What’s on your employee’s mind?

In business principles, Equality, family, health and safety, Uncategorized on May 16, 2022 at 10:05 am

Practical advice for supporting Mental Well-being at Work

May is mental health month. The events calendar is full of theme days, weeks months. Why? Well, in order to promote awareness, cultural change and to myth-bust.

A fear of admitting that “I cannot cope” the stigma attached to “breaking down” – surely there is now greater awareness about Mental Health!

But this week, multiple surveys show that most employees wouldn’t talk to their employer about their concerns.

As a forward-thinking employer, wanting to do things in the right way and protecting your business interests, you have probably put some things in place, developed some policies and perhaps even trained some staff.

Training is available for managers. Companies are establishing mental first aiders.

But what’s the point if there is no discussion?

As a busy manager or owner you might be thinking…

I haven’t got time for this,
I wouldn’t know where to start,
it’s personal and private, isn’t it?
these things sort themselves out in the end, won’t they?

I get it. I really do.

As a manager or business owner over the last couple of years you might well be thinking, “well, who’s looking after my well-being, my interests, my health…?

Some Reasons to act
It is highly likely that at some point in time you or members of your team will be significantly impacted by life!

It can happen to anyone – your ‘good’ people are not immune:

life disruptions can happen at any time, without warning
stuff outside of work, can and will, impair concentration, energy, and likely, performance.

This is all a barrier to: productivity, excellence and effective team working.

It leads to absence, mistakes, lost time, poor working relationships, friction and tension within your team with a greater chance of even ending the working relationship.

So, what can I do?

Some practical steps:
Create a space where people can talk
return to work interviews after absence
if you’re not the go-to person, make sure there is a dedicated person who is
decide ahead of time what you and your business can do to support employees
have access to and use a template discussion document such as 9 questions supporting employees

Look out for the signs or any changing behaviours:
dips in performance
mistakes or simple errors
loss of temper or irritability
being away from the desk or the workplace
preoccupied with text messages or phone calls
being withdrawn

Consider homeworkers
Whether by design or necessity work patterns may have changed – this is not for everyone. The changing behaviours above may not be so apparent for home-workers.

consider social break outs for online meetings
onboarding new staff needs special attention

Acknowledge known life events
…relationship breakdown, partner ill-health, concerns about children’s education,
care for elderly relatives, living with a teenager (or returning young adult!),
awaiting healthcare or results of tests, miscarriage, the loss of a loved one.#

We often know about our colleagues and what they are going through. It isn’t surprising that life throws up challenges.

But do we ignore or acknowledge this?

There is real power when an employee can be heard or acknowledged in relation to their situation. For an employee knowing that life does not need to be hidden from their boss can be a huge stress reliever.

Reality: many employees feel isolated, alone or even ashamed that they are struggling.

Providing Support
Right now, financial well-being is the headline topic.

Would you want one of your employees to get into debt with a loan shark, payday loan company or the trending apps freely offering credit at 29.9% APR!

A car repair, a washing machine breakdown, child’s birthday or school uniform.
Any unexpected bill.

1.5 million households are faced with being unable to pay for gas and electric out of disposable income.
What could it mean for your employees to be supported with perhaps a pay advance or interest-free loan, perhaps over 2 or 3 month’s pay? Your business has the power to make the difference.

Finally, this week I made a discovery. It is possible for an employer with 1 to 57 employees to buy in help and support for every member of staff.

I thought these programmes were for Large co, and not viable for smaller businesses.

However, for a single annual premium of £500 Health Assured offer an employee assistance programme covering up to 57 employees. That means your employees can get help and assistance as and when they need it on a wide range of concerns and problems.

The headline for me: if your employee goes to their GP and they cannot cope, the only tool in the bag is medication and a 6 month wait for counselling. An employee assistance programme will allow many many more options. And as for counselling, any of your employees can have access all within a fixed premium.

The employee gets the support they need, when they need it.

As a for your business, you are not doing it alone.

RBA supports many clients in the 1-57 employee category. Our clients tell us that our expert advice provided through a dedicated named contact gives them exactly what they need when they need it.

If you require further information on mental health in the workplace, the essential discussions to have with your employees, how to implement return to work policies was set up a mental health first aid scheme – then why not arrange a FREE NO OBLIGATION Discovery Call with us today.

If you’re thinking of making pay advances or setting up loans. You need to be putting in some contractual agreements to allow you to make deductions from pay.

As a thank you for reading this email today – Here is our FREE framework document.

If you would like details of our training course – THE ESSENTIAL DISCUSSIONS – please contact us to register your interest.

