FRIDAY HR FAQS – Can an employee take annual leave whilst on long term sick leave?

Understandably an employee who is on long term sick leave and taking their annual holiday might make some employers raise their eyebrows, after all if they are well enough to take annual leave, why can’t they return to work?

Not quite, employees on long term sick leave are entitled to take annual leave and there are a multitude of reasons why an employee might be on long term sick leave from work and this does not impact their ability to use their accrued annual leave.

Some key points to consider:

  • Employees on sick leave continue to accrue holiday in line with the Working Time Directive.
  • If company policy is that holiday cannot be carried over into the following year, it is not lawful to enforce this onto employees on long term absence, they must be entitled to carry it over.
  • Even though employees are entitled to take annual leave, as an employer you are not able to force employees to take it whilst on sick leave nor are you able to tell them that if they don’t use it they will lose it on their return.

As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees so it is important to consider their rights in this situation.  Think about the reasons why they may be taking their annual leave, rather than presuming this is indicative of them being well enough to return to work.

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One key reason that employees might want to use some of their accrued leave during their absence is financial necessity. Whilst some employers are able to offer benefits to their employees such as Income Protection or Critical Illness, a large majority, particularly small to medium sized business, are not able to. For this reason and depending on the employer and the length of the absence, they may no longer be on company discretionary sick pay, but on statutory sick pay and beyond the 28 weeks of statutory sick pay, be living on no pay at all. Taking annual leave, which is paid at their usual salary rate, can be a financial necessity at a difficult time.

Other reasons for employees taking leave might be to reduce the amount they have in preparation of a return to work, or they may need to take annual leave for their own well being. Taking annual leave doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going abroad or taking a wild holiday!

As an employer, it can be beneficial for the employee to take some of their accruing annual leave whilst on long term sickness:

  • It can help improve the well being of the employee – financially and psychologically.
  • Allowing leave to be taken during extended periods of absence, will reduce the amount that they will be entitled to when they return to work, which would then therefore reduce them needing to take more time out of the business for holiday.
  • If the employee decided to leave the company, any accrued leave not taken would need to be paid out and depending on the length of the absence, this could be a substantial sum of monies to be paid at one time.
  • Remember, there is no real reason for refusing annual leave and doing so could potentially put an employer under breach of contract (for lack of trust and confidence), as they have no valid reason for declining leave, as they can not claim operational reasons.

Whilst we acknowledge that employers generally want to encourage employees to return to work, they should also support them to improve their well being.

One way to ensure clarity for all parties, is to have comprehensive annual leave and sickness policies, which need to be reviewed regularly to ensure legal compliance.

If you would like further HR advice on handling long term absence get in touch with HR Revolution:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Don’t forget about HR

When many of us think about companies that have made big HR mistakes, we’re quick to jump to the assumption that it’s all the fault of greedy bosses who are more interested in lining their own pockets than doing the right thing by their loyal employees.

Mistakes with administrative processes that result in employees receiving their wages far later than expected.

Employees forced to give up their holiday entitlement because of a last-minute crisis.

Disgruntled employees who are vocal about their negative experiences at work.

The list goes on and there’s no smoke without fire right?

Not always.

Employment legislation exists for a reason, and for the greater good. As an employer, you have a responsibility to make sure that you’re compliant and you’re implementing the best working practices to create an environment that’s fair and nurturing for your employees.

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However, mistakes can happen, and even the most dedicated and ethical employers can find themselves facing extremely difficult circumstances.

When your business is growing fast, and you have a million and one things to balance, you can take your eye off the ball. You can overlook important details. And you can find yourself facing circumstances that you never imagined, but which can put your entire business in jeopardy.

So at this stage, it is imperative what you do next and how you decide to put things right.

If you’re worried that there could be an HR nightmare on the horizon, then we can help. We can assess your current circumstances, and help you to create an action plan that gets things back on the right track as quickly as possible, with the least amount of fuss.

We’re not here to judge – we’re passionate about getting things right, and we understand the challenges that you’re facing. Get in touch: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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FRIDAY HR FAQS – What are the pro’s and con’s of remote working?

Remote working is here to stay and with statistics indicating that over 4 million people in the UK work from home, the way we work is changing. Employees and employers alike are pushing for options to work remotely, but do they know what they are signing up for?

Below we list some of the pro’s and con’s you need to consider before thinking about implementing a remote working policy.

Pro’s

1. Flexibility – having the flexibility to work where you want means you can create the ideal workspace for yourself, while also having the option of attending events or traveling to various meetings on your schedule. Similarly if you work better at a certain time of the day, you can adapt (within reason) your work day around this.

