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Should dogs be allowed in the office?

Are dogs in the office a good or bad idea?

The British public adores their dogs, so it’s no surprise that we are seeing more people bringing dogs in the office as the years go on. Taking your dog or dogs in the office seems like a no-brainer for dog lovers. They lower anxiety levels, boost morale and encourage you to take a walk outside.

Whilst bringing your dog or dogs in the office can bring benefits to some, there are also some downsides.

Blue Tree HR Solutions – who offer expert HR support for small businesses – is here to break down the pros and cons of a pet-friendly office and encourage you to ‘paws for thought’ before deciding to allow your dog or dogs in the office.

hr support for small businesses with Blue Tree HR Solutions

We’ll start with the bad news first –

Dogs aren’t for everybody

Whilst it hurts to highlight this, some people simply aren’t dog lovers. What is a gorgeous, fluffy baby with paws for some could be seen as a stinky, hairy, and slobbery mutt to others. Unfortunately, this could mean that a dog in the office could negatively impact the non-dog lovers’ day, ending in them being irritated and less productive.

Some individuals may also have a condition called cynophobia. This is a real and intense fear of dogs, commonly bought on by a bad experience with dogs in childhood. This could result in this individual becoming increasingly stressed out and afraid if in an enclosed space with a dog they do not know or trust. It is in your best interest to protect your staff and not create situations where they feel fear.

Others have allergies! Pet allergies affect 1 in 10 people in the UK. If you’re in a big office, the chances are, somebody is likely allergic. In this case, your worker’s health is at risk and pets should be kept at home.


Is it fair to everybody?

Dogs in the office can sometimes cause inequality and resentment between staff members.

Dogs are hard work and require attention when brought into the office. This means staff who opt to bring their pets into the office will ultimately spend time feeding, watering, walking, and giving attention to their fur babies. There is a very real possibility that these individuals end up doing less work than those without extra canine responsibility, creating inequality and jealousy in the workplace.


Does the dog want to be there?

Welcoming a dog into the office should only be done if it’s in the pet’s best interests.

If your dog is stressed, scared, or worried when in the office, they do not feel comfortable being there and most likely only feels relaxed in its own home. Bringing this dog into the office is not fair on the pooch. A constantly stressed dog can cause health issues to itself down the line, and negatively affect your worker’s day.


While it may seem that the cons of welcoming dogs into the office are very prominent, it’s important to assess or address all of these issues before even considering opening your doors to some four-legged friends. If the correct policies and procedures are addressed and put into place, it’s possible to create a working environment where dogs in the office bring more positives than negatives.

By addressing all of the above issues professionally and correctly, you can begin to create a pet-friendly office suitable for dogs.

There are various ways to begin identifying issues, assessing these, and overcoming them. Blue Tree HR Solutions – offering the best HR services Essex has seen – recommends starting by asking all workers their thoughts and concerns on allowing dogs into the office. This is the best way to present the idea to staff, and start addressing any problems should there be any.

Blue Tree HR Solutions offers quality expert HR solutions to help our clients overcome any problems they will be facing. One of the best approaches to workplace issues is to take a proactive approach to fix a problem before it develops. This is a great way to avoid the problem of staff resentment and inequality in the office due to pets.

Setting up policies from the start where dog owners agree to spend only their free time – breaks and lunches – attending to their dog’s needs will remove the feeling of these individuals doing less work. This makes sure these workers are still maintaining the same level of work as non-dog owners, avoiding the problem of resentment arising altogether. Setting these standards early is the best course of action when making sure your office is pet-friendly.

If you’re worried about setting up policies and procedures, you feel you don’t know enough about the matter or you simply don’t have the time, Blue Tree HR Solutions is here to help. We specialise in HR support for small businesses and believe we can provide some of the best HR services Essex offers.

hr support for small businesses with Blue Tree HR Solutions

Blue Tree HR Solutions is here with expert HR solutions and HR support for small businesses

Some policies to start considering to create a pet-friendly environment for all may look something like this –

  • All dogs should be well-trained.
  • They might need to be tested or trialled to see how they act in an office environment.
  • There should be some dog-free areas for workers.
  • Health and safety hazards should be considered before allowing pets into the workplace.

