Do you take all your annual leave allowance? – 3 min read

As I sat here enjoying a well-deserved 2 week break, I began pondering, why on earth don’t all employees take their full annual leave allowance? Depending on which survey you read, between half to two thirds of all UK employees fail to take their full annual leave allowance. On top of this, nearly half of all employees work whilst they are on holiday…….So why does this happen and what could be done about it?

Why do people not take all their annual leave?

The main reason employees don’t use all of their holidays is that they fear falling behind. Workplaces have typically become so lean that there aren’t enough people around to cover them when they are absent from the office.

Other common reasons are:

  • Wanting to be noticed and get a pay rise
  • Feeling that no one else can do the work
  • Inability to disconnect
  • (Perceived) pressure from management

So fear in its many guises is the main reason why annual leave goes unused.

So why is this a problem and what can be done about it?

Problems problems….

Not taking annual leave can impact productivity levels and staff morale. It also has an impact on a company’s financial liability. By taking annual leave, Expedia’s 2016 study revealed that a staggering 90% of employees felt less stressed and more relaxed. 89% felt happier and better rested, whilst 83% felt that they were more focused at work when they returned. So not encouraging staff to take their annual leave is a false economy, their health and wellbeing suffers as does the organisations bottom line.

So, what can employers do about it?

Potential solutions

Some solutions are pretty obvious but others may require a change in organisational culture and may therefore take longer to embed. However difficult that journey may seem, it is well worth starting.

  1. Lead by example. If you want your employees to take a break, then you need to show them that its possible. If you are tempted to contact your team members to ask them a question whilst they are on leave, ask yourself, can it not wait a couple of weeks? By switching your phones off when you are away, your employees are more likely to do the same.
  2. Encourage employees to book ahead. Often employees don’t take holidays due to poor planning. Time simply runs away from them and before they know it, there’s no time left to book the leave. Reminding employees to book their leave will encourage them to plan ahead.
  3. Ensure there is a back up plan. A single point of failure caused by there being only one expert in the organisation isn’t always the best way to plan. Can someone else be trained to keep the essentials running whilst the expert is away?
  4. Give employees the space to get back into the swing of things when they get back. It takes time to clear the email backlog, so help your team by creating space for them to feel like they can do that without having to dive straight in.

Need additional help?

At Cornerstone Resources, we can help you design policies to promote healthy annual leave usage and to create a positive culture where employees are empowered to disconnect.

Contact us by clicking the below button or call us on 07908 875146 to discuss further.

Would you volunteer for you?

Maybe you are a charity, non-profit or a church organisation….if so, you are likely to have volunteers helping you to achieve your vision.  Carey Nieuwhof recently explored the struggle to find, keep and retain volunteers.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself about your volunteers:

  1. Are they happy and motivated in their role?
  2. Do you think they are clear on what’s expected of them?
  3. Are they in the right volunteer role for their skills, knowledge, experience and passions?
  4. Have you got volunteers who help on a number of teams?
  5. Are they expected to be in the role ‘for life’?

Many organisations struggle to find volunteers let alone have the luxury of finding the right role for them once they have them.  Often, we find that anyone who steps forward to help is quickly and eagerly slotted in to a role, without necessarily taking the time to find out more about them and their motivations, so the right role can be found for them.

Happy volunteer = lower turnover

Take the time to thank your volunteers on a regular basis.  You are relying on their goodwill and they will always be grateful, and motivated, if they feel like they are  appreciated.

If your volunteer is in the right role, and they feel appreciated, they will be energised and motivated to do a good job for you…they may even encourage friends to join!

If they know what’s expected of them from the beginning, by having a clear volunteer agreement and role description, this can help to reduce any potential fall outs and positively impact how they work with other volunteers, as everyone’s role has clear accountabilities.

Develop them

It’s worth investing in training for your volunteers – it doesn’t have to be costly either, maybe it’s an experienced volunteer who helps to show them the ropes or it might be worth looking at training from a local provider (or maybe a church member or charity partner) , who may offer you a lower rate.

