How We Work 2018-08-23T17:50:26+00:00

How We Work

Clients, Case Studies and Success Stories

“HR and managing people doesn’t need to be a ‘headache’, you can trust us to take
the worry away. Remember, most people go to work each day to ‘do a good job’”

We are proud to work with businesses of all sizes, and across many industries. If you have just a few employees, we can become your on-call HR support, we’ll be there as-and-when you need us.

For larger businesses, we will help and develop existing staff, using our extensive knowledge and experience to direct on specific HR matters or projects. See Our Employee Lifecycle here to see how we can give you total HR support to fit your needs.

Much of our work comes through direct client referrals and recommendations, which is something we are proud of and value very highly.

Case Studies & Success Stories

Here are a few examples of how getting the right advice has benefitted our clients.

Click a Case Study to read how we helped

HireThis case study is about ‘Consistency’. This actually happened. The organisation in question must remain confidential but hopefully the message will be clear.

Sitting in the office one day, we opened the post as we did normally every morning. My team were the HR Team for a national chain of ‘locations’ ….. we will call it.

Our ‘locations’ were based throughout the UK and were all managed independently by an onsite Manager for each location. When managers dealt with staff issues, they were required to send in the documents relating to that issue and any covering letters they had sent so that we were aware of them and could record them on personnel files.

On the day in question, we received documentation from two different ‘locations’.

Location 1: – We have issued a verbal warning to ‘xxxx’ for setting fire to the Apprentice.

Location 2: – We have sacked ‘xxxx’ because he was late for work again this morning for the third time.

So which one of these potential offences would you say was the more serious? Yes, I would agree, setting fire to an Apprentice is not something you should do at work.

Without going into the ‘what happened next’, the message here is about CONSISTENCY. Knowing how to deal with challenging situations at work is never easy but being consistent about how you want your staff to behave at work and being fair about making a ‘punishment fit a crime’ is really important.

If ever you find yourselves in the unfortunate situation of defending your actions in an Employment Tribunal, the first thing they will look at will be ‘were you fair and reasonable in the actions you took as a result of what happened’ and did you follow a ‘fair procedure to reach those conclusions’?.

This will not always go the way you want it to but being consistent, fair and reasonable will give you a much greater chance of success when faced with a situation that you could not foresee coming your way.

The outcome of this (any many other similar situations) was the roll out of Management Training for new or inexperienced managers so that they were much better equipped to understand what was a serious issue and a not so serious one.

Please get in touch if you think something similar could help your managers (or if you want to know ‘what happened next?’).

Cultivate This case study is about ‘not knowing what you don’t know’. It actually happened and the company was the pride and joy for the two people who set it up and were making it very successful but again, no names to protect confidentiality and integrity.

I received a phone call from somebody I didn’t know and have never worked with. They had been referred to me by a company that we both used, so that was the link.

The conversation went along the following lines:

“I have been given your details by ‘xxx’. We have an issue at work and we need help”

“Ok, what has happened?”

“We have just found out that one of our members of staff has set up a new company and is marketing all of our customers to use their services instead of ours so we have sacked them”

“Ok – how long has this person worked for you?”

“About four years”

“and you have actually sacked them have you?”

“Yes … marched him off the premises this morning but I am told that I may have acted a little too hastily, is this right?”

“Yes, you might have done … let’s talk it through and see what we can do to recover the situation for you so you don’t find yourself having to defend an unfair dismissal claim”.

So, in this situation, we are dealing with a business that is very proud of what they have achieved and have been serious let down by an employee that they trusted. I would probably feel exactly the same as they did in a similar situation. However, they didn’t understand the implications of what they had done … even though they felt totally justified in the actions they took.

The outcome was about helping them ‘recover’ the situation so they were not faced with an unfair dismissal claim, which I am pleased to say was successful. Any employee with more than two year’s continuous service has the right NOT to be unfairly dismissed and the crime actually plays very little part in that right.

So if you are ‘not sure you know … or admit you don’t know what you don’t know’, we can help, especially if you call us BEFORE you take action.

Empower This case study is about ‘using the expertise of others to get the right outcome for your client’. This is a brief summary of a case that we dealt with.

This client is not a multi-national organisation with lots of resources at its fingertips. It operates in an incredibly challenging environment where unforeseen cost is a major risk to the business. They treat staff well and fairly and always try to do their best for them. Unfortunately some staff do not always see it that way.

This was quite a sad case that involved an employee who could not work anymore due to medical issues but could not accept that the outcome was likely to end in their employment being terminated and there was a risk of a Disability Discrimination claim.

The client did not have a recognised Trade Union but the employee was a member of a Trade Union so had their support. The client had never dealt with a Trade Union before.

Very few of us are medical experts so when presented with a serious medical condition that stops an employee from doing their job, what do you do about it?

This is the time to call in ‘experts’. At Olyvetree, we have access to some really excellent ‘experts’. In this particular case, we referred this case to our Occupational Health experts who provided the medical expert opinion that allowed us to enter into an ‘open’ and ‘frank’ discussion with the employee’s union rep and reach a ‘settlement’ that worked for everybody.

Ok, so it did involve a financial settlement and the employee’s employment was terminated but the cost and the risk was significantly reduced because we were able to get medical expert advice. It wasn’t a quick solution but it was the right one and allowed the business to focus on the business whilst we sorted the ‘issue’ fairly, with dignity and respect to the employee and a significant reduction in the risk posed to the employer.

So .. ‘getting the right outcome for our clients’ is absolutely key to our being. Long term sick issues in the workplace cost a lot of money and must be dealt with. Pretending it will ‘go away’ is absolutely not a sensible thing to do. There will always be a solution so get in touch if you are struggling to know what do if faced with an employee on long term sick.

