Saturday, March 28, 2020

‘Focus on staff to raise profits and avoid costly disputes’

February 28, 2020 by  
Filed under News & Business

Farmers are being advised to focus more on human resources issues if they want to make their businesses resilient for the post-Brexit age.

Extra attention to staff is necessary to ensure employees are as effective and productive as possible – and to avoid potentially costly legislation breaches and legal disputes, says Sharmon Blackwell (pictured), manager of CXCS’s HR Services department.

The service offers farmers and rural businesses support with everything from writing contracts and setting wages to running recruitment campaigns and managing redundancy situations. It is increasingly in demand.

“With rules and regulations becoming ever-more complex – and the penalties for breaching them potentially high – it’s vital that farmers who employ staff have the correct policies and procedures in place,” says Ms Blackwell.

“The explosion in the number of no-win-no-fee solicitors also means it’s more likely a disgruntled employee could bring a claim, so you need to prevent that from happening and respond to it in the correct way if it does.”

Just because an employer was legislation-compliant three years ago – or even one year ago – doesn’t mean they are now, adds Ms Blackwell. The law is constantly changing and the UK is increasingly a more litigious society.

“There’s still a lot of confusion surrounding, for example, the rules regarding self-employment and contracts of employment. But whether you’re employing 1 person or 1,000, you need to take this seriously. If you’ve got employees, you need to get your HR right.”

As well as preventing and solving problems, Ms Blackwell says prioritising this area can make a huge difference to farm business performance – helping with staff recruitment, motivation and retention.

“It can be time-consuming and expensive to find and train the right people so, once you’ve got good staff, it’s important to keep them. In addition to any legal requirements, there is an increasing awareness in agriculture about the benefits of ongoing training and development.”

Paying the proper attention to health and safety is also crucial to avoid falling foul of the law and to be seen as a responsible employer. “Farmers occasionally think HR is just boring paperwork, but doing it right can make a big, immediate difference to the bottom line.”

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