So, what’s with all the cow puns?

So, what’s with all of the cow puns?

So, what’s with all the cow puns?

So what the hell do cows (and cow puns!) have to do with recruitment anyway? I’ve been asked this a quite few times recently given our new website launch.

You may have been wanting to ask this yourself if you’ve seen our social media recently (we’ve been udderly obsessed with cow puns!)

Well, unbeknown to most people, my family are Scottish dairy farmers! My family continue to run a few farms up on the West Coast. So, you could say it’s in the blood. But even though working in recruitment is a far cry from the fields of Scotland, I’ve never fully left behind my admiration for these fantastic animals.

(Even my favourite artist is cow themed… A lady called Caroline Shotton, you can check out her work here:

So, hopefully that explains all the cows.

To discuss anything recruitment or cow related you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here

HR consultants – how do you beat stress?

HR consultants - how do you beat stress?
Beverly Hills 90210, Fox Broadcasting Company

Ahh, stress. It’s something that unites us all regardless of occupation or lifestyle. For HR consultants, life can be very busy and things happen which totally change your plan for the day.


One bad email can be all that it takes to set it off, and then next thing you know you’re awake at 3AM unable to sleep. We can’t always avoid stress, but we can work on improving how we respond to it. The good news here is that just as we have a stress response; we also have useful relaxation responses that we can call to action at any sign of trouble – perfect for all busy HR consultants.


Go for a walk

Getting away from your desk and moving around can help clear your head, and thanks to something called ‘involuntary attention’, walking around a green open space can actually put your body into a state of meditation. Meaning that when you return back to work, you’ve been able to reflect on your day and see everything with a fresh pair of eyes.


Eat a snack

Stress eating isn’t all bad – it just depends on what you reach for in the fridge! Pick something that will fill you up and not just give you a sugar rush for an hour, as feeling like you’ve run out of nourishment can actually contribute to a feeling of stress. Whilst it’s tempting to reach for Redbull and a Mars Bar, these foods can be counter-productive! Foods great for concentration include avocados, nuts, complex carbs such as brown rice and sweet potato and dark chocolate are great options


Put a record on

Or a Spotify playlist, depending on what’s available to you in your office. Classical music may seem like the most obvious option for destressing, however, any music that you love will have the same effect and flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals. My personal favourites are Kisstory or an 80’s playlist.


Chew some gum

Not only does this ensure minty-fresh breath, but studies have also shown that chewing gum can actually relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress when multitasking – a win-win for anyone that loves gum as much as I do.


Have a nap

Another technique that is popular with companies such as Google and Nike is the power nap. Research has shown that when people are able to take a power nap at work, they encounter fewer feelings of stress, have better cognitive response rates and improved memory.


As a HR consultant, do you have any tips on how to relieve stress? Let me know in the comments below.

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.

Can you get fun accountants?

Can you get fun accountants?
Can you get fun accountants?

Whenever someone is introduced as an accountant, whether this is at a party or a networking event, quite often you see the rest of the group’s eyes glaze over and images of grey, boring suits flash in their mind.


If I asked you to picture an accountant right now, in fact, that’s probably the exact image that you would think up.


Whilst there may well be accountants that do fit this description, there are also plenty that don’t!


Accountancy, believe it or not, can actually be kind of exciting…

Working as an accountant, each work day has the potential to be dramatically different from the next. Accountancy provides the flexibility to avoid boredom, as it is essentially a function of any business so there’s the opportunity to work in a variety of different business settings.


Accounting has changed over the years. Gone are the days where you are perceived to be sitting behind your desk, crunching numbers all day on Excel and being antisocial and systematic. Companies are utilising their finance teams and allowing them to work more operationally with other departments.


As a result, there is a real demand for management accountants who, in addition to the core finance and accounting skills, can offer strategic thinking and commercial insight, combined with influencing and, ideally, leadership skills.


Emerging technologies are changing the way in which finance works too. Many companies now use cloud-based systems, analytic solutions and newer digital tools such as robotic process automation that can take out some of the more mundane tasks of accounting, and free up more time for forward thinking and driving business performance.


Being an accountant opens up the door to be able to understand all operations of a business, as when it comes down to a business making important decisions, the money involved becomes a major part of the process. Working in accounting puts you in a great spot to be able to contribute to the success of the business by helping leaders make smart financial decisions.


For more information on exciting opportunities in finance and being a fun accountant, email me at

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here

Workplace flexibility: Is it worth implementing?

Workplace flexibility

Many companies have integrated flexibility into their employees working life, but there are also companies that have not. This begs the question as to whether it is worth implementing flexible schedules or are more hassle then they are worth?

Flexible working is a working arrangement that gives an employee a way of working that suits their needs. This could be working from home or even having flexible start and finish times.

It has been brought to the forefront recently, that men have been given more ‘workplace flexibility’ than women. In an article recently published by HR Magazine, research showed that men are able to work six hours per week flexibly, whilst women are just getting three hours.

Given the rise of Generation Y and their desire to work to live (rather than living to work) it makes us question why more employers have not implemented flexible working?

