The Recruitment Connection
The Recruitment Connection is specialist financial services recruitment company established in 1993 and the team have over 30 years experience of recruitment in the UK and overseas Financial Services markets.
As a company we are passionate about ethical recruitment, committed to high standards, respect confidentiality, adhere to the REC code of Ethics and continuously develop our knowledge and skills.
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There have been quite a number of changes over the last couple of years and some took affect recently whilst some will come into effect later this year…
A new category of employee ‘employee shareholder’, will relinquish various employment rights (including unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy payment and some family-friendly rights) in return for £2,000 of shares in their employer. Having twice been rejected by the House of Lords, which disliked the concept of surrendering employment rights, the controversial proposals have now been approved but with a number of concessions, which is likely to make the concept even less attractive to employers.
As of March 2013 each parent’s entitlement increased from 13 to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave.
Employees who bring a whistleblowing claim will soon have to show that their whistleblowing was in the ‘public interest’ rather that just for their own personal benefit. This amendment will close what the government describes as a ‘loophole’ opened by case law whereby legislation intended to protect classic whistleblowers who suffer detriments at the hands of their employer was extended to protect employees complaining of braches of their own employment contract. Possibly to counterbalance this, the government intends to partially remove the existing good faith requirement for protected disclosures. Instead, tribunals will be able to reduce compensation by up to 25% if disclosures are not made in good faith.
In recent months, the government has consulted on proposed changes to the TUPE regulations, most significantly repealing the concept of the automatic transfer of employees on a service provision charge (i.e. and insourcing, outsourcing or change of service provider). This proposal may require a significant lead-in time to implement, but other changes to TUPE may be introduced in October 2013.
Employers will no longer be liable for harassment of employees by third parties. The government says that the removal of these provisions will not leave employees unprotected , citing health and safety legislation, the Protection from Harassment Act and the general harassment provisions under the Equality Act as alternatives, and employers should remain vigilant to harassment issues at work.
Ending the employment relationship
The requirement to undertake 90 days’ consultation where 100 or more employees are potentially redundant was reduced to 45 days from 6 April 2013. Further, employees who reach the natural end of a fixed-term contract are now excluded for collective obligations. Acas guidance has also been produced. These changes should ease some of the burden of collective consultation in larger-scale redundancy situations.
Partially protected conversation:
Settlement offers will soon be admissible as evidence in unfair dismissal cases, so care should be taken if there is any risk of any other claim.
Compromise agreements will be renamed settlement agreements, as it is thought the word compromise has negative connotations. Acas will produce a new code of practice for negotiating such agreements.
An overwhelming majority of respondents to the consultation opposed the abolition of the questionnaire procedure, which is available to employees seeking information prior to bringing discrimination and harassment claims. While the procedure is designed to promote quick resolution, it has fallen foul of the government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ and is considered to be overly onerous on employers. While the employers will no daunt be relived, it is somewhat contradicts the government’s concurrent aim of promoting the early resolution of disputes.
Include unnecessary personal data
Don’t include date of birth, marital status, children, national insurance number, gender or any other personal data that is unrelated to your ability to do the job.
List your entire work history
We recommend only including the last 10 years of employment history; recruiters and employer are interested in your recent, relevant work history.
Leave unexplained gaps
Your CV should read as a chronological flow with any gaps accounted for; start with your most recent job and explain gaps eg. Bringing up children, caring for a relative or a career break. Unexplained gaps raise suspicions.
Reveal your age
Don’t list the years you attended school or university and remove dates from any training courses or other qualifications you’ve achieved.
Keep your CV to 2 pages
Stick to two pages; recruiters and employers want to see quickly how your skills and experience matches what they’re looking for. If you’re struggling to get it to two pages, remember you only need to list the last 10 years of your work experience. If you’ve only had one job in last 10 years, then you can list your previous job.
Keep your skills relevant
Experienced jobseekers will have many skills but make sure those you include in your CV are relevant to jobs you are applying for. Look at job descriptions and list the skills you have that match.
List recent achievements
Do focus on recent achievements to ensure your experience is relevant and up to date.
