Bosses to ban unhealthy snacks from the office

Many of us will be familiar with the sight of an office desk groaning under the weight of cakes and biscuits brought in by well-meaning colleagues – but some bosses have declared they will ban the unhealthy treats from workplaces.

Protecting.co.uk, a health & safety and employment law consultancy, has collated anecdotal evidence that shows that up to a third of managers and business owners are considering putting a stop to high-calorie snacks in the office.

Not only will the move improve office conditions, these employers say, but it will also have health benefits for employees.

“It’s not just that employees are making a mess, crunching and leaving crumbs everywhere, which is anti-social in a shared office space,” noted one employer, Mike, 56, from Huddersfield. “It’s also that employees who eat unhealthily are also more likely to take days off work, and that’s bad for business.”

Other employers who responded to Protecting.co.uk agreed.

Sally,45, from Nuneaton, added: “It might be an unpopular opinion, but it’s true that employees who are more likely to look after their health are generally more concerned with their appearance and how they represent the business. We don’t want to encourage bad eating habits as it spills over into how employees act more generally.”

David Adams Managing director BusinessWaste.co.uk “ Our employees collectively took the decision to ban all energy drinks after we talked through the health dangers both to body and mind, we now provide lots of alternative healthy drinks and fruit which make for a much happily lifestyle”

The protecting.co.uk survey (950 managers) results showed that;

99% Managers can see an immediate benefit in banning unhealthy snacks.

9% Already provided free fruit.

35% Would look at providing free fruit.

95% Said “They couldn’t envision any uproar from banning bad snacks”

Chris Hall, spokesperson for Protecting.co.uk, said:

“Many employers are becoming aware of the fact that their employees spend a large portion of their life at work – and that discouraging poor diet can have benefits elsewhere, both for the business and the employees affected. By removing temptation to snack on sugary or salty treats, employers are helping their staff maintain a healthy diet, and therefore contributing positively to their overall health. This is obviously beneficial for these individuals, but it also can mean fewer health-related absences over the years, and businesses would be wise to consider it.”

Some employers were also concerned about the financial implication of employees who were damaging their health with poor snack choices. In 2017, over 3 million employees held private medical insurance through their employers – which means that, for these businesses, keeping their employees healthy is not only a moral obligation.

“People have a responsibility to keep themselves healthy and to look after themselves,”said Clara, 39, from Norwich. “But as a business, we pay for medical insurance– and it defeats the object when we allow fatty or sugary food in the offices,we’re basically throwing money down the drain.”

Hall concluded:

“It’s clear that many business owners are taking a stand when it comes to how their employees behave when they’re in the office, and some people might argue that this is a ‘nanny state’ type move. But employers aren’t banning unhealthy snacks outright – simply putting simple rules in place which show that they take the health of their employees (and, as a result, how their employees impact upon the business) seriously, and that will create positive outcomes for both staff and businesses overall.”

1000s of Business and consumers are victims of a ‘Friday job’?

By mid-afternoon on a Friday many 9-5 workers have one eye on the clock as they count down to the weekend – but what about when your job involves working on someone else’s home?

A survey undertaken by Protecting.co.uk, a health & safety and employment law expert, has shown that a staggering 76% of tradespeople admit to doing at least one ‘Friday job’ which they are ‘ashamed of’ – from slapdash plastering to lackadaisical joinery, it seems that the British public are suffering when it comes to pre-weekend work.

The study, which surveyed 500 workers across various trades, showed that a majority of tradespeople – like workers in many other professions – lose concentration as the end of the week edges closer. However, many of them were seemingly very relaxed about this dip in productivity, despite the potentially expensive consequences for their customers.

The survey conducted by protecting.co.uk produced the following results

76% Yes I have cut corners in order to finish early / on time on a Friday.
9% No comment.
15% No never.

One worker, who asked not to be named, confessed: “It was Friday afternoon – I knew that light switch was upside down, and shame on me, but it was time to go to the pub.”

Another, who confessed to rushing interior decorating jobs in the run-up to the weekend, said: “It’s almost traditional now – Friday afternoon jobs get done quickly so you can have an early finish for the weekend. Everybody does it!”

