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Which sector deems HR least effective?


In a recent survey by workplace ratings company ViewsHub, 50,000 employees across 11 different sectors found that tech companies rated HR as being the least effective in their business.

On a score out of 5, HR departments in tech companies finished bottom of the 11 sectors, with an average effectiveness rating of 2.66, well below the average of 3.45.

HR departments in Travel came top with 4.20, with food coming second with an average score of 3.70, and large companies with a market capital of more than $10bn rounded out the top three with 3.63.

The holy trinity

The effectiveness of each sector’s HR department was calculated on three criteria:

  • Their ability to get things done
  • How technically good they are at their jobs; and
  • How responsive they are to other teams

The CEO of ViewsHub, Ab Banerjee, said:

“It’s time for more managers to know what their employees think. We started collecting this data years ago. HR departments at tech companies have lagged behind other industries throughout that time.

“If managers had been looking at this data, it would have been an early warning sign. They would have had the information they needed to have acted. It is essential that managers and leadership teams have access to this type of feedback data for their organisations.

“HR departments might say they feel sidelined by tech firms. But they also have to take responsibility for this data, and act accordingly. This data shows that one of the places where HR departments fell down was responsiveness. For whatever reason, employees have developed the perception that human resources departments aren’t responding to their concerns; they weren’t responsive enough. HR departments in tech firms might want to launch engagement schemes to try to correct this.”

Age old debate

This latest data, once again, raises the debate of in-house HR departments vs external agencies. Our viewpoint is that as an external support agency we remain impartial when it comes to HR issues and act in the best interest of the employer. We aim to provide clear and consistent advice and guidance that best supports the business.

Do you agree with these figures? What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of HR? Let us know on our social media channels.

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Absence rates on the rise as businesses feel the strain


According to data from XpertHR, employee absence is on the rise as businesses face intense pressure to provide cover at a cost.

In 2016, employee absence has gone up to a median of 6.6 days per employee, rising to 9.1 days for the public sector, equally a working time loss of median 2.9%. The number is higher in larger organisations as the data found that employers with more than 1,000 staff lost 3.8% of working time, or 8.8 days per employee.

For companies with fewer than 100 employees that number dropped to just 1.8%.

Year on year

While the numbers are up from 2015, 5.8 days per employee, they are down when compared to 2006, when absence cost businesses 3.5% of working time, or 8 days per employee.

And it’s not just working time that is lost, according to XpertHR, the cost of providing cover for absent employees cost a business an estimated £455 per employee per year. Not to mention the adding ‘cost’ to a business that is directly attributed to absence such as reduced performance or service, missed business opportunities and the added stress to the workforce who need to cover for employees in their absence.

Speaking about the data, Sheila Attwood, XpertHR managing editor for pay and HR practice said:

“High levels of employee sickness absence represent a significant financial cost to the business, and can have an impact on its operations and the wellbeing of those having to cover for absent colleagues. Employers should use the data they collect on absence rates to be proactive in effectively managing absence in their organisation.”

Does your business suffer from a high level of employee absence? If you’re struggling to deal with lost working time and need a solution that works for everyone, contact us to see how we can help. 

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Government names and shames top companies


The Government has released a list of 233 companies who are failing to pay staff the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in an attempt to shame them into changing their ways.

Employers on the list have been fined a record £1.9 million by the Government and over 13,000 of the lowest paid workers will receive around £2 million in back pay as part of the Government backed scheme, which began in 2013.

With over 1,200 employers fined £4 million and more than 40,000 workers receiving back pay of around £6 million, the scheme has successfully identified failings in businesses across the UK.

Business Minister Margot James said:

“It is against the law to pay workers less than legal minimum wage rates, short-changing ordinary working people and undercutting honest employers.  Today’s naming round identifies a record £2 million of back pay for workers and sends the clear message to employers that the government will come down hard on those who break the law.”

Malicious or mistake?

We have added a list of 35 employers at the bottom of this article, many of which are smaller companies who may have made errors in calculating pay, rather than defrauding their employees.

Perhaps the biggest name on the list is Argos, who received a fine of £800,000 after admitting underpaying 37,000 staff earlier this year to the tune of £64 each. The company were caught out after requiring employees to attend mandatory briefings before their shifts, and keeping staff late to complete security searches, both of which they were not paid for.

Speaking about the incident John Rogers, chief executive of Argos, issued a statement:

“I am pleased to say the issue was resolved quickly, and processes have been updated to ensure this cannot happen again.”

Other common errors included:

  • Deducting money for uniforms from pay packets
  • Failure to account for overtime
  • Incorrectly paying workers apprentice rates

Speaking about the list Grahame Davies, Head of Business for Opsium employer support, said:

“The Government name and shame scheme has been running since 2013, and has identified over a thousand companies guilty of failing to pay their employees the NMW. With each passing year, the list seems to grow and that only shows that people still don’t fully understand their responsibilities when it comes to pay.