Larger companies often have age quotas to fill, so it could be worth targeting those. Also consider doing interim or temporary work. Employers looking to take on contract workers value the following: experience (no learning curve); reliability; calmness under pressure; and willingness to be flexible with working hours.
I have had two interview situations recently where the interviewer has asked the age of the candidate presumably out of interest but was unaware that this is now illegal.
The provisions on age discrimination are now contained in the Equality Act 2010 and sets out that there are nine ‘protected characteristics’. These are the grounds on which discrimination is unlawful and includes age.
Within recruitment and selection many employers, often unconsciously, use age as a factor in deciding who will be appointed to a job. Job adverts are sometimes also phrased in a way which indicates an intention to discriminate on grounds of age, for example using words such as ‘young’, ‘energetic’ or ‘mature’. In addition, a person specification may indirectly indiscriminate on age grounds, for example by requiring that applicants have a minimum or maximum number of years of relevant experience or a specific qualification, as these requirements may exclude applicants within a certain age group.
Under the Act, employers cannot discriminate on age grounds in their recruitment and selection procedures unless either it can be objectively justified as a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim or unless age is an occupational requirement for the job.
Decisions about recruitment and selection should be based on an objective analysis of the particular skills and competencies required for the job, not on age or on a specified number of years of experience or on who will best ‘fit in’ to the business.
In practice, what this means is that employers should not impose direct or indirect age restrictions on jobs and in job adverts unless they are satisfied either that the restrictions can be objectively justified or that age is an occupational requirement for the job. If the employer is satisfied that there is objective justification, he should carefully record the reasons in writing as evidence for use at a later date.
In addition, recruitment methods should be reviewed to ensure they do not indirectly discriminate, for example by advertising in a publication that is only read by young people.
Finally, job application forms should be checked to ensure there is nothing which indicates an intention to unlawfully discriminate on grounds of age, for example, by asking for the applicant’s age, date of birth or a photograph. If age is requested as part of an equal opportunities monitoring exercise, this should be recorded on a separate form and kept apart from the application and selection process.
The Act protects employers who are forced to discriminate on age grounds in order to comply with other legislation, for example bar staff serving alcohol must be at least age 18.
An employer does not contravene the direct and indirect age discrimination provisions by applying in relation to the job a requirement to be in a particular age group if he can show that, having regard to the nature and context of the work it:-
- Is an occupational requirement,
- The application of the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
- The person to whom the employer applies the requirement does not meet it (or the employer has reasonable grounds for not being satisfied that they meet it).
For an employer to be able to rely on this exception, the requirement must be crucial to the post (and not merely one of several factors) and it must relate to the nature of the job, not the employing organisation. The employer also has to show that applying the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, so the test will not be satisfied if it would have been reasonably possible to achieve the result in some other way.
Nearly a third of UK employees (32 percent) are prepared to work during their Christmas break according to a survey conducted by DocuSign, the global leader in electronic signatures. The survey of 1,000 UK workers also revealed that tech savvy 25 – 39 year olds are the most likely to log-on to their work devices during the holiday season with 36 percent preparing to work during time off in December.
Tom Gonser, DocuSign founder and chief strategy officer, said; “We are increasingly working away from the office and the advancement in business technology is driving this trend. It is now easier than ever for a business to continue operating with the majority of employees working remotely. An increasing number of tools are available to help staff work away from the office and this means that office closure does not necessarily equate to business closure.”
The survey also revealed that 39 percent of employees in Greater London and the West Midlands are more inclined to work during Christmas time off, the highest regional percentage in the UK. Whilst 30 percent of Brits will have no additional time off during December, over 44 percent will have at least three additional days away from the office.
Tom Gonser concluded; “While we all would like to take some time off work and be with loved ones this holiday season, it appears that more and more of us are prepared to work during the festive season. It is therefore up to business leaders to ensure that their employees are equipped with the tools and technologies that enable them to complete tasks remotely such as complete contracts, access business documents and conduct business conference calls.”
The study of 1,600, found that 30 per cent of workers are now more inclined to go to work sick as a result of the current economic climate.