2. Save money – working from home benefits employees, as they can take home more of their hard-earned money each month. Working from home can also help them save on food no need for lunch or morning coffee.

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3. Family commitments – these are much easier to manage when employees don’t need to worry about travelling to work. They can pick up and drop children off at school without needing to arrange childcare and might even opt to look after young children at home whilst working, saving on childcare costs.

4. Not working in an office environment, means work place dramas or disagreements between employees could be avoided.

5. Allowing employees to work from home may mean that you are able to encourage a more diverse workforce. You could have a team who live at opposite ends of the country or even across the globe, bringing diversity, variation and new ideas to the company.

Con’s

1. Working remotely could mean that you’ll have less face to face contact with your, peers, manager and possibly clients. It can make it hard to stay in the loop with your team which could lead to complications and mistakes further down the line. In an office you can be surrounded by your team and are able to bounce ideas from each another. Home working could lead to a team that are less motivated which could cause delays.

2. Some situations at work call for fast effective action. If you’re faced with a problem at work which requires an urgent solution at 8:30am and your manager decides to start work an hour later, this could cause big delays in solving the problem, putting the company at risk.

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3. Working in an office has many social benefits and can promote positive wellbeing for employees. However working from home can be isolating for some. Many employees could spend their working week at home without having to leave their surroundings. Remote working means you could say goodbye to happy hour and social events with colleagues and this could lead to a strain on employee’s mental health and affect productivity.

4. If employees have a space in their home where they can work effectively that’s great, but for those who don’t or are easily distracted by household chores or young children, it can be less effective.

Whether or not you think remote working is for you or your business, there is a lot to consider. A good work life balance is important for everyone, so it’s vital that you plan all factors regarding employees’ working environment.

If you would like some friendly, helpful HR advice, get in touch: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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FRIDAY HR FAQS – Can I make someone redundant on Maternity Leave?

There is a common misconception you can’t make someone on maternity leave redundant. While it is possible, you should always exercise caution as it is likely to be risky and should only be used as a last resort.

To begin you must ensure that the redundancy is lawful and genuine under these three qualifying reasons:

  • when the business closes down either temporarily or permanently;
  • when the business moves and the employee cannot get to the new place of work;
  • when fewer employees are required for existing work.

If the redundancy qualifies under any of the above, then you must make sure you follow the correct process.

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Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to disadvantage someone because of their pregnancy and maternity leave and they have protected employment rights regardless of their length of service. This essentially means that their pregnancy or maternity should have no effect on your decision to make the individual redundant and the full redundancy process should be followed. Just because you have managed without someone on maternity leave by distributing their work is also not a valid reason to make them redundant and likely to be classed as unfair dismissal. That said if there is a genuine reason for the redundancy decision that would have been exactly the same if they weren’t pregnant (i.e. their pregnancy or maternity has no bearing on your decision – and you can prove it) you can terminate their employment fairly, as long as you have followed the proper process and are able to prove their maternity or pregnancy has not disadvantaged them if they made a claim.

The redundancy process for these employees includes:

  • Ensuring employees on maternity leave are kept up to date with any Company announcements while they are off.
  • Consulting with employees on maternity leave who are at risk  – redundancy with failure to consult would be classed as unfair dismissal.
  • Selecting those employees for redundancy fairly.
  • Ensuring their notice period and any accrued holiday are paid.
  • Ensure that anyone on maternity has preference for any suitable alternative roles that maybe available.

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If there are multiple people to select from, there would need to be a very clear reason why someone on maternity leave was made redundant over an employee who wasn’t.

HR Revolution would highly recommend that you don’t pick someone on maternity leave or pregnant unless there is a very clear reason for doing this. If there are alternative available roles that are suitable then someone on maternity leave should get preference to minimise any risk of unfair dismissal.

It is also worth noting that if an employee is on maternity leave or pregnant and is made redundant after the 15th week before their due date, they will still be entitled to their full 39 weeks SMP.

Always seek advice before making someone who is pregnant or on maternity leave redundant, HR Revolution can guide you seamlessly through the process to ensure you do not put yourself at risk of an unfair dismissal claim!

Give us a call on: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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FRIDAY HR FAQs – How can you as an employer promote gender equality in your business?

Gender equality is a very hot topic at the moment and will be for many months if not years to come especially with big national companies such as the BBC failing to fulfill their responsibilities to promote it.  Also with many employees now increasingly looking for it in their own workplace, how can you make sure you are meeting their expectations?

