5 March 2020:  Employment changes from 6 April 2020

It’s a good while since I’ve published a blog, and that’s because I’ve been really busy, doing some big chunks of work investigating disciplinary and grievance issues for various clients.  However, a number of my networking colleagues have been asking about the changes coming up on 6 April so I thought I would do a quick summary to reassure you that (for most employers) there is not too much to worry about.  

 

Firstly, the Good Work Plan is introduced to strengthen the rights of workers in insecure employment.  This brings into play a number of changes on 6 April:

 

  • Employees will have the right to a Written Statement of Employment Particulars (what my clients call a WSOP) from day 1 of their employment (rather than within 2 months). For transparency most of us aim to do that anyway, but it will become law.  Similarly, those workers on zero hours contracts will also need a (separate) document outlining their terms and conditions from day 1.  

  • Agency workers: the legal loophole known as ‘Swedish derogation’ will be abolished meaning that all Agency workers are entitled to the same pay and terms and conditions as direct recruits after 12 weeks’ continuous employment in the same role.  All Agency workers must be provided with a ‘Key Facts’ document setting out their terms (again to increase transparency). 

  • The Holiday Pay reference period will become 52 weeks, rather than 12 weeks.  This is to even out pay for those with seasonal or atypical working patterns.  I remember USDAW negotiating this with the company I worked for in the private sector some 20 years ago and as a fair employer we recognised how important this was to our staff whose earnings were considerably higher leading up to Christmas and considerably lower during the summer holiday period.

 

Also from 6 April, the IR35 rules will change bringing the private sector (medium and large businesses) into line with the public sector (which changed in 2017). The onus on responsibility for tax and national insurance will shift from any intermediary Personal Service Company (PSC) to the end user client.  Therefore, medium and large businesses need to be making an assessment of their independent contractors now, defining their status ahead of the changes. This will not apply to small businesses (generally less than 50 employees).

 

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 is implemented the same day and provides for 2 weeks’ leave for a parent following the loss of a child under 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.  Leave needs to be taken as a 2-week block or 2 x 1-week blocks within 56 days of the child’s death.  Whilst the leave is a day 1 entitlement, statutory bereavement pay will only apply where the parent has 26 weeks’ service.   If you need more advice on this sad and sensitive subject, let me know. 

 

National Minimum Wage rates increase significantly from 6 April. These are all listed on www.gov.uk.   

 

In the pipeline is the right for zero hours or casual workers with 26 weeks’ continuous service to request regular hours or certainty as to which days they will be asked to work; like Flexible Working, it will be a ‘right to request’ requiring the employer to give genuine consideration, not necessarily to agree which will largely depend on the good reasons employers are using such contracts in the first place.  

 

Also, a break in continuous service, will increase from 1 week to 4 weeks, allowing workers to build up service-related rights (eg the right not to be unfairly dismissed or the right to statutory maternity pay).  This may well affect those on zero hours contracts so employers will need to review their contracts.  

 

And finally, employers with more than 15 employees will be required to consult with their workforce on certain topics (eg redundancies) if 2% (rather than the current 10%) of the workforce support a request for this.  Hopefully, all small employers are consulting their staff about what’s happening in the business without being told to.  

 

If you need more detail or bespoke support, e-mail me or give me a call on 07706 506518.  

4 March 2018:  Working from Home (part 2) - Managing homeworkers, pros and cons for employers

 

Last week I shared my Top Tips for working from home; it turned out it was a good week to choose as following Storm Emma and ‘the beast from the east’ many of you who normally commute ended your week being home-based (and maybe found it quite difficult to balance with your family and domestic demands). 

 

This week I want to follow up by talking about how we, as Managers and Employers, manage our homeworkers and what we need to consider before we enter into a homeworking contract. 

 

So firstly, in what circumstances, as a Manager, might you agree homeworking?  Well I’ve set it up for many of my clients – but for 3 main reasons:

 

  • Individual request (the majority):  this is where an employee asks to work from home.  Under the Flexible Working Regulations 2014, you are obliged to consider a request from an eligible employee and can either agree, refuse (for one of 8 specific reasons) or reach a compromise, perhaps a partial homeworking arrangement. 

 

  • When employing geographically remote workers:  in order to recruit the best talent, you may wish to extend your pool to outside realistic commuting distances, setting up your new recruits as homeworkers who only come into HQ when really necessary.

 

  • By policy decision:  probably because you want to reduce accommodation costs, closing down or downsizing offices – in these circumstances you may be faced with some staff hesitancy and you will need to enter into meaningful consultation with those affected. 