And there was countless more admissions

JR a web designer from Leeds “I should of spent more time making that website perfect so google could find it, but it still works”

Sam decorator from London “I didn’t use masking tape and lets just say I hope that customer is blind as those lines are not straight”

Karen, office worker “I may of lost a number of invoices, funny how that happens every Friday”

But error-prone workers with their mind already on their weekend plans could be leaving customers – and their business – open to difficulties, say Protecting.co.uk.

Chris Hall, spokesperson for Protecting.co.uk, said:

“Not only do these ‘Friday jobs’ tend to result in problems which can cost consumers dearly further down the line, they also open up a can of worms when it comes to health and safety. If the correct precautions aren’t taken due to workers being preoccupied, trade businesses could be liable for much more than just complaints and money spent fixing botched jobs.

“Failing to follow correct protocol such as protective clothing regulations or correctly storing hazardous substances on-site because workers are eager to get the job finished could have very grave consequences. It is up to businesses to ensure their employees are correctly trained and aware of the requirements for their role – and, of course, to protect themselves against complaints or expensive remedial work for customers.”

There are steps businesses can take to reduce dangerous errors as a result of ‘Friday jobs’, Hall noted. Properly assessing health and safety requirements for each job and then training employees accordingly will increase overall caution taken, but he added that it was also key to tackle the causes of the drop in productivity.

He added:

“Firms could introduce ‘early finish Fridays’ to reduce the temptation to speed through jobs – a Health & Safety Executive report on safe working indicates that rushing is one of the key precursors to slips and falls, which can be both costly and dangerous for employees.

“Ensuring that your business ethos has a strong focus on the potential risks of slapdash work and failing to follow proper protocol can also make a huge difference; if workers are aware of the possible dangers, they may be less likely to cut corners.

“Of course, nobody wants unhappy customers, and this should be a strong incentive for businesses to clamp down on ‘Friday jobs’ – but there are also much more serious factors at play which businesses should be aware of.”

Golfers ‘could be forced to wear hard hats’

Golfers could be forced to wear hard hats in a bid to reduce golfing-related injuries, a health & safety expert has revealed.

Protecting.co.uk, a health & safety and employment agency, has noted that a number of insurance companies and private businesses are seeking to reduce the financial burden of golfing injuries by pushing for greater protection for players – including wearing hard hats or helmets.

Far from an interesting addition to golf’s already-notorious fashion rules, the move could help curb the number of injuries occurring as a result of the game – with National Health Statistics figures cited by Golf Monthly showing that golf is statistically more dangerous than rugby. Seven in ten amateur golfers suffer an injury whilst playing the game – and the phenomenon is so well-documented that it even featured in an episode of popular crime drama, CSI Las Vegas.

Insurers are keen to reduce the financial implications of these injuries, with thousands of pounds paid out each year in claims for head injuries from misjudged golf balls.

However, some businesses are also supporting the suggestion – due to the fact that the demographic of golf players heavily leans toward men in their forties and fifties, who make up a large proportion of managerial and director-level employees. With statistics suggesting that between 16% and 41% of amateur golfers are injured each year, the potential for working days lost to golfing injuries is high enough to prompt businesses into lobbying for improved safety measures.

Of course, many sports contain inherent risks – but this, Protecting.co.uk, is merely adding weight to the case for more strict safety legislation in this area.

Chris Hall, spokesperson for Protecting.co.uk, said:

“If you look at a selection of other sports played in the UK, both contact and non-contact, there are measures in place to reduce injury. For example, many amateur and lower-league rugby clubs insist on protective helmets; martial arts classes provide pads for their students – and this is not just to prevent injury. It’s because financially, it makes sense for clubs (and their insurers) to prove they’ve reduced harm wherever possible.”

One particular case study which Protecting.co.uk cited is cycling. Cyclists in the UK are strongly encouraged to wear helmets to prevent injury – and a concerted effort to raise awareness of cycling safety has led to much greater uptake of protective gear.

Hall concluded:

“Public safety campaigns are crucial to changing the status quo – but it has worked with cycling, and all cyclists are aware that helmet use is recommended. With enough support from insurers, businesses and health & safety professionals, a similar scenario could happen with golfers. Not only would greater pressure upon golfers to wear the correct safety equipment mean that thousands of pounds could be saved in insurance pay-outs and days lost to injury, but a huge proportion of potentially quite serious injuries could be avoided.”

