Managing Workplace Relationships

There are 260 working day in every calendar year. This equates to over 2,080 working hours each year for a full-time employee. We spend the majority of our lives within the workplace and therefore workplace relationships can have a significant impact on our lives. Within this you will have colleagues, colleagues who become friends, colleagues who become partners. Managing these relationships can often be a sensitive topic.

As with any HR issue you will rely upon people skills, communication, listening to manage the situation and develop a solution. It is important as an employer you set clear standards of behaviour and attitude for your work environment.

If conflict does arise it is important as an employer, you step in to manage the situation and reduce any damage to the work environment. Conflict often rises because of lack of understanding, miscommunication or from stress. To resolve the conflict, you must identify cause and reactions, be aware of the ways to communicate and work as a team to resolve the conflict.

See below case regarding a workplace relationship:

Fred is a manager at Springs ‘R’ Us Ltd. Gloria his wife has gone to work at their biggest competitor Springs Inc.

The MD called Fred in today and says that either his wife leaves her job, or he will sack Fred as he sees it as a conflict of interest and is afraid, that Fred will share confidential information with his spouse who will pass it on to her employer. Fred has 10 years’ unblemished service.  Can the Company do this?

In theory yes but in practice, probably not for the reasons below.

To make the dismissal as defensible as possible, the Company would need to show that there was no alternative. This is, after all, an employee that the Company had no previous grounds to complain about.

Much more information would be required including:

  • Are there alternative roles available for the employee?
  • What role does Gloria perform for the competitor?
  • Is this a real concern or an unfounded worry?
  • Do you have any reason to believe the employee who leak information?
  • Is your competitor aware of this conflict of interest?
  • Do you have the relevant policies about employees’ private lives to act in this way?

If having considered and have the evidence to back up all these questions, then you genuinely and reasonably conclude that the risk is too great to ignore and that there is no alternative but to dismiss, then you might – just might – be able to persuade a tribunal that this constituted some other substantial reason justifying the dismissal.

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Sexual Harassment

Following the #MeToo campaign sexual harassment continues to have momentum in the news and on social media, with many high-profile names, using different social media platforms to highlight the topic.  This has been reported to be the reason for more employees reporting sexual harassment in the workplace and a recent BBC survey stated that of the people asked, half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work.

When defining harassment, the UK looks to the Equality Act 2010 for a definition. The Act describes it as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose and effect of violating the victim’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Unless it can be demonstrated that an employer took steps to stop an employee taking discriminatory action, an employer is responsible for the actions of employee’s during their employment, whether they had knowledge of the actions or not.

I’m getting the feeling that you’re thinking ‘That’s great but what do I actually do if one of my members of staff raises a sexual harassment matter?’.

First of all, don’t panic! It can be daunting if you have never dealt with sexual harassment complaint but keep calm and keep reading and we will guide you through.

‘It was just one email and it wasn’t anything that bad.’ It is important to treat each complaint seriously. Sexual harassment can come in lots of different forms such as comments, jokes, displaying pictures of a sexual nature, unwelcome sexual advances or emails which contain sexual content. An act can still be considered sexual harassment even if the harasser did not intend it to be and it does not have to be intentionally directed at a specific person.

Follow your company grievance and disciplinary procedures to address the complaint, and if your company doesn’t have one check out guides by ACAS online. Ensure that you deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.

Get prepared now. Make sure that your organisation is equipped and prepared to handle sexual harassment claim by ensuring there are clear policies in place, training is provided in the workplace on the matter and that action is taken if an allegation of sexual harassment is raised. Sexual harassment cases which are not dealt with properly can have costly consequences.

If you need any advice or assistance on the topic of sexual harassment or any other HR matters, contact the HR Team at Agility Risk & Compliance on 01527 571617.

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Stress at Work

Deadlines? Hours? Pressure? A lot of things about people’s current work life can cause necessary stress. Knowing, managing and dealing with stress in the workplace has become a hot topic due to mental health awareness.

Often employees benefit from a certain level of stress at work to keep them motivated and organised. This is where the difficulty lies for the employer as they must assess when there is too much stress on the employee. Creating an environment whereby employees feel like they can talk about the pressures on themselves will help the company manage stress.

