Place Category: Employment
Roots HR is the UK’s leading specialist provider of HR services to social sector employers. We are founded on the belief that social sector organisations of all sizes should have access to high quality, tailored, practical, legally sound and affordable human resources advice and services. We recognise the challenges for such organisations in accessing appropriate services and develop our services to meet the needs of the social sector, in terms of culture, risk and scale. We are committed to supporting and improving people management and leadership in the sector with the overall aim of increasing resources available for frontline service provision.
We cover the full range of HR services from resourcing through to learning and development, employee relations, compensation and benefits, risk assessment and management, plus employee outplacement. Our consultants are highly skilled, technically knowledgeable, friendly and professional and bring with them substantial experience of having worked in social sector organisations. This enables them to quickly understand the people issues faced by organisations and the ability to provide tailored, pragmatic solutions and advice.
We recognise the financial and time constraints of the sector within which we work and in every case our approach to providing advice begins with what the organisation needs to do to achieve minimum compliance in a particular set of circumstances. Our approach is to work with our clients on a risk-managed basis; this means that we help clients to understand the range of options that are available to them, assess those options and outline potential risks, involve stakeholders as necessary and work organisations to implement the best or most suitable approach for organisations and the specific situation. With this delivery style we have enabled our clients to minimise employment tribunal liabilities and we retain 100% success rate of working with organisations in this way, meaning zero culpable employment tribunals arising from our work.
As a social enterprise, we reinvest our trading surpluses to provide free services to social sector organisations and to provide awareness and education to promote and improve people management within social society.
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated October 2020
1) What are the main social differences you have aimed to make (or supported)?
Roots HR aims to fill a gap in the HR consultancy services market place for SME social sector employers with work forces from 1 volunteer up to 250 employees. Mainstream private sector services are delivered with the aim of generating profit for shareholders and, in the case of insured services, to protect the interests of the service provider and the underwriter.
Roots HR offers services that are designed with stakeholder input, to meet stakeholder needs, and are not primarily driven by profit or shareholder return. This means that our services are tailored to the values and needs of small social sector employers and their workforces and that they are high quality yet affordable. In addition our approach to risk management enables the employer to consider risk as a spectrum and to accept a level of risk based on their assessment of the case.
Roots HR aims to ensure social sector employers have an accessible, timely HR services available to social sector employers to enable them to best respond to external and internal forces whenever required. In particular we aim to help employers to avoid disputes but where they occur, to settle them in the quickest, easiest, least destructive way for the organisation and its beneficiaries. We aim to do the above in the best interests of people and planet, maximising our positive impact upon the local labour market and minimising our adverse impact upon the environment.
2) What actions have you taken to deliver the aims described above?
We have continued to offer a range of consultancy services designed to enable us to achieve the above. During 2019 and 2020 we have reviewed, evolved and made small changes to our COMPLY Retained and COMPLY As Required people management and employment law advice line in order to address and imbalance in the interests of our clients vs the interests of Roots HR.
We have continued to provide a range of pro bono products and services:
- 1 hour free access to the COMPLY advice line for all social sector employers
- We also extended the offer of our 1 hour free voucher for social sector employers with income of under £50k pa to receive 1 hour of FREE advice per month (as opposed to once in a life time) through the furlough grant period, currently lasting until 31/10/20
- Until June 2018 we provided free of charge the NCVO’s HR advice line to its members.
We provide regular emails and updates with information about topical and/or seasonal people management information such as holiday calculations, GDPR, The Good Work Plan and Furlough Leave. We also deliver free or subsidised training to the sector, for example to School for Social Entrepreneurs Central and Social Entrepreneurs West Midlands etc.
From 23rd March 2020 in immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s lockdown, Roots HR moved overnight to a model of working from home and implemented a series of free webinars for its client group and for other infrastructure groups in the social sector such as Visionary, Lloyd’s Bank Foundation, iSE, West Midlands Museums Development Trust and Shropshire Voluntary & Community Sector Assembly.
3) What has changed, what specific outcomes and benefits have been realised as a result of the above actions?
During financial year 1st April 2018 – 31st March 2019 using profits generated in 2017-18 and in-year, we are proud we were able to:
- Deliver 74.5 hours of free advice to 72 social sector organisations under the NCVO HR Advice Line, Roots HR Advice Line and our Roots HR 1 hour free scheme
- Deliver 2 free training courses
- Conduct 5 free HR Healthchecks
- Deliver 15.25 hours of free documentation services
- Deliver over 76 hours producing articles, offers, free resources and HR updates to our database of clients, prospects and supporters
- Deliver 322 toolkits free of charge
During financial year 1st April ’19 – 31st March 2020 using profits generated in 2018-19 and in-year, we are proud we were able to::
- Deliver 34 hours of free advice to 45 social sector organisations under the NCVO HR Advice Line, Roots HR Advice Line and our Roots HR 1 hour free scheme
- Deliver 4 (45.25 hours) free training courses
- Conduct 1 free HR Healthcheck
- Deliver 8 hours of free documentation services
- Design and deliver 3 free webinars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
4) Please describe how your income and/or any profits generated from previous years has been maximised in delivering social outputs and adding social value.
