State Funeral Bank Holiday – what are my obligations as an employer and what does this mean for my team?


Business owners, leaders and managers have only a few days to decide how to manage the additional bank holiday.


TL;DR – Be sensible and pragmatic. Ask your team what they want to do


Monday 19th September 2022, the date of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral, will be a UK Bank Holiday. A statement released via the UK Government website says “Monday 19 September, the date of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral, will be a national bank holiday”.

“This will allow individuals, businesses and other organisations to pay their respects to Her Majesty and commemorate Her reign, while marking the final day of the period of national mourning.”

“This bank holiday will operate in the same way as other bank holidays, and there is no statutory entitlement to time off. Employers may include bank holidays as part of a worker’s leave entitlement.“

This date marks the final day of the period of national mourning. UK Government advice is clear, to a point.

The way you manage the additional bank holiday is largely dependent on the wording of your contracts of employment, custom and practice in your business, and given the unique circumstances you’ll also need to be sensitive to the needs of your team.

The broad advice from the UK Government is that “this is a matter for discussion between individuals and their employer”. If nothing else, we’d advise you to take a sensible, pragmatic approach and ask your team what they want to do.


Here’s the answers to the FAQs we’ve been asked (so far)…

We’ve done our best to pull together a practical set of FAQs with sensible suggestions on how to manage the additional bank holiday. Please get in touch if you need specific advice for your business or organisation.

A note about our FAQs and examples: please do not interpret this article as formal guidance or legal advice. Our FAQs and examples are here to guide your decision-making process but we’d always suggest you consider in the broader context of your customer needs, contractual terms and your workplace culture.


Do I have to close my business on 19th September 2022?

  • No, if you would normally be open on Monday 19th September 2022 there is nothing in law to prevent you from opening as normal.

  • It’s worth bearing in mind that over the weekend we’ve all seen pictures and videos of the huge national outpouring of grief and celebration of Her late Majesty’s life.

  • It likely that you have customer, suppliers, key stakeholders and prospects who will want to celebrate the life of Queen Elizabeth II. By the same token there will be others who will not want to commemorate her reign and will want to escape the news coverage and media reporting.

  • This isn’t a royalist vs. republican ‘thing’; you need to do what’s right for your organisation.

  • You’ll also need to weigh-up the benefits and practicalities of staying open vs. closing, including whether you have enough team members available (which leads us nicely onto our next question…).


There is no legal requirement to close your business on 19th September 2022


Are schools, colleges and other government services going to be closed on 19th September 2022?

  • Yes, we understand that all public-sector schools will be closed on 19th September 2022. Colleges and Universities are also likely to be closed (TBC).

  • We also expect all UK Government Departments and Local Authority offices to be closed, although critical services such as the National Health Service and other 24/7 services will remain open. Please check with your local service providers for specific opening times.

  • Naturally, this means that families, parents and grandparents of school-age children will either need to find childcare within the next few days, or will need to talk to you about whether they can have the day off work.

  • We think it’s better to manage time-off as sensibly as possible, taking all the learnings from the agility and responsiveness shown by teams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If you can manage time-off without resorting to formal policies and procedures, particularly for families and working parents and grandparents, so much the better.


Schools will be closed on 19th September 2022


Does the bank holiday mean that I have to give employees the day off work?

  • In a word, no. There is no statutory entitlement to time off for bank holidays.

  • You don’t ‘have to’ give colleagues the day off but you might want to consider requests for annual leave if you’re not closing on 19th September 2022.

  • If you are closing and would normally be open, most (if not all) employees should be paid as normal if they’re available for work.


There is no statutory entitlement to time-off on a bank holiday


Interestingly, the UK Government has said:

  • The government cannot interfere in existing contractual arrangements between employers and workers.”

  • “However, we would expect that many workers will be able to take the day off on the bank holiday.”

  • “We also expect employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take the day of the funeral off work.”


Are my employees entitled to an extra day’s holiday because of the additional bank holiday?

  • This one’s a bit more complicated. It depends on what your contract of employment says…

  • A key thing to remember: UK-based employees are entitled to a minimum of 20 days annual leave plus 8 statutory public/bank holidays each year.

Example 1 – your contract of employment states ‘employees are entitled to 20 days annual leave (statutory minimum) plus public/bank holidays’.

  • Yes, your employees are entitled to an extra day’s holiday.

  • Why? Because 19th September 2022 is public/bank holiday and the example contract wording doesn’t state (or limit) the number of public/bank holidays.