Around half of those choosing to turn up for duty while sick said the most important factor in their decision was job security.
Overall, nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of those surveyed went into work last year whilst sick.
And more than half (53 per cent) of those questioned went into work with a contagious illness such as the flu or a cold in the past year.
Marcus Powell, Managing Director, Nuffield Health, Corporate Wellbeing, said:
“Employees going into work sick costs business dearly – up to £15billion a year. Our research shows the economic downturn has made people more likely to go into work sick often because they fear losing their job.
This is bad for business. At Nuffield Health we work with more than 1,000 corporate clients to help them maintain a healthy workforce.
“The corporate world knows that staff wellbeing directly affects their profits. That is why more and more businesses are providing good clinical and fitness experts for their workers.”
The age group most likely to go into work sick are those aged between 16 and 24 – 85 per cent said they went into work sick last year and nearly half (48 per cent) said they were more likely to go into work sick because of the economic downturn.
The income group most likely to go into work sick because of the recession is those earning below £20,000 followed by those earning between £21,000 and £30,000 and those earning between £31,000 and £50,000.
Dr Andy Jones, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, said:
“Effective health and wellbeing is about helping people to make the choices to stay physically and mentally fit.
“Presenteeism means those who are ill go into work sick, possibly infecting others. Any doctor would advise workers to stay at home and rest if they are unwell.”
The survey asked 1,600 UK workers what the most important factors were in deciding to go into work sick. The most important factor overall among those surveyed was too much work, second job security and third workplace culture.
Women were slightly more likely than men to go into work because of the economic recession (33 per cent compared to 27 per cent).
Those sectors feeling the most pressure to go into work sick are the retail industry, followed by manufacturing then education.
Twenty-one per cent said they were exercising less since the start of the economic downturn.
Research from Aston University (2010) revealed the cost of presenteeism to be £15billion annually. This is estimated at twice the cost of absenteeism, according to the Economic and Social Research Council.
In a report last year by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), presenteeism was shown to worsen stress levels, negatively effect productivity by transfer of illness and the sick being unable to work effectively.
Days lost from work ‘on the sick’ or just unexplained absences can be a really serious issue for small businesses. Productivity goes down and it costs the business money. Along with the obvious cost of having to pay someone who is not there, if you offer sick leave pay, there are also the hidden costs of lost productivity and overall staff morale plummeting. Most absences are genuine, but many are not. Studies have shown that a large proportion of unscheduled absences are largely avoidable.
If you own your own business, you’ll know how your drive and commitment to the business mean you take very few days off – if any at all – and how you’ll work through most minor illnesses. Employees don’t always have the same level of commitment – it’s not their business after all – but keeping your staff motivated and committed can go a long way to reducing avoidable absences.
There’s plenty you can do to stop absenteeism dragging your small business down. Here are five easy ways to keep employees happy, healthy and on the job:
Encourage staff to stay in good shape
If sick days are killing your business’s profit, you could look into ways of keeping your staff healthier. Some big businesses have deep enough wallets to have on-site fitness centres or can offer subsidies to employee’s gym membership. But most small businesses can’t and so have to think more laterally. Holding charity events like fun runs or sponsored walks can encourage staff to get moving and raise money for good causes. A recent survey found that smokers miss more days through sick leave. If you’ve got smokers on staff, think about having a competition for giving up cigarettes and staying off them.
Create a paid leave bank
A paid-leave bank promotes scheduled, as opposed to unscheduled, absences. Small businesses can do this by offering a set number of paid-leave days that an employee can use for any reason; instead of offering sick pay, or having time in lieu or agreeing days off on an ad hoc basis. You can have a single bank for all staff that everyone draws on, or you can do it for each member of your staff. Keep it separate from holidays – it’s for those unexpected times when having a day off really helps. If you’ve got days left over at the end of the year, you could organise a staff away day or other treat.
If staff are free to take time when they need it, it can cut down on troublesome unplanned absences and you won’t have to cringe when an employee call’s in with a poor excuse to stay off work in the morning.
