Insights

National Payroll Week – 3 Things Business Owners Should Do

National Payroll Week – 3 Things Business Owners Should Do 1413 886 Growth Partners

National Payroll Week takes place 6 – 10 September this year. It’s a time when payroll professionals are celebrated and we talk about the importance of payroll – processing payroll, managing payroll and understanding payroll, and everything that’s involved in keeping the UK paid.

Whether you process payroll in-house or outsource to a payroll provider, there’s never a better time to do these three key things.

1. Double-check your payslips are sent securely

Around 60% of organisations now provide payslips via an online self-service facility compared to just 12% back in 2008. However you deliver payslips to your employees, it is essential to ensure they’re secure. This means, if you’re still emailing payslips to your employees, it may be a good time to look at your options.

Although according to GDPR emailing documents to employees is not banned, as an employer you do have a responsibility to minimise the opportunities for personal data to be seen by the wrong people. Email was never meant to be secure and if your company emails are subject to a data breach you will be held responsible. Similarly, if the email is intercepted you cannot guarantee confidentiality which is against GDPR guidelines. Of course, email can be encrypted, and password protected but it is worth considering how user-friendly this is, whether employees have access to their emails on personal devices when they may need their pay documents and how this fits with your image and values as a company. Read more about digital payslips on the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals website.

 

2. Encourage your employees to check their payslips

Do your employees understand their payslips and know who to contact if they have a question? In a recent survey, only 62% of people admitted to understanding everything on their payslip. It is a legal requirement to provide all employees with a payslip, and it must contain at least these five things:

  1. Gross pay
  2. Net pay
  3. Any variable deductions
  4. Any fixed deductions
  5. A breakdown of how wages will be paid if more than one method is used

Ask your employees to grab a coffee and check their payslip. Let them know who they can contact in payroll for a chat about their payslip and anything they don’t understand. If your payroll provider doesn’t offer this service you can use the Understanding Your Payslip resources from The Chartered institute of Payroll Professionals.

 

3. Do some calculations – check your contract with your current payroll provider, or the costs of processing payroll in-house

Processing payroll is a legal requirement but is also an administrative burden, which is probably why 61% of businesses in the UK choose to outsource their payroll. Outsourcing your payroll can be a sensible decision for an SME but it shouldn’t cost the earth. Use this week to take time to shop around or at least renegotiate to check you’re getting the best deal. Consider what other services you could get from your payroll provider. Imagine the benefits of paying one fee for multiple services as opposed to juggling multiple suppliers and invoices.

The responsibility associated with payroll processing makes it a sound business decision to hand it over to an expert but as a business owner you should be very careful who you hand it to.  Here are 6 things to consider when researching outsourced payroll providers

Take the time during National Payroll Week to step back and look at your payroll within your organisation to make sure you’re providing the best service for your employees and getting the best deal from your payroll provider.

 

Payroll business solutions

Payroll compliance can be a burden when you’re trying to grow a business. By using payroll specialists to process your payroll and also take on the HMRC and Pensions Regulator compliance, you have more time to focus on business growth.

You can read more about our payroll services for SMEs here. And if you’re interested in outsourcing your payroll to experts with electronic payslips, you can arrange a demo of our app here 

Hand Placing Payroll Lettering on Wooden Background

14 of Our Most Commonly Asked Payroll Questions: Answered

14 of Our Most Commonly Asked Payroll Questions: Answered 1413 886 Growth Partners

The world of HR and payroll continually changes, leaving many business owners with a multitude of questions.

Luckily, as experts in all things payroll, we’ve answered some of our most commonly asked questions, hopefully shining a light on any issues you may be facing yourself with your own managed payroll.

  1. What form do I need to complete if we stop SSP, but the employee is still off sick?

If you stop SSP when an employee is still off sick, you should complete an SSP1 form and send it to the employee. This will help them claim employment and support allowance.

  1. What is classed as a linked period of sickness?

A linked period of sickness is when an employee has regular periods of sickness that last four or more days each, separated by less than eight weeks, which have lasted for longer than three years. In this case, SSP will stop.

  1. When can I stop paying SSP? 

The maximum amount of SSP is 28 weeks. Additionally, If an employee has had continuous series of linked sickness that has gone on for more than three years, you no longer have to pay them SSP.