The health and well-being of your staff come before anything, especially dogs. When you choose Blue Tree HR Solutions for your HR needs, we can help create and implement these policies. This will give you peace of mind that you are covered and protected, giving you the tools to safely convert your office into a dog-friendly space with confidence and start reaping the rewards that office dogs bring!


Dogs are good for mental health

Studies have shown that dogs reduce stress, calm anxiety, and decrease depression.
Those whose mood is uplifted by dogs feel better at work and in everyday life, which is highly important. A better mental state and increased mood also increased work productivity and quality. The positive effect dogs have on low-mood employees also affects those surrounding them. A good atmosphere from everybody in the office has a ripple effect on other staff members, overall boosting productivity and quality of work from everybody!

Dogs build relationships

Dogs are experts at getting people to mingle and talk. If you’ve got an office where teamwork is not a strong element, dogs can fix this.
The perfect hound can help build relationships between staff members and increase social interaction in the office and a workplace that gets along is a more productive one! Teamwork is highly important in most professions, and there’s nothing like a dog to bring people together.

There’s a reason to stay

Unsurprisingly, dogs make going to work every day a little more bearable.

Studies have shown that pet-friendly workplaces have decreased absences and increased employee retention compared to those without an office dog. The Brits just can’t help but fall for those puppy eyes!

Get in touch for expert HR support for small businesses

Whether you need help with policies and procedures, need advice on the best course of action to take, or just want a friendly chat, Blue Tree HR Solutions is here to help with the best HR services Essex has to offer.

Give Blue Tree a call now to see how our expert HR Solutions and HR support for small businesses can help you.

Flexible Working and Managing Flexible Work Requests

Before the pandemic struck the world by a storm in 2020, flexible working arrangements were a nice-to-have perk. Remote employees were the minority, and most business leaders believed they could only nurture a productive workforce in the office. 

But everything changed overnight, and those working on-site were suddenly only essential workers. Even though the COVID-19 crisis is ending in most countries, including the United Kingdom, flexible work isn’t going anywhere. 

Employees Prioritize Flexibility

According to Statista, 4.27 million UK employees have employment contracts that allow flexible hours, making it the most common practice in 2022. Contrary to what employers thought, people like the post-pandemic workplace arrangements and wouldn’t return to strict schedules and solely office work. 

Another report found that the demand for flexible work is increasing, with 8.7 million full-time workers yearning for flexibility. Moreover, the younger generations would likely decline jobs with rigid working hours. 

For instance, 75 per cent of Gen-Z see flexible work as the number one employee benefit. Here’s why this arrangement is also beneficial for companies. 

Four-Day Working Week & Flexible Working

Top 3 Benefits of Flexible Work

1. Enhances Employee Retention

Today, flexible schedules are among the most sought-after employee perks and benefits. Many people would choose flexibility over a prestigious title or additional time off. 

Meeting employees’ needs and expectations is necessary for cultivating loyalty. Companies can retain workers and attract top talent by offering flexible schedules and remote work. 

2. Boosts Productivity

Employers often hold back from introducing flexible working because they fear it would affect productivity as they wouldn’t be able to monitor employees. But according to Gartner, 43% of workers are more productive if allowed flexibility.  Moreover, this work arrangement enables people to relax and focus on their assignments without office pressure. Many employees feel less productive on-site due to managerial micromanagement and team competition.

3. Improves Employee Engagement

Empowered employees are more engaged, and what’s a better way of empowering them than responding to their needs and ensuring they can choose a work arrangement that stimulates their creativity? Flexible working also shows companies respect and care about their workers.

People want to know their employers trust them to work outside the office and get the work done just as efficiently. That boosts their engagement and helps them enjoy their tasks.

How to Manage Flexible Work Requests

Acas 2021 survey found over 55 per cent of employers expect an increase in flexible work requests, as people wish to split their time between home and office. Even though companies have the right to decline, they should consider the benefits of flexibility and discuss it with their workers in more depth. 