Industries such as Medical, Educational and Public Sector have all been highlighted as having higher than average rates of stress.  The strain of stress is not only felt by the employee but also by the Company. Approximately 12 million working days were lost in 2016-2017 due to work related stress and depression.

Implementing new company initiatives is one way to reduce and manage stress:

1. Employee Assistance Programmes

EAP Schemes are a great way to provide extra support for employees who may not want to openly talk about the way they are feeling at work. Purchasing an Employee Assistance Programme will provide all employees with the opportunity to speak to a third party to discuss the workplace issues they are experiencing.

2. Encourage Break

Leading by example as a manager to take regular breaks has shown to improve work related stress. Taking half an hour break from your screen or task has been found to not only reduce employee stress but also improve nutritional habits, improve mood and allow yourself to relax.

3. Flexibility at Work

44% over people stated in 2015-2016 that workload was the greatest cause of stress at work. As companies become more productive and efficient work loads can often be mismanaged. It is important to regularly assess employee’s workloads and potentially offer more flexibility in terms of working hours and duties to lighten the burden.

The above aren’t the only ways to reduce stress. Identifying stress and finding its cause can often be difficult and it is important as an employee you tailor a solution to suit the employee. Doing so the employee will feel supported by the company and not isolated.

If you have any concerns in relation to work place stress contact our HR team who will be happy to support you.

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Employee Life Cycle: Step 7 Absence Management

  1. Have an absence/attendance management policy in place

All employers should have a policy covering the absence of employees and how to deal with such instances in place, for a number of reasons, including:

  • To have a resource that can be applied in an even handed manner to all employees and promote a consistent and reliable approach to dealing with such matters;
  • Employees who are subject to a disciplinary process for sickness absence often feel that the employer distrusts them or is by implication doubting that the illness is genuine. This will foster an atmosphere in which employee relations will suffer and often be poor;
  • While technically it is an example of poor performance, it differs greatly from other aspects of performance and different questions will be under consideration.
  • An employment tribunal regards using the disciplinary procedure as inappropriate for conduct which is not deliberate misconduct.

As well as the reasons above, it is helpful to have a specific policy for absence/attendance management in place.

For example, it provides a good tool for employers to deal with persistent or repetitive short term absence by way of a system of triggers and cautions/warnings.

In other situations, a policy of this nature can be invaluable in setting out the approach that the organisation will take in dealing with sickness absence (and specific types of sickness absence).

It also points out clearly, what is expected of employees.

It is also possible that an absence issue may trigger the disciplinary process. However, this usually only occurs where disciplinary issues have arisen through the absence, i.e. false sickness or dishonesty. Or an unreasonable refusal of the employee to cooperate with the management of their sickness absence through the policy.

  1. What your policy should include to be effective

A competent policy should cover the following aspects of managing sickness absence:

  • The rules for notifying ones’ employer of absence and supplying evidence of that sickness. If an employee is going to be absent due to illness, who do they call? Where do they call? When do they call?;
  • Outline the rules on sick pay and entitlements. For example, whether the organisation operates Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) or contractual sick pay and on what basis;
  • The absence/attendance process, including trigger points and procedures for reviewing patterns of absence;
  • Procedures for managing frequent short term absence where there are underlying medical issues/conditions;
  • Procedures for managing long term absence;
  • Holidays and sickness;
  • Medical report
  1. The absence/attendance management process – triggering a review

There is a need within the policy to set a level or pattern of absence that will trigger a review in relation to an employee’s absence.  There is no ‘yardstick’ or set figure.

A common method of measuring sickness absence is the Bradford Factor. The Bradford Factor is calculated as follows:

 (S x S) X D = B  {\displaystyle B=S^{2}*D}

  • B is the Bradford Factor score
  • S is the total number of spells (instances) of absence of an individual over a set period
  • D is the total number of days of absence of that individual over the same set period

However, an employer can use whatever parameters they wish to do so but your levels or parameters should not be punitive i.e. outside the scope of what ‘a reasonable employer would do’. It should not be so complicated as to cause an excessive amount of time being spent on reviewing cases of absence and practically should be set at a level whereby the people who infringe most are likely to be targeted (the worst 10-15% for example).