  • Don’t forget: part time workers are entitled to a pro-rata amount based on their working hours/pattern.

Example 2 – your contract of employment states ‘employees are entitled to 28 days annual leave including public/bank holidays’.

  • A probable interpretation of the wording would suggest ‘yes’, they’re entitled to an additional holiday.

  • Why? The statutory minimum of annual leave is 20 days and there will be 9 public holidays in 2022 (29 days)

  • Huh? The wording of the contract says ‘including’ public/bank holidays without specifying the exact number, but since offering <20 days annual leave is not legal, an additional day’s entitlement is implied.

  • Don’t forget: part time workers are entitled to a pro-rata amount based on their working hours/pattern.

Example 3 – your contract of employment states employees are entitled to >28 days annual leave including public/bank holidays, for example ‘35 days annual leave including public/bank holidays’.

  • A strict interpretation of the wording would suggest ‘no’, they’re not entitled to any additional holiday.

  • Why? You already offer greater than the statutory minimum of annual leave and public holidays, and the wording says ‘including’ without specifying the exact number.

  • Given the unique circumstances you may decide to grant the additional day either on-the-day or as an addition to your employees’ total time-off allowance for the year.


Check your contractual entitlement wording before making any decisions


This list isn’t intended to cover every situation. Naturally there may be other examples of working patterns and contractual entitlements. Always check your contracts before making any decisions and if you’re not sure, talk to your HR Business Partner or give us a call.


What is the UK Government advising employers to do?

There are so many different and unique contractual arrangements between employers and employees, it’s impossible to come-up with a list of instructions that will cover all eventualities. The UK Government has put out a press release which covers the basics. You can read the full press release on the UK Government website.


There is no ‘one size fits all’ set of instructions for employers


Four practical things to do this week

  • Make a decision, ideally by mid-week to give you plenty of time to communicate what’s going on. For your team, the earlier you can decide the better, especially if they’re going to need to make arrangements for childcare. This is important for everyone, including your customers. If you are closing, make sure you update your Google Maps listing and other directories where you publicise your opening hours, otherwise your team might come back to complaints from people trying to reach you.

  • Get HR and/or legal advice (if you need to). If your contractual entitlements or working arrangements are complex, don’t be afraid to get some help from your HR and legal advisors. It’s best to be safe.

  • Update your HR / Annual Leave system with the additional bank holiday. If you use a service provider they’ll probably have a help page on their knowledge base to help you get this done. Just bear in mind they can’t make the decision on how to handle the additional day, so if you decide to give everyone an additional day off, you’ll probably need to do a bulk upload/change of annual leave entitlement too.

  • Remind your employees about your Employee Assistance Programme. Over the weekend we’ve seen how many people have come out to share their grief and celebrate the life of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Some people in your team may have been deeply affected by the death of The Queen, they may need to access the wellbeing services via your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Similarly there may be people in your team who do not support the monarchy or the Royal Family and have been triggered by the events of the past few days; they too may benefit from the services of your EAP.


Don’t know where to start?

There’s only a few days to make arrangements and communicate with your team and your customers.

If you’re struggling to wade through contractual entitlements and the practicalities of the additional bank holiday, feel free to give me a call for support and advice.



How to Lead Hybrid Teams


“Should I have my whole team in … or my whole team out? In, out, in, out …”


Shake it all about! We all know traditional working practices have changed. People have been flipping between being in and out of the office for over 2 years now. Something which has undoubtedly shaken many companies.

Lots of office workers have now been instructed to return for at least some of the week. But the situation that greets them varies hugely between organisations, internal teams and even pay grades.

How does it feel if your CEO has said you have to be in the office everyday, but you’ve not seen them up close and personal for weeks?

Or how about if some teams in the business are in, but others are entirely home-based?

The aftermath of the pandemic has left a huge swathe of organisations with fragile, fractured or ‘not quite figured out yet’ working environments. Some organisations moved quickly to new working policies whereas others have muddled along without formalising new ways of working.


C-suite executives expect 87% of work to be done via some form of hybrid working


According to research by McKinsey, most organisations don’t yet have a detailed vision in place for hybrid working, with as few as 3 out of 10 organisations having both prepared for and communicated their vision for the post-pandemic world. Despite this, executives expect most work to be done via some form of hybrid work in future. Perhaps many of us are still in ‘reaction mode’ and the case for hybrid working is still unclear?


Why could a hybrid working model be good for my business?

If you’re considering it, it’s probably because you’re already doing it in some way. Hybrid working became a necessity in the pandemic.