 

So, what are the advantages?  As above, you may save money on office space/overheads and be able to recruit from a wide geography.  Your employee will save on commuting time and be able to avoid unplanned absences due to transport problems, severe weather or domestic emergencies.  Some may work more productively, with less interruptions and may respond well to feeling trusted and having more control over how and when they do their work.  You will even be doing your bit towards reducing carbon footprint.

 

But what are the risks?  Well, some workers just will not have the self-discipline, motivation or perhaps even skills to work unsupported, and equally your managers might not have the capacity or the skills to manage their teams remotely.  Some staff will struggle to separate work from home and may feel isolated by the lack of informal information sharing leading to work-related stress.  Remember, you remain responsible for your homeworkers’ Health and Safety, ensuring their safe working environment and practices, including the set-up of their work-station and any lone-working issues.

 

Probably the most topical risk, with GDPR looming, is data security and confidentiality, in terms of computer data, physical files and privacy of telephone calls.   This remains your responsibility with huge fines and costly reputational damage for security breaches.

 

So how does the wise employer tackle these issues?  My advice is “with caution” and wide consultation.  Get together a focus group and get working on your whiteboard, brainstorming all the issues so you can properly research how you might handle.

 

I would strongly recommend that you draw up a Homeworking policy (rather than needing to think ‘on the hoof’ when issues arise) and you will need to change your employment contracts to reflect the new arrangements.  If you need help with this, I have significant experience and will be pleased to meet you and discuss.  

 

26 February 2018:  Working from Home (part 1)

 

Last week I gave a presentation on ‘Homeworking’ to Worcestershire Business Breakfast Club (a great networking group who meet at Webbs of Wychbold on the last Friday of each month).  The majority of my fellow members already work from home and whilst I probably didn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know, the very positive feedback reminded me that sometimes we need prompting of ‘best practice’ to stop us slipping into bad habits.   So here are my Top Ten tips for homeworkers:

 

  • Invest in a comfortable office: in particular buy the best chair you can afford; make sure it’s fully adjustable with good support and suitable for the number of hours you are going to be using it.  Check and adjust the ergonomics of your work-station or you are likely to suffer musco-skeletal issues in the long run.   Get sufficient lockable filing cabinets so that you can put everything away safely, maintaining confidentiality – remember GDPR!

 

  • Identify what needs doing each day – and make sure you do it:  keep an action log and do a weekly review with yourself to check progress and identify priorities for next week.  Switch off notifications on social media!

 

  • Use the right office tools for your business:  Cloud storage, virtual meeting platform, workflow visualisation tool, etc.

 

  • Dress for business:  You can wear your pj’s and your Uggs but you’re more likely to be ‘in the zone’ if you wear smart business casual – also signaling to your household that you’re at work and not available.

 

  • Don’t let friends drop in:  set and enforce clear boundaries; you’re at work, not retired.

 

  • Don’t answer the door:  With your car on the drive you will be prey to every delivery driver and courier and all the speculative tradespeople who want to tarmac your drive, butcher your trees, clear your gutters – I know, I’ve given in to all of them!

 

  • Get out of the house:  Go networking and find likeminded ‘business friends’ who will inspire you and reduce your sense of isolation.  Go for a walk after lunch, the exercise and fresh air will keep your mind alert in the afternoon.

 

  • Set up ‘do not disturb’ signals to your family:  it’s just not professional when the kids bounce in behind you on a Skype call (remember Professor Robert Kelly ...?).

 

  • Enjoy flexible working:  Take advantage when you can, work to suit your energy levels, other commitments and the weather - but don’t blur work and housework as a means of avoiding what needs to be done. 

 

  • Stay out of the kitchen:  Make up your lunch box the night before and try not to be a fridge grazer.  Fill up your water bottle and keep it on your desk so you remain hydrated throughout the day. 

 

However, the over-arching rule is ‘you make the rules’.  Work should be a pleasure so make sure you design your work-life to make you happy.​

 

7 November 2016:  Employing your first member of staff - Top Tips 

When your business gets to the stage where you need to start bringing in extra help, it can be a really exciting time.  You’re growing, you’re increasing your bottom line and it’s time to recruit your first member of staff, maybe to take on some of the more routine tasks so you can concentrate on developing your business.  However, the excitement can quickly turn into worry and doubt. You’re moving into a whole new ‘ball-game’ with obligations and legal responsibilities and you want to be sure you understand what you’re taking on and you get it right first time. 