  1. What happens to SSP if an employee is off-sick or self-isolating because of COVID-19?

Since 13 March 2020, employers should start paying an employee SSP from the first qualifying day they are off work – if they’re off for at least four days in a row. Employees do not qualify for SSP if they are self-isolating solely because they are entering or returning to the UK after going abroad.

  1. What should I do when an employee’s tax code is wrong?

Usually, for new employees, if they haven’t completed a new starter checklist, their tax code will be wrong.  The new starter checklist is a HMRC form which all employees should complete on their first day of employment.

  1. My employee insists they have paid too much in deductions – what do I do?

Many employees don’t fully understand the payroll legislation for both Tax and NI and when this becomes payable. It is your responsibility to explain the process to them and clearly show them that they have in fact paid the correct amount in deductions.

We provide our clients’ employees with a dedicated customer service team to help explain all pay documents and any deductions over live chat, email or phone.

  1. Why has an employee not been enrolled into the pension automatically? 

Auto-enrolment is based on age and earnings. All employees are automatically enrolled after the 3-month postponement period if they meet the qualifying criteria (age 22 and earn over £10000).

  1. How do I opt an employee out of the pension scheme?  

Under The Pensions Regulator rules, it is up to the employee to complete an opt-out form which they must get directly from the pension provider. You cannot opt an employee out on their behalf.

Please note, rules around SSP and payroll are different for some workers, so you should always refer to the latest advice on GOV.UK.

Transferring your payroll 

  1. Does a transfer of payroll providers need to take place at the start of a tax year?

No, you can transfer payroll providers at any time without any disruption to payroll.  However, depending on who you choose to outsource payroll to, it may cost you more if you choose not to transfer at the start of the tax year. This is because some payroll providers will be required to recreate your whole payroll since the start of the tax year. This will take time and therefore increase your costs.

You can outsource your payroll to Growth Partners at any time of year without disruption to payroll and without any set up costs.

  1. What is a Real Time Information Pay ID?

The RTI Pay ID captures your company’s employee reference. You enter this when you set up a new employee on your payroll. The Full Payment Submission (FPS) must be sent on or before payday and an Employers Payment Summary (EPS) must be submitted by the 19th of the following month to avoid fines from HMRC.

  1. What’s involved in transferring payroll providers?

If you transfer payroll providers at the start of the tax year, employers need to send the new payroll provider a list of all current employee data along with salary details. If you transfer providers at any other time, your payroll provider will require a lot more data from you regarding previous salary payments.

However, you can transfer payroll to Growth Partners as part of SMART Employment model at any time with minimal data.

  1. What’s involved in transferring payroll providers to a PEO model? 

When you are transferring payroll providers and the HMRC liabilities as part of the PEO model, you need to send the new payroll provider a complete list of all current employee data, along with salary details. You also need to ensure employees are set to ‘leavers’ in the old payroll and produce a P45 for each of them. The P45s are not sent out to employees – they are sent to the new payroll provider only.

  1. How long does it take to transfer payroll providers?  

Depending on the size of the business and the complexity of the payroll, it can take between one to two weeks for small to medium businesses, and up to four to six weeks for larger businesses.  Some payroll providers may require longer than this – particularly if you wish to transfer your payroll midway through a tax year.

  1. Do I need to contact HMRC if I change payroll providers?

You do not usually need to contact HMRC if you change payroll providers. However, if you wish to outsource your payroll to specialists like Growth Partners who take on the HMRC responsibilities for you, then you will need to complete a year-end submission.

The year-end submission will confirm to HMRC that you have closed your old PAYE. This is usually done via an EPS submission once you have processed your final payroll. You will also need to confirm the cessation date on the submission.

Payroll business solutions

When you’re investing time into running your successful business, it can become difficult to keep on top of everything. By outsourcing your payroll, you can reduce your costs and save essential business time, allowing you to focus on areas that are important to contributing towards your continued growth.

Contact the team at Growth Partners today to find out more about our all-in-one solution for payroll, pensions, benefits, wellbeing, and employee engagement services.

Employee engagement key to retaining staff

Employee engagement – the key to retaining staff

Employee engagement – the key to retaining staff 2560 1707 Scott Read

I was recently asked by one of our clients, where does the link between employee engagement and retention begin? And what role will employee engagement play in retaining staff in the future? My answer really was simple, the key to retaining good staff is having a solid employee engagement strategy and this is why…

Employee engagement factors

Where is the Link Between Retaining Staff and Employee Engagement? It is easy to understand that happy, engaged staff are inclined to be loyal to their employer and be less inclined to leave but Gallup takes this a step further defining actively engaged employees as “loyal and productive.” By investing in employee engagement, not only can a company experience low employee turnover rates but they can reap the benefits of increased productivity too.