Some organisations only did it because they had to, and for some companies, being at work in person will always be the best model for them.

You may have never considered it as an option pre-covid but perhaps now you’ve seen some benefits in productivity, staff wellbeing, retention or recruitment. A hybrid mix brings many positives:


Hybrid working is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a ‘must have’ for most workers


Benefits of Working at Home

  • Focused periods of concentration on tasks that are best done uninterpreted.

  • A place to do virtual calls.

  • Good for those who need adjustments to their working environment, such as people with a disability.

  • More useable time in the day for those who have a lengthy commute.

  • A better work/life balance.

Benefits of Being in The Workplace*

  • Informal learning of technical knowledge … being in earshot of colleagues.

  • Learning good leadership skills by listening to and ‘soaking up’ the actions of positive role models.

  • More chance to naturally include less confident colleagues, in meetings that are in-person.

  • Space for creative conversations between colleagues.

  • More opportunities for new starters to absorb company culture.

*None of the ‘benefits’ of working in the workplace are effective if leaders, and relevant colleagues are not there … AT THE SAME TIME!


Absorbing and contributing to company culture is virtually impossible at home


How do I lead a fully hybrid team?

Hybrid working is not new. Tech companies like Google have been doing it across teams successfully for many years.

The reason they and others adopted it in the first place was because it was better for productivity.

For hybrid working to work, leaders need to be clear and visible and employees need to understand how their work fits into big picture company objectives.


Agree the ground rules for hybrid working, including what leaders need to do


Five practical steps to successful hybrid working

There are some specific steps that every leader can take to make hybrid working work for you, your team and most importantly, your customers. One word of warning before you start…don’t be the CEO that says everyone has to work in a certain way, except you. That’s a sure-fire way to make sure hybrid working doesn’t work.

Step 1 – Make an Agreement (Formal or Informal) 

  • If people have become used to the flexibility of 100% home working they need time to put a new routine in place.

  • Remember, people will be factoring in the cost of commuting, cost of living and childcare responsibilities.

  • You may be perfectly entitled to have them back in the office but do it with compassion.

  • Top Tip: an informal or formal agreement can help get people back into the office, particularly if different parts of your business need different levels of on-site and remote working.

Step 2 – Lead by Example

  • You may have always worked from home as a leader, but for hybrid working to be successful, days in the office have to be really meaningful.

  • You need to model this way of working to make sure that engagement with company culture and productivity stays high.

  • Not sure your company culture is strong enough? Here are 10 proactive things you can do as a leader to improve your culture.

Step 3 – Make Office Dates Matter

  • Understand which tasks work better at home and which benefit from face-to-face communication and plan around this.

  • There is no point in scheduling lots of virtual calls on a day when everyone’s in the office. It’s pointless. (Ever travelled to work, done a day of Teams or Zoom calls from the office, then travelled home when you could have been anywhere? Ergh.)

  • Also try to schedule company-wide office dates so that people are able to ‘drop in’ on useful colleagues.

Step 4 – Plan Unstructured Collaboration Time

  • Scheduling unstructured collaboration time will invigorate your team, encourage creative thinking and help people feel positive about coming into work.

  • A Deloitte survey of over 3,500 workers showed that people are up to 20% more satisfied with their workplace culture when they have access to collaboration tools that enable them to work in teams, and 34% happier with their workplace when collaboration and innovation are encouraged.

  • We also know that productivity, revenue, and profitability are all positively impacted by engagement at work – collaboration with colleagues is just one way to keep your team engaged.

Step 5 – More Office Time For New Starters & Their Managers

  • Your organisation is a complex web of different traits, habits, actions … ways of communicating.

  • All of these are compromised if newbies aren’t properly integrated into the organisation.

  • Plan extra time in the office for people joining your organisation and their managers.

  • Top Tip: set an expectation that managers are on-site with new colleagues for their induction, you can share the responsibility amongst a pool of managers so new starters kick-start their internal networking.


Ringfence your time at the office for collaboration and engaging with your team


Why can’t I get my team to come back to the office?

Lots of people like working from home but it’s not without challenges, subsequently a sensible hybrid model is a pretty logical way of working for most people.

So, if you’re really struggling to get people to come back, it’s likely that your office was not a welcoming, inclusive and flexible environment in the first place!

If you’re a leader that would like a conversation about how to create and manage a hybrid working model, get in touch. We’ll show you how to enhance every professional relationship across your entire business.


A welcoming, inclusive and flexible workspace is essential for hybrid working


Don’t know where to start?