Please remember that thresholds or levels can be varied department by department as long as there is a justified reason for doing so, but it is often simpler to have one rule for all.

The procedure should also retain enough resilience and adaptability to guard against those people ‘playing the system’ and should include a term to the effect that an unacceptable pattern of absence will probably trigger a review (e.g. repeated absence around Bank holidays or Mondays and Fridays).

Trigger levels should not be “set in stone”. They should be reviewed and adjusted as the circumstances require.

Do not count unauthorised absence towards your levels. It is a matter of discipline potentially and should be dealt with under the disciplinary procedures.

Do not count pregnancy related absence.

Where there is an underlying medical condition or possible disability it may be that some or all of it may need to be discounted if it is related to the underlying condition.

  1. Return to work interviews

Return to work interviews can be a very effective tool in managing poor attendance and sickness absence. You can use them where there is no policy or even where there is a policy but they are not provided for within the policy.

It should be the aim of the organisation that every episode of absence will merit a conversation with the employee concerned on the day of their return to work or very shortly thereafter.

If done properly and effectively, they can help curb:

  • Absence through a bad attitude (The “I can’t be bothered” person);
  • It gives managers data and a forum to look at and discuss absence and its impact on them, departments and the business as a whole; and
  • It can reveal the reasons for absence and whether there are any underlying health issues that need to be addressed.
  1. Attendance/absence review meetings for repeated absence

With a view to having an effective system whereby an organisation can if the need arises dismiss an employee with unacceptable patterns or levels of absence, you will need to have a series of meetings and issue cautions (if appropriate) which will create record of a lawful nature to show an employment tribunal.

The meetings or hearings often follow this pattern:

  • Informal counselling;
  • Formal attendance hearing;
  • Final attendance hearing; and
  • Dismissal hearing.

The structure and process of these hearings will be akin to a disciplinary or capability procedure with the employee being sent a letter asking them to attend a hearing date, time and place, the nature of the matter to be discussed plus any evidence to be included and giving them the right to be accompanied.

If after the hearing the issuing of a caution is thought to be appropriate, then it should be issued.

  1. Cautions issued for absence

Remember that a caution for absence is not a disciplinary warning as you are not doubting that the absence was not genuine. The caution is to signal to the employee that their level of absence is not in line with company requirements.

Levels of caution:

  • First written caution
  • Final written caution

Remember that if a caution is issued, then there should be a right of appeal included in the written caution and especially where there is a decision to dismiss.

  1. Managing longer term absence and underlying medical conditions

There are several things to remember when dealing with longer term absence. Crucial to this are:

  • Having and obtaining up to date medical evidence;
  • Conversing with the employee about their condition, getting their views and likely prognosis;
  • Establishing what the chances are of the condition clearing up wholly or mainly; and
  • What adjustments will need to be made if the condition falls within the definition of disability.

It should not be a case of “out of sight, out of mind”, and whilst we might consider using a system of cautions for unacceptable levels of absence, it would be generally better to manage the situation in the following manner.

Keep in contact with the employee –  it can be awkward to keep in touch with the long term sick as people often believe that the medical note/GP certificate places the employee beyond the managers reach and that employees might feel harassed. This is not the case. An employer has the right to manage an employee who is off sick and most employees appreciate ongoing contact from the workplace.

Having a clear procedure which the employee is aware of also means that an employee should be less suspicious of ongoing contact. Generally, first contact is by ‘phone but remember that meetings whether at the workplace, the employee’s home or another location agreed by the parties and depending on the employee’s condition. As a rule of thumb you may wish to speak to an employee by phone once a week or more and meet the employee once a month.

Getting the employee back to the workplaceadjustments are important as they can be very useful in getting an employee back to the workplace in some capacity. The sooner an employee can get back in to work, the greater a likelihood of a return to normal duties. Therefore, thinking of what can be done is good for the employee’s health and the employer.