“The Government have made it clear and all accounts departments should be aware of the rates. Whether these are innocent mistakes or more deliberate actions to save money, the Government have remained clear in their stance that NMW is not an option and those companies who fail to pay, will be fined.”

National Minimum Wage

The current NMW is:

  • National Living Wage (25 years and over) – £7.50 per hour
  • 21-24 year olds – £7.05 per hour
  • 18-20 year olds – £5.60 per hour
  • 16-17 year olds – £4.05 per hour
  • Apprentice rate – £3.50 per hour

0-35 on the list...

Argos Limited

Failed to pay £1,461,881.78 to 12,176 workers

Pearson Anderson Limited

Failed to pay £49,800.41 to 169 workers

Fusion Hairdesign Limited

Failed to pay £24,352.90 to 6 workers

Nunthorpe Nurseries Group Limited

Failed to pay £22,831.38 to 118 workers

Vong's Welcome Limited trading as Vong's Hot Food Bar

Failed to pay £18,575.34 to 1 worker

Maughan Microcomputers Limited trading as Console Doctor

Failed to pay £15,010.89 to 3 workers

Islington Accommodation Services Limited

Failed to pay £14,447.82 to 1 worker

Mr Mohammed Yunas Chughtai, Mrs Azmat Ara Chughtai and Mr Aftab Chughtai trading as Aftabs

Failed to pay £14,142.26 to 1 worker

Rudan Limited trading as Hershesons

Failed to pay £14,141.06 to 7 workers

Mr Anthony Kenvig trading as Kenvig's Hair Marriott

Failed to pay £9,698.04 to 2 workers

Mr William Gareth Griffiths & Mrs Llinos Griffiths trading as Gareth Griffiths

Failed to pay £9,230.56 to 1 worker

Geoff Chapman trading as North Cowton Service Station

Failed to pay £8,229.11 to 3 workers

Miss Mackenzie Sanders trading as Filo Horses

Failed to pay £8,204.07 to 3 workers

Miss Reena Parmar trading as Antony Luka Hairdressing

Failed to pay £7,353.22 to 1 worker

Nightingales of Kidderminster Limited Failed to pay £6,895.75 to 9 workers
Wynyard Hall Limited trading as Wynyard Hall Failed to pay £6,040.05 to 3 workers
Mrs Dorothy Bello trading as Rising Stars Daycare & Shining Stars Kids Club Failed to pay £5,515.06 to 4 workers
Bull Construction Limited Failed to pay £4,998.79 to 1 worker
The Fish and Chip Ship Limited trading as McMonagles

Failed to pay £4,900.15 to 9 workers

DSL Accident Repair Limited Failed to pay £4,896.43 to 3 workers
Shores Homecare Limited Failed to pay £4,840.31 to 6 workers
Deborah Marsh and Kathryn Johnston trading as FX Hair & Beauty Failed to pay £4,790.72 to 1 worker
Bass Electrical Limited Failed to pay £4,717.05 to 1 worker
Airport Placements Limited Failed to pay £4,557.43 to 50 workers
Rainbow Room (Clarkston) Limited (name changed to JPTO Ltd) Failed to pay £4,532.94 to 21 workers
Eaglescliffe Gas Limited Failed to pay £4,492.03 to 1 worker
Idlewild Hairdressing Limited Failed to pay £4,491.02 to 2 workers
Emma's Angels Day Nursery Limited Failed to pay £4,178.89 to 5 workers
Francis John Hairdressing Ltd trading as Francis John Hairdressing Failed to pay £4,129.40 to 2 workers
Elite Hair & Beauty (North East) Limited trading as Elite Evolution Failed to pay £4,053.20 to 5 workers
Mr Mukesh Patela and Mrs Bhavna Patel trading as Eaton Lodge Care Home Failed to pay £4,026.44 to 5 workers
King's Summer Homes Limited Failed to pay £3,974.94 to 1 worker
Smiles Montessori Preschool (Bush Fair) Limited Failed to pay £3,904.90 to 3 workers
Miss Tracey Newnian trading as Tracey's Unisex Salon

Failed to pay £3,879.67 to 1 worker

Field & Rural Life Limited Failed to pay £3,606.09 to 2 workers

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Community Chest: How important is networking when starting a business?


Last month, we launched community chest. A forum for employers and employees alike to ask burning questions that we will answer by amalgamating opinions and experiences gathered from people who have been through similar experiences. No canned, stereotypical responses, just real world advice and guidance.

In this month’s community chest, we answer a question submitted to us by Sarah Louise, who asks:

“I’m starting a new business and people keep telling me to go networking. How important is networking when I haven’t got that much work going on at the minute to talk about?”

Networking is a hugely popular way for people to promote their business through word of mouth and gain referrals without spending a fortune on marketing.