Burn out

Be conscious of those who regularly volunteer and perhaps help on many different teams, it can be hard to see just how much time they are contributing to your organisation but very easy for them to burn out.

Perhaps suggest they try a particular team for a period of time and review it, so they don’t think that they are expected to stay there indefinitely.

If your volunteers are clear on their role, motivated and passionate about what they do, they are much more likely to enjoy it and not resent it.

Resentment and over-work can very easily lead to burn out.  Not an experience anyone wants to have.

At Cornerstone Resources, we can work with you to find, recruit and motivate your volunteers, as well as ensure the basic paperwork is in place…why not give us a call today to discuss?

Contact us today by clicking on the left hand button to discuss how we can help you.

#peoplematter #humanresources #CornerstoneResources


Focus on recruitment – part 3. 5 forms of assessment

So here we are at the business end of the recruitment activity. By now you have identified your need to recruit and you have defined what skills and experience you require in your new hire. From that strong start, you’ve advertised your role and you have received candidates who are hungry to join your team. You’ve completed the shortlisting exercise and now you are ready to assess your potential recruits. How do you go about that? In this article we look at 5 of the most common forms of assessment.

Assessment techniques

There are many different ways of assessing candidates. Here we briefly describe what is available and the pros and cons of each:

1) Biographical interviews

The biographical interview or the ‘run through the cv’ gives the hiring manager an idea of the actual experience a prospective hire has gained over their career to date. Whilst this is a good opportunity to explore what they have done, it doesn’t give you much more than a general feel of the candidate.

2) Competency based interview

The Competency based interview is designed to explore how a candidate’s experience fits a pre-defined set of competencies or behavioural indicators. Typically the competency based interview will lead to all candidates answering the same question to determine how they would approach a particular issue. This is a good way to compare answers between candidates but it does also narrow the conversation. Just using competencies could lead to you missing out on great skills that you hadn’t previously considered. Competency based interviews can also lead to a lurch into the theoretical unless managed carefully.

3) Group exercises

Group exercises involve a number of candidates performing a shared task together whilst being evaluated. This can be excruciating for the candidate and obviously breaks their confidentiality. Whilst useful for understanding how the candidate would work in a team environment, it typically only gets used for entry level roles.

4) Case studies/work based problems

Case studies involve a candidate being given a work related issue, usually on the day of the assessment. They are then given time to present their proposed solution to a panel of assessors. This gives the assessing panel an indication of how they would approach often real life business issues. In-tray exercises are a similar approach used for administrative positions.

Variations of this type of assessment exist for creative roles. Here, candidates may be asked to bring examples of work they have delivered with them or to effectively provide free consultancy for the hiring organisation. The risk for the candidate is that they effectively work for free. Whilst the benefits for the organisation are obvious, they should be used with caution as reputation could quickly become tarnished if this is standard interview practice. 

5) Psychometric testing

On-line testing is very popular, especially for senior roles or roles that require a high degree of numeracy or literacy. A candidate completes the questionnaire in advance of the assessment and feedback is often provided as part of the assessment programme. The cost of using psychometrics tends to prohibit its use for most roles but they do give a good insight into a candidate’s preferred style of working or their specific ability in a certain area.

How many methods should I use?

It is advisable to use more than one method of assessment to get a rounded view of the candidates. How many you use depends on your budget, how much time you have available and how long a candidate is likely to wait for a decision from you. Hot jobs may require you to make a decision on the day or you risk losing your preferred candidate.

Selecting your first choice

So once you have conducted your round(s) of assessment, how do you reach a decision on who to offer a role to? 

A pre-arranged scoring matrix helps here and making that decision by involving a panel of assessors reduces the chance that the decision biased towards or against any perceived characteristics.

Next steps

Once you’ve got your preferred candidate accepting your offer, you can start planning the induction. Click the below button to access the next blog in the series.

Do you need some recruitment support?