 

It’s been my privilege this year to help 3 new businesses do exactly that, making sure they have the right steps in place to take on their very first employee; that’s been exciting for me too, feeling I’m helping someone to grow their business but with their responsibilities taken care of.

 

Here are the Top Tips to getting it right:

 

  • Take out suitable insurance cover

 

You need to comply with the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 and to display your Certificate of Insurance in your workplace (where employees can see it).  Employers' Liability Insurance will enable you to meet the cost of compensation if your employee is injured at work (on or off site) or becomes ill as a result of their work.  The minimum cover requirement is £5 million (though in practice most insurers offer cover of £10 million).

 

  • Notify HMRC that you’re now an employer

 

You need to register with HMRC as an employer; this can usually be done online and you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.

 

  • Carry out the appropriate pre-employment checks

 

It’s your responsibility to ensure that your employee has a legal right to work in the UK.   You need to carry out checks for all employees, not just those who you suspect may not have been born in the UK.  If you work with vulnerable people or in security you will also have to apply for a DBS check (previously known as a CRB check) – this can take up to 14 days.

 

  • Check that you’re paying minimum wage

 

You need to pay at least the minimum wage which has different rates for different age groups; rates usually change annually.  You need to be particularly careful where an employee’s earnings are variable and ensure that you’re considering all hours worked.  You may wish to consider paying the ‘voluntary’ Living Wage (which is a higher figure in line with the Living Wage Foundation recommendations).

 

  • Check auto-enrolment pension requirements

 

All employees aged between 22 and State Pension age will need to be enrolled into a Pension Scheme (with employer’s contributions).  Make sure you check your staging date with the Pensions Regulator (you can do this online once you have your PAYE reference.

  • Drawing up the contract

 

You’ll want to give consideration to type of contract you will offer and the terms and conditions you can afford (sick pay, holiday pay, benefits) as well as the protection of your business (confidentiality, any restrictive covenant).  You will need to provide a Written Statement of Employment Particulars within the first 8 weeks and we can advise you and draw up a bespoke contract that’s just right for your business.  We’ll also be there for you if things don’t quite go quite to plan and help you deal with any ‘teething problems’ in settling your new recruit into your business.    

 

Rather than struggling on your own, it makes good business sense to get some help. As a small business myself, I know the importance of keeping costs down and am happy to have an initial chat with you without charge.  Get in touch today.1  

22 March 2016:  How I can help with your HR issues 

 

It's a common misconception that HR Consultants are only there for the big issues:  the business restructures, the redundancies, TUPE transfers, the Employment Tribunal claims.  Well I can, and often do, deal with all of these, giving best advice and 'hands-on' support using my employment law knowledge, CIPD training and 25+ years as an HR Manager and 3 years as an independent Consultant.  But in smaller organisations, often without the benefit of their own HR staff, the day to day people issues can be just as daunting, taking up Directors and Managers valuable time and distracting them from the day job of making money, developing product or delivering services. 

 

Here is a list of the Top 10 issues I've been asked to manage in the last few months:   

 

  • Maternity leave and pay

  • Flexible working requests (when you may want to say "No")

  • Grievance investigations

  • Poor performance

  • Sickness absence (both regular short and long-term capability)

  • Misconduct (including gross misconduct)

  • Holiday pay rules (being aware of recent and emerging Caselaw)

  • Conflict between colleagues

  • Recruitment support

  • HR Audits, new/revised policies and contractual issues

 

Of course, you may feel you can deal with these issues yourself - and I don't doubt you can.  You can find information on absolutely anything on Google, you can check the ACAS guidance or, so long as you know the right questions to ask, even ring ACAS and speak to a trained advisor.  But that's a bit like me Googling how to do DIY plumbing or fix my car - and believe me I've tried, failed and it's ended up costing me more in the long run!   

 

Maybe you think you can't afford an HR Consultant, that we all insist on a Retainer Agreement and tie you in for a couple of years or more.  Well I'm happy to discuss that if you need very regular help, but many of my clients are small businesses or charities that call on me when they need me and pay as they go.  As an example, I've just investigated a one-off grievance for one client and sat in supporting/advising a CEO with some difficult employee meetings for another.  

 

So would my services suit you and be a good fit with your business?  Give me a ring on 07706 506518; I'll be pleased to come out and meet you with no obligation. 