Some people make great use of networking, hence the incredible success of BNI (Business Networking International) and BforB (Business for Breakfast). Meet ups can be weekly or monthly and, if promoted well, will feature an eclectic mix of individuals all with the same aim, growing their business. Representatives from individual industries are kept to a minimum (usually one, sometimes two depending on the size) which helps eliminate hard selling.

Networking isn’t for everyone. Some are uncomfortable in a social situation with people they aren’t familiar with, and that’s okay. There are a number of ways to promote your business and networking is just one aspect.

We’ve scoured ukbusinessforums.co.uk for some top tips to getting the most out of networking.

Don’t hide in corners

If you get nervous in social situations it can be easy to hide away in a crowd, only speaking to people who approach you first. Instead, try getting to the meeting early and introducing yourself to the host; once you engage in conversation stay in the centre of the room, that way you are more likely to be introduced to people as they enter and greet the host.

If you don’t feel it, fake it

There is no discernible difference between being confident and feigning confidence. Lots of people feel nervous introducing themselves for the first time, there is no shame in it. The benefit is that every time you attend an event you will be seeing a lot of the same faces, and over time you will be less self-conscious.

Practice, practice, PRACTICE!

It’s a tale as old as time, to be good at something you need to practice. Who are you, what do you do, what type of people are you looking to meet, what sets your business apart? These are all questions that you should be looking to answer at every event. Luckily, they are all questions that only you can answer. If you can’t answer these yet, look at your business plan and remind yourself. Listen to other people when they introduce themselves, some people inject humour, others passion, but they should all have a clear idea of who they want to engage with. If you don’t you could end up wasting valuable time.

Arrange a pre-meet up

If you’re nervous about attending alone, contact the host to arrange a meeting first. It will help you to speak to someone who is clued up on the process and make you feel less anxious about being in a room full of strangers.

Build connections

Think of networking as an opportunity to grow your network, instead of a chance to sell. It’s an opportunity to sell yourself and the age-old adage ‘people like doing business with people’ is more relevant than ever at a networking event.

Believe to achieve

Before an event think about what you’d like to achieve and then set yourself a target of three ‘wins’. Those could be obtaining a business card from a contact from a chosen industry, promises of a follow-on meeting or speak to at least three different individuals you’ve not spoken to before.

Some questionable advice

We’re not too sure on the analogy but one user described networking as, like sex; the first time is scary and possibly painful but once you’ve done it you enjoy it and want to do it more often.

This is just a few to get the ball rolling but the key take-homes before attending any networking event, are:

•    Be confident

•    Practice your introduction

•    Build contacts

•    Grow your business

If you have a question you’d like answered by the business community, or you have advice and guidance you think will be relevant on one of our current topics email info@opsium.co.uk or visit our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages and use hashtag #OpsiumCommunityChest

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Yes, at Google cuts out the HR department in new transparency exercise

If an employee has a harassment issue within their workplace, the HR department is usually the go to place to report it. Unless you work for Google, who are hoping transparency will put a stop to bad behaviour.

Google have launched an anonymous message board for employees to report instances of harassment. The employee run message board is believed to have had over 20% of the Google and Alphabet workforce sign up since October 2016. Google management have no say about what appears on the board, although specific teams or individuals may be consulted about items prior to them being published.

Yes, at Google

Some allegations, according to documents seen by Bloomberg earlier this month, include:

  • “A colleague started a meeting off by making a joke that called a woman in the adjacent meeting room ‘some random b****.”
  • A complaint about Google’s on-campus hairdressers: “[Hairdressers say]: ‘I’ve never encountered hair like yours before’. [This] comes across as code for: ‘I’m not trained to cut the hair of people of your race’.”
  • A ‘Noogler’, new Googler, who was asked to go for drinks with an engineer. The email read: “Upon arriving, discovered there was no group. Subsequently informed by the engineer that she was expected to ‘sleep with everyone’ because that's the culture here.” This was accompanied by a note urging for more information to be shared “so [the Employee Relations Team] can look into this matter and address it appropriately”.  
  • “A male Googler drank excessively at an offsite event and touched a few different female Googlers in a manner that made them uncomfortable, made inappropriate comments, and followed two women back to their hotel room and told them ‘I’m following you’.” This matter was resolved by Google’s management: “Thanks to Googlers who came forward with information about these incidents, we investigated, substantiated the concerns and terminated the Googler's employment.”

A Google spokesperson said: “Our employees have numerous ways to raise issues - both negative and positive - with us, including through grassroots transparency efforts like this one. We take concerns seriously and take appropriate measures to address them.”

Employee trust

While not every employee will want to go to HR for fear of drawing too much attention to an issue, highlighting it in an open domain, anonymously could help address the issue and make the offender aware of their behaviour.

By managers monitoring the message board they are able to make note of potentially volatile situations and make arrangements to fix potential issues.

Would your company benefit from an open system like Google’s or do you think it would be a step too far for internal transparency?

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