Build a good relationship with your staff
If you are wondering why a member of staff has missed work, the obvious thing to do is ask them. You may hear excuses that stretch your imagination in ways you never thought possible, but occasionally someone will tell you they are having real difficulties. If you can build relationships with your staff to allow them to speak freely about any problems they have been having it will help you manage them and the situation better. Good relationships with your staff and honest conversations can help you identify any in-house issues, such as an unpleasant atmosphere, stresses of all kinds, or a difficult colleague, which you can then put right.
Get the team right
You can prevent absenteeism before it happens by hiring the right employees. At the interview stage discuss the values of your company and discuss sick leave and time off. Find out what their views are and see if their values fit with your own. You can also check their references and ask specifically about time off work. Getting someone who fits really well with your organisation isn’t just good for you, it’s good for everyone as well motivated, skilled people, doing work they enjoy builds a good team. Teams become self regulating so nobody wants to let he side down, and that means not taking time off without good reason.
We all deserve to have a good time at work, or at least not have a bad time. Work can’t always be stimulating and challenging and colleagues aren’t always going to become friends, but even so, the workplace can be a good place to be. Companies with good staff morale have fewer unscheduled absences among staff than companies where the morale is low. When you think about it, these stats make perfect sense – If you work in a pleasant office you are much more likely to turn up than if you dislike your workplace.
Make sure you treat your staff with respect, listen to their views, give appropriate decision making to employees so they can direct their work and shape their environment and above all make sure you recognise and reward good performance. Rewards don’t need to be financial, they can be as simple as saying ‘well done’, or can be rewarded with prizes, certificates, privileges or treats. Occasional spontaneous rewards for the staff as a team, such as an unexpected bonus, can also help build staff loyalty and increase the likelihood of employees consistently being present.
Telephone interviews – a serious business
Recruiters reveal an alarming level of complacency by job applicants during important telephone interviews
A recent survey of nearly 800 recruitment and HR professionals by Changeboard in association with the Post Office found that many candidates fail to take telephone interviews as seriously as face-to-face interviews, and risk losing out as a result. Some 60% of organisations (74% of private sector firms) use telephone interviews as part of their recruitment process. They are most commonly used to save time and money by screening applicants before inviting them for face-to-face interviews. This means that a telephone interview is an important opportunity for the candidate to make a good impression and secure a meeting with the recruiting organisation. But many candidates fluff that opportunity.
Common candidate mistakes
According to the survey respondents, the biggest mistakes telephone interviewees make are:
• Doing something else during the telephone interview
• Not preparing properly for the telephone interview
• Not listening to the interviewer’s questions
• Having a poor telephone manner.
These errors can all ‘seriously harm the candidate’s chance of progression’ to the next stage of the interview process. Respondents cited many real-life examples of telephone interview faux-pas. One recruiter revealed: “During the interview it became clear that the candidate was on the loo.” Another said: “The candidate was pulled over by the police for taking a call in the car without hands-free.” And a third recalled: “The candidate suddenly said: ‘Sorry, I’ve got to go – the snake has escaped,’ and hung up.”
Telephone interview hints and tips
Telephone interviews can be especially tricky for candidates, as it is difficult to express yourself clearly on the phone. Nearly all survey respondents (95%) said that candidates can come across differently on the phone compared with face to face. And nearly half (49%) admitted that their mental image of candidates they have interviewed by telephone is often proved wrong when they meet them. The top tips from recruiters for candidates facing a telephone interview are:
• Prepare yourself for the call as you would a face-to-face interview
• Choose a quiet place to take the call with a landline phone and no risk of interruption or background noise
• Pay as much attention to listening as to speaking One recruiter advised: “Do not underestimate the seriousness of a telephone interview. It is often harder as you don’t have the ability to demonstrate body language.” Another offered: “To get in the right mindset I always advise telephone interview candidates to sit at a desk and dress formally to help them think more professionally.” And a third added: “Stand up when on the phone as your voice will project better. Change the tone of your voice and use it to show enthusiasm when appropriate.”
