Your employees are your most important assets! Motivated employees that enjoy what they do and are happy at work will help move your business forward. Human Resources and People Management aims to make your employees stay motivated and happy at work, and also to deal with situations when employees are feeling the opposite. If you take your business seriously, you should also take HR seriously to make sure your employees are motivated and passionate about taking your business further.

To dig deeper into why companies should make HR their biggest priority, we have interviewed our HR Manager Jacqui Brown. In this interview she reveals what companies risk if they don’t care about HR, about the newest HR services we are adding to Goodwille’s People Management offering to support our clients’ growing work forces, and how UK HR practise differs from Nordic and the impact this might have on Nordic companies establishing in the UK.

Hi Jacqui! Tell us about your history at Goodwille and your responsibilities as HR Manager?

I’ve been working with Goodwille now for coming up to 3 years. I already had an existing history pre-Goodwille of working internationally within the HR field, however Goodwille was my first introduction to the Scandinavian working culture (which is the origin of the bulk of our clients, although we are not Nordic exclusive!) and that has been great. I run a growing team within HR at Goodwille and also interact very closely with our other departments where we are engaged in offering more than HR services to a client.

My responsibilities involve steering my team so that HR administration tasks are handled concisely within areas such as creating essential HR documentation (employment contracts, staff policies, reference checking), absence tracking etc. I will be on hand to give advice and/or handle our clients employee relations needs (including disciplinary, performance or grievance matters), terminations (including redundancies). In terms of organisational design, I can help clients map where their employee needs lie and assist with secondments to the UK if necessary. The list really is endless!

Why should companies care about HR?

HR exists to help Companies achieve their end goals.

Most people think of HR as a department who exist to ‘police’ the company and to take a regimented approach. This is not the truth of the matter. HR are there to help bring employee’s on-board initially, to incentivise new and existing employees to perform better by way of performance and reward, but also by helping the Company implement appropriate measures and tools to assist the employee in performing well. Of course, HR are also there to ensure that whatever actions that are taken are legal and safe when it comes to employee relation matters.

What can happen if companies don’t care about HR?

If your employees don’t feel incentivised (i.e. they don’t feel they are developing or they are not rewarded appropriately for their work) or they don’t feel supported, they will leave. This is costly for the business to make replacements especially if you are paying agency fees each time.

If you don’t care about HR in the sense that you might not care to get something wrong when terminating an employee or disciplining them, this could result in finding yourself facing a tribunal (or paying out for a settlement agreement to avoid one). In either case, it is costly and at tribunal this is also costly in terms of time. Be aware, since tribunal fees were scrapped for claimants, the % in claims has increased by up to 90%!

Goodwille’s HR Offering

What HR services can Goodwille assist with?

Our most popular existing services are consultation on new UK employment contracts, staff handbook and associated policies, employee benefits, holiday and sickness tracking and then the more generalist HR support which can encompass general advice to clients when they have an employee performance or conduct issue or perhaps an employee has raised a grievance against the company (or an employee within the company), disciplinary (including dismissal), redundancies, performance management etc.

We also deal with secondments (when an employee works in the UK on a temporary basis and retains their continuity of employment in the ‘home country’) and sponsorships (where we are company secretary for a client, we can help apply for the sponsorship licence and certificate of sponsorship) when needed by our clients. In both cases, we enlist the help of tax and immigration specialists to ensure we are carrying out work correctly and also allowing those qualified to give advice when it is legally required.

We have added three new services to our HR offering in 2018. Which are these services and why are we adding them to our offering now?

The new services we are adding to our HR offering are:

Performance and Reward where we consult with Companies to roll out a structured appraisal process where annual reviews and rewards given can be justified and fair

Harassment training which is essentially raising awareness with employees of what constitutes harassment

Disciplinary and Grievance handling training to help our clients be better equipped to handle these situations

These services cover support and training on issues and processes that we always have been able to offer, but perhaps our clients were not aware. However many of our clients have matured further in the UK and are now at a stage where they can think about implementing these new services to benefit their growing workforces. Regarding the harassment training, globally we feel that this is an important topic especially post the #metoo movement.

HR Services in the UK

How is UK HR practise different from Nordic HR practise?

Unless you look at certain industries (e.g. transport, construction, teaching etc.) the UK is mainly not a unionised environment. It is within reason easier to terminate employment in the UK in certain circumstances than in the Nordics. Employee benefits (statutory) in the UK tend to be more lean than in the Nordics, which always comes as a bit of a shock when we look at family policies and sickness.

What are the most common misunderstandings and underestimations when it comes to HR in the UK?

That when it comes to an employee having 2 years of service, you should already have started proceedings before you terminate an employee. This is probably one of the most common problems I face, clients approach me to tell me they have had ongoing performance or conduct issues (which have never been spoken about to the employee or addressed) and then are surprised when they need to start a process (or pay a sum of money). Also holiday accruals, that always needs to be explained a few times.

What competitive edge does it give Goodwille to offer HR services?

Goodwille have 21 years of experience of working with Nordic companies, but also we have a wealth of experience of working with Austrian, German and American clients too. We understand the culture and the commonly faced issues when it comes to legal challenges. We also offer other back office services within Goodwille, therefore if you are using our Payroll, Pension, Finance and Corporate Legal services, then it easy for us to ensure that we can serve you as an extension to your company and to give you as pain free an experience as possible.

Do you want to know more about how Jacqui and the rest of our People Management team can help you with everything relating to your UK employees? Check out our People Management offering and get in touch with Jacqui on jacqui.brown@goodwille.com if you have any questions.