I know that making changes to your workplace and culture can be daunting – most people don’t know where to start.

I love working with Exec Teams to improve performance and unleash the potential of their organisations. Who knows what you might achieve?

Give me a call if you want to explore the options for hybrid working in your team.



Image credits

Images sourced from Canva Pro and are photographers are not individually credited. If you see one of your photos above, please let us know so we can credit you here. Photo of Andrew Knight by Nick Morrish from Nick Morrish Photography


Digital collaboration. Delivering innovation, productivity and happiness. Deloitte (2013)

What executives are saying about the future of hybrid work. McKinsey & Company (2021)

Ascenti | Bespoke Leadership Development Programme


Design and deliver a bespoke Leadership Development Programme for the UK’s leading provider of physiotherapy and mental health services

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A great partner for any business

“Andrew at The Spark Company is a great partner for a business to work with. He combines a practical, no nonsense approach with good technical knowledge and quickly builds a rapport with existing teams to hit the ground running.”

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  • Ascenti is the UK's leading provider of physiotherapy and mental health services.
  • The Ascenti team provides excellent patient care at over 400 clinics across UK, supported by office-based and regional teams.
  • Patients are treated by a national network of 500 directly employed Ascenti clinicians delivering upwards of 600,000 treatment sessions every year.


Design and deliver a structured leadership programme for line and middle managers

  • Like many rapidly growing organisations, Ascenti identified their leaders needed structured development programme to enable their growth ambitions.
  • Ascenti's Exec Team asked us to come up with a bespoke programme.
  • The initial cohort would include line managers and middle managers, with various levels of experience.

A safe space for leaders to flourish

“From the very first meeting I had with Andrew he felt like part of our team and not an external consultant. He went on to lead on our management training using the Insights Discovery Personal Profile and is an amazing facilitator, allowing for everyone to participate and get the most out of each session.

He creates a fun and safe environment to allow effective collaboration and thought sharing. I would always recommend Andrew's services.”

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Head of Operations

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LEAP: The Leadership Development Programme for Ascenti Managers

  • We designed a structure programme which included an Insights Discovery Personal Profile, formal training, action learning and personal reflection.
  • We delivered training to 3 Cohorts from September to December 2020, and broke-off into 7 smaller Action Learning Sets from January to April 2021.
  • The programme was delivered online to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, and we sent personal learning packs which accompanied the programme to each delegate's home.


Greater confidence and effectiveness from leaders at all levels

  • Delegates gave the Management Development Programme an impressive Net Promoter Score (NPS) score of 50.
  • Newly appointed managers gave the programme an outstanding NPS score of 65!
  • Delegates reported a 19% increase in confidence when talking about their own preferences, behaviours and leadership style.

Managers told us they were more confident, had greater self-awareness and a better understanding of others.

New and experienced managers

89% would recommend The Spark Company to others

New and experienced managers

90% would recommend Insights Discovery to others

New Managers

Newly appointed managers gave an average 91% satisfaction rating

Looking for a bespoke Leadership or Management Development Programme?

Do your leaders need to improve their self-confidence and effectiveness? Fed-up of off-the-shelf training that doesn't have any impact in the real world?

If you are looking for a programme that enables leaders to understand their personal strengths, preferences, blind spots and possible weaknesses, we can help. We support leaders to translate learning into positive changes to productivity and performance in the real-world

Give us a call for a friendly chat about how we can help your leaders flourish.

Does your HR team make things easier or are they getting in the way?


Improve People Management, Reduce Pointless Admin and Get Your HR Team Firing on all Cylinders!


We’ve talked a lot recently about how to spot when things aren’t going well. We’ve covered cultural blindspots, festering grievances and ineffective organisational structures.

A HR Manager has piles of paperwork in front of him

In lots of cases these problems emerge because those in charge of managing HR are distracted by other stuff!

From holiday pay and recruitment challenges through to furlough – a busy HR team often gets bogged down with no time to see the big picture. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Changes to company infrastructure and HR systems could revolutionise the capacity of your HR team and make it easier for your organisation to get things done. After all, most (if not all) HR people want to do the best for you, your teams and your customers.



Our job as HR practitioners is to enable you to achieve your goals and objectives


What parts of people management should sit with HR?

This might come as a bit of a shock, but virtually all day-to-day people management decisions should sit with line managers, not HR.

This means everything from 1:1s, performance coaching, recognising achievements, managing attendance, and so on …

Organisations that manage people through a centralised HR department are outdated and often not resourced effectively. Gone are the days of HR making decisions for managers or telling managers what to do.



