May 23

Have you thought of conducting a ‘stay’ interview….?

When you recruit you conduct interviews of a candidate to find out why they want to join. When employees leave, they go through an exit interview to understand why, were there any issues and what could be done better.

But what about those who aren’t at either end of that career journey with you? The job market is super-hot right now which means that it is even more important to check in to see just how contented and motivated your staff really are…

It is really important for companies to start spending the time to understand why employees choose to stay with them. Knowing what keeps people attached to their current workplace and what their motivators are can be invaluable information for making proactive changes to processes or doubling down on what’s already working.

Cue…. the ‘stay’ interview.

So, what exactly is a stay interview?

Stay interviews are a great way of re-engaging employees by identifying:

• what motivates
• what they want from their role and career within the company
• in what areas they think the company and themselves can improve.

Unlike exit interviews, they’re about gathering feedback on any issues or concerns that could impact retention rates before they’ve handed in their resignation.

Crucially, they allow companies to take stock of how their staff are feeling about the business and their careers before it’s too late.

When should you conduct stay interviews?

Stay interviews can be conducted at any time, but there’s the suggestion it’s worthwhile considering the factors likely to contribute to staff turnover and plan them accordingly.

For example:

• periods of change or transition can cause disruption to people’s roles and routines and add new levels of stress and increased frustrations. Communication at these times is key, as is employers understanding the feelings amongst their teams.
• workload fluctuations, whether they increase or decrease, can lead to employees feeling undervalued, unsupported or unmotivated. Understanding how people are coping with their change in workload, how this has impacted them and how they feel about it is important information to get from them.

How should you conduct a stay interview?

Typically, this depends on the make-up of the business, its people and its culture, however, it’s important to be clear on the purpose of the interview beforehand.

They are most successful if they are conversational, informal and conducted in a way that empowers employees to feel they can be transparent, open and honest with their answers. They shouldn’t feel like anything they say will impact negatively upon them.

Meeting somewhere more casual than the usual meeting rooms or offices is a good way of getting the format right, and whichever location is chosen should be far enough away from others in the office so teams can speak freely without being overheard.

Most importantly, listening more than speaking is the key for managers conducting stay interviews, as is displaying empathy and responding to the feedback where appropriate.

What sort of questions should be asked?

When it comes to gathering feedback, questions similar to the following are a great way to find out just how engaged and motivated employees are in their roles:

• What motivates you to log on/turn up every day?
• How are you feeling in your role? Can you see a clear progression path for you?
• Do you feel your efforts are properly recognised?
• What are your long-term career goals?
• What are the challenges you face which prevent you from reaching your potential? How can the business help alleviate these challenges?
• Are you able to find a positive work/life balance? If not, how can we help?
• What would make you want to leave?

Through asking honest and transparent questions like these, employers build trust and engagement with their teams, enhance their existing culture and successfully identify and manage recurring issues.

What happens next?

Following up on the feedback in the right way is the key to making stay interviews an effective employee retention tool.

The one-size-fits-all approach no longer works as each employee has their own individual values, motivators, and stresses so tailoring the response correctly is crucial. Companies should use the information to address and adjust their engagement and retention strategies as well as their teams’ individual career plans.

If they do, they should find their employees are more engaged, more supported and more productive.

For any advice do email nicola.goodridge@goodhr.co.uk or call +44 07917 878384

May 10

Mental Health Awareness week begins today, 9 May 2022….what are you doing to support your staff….?

According to new research, supporting employee mental health remains the biggest workplace challenge for UK businesses at the moment and according to mental health charity Mind, one in four people in the UK will suffer from some form of mental health problem each year.

A poll of more than 300 companies has found 41% of employers say supporting mental health and wellbeing is their top concern, followed by retaining staff (36%), recruitment (36%), managing Covid-related absence (31%), skills gaps (29%) and hybrid working (26%).

Employers reported implementing the following in a bid to address this:

• review of benefits with increased benefits now on offer;
• investing in health and private medical insurance options;
• allowing more wellbeing days/mental health days;
• retaining flexible hours;
• implementing designated slots in the diary free from virtual meetings.

Although employees are no longer obliged to work from home, it will take time to reverse the impact of isolation and loneliness that has built up over the lockdown. As the hybrid world is still evolving, creating its own range of challenges and opportunities, the most effective approaches will be created by employers working closely with their teams.

Here are six ideas to get your comms around mental health spot on!

1. Run mental health awareness and mindfulness workshops

As well as training for leadership and management, use this week to run mental health awareness workshops to help your employees identify what mental health problems can look like, some signs that their co-workers may be struggling, and how to approach the topic. Spreading awareness of this is key in helping to create an environment where people can feel comfortable discussing it.

You could consider looking at using external providers to deliver training, resources, and workshops, such as from The Wellbeing Project.

Further, you could consider mindfulness training to give your employees the tools they need to process their negative emotions, reduce their stress, and gain insights into their wellbeing.

2. Host talks from management and leaders

Mental health has a huge stigma attached to it, and as many as 60 percent of people with mental health issues felt embarrassed to discuss it with their employers. To address this, it is important to share the experiences of managers or leaders in the team in a safe space and if they are comfortable to do so. Getting them to tell their lived experiences will help employees see that it is not unusual to struggle and face mental health issues, but it will also help them open up about their mental health as it creates a safe environment for them to do so.

