Helm News: HR Support - Performance Management

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Do we want to just manage performance or enhance it?

Performance management is the process of setting goals and reviewing individual performance. Used effectively, setting goals and having an annual performance review will certainly improve the individual’s chances of meeting expectations and feeling good about the positive feedback they get as a result.

But the process is capable of so much more. Why seek to simply manage performance, when, with a few simple steps, we can seek to greatly enhance it?

Setting goals and giving feedback answers the questions what’s expected of me? and how am I doing? But to enhance performance, employees will also want to know the answer to how do I grow? Taking the process one step further and building a development plan is planning ahead with direction - just like running a business; having a one-year business plan and a three-year strategic plan.

The process is even more effective when employees’ goals are aligned to business strategy and goals. That way, individuals can clearly see how their own performance contributes to the bigger picture and it gives them a greater sense of being part of something important.


Aligned Goals model image

The model on the right illustrates how the 3-step process can be aligned to the business strategy and plan, underpinning it with core values and key competencies. Aligning objectives in this way enhances performance by setting goals in the context of the business plan, giving relevant feedback and working together to develop careers for the future. It fosters a collaborative culture - everyone works together to achieve the business goals, now and in the longer term.

If you would like to understand more about how our HR Consultancy team can help you with performance management, please contact us.


Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) Claims

There are a number of specialist claims companies contacting prospective clients (your employees) via text and email regarding possible claims for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI). Such companies typically charge 30% of any successful claim as a fee.

If an individual feels that they have wrongly paid for PPI , they should contact the lender direct and register their complaint, without the need for a third-party’s involvement.

If you would like a copy of our briefing note for employees that sets out what this is all about and how employees can make their own claims without using a claims company, please contact us.


Risk Benefits

– Changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

The Welfare Reform Act 2012, which became law on 8 March 2012, was designed to make the benefits system fairer and simpler. As part of the Act, changes to the ESA came into effect from 30 April 2012.

Department for Work & Pensions research in April 2012 revealed that 54% of those who go through Work Capability Assessment are fit for some type of work and 19% can do some work with the right help. 27% go directly into the Support Group and receive unconditional financial support.

The changes introduced by the Act will limit the period over which the ESA will be paid in certain circumstances and, in some instances, prevent new claims.

Employers with Group Income Protection policies need to be aware of these changes as it is possible that many people might lose their existing entitlement to ESA going forward. You you will need to understand how your insurer intends to approach these changes against the scheme design you have in place (fully integrated with ESA or not).

Should you wish to discuss the most appropriate approach for your organisation, please contact us.

Corporate Benefits and the Olympics

There are 35,020 volunteer reservists in the UK. We understand that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be mobilising voluntary reservists for service during the Olympics. The volunteer reservists play a vital role in the UK’s Armed Forces, but what does that mean in terms of administering company benefits while they are deployed?

Employers are not required to maintain company benefits while an employee is deployed by the MoD. The MoD will pay the employee’s normal salary and the benefits that they would normally receive, such as life assurance, pension contributions and a company car.

While this appears definitive, it may be prudent from an employee relations perspective to continue with some of the employee’s benefits. If the employee headcount were manageable, it may be sensible for a review to be carried out on an employee/benefit-by- benefit basis.

An example of this is dental insurance. The MoD provides dentistry for deployed employees. However, an employee may want to maintain continuity of their company policy for his/her family or indeed him/herself, if complicated treatment was due. In this instance, the employee may need to pick up the cost.

While deployed, the employee has options regarding their pension benefit. They can either continue to pay contributions into the company pension scheme or contribute into the military provided scheme. The MoD will pay the company contribution and will deduct the employee’s contribution from their military wage.

The MoD also allows employers to claim for financial assistance from the MoD during deployment. Claims can be submitted for any advertising or agency fees due to finding temporary replacements and overtime worked by other employees. There are guidelines around submitting claims, so it’s very important to familiarise yourself with the MoD processes.

The MoD provides an information pack for all mobilised employees. This is sent either directly to the employer or to the employee to share with their employer. It will be critical to review this and ensure your employees are covered.

If you have any queries on this, please contact us.


When does the new Employer Duties legislation come into effect?

“It starts from our staging date, which isn’t until 2013/14/15...”

Wrong! - some duties apply from 1 July 2012, starting with the ‘Prohibited Recruitment Conduct Safeguards’ which apply from now on for all employers irrespective of their Staging Date for automatic enrolment. This means that:

  • during the recruitment process, there must not be any suggestion that an appointment will be dependent on the individual choosing not to join a pension scheme (or opting-out when auto- enrolment applies).

Most good employers will not be affected by this but care must be taken to ensure that no statements or actions during the recruitment process could be construed the wrong way.

Other safeguards will come into effect once the Staging Date comes round:

  • employers must not encourage members to leave or opt-out of a pension scheme, or threaten any form of action or withholding of other benefits (such as a bonus or pay rise) if they join a scheme (this is known as ‘inducement’).

Member literature and processes should be reviewed and options under flexible benefits schemes checked to ensure that member options cannot be interpreted as inducement to opt out of pension provision.

Financial or even criminal penalties can be incurred by employers who breach the duties. Employees can whistle-blow if they have any concerns about their employer’s policy or actions. This can be done in confidence (or even anonymously) by contacting the Pensions Regulator by email, online, by phone or in person.

Inducement, incidentally, is a breach of the law, whether or not it results in a member actually opting-out of a pension scheme. However, any action taken by an employer will only be a breach if the ‘sole or main purpose’ was to persuade or cause an individual to leave a scheme. This leaves a bit of a grey area when it comes to flexible benefits schemes where an individual might be able to choose other benefits in place of pension contributions. Is this inducement to opt out of pension provision? Probably not, as the main purpose of flex options is usually to give employees choice and the ability to construct their own benefit packages to suit their circumstances and wishes. Care must, however, be exercised and all communications material and websites should be checked.

If you have any queries on this or any other aspect of the new Employer Duties, please contact us.

Pensions - Incentive Exercises

The Pensions Regulator has reviewed its guidance on incentive exercises (designed to encourage members of defined benefit pension arrangements to transfer their benefits elsewhere) and this month replaced it with five principles that should be applied. They are:

  1. Any offer should be clear, fair and not misleading.
  2. Any offer should be open and transparent.
  3. Conflicts of interest should be identified and managed.
  4. Trustees should be consulted from the start of the process.
  5. Independent financial advice should be made accessible to all members.

If you have any queries on incentive exercises, please contact us.

Employee Profile – Philip Thrush DipPFS 

Philip Thrush's profile photoPhilip is a consultant within the Employee Benefits team.

He has worked within the Employee Benefits field of financial planning for 18 years achieving his diploma from the Personal Finance Society in 2009. Philip has a wealth of experience and knowledge around the benefits employers can offer to their staff.




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