It is a common myth that employee engagement is about retaining staff once they’ve proved their worth and so often we see business leaders choosing to invest in their employees once the company is established and only once they need to enter the growth stage. I disagree with this approach entirely.

The key to staff retention starts with the very first interaction. It is a crucial stage for both the employee to share their excitement for the role and the company to gain commitment and buy-in before they even join. This stage in the recruitment process is the bedrock of long-term working relationships.

How engaged are employees in the UK?

According to a study by Qualtrics, approximately half of the workers in the UK are engaged. That puts us in sixth place on the list of countries with the highest engagement rates. The European country with the highest engagement rate is France at 55%.  Companies that effectively turn feedback into action have an 80% employee engagement rate and highly engaged teams sell 20% more than teams with low engagement.

The UK’s average employee turnover rate is approximately 15% a year. Burned-out workers are 2.6 times more likely to look for another job and burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day.

High staff turnover, burn-out and sick days all significantly affect a companies’ bottom line and growth potential.

What role will employee engagement play in retaining staff in the future?

Employers need to take action now if they want to attract talent and retain staff going forward. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the working environment forever – it not only brought uncertainty for many businesses but also a huge burden of responsibility for their employees. From implementing remote working, to finding new ways to communicate on-top of the decision of when and how to utilise the Job Retention Scheme.

Now is the perfect time for business leaders to step back and look at their approach to employee engagement. It’s time to update their employee engagement strategy or start to create one. By investing in employee engagement, it is clear that companies can reduce turnover rates and reduce costs while also increasing productivity and therefore business growth and be in a better position to weather any future storms.

What next?

Read more about Scott’s thoughts on employee engagement in the full interview with recruitment company Qonnectd, here

If you need help creating an employee engagement strategy, speak to our business growth experts. You can also read more about our SMART Employment model for SMEs or book a demo of our all-in-one solution here

Scott Read Growth Partners discusses the link between employee engagement and retention

Scott Read Growth Partners discusses the link between employee engagement and retention

Scott Read is a results-driven business leader with a proven track record in helping employers strategise key business growth through employee engagement.

6 Ways to Grow Your Business

6 Ways to Grow Your SME – a free seminar

6 Ways to Grow Your SME – a free seminar 1800 1200 Growth Partners

As the East Midlands’ employee engagement specialists, we’ll be running an employee engagement seminar at the region’s largest B2B expo.

More than 500 business owners are expected to attend the Midlands Business Expo on Wednesday 6 October 2021 to meet organisations providing services to help them grow.  As part of the free event, we’ll be holding a seminar to help business leaders grow their business and increase employee engagement.

The 6 Ways to Grow Your SME Through Employee Engagement seminar will be led by our CEO of Employer Services, Scott Read, who is a results-driven business leader with a track record in helping employers strategise key business growth through enhancing employee engagement and communication. The seminar will explore the link between employee engagement and business growth, giving you six takeaways to implement within your organisation immediately.

Scott Read Growth Partners speaks at Midlands Business Expo

Scott Read Growth Partners speaks at Midlands Business Expo

Scott Read said:

“We’re looking forward to meeting business leaders from across the region to talk about their plans for business growth. We know so many SMEs have exciting plans to grow, after what’s been a tough 18 months and we welcome the opportunity to be able to help with their journeys. With the right direction, focus and commitment, employee engagement can genuinely drive positive returns in staff retention, productivity and profitability.”

There will also be an opportunity to chat to a business growth consultant at our exhibition stand and arrange a free employee engagement consultation.

The 30-minute seminar will take place at 10am on Wednesday 6 October at the King Power Stadium, Leicester.  You can register for your free ticket through the Midlands Business Expo website

Midlands Business Expo at King Power

As an employee engagement company, we’re on a mission to help make employers’ and employees’ lives easier. You can book a free demo of our all-in-one solution for payroll, pensions, benefits, wellbeing and employee engagement services here.

Outsourcing payroll

Researching Outsourced Payroll Providers | Growth Partners

Researching Outsourced Payroll Providers | Growth Partners 1280 729 Growth Partners

Whether you’re considering outsourcing your company’s payroll for the first time or looking to switch outsourced payroll providers, it’s important to do your research.

