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Living, Learning, Linens And Laughter

Today’s blog doesn’t have that much to do specifically with HR, but I thought you might like an insight into recent happenings at Russell HR.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a tendency to be half way up one metaphorical mountain before I’m starting to look out for the next one to climb. Just as well I don’t have the same metaphorical dislike of heights that I do in real life! In the last six weeks in addition to all the day-to-day activities of running a home, family and business, I have (with the help of my team),organised and executed a major office move; finished the input and got our new website launched; written and delivered two extra-curricular public employment talks; finished the production of three e-books; written a number of articles for the HR press and provided two or three comments on other topics to the HR press. And to cap it all we organised a fund raising event for our local hospice on Friday.

This level of activity is a bit extreme, even by my standards. I did notice I might be over-doing things a bit last September (I was tying myself into Gordian knots) and made an early New Year’s Resolution not to take on any new projects until I finished the ones I had. And I almost stuck to that. The move into the new office was only about four months late. :) But we still wouldn’t have moved today if our local conservation officer and my solicitor had anything to do with it. Milton Keynes Council’s planning department were an absolute disgrace. They couldn’t have been slower or more unhelpful. In the end because they sat on the planning application doing nothing about it for over four months last year, I took to phoning them every week to inquire about progress, cheerfully asking how long they expected the next stage to take, offering to come and see them to understand and discuss the issues and generally being irritatingly, saccharinely persistent. I think they got fed up with this non-aggressive but highly persistent stalking, and the consent suddenly popped through. As for my solicitor …..! Words (almost) fail me, but let me say I really cannot recommend him. He quoted £2.5k for the conveyancing work and ended up charging just under £7k. I honestly do not understand how he could possibly have done that much work and questioned the amount (I still haven’t had the detailed breakdown I requested); he added fuel to the fire when he refused to complete the purchase until the final bill was paid. Extremely unimpressive and being pursued.

The website was also a couple of months late. Because of the lateness of the office move, things got shuffled back and then I didn’t have the time until I was on holiday (the reality of life in a small business) to do the final pieces of website work. Just after Easter we had a rainy day when my dear old man was doing some decorating (from which I am banned because I am a nightmare with a paintbrush) so Neil and Matt from Direct Design suddenly got an avalanche of work in from me and we all worked on the website until the pips squeaked. It took a considerable amount of effort and I can’t thank them enough for their patience, effort and creative flair, especially as regards the design of the shopping page. When we were designing the website, they told me to look at various shopping pages to give them some idea of how I wanted it to work. I really liked the style of John Lewis online shop. I find most online shops over-busy and difficult to navigate. By comparison, the JLP site was really clear. So we used that as a template and I think it works well.

Given that I thought we’d have moved by the end of December and allowing for the website to be a month late, it would be ready by the end of March, I anticipated that it would be safe to agree to do a fund raiser to celebrate our move and have a bit of fun by the end of April. You live and learn!

Well it’s been such a long winter, I thought we could do with some colour and energy in our lives, so we teamed up with local shop Re:Love and decided to do a cat walk fashion event for charity. My lovely team were to be models and we also had a late and unexpected entry – the 18 month old daughter of Marta, our other trainee. Emma toddled round looking very stylish in baby Boden. She was an absolute star and beamed for the camera in the most natural way. The chorus of “Aaaah!”s as she did so was almost deafening!

If you plan to organise a charity event, I have included below a checklist culled from our experience. It may save you some time in planning and organising. Believe me, there’s an awful lot to think about. My top tips:

  1. Give yourself at least two months to get it all one.
  2. Get the money for the tickets early.

We found we had lots of promises to buy tickets, only to have them fall out as time went on. One local telesales company said at an early stage that they’d buy 11 tickets – then bought none (and only after we’d chased a few times). Bad really - and not even a donation made. You need to know what you’re dealing with.

However, after all that we threw a really good party and I’m delighted to tell you that we have raised £1000, which is a very satisfactory result.

Fun though it was, I’m not going into party panning! I’m sticking to HR and employment law training. If you need help with managing sticky employment situations, or any other aspect of HR, get in touch.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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