David Adams a keen golfer said, “Golf is an easy game… it’s just hard to play. But a ball in head would be hard to recover from, so put me down for a Tartan hard hat”

Tony from Leeds retired now full time golfer “I’ve had the same golf cap that I borrowed from my son for 20 years now, it’s a fore-gone conclusion that I would welcome the opportunity to purchase a new hard wearing one!”

Public transport snobbery revealed: 97 won’t ever catch a bus

A ‘Green disaster’ looms as the car remains king among commuters “Why should I slum it on the bus? I’ve got a car”

British workers would still take their car to work even if free and regular public transport were laid on for them, it’s been found.

In fact, people would rather sit in a traffic jam in the warm, dry cocoon of their own car instead of “slumming it” on the bus, a Yorkshire based employment law consultancy says.

According to the Protecting.co.uk law firm, this could well mean a disaster for Britain’s green and transport policies as people refuse to give up their motors on city centre roads that are approaching gridlock.

“The thing about the motor car is that it has brought us convenience and independence relatively cheaply,” says Protecting spokesperson Mark Hall, “And we love our convenience and won’t easily give it up.”

Protecting.co.uk asked hundreds of people who drive a car to work if they were prepared to give it up and use public transport, and the answer was a resounding and unsurprising “no”.

• 97{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} said they wouldn’t switch to the bus tomorrow on current public transport systems
• 87{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} said they wouldn’t switch to the bus if it were made free of charge
• 48{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} said they might consider a bus service that ran from near their home to their place of work

• 86{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} said they preferred the privacy of their own car to the public space of a bus

“And there’s the two problems in a nutshell,” says Hall. “There’s the convenience of driving, and even if that was taken away, people just don’t want to get on a bus to work. We’re transport snobs, even if we don’t want to admit it.”

That’s a conclusion backed up by workers who habitually drive their cars to their place of employment.

• Sue, 28: “It’s two buses to get to my office, including a change in the town centre. Nobody’s got time for that, and I hate slumming it, to be honest.”

• Nicola, 40: “I tried taking the bus, honestly I have. But when it’s raining, you have to share with damp, smelly people and that’s my idea of Hell, thank you very much. Car for me, all the way.”

• Darren: 25: “It’s a good 20 miles to work for me, and that’s an hour and a half on the bus visiting every village in between. Thirty minutes in the motor, 45 on a bad day, that’s why I drive and you can’t convince me otherwise.”

• Martin, 62: “You can’t turn your music up loud on the bus. They don’t like that.”

And one employee who works at a company that runs a free bus service told us of the problems he has with that:

• Gregor, 31: “It only goes from outside the station, so it’s great if you commute in by train. Not so good for the rest of us who have to get into town in the first place just to get the free bus service. And now work wants to charge us for our parking spaces.”

Protecting.co.uk also spoke to workplace managers, and found several who are trying to dissuade their employees from driving in. One in particular told us his company’s philosophy:

“We’re aware of the pollution that cars cause, so we’re trying to get more people to arrive on public transport as part of our policy to reduce CO2 emissions,” said Ed, aged 51. “The trouble is, as soon as we restrict parking spaces, they’ll drive to work and park a few streets away. It’s a battle.”

Ed also told Protecting.co.uk that one solution might be to reward workers for using public service, and even contribute toward season tickets. “Rush hour traffic slows down our delivery drivers and costs us money. It’s in the company’s interest to get cars off the road!” he says.

Protecting.co.uk says it will need a nationwide cultural shift to get people out of their cars and onto public transport, but with petrol still relatively cheap, it’s going to prove difficult.

“People demand two things from life – money and convenience,” says Mark Hall. “If we can’t get people to give up their comfy, warm cars by making buses better, employers are going to have to – well – bribe them.”

“Not so much of a bribe – Think of it as a green investment.”

Farms to face tougher health and safety penalties

Farmers and farm businesses to face tougher sentencing penalties 

Farm owners and agricultural businesses are to face tougher penalties from this month if they are found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations.

The new sentencing guidelines were introduced by The Sentencing Council in February this year and it means tougher penalties for any workplaces that are found guilty of breaking health and safety rules, including food hygiene offences and corporate manslaughter.

The new regulations come just weeks after the death of two farm workers in a slurry pit on farmland in Sunk Island in Holderness. Phil Cookson, from Roythornes Solicitors, which specialises in agricultural law, said: “Everyone in the industry wants to see farmers’ health and safety record take a turn for the better, for obvious reasons.”