  1. Getting a good medical report
  • First question, do I need to get a report?;
  • How long is the employee likely to be off?; and
  • How long has the employee been off and what’s the prognosis?

The answers to these questions will depend on the facts of each case of sickness absence. As a rough guide if the facts indicate that the employee will be away for 4 to 8 weeks or longer then a medical report may be a consideration.

The next point is if we are going to get a medical report who will provide it?

A report can be provided in a manner of ways;

  • Through the employee’s medical practitioner
  • Through an occupational health provider
  • Through the Government’s Fit for Work scheme
  1. Funding private medical treatment

Think about whether it is worth paying for the employee to receive certain treatment or investigations of their condition or illness. As well as showing support for the employee it can assist in getting a better picture of the condition and its prognosis and assist in a speedier return to work.

Many treatments are less expensive than one thinks and this need to be weighed against the cost of absence and the impact on the workplace. For example, say a scan can be done within 2 weeks privately but is a 6 to10-week wait through the NHS.

  1. Long term absence and dismissing an employee

The main risk in dismissing will be unfair dismissal unless disability is involved.

In order to successfully defend such a claim, you need to show;

  • You have complied with your absence/attendance policy;
  • You have obtained proper medical information which is up to date;
  • You have consulted with the employee and given reasonable warning to the employee that you are considering this course of action;
  • It is necessary to hold a formal hearing before dismissing an employee for sickness absence. This is to ensure that all the relevant facts and information is considered and that a fair and reasonable process has been conducted;
  • Prior to deciding to dismiss, are there any adjustments, redeployment to a different role, ill-health retirement or PHI available as an alternative; and
  • As this is a dismissal, the employee has a right of appeal.

What if the employee is disabled?

If the condition amounts to a disability, then the employee will have protection under the Equality Act 2010.

That definition is;

physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day- to- day activities.’

It can be difficult to assess what is or is not a disability. Therefore, it is important to gather the best evidence we can to help us in our decision. If in doubt you may wish to err on the side of caution.

A tribunal will expect the employer to have considered all reasonable adjustments not only to enable the employee to return to work but also adjustments where appropriate to any process for dealing with the employee and in considering a dismissal.

Reasonable adjustments are an ongoing process. It is not a matter of just having done it once and that is all. They need to be reviewed and re-assessed as the employee and their condition progresses.

Please remember that dealing with sickness absence is not “one size fits all” scenario. Although there may be similarities between cases, each should be looked at on its own merits. If you are dealing with a situation and are unsure on the best way to handle it please get in touch.

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Employee Life Cycle: Step 6 Capability and Performance Management

  1. Why is managing performance important?

Managing your employee’s performance is important as:

  • It is central to the relationship between managers and employees;
  • It can be a key element of good communication;
  • It fosters the growth of trust and personal development; and
  • It is central to how well your employees will be engaged in their work, and how well they will perform.

If your employees are engaged in their work, they are more likely to be doing their best for your organisation.

An engaged employee is someone who takes pride in their job and shows loyalty towards their Line Manager, team, and/or organisation and goes the extra mile, particularly in areas like customer service, or where employees need to be creative, responsive, or adaptable.

  1. Identifying performance issues

 If you have concerns about an employee’s performance you should:

  • Undertake an assessment to decide if there are grounds for taking formal action;
  • Review their personnel file, including any appraisal records;
  • Gather relevant documents;
  • Monitor their work;
  • Interview them; and
  • Interview others confidentially.

It is essential that you investigate the reasons for underperformance. You should try and find out if there are any external or internal reasons for an individual’s poor performance. Have there been changes in the Company? Do they have a new Line Manager? Are they unsure of the work that is expected of them now? Have they lost confidence in their abilities? Or are there personal factors which are impacting on their work? For example, an employee may have had a recent bereavement you were not aware of or their child may be ill or their health may have deteriorated. Knowing the cause of the poor performance is key as this will help you decide how best to tackle it.

  1. Informal and formal approaches

 First instance and minor instances of capability should be dealt with informally through counselling or training. They should be addressed with their Line Manager as part of their day-to-day management. You should keep a note of any such informal discussions on the employee’s personnel file. These should be ignored for the purposes of any future capability hearings.