3. Hold a series of challenges across the week

A fun way to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week is to hold a series of small challenges during the week to encourage your employees to take time in the day for themselves and their mental health. The challenges can be something as small as an act of kindness, or something like attending one of the mental health workshops or a wellbeing or yoga class.

Anything which gets the workforce talking about mental health and making a small change every day to look after theirs is a win.

4. Arrange a coffee morning

Arranging a coffee morning with your employees where they can talk about any concerns they may have is another activity idea for Mental Health Awareness Week. Create an open channel of communication where they can feel free to talk to their managers, peers, or like-minded individuals about anything and let them know what help is available to them.

If they don’t have anything which they wish to discuss, it is still a nice break from their workday and allows them to take some time for themselves, encouraging healthy habits.

5. Identify your mental health champions

Finally, identify people within your team who can be a mental health ‘champion’. These members of the team will receive some mental health training and can be nominated people who employees can go to if they have any issues which they don’t feel comfortable enough speaking to the managers about.

This solution is not restricted to Mental Health Awareness Week, but rather it is something which can be done year-round to ensure the wellbeing of your employees.

Mental health is not just something to speak about and raise awareness of in May, but an issue which needs to be addressed on many levels within the organisation. Having a healthy company culture and offering support to your employees all year round is essential in actively tackling mental health issues.

For any support on this do email nicola.goodridge@goodhr.co.uk or call +44(0)7917 878384

May 3

Are your ‘interns’ entitled to a salary and annual leave?

With the summer approaching, students, or those just leaving higher education, are going to be on the lookout for internships or work experience placements to enable them to gain valuable work experience and improve their CV ahead of any future job application.

Typically these schemes have been unpaid, or the employer simply offers to pay travel or lunch expenses, and organisations have been accused of taking advantage of people without a job and bypassing the laws on the minimum wage.

Tribunals are taking up the cause and a number of recent legal cases seem to say that an intern who does work that would be paid work if done by an employee or contractor, can be a ‘worker’ for the purposes of national minimum wage law. If they are a ‘worker’, you must pay them at least the relevant national minimum wage for their age – even if they are prepared to work for nothing.

Identifying workers

The law defines a ‘worker’ for the purposes of national minimum wage law as someone who has either:

• A contract of employment with you, or
• A contract with you under which they must personally perform work or services for you. The contract can be in writing or expressed orally or implied from the circumstances.

Using this definition, it is usually relatively simple to determine whether an intern is personally providing a service, and thus entitled to the national minimum wage. The fact that there may be no formal written contract in place and that their title or role is described as work experience/internship/voluntary work makes no difference.

A clear example of where an intern would not be personally providing a service, and thus not entitled to the minimum wage, would be where they are simply learning a job by shadowing a member of staff, no work is carried out by the intern, they are simply observing – they would find it difficult to show they were actually providing a service to the organisation.

Exceptions

It is important to be clear about those students who would not be classified as a ‘worker’ in the eyes of the law and therefore would not be entitled to the national minimum wage:

• students on work experience for fewer than 12 months as part of their course
• students on work experience who are still under the school-leaving age (but not school-leavers working in the UK during a gap year)
• some apprentices and some volunteers

An intern is more likely to be classified as a ‘worker’ during their placement if:

• their placement lasts more than a few weeks
• the placement may lead to an offer of permanent, paid work
• the employer is obliged to give them work to do, and they are obliged to do it
• it is real work of the sort a paid employee or contractor would be asked to do
• the business is relying on their specific skills in the tasks they undertake – for example, a marketing student might be asked to draft a market research proposal to put to an external agency
• they cannot come and go as they please

For example, in one legal case a 21-year old worked as an intern on a publishing business’ website for two months. She worked from 10am to 6pm each day, and had been promised payment. At the end of the two month period the company argued she had been working as an unpaid intern.

The Employment Tribunal upheld her claim that she was a ‘worker’ for the purposes of the NMW, even though she had no written contract. She was clearly doing proper work, of real benefit to the business, which would have been done by a paid employee or contractor if she had not done it. It therefore said she should be paid for her work.

In that case, the intern was doing valuable work. Work can be less valuable but still amount to real work – for example, opening or delivering post, stuffing envelopes or photocopying.

Right to paid holidays

As we have established, the majority of interns will be providing a service and thus deemed to be a ‘worker’ who will attract at least the national minimum wage. In addition, those ‘worker’ interns will also be entitled to at least 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year – or, more likely, the pro-rated equivalent to reflect their part time or short term contracted status. This holiday may be taken during the internship or the intern may be paid in lieu of their accrued but untaken holiday at the end of the internship.

Either way, ensuring your intern is allocated the correct amount of holiday entitlement is as important to remember as paying your intern the national minimum wage.

Consequences of ignoring the law

It is important to know if, based on the reality of the relationship, the intern is a ‘worker’ and therefore entitled to the national minimum wage. The consequences of non-payment can be serious – the employer can be required to pay six years backdated pay and could face criminal charges if found to have wilfully neglected to pay the national minimum wage.

If we can assist by supplying with you with an internship agreement email nicola.goodridge@goodhr.co.uk or call +44 (0)7917 878384