Companies with a turnover of over £2m who are found guilty of breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, can face a fine of up to £450,000; while large firms with a turnover of more than £50m, will find themselves facing a fine of up to £10m if they breach the health and safety regulations.

Under the new guidelines judges are advised to take the employer’s level of liability into account (low, medium, high, very high) and the level of risk and potential harm that could have resulted from the breach.

Mr Cookson added: “We can expect to see some small farm businesses hit really hard if they end up on the wrong end of an health and safety prosecution.”

Please follow this link to find out all you need to know about Protecting.co.uk’s health and safety services.

“I know my rights!” – But only 1 in 6 of workers have ever read their contracts

Hundreds of unfair dismissal claims founder through workers’ ignorance

Only one worker in 1 in 6 has ever read their contract and understand its contents, it’s emerged.

This is the shock finding of a Yorkshire-based national employment law consultancy which says that this ignorance has led to disciplinary action and dismissal in hundreds of cases.

While workers are protected by a raft of employment laws, the Protecting.co.uk company says that claiming ignorance of the contents of your work contract is no defence when it comes to a dispute with your boss.

“We’re stunned,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall. “You would have thought that you would read through an important document before you put your name to it, but it appears that for most people that’s simply not the case.”

Protecting.co.uk asked 1,000 employees all over the UK if they had ever read their contract in full.

• Only six said they had – that’s one person in 166
• Slightly more – 93 – said they had read part of it, or had skim-read it
• The vast majority (90) had not read their work contract, or had no memory of doing so
• More than half 56 said they had no idea where their contract currently is

Those one-sided figures often present themselves when an employee comes into dispute with their boss, Protecting.co.uk says. Far from being a case of “I know my rights”, many workplace disputes happen because the worker has broken a clause that is specifically written into their contract.

Protecting.co.uk estimates that a significant proportion of unfair dismissal claims – easily numbering into the hundreds – are nipped in the bud simply because the claimant did not read their contract, and had no idea of appropriate behaviour at the time of the incident.

“For example, one of the most common problems is when shop or factory workers take damaged or unwanted goods home,” says Hall. “In many cases, taking unwanted property is theft, even if it’s in the bin – and that’s a specific clause for many workers.

“It’s just a shame many have never read their employment contracts to find out before they end up in a disciplinary process.”

Other common disciplinary problems that employees miss by not reading their contracts include:

• “Moonlighting” for other companies – a simple check will reveal if you are signing an exclusivity contract, or agreeing not to work for competitors
• Bringing the company into disrepute – often the case with unguarded or ill-advised social media posts
• Timeliness – Although some workplaces might have customary or casual arrangements for late arrival or early departure, you can still be held to core working hours. “Everybody knocks off ten minutes early” is no defence
• Workplace behaviour – Contracts often set out minimum standards of behaviour and dress
• Company cars – Some companies allow private use, some do not. The policy is often written in employment contracts, or subsequent car lease documents

“If your contract says wear a suit, then wear a suit,” says Hall. “There’s no point complaining that you didn’t know if it’s written down in black-and-white. And if your contract says you can’t use the company van to go on holiday, it’s your own fault if you put it in a ditch somewhere in the Lake District.”

Protecting.co.uk says that disputes could be nipped in the bud by companies issuing a bullet-pointed summary of contractual expectations in the hope that the new employee would at least read that if they can’t or won’t read the full contract.

“While a summary sheet is not a legally binding document, it at least gives the worker some sort of clue as to acceptable behaviour and standards of work,” Hall says.

The simple thing that workers can do if in doubt over their contract, or if they simply don’t understand the wording, is to seek legal advice.

“Not everybody has a legal grounding,” says Hall, “So before signing a piece of paper that’s going to effectively control your behaviour for the foreseeable future, show it to somebody who understands it. If not a legal firm, try Citizen’s Advice.”

“A few minutes reading your contract could save your career.”

It’s official: Workplace romances are good for business

Yes, workers can have their cake and eat it – as long as they keep it out of hours

Romances in the workplace between colleagues should be encouraged as they seem to be good for productivity.

That’s the view of a national health and safety law consultancy, which says that rather than being a disruptive influence, relationships between employees have more benefits than previously realised.

The Protecting.co.uk company says that – as long as all parties concerned agree to keep their relationship ‘out of hours’ – the end result is greater productivity, and more cooperation between different parts of the business.

