Author: Celine Williams


The Art of Giving – Creativity and Wellbeing

The use of art to improve our mental well being.  This is the story of Jane Fletcher who has very cleverly and sensitively created the use of art, imagery and words to bring about conversations, positive thoughts and reflections that help illicit positivity and connectivity.

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How to avoid fines, penalties and legal action as furlough ends

In March of this year, Marianne McJannett and I started the series of webinars which Gravitate HR have continued for six months.  These have tracked the progress of furlough, working from home, supporting our teams and their mental wellbeing and have followed the journey of us all through the up and downs of living and working through a pandemic.  As the furlough scheme comes to an end in 5 weeks our focus on this webinar was the steps that business owners and employers should start to think about and to raise awareness of the various risks that are currently prevalent.

Redundancy follows a very structured path of communication, consultation and decision making.  Within that structure there are very many twists and turns and variables, it is not a one size fits all process and has to be adapted and planned to take into consideration of the size, shape and make up of the employee population and the number of roles which have to be lost.  And then there is the human element.  It is this additional dimension that has complicated the process during the pandemic.

The unique factors that have now to be considered include:

  • Are you employees still on furlough, flexi furlough, working from home, or working in the work place?  How might the decisions that you make be influenced and perceived by others by this?
  • Are employees fully appraised of the status of the business?  Are they aware of how the economic challenges have affected income and cost structures?
  • The external job market is overall not healthy with a huge number of people looking for work which makes it very competitive?  This influences the attitude of employees when facing possible redundancy and fighting to keep their jobs in selection processes.
  • The risk to the business of carrying out a flawed process, or making unfair decisions are very real, with employees (with more than 2 years’ service) having redress through the tribunal system.
  • There is also a risk of unwittingly making discriminatory decisions, decisions which are perceived to be based on protected characteristics rather than a fair and consistent process.
  • And all of this is carried out remotely through a screen, with the potential for the meeting to be recorded, and an extra layer of distance to be factored.

As the Job Retention Scheme ends on the 31st October 2020, employers will be required to pay 100% of contractual payment from the 1st November 2020.  If this is not affordable then the business needs to start to plan what alternatives it can put in place.  All alternatives will require some form of consultation and agreement with employees, they can not be imposed.  There are a number of alternatives available and a number of routes which can be followed.  It may be advisable to take some advice early in order to inform your decision making and avoid costly decisions that could have long term adverse effects on your business.  This webinar discusses the journey through furlough, the current trends in the employment law sphere and some of the very unique set of circumstances that we now find ourselves after working from home for six months; and now advised that should be our default position for some time to come for many businesses.  The end of October is a milestone in this journey and our advice is to be sure that you are prepared for the changes that will arrive with no more JRS payments from HMRC.

If you would like any further advice about an HR issue you are managing please get in touch with us on 0141 459 7558 or email


The 5 Things you need to know Managing your team remotely

Cameron Thomson of FootDown Scotland joined us for our most recent webinar on 1st September 2020. Cameron works across all industries and sectors as a professional coach and culture building specialist.

The session looked specifically at considerations for managing teams remotely, which we felt was a useful topic as we await further guidance from the Scottish government about possible return to non-essential office working from 14th Sept.

Even if the green light is given in the coming weeks, the overwhelming sense is that continued remote working will remain and may even replace the office altogether for many organisation.

Cameron gave an informative and practical presentation on some key areas he has been supporting clients in whilst they plan ahead for longer term remote working. Cameron encouraged attendees to think about how they could manage their employee’s energy and ensure they were not burning out; to deliberately build chemistry among the team to make up for the natural social interactions which are no longer happening due to remote working and gave practical guidance on how to ensure staff are prioritizing the important work over the work that they enjoy.

If you would like to discuss how Cameron might support you or your business, or to obtain a copy of the slides, please email or call 07795598464.

A recording of the session can be found here.


Furlough Fallout

The online poll during this webinar indicated that 82% of participants believed that either they would or may have difficulties with potential “us and them” scenarios as we plan, prepare and expect a return to work or the workplace.  So in this population this issue is real and expected.  The potential arises as a result of groups of employees who were previously largely ubiquitous, were then treated differently as a result of the lockdown.  Some remained at work in the workplace; some home based working; some furloughed; some made redundant.  Now with restrictions being eased and decisions about the future employment of all employees, there is potential for uncertainty and the opportunity for unequal treatment and inequality.