1. Have fair recruitment policies

When recruiting for a role, it is important to make sure that your job adverts don’t include anything that might alienate potential applicants. This could mean including gendered language such as ‘salesman’ or ‘Barmaid’. Instead make sure that your Job Description is objective and focuses on the specific qualifications and skills required for the person to fill the role.

Similarly at interview stage it is important for hiring managers to be trained in equal opportunities, diversity, interview skills and avoiding unconscious bias. Ensure they understand your selection criteria and they don’t ask questions which may come across as biased.

2. Introduce Remote and Flexible working

In today’s digital world, remote working is becoming more acceptable and parents can enjoy the benefits of working whilst also being able to support with childcare. This way of working is a great way of showing your employees that you understand it is difficult to balance a career and children at the same time e.g. allowing flexible working hours for those who need to leave earlier for the school run etc.

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Diverse friends holding checkmark icons

3. Assist with child support and incentivise Paternity Leave

As a business owner you could consider helping to pay for child support and elderly care or ensure you have a set of family friendly policies in place for employees when your employees need extra support. Or you could look into incentivising paternity leave for dads, if fathers have additional paternity leave, this allows them to have some valued bonding time with their newborns, whilst allowing mothers to take less time off work.

4. Be transparent about pay

It is also a good idea to explain how your business determines salaries and pay increases from the outset and ensure that promotions and rewards are fair. As a business owner, you must make sure that these are not in favour of male employees or those that are able to work over and above the standard business hours, so that everyone has a fair chance of receiving a promotion, reward, or salary increase.

By promoting an equal and positive work environment that rewards those who do their role well; your employees will see that working within your company supports their lifestyle and you will ultimately gain their loyalty.

If you need any HR advice or guidance, please get in touch: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Why don’t employees take their annual leave?

Annual leave is a benefit all employees receive. In the UK, the typical allocation is around 28 days, during which we’re encouraged to leave our work and focus on relaxing and rejuvenating.

However a number of surveys have highlighted the fact that us Brits are terrible at taking time out. A survey carried out by Glassdoor found that 40% of employees in the UK only used a maximum of half their annual leave over the past holiday year. While 23% of us can’t help but check work emails while away, and a stressed out 15% even did some work to avoid falling behind before their return to the office!

So it is always in a company’s best interest to make sure their employees have a healthy work-life balance, below we list a few benefits of taking annual leave including:

  • Health
  • Stress relief
  • Productivity
  • Trust

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Health benefits

Taking time away from business gives our bodies and minds the chance to realign. It’s our opportunity to relax, away from the pressures of our day job, and to focus on other areas of our lives that also make us happy, such as friends and family.

Much like sleep helps our bodies rejuvenate, annual leave is an important part of our year and one of the very few chances we get to truly forget about work.

This in turn relieves stress. We delegate tasks to our colleagues while we’re away, which means the period prior to annual leave is usually one in which we complete tasks and re-prioritised. This helps us to focus and clear our minds, bringing our levels of stress down.

Productivity

When we work constantly, our bodies are prone to burn out, this is where we’ve worked hard for so long, we simply can’t do it anymore.

Time out of the office gives you a chance to relieve that stress and think about things in a more positive manner, with clarity to help you work more productively and effectively.

Encouraging your employees to use their annual leave can also reduce the number of sick days taken each year, which has a tangible impact on your bottom line.

Building trust

It’s important we show our colleagues that we trust them with our work, and that we can rely on them to do a great job in our absence. Taking annual leave, especially if you’re more senior in a business, tells your colleagues that you do trust them and gives them the chance to develop professionally too.

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Top tips for annual leave

Follow these tips to make the most of your annual leave time:

  1. Set an out of office response that gives people an alternative contact during your absence
  2. Turn off your email notifications and work phone so you can relax and forget about your day job
  3. Delegate work in advance so your colleagues have chance to ask questions of you before you leave

Time for a break?

Many companies are implementing initiatives to make working life more flexible. But despite that, we’re still failing to even take our full annual leave allocation.

It’s an important part of a companies culture to lead the way in ensuring employees take the holiday they deserve and reinforce that the business won’t fall apart just because employees have been away for a few weeks!

So if your company, or indeed you, are less about sun, sea and sangria and more about spreadsheets, skills and stress maybe it’s time to rethink – after all, even sunburn has to be preferable to burn out!

If you need any advice, please get in touch with us to find out more:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

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How to calculate part-time holiday entitlement

Currently in the UK there are more than eight and a half million people working part-time, so if you are an employer who has part-time employees you need to make sure that they benefit from bank holiday leave, even if they don’t work on bank holidays.