Covered in above section.
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
- Increase year on year in engagement with our services
- Increase in revenue
- Increase in take up of pro bono services
- Wider range of ways to provide pro bono services especially via digital means
- Financial sustainability
- Ongoing developments in partnership working within the social sector
6) How many people have benefitted from your actions and what measures of benefit can you report?
During financial year 1st April 2018 – 31st March 2019 using profits generated in 2017-18 and in-year, we are proud we were able to:
- Deliver HR services to:
- Pro bono clients: 82 organisations
- Fee paying clients: 136 organisations
- Deliver free training to:
- 20 individuals from 20 different organisations
In summary, we:
- Delivered 74.5 hours of free advice to the value of £5,215 to 72 social sector organisations under the NCVO HR Advice Line, Roots HR Advice Line and our Roots HR 1 hour free scheme
- Designed and delivered 2 free training courses to 8 students and representative of 12 membership organisations to the value of £2,062.50 of consultancy fees and travel
- Conducted 5 free HR Healthchecks to the value of £3,352.00 (as value added to core services)
- Delivered 15.25 hours of free documentation services to 3 organisations to the value of £857.50
- Delivered over 76 hours to the value £5,320 producing articles, offers, free resources and HR updates to our database of clients, prospects and supporters
- Delivered 322 toolkits free of charge, worth £217 each, totalling £69,874
The valve of our social impact in this year was £81,361 amounting to 723.2% of profit. During financial year 1st April 2019 – 31st March 2020 using profits generated in 2018-19 and in-year, we are proud we were able to:
- Deliver HR services to:
- Pro bono clients: 51 organisations
- Fee paying clients: 124 organisations
- Deliver free training/free webinars to:
- 115 individuals from 115 organisations
In summary, we:
- Delivered 34 hours of free advice to the value of £2,550 to 45 social sector organisations under the NCVO HR Advice Line, Roots HR Advice Line and our Roots HR 1 hour free scheme
- Designed and delivered 4 free training courses to 40 students and representative of 18 membership organisations totalling 45.25 hours to the value of £2,608.79 of consultancy fees and travel
- Conducted 1 free HR Healthcheck to the value of £279.86 (as value added to core services)
- Delivered 8 hours of free documentation services to the value of £440.00
- Designed and delivered 2 free webinars to the value of £1,264.00 of consultancy fees.
The value of our social impact in this year was £7,142.65 amounting to 21.9% of profit. In addition to the above we routinely extend the contract end date for use of hours purchased of our COMPLY Retained and COMPLY As Required services in order that clients can use these hours up even when they would otherwise be out of contract with us.
We believe that Roots HR is unique in this approach, which is specifically designed to maximise the benefit derived from our services by our client organisation. To date we have not monitored the accumulated impact of this upon the sector but an estimate would be in the region of £10k -£30k per annum of additional value. Please see an example in the below section. The very different year on year results above show the value we can add through writing and distributing HR toolkits tailored to our sector. This will be an increased area of focus for us over future years.
7) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that help illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
1 hour free service for socials sector employers
A client of the 1 hour free service is a small social enterprise and required advice under the service around recruitment and probation periods. The client provided some very positive feedback below on their experience of the service and how the advice benefited them.
"As a fledgling micro-business and social enterprise it is often a struggle to get the correct and relevant information/support exactly when you need it. I am continually grateful for the consistent, expert advice and support I have been lucky enough to receive from Roots HR- and all for free!
With so much cynicism and scandal around the 3rd sector, Roots HR are a beacon of light in murky waters. They offer genuine support to 'little fish' like myself. I am amazed by their generosity in sharing of relevant resources and time. Importantly, I have peace of mind that their advice is absolutely up to date and totally accurate. I have spoken with several consultants on various issues and they manage to dovetail friendly-professionalism and expertise effortlessly.
I would also like to mention Charlotte specifically, in that she has this 'nothing is too much trouble' demeanour which is so calming when the peaks and troughs of running a small business get tricky. I am inspired to run my own social enterprise as Roots HR do."
Gazala Aslam, Managing Director, Equanimity Education
Client within our COMPLY Retained people management advice line
Emmaus UK retains Roots HR to provide its COMPL Retained service to 34 communities Emmaus Communities across the UK. Usage in year one (2019 – 20) was lower than forecast and because the COOMPLY Retained service roles forward used time, Emmaus UK is still benefiting in 2021 from the retainer purchase last year, at no additional cost. Roots HR has extended the expiry date by over 3 months in order to enable Emmaus UK and its Communities to derive best valve from its retainer. This will amount to an in-year saving to Emmaus UK of £5k - £10k.