Informal discussions may help:

  • Clarify the required standards;
  • Clarify the level of performance expected;
  • Identify areas of concern;
  • Establish the likely causes of poor performance;
  • Identify any disabilities that may be affecting the employee’s performance;
  • Identify any training, or supervision needs; and/or
  • Set targets for improvement and a time-scale for review.

The formal procedure should be used for more serious cases, or in any case where an employee has failed to improve an informal warning. An employee would not normally be dismissed for performance reasons without previous warnings. Dismissal without previous warnings may be appropriate for serious cases of gross negligence. At all stages of the procedure an investigation should be carried out.

  1. Considerations during the process

When carrying out a capability or performance management procedure there are certain considerations which need to be thought about during the process. These are:

  • Disabilities – You must consider whether the unsatisfactory performance is related to a disability. If is then consider whether there are any reasonable adjustments that could be made, or making other working arrangements such as changing duties or providing additional equipment or training. You may even need to make amendments to your capability procedure. You should enquire whether they have any medical conditions which require adjustments.
  • Confidentiality – Aim to deal with performance matters; sensitively, with due respect for the privacy of the individual, and to treat any information confidentially. You must notify all involved in the process that they must treat any information communicated to them as confidential during this process. You should also normally tell the employee of the names of the witnesses whose evidence is relevant to their capability hearing.
  1. The purpose of the performance review meeting

 The purpose of the performance review meeting is to:

  • Set out the required standards that you consider the employee has not met, and go through any relevant evidence that you have gathered;
  • Allow them to ask questions, present evidence, call witnesses, respond to evidence and make representations;
  • Establish the likely causes of poor performance (including any reasons why any measures taken so far have not led to the required improvement);
  • Identify whether there are further measures, such as additional training or supervision, which may improve performance; and
  • Where appropriate, discuss targets for improvement and a time-scale for review.

If dismissal is a possibility, you should establish whether there are any further steps that could reasonably be taken to rectify their poor performance, and to establish whether there is any reasonable likelihood of the required standards of performance being met within a reasonable time, and to discuss whether there is any practical alternative to dismissal, such as redeployment to any suitable available job at the same or lower grade.

  1. Preparing for a performance review meeting

Before a formal performance review meeting you should ensure that your properly prepare for it. One of these preparations should be writing to the employee to invite them to attend the meeting. Your letter should;

  • Inform them of the date, time, and place of the capability hearing, as well as who will be present;
  • Give the employee the right to be accompanied;
  • Give them copies of any relevant documents and provide sufficient information to enable the employee to prepare their response, you should also ensure that sufficient time is given to do this;
  • Provide a copy of any relevant witness statements, except where a witness’ identity is to be kept confidential, in which case you should give the employee as much information as possible while maintaining confidentiality;
  • Provide a copy of the capability/performance management procedure or information on where it can be accessed;
  • Give the employee warning that a possible outcome might be a formal sanction under the relevant stage of the company’s performance review procedure (including, where appropriate, dismissal); and
  • Ask the employee to let you know if any reasonable adjustments need to be made in order for themselves or their companion to attend.
  1. During the meeting

During the meeting the employee should be given an opportunity to answer any allegations of poor performance or capability issues against them. They should be given the opportunity to provide any evidence and call any witnesses that can help them put their point of view across. The meeting should usually be carried out by the employee’s line manger but remember that you will need to have someone who is kept out of the process so there is someone to conduct the appeal should there be a need to. It is also best to have a note taker to take down minutes of the meeting which should be written up and then agreed by both parties. Where you have witnesses that are provided evidence against the employee, the employee should be given the opportunity to respond to any information given by the witness.

If any new evidence is presented, then the meeting should be adjourned so that this can   be investigated further by yourself or to allow the employee time to review the new evidence. You should give the Employee a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.

At the end of the meeting, you should adjourn the meeting and inform the employee of you next actions and when and how you are going to give the employee the outcome of the hearing.

  1. Set realistic targets and objective criteria

It is vital that employees know what is expected of them in relation to both specific and general targets. So set realistic targets and help employees achieve them within a sensible time frame by providing appropriate training and other support.