In modern organisations, it’s HR that enables and managers that manage


Great. But what are HR doing, whilst I’m doing all the people stuff?

Andrew Knight HR Consultant is at his office in Cardiff and talking on the phone to a business partner and making notes in his journal

It makes more sense for teams to be given the skills and flexibility to manage their people properly.

If you can achieve this, then your HR team will have the time and space to make your organisation function better. There are four things they can do to achieve this (Ulrich model):


Be a Strategic Partner

  • This is about the alignment of HR activities and initiatives with your business aims and strategy.

  • Strategic partners see beyond the internal function of HR to consider the customer and how best to organise the business to serve their needs.

  • It’s usually a job for HR Directors and HR Business Partners.

Be a Change Agent

  • An HR team can be instrumental in supporting change that helps the business to achieve its aims.

  • It’s not about restructuring for the sake of it.

  • The role of HR is to be an expert and trusted adviser, and driver of change activities.

  • They should also be able to understand the future skills and talent needed to make any organisational changes a success.

Be an Employee Champion

  • Being an employee champion is about doing the best for colleagues, leaders, and customers, it shouldn’t be confused with formal advocacy or trade union activity.

  • Good leadership, clear brand values and a solid organisational moral compass will nurture authentic employee champions.

  • These people are crucial and act as the conscience of the business, taking care of people at all levels equally, and prioritising ethical and fair business practices.

Be an Administrative Expert

  • We don’t mean the world’s fastest touch-typist!

  • In the past HR was about writing letters and documents for managers as they ‘couldn’t be trusted’ to do it themselves.

  • These days it’s about creating efficient administrative systems, providing user-friendly templates for managers to personalise and most of all, maintaining excellent HR technology that enables people.

  • In short, this is where HR can and should, get out of your way.



HR falls down when we focus on one role and not excellence in all areas


How are HR using technology to manage and enable people?

Knowing when to automate processes and when the human touch is still needed, is a key skill for HR leaders.

A manager is reviewing an employee appraisal and is smiling

We all expect on-demand and instant service, from banking apps to self-service tills in stores, HR is no different.

Our colleagues expect to be able to easily make holiday bookings, record appraisal ratings and access their data at the touch of a button.

An HR team that’s nailed being an ‘administrative expert’ will be creating, maintaining, and evolving systems, tools, and technology to serve you better. Remember, a system with even a minimal level of automation can save hours of wasted time and admin that does not add value, freeing-up time for HR teams to add value in other ways.



HR technology can be used to enhance engagement and save valuable time


What is the gold standard for a modern HR team?

A photo of a HR Team is shown and not in focus. We can see the outline of people meeting with the backdrop of sunlight coming through the office window

Obviously, all organisations are different, but the key is to enable your HR Team to be an integral part of the business, not an afterthought.

HR Teams come in all different shapes and sizes, but the best and most effective HR functions a focused on their customers.



Award-winning HR Teams enable managers and teams to achieve their goals


We’ll give a gold star to any HR team that …

  • Puts the customer first – HR is a core support function, so an overhead that you need to get the best value for. HRBPs and HR Directors should be structuring the business to better achieve your customer goals. When you understand what the customer needs you can shape systems and processes accordingly.

  • Is a genuine catalyst for change – Top HR teams will ask tough questions about how you’re going to achieve your objectives. This can result in minor adaptations and actions, or major restructures and changes to how the business works. Either way, a top-notch HR team will be help you to manage change effectively and sustainably.

  • Empowers others to make change happen! – Your HR team should be the experts at enabling and empowering managers to deliver the business plan for your customers.

  • Makes the best use of talent and skill – Specialists specialise and generalists generalise. Wait…what? We’re talking about making the best use of talent, skill, and experience both within your team and elsewhere. Rely on your HRBP to get the best from your HR service and help you achieve your goals, and leave specialists to deliver project work and key goals across the organisation.

  • Is totally prepared to say ‘no’ – The best HR teams help leaders to avoid unfocused vanity projects and ad hoc ‘people initiatives’ (so unhelpful) that aren’t linked to a proper strategy or business goals. Empower your HR Team to say ‘no’ to things that will not help to achieve your vision.


How can I achieve HR gold?

Be bold and give more power to the people! If your HR team is micromanaging every person in your business from some ivory tower (or just a bog-standard red brick HQ) have a good think about what they could achieve if they weren’t rubber stamping holiday request forms or typing up appraisals.

There is so much that can be achieved by overhauling outdated systems. Even by introducing one single approval workflow in a business, we saved 1,000 hours of management time over a year.

