Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash. Scrabble tiles which read: People remember stories. Underneath pink text saying Employment law changes and a sub-heading: Getting business leaders to care

April 2024 will see several changes to employment law and, as an HR consultant, you want to tell your clients about them. But how do you do that without boring them to death?

Many LinkedIn posts or Instagram reels from HR professionals focus on the facts or the fear (and cost) of clients getting it wrong. But that often isn’t the way to draw people in. You need to help them understand what this change really means for their business. So, let’s look at a different way – using stories.

What’s changing in employment law?

As an example, let’s take the changes to flexible working which are being introduced.

If you take a fact-based approach, you’ll likely focus on this:

  • Employees can apply for flexible working from day one
  • Employers can no longer respond without a reason – if they’re declining an application, they’ll have to say why
  • There’s a two-month window for responding, rather than three
  • The onus won’t be on the employee to explain any impact of the requested change any more
  • Employees can apply twice a year rather than once
  • These changes will be covered by the Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023

Yawn.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as an HR consultant, you need to understand those changes. You need to know that when someone applies for flexible working and the business says ‘nope, not happening’, that’s no longer an acceptable answer. (Not that it ever was, but now it’s legally unacceptable too).

My point is, just listing the facts isn’t likely to help business leaders understand why they should care about these changes. More importantly, it won’t help them see why they need someone like you to help them do anything about it.

So, let’s think about it a differently.

Understanding your story

To get business leaders to sit up and take notice, you need to get them to understand the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). This is where many HR consultants rely on the risk factors. How much will it cost the business? The risk of ignoring these changes leading to tribunal claims of unfairness and discrimination.

Now, that might work for some. After all, if they’ve been to an Employment Tribunal before, there’s a decent chance they won’t fancy doing it again. It takes time and costs money at the very least. And, in my limited experience, the coffee is pretty dire and the pastries non-existent, so it isn’t even a decent morning out.

Instead, you need to make a story out of it. Something that will capture the hearts and minds of your business leaders. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What does this mean for the managers who will deal with the applications?
  • What processes would help take the pain away if they suddenly get an influx of requests’?
  • How will they deal with multiple requests in the same department?
  • What are the impacts of someone working from home more regularly?

Writing a story isn’t just about turning something into a case study. It’s about engaging your reader (potential client) in it. So, think about what will be important to them, and how you might get them interested.

Crafting the story of legislative changes

For the purposes of this story, my client is a business owner of a small to medium sized business. They have around 30 employees and are growing. They’re a product-based company but they do value their team and sell themselves on the company culture.

The story you use for them might go a little like this:

Steve: “Hey Suzy. Can I put in for flexible working? I’d like to adjust my hours a bit so I can get to the gym a few mornings a week. I’ve got into this routine and it’s really helping my head, but Rachel’s going back to work in a few months, so I’ll need to help get everyone out of the house first thing”.

“We’ll need to have a meeting about it Steve, but put your request in a letter and let’s have a proper chat about it”.

Within two weeks, Suzy and Steve sit down, discuss the request and, after a little negotiation on days, agree the details and a start date.

Fast-forward three months:

“Hey Suzy, I just wanted to say thanks so much for letting me change my hours. I know it was just an hour twice a week, but it’s made a massive difference. I was telling the new guy, Chris, how great it is to be in such a supportive company.  

As you know, I was in a pretty rough place six months ago after dad passed away. Exercising seemed to be the only way I could clear my head. It just gave me my own space for a while.

When Rachel was on maternity leave, she managed the two kids first thing so I could get in the gym early. But now she’s back at work, school and nursery are in opposite directions. That extra hour means I can do drop off. get to the gym and still be in here ready to go. So, thanks”.

Help clients see why employment law changes matter to them

Once you’ve set out the story, you want to help your clients see why this was a great approach. You might include details like:

Lots of businesses might think asking for a few hours to go to the gym is a ridiculous reason to request for flexible working. And previously they’d have been able to say a flat no. Yet the changes to the law (from 6th April 2024) mean you need to consider your employee’s request, even if it’s their first day.

When you value your employees, you make sure you have great people processes in place, and you take time to look at the individual circumstances. You’re able to make decisions based on the details of that situation, and the impact it has on your culture is huge.

Refusing the request, might have led to managing a poor performer in a few months. Or having to make bigger (and more costly) adjustments to support this guy with mental health issues and appointments later. Worst case scenario, he might have explored his options for resigning and submitting an Employment Tribunal case.

Instead, by having an easy-to-follow process which the manager understood, Steve felt valued and supported. Suzy was able to make the decision quickly. And, Steve felt so happy about the change, he was excited to tell Chris just how great a place he’d joined.

Don’t forget your call to action

It can be easy to forget that the reason you started this whole thing was to encourage people to work with you. Don’t forget to tell them how you can help:

Want to get the same result for your employees? Book in a call and find out how to create great people processes in your business.

Getting help creating your stories

If you’ve only ever used the ‘put the fear of God into clients or bore them into submission’ approach, working out stories to use can be hard. Thankfully, you can get help.

Book a 1:1 Rephrase session where we’ll take what you have and adjust it into the story you need.