 

28 February 2016:  How to avoid conflict in your family business

 

Being part of a family business can seem like a dream come true for many people - the opportunity to work with your family, building a business to one day proudly hand over to your kids.  In fact, PwC reports that 90% of global start-ups are funded by relatives and Barclays Bank reports that that there are more than 2 million family-owned businesses in Britain, contributing £180 billion a year to the UK economy.  These success stories include the local plumber, the convenient electrical repair business and the independent High Street optician as well as the 'best of British' brands such as Associated Foods (Kingsmill, Ryvita, Pataks, Twinings), JC Bamford (Excavators) and Laing O'Rourke (construction). 

 

But regardless of how close-knit your family unit may be, there are unique challenges that come hand-in-hand with working alongside your relatives.  It might sound good in theory, but when you have to line manage your brother and answer to your mother-in-law, all before 9am, cracks can very easily start to appear. 

 

It's vital that you lay the right foundations for avoiding unnecessary conflict - here are our top tips:

 

  • Keep to official channels of communication:  you may want to discuss work outside the office and over Sunday lunch may seem like too good an opportunity to miss - but using these informal 'gatherings of the clan' can undermine those in your management team who aren't invited.  This is likely to leave you with key players feeling outside the loop and resistant to proposals they weren't party to.   Keep your family meals for talking sport and politics - so much less controversial!

 

  • Create a succession plan:  PwC found that only 13% of UK family businesses have a documented succession plan in place.  Parents often make the assumption that their sons and daughters will want to take on the business, but they either may lack the skills or business acumen, or indeed (fuelled by the expensive education your hard work has paid for) have their aspirations set on a completely different career or life-choice.

 

  • Have a clear management structure:  make sure everyone knows the hierarchy of who is their line manager and the decision-making hierarchy.  Don't leave things confused, run 'by committee' or with 'bosses' giving staff conflicting instructions or undermining one another's decisions. 

 

  • Seek external HR support:  it can be very difficult to make impartial employment decisions when your mum's going to get on your case when you get home!   An independent HR Advisor will draft you proper policies and structures and give you advice to allow performance and conduct issues, pay and promotion decisions (or even redundancy decisions) to be dealt with through fair processes supporting the continued success of your business and protecting against litigation. 

 

We currently help many small and larger businesses and if we can help you with retained, regular or occasional advice, contact us today to talk through your options with no obligation. 
 

30 November 2015:  Top Tips for Managing Absence 

 

For both small and large businesses, time lost due to sickness absence can be a significant problem both in terms of cost and the strain on productivity/service delivery.  Some sickness will always be unavoidable and recovery times from an operation or an accident will be reasonably predictable - and therefore much easier to cover and manage.  But what do you do when an absence goes on much longer than predicted (or than appears reasonable) or indeed an employee proves unreliable by frequently phoning in sick with short term (and sometimes seemingly unrelated) minor ailments? 

 

Here are my Top Tips:

 

  • Dust down your 'Managing Absence' policy and make sure it's fit for purpose, making clear that good attendance is a binding contractual duty.

 

  • Train managers to ensure they apply the policy and procedures fairly and consistently. 

 

  • Require employees to personally notify absence on the first day (ensuring immediate two-way communication); managers then need to agree a further pattern of regular reporting based on the information provided.

 

  • Managers should maintain regular (but reasonable) contact, ensuring the employee realises this is for mutual benefit, being alert to changes, removal of obstacles and helping to support the employee in their return to work. 

 

  • Consider engaging with Occupational Health services or writing direct to the employee's GP (NB both of these will require the employee to give their written consent for the sharing of medical information.) 

 

  • Where the employee refuses to give consent, or even worse, refuses to engage at all, you should continue to communicate in writing, making crystal clear what needs to happen next. 

 

  • Record all absences accurately making sure that correct payments are made (recouping overpayments needs handling with particular sensitivity) and ensuring that pre-determined 'triggers' are identified, leading to stepping-up of management action. 

 

  • Be alert to disability related absence (where a disability meets the definition under the Equality Act) recording separately and ensuring that reasonable adjustments are discussed, offered and regularly reviewed. 

 

  • Where absence is long term or frequent, Capability or Disciplinary action should be considered. 

 

  • Where you need help in tackling absences or drafting/revising a Managing Absence policy, the services of an HR practitioner will be a sound investment.  

 

We have masses of experience in the private, public and charity sectors and are happy to help on a regular or 'as needed' basis or as a one-off job. 

 

21 November 2015:  Managing bullying at work 

 

According to a TUC poll, up to 36 per cent of UK workers have quit their jobs as a result of being bullied at work.  Nearly half of those who suffered bullying said it had adversely affected their performance at work, including impacting upon their physical and mental health and attendance.  In a separate report, ACAS confirm that bullying is "widespread" and "growing" and that employers are failing to handle the problem effectively. 

