Arena Human Resources

By Laura Rennie

“Hands up who likes people!”

My lecturer asked this on day one of my new degree course. I looked around. I wasn’t sure I actually liked people so I kept my hand down.

“Everyone who has their hand up leave this HR course and become a nurse!”

I smiled. I had found my place in the world.

It’s hard to consider that was over 20 years ago. I have worked in HR ever since, from public sector to private, from Micro to FTSE 500 businesses, and now to running my own consultancy, celebrating 7 years of #doingHRright in February.

During my career, I thought I had seen it all when it came to people management and doing it right. Since establishing my consultancy, Arena HR Ltd, I have been proven wrong. There are lots of different elements to people management when you are providing the service on an outsourced basis. It’s one of the reasons my governing body asked me to contribute to their membership magazine, People Management. That magazine is mainly for HR practitioners so I was frustrated that business owners and those with general interest might be missing out. Then this opportunity presented itself, contributing to Ayrshire Magazine. No time to consider, I was in.

I am proud to be from Ayrshire. We have such a wide range of things for people to see, do and enjoy. I’ve lived in Kilmarnock my whole life and love that we are only a few miles from beaches, the city of Glasgow and lots of beautiful countryside. It’s the perfect place for me, my family and my business. Having this platform to share my knowledge to the community makes my heart sing.

I’ve been thinking about the best way to start my contributions for the magazine and decided that my first article should be a refresh on where we are today, and the things we need to consider going forward for all businesses who employ staff. The biggest consideration relates to the ongoing economic crisis, the cost of living. This year we will see a massive uplift in National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates. For those workers aged 23 and over, we see an increase from £9.50 to £10.42. Check out for more information.

Having to legally provide a higher salary to your staff means business owners/managers have to be more innovative when it comes to finding the finances. I was talking with a client last week who is already struggling, so this increase is another area for worry. How can we work more efficiently? I am a fan of a task diary where you note everything you are working on hour by hour. You can quickly see where you are wasting time or where you can work on more rewarding areas.

We also need to be very mindful of our staff’s mental health. Are they struggling financially too? East Ayrshire Council have created a Wellbeing Support Directory which details many different agencies who can help. For the wider community with financial difficulties, Money Advice Scotland on
0800 731 4722 or Step Change on 0800 138 1111 both specialise in this area and provide free expert debt advice.

In late February, the government published the results of the Four-Day Working Week study. This was piloted for six months in the UK (Sweden and Iceland are already ahead of the UK, trialling for two years and implementing). Employees work only four days but get paid for the five days that they would normally work. There is no reduction in salary, only a reduction in hours worked. The study found that customers were not negatively impacted, neither was production, but interestingly, staff morale was up and staff level of burn-out was down. It’s such an interesting concept, working less but getting paid the same. If you dive a bit deeper into the findings you will note that a small percentage of the companies on the pilot automatically turned the new working pattern into a permanent change. Most are continuing the pilot. I will be extremely interested in the longer term results and would love to know what you think.

Please post your comments on Ayrshire Magazine’s Facebook page.

Before I go, I want to remind everyone that there is an extra day’s leave for the King’s Coronation. This only applies if your contracts of employment state that annual leave is exclusive of public holidays. If they are inclusive, then staff can be asked to use one of their annual leave days for the Coronation if the business intends to close for the day. It falls on 8th May 2023, so mark it in your diary.

Next time, I’ll be talking about Drugs in the Workplace. It’s a growing concern and one we need to tackle quickly before it gets out of control.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the magazine and keep #doingHRright.