There is a real role for careful leadership and management of these potential scenarios and whilst there is no rule book or definitive guide on steps to take we would suggest that the following could go some way to mitigate any potential difficulties:

  • Communication to all to set out the context – what is happening in the business; what are the priorities and challenges; how all the team can contribute to the future?
  • Be aware of making assumptions about how lockdown may or may not have affected employees.  Take the time to establish where each person is at and how they are feeling.
  • Be clear about roles and responsibilities now and moving forward as these may have changed over lockdown and as priorities may have altered
  • Agree how we are all going to come back and be prepared that might need to change over time as we get used to new ways of working
  • Be mindful that previous tensions and difficult relationships will have not gone away and could have become more entrenched over lockdown
  • Address difficulties and differences of opinions – don’t leave them to fester
  • Be clear about the way forward and the part that all need to play to move the business forward onto the next chapter
  • Have authentic and perhaps difficult conversations to pave the way to the new norm

There are no definitive answers to this potential tensions and differences.  The first steps is to recognise there is a potential; then to assess where each team member is actually at, rather than make some assumptions; have clear and robust communication that sets the direction forward and deal with issues as they present themselves – it has not been an easy time for anyone and furlough may or may not have been “flip flops and G&T on the deck” for everyone!

On Tuesday 14th July, 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm we are going to drill down on how to manage people who are reluctant to return to work  and how you might approach these scenarios.

Book your place here.


The Risks of Opening your Workplace and your Team Returning to Work

Bryan Mclelland of BSM Training & Consultancy joined us for our most recent webinar on 30th June 2020. With lockdown provisions continuing to ease across Scotland, many workplaces that shut down significant parts of their operations or potentially the entire operation are in the midst of planning to get up and running again.

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The HR trends, challenges and learnings since lockdown

It was great to catch up yesterday with Ewan Dunlop, Partner Account Manager from BreatheHR, today on the HR trends and challenges that have surfaced during lockdown.  Software platforms were identified as key to our new norm, communication through Zoom and other platforms and BreatheHR being used to record and keep up to date with HR administration and going beyond holiday and sick absence management which will support communication, recognition and developing culture.  Ewan gave some great examples of using notifications, the kudos feature to congratulate colleagues and boost morale, and setting and recording objectives on the platform.  This is feasible because of the accessibility of the platform and the simplicity of use.  Managers will be able to use the reporting functions to track who is on furlough (or not); holiday management; changes to working patterns and ultimately to inform payroll especially as we move towards flexible furlough.

We recognised the challenges associated with creating confidence and trust in helping people to get back to work as this will represent different reactions and responses from staff.  Some eager to get back to work, others more reluctant because of health, caring or other concerns and some opposed to returning to the workplace.  The opportunity to create a Return to Work policy was discussed and encouraged as this would allow the business to create new norms; establish safe practices and allow concerns to surface and be addressed including all the things that you have not thought about or considered as important.  So collaboration and communication, involving others to develop the Return to Work policy and then to talk to staff individually is suggested as good practice.

In every set of circumstances there are positives and negatives and these are personal and unique to each individual.  However business owners and managers will need to find a way to address those concerns and find a way in which we can work together, live with the threat and presence of Covid 19 and stay safe and productive.  Many of us look forward to the friendship and camaraderie that work provides to our every day life and we all face the challenge of doing that at a distance, remotely and with tinges of undercurrents of the threats that the virus may still present.

However the new norm will feature software platforms and our increased use and understanding of the value of accessible and secure platforms in our working lives, including BreatheHR.

You can watch the full webinar here.


Good Conversations – Part 2

I was really looking forward to having a good conversation today.  Against the backdrop of so much angst and aggravation it felt good to give some positive and practical guidance about having one-to-one conversations that actually address matters and allow solutions to come to the surface. I think this is particularly important at time when so many employers will be having difficult conversations or facing challenging situations with team members.

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Employment Q&A Webinar

In our latest employment Q&A session we were once again joined by Marianne McJannett of TC Young, this time to discuss some of the key changes and challenges foreseen with the introduction of the new flexible furlough scheme.

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The HR trends, Challenges and Learnings Since Lockdown

In this next webinar we will be discussing the HR trends, challenges and learnings since lockdown and what we can learn from them as we go forwards. I’m delighted to be joined by Ewan Dunlop, Partner Account Manager from Breathe.

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Good Conversations – Part 2 Webinar

Lockdown continues and is set to be with us for some time bringing continued uncertainty for managers and employees.

There’s a growing realisation that people are struggling with heightened levels of stress and anxiety, yet as business leaders in these challenging circumstances, we still need to manage our businesses, make difficult decisions about staffing, make essential changes, manage employee performance and still keep people motivated.

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