 

Bullying can present as overt behaviour such as verbal abuse, intimidation, ridiculing or spreading of malicious gossip or more covert behaviour such as ostracism and exclusion.  So what is the wise employer to do to protect its employees from such toxic behaviour - and thereby protect itself from falls in productivity, stress claims, high employee turnover and damaged organisational reputation? 

 

My top tips:

 

1.  Assess the problem; talk to managers, staff, Trade Unions and employee representatives, both formally and off-record to establish the 'climate' in your workplace.

2.  Write a policy, turn it into a positive title 'Dignity at Work', making clear the organisation's zero tolerance to bullying and harassment; ensure it links to your Grievance policy and Equality policy.

3.  Train managers in how to manage bullying allegations, recognising that those complained about are likely to enter into a 'tit for tat' with counter allegations.

4.  Communicate with staff, ensuring they are clear what constitutes bullying and harassment,  the procedures they should use for recording and reporting and the likely consequences. 

5.  Identify individuals who an employee can talk to if they feel they may be being bullied and want to seek impartial, informal and confidential advice.  Remember that many staff will be reluctant to label the behaviour as 'bullying' so may need help to identify what they are feeling.  Ensure staff are aware of the role of ACAS and the helpline no.

6.  Be particularly alert to any bullying allegations where a 'protected characteristic' (under the Equality Act) may be a contributory factor.

7.  Handle allegations sensitively, confidentially and, where necessary, robustly instigating the organisation's Disciplinary procedure. 

 

If you want to discuss further, give us a call.  


h worked and they reflected on the error of their ways.  If yes, great, give yourself a pat on the back.  If no, check out your organisation's Disciplinary procedure.  You probably want to be considering a more formal meeting with a view to a formal warning.  This means you have to give them notice of the meeting, be clear what you intend to discuss and give them the right to be represented, either by their union or a colleague.  It's often a good idea for you to have a management colleague with you too, both to counter any potential claims of bullying and to take contemporaneous notes for the file. 

 

You owe it to your team players to make sure everyone pulls their weight and respects the rules.  If you need any help in tackling behaviour, drafting a disciplinary procedure or carrying out a disciplinary meeting, we'd be pleased to help.  

1 September 2015:  Welcome back - did you have a good holiday? 

 

A recent survey carried out by Nationwide Building Society discovered that almost 1 in 4 holidaymakers return from their break feeling more stressed than before they went away.  The responses indicated that whilst most of us think of a summer holiday as a time to relax and recuperate, the realities of taking time out can often take their toll. 

 

Of course, you may be lucky and your staff may return to their roles raring to go - in which case you can stop reading now.  But for many, the opposite is true and it is really important that you consider how you can make their return easier and up their motivation for the Autumn challenges.  A few carefully planned tactics could make all the difference, making sure your employees keep at optimum performance and your business doesn’t suffer.   

 

Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • Manage the holiday rota effectively, agreeing a maximum number who can be away at any one time.  Make sure that the same staff don't book the prime weeks (Bank Holiday weeks in particular) every year, leaving other staff feeling thoroughly 'hacked off' with ongoing resentment undermining the team for many weeks to come.

 

  • Ensure roles are suitably covered whilst the job holder is away; don't let them come back to a full inbox, an overflowing in-tray and a diary full of back to back appointments re-scheduled for their return.  You may be able

  • to authorise another member of staff to sort the incoming messages and prioritise those they can't be easily dealt with.  Or alternatively you might want to ensure your returner has a couple of 'blocked' diary days (no meetings) to allow them to catch up. 

 

  • You probably will want to fix a short 1-to-1 catch-up for the morning of their return, to welcome them back, ask them about their holiday (wellbeing check) and update them on the really important happenings whilst they were away; project variations, deadlines moved, issues resolved. 

 

  • You may also want to check that they go home on time on the first day and don't immediately sink back to working long hours undoing all the health benefits the holiday provided. 

 

All successful businesses rely on well managed assets - and your staff are the most valuable (and probably most expensive) asset you have.  Care for them and check them regularly and in return you'll be assured reliable and efficient service. 

 

... And you never know, they might have brought Clotted Cream fudge back with them! 