They should be fair and objective, as most employees have reason to ask for flexible working, such as restoring work-life balance or preventing burnout. Employers can ask for a written flexible work request and discuss why the worker would prefer this arrangement. 

However, they should be clear about flexibility policies and what flexible work consists of in their companies. If employers have no relevant regulations, they should consider introducing them and providing all employees equal access to flexible working. 

Making flexibility a part of the company culture helps attract high-quality candidates and retain employees, especially working parents, students, minorities, and people from diverse groups. Whether you approve the flexible work request or not, it shouldn’t take a long time, and it might alter your employee’s contract. 

Flexible work has numerous advantages for companies and employees, but employers are often reluctant to introduce this work arrangement. Although business leaders often fear flexibility would impact productivity, loyalty, and commitment, people with access to this benefit are more engaged and motivated. 

Hence, before declining a flexible work request, consider the benefits. Besides improving employees’ work-life balance, it also helps instill trust and nurture lasting retention.  

How HR Consultants at Blue Tree HR Solutions can help with Flexible working

Flexible working requests and considering offering hybrid working and a more flexible working arrangement to staff and new recruits may seem like another headache for employers.  At Blue Tree HR Solutions we can help you implement a policy and support you during flexible work requests and help you find ways to make working hours convenient and beneficial for employers and employees.

If you require expert HR advice for small businesses then take a look at our ad hoc HR and retained HR packages. Feel free to contact our friendly team for more information. 

Managing Naughty Employees.

All employers will experience some kind of unwanted behaviour from their staff. People are people and there will always be the occasional ‘bad apple’ who flouts the rules and causes problems that needs to be addressed by management. Following your disciplinary procedure is key.

Whether you have an employee who is caught stealing, watching porn on the company computer or taking extended lunch breaks, all employee issues should be dealt with in the same way.

Disciplinary Procedure

  • Always follow your disciplinary procedure and if you don’t have one then follow the statutory procedures stated by ACAS.
  • Act promptly – you need to take action as soon as possible.
  • Collect as much evidence as you can, things are not always as cut and dried as they seem. There may be an explanation.
  • Never just dismiss someone – make sure you give them the opportunity to give their side of the story – even if you think they have been caught red-handed. They still have the right to a fair dismissal.

In my experience staff who are questioned about wrong-doings, will lie. They will make up the most bizarre stories to trying to avoid disciplinary action. This is why it is really important to collect as much evidence as possible.

“Your car broke down and you had to walk here? So, why is your car across the road?”

I was once in a situation where a member of staff was over one hour late returning from her lunch break – she insisted her car had broken down ( one mile away). Obviously I asked her where was her car now? And why didn’t she call work, we could probably have helped?

She said, her car was still a mile away and her Dad was going to look at it.

I had seen her park her car across the road when she returned, so I knew she was lying. I said, “So, why is your car across the road?” she answered – “Oh, my Dad must have fixed it and brought it here.”!

My point is, even in a situation that really was a minor misdemeanor, she still squirmed and desperately tried to appear innocent. Whereas, in fact, the lying just made the situation worse.

Managing staff can be stressful.

Control your own emotions

It can be infuriating when staff misbehave and cause you issues and you have the mess to deal with. Remaining calm throughout the process will help you make rational and fair decisions. If you come to expect lies and surprises it helps deal with the stress that comes from managing staff.

Situations are likely to be complicated and require lots of investigating and interviewing numerous witnesses, but it pays off to do it properly. Other employees will appreciate it if they see management taking misconduct seriously, and shows that such wrongdoings are not tolerated.


If you do need to give someone a warning, make sure you:

  • Put it in writing
  • give the employee an opportunity to appeal
  • stick to your procedure with regard to how long the warning remains on their file.
  • Keep all notes from the investigation

Carrying out disciplinaries is a necessary part of managing staff and is never fun. If you need support with carrying out a disciplinary investigation or hearing – Blue Tree HR Solutions offer ad-hoc or ongoing retained support – these kinds of problems are passed to an outsourced HR manager, giving you peace of mind, knowing the issue will be dealt with effectively.

Call 07516335419 if you have any questions.


Do you have a Bully in your work place?

