Sacco Mann Virtual HR Forum February 2021

5 Minutes

We recently held our first virtual HR Forum of the year which was attended by a group of our...

We recently held our first virtual HR Forum of the year which was attended by a group of our clients’ HR Professionals and Directors.
The agenda for the forum is set by our clients, ensuring that the most up to date and pressing issues are discussed. The forums provide an invaluable source of information and perspective for our clients. As we head further into 2021, we are all too familiar now with working from home as the lockdown continues in the UK. Here is what was discussed during the session…
A Zoom poll was conducted, and the results showed that 30% salary reviews went ahead, and the majority were postponed to a later date. 

Holiday Policies During Lockdown

The first topic discussed was what were firms doing with their staff holidays during lockdown? It appears most firms have created new policies where employees must take a certain amount of holiday before the half year or allowed employees to carry over statutory holiday to 2021/2022. 

One client raised if anyone has faced resistances with the new holiday policies and it was discussed that employees were very understanding with the new schemes. 


Combining Home & Office Working Policies

All levels of employees are currently working from home with some exception of employees whose home working setup was affecting their wellbeing. Those affected in this way were able to work from the office a few days. Few firms have offered an allowance (£250 to £300 per employee) to buy equipment to support home working. 

Some firms have sent surveys to employees to ensure everyone is working from home comfortably by requesting they send pictures of their workstation and a full assessment is carried out. A suggestion was made to use information on the HSE website for staff to carry out their own assessments.


Preparations For A Return To Normal Office Life

It seems most of the firms are happy to continue with flexible working when lockdown eases as employees have found a comfortable work life balance and the firms are guided by individuals desire to return to the office. 

There is a particular concern and questions raised for Trainees, Paralegals, and Apprentices as the ongoing remote working could impact their development and their job satisfaction. Trainees are recognising they are missing vital training from working in the office. With that said, firms are making a conscious effort to ensure development is provided through good communication with its junior staff.


Employee’s Wellbeing And Keeping Staff Motivated

Employee wellbeing and mental health is a big talking point, and many fantastic ideas were discussed. 

One firm has recently set up a lifestyle challenge for 8 weeks where each week a new challenge is set up by a team member to encourage staff to explore the outdoors, meditate or try something new each day. It has really brought the team together and everyone has started to feel more connected by sharing photos of what they are doing at home. Others are working closely with charity organisations such as Mind to organise events such as exercising challenges by walking, running and cycling to boost fitness and morale. Firms have set up newsletters and posting tips, advice, and new initiatives on their companies’ intranets to keep staff motivated as well as having a wellbeing team and mental health first aiders. 

Shine Offline was recommended by one firm who recently attended their webinar. Shine Offline support employers and their staff to have healthy and sustainable relationships with their digital technology. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, relationships with our digital devices has changed, Shine Offline have developed a suite of virtual solutions to help businesses support staff to foster healthy digital habits during this critical time and protect work life balance, mental health, relationships and performance. 


Support In Place For Parents At Home With Home Schooling And Responsibilities

With schools closing earlier this year, the topic of support in place for working parents was discussed and ideas were shared. 

Some firms have created drop-in sessions for parents and carers to see if they were able to assist in anyway and a support network for staff to share tips, advice, and any frustrations they may have. Other firms have sent bulletins and website links to parents with advice and created a wellbeing hub on their intranet to help parents adjust with home working and schooling.


Salary Reviews

A question was raised by a firm if anyone has adjusted salaries for people relocating from London to reflect where they are currently living, or anyone has any experience with that. Andrew Purdy from Sacco Mann commented that they have seen people working at London firms but living elsewhere but have not experienced it the other way round. A firm commented that remote working has always been part of their normal working life as its proven to be productive but there is no rush for them to recruit for London roles to be worked remotely as it may cause trouble in the future if they are required to work a few days in the London offices. 

A Zoom poll was conducted, and the results showed that 30% salary reviews went ahead, and the majority were postponed to a later date. 


Managing and Supervising Juniors and Trainees Remotely

As working remotely has now become the norm for most people, managing and supervising Juniors and Trainees was discussed and how to encourage Managers to actively think about opportunities and training missed from remote working. 

One firm has organised external training for all Managers on how to best supervise and proactively manage remotely which so far, has gone well. Another firm now has virtual coffee and drop-in sessions for their new starters to meet and speak with Directors and Partners to have an informal chat and get to know each other on a more personal level. 


Diversity & Inclusion Roll Outs

The question was raised as to whether anyone had initiatives rolled out for diversity and inclusion. A firm is at development stage of several training modules and listening to CIPD podcasts which they commented is always good for HR Professionals to revisit and working through a series of forums with the Business in the Community to create an anti-racism strategy.  


Creative Ideas To Get New Starters Introduced Into Their Departments

The firms shared ways they have inducted their new starters to the business who have not had the opportunity to meet their colleagues in person. A firm has a buddy system where they would meet someone from their team if they both live in the local area (within lockdown rules) which has gone down very well and in between lockdown have had team lunches. Another firm has created a new starter group (at all levels) where they stay in the group for up to 6 months. This gives them the chance to meet other new employees to learn and pass on knowledge, regardless of level, team and location. They can also meet anyone within the firm to learn and hear from. This has been proven to be extremely helpful and encourages relationships with employees outside of their department.


Plans For Employing And Training Solicitor Apprentices 

A firm is coming up to their first set of apprentices who are currently on their year 5/6 programme and asked if anyone else has Solicitor apprentices and if they had plans to include them into the Trainee population by moving them into the training cohort and seat rotation, so they qualify the same as the Trainees.  One firm stated they have 6 people in the apprenticeship programme, and they rotate every year if possible and have had them doing similar jobs to Trainees during the 6 years which has worked very well and now they are currently going through the application process for more apprentices which they are very passionate about. 



A question was raised if anyone had a survey provider that they can recommend. One firm has recently completed their employment survey and recommended Pro Development based in York. They mentioned there is still massive funding from Europe which is still applicable to the Leeds and Yorkshire region. Pro Development helped them create a fantastic survey and the results should come back in a few weeks. 


Thank you to those firms who were involved in our HR Forum. If this is something you would like to be involved in the next forum, please email