Monthly Archives: May 2010

Profit Improvement and People

I went to a fascinating talk yesterday on improving profit. The Speaker Robert Craven was very clear, very focussed and practical.

He spoke about how simply reducing the cost base, or discounting to get more business will not generate more profit of itself. One element of his talk was about improving the performance of or removing individuals who fail to perform. Too true.

Yet many businesses hesitate when faced with this moment. They know ‘Joe’ is really not doing what needs to be done or ‘Jane’ is marking time and not making a real contribution. Hedged about with instructions and processes from a real of imaginary ‘HR’ department a boss’s heart is bound to sink when faced with taking action.

People and processes do matter in a business but the truth is:

    If you allow underperformers to draw money and resource from your business you will reduce customer satisfaction, staff satisfaction AND profitability for as long as you do it.

  • If the problem is that your jobs are wrongly designed so no-one can succeed, or under-resourced for the task, you can tackle that.
  • If the problem is your people don’t know what you want them to do , you can tackle that.
  • If the problem is your people aren’t properly skilled to do what is needed, you can tackle that.

But there will always be a few where this is no ‘magic cure’ or even an ordinary one. Most of us have made mistakes in recruiting people; people we hoped would help us grow our business who turned out to do nothing, or worse still, harm. Have you ever had one of these?

If you walked into work today and your staff were giving £50 notes to each of your customers and asking them to go to a rival, you wouldn’t tolerate it for a moment. Yet often as not businesses have individual staff members in them who are effectively doing that very thing.

You know you are not the perfect leader or boss – though you are doing your best, but somehow you put off tackling this – the ‘dark side of HR’ . You patiently fill in the gaps yourself and work longer hours, or hire other people to do what this person should be doing. You sense it is not the right solution but somehow it seems the only practical one as you dread complex processes and procedures.

Talk to us. We have a great ‘try before you buy’ offer. Let’s see what we can do for you by listening to you for 20 minutes.

Our approach is both profoundly commercial and practical, whilst respecting the sensibilities of your organisation and teams. You’d be surprised how quickly some of the things you are worrying about this weekend can turn into problems in the past. You could save yourself a lot of time and energy if you let us help you tackle this problem. Our service is confidential, discreet and focussed on your business and commercial needs. For 30 years we have been working behind the scenes to solve these problems.

Tel: 08452 303050,





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Filed under employment law, performance management

I notice you paid too much notice

shutterstock_84794962I was helping a small employer recently. They had four short serving part-time staff who were contracted to hours and duties that really didn’t suit the customer or business needs.

We were sorting out ending the current contracts and offering new ones that mean the business could service its existing customers at times when the customers wanted service.


I was surprised to find that all four staff were on contracts that offered one month’s notice. Their statutory entitlement would otherwise have been one week.

Three week’s additional notice x four staff is another 12 week’s notice.

This is money that small and struggling business had to fund at a time of great financial hardship when the owner wasn’t getting paid at all.

Why were the staff on contracts that offered so much more than the basic entitlement?

I asked their boss. “Oh we had an HR consultant who told us this was best practise. We didn’t have enough money to get out contracts done properly so we just copied some we had from when we were employees“.

When it comes to money, an employment contract is what a court is going to make you do, come what may.

The commonest problem is contracting to pay money you can’t afford. This constant ‘gold plating’ or employment law by government, large companies and even advisors makes small employers frightened to take someone on.  They worry about being able to afford notice if things go wrong.

In times of high unemployment and economic uncertainty, let’s not add to employers woes.

If you want to take someone on:

  • anyone with less than one month’s service has no right to statutory notice
  • after one month statutory notice is one week
  • after two year’s service. It’s two weeks

There is no legal requirement to go beyond this. You may need to if you are recruiting someone who is in a job with longer notice, but that is something you negotiate, not something you are obliged to do.  If you are taking someone off the dole – you can get to longer notice later IF you want to.

It is important you set in writing out at the recruitment/contract stage that your notice is one week – otherwise you could get stuck with ‘reasonable notice’ which might turn out to be a month if they are monthly paid (or longer if really senior).  If you don’t sort out this simple step you will end up spending money you don’t need to.

If you’d like to know the real deal on getting yourself flexibility and not making commitments you can’t afford join one of our free teleseminars and start saving yourself money.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 twitter/annabelkaye

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May 4, 2010 · 2:18 pm