Bullying… It’s talked about a lot, but generally it is regarding school and school children.
However, bullying is a big issue in the workplace, it can cause a lot of stress for all involved and a real headache for the manager or employer trying to deal with the problem.
There is evidence that the incidence of workplace bullying is rising, mainly due to changes in working practices and increased economic pressures.
Bullying can have a significant impact on the victim’s mental and physical health, leading to increased sickness absence and lower productivity. It can also have a negative effect on morale and may cause the employee to resign.
Everyone is encouraged to speak up about bullying and policies generally say that bullying will not be tolerated.

BUT…In reality, what can be done about bullying in the work place – two adults, one feeling harassed by the other?
Most of the bullying is happening behind closed doors or covertly in some way.
It is difficult to discipline somebody where there is little or no evidence, and you need to be treating both of your employees fairly.

What you need to know:
1. Be aware that there are several legal and practical reasons why you should take proactive steps to deal with bullying and harassment in the workplace.
o Employers are liable for acts of harassment carried out by their employees ‘in the course of employment’, regardless of whether the employer knew or approved of an employee’s actions.
o Where the act of harassment is closely connected with the employment relationship, there may also be a civil claim for damages against the harasser and the employer.
2. Familiarise yourself with the definitions of harassment.
o ACAS defines workplace bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the person being bullied”.
o The Health and Safety Executive stresses that bullying is a pattern of behaviour rather than isolated instances, and states that it “involves negative behaviour being targeted at an individual, or individuals, repeatedly and persistently over time”.
3. Ensure you have a Bullying and Harassment policy and that the policy is well-communicated throughout the workplace.
o An anti-bullying policy is of little value unless the organisation communicates its existence and contents effectively to employees at all levels.
4. Follow the company disciplinary procedure if it appears that bullying or harassment may have taken place.
5. Be consistent in the way that you handle complaints of bullying or harassment.

Preventative measures
Anti-bullying measures should focus on prevention, which requires everyone in the organisation to be committed to creating a culture of dignity and respect.
There is evidence that bullying is less likely to occur in an environment where employees feel that the organisation listens to and values their views. Employers could create this culture by: conducting regular employee engagement surveys on various aspects of the workplace culture and environment.
Employers should involve all stakeholders in creating a positive organisational culture and devising and agreeing an anti-bullying policy, including senior managers, line managers, trade unions and other staff representatives, HR, health and safety and occupational health professionals.
The organisation should ensure that the principle of dignity at work and a zero-tolerance culture towards bullying are built into other systems, for example performance management and grievance and disciplinary policies.

Advice to anyone being bullied.
People who feel that they are being bullied should try the formula “confront, record, inform”, before using a more formal procedure:
• Confront: The employee should tell the person who is bullying him or her how he or she feels. The employee should put it in writing if necessary so that he or she can say what he or she wants to say without getting emotional, and so that the bully cannot later say that he or she did not know how the victim felt.
• Record: The employee should keep a diary of the bullying behaviour, including details of incidents, names (including witnesses’ names), dates and how it made the employee feel.
• Inform: If the bullying continues, the employee should speak to someone he or she trusts about it. This will most likely be the line manager, unless, of course, it is the line manager who is the bully, in which case employees should know that they can talk to someone else, for example a designated person in HR, a trade union official or an occupational health professional.

Advice to Employers
Firstly, follow your policy.
The employer should ask:
Is the behaviour excessive, for example in tone or frequency?
Are certain individuals singled out?
Is it broadly fair or without justification or a sense of proportion?
Does the behaviour seem motivated by passion, or by a desire to demonstrate superiority and power?
The manager should advise the complainant to keep evidence of any further incidents that occur, and not to be afraid to make further complaints if necessary.
Following resolution, the manager should meet with the parties from time to time, to minimise the risk of further and long-term damage to individual and team relationships, avoiding the need for management time to be spent on more formal procedures further down the line.
Where the manager cannot resolve the conflict, the organisation may be able to ensure that the parties have less contact in a way that is acceptable to both and does not blame or punish either.
It is vital for the organisation not to “sweep it under the carpet” and allow problems to escalate or fester. Bullying is a serious accusation and as outlined above can have serious consequences if not managed correctly.