Objective criteria such as sales targets will help you assess performance, however, beware of comparing individuals with each other. Comparisons with performance in previous years can also be risky as the business climate may have changed or other circumstances may have changed. Sometimes performance is hard to assess which is why it is essential that you use a proper, fair and consistent process.

You will need evidence that the employee is, in fact, incompetent and underperforming.

  1. Give warnings

 If, after investigating and receiving support, an employee is still not reaching expected standards, it may be necessary to resort to issuing warnings. This should begin with a warning indicating how they are failing to achieve and what is required of them. They should then be given time to improve. The length of this period will depend on such factors as the employee’s length of service and the extent to which they are underperforming. Instant dismissal for poor performance can be justified however only for something extreme.

Generally speaking there are three stages to capability or performance management. These are:

  1. Stage 1 – first written warning or improvement note;
  2. Stage 2 – final written warning;
  3. Stage 3 – dismissal or redeployment.

It is also important to note that at each of the above stages the employee will have the right to appeal the decision.

  1. Common mistakes when dealing with capability and performance management issues

Listed below are the common mistakes that employers make during the capability and performance management procedure.

  • Ignoring poor performance or capability issues. The longer you leave performance or capability issues the more difficult they are to manage. If you tackle them as soon as they occur, you are more likely to resolve them satisfactorily.
  • Not making employees aware of what is expected of them. If you don’t know what is expected of you in terms of performance, then you will never know if you are performing well or underachieving. Suddenly being told that you are not performing when you are not aware of expectations can be very demoralising.
  • Thinking that a yearly appraisal constitutes performance management. Yes, appraisals are part of the process but managing an employee’s performance means much more than just yearly appraisals, especially for employee’s who aren’t meeting expectations.
  • Being critical without being constructive. If you are constantly berating an employee without offering any ways in which they can improve can be very demoralising and could potentially lead to a claim being brought against your company.
  • Treating everyone the same. Whilst you do need to ensure that you are making objective decisions there are some instances in which you need to consider whether there are any extenuating circumstances which may be the root cause.

Invest and conduct an investigation properly or face liability

Investigations are the backbone of your disciplinary and grievance procedure and your defence in an unfair or constructive unfair dismissal claim. An unfair dismissal or constructive unfair dismissal claim can be lost purely on the basis that you have failed to follow a fair process by not conducting a fair investigation. An investigation must take place prior to any disciplinary action to ensure that you do not fall foul of the ACAS code or the principles of fairness established by case law.

Investigations are an integral part of your disciplinary and grievance procedure. They are an essential part of the process and required to make a determination as to whether to proceed to a disciplinary hearing and/or whether to uphold a grievance. They should be conducted:

  • When managing conflict between individuals;
  • When an employee has raised a grievance; or
  • During disciplinary proceedings, for example, for misconduct.

Investigations are undertaken to:

  • Gather;
  • Establish; and
  • Assess the facts surrounding a grievance or disciplinary issue.

Whilst they are not part of the formal disciplinary hearing, they are an essential part of the process and are required to determine whether to proceed to a disciplinary hearing and/or whether to uphold a grievance. An investigation could establish that there is a perfectly plausible explanation for the conduct and determine that disciplinary action is not required. This is why it is imperative that, even in cases of obvious guilt that you should always investigate rather than launch straight into a disciplinary hearing or go straight to dismissal.

Procedural deficiencies in an investigation can lead to an unfair dismissal claim and therefore it is essential that investigations are carried out fairly and objectively.

The nature and extent of your investigation will depend on the circumstances and the seriousness of the matter. The Employment Tribunal will expect you to show that you have conducted a careful, fair and objective investigation where complaints are made by or about employees.

Please note that there is a distinction between an investigation and any subsequent disciplinary proceedings. For example, if an employee admits guilt during an investigative interview this will not remove the need for a further disciplinary meeting. A disciplinary meeting should be held so that the employee can have an opportunity to state his/her case and possibly bring evidence to explain any mitigating factors. Furthermore, whilst an employee has admitted guilt this does not mean that the investigation should stop. You may still need to investigate further particularly if they admit to the act but state that they were provoked.