So read on for some advice on how to ensure you don’t disadvantage your part-time workers and keep on top of your legal requirements.

For all employees, the minimum statutory holiday entitlement by law is 5.6 weeks, bank holidays included, which companies are not obliged to give as paid leave, however most companies choose to include them as part of the annual leave entitlement.

For part-time employees, the same applies, minimum statutory leave is 5.6 weeks, but how do you work in the bank holidays? and what if any employees don’t work Mondays or Fridays when bank holidays normally fall?

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Most of the UK’s bank holidays do fall on a Monday or Friday so in companies that give paid bank holidays, and where part-time employees don’t usually work on these days, those part-time employees would end up receiving proportionately fewer days’ leave than their full-time colleagues.

To prevent this inequality, many companies give their part-time employees a pro-rated bank holiday allowance. This is calculated based on the number of hours worked, regardless of the days that are worked and irrespective of whether or not they would be bank holidays.

Let’s take an example of a company where the full-time employees get eight bank holidays, there are usually 8 bank holidays per year in England and Wales, as paid leave on top of their normal allowance. They work five days a week for a total of 40 hours, so are effectively receiving 64 hours of bank holiday leave (8 days x 8 hours = 64 hours).

To pro-rata this for a part-time employee working two days a week, the company would give 25.6 hours of bank holiday leave. That’s calculated as: 16 hours worked per week/40 hours maximum working time per week x 64 hours of bank holiday leave.

This bank holiday entitlement for part-time workers calculator breaks it down step by step for you into a formula:

(number of hours worked per week/number of hours in a full-time week) x (number of bank holidays x hours per working day).

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This does cause minor issues in that you may end up with part-time employees working parts of days. In the example above, the 25.6 hours would be rounded up to 26 hours, which for an eight hour day is three and a quarter days. Taking a quarter-day holiday – or two hours in this case – is sometimes difficult for a company to administer.

If the part-time worker is due to work on a bank holiday, then they would need to book it as holiday as normal and it would come out of their total holiday entitlement.

You don’t need to follow this method to calculate bank holiday for your part-time workers,  there are other options such as calculating in days etc but you must ensure they are consistent and fair and that both their part-time and full-time workers are treated equally.

If calculating annual leave is something you struggle with, you are not alone and we can help! HR Revolution have the perfect solution for you in the form of breatheHR, easy to use HR software, which has a holiday allowance calculator perfect for working out part-time employee allowances.

It is always prudent to get HR advice when calculating holiday, so if you have any questions, please get in touch with us to find out more:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Employers – how to reclaim Statutory Maternity (SMP)

One of the questions we are asked by clients on a fairly regular basis is if they can claim any money back from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for statutory maternity pay (SMP) and the answer is yes.

For many businesses the cost of employing someone who claims SMP can feel like a massive financial burden and administrative nightmare. Thankfully, it’s not, as depending on the size of your business you should be able to claim all, or certainly most, of this money back from HMRC.

Read below how to recover this expenditure from the government.

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What you can reclaim

As an employer, you can usually reclaim 92% of employees’ SMP, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Pay.

You can reclaim 103% if your business qualifies for Small Employers’ Relief.  You get this if you paid £45,000 or less in Class 1 National Insurance (ignoring any reductions like Employment Allowance in the last complete tax year before:

  • the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week (Sunday to Saturday) before the week of the due date
  • the ‘matching week’ – the week (Sunday to Saturday) your employee was told they’d been matched with a child by the adoption agency
  • the date on the official notification if your employee is adopting a child from another country

How to reclaim

Calculate how much you’ll get back by using your payroll software.  To reclaim the payments, include them in an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) to HMRC.

You can write to the PAYE Employer Office to ask for a repayment if you can’t set off the payments against the current year’s liabilities.  You can’t do this until the start of the next tax year.

National Insurance Contributions and Employers Office
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If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Maternity process, please do get in touch:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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6 reasons why employees quit their jobs

When you think about why employees leave jobs, you may be quick to assume that it is money that is the main driver, but in reality money is much less of an issue than personal factors and as an employer surely the number one priority for the continued success of your business is finding out why your employees are leaving.

When one of your employees hands in their notice, finding out why could be the key to discovering whether something is remiss within your business, i.e. a manager that people aren’t happy with, or heavy and demanding workloads.

On the other hand, they could be leaving for a job at a different company. Why is that? You need to ask yourself, what are they doing better? and why is working for them more appealing than working for you?

If you know why an employee is leaving you can then start to gather valuable information that could boost your recruitment and retention practices.

