Today, Charlie is drastically cutting the upfront costs of our HR Advice service. At a time where there are huge challenges for every small business in the UK, we want to make world-class HR accessible to as many companies as we can.
The COVID-19 crisis has left small businesses in the UK in a catch-22 situation.
Getting HR right has never been more important - but bringing in help in the form of a full-time HR hire or a costly consultant just isn’t an option financially.
Today’s pandemic – together with the ensuing economic slowdown – has thrown up some hard and inescapable challenges for everyone running a small company.
Unlike large corporations, with millions in the bank and a five-person People team, HR at smaller businesses is more often than not left to someone balancing that additional responsibility with their own full-time role.
Founders, COOs, Operations teams and Office Managers are finding themselves thrown in at the deep end - often with little to no formal HR training. At Charlie we refer to these people as ‘part-time HR’ - they’re the people looking after the people, but it’s not their full-time job.
Their roles were challenging before, no question, but recent world events have conspired to add an extra dimension of complexity to their lives for the next 6-12 months at least.
Why ‘part-time HR’ is currently more difficult than ever before
- Remote work and the loss of the office as a crutch
Talking to our customers recently, there are two things that have come up consistently in our conversations:
- Remote work is going to be a part of their working patterns for the foreseeable future – there is no guaranteed end in sight.
- Their office had helped compensate for informal HR processes.
Small businesses, with no full-time HR hire, often rely on an informal culture that fits with working as a small group. A real, bricks-and-mortar office plays a huge part in making that work.
There is a natural osmosis of information, shared behaviours and decision-making that comes with working in the same space day-in, day-out. In many ways, it’s a crutch that allows many small companies to neglect to codify their ways of working.
With the office now out of the picture, documenting how you work is now essential.
You can no longer leave your working culture to chance or hope for it to occur naturally - it makes documents like your employee handbook much more important.
Unwritten there is the potential for interpretation and confusion. Written down there is a guarantee that there is a common view and common understanding about how your business works.
2. Supporting your team is more important than ever
HR’s primary goal is to support and look after the team.
Working from home has made this harder to achieve at a time where there is huge strain on our teams’ mental health.
Your team isn't just working from home – they’re at home, during a global crisis, trying to work.
Under normal circumstances your team would have their evenings to socialise, they’d have access to their usual support structures and they wouldn’t be surrounded by the most negative news cycle in our lifetime.
Small companies have a responsibility to ensure they’ve got the right processes in place to support their team's mental health.
3. Scrappy HR processes are now more exposed to scrutiny
Small companies are now being asked to make hard and difficult decisions.
Already, thousands of companies have had to furlough all or part of their team. Many others have had to put in place wage reductions in order to survive and some are now approaching the worst-case scenario of compulsory redundancies.
Handling these situations in a way that is right for your company and treats the people involved with the respect they deserve requires you to know how to run the processes.
Google searching for advice on how to run a DIY redundancy process is no way to treat a team member who is facing one of the most stressful periods of their career.
How we’re making world-class HR accessible to as many small companies as we can
No clear end-date exists for the new trends affecting small companies.
And without the resources of large companies, making the right decisions for your small company and your team is going to be a constant challenge.
That is why Charlie is now offering a new monthly plan for our HR Advice service.
On this plan, you can get a direct line to our professional, CIPD-qualified HR advisors for just £299 a month.
Up until now, we’ve always billed HR Advice annually. This has always been the way in the industry and when we first launched our service, we didn’t think to change it.
But that meant new customers had to pay £2388, upfront – and in the current climate, we knew that was a substantial barrier to entry. For small companies hard up against it, that kind of fee was putting the help they needed beyond their reach.
What’s more, you can access the new monthly service without being locked in. You can use it for as long or as little as you like – and if you’re not getting value from it, you can leave at any time.
The old way of getting HR support for your business was inflexible and – for the most part – inaccessible. Our new monthly HR Advice plan changes that.
World-class HR support for small companies
The challenge of running a small business is massive.
There’s never enough time, never enough money and you’re faced with constant constraints – but all the same, you need to attract, retain and motivate a highly-performing team.
If you’re a Google or a Monzo there is a team of people to do this for you, but for small companies truly impactful HR policies and processes are – more often than not – just out of reach.
With this new monthly plan, we want to democratise access to HR that is going to actually make a difference to every small company.
We believe that every small business should have access to:
- The confidence that you’re making the right HR decisions
The HR Advice service provides same-day HR support from CIPD-qualified advisors. It’s impossible to predict when stressful HR situations will arise – and when they do they’re often very time-sensitive.
With HR Advice, you get answers to specific questions in real-time, as well as step-by-step coaching to help you overcome difficult issues. The guidance is always tailored specifically to your business and it’s unique context.
2. Complete peace of mind when it comes to the law
There is no such thing as a small business in-house legal team (at least not one that I’ve seen!). Making sure you’re on the right side of employment law is essential for anyone employing a team.
Our advisors review your policies and employment contracts to ensure you’re fulfilling your legal obligation.
3. The HR processes you need to thrive in a changing world
The world of work was already changing prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but those changes have undoubtedly been accelerated.
Remote working, flexible working, mental health policies - there is a world of best-practice and benchmarking across some of the UK’s most exciting small companies that Charlie can help customers to tap into.
We want to help small companies create an environment where their team wants to and is able to do their best work.
4. Genuine support for the people looking after their teams
Managing HR for a team can be an isolated role.
The stressful nature of the issues and the high stakes for the parties involved make it demanding work.
But the sensitive nature of subject material prohibits sharing the burden of knowledge with colleagues.
We're incredibly keen to be there for the people who are managing this responsibility, we know what it’s like and we want to be a source of support.
The long-term vision for our HR Advice service is to make world-class HR a reality for every small company in the UK. There is still a lot of work to do before we can fulfil that mission, but bringing down the up-front cost and dramatically reducing the barrier to entry felt like the best next step.