“There’s an old saying about workplace romances that says you shouldn’t mess in your own front yard,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “But we’ve found that long-lasting and strong relationships come out of the workplace that outweigh the negative aspects.”

Protecting.co.uk surveyed office workers and found that there were workplace relationships in 100{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of the organisations they approached. We found:

• 62{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of those in romances thought it had benefitted their work and career
• 18{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} said they regretted getting into a workplace romance
• 20{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of those who had workplace romances said it made no difference to their work
• Of those who regretted a romance, only 10{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} said they had switched jobs or sought a transfer as a result

Asked about their in-work relationships, employees said that, among other things, it increased their loyalty to the company; and they found that workers in other departments treated them more positively, increasing communication and cooperation.

“The number of people who said that workplace relationships are a bad thing was far lower than we expected,” said Protecting.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall. “People who found benefits from their romances were easily in the majority, and said it made them work better.”

Protecting asked over 950 company owners, managers and HR directors and found that:

• 16{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} banned relationships in the workplace
• 84{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} had no policy of workplace relationships, or encouraged them
• 70{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of managers thought employees worked better if they were in a relationship with somebody in the same organisation

“We know of at least one major banking organisation that allows office relationships to the point that they encourage marriage between staff members,” said Hall. “They know the benefits of workplace romance in terms of loyalty, hard work and bottom line.”

One note of caution was that while many bosses backed workplace relationships, they preferred that the romancing was kept outside of work hours. Protecting found that bosses frowned on time wasted “mooning around” each other’s desks in the early days of a romance, with some requesting that this was kept for lunch breaks and after work.

As one boss told us: “Once they’re through that initial lovey-dovey stuff, it’s business as usual. And we find that the office is a happier place for it. More of this kind of thing.”

Others thought that there was a fine line to be trod between romance and workplace harassment, and a new sensitivity to the issue made it hard to tell the two apart.

“As long as both parties are consenting, it’s not something for managers to worry about,” says Hall. “The best policy is to keep a watching eye and to be sympathetic toward complaints.”

Some workers found that getting into a relationship in the first place was the hardest part. Several told Protecting.co.uk sad tales of unrequited love and rejection that led to weeks and months of frustration. Ultimately and inevitably, employees revealed, this led to poor work performance, and – in extreme cases – a search for a new job.

“We’re not agony aunts,” says Mark Hall, “But love and romance is part of the everyday working environment. Both bosses and employees have to act like adults and recognise it’s not something to be dodged.”

And as for those poor workers unable to declare their love: “Pull yourselves together and go for it, people.”

Drunk or high at work: Epidemic of boozy and drugged employees revealed

Alcohol and drugs major problem in the workplace, shocking survey reveals

Nearly a third of workers have admitted using drugs at work, and virtually every employee say they’ve been drunk when they were on duty.

These are the incredible figures from a survey carried out for a national health and safety law consultancy, which found significant numbers “under the influence” every working day.

According to the Protecting.co.uk company, the lunchtime drinking session has never gone away, costing British companies millions of pounds per year in lost productivity, with workers often defying company rules as well as health and safety regulations.

“The worst thing is,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “People under the influence of drink or drugs in the workplace also increase the risk of an accident as they put both themselves and their colleagues in danger.”

Protecting.co.uk surveyed over 2,600 workers in office, factory, retail and the public sector, and found:

• 28{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} admitted using drugs at work, including so-called ‘legal highs’, cannabis and other illegal narcotics
• 5{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of factory workers said they had used machinery after using drugs
• 85{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} admit to being drunk at work in the last year, not including the Christmas party
• 31{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} admitted to being drunk at work, or having their capacity to work significantly diminished through alcohol, at least once per week
• Of these, office workers were more likely to be drunk at work, while those working in retail or public-facing jobs were more likely to go the day sober
• 14{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of factory workers said they would drink alcohol at lunchtime, and then operate machinery in the afternoon
• Of 40 people who listed their jobs as driver, none say they took drink or drugs at work

“If you think that 5{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} sounds low, that’s one-in-twenty factory workers saying they operate potentially dangerous machinery with their reflexes and judgement impaired by booze,” says Hall.

“That’s a frightening figure, and a recipe for serious injury or even death.”