- Emmaus Community 1: support re complex case management/senior employee - A Board member from this organisation requested support with regard to questions of serious misconduct and incompetence in respect of a senior manager. Telephone advice was provided under the retainer to enable to the client to separate out and identify the issues, to identify and interpret the relevant organisational policies, to identify appropriate individuals to manage the process on behalf of the client and to appropriately communicate with the employee and to consider the merits of a settlement agreement. Possibly as a result of a sense of the process being robustly and appropriately managed, the employee resigned. “A satisfactory end to a messy business. Thank you for your assistance even though we did not need to use it as fully as anticipated” Chair of the board of Trustees.
- Emmaus Community 2: support re disciplinary hearing/gross misconduct - The CEO requested support for the management of an investigation and disciplinary hearing into the matter of a charity shop manager accused of stealing. Roots HR provided telephone and email advice in respect of conducting the investigation, preparing for and holding the disciplinary hearing and communicating the outcome to the employee. Advice included review of letters and communications with the relevant employee. Complexities included a resignation from the employee which was not accepted and employee sickness which may amount to a newly disclosed disability. “Really appreciate your help on this, been absolutely fantastic in your advice” CEO, Emmaus Community 2.
- Emmaus Community 3: employment documentation review and update - A part of a group wide retainer, Roots HR undertook a full review of all organisational policies and the Staff Handbook. Specific re-working in respect of authority levels to issue sanctions across Disciplinary, Capability and Sickness Policies in order to ensure appropriate, practical and consistent application. All policies accepted and now implemented. “Our recent internal satisfaction survey found that of those communities who have reason to engage with Roots HR as part of the service, 75% were very satisfied with the service and 25% rated themselves as satisfied with the service. This is the highest score the communities have given to an outsourced HR provider” Duncan Gall, Head of Federation Support Emmaus UK.
Client within our PERFORM Project Management services
A values led limited company acquiring financially-constrained independent schools approached us to lead a school through the process of withdrawing from the Teacher’s Pension Scheme for its 38 teaching staff. The Teacher’s pension scheme is a highly valued benefit for teachers with many people entering and staying in the profession because of the promise of the pension upon retirement withdrawing from the scheme therefore would inevitability be highly contentious and meet with strong resistance; it may also result in loss of valued and experienced employees.
However, employer contributions now at 23.68% of salary and expected to rise even further, this school, like may others in similar situations was unable to sustain its membership to the Teacher’s Pension Scheme. Roots HR researched the pension-specific consultation legislation and interpreted this into a process appropriate to this school and its non-unionised environment.
Roots HR led on the design of the process, initial communication to staff and their unions, election of staff representative, planning and chairing of 6 consultation meeting and the associated actions, minutes and follow up, and the subsequent administration of contractual variances at the end of the process. 37 out of the 38 teachers accepted the new lower pension terms on offer with a different pension provider at the end of the consultation process and one employee who refused to accept these has been dismissed and successfully re-engaged on the new terms.
The client is delighted with the success of this very challenging project which has been delivered under budget and to precise agreed timescales. “We value your input and we could not have achieved the outcomes we needed without your support” MD, Independent Schools Group.
8) What social and environmental benefits have you created arising from internal operational policies and other actions?
Role modelling ethical employment and operating practices
We save money on waste disposal by recycling everything we can from coffee pods to furniture, thus preserving more of our resources for frontline service delivery. In our recent office move we downsized to smaller offices, creating a significant surplus of used but good quality furniture (most of which we purchased as recycled in the first place) and we donated it to the charity moving into the premises that we were existing, who are a charity and one of our clients.
Paperless office – we do as much as we can to make the office and filing as paper free as possible. Over 99% of our work is electronic and via email. Our filing system is approximately 85% electronic.
Virtual meetings – from around mid-2019, we adopted the use of Zoom as our default method of meeting with clients and their employees in non-contentious situations such as redundancy consultations. We put considerable effort into enabling and supporting clients to meet with us in this way to save our time and therefore our money, to enable us to work in a far more agile way, and to reduce carbon footprint. We viewed ourselves then as being leaders in the adoption of these technologies.
The cost of consultation meetings to one London based company making 15 redundancies in August 2019 was £3,554.88 + VAT because these meetings were done via Zoom, had they been done face to face the cost would have been at least £8,760.00 + VAT including travel, with the additional benefit of flexibility of date/time of meetings to suit the diaries of those under consultation. This and other similar experiences meant that when the UK went into lockdown due to COVID-19 we were able to support new users of software such as Zoom as the mass market embraced it.
Remote working - this has a huge impact on the organisation’s environmental footprint. We have moved to a home working organisation through COVID-19 but prior to lockdown our office downsize and move to 80% plus homeworking was already planned and will be implemented as lockdown eases