 

22 July 2015:  Handling a grievance

 

If you're reading this, you're probably a great employer, with decent pay levels and terms and conditions who manages their staff well with fair processes and reasonable decisions.  But in every workplace, from time to time, an employee will raise a grievance - possibly related to a management decision, perceived unfairness or a complaint against another employee.  Sometimes it will be obvious it is a grievance, but in my experience, often they don't have a heading or subject line and you may be unclear what the employee is looking to you to do.  The best course of action is to ask them, refer them to the Grievance Procedure (if you have one) to check if that's the process they wish to follow and certainly get them to tell you what resolution they are hoping for.  The main thing is do something - don't ignore it and don't stick it in the 'difficult' basket; act promptly before positions get entrenched and the issues escalate.  If you don't have a documented procedure, you should follow the ACAS guidelines. 

 

Sometimes, either in the letter/e-mail of complaint or in the subsequent meeting, the complainant will fail to clearly articulate what they are unhappy about, possibly going off on different tangents.  It is essential to identify the key issue or issues or you may waste time and effort on things that are peripheral without resolving the main complaint.  Where a grievance (as presented) is very complex, I have found it useful to draw up a table of issues and expectations and agree these with the complainant at the outset.  When I worked in the public sector, the grievances frequently went on for many pages with a whole catalogue of alleged misdemeanours and I found it helpful to agree with the complainant (or their representative) what I was striking-out.  You are unlikely to be criticised for identifying the central issues and sticking to those rather than getting tangled in the weeds.

 

Clients often ask me who can accompany an employee in a grievance meeting and the stock answer is a workplace colleague or Trade Union representative.  However, my advice would be 'be reasonable' and if the employee asks to bring a (well behaved) family member, I would be inclined to let them, especially if the employee is vulnerable.  Just set ground rules first and if the accompanying person gets emotional or disruptive, warn them first, then chuck them out!  Never, ever, ever let a lawyer in on the meeting. 

 

Once a decision is reached, it is important and natural justice to offer a Right of Appeal using an independent authority.  In a small owner-managed organisation you may wish to call on external assistance with this (and we can certainly help). 

As a general rule, a grievance should be managed end-to-end within 3 months - in a small organisation, it will probably be considerably less.  If it goes on longer than this (without very good reason agreed with the complainant) you may find yourself facing a resignation and potential constructive dismissal case and/or counter grievances from other members of staff.

 

A badly handled grievance will lead to lack of motivation, absence from work and poor performance whereas prompt and reasonable handling is likely to result in improved trust, engagement and loyalty.

18 June 2015:  When staff don't get on ...

 

A good organisation will recognise that its employees are its greatest asset - and that teams working together collaboratively yield better results.  But when team members don't get on, the impact can be draining on other team members, infuriating for the manager and damaging to morale, engagement, productivity, customer service and even organisational reputation.  

 

Team members depend on one another for success and are reliant on cohesive, supportive relationships that maximise individual and team potential.  This doesn't mean that employees have to actually like each other or be friends outside work - but they do need to be able to work productively and professionally, without conflict, intolerance, tension or bad atmosphere.  Sometimes in recruitment, managers will be mindful of 'team fit', but not only can this lend itself to discrimination issues, but will lose the competitive advantage of diversity - in terms of personality, 'team type' and thinking style as well as the recognised 'equality' characteristics.  For example, your team may well benefit from a mix of extrovert and introvert, Gen Y/Millennials with Gen X, creative with methodical.

 

It makes sense to accept that, in any team or group, personality clashes will inevitably occur and to make behavioural expectations clear from the start.  The wise manager will always aim for early intervention 'nipping in the bud' any drama, discourtesy or bad-mouthing before it becomes established as 'the norm' or escalates into disruptive behaviour.  This will mean informally discussing with those concerned (usually as part of their routine 1-to-1 meeting), concentrating on the impact of the behaviour on the organisation and other team members rather than the reasons that individuals don't like each other (which is often irrelevant).  This is the time to reinforce business objectives and deadlines (the non-negotiables).  Sometimes communication styles will need to be addressed; in my experience, a frequent trigger is individuals insisting on e-mailing one another (very direct, sometimes aggressive and usually 'butt-covering') rather than meeting up for a coffee and discussion about how to move a project forward or jointly overcome obstacles. 

 

The wise manager will also ensure that individual's objectives link together so employees aren't working in silos and can see the dependencies and recognise and share the rewards of pulling together. 

 

If situations persist, more serious action may be called for including external mediation, disciplinary procedures or moving one or both employees on (to a different role or team or even outside the organisation).  It is also important to maintain a record where such behaviour has needed to be addressed as it will often be the case that the same name crops up time after time in conflict and disharmony.