Protecting.co.uk says that the huge majority of those who admitted taking drugs at work think the practice “harmless”, and typically told us that “a bit of blow is no different from smoking a cigarette.”

Others told Protecting.co.uk it was “To relieve the tension of working all day,” while others blamed boredom, simply telling us that “It helps the day go faster.”

Drug-taking at work is emerging as a growing factor in workplace accidents, with even ‘legal highs’ contributing to injuries, compensation claims and loss of production, Hall says. It’s specifically rife in younger people, with 90{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of those who admitted to using drugs being under 30 years old.

But it’s the lunch-time pint-or-three that remains one of the biggest causes of UK workplace accidents, Protecting.co.uk claims. Regular drinkers think they can handle their liquid lunch, the company says, but in the best case scenario, their speed and quality of work deteriorates after they’ve had a drink. At the very least, this results in lost production and customer complaints.

In worse case scenarios, accidents caused by alcohol remain high, and can be cited as factors in numerous cases of injury or death.

“Just one person on the shop floor or in the workshop incapable through alcohol puts everybody at risk,” says Hall.

“In a bank or an office, just one fat finger on a keyboard could cost thousands, millions, in lost trade. That’s the cost of a pub lunch,” he says.

Protecting.co.uk says that bosses need to be clear with their employees that drug use and drunkenness is unacceptable in their organisation, and they need to be seen to be enforcing their policies.

“This doesn’t mean a stream of sackings,” says Hall, “But that’s one of the options on the table. Business owners should also be able to offer assistance to problem drinkers and drug users – perfectly good workers should be helped back to an even keel.”

There’s nothing wrong with the odd drink at lunchtime, Protecting.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall is at pains to point out. However, when performance is hit by drink or drugs, it’s down to the employer to step in before damage is done both for the companies sake and the employees health.

Epidemic of lazy sales staff ‘costing their companies money, growth and jobs’

Why the most important person in your company may be dragging you down

Sales people who do the bare minimum are costing the average British business up to 60{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} growth every year, simply because they don’t follow up sales leads, or just can’t be bothered to take a long trip to meet a client.

It’s a view backed up by sales staff themselves, who see the bad habits and sometimes-illegal behaviour of their colleagues every day, a national business law consultancy says.

According to the Protecting.co.uk consultancy, salespeople are often a law unto themselves, and their suspect practices are not only damaging company prospects, but could collectively be holding back the UK’s industrial recovery.

“Every salesperson has battle tales of epic sells and enormous commissions,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “But if you delve a little deeper, they’ve also got stories of fantastic skives and dreadful scams.

“It’s terrible, because most sales staff are hard-working types, but there’s a core that are a law unto themselves, and they are costing their companies and the British economy dear.”

Speaking in confidence to sales staff at business conventions and conferences, Protecting.co.uk found that a lack of motivation leads to companies missing out on millions in potential sales because the sales team isn’t working to its full potential. Protecting.co.uk estimates that some companies are missing out on up to 60{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} growth each year thanks to sales staff not working to their full potential.

So, what’s happening? Hall says that sales people admitted that they or colleagues:

• Don’t bother following-up sales leads, especially if they looked like too much trouble or were too far away
• Never up-sell to add value to the sale
• Stop selling once they hit their commission target
• Faking appointments
• Wreck potential leads through basic bad manners, such as missing meetings or giving misleading information

That’s a view backed up by 70{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of salespersons we spoke to (1200 people in total were surveyed), with many people coming up with tales of dishonesty which are costing their companies dear. Over 90{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of sales staff knew of a colleague who had been sacked for dishonest behaviour, showing that there’s an epidemic of bad salesmen in the UK.

Apart from the petty theft of faked appointments and rounded-up expenses, the most damaging to company prospects is the fact that many sales staff simply gave up working the minute they hit their commission.

“One salesman boasted that he could hit his monthly target in 15 days, and then effectively take the rest of the month off,” said Hall. “That sort of attitude is costing profits, and in the end, jobs. He might be a great salesman, but that’s not the kind of person I’d want working in my organisation.”

Others said they’d not chase up new leads, and would rather keep bumping along with existing contacts. “When so much relies on growth, lazy sales people are costing us dear all the way down the chain from production to consumer,” says Hall. “It’s selfish, as they’re doing the bare minimum, while denying their organisation the chance to make more money and recruit more staff.”