Running an SME is tough – the burden of day-to-day administrative tasks and compliance weighs heavy, and it can be difficult to focus on growing your business.

A recent YouGov study reported a quarter of businesses believe managing payroll requires too much of their time and affects their overall business performance.

If you’re looking to grow your business, outsourcing your payroll is a great step towards unburdening yourself from the administrative headache of keeping up with legislative changes and the expectation that you have all the answers to your employees’ payroll and pension queries.

Outsourced payroll providers can also save you money and minimise the risk to your business if you choose the right provider.

In this post, we’ll discuss six important things to consider when outsourcing your payroll:

1. Choose a specialist outsourced payroll provider

There are so many payroll providers to choose from – from specialist outsourced payroll providers and payroll companies to HR companies and accountants.

The accountancy firm that you use for your accounts may be great at accounts, but are they specialists in payroll? If you’re using your accountant for payroll administration or are considering doing so, ask them about their expertise in payroll. Chances are, they might not actually enjoy payroll processing and may prefer to focus on your accounts, which is where their specialism lies. Some accountancy firms will actually outsource your payroll to a third-party specialist payroll provider, so this is also something to consider.

 

2. Check the outsourced payroll provider is fully compliant with HMRC and The Pensions Regulator

Payroll compliance can be a headache if you’re not a specialist in this area. To comply with Government regulations, you must make accurate payments and deductions, provide employees with detailed payslips, file and pay all taxes on time, pay deductions such as pension payments to the right places and keep hold of records for a minimum of three years.

Pension compliance can also be difficult to keep on top of. Under the Pensions Act 2008, you must put staff into a workplace pension scheme and contribute towards it. Auto-enrolment is an important thing to get right, as is re-enrolment. Check with the outsourced payroll provider whether they will handle all the administration of this for you.

How do you know how your chosen pension fund is performing; when was the last time you reviewed the performance of your auto-enrolment fund?

 

3. Ensure transparency

Outsourcing your payroll is not a decision to take lightly – after all, you’re talking about the hard-earned wages of your employees. A seamless transition is best for both you and your employees, so look for a specialist provider who can handle the transition expertly and efficiently.

Ask to see the full process from end-to-end, ask to see their security credentials and how they keep your data safe and check how they’re set up to handle any significant changes to payroll, such as the job retention scheme. These are all things which YOU will be liable for if THEY get wrong, so it’s best to check these from the outset.

 

4. How much input will be required from your finance team?

Unburdening your finance team is a great reason to outsource your payroll. Finance managers are a fantastic asset, and freeing up their time is a win for small businesses. Payroll and pension administration is process heavy and takes a lot of time and accuracy – take the headache away from them, and they will be available to help you grow your business.

Using specialist outsourced payroll providers may also reduce the number of staff you need to recruit to your finance team to administer payroll and pension payments, therefore helping to reduce your fixed costs. A fully outsourced specialist payroll provider will also take care of the administration of new starters and leavers.

The main thing to make sure of here is that you outsource to a specialist who requires minimal interventions from your finance team – otherwise, you could end up giving your finance team an even bigger headache.

 

5. What do you get for your money?

You will find most payroll providers charge a set amount per employee to administer payroll, but check what added value you get.

  • Do they provide any other services for your employees?
  • Do they provide online 24/7 access to pay documents via an app?
  • Do they provide UK-based customer service support to answer your employees’ payroll issues?
  • Are they GDPR compliant?

These are important questions to ask to help you choose the best value payroll provider for you.

 

6. Will they give you peace of mind?

Check if compliance with HMRC and The Pensions Regulator still sits with you. If it does, you may be reducing your fixed costs and saving some money, but you may not feel you have complete peace of mind.

If the compliance still sits with you, this means the payroll providers will administer a company’s payroll and pensions, but ultimately the company directors are still responsible for the payroll providers’ actions and any compliance issues.

 

Our Payroll and Pension services

We’re proud to offer a fully outsourced specialist payroll and pension service with the following benefits:

We deliver our payroll and pension solutions as part of the SMART Employment model, which costs SMEs as little as 30p per day. SMART Employers have more time to focus on business growth, experience increased profitability through reduced costs, increased performance, and have complete peace of mind for themselves and their employees.

If you’d like to know more about outsourced payroll through our SMART Employment model, contact us for a free, no-obligation demonstration of the process and our added value services.

What are the IR35 tax changes and how do they apply to you?

