to pursue your goals and create financial independence is something that can have huge appeal. So, it’s no surprise that Harvard Business School has reported that family firms account for two thirds of businesses across the globe.

Regardless of how close your family unit may be, there are unique challenges that come hand-in-hand with working alongside your relatives. It might sound good on paper, but when you have to line manage your brother and answer to your sister-in-law, all before 9am, cracks can very easily start to appear.

It’s vital that you lay the right foundations for avoiding unnecessary conflict. Here, we share some of our top tips.

Utilize official channels of communication

It’s natural to occasionally want to discuss work outside of the office, especially if you’re socializing with people who play an active role in the projects that you’re working on. However, it’s important to think about the potential consequences. Imagine that you tell your family members about some big upcoming changes within the business over Sunday dinner. By the time they get to work the next day, they’ve already digested the information, and they’re eager to discuss the details with their colleagues. Your other members of staff are going to feel out of the loop. This can only lead to despondency. Schedule meetings where all stakeholders can be present, and stick to other topics of conversation when socializing with family.

Create a succession plan

You might plan on handing your business over to your children when the time comes for you to enjoy your retirement, but making assumptions is never wise. They might have other plans, or they could quite simply be lacking the skills required to take over.

No one wants to think about what will happen when they’re no longer around, but if you want your business to survive and provide opportunities for your family for years to come, then it’s essential that you carefully consider what the management structure will look like in the future.

Ensure everyone knows who they should answer to

Think about the structure of traditional businesses. Employees have line managers, they know who’s in charge and where they should turn to for guidance and management. Just because the majority of your staff happen to be relatives, doesn’t mean that you should neglect the creation of an organizational hierarchy.

Of course, this also applies for non-family employees. They need to know who they can go to when they have questions, who they should be taking direction from on a daily basis, and who will be carrying out their important HR-related discussions, such as performance reviews.

Seek out external HR assistance

It can be hard to make impartial, strategic decisions when you’re dealing with family members. As your business grows, it makes sense to bring in some external HR help. This will give you a sounding board for your worries and concerns. You’ll be able to ensure that you’re acting in accordance with the law, and you’ll get guidance on how to handle difficult situations.

Our retainer clients love having the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can just pick up the phone and talk to us about their latest challenges, whether it be a small issue that they want to nip in the bud, or something more complex that they need to get right.

Want to discuss how we could work together, to make sure that you get timely and confidential HR advice? Give us a call today and we can talk you through your options, without any kind of obligation.

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Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

GOALS FOR THE YEAR   …read more


MARCH MADNESS – A Guide For Employers

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, March 06, 2018

MARCH MADNESS – A Guide For Employers


Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no escaping from basketball at the moment. We’re about to enter March Madness. Business owner’s will likely have to handle some issues that go a little deeper than arguing with your partner over the remote control.

Between March 13 and April 2, when the tournament draws to a close, there will be some key considerations that you’ll have to make to ensure that it’s business as usual in your workplace, as much as possible.Here, we tell you what you need to know.


Be flexible wherever possible


Trying to bury your head in the sand is very rarely a good idea. Acknowledge that basketball is a top issue at the moment. You may well have members of staff who want to tune into the games. Consider reworking your timetables to accommodate any requested time off, or make provisions for watching big matches in the break room.

Operational requirements should always be at the top of your agenda, but if you’re organized, it’s very possible to offer a degree of flexibility without it having an impact on productivity and output. In fact, you’re likely to find that it will boost morale and motivation, which is always a positive thing.


Always apply your existing people policies


You don’t have to start from scratch and create a policy that handles the implications of sporting events. It’s very likely that everything you need will already be covered in your current policies and practices, including provisions around annual leave, sickness absence, and alcohol in the workplace.

If you suspect that your documentation is no longer fit for purpose, or that changes need to be made to ensure that you’re compliant with relevant laws and better practice, then take this as you cue for getting things sorted. We can carry out a review of where you currently are and make recommendations for moving forward.


Consider your stance on social media usage


Social media usage is another consideration that you may well already have covered within your existing policies. It’s a relatively new issue though. It’s important to consider the fact that your staff may be turning to social platforms and online news sources to stay up to date with the latest scores and commentary.

A web use policy should encompass what’s acceptable and what isn’t. It should be very clearly communicated to all employees. Remember to keep things fair. It wouldn’t be a good idea, for example, to allow basketball fans to use social media during March Madness, and apply a blanket ban on usage for other reasons. Remember that not everyone is interested in the game!


In just a couple of weeks, basketball will become a distant memory for many people. In the here and now however, it’s important that you consider your role as a leader and ensure that problems and issues are sidestepped wherever possible.

If you’re concerned about the implications of big sporting events, and you’d like to take the opportunity to chat with an expert HR consultant about your responsibilities as an employer, then get in touch for a no-obligation chat about how we might be able to help.