Cornerstone Resources can help design and tailor your recruitment process. This will ensure you attract, select and retain the best candidates for your vacancies and for your organisation.

Contact us today by clicking on the left hand button. to discuss how we can help you.

#peoplematter #humanresources #CornerstoneResources

How big does your organisation need to be before you employ HR?

How big does your organisation need to be before you employ HR? Is it just for larger organisations or can everyone benefit from having HR expertise? The attached article suggests that organisations typically have 150 employees before they employ a dedicated HR team. However, it also says that once you get past 50 employees, you need to be preparing strong HR processes. Why?

"Most new startups don't have a designated HR Manager, and most CEO's lack the proper HR training. Instead, they rely on the company's grandiose vision or the founder's social skills to compensate for the lack of basic procedures. That typically works well for the first few months, and then the dust begins to settle, and operational holes become evident."
Marc Andreasson

The article is based on technology companies in Silicon Valley and therefore applies more to US organisations but does the same theory apply to UK organisations as well? In this article, we look at the mandatory obligations, the best practice suggestions and also the HR issues that all growing UK based organisations should seriously consider.

What is mandatory for all organisations in the UK?

There are surprisingly few mandatory requirements in the UK.

Best practice for all organisations

Other policies aren’t mandatory but are advisable to have as there are minimum legal requirements that you are obliged to follow.

  • A Sickness Absence policy should be in place to show that you comply with the requirement to pay Statutory Sick Pay. It is also advisable that you tell your employees how they will be treated before you have an issue rather than risk making up a response after the event.
  • A Family Friendly policy (whether as a whole or in constituent parts) informs your employees how you will manage Maternity, Paternity, Parental and Adoption leave situations.
  • A Flexible working policy will demonstrate that you will consider all flexible working requests.

Communicate and stick to the policy!

When your policies are drafted, two things are critical; that you both communicate them to your employees and that you stick to them! Having a set of policies in a drawer or on an intranet is pointless unless you are willing to do something with them. You will also need to ensure they are regularly reviewed to reflect changing employment legislation.

What issues should growing businesses consider?

Once you’ve got the basics in place, a growing business needs expert HR advice to ensure that the business continues to recruit, develop and retain the employees that they need to continue growing. Without HR in place, managers may lack the expertise to recruit the talent that they need. The managers themselves may have been promoted on the basis of their technical excellence and not necessarily because they have the skills to manage people. Without development, management may not have the ability to motivate their teams and employee issues may be left unresolved, reducing productivity and increasing attrition.

These issues, and many others can start to develop well before the organisation employs 50 people, nevermind 150. So what can organisations do to prevent this? Often a great, cost effective way to gain skills without incurring the cost of an employee is by engaging an HR Consultant. By doing this, you can get access to a diverse range of skills. 

So in answer to the question, how big does your organisation need to be before you employ HR? The answer is businesses of all size can benefit from accessing HR expertise, the only question is how will you access it?

Interested in finding out more? Why not give Cornerstone Resources a call on 07908 875146 or email us by clicking the button below!

Focus on: Recruitment – Part 2

Last week we looked at the first two stages of the end-to-end recruitment process, specifically focusing on being clear on what your organisation needs and developing a good job description and person specification. This week, we’re looking at the next two stages – how you attract candidates and candidate selection.

1.Where will you find your candidates?

Are there people within your organisation who may have the experience you are looking for, but may be in a different role at present?  Do you have employees (or volunteers) you can help grow and develop in to the role (and do you have the time to do this)?

You may already know for certain that there isn’t anyone internally who could do the role, so will need to look externally for your applicants.

Firstly, determine what budget you have for advertising and if there’s a specific place and/or location you want to advertise in.

What kind of role is it?  It is very specialist or technical?  What kinds of qualifications does it require?  Are you looking for a school, college or uni leaver or someone who has had some relevant work experience?

Where do people looking for these types of roles go?  Generic online job boards?  Uni / college careers fairs?  Specialist websites or even social media?  Did you know that Facebook has a jobs board and this week Google announced it’s new ‘Google for jobs’ search.