On top of bad habits in their basic duties, half of all sales people said they had faked their car mileage claims at least once in the last year, another act of petty theft that can add up to thousands every year for a company.

Car-leasing firm Flexed.co.uk says that while many sales staff see faked mileage claims as a perk of the job, it is effectively theft from your employers.

Flexed spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe said: “One salesman told us he’d regularly see fake clients all the time, simply because it was a sunny day and he fancied a day at the coast paid for by the boss. Sometimes, this included evening meals and an overnight stay. Unbelievable.”

“Mixing up personal and business miles is another one that costs businesses fortunes,” says Ratcliffe, “and it’s such a difficult thing to check, most people get away with it.”

It’s this self-serving attitude that will ultimately cost the UK economy dear, Protecting.co.uk says.

“Sales people are ultimately the most important people in any company,” Hall says, “And if your sellers are doing the bare minimum because they think they can get away with it, then there’s something very wrong in that sales team.

“Is it down to the team, or down to the management creating the conditions that lead them into temptation? Either way, it’s an issue that bosses should be taking seriously.”

Job interviews from Hell: Candidates reveal their worst ever questions

…and why asking the wrong thing can land your company in big trouble

Questions about jam and role-playing games involving werewolves top the list in the worst ever questions asked of candidates in job interviews.

Workers have opened up to a UK employment law consultancy about interviews that either left them cringing or stamping out of the room in fury.

But according to the Leeds-based Protecting.co.uk consultancy, there’s a serious side to all this – employers could leave themselves wide open to the bad publicity and expense of a discrimination claim because of a badly-planned interview that asks candidates the wrong questions.

“Some bosses get it horribly wrong when interviewing for new staff or on promotion boards,” says Protecting spokesperson Mark Hall, “And all the guidelines about acceptable behaviour go right out of the window, often with disastrous results.”

Discriminatory behaviour on grounds of age, race, sexual orientation, gender or disability is illegal, and this applies equally to the interview room as it does to the office or shop floor. But that didn’t stop these horror stories, as told to Protecting.co.uk by workers from all over the UK:

• “If you were a jar of jam, what flavour would you be and why?”

• “We’re going to do some role-play now. You’ll be playing the part of the werewolf.”

• “Are you planning on getting pregnant?”

• “When was the last time you got into an actual fight with somebody?”

• “Tell me how you think you’ll deal with shop-floor banter. They don’t get many women down there.”

• “It’s not on the job description, but would you be able to act as my house cleaner as well?”

• “I was told I could increase my chances of getting the job by taking the boss out for dinner that night. For the record, I dined alone.”

• “You’re quiet. Are you imagining us naked?”

• “What’s your attitude toward illegal drugs?”

• “Not so much a question, but they got all the candidates together for a dance-off ‘to see which one of us is the best around other people’. It was for a supermarket cashier job.”

• “Do you know First Aid? Have you got a certificate? We haven’t got any first aiders and we’ve got a health and safety inspection coming up.”

• “Your CV says you speak French. How much do you think your language skills will be worth when Nigel pulls us out of the Common Market?”

• “Are you gay?” “Does it matter?” “It does to me.”

• “I went for a job for a New York-based company. It was a phone interview, and the American guy asked if I knew a David from London, as if we all know each other. I said yes, and promised to pass on his regards.”

• “I expect you’ll be wanting time off for your weird religious holidays, am I right?”

• “I see from your CV that you were in the armed forces. Did you ever kill anybody?” (I was in the Catering Corps, where the stock answer is always “Yes, thousands”)

Protecting.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall says that sometimes bosses end up behaving badly on a long, boring day of interviewing. But sometimes it can ignorance of the bounds of decency surrounding what you can and cannot say, and sometimes it can be just brain-numbing stupidity.

“What many of these examples have in common is a lack of understanding that a poor interview can leave your business or organisation wide open to potential discrimination claims.”

“Asking a potential employee if she’s planning on taking time off for a baby is a prime example. No amount of explaining otherwise can mitigate the disastrous consequences if or when she is not offered a job,” Hall says.

Protecting.co.uk says the best tactic for managers is to plan the interview carefully, and even hold mock interviews to check that the whole process is fair and transparent without the potential for embarrassing both candidate and company.

“The last thing your business wants is a legal claim against you,” says Hall, “And the second worst is appearing in a list of worst ever job interviews.”

“Think before you ask that show-stopping question!”

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