What are the IR35 tax changes and how do they apply to you? 1800 1200 Growth Partners

The rules around IR35 and off-payroll working are changing, and from 6 April 2021, the new tax changes will come into force for the private sector. In this post, we discuss what’s changing, for who, and what the options are if you think you could be affected.

What are the IR35 tax changes?

From 6 April 2021, all private sector companies employing off-payroll staff – usually referred to as contractors – may have to take them on as an employee. If the employer dictates their terms, they can no longer be treated as contractors – they must, by law, be treated as employees.

Private sector companies receiving the services of a contractor will be responsible for deciding on the workers’ employment status.

The new rules make sure that all workers, who would have been an employee if they were providing their services directly to the client, pay broadly the same tax and National Insurance contributions as employees. These rules are sometimes known as ‘IR35’. The changes are all about making sure you have consistency in how you treat employees.

Who is affected by the IR35 tax changes?

The IR35 tax changes – also known as changes to off-payroll working rules – may affect any company receiving services from a worker who isn’t on their payroll. In most cases, these are companies that work with contractors. It could also be any worker who provides their service to a company through their own limited company or another type of intermediary such as:

  • a partnership
  • a personal service company
  • an individual

The company receiving the service is responsible for determining if the changes apply to them, rather than the worker providing the service.

You can use the gov.uk employment status for tax tool to help you determine any workers’ employment status.

What are your options?

  1. Do nothing

HMRC published a statement about supporting companies through this change and explained a ‘light touch’ approach to penalties will be taken in the first 12 months, unless there is evidence of deliberate non-compliance.

  1. Take the workers on as staff

Onboard these employees the way you would any new starter and include them in everything you do for your existing staff. This means a contract of employment agreeing pay, auto-enrolment pension, sick leave entitlement and the ability to accrue holiday leave and pay.

  1. Get business support from payroll and pension experts

You can outsource these responsibilities and the compliance that comes with it to a specialist payroll and pensions expert. You can do this just for the contractors or for all your staff.

How we can help

The change is coming, and we can help.

As payroll and pensions experts, we can advise you on your situation and the options available to you. Through our services, we can help process the increase in employees you are likely to have on your payroll and look after all of their needs. This means taking on the HMRC responsibilities – leaving you to focus on growing your business.

Through our SMART Employment model, we can also provide your new employees with the same range of benefits as other employees – making it clear your company is treating the new workers the same.

If your business is affected, contact us for a chat about your options or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

5 Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement

5 Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement

5 Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement 2664 1772 Scott Read

Employee engagement is an ever-expanding marketplace and discussion topic within businesses across the world, but what does it really mean, and do we actually make it a priority?

I’ve worked in this industry now for the last eight years and the way in which so many businesses understand employee engagement is so inconsistent and means something different depending on your viewpoint. It’s not surprising, given that there are more than 50 definitions*

The evolution of engagement itself has been a fascinating journey. Early adopters started to add a number of employee benefits to their offerings, trying to differentiate their packages from the crowd, but is this really engagement, or simply business self-preservation?

We’ve all seen the introduction of staff discounts, employee assistance programmes and access to childcare vouchers being applied to thousands of businesses with a view that those employees who benefit from them will be thankful, and it will enhance their job satisfaction.

We now find ourselves in a situation where employee benefits are, or should be, the norm for every employee with 91% of employees believing employers should offer tailored benefits packages** They are accessible, affordable, easily integrated and they do offer value to those employees who have the desire and energy to use them.

I would argue that employee benefits are an essential component to a business operation, as they demonstrate that you care for your employees and that you want to make their lives better, even in just a small way. It may also be a factor that helps you retain an employee, rather than seeing them leave you to join an organisation for the sake of a few pence per hour, or a discounts scheme, or some wellbeing advice.

Employee benefits Vs employee engagement

As employee engagement becomes an even more popular topic, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have you made some employee benefits available to your employees, in the belief that this will drive loyalty, appreciation and productivity?
  2. Do you spend thousands of pounds each month/year trying to implement a range of technology, products and services, only to see usage at a really low level?
  3. Are you frustrated that your efforts in encouraging usage are wasted?

If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then you are probably more focussed on employee benefits and not employee engagement.

It’s really important that you recognise this distinction, especially if you really want to engage with your colleagues.

So, what is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a much more difficult and complex project entirely. Genuine employee engagement is a culture, a belief system, a management ethos and it needs to be adopted by every team leader, manager, director, owner and executive within an organisation for it to truly work.