The key principles to keep in mind

  • Be thorough and follow all leads;
  • Be open-minded and act without pre-judging – or appearing to have pre-judged – the issues;
  • Look for evidence for as well as against the employee’s case;
  • Keep the fact of the investigation as confidential as you can; and
  • Carry out the investigation promptly.Blog divider RAC

Employee Life Cycle: Step 2 Selection

1.Managing the selection process

It is important to remember that the recruitment process is not just for you as an employer to find a suitable candidate, it should also be used to help the candidate learn more about the organisation and whether the job role is truly what they are looking for.

Selecting candidates involves two main processes:

  • Shortlisting; and
  • Assessing applicants.

2.Shortlist job applicants

In order to determine which applicants will be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process you will need to carry out a shortlisting exercise.

The shortlist process involves:

  • Reviewing applicants against an objective set of criteria that are often job-related in order to identify a suitable pool of candidates for further assessment;
  • A shortlisting panel of at least two people who will decide on the shortlisting criteria;
  • The shortlisting panel should assess applications on their own to help prevent bias, following which they should meet to agree the final shortlist.
  • The shortlisting panel should consider each application against the same set of criteria. These criteria should relate to the requirements of the job.

During the shortlisting process you need to make sure you:

  • Avoid making assumptions about an applicant’s ability to do the job;
  • Base your decision on information relevant to the role;
  • Do not unlawfully discriminate against a job applicant;
  • Make any reasonable adjustments required; and
  • Keep a paper trial.

3.Assessing candidates

There are a variety of different methods which can be used to help assess your shortlist of candidates. These are:


There are a variety of different ways in which interviews can be conducted. These are:

  • Structured/unstructured/semi-structured;
  • Face to face/telephone/video link/video interview; and
  • One to one/panel

Psychometric testing

Psychometric tests can help to assess individuals on:

  • Ability;
  • Aptitude;
  • Attainment;
  • Intelligence; and
  • Personality

Most tests are designed and developed by occupational psychologists. The most common way for psychometric tests to be conducted is online.

Ability tests

These are cognitive ability tests that are used to predict performance differences between candidates and are used as part of psychometric testing. The most commonly used ability tests are verbal or numerical reasoning. They are most often used when there is a large amount of candidates that need to be whittled down.

Personality assessment

This selection technique uses questionnaires to identify the candidate as a particular personality type. From this assumptions can be made about a candidate’s suitability for the role. This uses candidate’s answers to pool them together with others who answered similarly and then makes assumptions that everyone who answered those questions thinks about behaviours in a particular way.

Work samples/scenario based examples

This selection technique gets the potential candidate to undertake work based scenarios to test their ability to undertake the role.

Assessment centres

An assessment centre gives you the opportunity to observe candidates and how they react and behave. Typically, at assessment centres activities will consist of:

  • Interviews;
  • Psychometric testing;
  • Role plays; and
  • Group activities.


Gaining references from a candidate’s previous employers can tell you a lot about them. Just remember some organisations may have a policy to only give factual references about the dates and position held.

 There is no one technique that is the holy grail to selection. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. The most appropriate technique will depend on the role.


Before an interview you should:

  • Produce a job description;
  • Prepare a standard list of questions in advance, designed to check how well each candidate matches what you are looking for;
  • Write a list of questions that directly relate to the job’s responsibilities;
  • Review the application letter and CV before each interview so that you can identify any particular information you want to check or gaps that need explaining;
  • Determine how you are going to score the candidates;
  • Determine whether you are going to conduct other forms of assessment i.e. paper based tests, problem solving exercises, group discussion about a scenario question, role play scenarios, a presentation, a one to one interview, aptitude tests.

5.Making the appointment

As an employer you have the responsibility to check whether a candidate has the right to work in the UK before making a job offer.

Once you are satisfied that you have selected the right candidate and they have the right to work in the UK an offer of employment should be made in writing.


Are you or your managers confident in handling the recruitment and selection process? We can provide training on how to conduct the recruitment and selection process. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01527 571 611 or alternatively on

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