2.How will you select your candidates?

If you have defined your role correctly (see our previous post for more info), you will now be able to complete the candidate selection stage. You will by now have a list of essential skills, experience and qualifications to assess each application against. If the applications aren’t meeting all the essential elements that you have previously defined, are you getting the right people applying? If all the essential elements truly are essential, you may have to revisit point 1 and re-advertise in a different source. Or if you are declaring your salary range on the advertisement, you may need to benchmark to ensure you are paying enough to attract the right people.

If you find that the above points are ok, maybe the people you are looking for don’t exist in the current market? In this case, can you manage without all the skills and maybe give your new hire time to develop those skills on the job?

What is critical is that you don’t get drawn into appointing the wrong person for the role just because you need to ‘fill a seat’. It’s always a better plan to re-advertise than settle for someone who isn’t suitable and just hope for the best! So ensure you have at least 3 candidates to select from who you know have the required experience to fulfil the job requirements.

Do you need some recruitment support?

Cornerstone Resources can help design and tailor your recruitment process. This will ensure you attract, select and retain the best candidates for your vacancies and for your organisation.

Contact us today by clicking on the left hand button. to discuss how we can help you. 

#peoplematter #humanresources #CornerstoneResources




Focus On: Recruitment – Part 1

Over the next three weeks, we’ll look at the end-to-end recruitment process as part of our ‘Focus On’ series. Today, we’ll start by looking at the first two stages which cover the role design stage, including writing the job description:

1. Do you know what you need as an organisation?

Is it a brand new role or are you replacing someone who is leaving/has left?

If it’s a replacement role, is recruiting a like-for-like role the right thing for your organisation now?  Should you reflect on what the role added to your organisation and given the opportunity again, would you change it slightly….or may be even re-write the job description or re-think the role completely?


2. Write the job description & person specification

Once you are clear on the position you need, start to bring together the main elements of the role.  A well written job description can be a bit of a pain to pull together at first but once you have a clear understanding of the purpose and key accountabilities of the role, it will help you move to the next stage.

You can then go on to think about a person specification for the role – this is about the skills that a candidate must have to be able to complete the tasks of the role.  It can include required qualifications, experience and skills and you can detail those that are essential and desirable.

There’s nothing worse than a vague job description…or having irrelevant qualifications as a requirement.  Providing a well thought out job description and person specification not only helps you as a organisation to know what you are looking for but also helps candidates – it helps attract those who might not ordinarily apply or equally narrows the field by candidates deciding they’ve not got the right skills / qualifications for the job.


Do you need some recruitment support?

Cornerstone Resources can help design and tailor your recruitment process. This will ensure you attract, select and retain the best candidates for your vacancies and for your organisation.

Contact us today by clicking the below button to discuss how we can help you or for part 2 of our series, click the right hand button!

#peoplematter #humanresources #CornerstoneResources

Focus on: Inductions – why are they important?

What's the purpose of an induction?

An induction is the process you go through with a new employee when they first start working for you.  The aim is to help them meet the key people they need to know to be able to do their job well (and to feel welcome!), familiarise themselves with the work environment, processes and ways of working and get a feel for the culture of the organisation. This process is also known as onboarding.

The ultimate aim is for the new employee to:

  • feel welcome & start to integrate with the team
  • get a great first impression of you as an organisation (& want to stay with you)
  • feel clearer about the purpose of their role & key objectives

It’s important to invest time in designing an onboarding process, an effective induction can help someone settle in quickly, become more productive and help to reduce the chances of them leaving within the first six months. It also helps to set expectations: employees are clear about what’s expected of them and understand where they fit in the organisation.

Who needs an induction?

All employees and volunteers should be inducted when they join an organisation. A smaller induction may be required if people are moving roles or sites within an organisation.

Where do I start?

The duration and type of induction process will depend on the type of job, the background of the new starter and the type of organisation you have.

It’s not about a one-size-fits-all approach.