Give me a call and I’ll explain how even minor changes like this can make a dramatic difference.


I need the help of a HR specialist to transform my HR function

You might not know how or where to start changing things to create extra capacity in your HR Team. You might need an experienced and knowledgeable HR specialist to help you get started and create an action plan.

I love working with HR Teams to release capacity and release their potential. Who knows what they might achieve?

Get in touch for a friendly chat about how I can help.



Image credits

Images sourced from Canva Pro and are photographers are not individually credited. If you see one of your photos above, please let us know so we can credit you here. Photo of Andrew Knight by Nick Morrish from Nick Morrish Photography


How to put people at the heart of company decision making

How to put people at the heart of company decision making

Introducing a HR strategy that automates simple tasks and frees up time to focus on building a positive, people-focused company culture

Introducing a HR strategy that automates simple tasks and frees up time to focus on building a positive, people-focused company culture

  • There are many misconceptions about the role of HR, which are often driven by a lack of visibility.
  • When managers take accountability for people tasks that were traditionally considered part of the personnel function, it’s often seen as an indicator of good leadership; a sign that the people at the top of the company communicate well with their team. In many instances, there’s not always a need to call on HR to settle issues surrounding things like contracts, training, appraisals or bonuses.
  • It’s more common to call on HR when a more technical or complicated people-related issue comes up. For example, when there’s uncertainty around regulatory or legal requirements surrounding employment, HR may be brought into the conversation as subject matter experts.

Misconceptions about HR are driven by a lack of visibility.

  • A natural downside to this way of working is that many employees will only ever come across a HR professional when they’re being interviewed, or having to go through some sort of formal performance management or disciplinary process. This means that HR is sometimes seen as the department of ‘hiring and firing’, or that the ‘H’ in HR stands for anything other than human.
  • I believe there’s a better way to approach the integration of HR in organisations: one that still allows leaders to stay connected with the people in their teams while placing the focus on core company values to better care for both colleagues and customers
  • HR is the custodian of fairness, equality and inclusion in any business. This means that they’ll put systems and processes in place to make sure that you’re not discriminated against. You may not see them at any point during the selection process, but if you’re treated with dignity and respect, we’ve done our job right.

How should I be managing and developing performance in my organisation?

  • The key to managing performance is open and transparent conversations, where the employee feels in control of their own destiny.
  • Both employer and employee know what’s expected of them, what they’re great at, and where they need support. It’s not rocket science, this approach builds engagement, which is better for business.
  • Research shows engaged employees generate 43% more revenue than disengaged counterparts. High engagement can also lead to a tripling in profit growth, an 87% reduction in staff turnover and a 20% improvement in performance.

Why quick fixes aren’t enough

  • There’s no question that many businesses set out to do the right thing. Leaders often strive to live and breathe the core values of the companies they run, so that their actions, behaviours and decisions are consistent with these values and their organisation’s overall purpose.
  • Some of the ‘quick fixes’ that businesses choose to demonstrate that they value their people and communities include:
  • Flexible reward and recognition schemes
  • Paying at least the living wage
  • Developing a pipeline of leaders within the business
  • Reinvesting profits in community investment schemes to demonstrate social value

Quick fixes won’t create a lasting and positive culture

  • While these actions are all commendable, there are wider and more strategic decisions that can be taken to create a lasting and positive culture. This is where a dedicated HR expert can help.

A new model for HR

  • Executives, directors, boards, business owners and leaders might consider moving from the Ulrich model (where HR is separated into roles such as employee champion, change agent, strategic partner and administrative expert) to a more evolved HR network model – one that builds on the success of existing business partnering relationships.
  • Nowadays the majority of service centre work can be dealt with via automated workflows, AI, chatbots and self-service apps, allowing people to take care of admin tasks themselves. This means that tasks like managing annual leave balances, recording absences and related documentation or making basic queries about salary payments no longer require the resources they once did.

The team that previously would have managed such tasks will now be free to manage self-service platforms and related processes. In larger organisations, personalising and tailoring these platforms to the needs of the people who use them can be achieved without sacrificing efficiency or compliance.

HR needs to change. It’s time to focus on ‘people not process’

Meanwhile, HR project teams can act as internal consultants, focusing on work that is directly informed by the company’s people strategy. Their expertise can call upon a blend of internal and external resources, with subject matter experts working on important strategic areas of work such as:

  • Organisational development
  • Organisation design
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Rewards

By following a model like this, HR becomes a network of change, engagement and influence. Your people team becomes a key part of wider business decision making, blurring the traditional boundaries of HR and putting people at the very heart of what the company does.

