Managing Your Workload and Workforce During Holidays

Managing holidays image

In the UK there are eight public holidays each year (with variations in Scotland and Northern Ireland) and for most of us that means a long weekend, a time to catch up on some chores and maybe even a BBQ.  However, for many organisations the show goes on as normal, or at least some bank holiday cover may be required. Add the looming school half terms and the summer holiday season and it’s enough to push some employers into a light sweat over cover.

For any period where you know you’re going to be short of staff, it’s important to find the right balance between bringing in new, potentially expensive and unnecessary, short-term cover and placing too much responsibility on remaining staff.  For some organisations national holiday periods such as bank holidays, Christmas and Easter may be quiet for the business if clients or customers are off enjoying their holiday too and can be a great time to play catch up. However for the rest, particularly service industries, the same work may need to be done but you will have distinctly less staff. This is when the importance of managing employee leave is at its most significant.

Good Planning

As with any aspect of business, a successful outcome is usually down to a foundation of good planning. Be clear on the facts and know what holiday your employees are legally entitled to. Consider maternity leave, those on sick leave and be sure to be clear about part-time worker’s entitlements. Develop a clear policy for holiday and requests and use a holiday dairy or calendar visible to everyone. If needed, introduce rules on when holidays can and cannot be taken to help meet your business needs. You can also prompt employees to take their annual leave – keeping a good track on who’s doing what with regards to their annual leave will mean you’re well prepared for covering any gaps.

Fair Policy and Recognition

Your high performers will be the most efficient and effective form of cover, but you need to be careful not to put too much demand on these employees who have a good skill set and if they are put under too much pressure may begin to think about a future elsewhere.  Ensure you are straight with employees and tell them why they’re required to do extra work and how long for, this will show that you respect them and will help to put the extra work into perspective. Reward those who’ve gone out of their way and worked hard, use employee of the month recognition or incentives for example. If the policy you have in place is fair and you treat all requests fairly and consistently, this is the best foundation for keeping everything running smoothly through times when there are a large number or employees on leave. Some organisations may see benefit in allowing their employees more control over annual leave, so they can balance their personal commitments and work life more individually, think about purchasing and selling annual leave or the ability to carry it over.

In general terms, following these principles of respect, good planning and fair policy should aid your business when cover is short, without the need to hire any external temporary workers. Ensure each department knows that an appropriate handover must be completed before they leave and hold a team meeting to allow any details to be covered and questions to be asked. Your employees deserve a break and if they have a great time on holiday and come back to see that their department hasn’t been destroyed in their absence or that their desk hasn’t been piled high with outstanding to-dos, you’re likely to have a happier, more productive workforce.


Is Flexible Working Having an Impact on Your Organisation?


In 2014 legislation came into place that made it possible for all employees with 26 weeks or more service to request flexible working. Up until then only those with young children or those with a dependant to care for, had the right to do so.

Finding a work/life balance can be tricky and the way people want to work is evolving as a ‘job for life’ is no longer appealing for most younger job seekers and older workers want to ensure quality of life, without retiring completely.

Who is likely to request flexible working?

Those with families and dependants are still probably the largest group likely to request flexible working, but the hope is that this legislation will make it easier and more acceptable particularly for men, no matter their position, to ask for flexibility. More than half of over 55s are likely to work past retirement age and the opportunity to work fewer hours may be appealing to those wanting to continue with an income and career but enjoy more time out in the build up to their retirement. On the other side of the scale many younger workers are attracted to flexible work with the aim of building up a portfolio, while possibly working on other projects or building up their own business at the same time.

What forms of flexible working are there?

  • Part-time working
  • Working from home
  • Flexi-time – working outside of traditional office hours
  • Compressed hours – working longer hours on some days to free up others
  • Job-sharing
  • Term-time working – paid or unpaid leave during school holidays

What are the benefits?

The benefits for the employee are obvious; ideally leading to better moral, productivity, lower labour turnover, and reduced absenteeism. However, organisations are beginning to see other benefits such as saving on office space and the costs involved in having staff present on their premises. Also, many firms may require their workforce to be flexible during busy periods of the year so offering your employees flexibility themselves should mean they’re more likely to return the favour.

Is there a downside?

A problem that has to be well managed and should involve some form of policy and procedure is the fact that there may be a number of conflicting requests submitted by employees. Organisations must be careful not to discriminate, as this could lead to expensive and damaging employment tribunals.

Flexible working means a change in culture for many organisations, whereas for others where the process is encouraged and flexible working is celebrated, the culture of the organisation simply evolves to allow the benefits of this arrangement to benefit the organisation further.  Many firms measure the input of their employees on whether they turn up and complete their shift, but surely productivity should be based on objectives, output and completion? This is exactly how you may need to manage your flexible, part-time or home workers to ensure they are on the same page and complete their work to the standard required, within the appropriate time.

Does your organisation champion flexible working, did you celebrate National Flexible Working Awareness Day earlier this month? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @ITRecruitment



The Exit Interview

Exit interviews offer a fleeting opportunity to find out information that otherwise might be more difficult or impossible to obtain.