Can you look across your organisation and say that you have nailed employee engagement? I know that I look around our business every day and find a list of things we could do better, should have done better, or differently, and I constantly strive for the perfection I’m looking for.

In reality, I’ll never reach perfection, nor do I want to, because that perfection may also bring complacency. Employees change, their circumstances change, the working environment changes (we should all have seen that since COVID-19 arrived), so we need to be constantly evolving to meet the needs that these changes bring.

Ask yourself when was the last time you really reviewed your engagement strategy; do you even have one?

The creation or review of your own bespoke engagement strategy is essential in helping you stay relevant to your employees, ensuring that they stay loyal and engaged with YOU.

Your 5-point plan to drive employee engagement 

If any of this is striking a chord with you, then hopefully my 5 Point Plan can help you genuinely drive an uplift in employee engagement within your business.

Five Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement

DOWNLOAD: Your 5 Point Plan to drive employee engagement

Employee engagement is about honesty. Rose-tinted spectacles won’t help you, but an honest assessment and strategy will. With clear objectives and the right management approach, you can transform your business from a benefits culture to an engagement one.

I believe that every business should make employee engagement a priority, not a chore, and not a box-ticking exercise. With a little focus, direction and strategy, the gains on retention, loyalty, profits and productivity that are often banded about can become a reality, but one thing is for certain… they won’t without a plan!

So, don’t play at engagement, devise a strategy and implement it with the same purpose, drive and energy that you would every other project within your business; the rewards will be more lucrative and long-standing than most short-term new-business campaigns that you run.

Scott is a results-driven business leader with an impressive track record of helping employers strategise key business growth.

Scott Read Growth Partners

 

To speak to Scott about your employee engagement strategy, call 07368 474 319 or email scott.read@growthpartnersplc.co.uk

Sources

Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement – Research Gate

What’s Next for Digital Benefits Administration in 2019 – HR Technologist

Did Blue Monday really happen

Did Blue Monday really happen and what did it mean for employers?

Did Blue Monday really happen and what did it mean for employers? 1800 1200 Growth Partners

This year Blue Monday landed on 18 January 2021 and no doubt you heard the phrase being used a lot.

Blue Monday is the term given to ‘the most depressing day of the year’ thanks to the cold weather, dark nights and often long wait for payday. The day – which technically relates to the third Monday of the year – is heavily linked to mental health and wellbeing concerns. In 2020, the Samaritans helped to address these issues with the birth of the Brew Monday campaign.

So, did Blue Monday really exist again this year, how much did it affect employees, and should you have been concerned about it?  We’ve had a look at whether Blue Monday really impacts employees each year, and some of the concerns employers should be tackling.

Does Blue Monday really exist?

The name Blue Monday was coined in 2004 when a holiday company tasked a psychologist to develop a scientific formula for the January Blues. The formula was to be used by the travel company to sell holidays; focusing on making things better by booking a holiday. Despite the lack of science and financial endeavours behind it, the phrase Blue Monday stuck and has been recognised every year since.

Several charities have raised concern over the focus on Blue Monday, and there isn’t, in fact, any evidence to suggest your employees will be notably more unhappy on any particular Monday in January, or , in fact, in January at all (Mind, 2016).

In 2009, a UK report found that January isn’t the time when your employees are likely to suffer the most with anxiety at all. Suicide rates tend to be at their highest in April and May, which is a key measure used by researchers to monitor mental health and wellbeing.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and the UK went into lockdown in Spring 2020, mental health issues rose 10% with IFS reporting a quarter of people surveyed experiencing at least one mental health problem.

Although this suggests that Blue Monday doesn’t necessarily exist per se, the term has certainly helped raise awareness of the prominence of mental health and wellbeing in the UK, and the stigma around it is decreasing thanks to the inroads made by charities like The Samaritans and Time to Change.

Is Blue Monday important for employers?

The research into the Blue Monday concept suggests that your employees really can feel blue on any day and as their employer, you have an important role to play in supporting them through these tough times, whenever they occur.

January is statistically the worst month of the year for productivity but less to do with the ‘Blues’ and more to do with the amount of time employees spend catching up with colleagues after the festive break.

Our resident HR expert Claire Antony describes January as the perfect time for employers to check-in with their employees and Blue Monday helps remind us of that.

“This time of year does tend to be tough going as it feels like a really long month, and it can often take staff time to get back into the swing of things after the festive period.