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​ Think Your Business Is Too Small To Worry About HR? Think Again…

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Think Your Business Is Too Small To Worry About HR? Think Again…

 Growing a business from the ground up can be one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences in the world, and we’ve worked with ambitious leaders at practically every stage. From recruiting your very first member of staff, to really stepping things up a level and recruiting entire teams and departments. We’ve helped business owners navigate it all.

When you’re at the beginning of the journey, however, you can feel like getting some help with HR is not entirely necessary. You might see it as an extra expense that you just don’t need, or a ‘nice-to-have’ that you’ll come to at some point in the future. The reality though is that if you’ve got big ambitions for your business – whether that be in terms of income or impact – then working with an HR consultant in the early days could be one of the wisest moves you make.

Of course, you could say we’re biased, and you’d have a valid point. But if you think your business is too small to worry about HR, we’d like to at least encourage you to consider whether you might in fact be ready for that next step.

Here are some important reasons why even the smallest of business owners should reconsider their approach…

Small business owners aren’t exempt from complying with legislation

It’s true that there are certain legal requirements that don’t apply to smaller businesses. However, there are many, many pieces of employment legislation that you must comply with whether you have 1 or 1,000 members of staff. If you’re not compliant, you’re running the risk of having legal action taken against you, regardless of how small you might be, or how recently you started hiring staff.

Prevention is always better than cure

It’s easy to take your eye off the ball with your HR practices, and let issues bubble away beneath the surface. So for example, you might have no problems whatsoever when it comes to absence management with the three members of staff you currently have, so you see no reason to implement a policy.

But you might find that as your team grows, you start to hit bumps in the road. Having some robust and clearly communicated policies and practices from the onset is likely to save you from a whole load of HR headaches, and ensure that you’re growth-proofing your business.

Good HR practices could save – and make – you money

You’re no doubt already aware that HR problems could cost you money, and could also cost you your reputation as a business owner and employer. A little investment could go a long way towards saving you a chunk of cash in the near and distant future.

HR can help you to generate more cash and more profits, as well. While plenty of leaders turn to marketing to tick this box, it’s essential that HR plays a role in cash creation. We can help to ensure that your staff are performing, your leaders are inspiring and that everyone is working effectively towards a common goal.

It might be more affordable than you think

Getting some professional HR help doesn’t mean that you have to splash thousands and thousands of dollars on big projects, or have consultants trailing through your office for months on end. We offer a range of packages for small business owners who recognize the importance of HR, but aren’t in the position just yet to embark on long term and costly commitments.

Get in touch today to book your initial consultation and discuss your options.


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Are your employees allowed to use work provided devices for personal use?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Are your employees using their work provided devices for personal use and are they allowed too?   …read more


How To Handle Office Romances

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How To Handle Office Romances

With many of us spending more and more time at the office, it’s no surprise that many working relationships blossom into something a little more intimate. In fact, research carried out by found that 38% of workers have dated a colleague at some point in their working lives.

As an employer though, you’d be right to be a little cautious about what the implications could be for your business. If you suspect that there’s an office romance, you may be concerned about the impact that this could have on your team or what might happen if things turn sour.

Spring is in the air, so now is a great time to consider what some of the best practice is on this subject. Without any further ado, here’s what you need to know:

Accept that these things happen

It would be unreasonable to try to implement any kind of policy that banned romantic relationships between employees. Also, it probably wouldn’t act as a deterrent. If anything, you’d be simply creating a culture of secrecy and mistrust.

The bottom line here is that these things happen and, as a leader, you have to accept it.

Nip any problems in the bud ASAP

Public displays of affection aren’t appropriate in the workplace. No one wants to see PDA by the water cooler, or have to navigate their way through a kissing couple just to get to the break-room. Luckily, most couples will know this already, and will often do everything they can to make sure that there are no awkward moments for their colleagues.

If you do feel that boundaries are being crossed, you need to take action as soon as possible. Have a discreet word with both individuals, explain your worries, and remind them of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

Consider the team as a whole

You’re probably not in the office all day long, every day of the week. So in many ways, you only get a very limited snapshot of what’s going on and how everyone’s interacting on a day-to-day basis. This means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to monitoring sentiment.

Of course, this is a larger issue surrounding workplace culture and it covers more than just office romances. Keeping your finger on the pulse and collecting meaningful, insightful feedback from your staff on a regular basis will ensure that you’re creating a productive, motivated, and happy workforce – if, of course, you’re taking action on your findings.

Don’t take sides if things go wrong

Many employers worry about the potential fallout of office relationships turning sour. It’s essential that you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario. Stay impartial, try to exercise a degree of understanding and sympathy, but make sure that you keep overall business objectives and priorities in sight.

Of course, it’s vital that you can recognize the difference between a break-up and something more sinister. Your policies and procedures on serious matters such as sexual harassment and bullying should be tough and always implemented.

If you’ve got these key areas covered, romance at work doesn’t have to leave you feeling stressed out and uncertain about what to do for the best. If you feel like you need to ensure that you’re prepared for anything that your business might throw at you this year, we can help to make sure that you’re ready. Give us a call to arrange a consultation.