HR networks are excellent at building and growing relationships, managing change and engagement and work to achieve the wider strategy goals. When you consider all this, it seems natural to include HR in your decision making process.

Don’t know where to start when it comes to supporting your team through the Cost of Living Crisis?

We are passionate about finding ways to help bosses do the best they can to look after their people.

Some of what we’ve outlined here is simple, but implementing activity that’s targeted to help those that need it most often gets businesses in a pickle. Primarily because they get bogged down about treating all employees the same.

If you need help to work how to support those that need it in a way that’s fair and legal, then please drop us a line. We’d be happy to talk to you.

Ascenti | Interim HR Leadership for a leading provider of physio and mental health


Acting as Interim Head of HR for the UK’s leading provider of physiotherapy and mental health services

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Happy Clients

“Andrew is brilliant at engaging with people at all levels and across the whole business. If you need someone that can really bring people together and make things happen quickly, he’s a great person for that.”

Stephanie Dobrikova
Chief Executive Officer



  • Ascenti is the UK's leading provider of physiotherapy and mental health services.
  • The Ascenti team provides excellent patient care at over 400 clinics across UK, supported by office-based and regional teams.
  • Patients are treated by a national network of 500 directly employed Ascenti clinicians delivering upwards of 600,000 treatment sessions every year.


Step in as Interim Head of HR and lead strategic projects

  • Ascenti's previous Head of HR had moved on leaving a gap in the HR Team.
  • HR leadership was needed to navigate the people impact of both a global pandemic and Brexit
  • Ascenti’s leadership team needed an Interim Head of HR to support them during this challenging time.

Happy Clients

“Andrew hit the ground running and unlike many other HR consultants who can often create more work for the team, he lightened our workload.

We are undoubtedly better off as a business having worked together and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Spark Company to others.”

Sophie Harper
Chief People and Communications Officer


Remote HR leadership through uncertain times

  • We led the in-house HR Team remotely when none of us could meet face-to-face.
  • We supported the Executive Team to review and simplify organisation structures.
  • We ensured legal compliance of visas for all overseas staff – an important consideration as the Brexit transition period ended and new immigration rules emerged.


Key talent was retained so patient-facing services could return to ‘normal’ without disruption

  • Majority of roles protected and colleagues furloughed, particularly clinical practitioners who were essential for patient care.
  • HR roles restructured and redefined, giving Ascenti a scalable structure to support future growth.
  • Upgraded HR and Payroll technology to enable self-service and minimise wasted time

Looking for an interim HR Director that can hit the ground running?

Do you need short-term cover for a HR Director or People Director role? Tried recruiting and still can’t find a Head of HR or Head of People? If you are looking for a HR Consultancy to take the pressure off you and temporarily manage your HR function, then you need to speak to us.

We’re ready to step in, give you interim strategic HR support, and get stuff done…until you make a permanent hire.

Build a pandemic-proof business in 2021

Build a pandemic-proof business in 2021

2020 has been and gone. Here’s how you can make the next year a successful one for your business, no matter what COVID-19 throws at it

The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all in ways we’d have struggled to imagine when 2020 rolled around. If you run a business that has shifted from a face-to-face business model to a blended or virtual offering, the challenges and opportunities you face could leave you feeling all sorts of things: nervous, overwhelmed, uncertain and exhausted, to name just a few.

Now that we’re almost a year into the pandemic, it’s worth considering what the future of your business will look like on the other side of lockdown. If you’re not sure where to start, a HR consultant can help you to reengage with your team, identify the people challenges your business may face in the ‘new normal’ and develop your workforce to make the most of growth and development opportunities.

From leading teams remotely to keeping sight of your long-term business vision, here are some of the ways I’ve helped companies and individuals adapt and succeed during the pandemic.


Let your team hear your voice and see your face

Senior teams should be empowered to lead on operational matters and day-to-day issues. Try to create space and time for your team to look after your customers and to take ownership of their projects. This will release your time to focus on strategic matters, whether it’s the marketing plan for a post-vaccinated world or a new treasury strategy to take advantage of record-low interest rates.

Virtual leadership in the age of COVID-19

Leading a team remotely feels very different to managing a group of people in an office. Yet the core principles remain the same: to keep communication clear and open, inspire trust and get the best from the people you work with.