If you need help and advice on this or any other HR query – please get in touch on 01787 695084 or email

Being the Boss at the Party

You’ve had a busy year at your workplace and it is nearly Christmas – you have laid on a Christmas party for your employees, one of those ones where you attend a dinner and dance, there are other businesses there too. You are feeling pretty pleased with yourself, treating your staff and their partners to a 3-course meal and a tab at the bar.
You’ve been having a stressful time lately, with so many problems in production, some staff issues and constant cashflow worries, tonight you really want to chill out and relax, and you deserve it, well done you.

But Oh No…

It looks like Mike has already drunk too much and you just heard him order another triple brandy at the bar. Susan and Anna have just had a blazing argument, and Susan has walked out.
You decide to turn a blind eye, let’s face it they need to let their hair down too, and it’s they are not at work now.
You decide to go to the dance floor and have a boogie with some of the team, it’s always fun seeing people outside of work, the ladies all dressed up, hair and makeup different to usual, the men who after a few beers are using their new found drunken confidence, taking the opportunity to have a little flirt and a dance with the ladies, whilst wearing their best Christmas socks and a party hat.
It seems they are making the most of the party atmosphere. You let your hair down and start to do some of your ‘special’ dance moves and then realise you are being filmed on somebody’s phone, apparently it’s hilarious to see the boss dance. No doubt this will be on social media before the night is over, you feel self-conscious, so you go back to your seat.
You sit, and people watch for a while, your staff are doing the conga and YMCA, they are having fun, and it seems like it is a great success.
But now what?
Karen was dancing on the table and has fallen over and hurt herself – is there anyone sober to take her to A&E? You take the initiative to call her a taxi, luckily Jo, has volunteered to go with her, although part of you wished you could leave too.

And then…

The bar staff come and tell you that the tab at the bar has been used, do you want to add more money, and, extra payment is needed for a cleaner as apparently Jason has been sick and made a mess in the lobby.
This isn’t fun, why bother?
It seems that the Christmas party is an event inviting inappropriate behaviour, unwanted advances, discrimination and misconduct. Maybe it is better not to go to the effort?
The truth is there are benefits: Firstly, it’s an opportunity to show employees your appreciation for their hard work throughout the year, and it’s the chance for your team to let their hair down and celebrate their achievements.
It can also be a place where new friends are made as people get the chance to mix socially with others outside their usual departments.
And with careful planning and consideration – the problems listed above can be avoided and the bosses can enjoy themselves at parties too!

How to prepare.

To start with, make sure everyone is invited, this includes staff on holiday, long-term sick or maternity. It’s so important to make sure everyone feels included in the celebrations, so they feel appreciated.
Before the Xmas party, make sure you’ve considered all of your staff. What about those who don’t celebrate Christmas, some religions and faiths do not allow the consumption of alcohol or certain foods, so make sure alternatives are made available.
Let the staff know that the party will be an extension of the workplace. Something as simple as this may help some to differentiate between the office party and their usual Saturday night out! Establish the ground rules with a policy for work social events, you want everyone to have fun but not to cause a pile of problems for the following work days.
It’s at the party, when the drinks are flowing, where issues are most likely to occur. Inappropriate behaviour, banter that’s taken too far and even gross misconduct and sexual harassment cases can give you a real headache the next working day. If any situations arise, remember that the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace, so you have every right to investigate and take action.
Social media can be an excellent way of demonstrating your company’s amazing culture by sharing photos and updates from your party. On the flip side, it’s important to have control over what is shared. Inappropriate photos can damage your reputation. Also, some employees may have grievances with their embarrassing photos being shared online. Ensuring you have a carefully considered social media policy in your business will protect yourself and your staff.
It’s not too late to prepare if you have Christmas parties coming up. If you need help and advice on this or any other HR query, including expert HR advice for small businesses – please get in touch on 01787 695084 or email
We’ve all heard stories of things that ‘go on’ at the office party, we hope you have a fun staff party without the stress and wish you a Merry Christmas from Blue tree HR Solutions.