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Can you make your staff sign a Love Contract?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Can You Really Make Your Staff Sign A Love Contract?   …read more


How To Handle Blossoming Romances In Your Workplace

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How To Handle Blossoming Romances In Your Workplace



Dating apps might often be considered as the modern way to find a romantic partner, but plenty of people still find love at work. According to a study by Approved Index, 65% of office workers have been involved in at least one workplace relationship during the course of their career. And of course, it’s hardly surprising. Many of us see our coworkers much more than we see our family and friends, so it’s natural that working relationships sometimes blossom into much more.


But as the boss, relationships between your coworkers can seem like a disaster waiting to happen. With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a great time to think about what your approach should be, and the challenges that you should be aware of. Here’s our advice…



Be a realist and keep calm



Plenty of workplace relationships have a happy ending. In the majority of circumstances, you’re going to experience no problems whatsoever if your workers start seeing each other romantically away from the office. Your staff are likely to want to be discreet, and there’s usually no need for any intervention whatsoever on your behalf.



Nip any problems in the bud



It would be hugely inappropriate for your staff to share a kiss over the photocopier. If a line manager starts showing preferential treatment to a team member because of their relationship outside the office, that’s a problem. Similarly, gossip could get out of hand and create a bad atmosphere.

When something like this happens, it’s important that you act quickly and seek to find a suitable resolution. Sometimes, that could be as simple as having a quiet word with the members of staff involved. There’s rarely a case when doing nothing and hoping that everything sorts itself out is a wise approach. Where relevant, always act in accordance with your people policies.



Take harassment claims seriously



There’s a very big difference between a consensual relationship and unwanted advances, and as an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure that you take harassment claims seriously and act swiftly. If you don’t already have a policy that covers exactly how you’ll handle such matters, then it’s absolutely vital that you get that covered.

The policy should be clear and well communicated. Also, it’s essential that your line managers have the skills, understanding and confidence to see that it’s enforced. If a member of staff came to you today and claimed that they were being sexually harassed, would you know exactly what to do? If not, this needs to take a top spot on your to do list.

Managing and leading human beings is a complex business. We all need to recognize that we’re not dealing with robots here. Emotions and relationships and affairs of the heart might not strictly be your line of business, but when you’re running the show, they’re things that you’ll probably have to deal with at one point or another. It doesn’t have to be a drama, but it does have to be something that you’ve considered.


For guidance on your people policy, contact us today. If we can not fulfill your HR needs, we will direct you to HR professionals who can.

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Three Signs That You Do NOT Need To Work With An HR Consultant

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three Signs That You Do NOT Need To Work With An HR Consultant


You might think that because we run an HR consultancy, we have a list a mile long of all the reasons why you should definitely work with an HR professional to help you to hit your business goals. It’s true that there are many ways in which we can help you to hit those targets and create a positive, productive workplace. But it’s also true that we know that we can’t help everyone. There are some people who just aren’t in the right position to use our services, and if you’re on the fence right now about what your next moves should be, then we want to make sure that you’ve got all the information you need.


Let’s explore three of the biggest reasons why now might not be the right time to look at outsourcing your HR practices…



You’re at the stage where it’s necessary to employ a permanent HR member of staff



HR consultancy can be a great option for small and emerging businesses that could benefit from knowledge and expertise on matters relating to personnel management, but are not yet ready or able to bring on a permanent employee. There often comes a point though when it just makes better sense all round to build your own HR team.

There are obvious benefits of having a dedicated HR member of staff who knows your business inside out, and is out there operating on the front line each and every day. Most of our clients aren’t quite yet at that stage, though many do plan to get there in the not too distant future. Your HR function should grow with your business, and it’s important to carefully assess your needs.


You’ve got a wealth of knowledge on the nuances of employment law and its application


Employment law can be complex, to say the least. Keeping on top of changes and ensuring that your business is fully compliant can almost be a full-time job in its own right. Depending on your background though, you might feel like your knowledge is up to date and will keep you on the right side of compliance for a long time to come.

It’s true that many of our clients are business owners whose skills and talents are very much in a different area, and so they choose to outsource the tasks where there are gaps in their knowledge. We’re their eyes and ears when it comes to searching out new developments, and seamlessly bringing their practices up to date. If you have a deep understanding of employment law, you might be able to do this for yourself.


You’re not willing to have open and frank conversations with your consultant



So many businesses have problems of varying sizes bubbling away beneath the surface. Leading human beings can be a complicated and messy business. It’s inevitable that mistakes will sometimes be made. When you’re outsourcing, you’re only going to take value away from your relationship with your consultant if you’re willing to have honest conversations. This includes giving them access to everything they need… The good, the bad, and the ugly.

It can be overwhelming and daunting, but a good HR consultant is not there to judge, or to point the finger of blame. Of course, your confidentiality will always be a key priority.

If you would like to discuss whether working with an HR consultant is right for you, get in touch today for an initial no-obligation consultation. We can discuss your current challenges, and the options that are available to you.

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Three Tricky Challenges That Bosses Experience In January

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Three Tricky Challenges That Bosses Experience In January   …read more