Interviews can be conducted orally or written.

Exit interview questions are essential to a successful separation and here are some tips on how to construct these questions.

  1. Save the hardest questions for the latter part of the interview. Work up to the tough stuff!
  1. A good question to break the ice is “Would you like for us to be a reference/recommendation for you?” Although, do not make this offer if you would not recommend the employee!
  2. Be prepared for some bombshells. Expect the unexpected – if there is ever a time to this to happen, it’s in an exit interview.
  3. Look for open-ended questions that allow for plenty of expression. An example of this might be “how did you feel you were managed during your employment with us?” or “how do you feel the company is run?”
  4. Other excellent questions are “under what conditions would you have stayed?” and “if you had had a magic wand, what would you have changed?”
  5. At some point in the interview ask “why are you leaving?” if you do not already know.
  6. Good general questions are “what did you like most (least) about your position?”
  1. Try to find out if there were things the departing employee would suggest to improve – conditions, production or morale.
  2. Try to get a good feel for how they viewed their compensation and benefits package.
  1. Leave room at the end of the interview for general comments. You could also ask them to describe one or two of their proudest professional accomplishments?

Here are some examples of Exit Interview Questions.

  • Before deciding to leave, did you explore the possibility of a transfer?
  • Is there something you didn’t like about your boss?
  • How would you rate our work environment?
  • Were you happy with your salary and benefits?
  • What did you think about your performance and salary reviews?
  • How should we change the way we do things to avoid losing other good employees?

Langley James IT & HR Recruitment Market Review – April 2015: London

Key points

  • Permanent placements growth accelerates to eight-month high
  • Growth of demand for permanent staff eases to weakest in nearly two years
  • Marked reductions in supply of both permanent and contract workers


Staff Appointments

Strongest expansion in permanent placements since last August
Our IT consultants in London continued to see a growth of permanent placements in April, extending the current sequence which began in June 2013.  Moreover, the rate of expansion was the sharpest among the UK regions, having accelerated since March to an eight-month high.


Contract billings rise more slowly
In contrast, contract billings in the capital increased at the slowest rate since the end of last year in April.  The slowdown in growth mirrored the trend observed at the UK level, with the latest expansion broadly in line with the national average.


Staff Availability

Permanent staff supply continues to fall sharply
The supply of permanent workers in London declined for the twenty-third consecutive month in April.  The rate of contraction was little-changed from the prior month and marked overall.  Across the UK as a whole, permanent staff availability fell at a similarly strong pace.


Contract supply declines at weakest rate in eight months
The availability of candidates for contract vacancies in the capital continued to fall in April, thereby making a 21-month period of contraction.  That said, the rate of decline eased to and eight-month low and was slower than the UK-wide trend for the first time since last September.



Permanent salaries
Permanent salary growth in the capital picked up to a three-month high in April, the great competition for candidates being cited as the main reason.  That said, the latest increase was the lease marked among the four English regions.


Contract pay rates
Meanwhile, contract rates rose for the twenty-sixth month running in April, albeit at the slowest pace since January.  Despite remaining strong in the context of historical data, the rate of inflation was weaker than seen elsewhere in the UK.


About Langley James
Langley James was founded in 1999 by James Toovey, a highly respected recruitment industry professional.  James wanted to provide something unique: a bespoke recruitment service which was founded on service excellence.  With offices in London and Manchester, we are now providing our recruitment services throughout the world and over the last 16 years have worked with some of the most respected companies in the world.

To find out why so many companies turn to Langley James for support in fulfilling their IT and HR recruitment needs, call and speak to one of our specialist consultants today on 0845 124 9555.

Langley James IT & HR Recruitment Market Review – April 2015

Key points

  • Strongest increase in permanent staff appointments in eight months
  • Contract billings growth eases to six-month low
  • Acceleration of pay growth for permanent and contract staff.


Permanent placements growth accelerates…
The number of people placed in permanent jobs continued to rise in April.  Moreover, the rate of expansion quickened to an eight-month high.  This reflected a stronger increase in demand for staff, with permanent vacancies rising at the fastest pace since October 2014.


…but contract billings rise at slower rate
Short term billings increased further in April, but the latest rise was the slowest in six months.  This corresponded with a moderation in the rate of growth of demand for contract staff to the least marked since January.


Pay growth strengthens…
Growth pf permanent staff salaries accelerated to a nine-month high in April, with our consultants highlighting a combination of strong demand and skills shortages.  Daily rates of pay for contract staff meanwhile increased at the fastest pace since July 2007.


…amid tight candidate availability
The availability of staff to full permanent roles deteriorated further in April, with the rate of contraction accelerated to the sharpest in five month.  Contract staff availability declined at a marked pace that was similar to that seen in March.


Staff appointments

Permanent placements rise at fastest rate in eight months
The number of people placed in permanent roles increased for the thirty-first consecutive month in April.  Moreover, the rate of expansion quickened to the fastest since August 2014.  Anecdotal evidence suggested that higher placements were reflective of strong demand for staff at employers.  In a reversal of the trend seen in recent months, London saw the sharpest growth of permanent placements during April, while the slowest expansion was seen in the Midlands.