The start of the year is the perfect time to make a plan for investing time in staff and checking-in with them on their plans for a brand new year. Spending time with employees on both their professional and personal goals helps create a richer understanding of what’s driving them and their needs now and longer-term.

This is particularly prevalent with the National lockdown in the UK, adding to the pressures and the potential impact on employees’ mental, physical and financial wellbeing.

We suggest employers make health and wellbeing an every-day focus, but it’s great that Blue Monday helps to shine a spotlight on this, so it takes centre stage.”

Recognition of the positive link between health and wellbeing in the workplace and long-term employee wellbeing is growing, and employers are benefiting from increased productivity as a result.

Three steps to take to tackle mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

1. Openly talk about mental health and feelings

Days like Brew Monday provide an informal and unintrusive way to address mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. If you are open about how you feel at work, especially if you are a leader, it might encourage others to do the same.

Remember your mental health can fluctuate as circumstances change. As you move through different stages in your life, it’s worth checking in at every milestone whether these be a birthday, moving house, or becoming a parent.

Is Blue Monday important for employers

2. Provide professional support for employees

Employee Assistant Programmes are an economical way to offer professional, confidential third-party support to your employees in various areas, such as financial worries, home troubles or mental health concerns.

3. Lead by example

Make sure you take breaks away from your desk, go for a walk at lunchtime, and finish work on time. If you see someone regularly putting in extra hours, approach this as an underlying signal for support or something that needs to change.

Although statistically, Blue Monday doesn’t actually exist, it is clear your employees can feel blue any day of the week.  As their employer, you have a responsibility to support them effectively through all of life’s challenges.

More support with mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

To find out more about Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) email hello@growthpartnersplc.co.uk or leave us a message here You can also call the team for a chat on 0116 340 3116

Sources:

  • COVID-19 pandemic hits mental health, especially of the young and of women, and widens inequalities  – IFS.org.uk
  • Non work-related activities research and report – Hitachi Capital.co.uk
  • Busting the Blue Monday myth with #BlueAnyDay – Mind.org.uk
  • Seasonal spring peaks of suicide in victims with and without prior history of hospitalisation for mood disorders –pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Working from home

7 Tips for Managing Working from Home

7 Tips for Managing Working from Home 1155 770 Growth Partners

There are more people than ever working from home at the moment, with millions of us doing our bit to help beat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Swapping the office for remote working might be something you only dreamed of a few months ago, but the reality can be very different, with a some finding it difficult to manage and to adjust to lone working.

Even at the best of times, we can struggle to separate work and home life, so when they both happen in the same place, it throws up even more challenges than usual. Whether it’s not logging off until later than normal, working through your lunch break or on the contrary, not working a great deal at all, it’s easy to see why remote working can start to impact business and our health.

To combat these challenging times, here are a few things you can do to try and effectively work from home, while being productive and continuing to maintain a happy, healthy household…

1. Get changed out of your PJs

It’s too easy to slide out of bed, head downstairs and start work all within 2 minutes, but it won’t set you up the same way it would If you were to shower, get dressed and get ‘ready’ for work. Having the same routine as if you were going into the office not only gets you in the right frame of mind, it also avoids any embarrassing situations when your boss video calls you!

2. Create a desk or dedicated workspace

Sitting on the sofa with your laptop on your knee and Friends on in the background might be how you imagined working from home to be, but in reality you’ll soon be feeling lethargic, distracted and aching from poor posture. Instead, set up a dedicated place of work, whether that’s a desk in the spare room, a space on the dining room table or an area of the kitchen. Having a zone that is dedicated to work, with a firm upright chair, will help get you in the right mindset and be more productive while supporting your back and shoulders too.

3. Keep a structure to your day

The beauty of working from home is the flexibility. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl – if you can, adjust your hours accordingly to when you’re most productive. Once you are ready to work however, try to keep a similar structure to the one you would normally have in the office. If you usually have a break at 10am and lunch at 1pm, do this even though you’re at home. It’s easy to lose track of time and work longer than normal, or oppositely, get distracted by home jobs and end up working less. Keeping a structure to your day will ensure you’re putting in the right number of hours while still being productive.

4. Keep in touch

One of the hardest things that home workers face is being alone for a long period of time. As humans, if we don’t communicate with others, we feel lethargic, negative, less able to manage stress, have higher blood pressure and much more. It’s therefore essential during this time where we’re not able to socialise in person, to connect through technology. We’re lucky to live in an era where FaceTime, Skype, social media and WhatsApp are all part of our lives, so it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Try having a team call once a day to check in with one another, see how everyone is feeling, and what everyone’s working on, with a family video call later on as well. It’ll help in more ways than you think, both in your personal and work life.