From looking round the work environment, talking about the organisation structure, to meeting the team(s) and showing them the all-important place where they can make a coffee / go to the toilet…it all helps to create a positive first impression and make your new starter feel welcome.

What to avoid

The CIPD state the following pitfalls:

  • Providing too much, too soon
  • Pitching information at the wrong level or overselling the job
  • HR rather than local managers providing all the information – it should be a shared process
  • Focuses only on administration and compliance and does not reflect organisational values

How can Cornerstone Resources help me?

We can help design and tailor your induction programmes to ensure they reflect the culture and values of your organisation.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you! To access our recruitment series, please click on the right hand button.








#peoplematter #humanresources #CornerstoneResources

Focus on: Policies – why do I need them?

Why do I need policies?

Without policies, it’s impossible for your employees to know where the parameters are in your organisation or what their entitlements are……whether it’s holiday, maternity leave or  absence.

Some information can be detailed in the contract but more is needed, especially for more complicated processes like long term sickness absence or shared parental leave.

By giving your employees clear guidance, they will understand what is expected of them….but equally, and many times more importantly, what will happen if they don’t follow them.  Without clear, up-to-date policies you as an organisation can be open to complex people issues which take a lot of time and effort to resolve and can even result in a tribunal case.

At Cornerstone Resources we don’t just provide off-the-shelf solutions, we can help tailor your HR policies so that they meet legal requirements and also fit the needs of your of your organisation.

What do I need?

ACAS recommend that the following main policies are in place:

  • Adoption Leave
  • Anti-Harassment & Bullying
  • Disciplinary
  • Employee Code of Conduct
  • Equality & Diversity
  • Grievance
  • Maternity Leave
  • Parental Leave
  • Paternity Leave
  • Redundancy
  • Sickness Absence
  • Time off for Dependents
  • Whistleblowing

How can Cornerstone Resources help me?

So now we’ve answered your question, “why do I need policies?”, what options are open to me?

At Cornerstone Resources, we understand that you have competing demands on your budget. That’s why we provide you with 2 options:

  • Engage Cornerstone Resources to create bespoke policies or a company handbook for you based on your own ways of working
  • Buy a template pack of policies for a fixed fee of £99, you then personalise them yourselves
Both options will give you legally compliant documents that you can share with your employees.
Contact us by clicking the below button for more details of how we can help you develop policies or to order your template pack!

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#peoplematter #humanresources #CornerstoneResources

Focus On: Redundancy

Welcome to our new ‘Focus On’ blog series.

This week, we’ll be looking at Redundancy:

However well you might manage your church, charity or small business, there is always a possibility that you might have to reduce your costs to save it and redundancy may be the only option.

It’s critical to manage redundancy in the right way, not just from a legal perspective but also for the people who are directly (and indirectly) involved in the process. Managed incorrectly, a redundancy process can lead to financial penalties as well as reduced morale for the staff that remain. ‘Survivor syndrome’ can be a hazard of any redundancy programme but if those who remain with you feel that those who have left were treated fairly, they are more likely to be motivated for the future.

How can it be done as effectively & as sensitively as possible?

  • ensure it is a redundancy situation from a legal perspective
  • communication is key – keep your employees informed throughout (depending on the number of redundancies to be made, there are different legal timeframes & requirements for consultation)
  • be clear & open about the reasons
  • be objective & fair when deciding on how to select employees for redundancy
  • think about alternatives so you can avoid making redundancies & use the consultation time to seek ideas from those involved
  • fully brief & prepare yourself / your managers on how to best manage the process
  • make sure you give the right notice and right of appeal
  • look at ways to help those leaving to find jobs outside your organisation e.g. offer free interviewing skills / CV checking sessions over lunch
  • don’t underestimate the extra time and resources it takes (employees with over 2 years continuous service are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment)
  • be mindful of not only those directly impacted by redundancy but also the ‘survivors’ (those left behind afterwards)….they might struggle with motivation and being engaged

Communication is key

How an employee feels they have been treated, rather than the outcome itself, will count most in their mind and can affect how they accept the changes and move forward.  It’s critical to keep your people informed throughout the process and manage the change in a careful and sensitive way.