Below we list 6 reasons why employees quit their jobs:

1. Feeling undervalued

All employees want to feel that they are making a positive contribution in the job they do and more importantly that they are appreciated.

It might be interesting to know that this doesn’t necessarily mean giving rewards or salary raises, although I’m sure nobody would complain!! Often, a simple ‘thank you’ is a powerful way of changing someone’s perspective.

2. Insufficient management

If employees don’t feel that they’re being managed effectively, they may look for jobs elsewhere. People won’t always get along, but if an employee is struggling to connect with their manager then there will be difficulties in the workplace.

However, if many people are finding one manager particularly difficult to work with, then this could indicate a rather bigger issue.  Sometimes, the opposite is true, a manager could be a good friend to everyone on their team, but might struggle with delegating, communicating and keeping projects on track.

3. No progression prospects

Most employees will want to feel that they can progress in their role, inspiring them to work hard so they can be rewarded with promotions and pay rises.

New challenges are valued. It can be demotivating for workers to feel that they’re trapped at their current level, with no room to grow and improve. They might be tempted to leave if they feel they aren’t progressing, especially if they have opportunities being offered to them from another business who offer great career development.

Be aware though that some employees will be happy in their current positions and not want to be continually pushed to progress.  For them, promising promotion opportunities could be just as likely to make them feel pressured and inclined to leave. Your main aim is to know what each employee wants, so it is a good idea to make sure you discuss these in performance reviews.

Always bear in mind that a lack of progression ambition does not indicate a lazy or unmotivated employee, some people are simply happy with their current level of responsibility.

4. No work/life balance

A good work/life balance is now more important than ever, especially as we are connected to our smartphones and laptops 24/7, sometimes, no amount of money is worth certain sacrifices, early mornings, long days at work, hours travelling to and from work, people need and value their free time.

Many employers are finding solutions that benefit everyone, such as offering on-site facilities: gyms, coffee shops, childcare facilities and customised office spaces, to help bring the work/life balance into the workplace.

5. Colleague clashes

Being in an workplace environment where employees feel they are among friends can make all the difference to job satisfaction.

If an employee spends every day clashing with a colleague, either because they don’t get on, feel they are not pulling their weight or have very different opinions about how the work should be done, then there’s a disaster waiting to happen.

You might want to step in and mediate. If you can’t identify the problem and help resolve it, then there’s a good chance that someone will be leaving.

6. Lack of work enjoyment

Of course personal tastes and preferences change, at every stage of life, what you may have aspired too at 23 maybe very different at 40.

Some people decide after years in the workplace that they are ready for something new, while others spend a couple of months in a role and realise that they’ve made a mistake.

There are very few things that you can do to retain an employee with a different path in mind, but it might be worth seeing what alternative jobs you can offer if you would really like to keep them within your business.

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At HR Revolution we understand what it takes to create a great team, and as experts in HR we are well placed to support you with the first steps towards achieving a competitive business through your people.

So if you are looking for recruitment solutions that go beyond simply hiring your newest team member get please get in touch +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Tips for creating a positive workplace

We all know that the environment you work in has a big impact on how you feel, so it’s probably no surprise that as adults we spend over two thirds of our life at work!! a very sobering thought indeed…

So it is really important for employers to create a positive, healthy workplace, where employees have mutual respect, feel valued and appreciated as these things all strongly contribute to creating happy employees.

Listed below are ways to help achieve this:

Acknowledge accomplishments

It is a proven fact that employees respond to praise and appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work, because it reinforces their work is valued.  When employees feel like this, their satisfaction and productivity rises and they are motivated to keep up or improve their good work.  Doesn’t everyone appreciate a ‘pat on the back’ to make them feel good, I know I definitely do!

Positive Communication

Make sure you communicate, as we know feedback whether good or bad is fundamental in the workplace.  You need to discuss regularly with employees what they have accomplished and what is going well in their job, helping them to feel connected and part of a team. Delivering feedback ensures your team strengths are being highlighted and made good use of, and of course gives employees direction on what they can improve on.

Celebrate employees

Look for ways to celebrate with your team whether it’s an employee birthday or recognising a milestone or achieving a goal. Honoring wins and milestones improves morale by encouraging the person recognised and showing team members that important events are noticed and praised.

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Reward good work

As an employer you may not always be able to reward by means of a pay-rise, but there are alternative ways to reward your employees, implementing exciting incentives that give the employee something tangible to work towards, such as a competition to win a gift card – which are low cost and give the employee the choice of what they want.

If you need any help or guidance about creating a positive workplace, give HR Revolution a call: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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