Finally, if you’ve never thought of an employee assistance programme before but would like to know more, RBA have access to preferential rates with Health Assured. For more details click on the link.

Thank you for taking time to read this post. We hope you found it useful.

Rob Bryan

The Flexible Working Headache for Small Businesses

In business principles, contracts, covid-19, Flexible Working on May 3, 2022 at 8:50 am

This week news emerged of Jacob Rees-Mogg demanding civil servants return to the workplace (about 44% had already done so). The FT (17 Feb) and Standard (17 March) reported London occupancy rates at their highest level of return.

JP Morgan, after stating that home working was “an unwelcomed distraction”, has now relaxed its return policy following pushback from staff. 

A Bloomberg report this week headlined “Workers are winning the battle” when it comes to returning.

I believe for small business owners – this is a perfect illustration of when NOT to follow Large Co models and trending news.

Your business will have key essential functions and tasks that need to be done well, consistently, and in a productive and profitable way. ANYTHING that gets in the way of that should be repelled. 

Why? Because if you operate against that first principle, however well-meaning, the outcome may not help your business.

There is no single solution. Not all job roles are the same.

What’s needed:

  • Talking with individuals 
  • Aligning joint expectations
  • Refocusing on PPP (post pandemic priorities)
  • Naming where you are – about to reorganise, in a transition stage or fixing a new game plan.

You are busy, there will be many pressures on YOUR TIME and ENERGY


If you haven’t currently nailed this – you could be facing huge friction:

  • Your profitability, 
  • Strained working relationships and
  • Inevitably, a personal headache.

NEXT STEP…. Book in those discussions with your team, (or get your managers to do this for you). Clarity will pay dividends.

Rob Bryan

Managing Covid guidance in the workplace

In absence, business principles, covid-19, Employment law, government, health and safety on March 21, 2022 at 11:46 am

The government has removed the legally mandatory requirement for people in England with Covid to self-isolate. The legislation was removed with guidance taking its place from 24 February.

Following this announcement rates of infection across the whole of the UK have dramatically risen. For employers, working with guidance is potentially more difficult. Many questions arise in relation to how a business can protect itself, how to manage sickness absence and related pay, what testing should take place and how risks should be managed.

Not all workplaces are the same. Employers are advised to consider their own risk assessments, and this will mean assessing the spread of a contagious disease, the dangers arising and the potential consequence for anyone exposed to the risk, such as employees, customers or contractors. Although the word advised is used, all employers have legal obligations to carry out risk assessment in relation to all of their business activities. Specific separate guidance applies to employers in health care settings.

Guidance (see link to

Guidance in relation to self-isolation for the first 5 days states that employees should remain away from work. The guidance also advocates testing and managing the risk of returning to the workplace from days 5 to 10.

Sick Pay

On 24 March, entitlement to statutory sick pay will revert to the pre-pandemic rules. This means statutory sick pay is payable on day 4 of absence and will require an employee to actually be sick or incapacitated from work, rather than “affected by Covid”. So SSP will no longer cover for isolation in the home for looking after someone who is isolating.


Without a regime of free testing, identifying sources of potential infection will rely on self-reported symptoms. For some there are no symptoms. For any business identifying a critical need for preventing workplace contagion, testing will need to continue. From 1 April free tests are expected to be withdrawn.

The combination of removing an incentive to remain away from the workplace and the means of identifying potential spread makes managing this situation harder. For businesses impact assessments highlighting critical delivery of services, general workplace safety or the protection of vulnerable people, management of this issue will be of vital importance.

Where a business can justify testing and the enforcement of isolation, nothing in the government’s announcement changes or interferes with the employer’s ability to manage its workplace and workforce. Mandatory testing for employees may be justified and indeed essential. Some employers are contemplating amendments to their sickness and absence policies to pay sick pay in support of effectively monitoring and managing the business risks.

Special situations

Some employees will have concerns for their personal welfare. This may be an underlying medical condition, a fear of working in close proximity to others, travelling in crowded spaces and perhaps concerns of passing Covid to other vulnerable members of their family or household. The government’s announcement, together with “living with Covid” and returning to normal, will have an adverse impact on some employees. The ongoing advice for employers remains discussing specific arrangements with individuals and identifying, where possible, practical alternatives to office space working or rush-hour travelling.

In summary we suggest:

1. Making an updated and current assessment of COVID infection risk within your workplace activities and those people impacted by your work

2. Communicate the measures you have and are going to put in place along with any options for alternative working arrangements, potentially with a review date

3. Consider how COVID-related sickness absence will be treated together with any company sick pay support and options for alternative working and communicate

*the changes from 24 March do not affect Wales or Scotland, you may have to consider separate approaches across your business in these areas.