Expert advice on telephone interview performance
Rob Willock, chief operating officer of Changeboard, said: “Faced with a huge pile of CVs from equally qualified candidates, recruiters need a way of weeding out the weaker applicants, and many use telephone screening interviews. Don’t give them a reason to reject you them by performing poorly on the telephone. “Prepare yourself properly, research the organisation, rehearse answers to standard questions, have relevant examples of your achievements to hand and ask some smart questions of your own. “It may also be worth practicing your telephone manner,” added Willock. “Recruiters reported being annoyed by candidates using colloquial or ‘street’ language during telephone interviews. Calling your interviewer ‘mate’ or ‘love’ or using phrases like ‘innit’ are not recommended, even if you do so with your friends and family. “There’s even something to be said for cultivating a more business-like ‘telephone voice’ for occasions when you want to impress people on the phone.” The Apprentice winner and recruitment expert Lee McQueen said: “It’s difficult to give anything your full attention if you’re doing something else at the same time yet it’s apparent that candidates aren’t taking their interviews seriously enough. They wouldn’t turn up to an interview dressed in a bobble hat and trainers and the same kind of consideration needs to be given when speaking to potential employers over the phone. “It’s all about selling yourself and making an impression in the first two minutes. One key tip is to take the phone call in a quiet room on a landline so you can be confident that it won’t cut out; the lack of distractions and quality line will ensure a more professional interview too.” And Hugh Stacey, Head of Post Office HomePhone added: “Telephone interviews are often the first real opportunity that candidates get to shine in front of a prospective employer. From our research it’s clear that if you fail to impress at this stage, then it is likely that your application is over before it’s even started. It’s therefore vital to stay focused and get it right first time around.” The survey of 790 senior recruitment and HR professionals was carried out from 14-24 September by Changeboard, in association with the Post Office.
Article acknowledgment to Rob Willock, Chief Operating Officer, Changeboard
Do your homework
You’ll most likely be given the names or at least the job titles of the people you are due to meet. Look them up on the company’s website and on social networking sites. Try to figure out what makes them tick. Which are the most important functions in the company? For example is it a sales-led or an innovation-led company?
Prepare examples from your work history which demonstrate skills and attributes which will be deemed important to each of the people around the table.
Make eye contact
It can be tempting to focus on the person who greeted you at reception and direct your comments to them or to only focus on the most senior person at the table, but this could be a mistake.
Make sure you make eye contact with everyone from the moment you enter the room. If you don’t it could be perceived that you’re avoiding them.
Talk to everyone present
There may be some people who sit silently observing and making notes while others dominate the conversation. Everyone who’s at the interview is there for a reason and needs to be included when you address the panel. Be mindful that the note-taker could be the CEO’s PA and will have a valid view on your suitability for the role you’re interviewing for.
Cater for everyone’s needs
Is it possible to please everyone? Yes, if you know how to seed the conversation with the right information. Have you ever been to a movie with friend and found afterwards you both liked different parts of it or had forgotten about things your friend remembered vividly? This is because just like everyone else you filter information out and focus on what appeals to you. You can safely bet that everyone around the table is listening out for the things that are relevant to them and will ignore much of the rest of what you say. They don’t do it on purpose, it’s just that it’s impossible for them to mental record every single word coming out of your mouth.
Broadly speaking people from different departments are looking for the following at your interview:
- CEO – achievements and long term strategy
- Finance – return on investment
- Sales and Marketing – results, customer focus, understanding of the brand
- IT/Legal – technical competence
- HR – detail and people focus
Tell a good story
Given that all the people have different priorities, try to give examples of situations in the form of stories which include information at each point which is going to be relevant to them. For example:
• What you were trying to achieve
• What was going on
• How you approached the situation
• What you did
• How people reacted
• What the results were
• How the results compared with the original goal/brief
Don’t bluff it
In a panel interview situation, there’s a specialist in most business areas sitting in front of you. This is not the time to bluff your way through your answers. They will compare notes afterwards and you can be sure the specialist spotted your bluffing a mile off and will tell everyone else. If you don’t know the answer to a question and can’t call the information to mind on the spot, explain how you would find out.
With a panel interview you’re still dealing with people. They all have a vested interest in finding the right person for the role. With the right preparation, you can demonstrate to all of them that you’re the person for the job.