Performance This case study relates to a recruitment campaign for a graduate program and it is about ‘dealing with the unexpected’. Again, this actually happened but confidentiality protected for all involved.

This was an organisation who employ highly specialised and skilled people. Often it was (and still is) very hard to find the right skills so we designed a new graduate training programme to source and train the skilled people we needed. These people were from all different nationalities and many of the applicants did not speak ‘English’ as their first language.

We had received applications from over 600 candidates and we needed to ‘shortlist’ from this ‘pool’ to a manageable number of good quality candidates so we could run our Assessment Centre.

The 600 were sifted down to approximately 200 and invited to Assessment Centres running in four parts of the UK (Scotland, North, Midlands and South).

The Assessments were pretty tough so many were ‘sifted out’ in the early stages, leaving us with 20 people from which to choose for 5 vacancies.

Due to the nature of the roles we were recruiting for, the majority of the applicants were male (just the way it goes sometimes) but there were a few female applicants and one of our female applicants had made it through to the final 20.

Well, to cut a very long story short, our female applicant was a ‘star’. She had a great sense of humour and clearly excellent knowledge and skills for the role. She was not a young (just out of university) graduate but she had gained her experience from a previous role so she was offered one of our vacancies.

Now .. our offers of employment were ‘subject to passing a medical assessment’ at the time (this was necessary for the job as certain conditions would prevent somebody from doing this particular job).

We made offers to one female and four male applicants (three of whom had or needed visas to work for us). All successfully got through the final process and started work. They were placed in their respective locations and all was fine.

Until I got a call from a senior manager … “so you have given me this new person … what toilet is she supposed to use and why didn’t you tell me?”

You’ve guessed it … this wonderful person who we had just recruited had not started life as a female but was one now. She turned out to be one of the best recruits we have ever had and as far as I know, is still with the company. The manager who made the call isn’t though but that was not because of this situation. Lots of people learnt lots of things through this process.

The morale … expect the unexpected and do not judge …. We never told the manager because it was irrelevant (not sure he agreed though). She was the right and perfect candidate for the job.

Fire This case study is about a sex discrimination claim that very nearly went very wrong for the client because of the contents of an email. Again all true and really happened.

This client had been running a successful small business for many years. ‘Banter’, general fooling about and ‘horse play’ were common in the workplace and nobody had any issues with it. There were always practical jokes being played and emails went backwards and forwards, often containing inappropriate or potentially dangerous content.

When I first learned of what had happened, I have to admit, I was worried for them.

They had recruited a new receptionist, a young(ish) girl and she had been working for them for about 10 months. One day, the receptionist came into work, told them she was pregnant and that she was going to sue them for Sex Discrimination and promptly walked out. I won’t say exactly what the alleged discriminatory ‘act’ was but I did not doubt that it probably happened.

Well, she did take them to an Employment Tribunal and her lawyer was looking for a settlement of at least £5,0000 to settle the claim ‘out of court’. She had also issued a Subject Access Request (under the Data Protection Act) so that she could see everything that the company had on her or had said about her in emails.

In one of the emails a manager had said “oh … just offer her 50p and tell her to …… off”

The outcome was that the case eventually settled for £500 because evidence proved that many of her allegations were inaccurate but it was a huge learning curve for the Company and could have gone very wrong. The costs to defend the allegations were not cheap, and the disruption to the business was massive. Needless to say, a new policy on email content was swiftly introduced together with some guidance on what behaviour is and is not appropriate at work regardless of how it is received.

You spend a lot of time at work and it should be a positive experience so don’t spoil it by being naïve and BE CAREFUL what goes into WRITING. Everything is admissible in court and it is very easy to get the evidence. Remember, you do not have to have two years’ continuous service to bring a claim for Discrimination, whatever the type of alleged discrimination. Compensation is uncapped so it can be a very expensive mistake to make.

For help with policies and procedures to protect you, your employees and your business, please get in touch.

Olyvetree Testimonials

“I have worked with Yvonne for many years and have found her to be incredibly knowledgeable about HR and Employment Law.  She has often found a solution to a particularly difficult problem and one I hadn’t considered.”

CD – Ex Colleague
Large organisation based in Hampshire

“Yvonne at Olyvetree has helped my business to defend a Tribunal on our own because we could not afford to pay expensive lawyers.   It is not something that they would usually do but they have done it to help me out of a very sticky situation and I am extremely grateful.”

MJ
Small company with 15 employees based in Surrey

“We have been working with Olyvetree for some time now and they have provided us with a level of expertise that would not be affordable to us if we had to recruit somebody with the knowledge that Yvonne has.  It is a great way of buying the expertise you need at a fraction of the cost and she will always help us out no matter what the problem is.”

MC
Large company based in Hampshire and Dorset

“We asked for help when we found ourselves in a difficult situation with an employee and we didn’t know what to do about it.  As we were quite a large company who had never had any HR help, Yvonne and Olyvetree helped us hire an HR Administrator who stayed based in our premises but working very closely with Yvonne.  She was able to develop our Administrator’s skills so that we could start to tackle all of the things we didn’t have in place.  It worked really well and cost effectively.”

PS
Multi-site location with office in London

“We had been working with an independent HR company but they started to get really expensive so we were recommended to Olyvetree by one of our clients.  We work really closely now and Yvonne helps us with all sorts of issues at a much more affordable rate.  We trust her to do the right thing for our business and our people and we really enjoy working with her.”

JP
Dorset based company – 80 employees

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