Contract billings growth eases to six-month low
Contract billings rose further in April.  Although remaining marked, the rate of expansion moderated to the slowest since October 2014.  Where an increase in short term billings was seen, this was attributed to higher client activity levels.  The Midlands remained the strongest-performing region for contractors in April, with the slowest growth indicated in the North.


Demand for staff rises at strongest rate in six months
April saw the fastest growth of demand for staff since October 2014.  Permanent staff saw demand for their services rise at the strongest rate in six months, whereas contract employees registered the lease marked increase since January.

Private sector demand for staff continued to rise at a stronger pace than that for the public sector workers in April.  The fastest rate of growth overall was signalled for private sector permanent employees.


Staff Availability

Availability of permanent staff
The availability of candidates to fill permanent job vacancies continued to deteriorate in April.  The latest fall was the sharpest since last November.  The Midlands registered the steepest reduction in permanent candidate availability.

Availability of contract staff
The rate of decline in contract staff availability remained marked in April.  Skill shortages were evident for a range of occupations.



Permanent salaries
Average starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs continued to rise in April.  The rate of growth was strong, having accelerated to the sharpest since July 2014.  A combination of strong demand for staff and shortages of skilled candidates was cited as the driver of salary inflation.  The South led a broad-based upturn in permanent salaries during April.


Contract pay rates
Daily pay rates increased further in April.  Although less marked than the rise in permanent salaries, inflation was nonetheless strong and the fastest since July 2007.  The sharpest contract pay growth was reported in the Midlands. 


About Langley James

Langley James was founded in 1999 by James Toovey, a highly respected recruitment industry professional.  James wanted to provide something unique: a bespoke recruitment service which was founded on service excellence.  With offices in London and Manchester, we are now providing our recruitment services throughout the world and over the last 16 years have worked with some of the most respected companies in the world.

To find out why so many companies turn to Langley James for support in fulfilling their IT and HR recruitment needs, call and speak to one of our specialist consultants today on 0845 124 9555.

General Election 2015: The Conservative Promise to Business and Recruitment

After months of debate, battles and more policies than we could get our head round, David Cameron is staying put at number 10 and the recruitment industry and employees alike are keen to see the promises of the election build up honored by the new Conservative government.

During the campaigning there were various points of interest for employers. The Liberal Democrats focused on equality for women and fathers in work, the Green Party on creating sustainable jobs, especially within energy conservation, and UKIP on making sure jobs are offered to British workers first. Labour’s links to the unions and general anti-agency views immediately make them less popular to recruiters, however supporting the abolishment of hot-topic zero hour contracts could mean more work for us recruiters, finding permanent employees for business. The Conservatives plan to reduce the exclusivity of zero hour contracts, rather than scrap them altogether.

There has been no shortage of speculation and option in the build up, and although the result was unpredictably straight forward, the general consensus is that a Tory government is favoured by the recruitment industry.  A survey by Bullhorn, pre-election showed 53% of UK recruiters supported a conservative outcome. But how will the new government affect recruitment within your business? Lets take a look at the key areas.

Full Employment
During his first term David Cameron boasts that his party created 1 million new jobs. There are now 30.8 million people in employment, with unemployment at 5.7% as oppose to 8% back in 2010 at the last election. As well as stating that they will aim to improve the skills of older workers to meet the needs of the economy, they Tories are tackling the important issue of youth unemployment with Cameron stating “we won’t just aim to lower youth unemployment; we aim to abolish it.” The idea is that anyone who wants a job, gets a job. The key to making this work is dealing with current skill shortages through appropriate education, training and apprenticeships (the new government has promised 3 million of these).

Business support
The promise is to help start-ups by cutting red tape, aiming to boost small business and therefore allowing growth and the flexibility to take on more specialist staff.

One of the most discussed topics of the election, immigration continues to spark debate. Skilled workers from overseas fill many of the current gaps in our UK workforces and many believe tighter immigration controls would jeopardise the important roles that immigrant workers can bring to the country. Although the Conservatives didn’t hold their promise on the cap on immigration (by a long way) in the last parliament, this time they promise to clamp down on illegal immigration and abuse of the minimum wage, so lets hope this this will go some way to solve the current inability to distinguish between skilled and unskilled immigrants moving to the UK.

We now have more women MPs in parliament than ever before, and it is looking this way for business too. Promoting equal treatment and equal opportunity for all is all part of David Cameron’s Big Society and this includes requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees. They also aim to halve the disability employment gap.

What business leaders always want it stability, and now we at least know who’s in parliament and what the promises are. Unfortunately the history of broken promises and PR stunts within politics leaves everyone more then skeptical. In what other recruitment process would the candidates be so scathing of their competition, make personal attacks and expect support by highlighting how bad the other choices are? Never the less, there are lots of positive sounds for business coming from the Conservatives, so with an EU referendum on the horizon, likely to shake up debate with the business community once more, lets watch this space.