Keep information flowing and regularly share feedback

  • It’s more important than ever to talk to your team regularly about how the business is performing. Involving colleagues in this process (for example, by asking what customers have been saying or encouraging individuals to explain what’s working well for them) can result in a more collaborative conversation where people feel valued and inspired to do well on behalf of the team.

Rebuilding with vision

What should leaders be focused on as they rebuild their businesses following the pandemic? The most important thing is to stick to your core values: making decisions, taking action and behaving in a way that reflects the ethos and character of your company.

Empower others and create space for yourself

  • It’s more important than ever to talk to your team regularly about how the business is performing. Involving colleagues in this process (for example, by asking what customers have been saying or encouraging individuals to explain what’s working well for them) can result in a more collaborative conversation where people feel valued and inspired to do well on behalf of the team.

Stay focussed on your long term plans

  • As well as keeping up momentum in the short term, it’s important to stay focused on long-term plans. You may need to recalibrate (and that’s OK) but don’t lose sight of your vision. Don’t forget to keep talking about it: clearly communicating your vision and plans to your team while engaging them in your COVID recovery plans will show clear and reassuring leadership as everyone recovers from the crisis.

Champion safety and wellbeing at work

  • Above all, prioritise the safety and wellbeing of your workforce, your customers, your partners and stakeholders. People will always remember how you made them feel – you want that feeling to be safe, positive and reassuring.

Supporting your business through organisational change

  • Economic and societal change are two of the big drivers for organisational change. COVID-19 has triggered both, making now an ideal time to consider how your organisation can adapt to meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities of 2021 and beyond.
  • Working with an organisational change consultant will help to ensure that you make the most of the process. I’m passionate about helping my clients to optimise their organisations and meet whatever challenges come their way; getting to know the specific challenges your business is facing before coming up with smart, long-lasting solutions that are tailored to your company.

Don’t know where to start when it comes to supporting your team through the Cost of Living Crisis?

We are passionate about finding ways to help bosses do the best they can to look after their people.

Some of what we’ve outlined here is simple, but implementing activity that’s targeted to help those that need it most often gets businesses in a pickle. Primarily because they get bogged down about treating all employees the same.

If you need help to work how to support those that need it in a way that’s fair and legal, then please drop us a line. We’d be happy to talk to you.

Laser Clinics UK | Response to COVID-19


Enabled a multinational team to rapidly close, manage furlough and safely reopen their businesses

The Spark Company (Human Resources) Ltd Logo

You can count on us in a crisis

“Andrew provided timely, calm and well-informed HR advice and consultancy to us at a very challenging time for our business.

I would highly recommend his steady, professional and authoritative guidance.”

Bridget Healey
Acting General Manager


Laser Clinics UK, part of Laser Clinics, a global leader in aesthetics treatments

  • Laser Clinics operates over 200 clinics globally; the largest cosmetic clinic in the world, with more than 2,500 staff performing over 4.2 million treatments a year.
  • Laser Clinics United Kingdom (LCUK) opened its first UK location in September 2019.
  • LCUK operates a shared ownership model, working with franchisees and independent owners.


Immediate closure of all UK locations and furlough all UK-based staff

  • In line with UK Government restrictions from March 2020, all clinics in the UK were closed overnight.
  • The Corporate Leadership Team was based in Australia, where different lockdown rules applied.
  • The UK General Manager needed support and guidance to safeguard UK employees and jobs.

Calm under pressure

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK, Andrew’s support was invaluable.

Giving practical advice to a group of independent business owners is no small task; somehow Andrew found a way to give each of us what we needed.”

Sue Molloy
General Manager


Practical and pragmatic HR advice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Virtual leadership team briefings to franchisees and employees.
  • Support to furlough teams and gradually return teams from furlough and reopen businesses safely.
  • Support client to setup a UK-based HR Service to provide clinic owners with HR advice.
  • Partnered with Australian Corporate Team as their UK-based Strategic HR Consultant.


Service and employees transferred; no disruption to service delivery

  • Franchisees and corporate teams felt supported and reassured.
  • Several managers described our service as “invaluable”.
  • No grievances were received by clinics.
  • All clinics were temporarily closed and later reopened safely, in line with UK Government advice.

Do you need help to retain talent through challenging circumstances?

Is uncertainty or volatility making you re-think your business plans? Do you need to make some changes to your structure and wondering where to start? 

If you are looking for a HR Consultancy to help you a difficult period, then you need to speak to us. We can work effectively as a dedicated project leader, as part of your in-house team, or as an advisor to your executives, board and senior management.

We're ready to help you achieve your business goals through your people, and to overcome the challenging circumstances you face.