Here are some of the arguments for and against:

Benefits of Flexible Working
More productive
Increase of morale
Enjoyment of work
Control over schedule
Reduction of tardiness
Increases employee loyalty
Reduces employee turnover
Reduction of employee burnout
Allows for a good work/life balance
Reduction of fuel costs and commuting time & stress
Reduces fixed office costs

Setbacks of Flexible Working
May not suit everyone
Managers may find it hard to adjust
No separation between work and home
Difficult to tell if someone is actually working or not
Some people may take advantage of the working arrangement
Are business systems capable of managing a remote workforce

As you can see from the two lists above, at face value, the benefits may seem to outweigh the drawbacks, which is why many businesses have already implemented this type of working practice.

However, in reality, it is still a big change for many employers who have not yet seen the benefits of this or for those who are change resistant and adopt more traditional working practices.

In our view, this will undoubtedly change with time, as one generation leaves the workforce and another takes prominence. The businesses that succeed in the new ‘gig economy’ will likely be the employers who get this quickly as they will become employers of choice and will win the war for talent – in what will be an interesting market for businesses and its employees alike!

To discuss further, you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

Can you give a bad reference?

Everyone dreams of being the boss one day or of obtaining that dream job. One part of this dream, that you don’t always think about, is having a team and having to give references. But what if you have a bad employee? Can you give a bad reference? Will you get sued if you do? Could you just give them a “neutral” reference?

A “neutral” reference is one where only the dates of service and title are given. Many businesses have now implemented a policy of only giving “neutral” references. It is a policy that is backed legally and allows a business to avoid being sued. It seems to be especially useful to give this kind of reference for bad employees. From the perspective of a recruiter, this type of reference could be the difference between you and another candidate getting a job. However, there appears to be a way of being honest and still remaining on the good side of legality, below we have listed five ways to do just that.

1. If you cannot honestly recommend an employee for a new role then it would be best to let them know. This allows them time to ask someone else or forewarns them of what is going to happen.

2. If the employee in question worked for you for more than a couple years ago, then you can decline, on the basis that they worked for you so long ago. Thus, you cannot remember what work they did for you and that your reference will then be invalid.

3. You may decide to still give a “neutral” reference but be ready for a reference checker to ask whether this is the policy of the company or just for this candidate.

4. You may sympathise with the manager and decide to be honest. However, ensure that you remain factual and objective.

5. Lastly, ensure that your employees know where you stand on their work. This will give them a good indicator of what to expect from your reference.

References can be a minefield at times but, if you stick to these simple methods, you can ensure that everyone remains happy and informed.

To discuss further, you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

Mental health at work

Mental health at work

By now, you will likely have heard how health and well-being in the workplace is becoming just as important, if not more so, than salary or career progression. One issue that certainly appears to have become more prominent is mental health in the workplace. A detailed insight into this issue has been taken by the CIPD, with surveys in 2011 and one taken more recently this year.

What important information did these surveys bring to the forefront and what can employers do to offer more support?

Firstly, the number of mental health cases in the workplace has risen by 5% since 2011, with the figure now reaching 31%. More than 2000 people were polled within this survey and they found that only 46% felt like they were supported “fairly” well. This figure of 46% is an increase on the previous survey back in 2011, which found 37% felt “fairly” supported. Although this is a significant improvement, employers still have a long way to go.

Only 43% of employees decide to disclose their stress or mental health problems to their employer or manager. A figure that makes it abundantly clear that employees do not feel confident enough talking to their employers about their problems related to mental health. What is even more worrying is that this figure is exactly the same in both surveys, envisaging that nothing has changed in the last 5 years. However, out of those that do disclose their problems, 46% felt very well supported, which is an increase of 9% from 2011.

The age-group that appears to experience mental health problems the most (36%) are those that are between 45 and 54 years old, closely followed (35%) by the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups. Thus showing that mental health issues are not differentiated by age. So what causes the mental health problems? It seems that the majority (54%) seem to suffer from a combination of personal life issues and work issues.

So what can an employer do to support an employee with mental health issues?

Ensure that you create an environment that is open, that encourages staff to discuss their challenges and problems. Have a culture of openness that allows you to go beyond a persons work load, instead it delves deeper into their role responsibilities and the opportunities that they would like to see appear.

Know what to do if a mental health problem arises within your workplace, such as where to direct the employees if they require specialist help. Also, educate yourself and staff on various mental health problems, so you can see the triggers but always remember to be sensitive.

Be Clear
The groundwork can be set from the minute a new recruit starts, just by letting them know that if any problem arises, big or small, that they can discuss it.

It doesn’t take much to make an employee feel supported or to create a culture of openness, especially if it means it decreases the chances of mental health problems in the workplace. What would you suggest would make an employee feel more supported?

To discuss further, you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

Pension stats

Pension stats

The thought of one day cashing in your pension and retiring is what keeps some people motivated and happy in the workplace. But with the state pension age rising in November 2018 to 65 and then in 2028, to 67, will workers feel the same? Will the percentage of those that leave work before their state pension begins increase? Only time will tell.

What are your thoughts?

To discuss further, you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.