School’s back and it feels like a “new year” – but what should you be thinking about doing between now and the year end?

September 8, 2021


For many, September, with the return of schools and universities marks a new beginning – and in work, September becomes the time when all those activities that have been delayed from over summer are now planned to be put into place.

Here are five activities that should be on your radar in terms of people and reward

1. Bonus Plans

For those with a calendar year end, now should be the time you are making sure that your business is in a position to capture all the relevant performance metrics that it needs in order to make bonus decisions at year end.

No matter your year end, now is likely to also be a good opportunity to encourage line managers to review bonus plans with their team members and to have honest and open discussions around performance.  This also may mean making sure that line managers are armed with an update on any relevant company performance metrics.

In respect of the “bigger picture”, the last quarter of the year is the right time to ask yourself whether your current bonus plan structure will be “fit for purpose” in the following financial year.  A key question we like to ask is: “Does my firm’s bonus plan help our strategic agenda?”.

2. Working at home allowance

As part of support for employees who have had to work at home due to coronavirus rules, the government is offering the ability for them to make a tax relief claim.

Whilst this is something that has to be done directly by the employee, a reminder that this is available will be a positive message from your business.

3. Long term incentives

The pandemic is likely to have made many employees question whether they wish to explore working elsewhere.  It is important for your company that its key employees (however you decide to define them) are locked in for the longer term.  Putting in place long term incentive plans will help make people feel more valued.

4. Vaccinations and tests

The change of rules in the summer regarding the reduced need to self-isolate in many cases should mean that workforces can be in your premises on a more regular basis, without the need for “mass” exclusions.  However, those without vaccinations will be under a more restrictive set of protocols.

Despite these differences, many organisations have not turned their attention to setting out their position regarding vaccinations.

The general consensus is that attempting to put in place a mandatory vaccination requirement (outside of government mandated ones) would be difficult to enforce from an employment law perspective.  However, protections could be offered around setting up a voluntary testing regime – and the proliferation of free tests from the NHS should make this a time, rather than cost consuming exercise for employees.

5. Reviewing working patterns

September 2021 has been set by many organisations as the time when “returning to the office” will begin.  However, in our experience, the program of return has often been delegated to operational heads (whether at a departmental or team level).

Whilst this approach has the advantages of allowing business leaders to put in place structures that they think will directly benefit their team’s way of working, there is the real disadvantage that many of these structures will, in practice, be informed by the views, preferences or instincts of a particular manager/leader.  Importantly, a lack of oversight or coherence between teams may lead to accusations of unfair or conflicting practices.

If you haven’t done so already, it is important to set up a review framework regarding your working models – including if you have returned to a full time requirement to be in the office.

Work patterns are changing and your business should take the opportunity to actively review and manage the situation – as this approach is the most likely to lead to the optimal working structure for your business.

If you would like further information about the issues raised in this article or to discuss any questions you may have, please contact Stuart James.

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