Need help?

Contact Cornerstone today if you are a small business, charity or church leader looking at a potential redundancy situation and need our help and expertise to navigate through it.

#peoplematter #humanresources #CornerstoneResources


Can HR add value or is it just a nice to have?

Can HR add value?

If you have ever asked yourself the question, can HR add value then ask yourself this. Do you believe that your people are your most valuable asset? If you answered yes to that question, then HR is vital. It is not just a nice to have, quality HR adds value to your organisation.

The long term success of any organisation is usually directly linked to the talents, motivation and accomplishments of its people.

As you grow as a workplace, your HR needs will grow and develop. There will come a time when you can’t possibly try and manage everything yourself. When that happens, bringing HR professionals, like Cornerstone Resources, in to help will save you considerable time and effort.

How do you know how to manage someone who is off sick or someone who has told you they want to adopt? 

HR ensures the right policies and procedures are in place for your organisation, not only to protect you but also to ensure your people are treated fairly and consistently.

Do you know how many people work for you, paid and voluntary?  What holidays are they entitled to and how do they book them? Do you know what’s in their contracts (if they have them)?

HR will work with you to develop systems so you have this information at the tip of your fingers and ensure up-to-date contracts and processes etc are in place to ensure you as an organisation are following the law.

How do you manage the performance of your employees so that not only do you benefit from their productivity but they benefit by being rewarded for their effort and creativity?

HR works with managers to understand the organisational strategy,  build in to objectives, train managers in how to performance manage their teams, as well as how to develop their people to bring out the best in them and how to reward them.

How do you know what salary to offer your people?  Do they have access to any benefits? 

HR can do external benchmarking in the relevant sector for your organisation, as well as internal benchmarking to make sure the salary you offer is fair, competitive in the relevant market and affordable for the organisation.  HR can also look at cost effective benefits you can offer to your people, which often has a positive impact on your turnover rates.

How do you recruit, and keep, people? 

Maybe it’s an apprentice, maybe it’s someone for a fixed period of time or maybe it’s a permanent employee.  It’s essential to know what resources you need as an organisation so you have the best people helping to move your organisation forward.  HR develops and manages the ways you can attract, recruit, train, motivate and keep your people.

Where can you turn when you have issues or conflicts in your teams? 

HR professionals, who are up-to-date on employment law, can help to advise managers and navigate them through the more challenging times in the workplace….with the ultimate aim of creating a positive culture where employees don’t feel they need to escalate issues but can resolve them informally.

How do you develop your employees, so you are able to fill more senior positions from within your organisation? 

HR can help to work with you to identify employees’ next steps, their preferred learning style, areas they’d like to develop and look at affordable / non-financial ways of how they can achieve this over time.  Maybe you are a small business and opportunities may seem limited…HR can help you to think of different options.

Why choose Cornerstone Resources?

At Cornerstone Resources, we are trained, professionally qualified and experienced HR professionals who work alongside churches, charities and small businesses to develop solutions for their people needs.

  • We won’t just deliver a one-size-fits-all approach, we will work closely with you to develop the right, simple, bespoke solution for your organisation.
  • We won’t charge extortionate fees, we will discuss your budget upfront and work out the most cost effective way of delivering the work, without compromising on quality.  We estimate the time a piece of work will take and will always tell you if we haven’t needed all the hours.
  • We believe in building relationships with the organisations we work with and will always offer a ‘personal’ touch.
  • We not only work on one-off projects but also offer regular HR support – like having your own HR department at the end of the line, and much more cost effective than employing someone yourself!
  • We believe we work to a high standard, we are a proactive, pragmatic and trusted partner who will always work with high levels of integrity and honesty.

Why not give us a call today to see how we can help you?

Email us: or call us on 07908 875146.

#peoplematter #humanresources #hr #cornerstoneresources