5. Keep active

We clock up more steps than we think in a day at the office – our commute, the walk to the toilet, going to make a cup of tea and so on. Which is why when we work from home, and everything is a lot closer and on hand, we drastically reduce the amount of movement we do in a day. Aim to move every 90 minutes, even if it’s just to walk around the house or to make a cup of tea – getting up and stretching your legs and back will help you focus when you return to work.

6. Get some fresh air

We might be restricted to our homes at the minute, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get outside. If you have a garden and are able to, try and spend 10 minutes in it, pull up some weeds, hang out the washing or even just sit with a cup of tea and take some deep breaths. The fresh air will improve your mood, wellbeing, energy and clear your head ready for you to get back to work. If you don’t have a garden or are not able to go into it, opening the windows in your house or apartment has a similar effect and will improve the air quality throughout your home.

7. Keep a structure to your diet

According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, Britons eat on average 800 – 1,000 additional calories per day without even knowing it! If this takes them over their required intake, it could lead to an increase in weight and blood pressure over a year. Mindless eating is one of the biggest culprits of weight gain, so it’s even more important while you’re at home (and close to the biscuit tin!) to be careful how much you put in your mouth. Keep a structure to your diet, eating at regular mealtimes with a few healthy snacks throughout the day. Not only will it help with the scales, it’ll also help improve your mood, productivity and energy.

We’re all in a very surreal and scary situation at the moment, which none of us are familiar with. Working together, working remotely and working on steps to avoid the spread, while keeping ourselves and families safe, are the top priorities for all of us. Helping to make life run as smoothly as possible is essential, so we hope these tips enable you to get the work-life balance you and your family need during this difficult time.

SMART Employment

How SMART Employment is Changing the Game for UK Businesses

How SMART Employment is Changing the Game for UK Businesses 1182 770 Growth Partners

Some companies have it so easy. Engaged employees, high retention rates, increased productivity and most importantly, increased profitability.

You may look at them enviously, wondering how exactly is it that they achieve this outstanding balance without breaking their bank accounts? But what if we told you it was one of the easiest solutions you could make in your business. By becoming a SMART employer, you yourself could become the company you aspire to be.

Having everything in one place, easily accessible and efficient for all those employed.

But what is this SMART employment model that is benefitting so many? And how can you become a part of it? What is it?

What is the SMART Employment model?

SMART Employment has been around for a while, you just haven’t noticed it. Unlike traditional HR outsourcing companies, SMART Employment takes an aggregated approach to business support, handling all HR and employee-focused functions such as PayrollBenefitsRecruitment and more.

Essentially it takes away all the laborious admin tasks that are related to the basic HR functions, combines it with some amazing employee benefit tools, to make a one-source function that employers can use to improve their overall company strategy. Employers will have more time, money and energy to focus on their employees, making sure they are getting the best out of them whilst ensuring a good work-life balance.

Why it works

Would you rather pay a bunch of separate costs for different services, that may or may not work together, or where one is more engaging than the other – and you still do admin work just to get them all organised for your employees to use? Or would you rather pay one cost, for one platform where all the services are already integrated and work in harmony?

The latter is why the SMART Employment model works so effectively. We aggregate all services so it’s one easy fee for multiple services.

It’s been found that employees who are more engaged are 27% more likely to demonstrate ‘excellent’ performance. This work ethic will then directly affect your profitability in a positive way.

So why wouldn’t you get involved in SMART Employment? It’s the obvious answer to many decision makers’ problems and will improve overall productivity and performance in the business in the long run.

Why our portal is the best

Being one of the leading providers of SMART Employment, we can confidently say that we have everything running on a tight ship and know what we’re talking about. We provide our clients with a single sign-on app where the employees can access everything wherever and whenever they want to.

On the app, you can get access to;

As well as this, employers will also be provided with HR Support including occupational health, legal advice and support on recruitment.

Like to know more about how SMART Employment can grow your business? Contact Growth Partners today on 0116 340 3116 or book a free consultation here. Additionally, you may have some questions regarding payroll… If this is you, our payroll specialists at Growth Partners have provided an FAQ post which answers 14 most asked questions when it comes to understanding payroll.

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