Business HR Under The Spotlight – Your 3-Minute November Roundup

“Welcome to Spotlight HR’s monthly ‘bite-size’ look at the latest HR news and important legal changes affecting small to medium-sized businesses across the UK today.”

November 2023. By Kimberly Bradshaw (CEO, Spotlight HR.)

Merry Christmas, everyone! While you munch that mince pie, let’s catch up on what’s hot and upcoming next year.

This time, we rub our HR crystal ball for SME business trends and predictions for 2024. We look at the post-pandemic Work From Anywhere, Anytime (WFAA), making sure you are 100% covered. Plus, a tribunal on how throw-away comments at work can cost a packet.

Enjoy the read! The Spotlight HR Team wish you a very jolly Christmas – with a safe, inclusive, and profitable New Year!

What trends will impact SME businesses in 2024? – And like it or loathe it, AI is major news

Navigating strategic trends on the horizon can protect your SME business’s relevance and resilience into the New Year and beyond. Adapting to market shifts, consumer behaviours, and innovating to compete, should begin with a well-researched plan.


With the rise of AI, the pace of technological change, and its impact, feels more rapid than ever before. In 2024, notable trends and predicted developments to plan for include:

Integration and Regulation of AI:

  • AI adoption set to rise in 2024.
  • Fast-moving regulations will be needed to keep up.

Positive approach: Upskill your people to use AI and reap the benefits.

Emergence of New Roles in Recruitment:

  • Shifts influenced by the pandemic and AI take shape.
  • People may be pursuing non-existent roles.

Positive impact: High demand for AI-related jobs is likely.

Tech Skills Gap:

  • Evolving technology will begin to outpace traditional workforce skills.
  • Inadequate training could cause problems along with demographic shifts.

Proposed solution: Consider focusing on apprenticeships.

HR as a Strategic Hub:

  • Strategic role change for HR, now future planning businesses.
  • Data-led approach for employee satisfaction and retention.

Positive effect: Technology enhancing HR’s evolving role.

As you can see, 2024 promises major shifts with HR’s strategic evolution at the forefront. If you want to know more, this article makes for great further reading. In summary, as ever, change can be opportunity-shaped for those who choose to embrace it. So why not get on board?

At Spotlight HR, we are strategic partners to many local businesses across East Sussex. We are also here if your in-house HR team need assistance or if you need to outsource your HR for a single discrepancy or on a more extended basis. We specialise in HR services for SME businesses – please get in touch.


Through the HR lens Working From Anywhere, Anytime: What’s the impact of WFAA on SME businesses?

This recent article on ‘total workplace flexibility’ really caught my attention. We have a few clients whose employees moved abroad during COVID and who now expect to still be able to work from there, especially as they can’t come into the office due to their location. Can they demand this? What exactly are the rules? Are there any benefits to offering this?

While some companies insist on a strict ‘return to the office’ approach post-pandemic, there is an argument for a more flexible and human-centric model. Statistics show that rigid work routines contribute to burnout and a mental health crisis. The concept of ‘human debt,’ highlights the emotional toll of prioritising short-term gains over human well-being.

Ideally, for roles that can be remotely delivered and with heightened global technology – there is a very strong argument for enabling people to choose when and where they work – but is this practical for you?

Embracing Work From Anywhere, Anytime (WFAA) will require a shift in organisational culture, with HR playing a crucial role. Success stories from tech companies underscore the positive impact of a flexible, human-centric approach to work. Overall, the argument highlights that organisations that reduce human debt and prioritise flexibility will redefine the boundaries of a thriving work environment. But what are the realities of implementing WFAA for SMEs today, and what are the laws?


Spotlight HR’s top tips – how can SME employers manage WFAA?

Navigating remote working abroad requires a certain amount of HR know-how. Establishing ground rules is crucial. A comprehensive policy on overseas remote work needs to be developed to avoid potential issues.

We recommend:

  • Reviewing your employment contracts to clarify and tighten clauses relating to work location. Perhaps limiting this to the UK only.
  • Define a clear process for handling new remote work requests, so everything is in black and white.
  • Address security risks (international cyber security concerns).
  • Health and safety liabilities and insurance cover will need reviewing.
  • Balancing operational impacts against the flexibility offered to employees.
  • Compliance issues such as GDPR when processing data outside the UK.
  • Longer-term remote work arrangements may have tax implications and impact the employee’s legal position.

As you can see, the potential pit-holes are varied and serious. With every SME business different, we would advise a thorough WFAA review now, to protect your boundaries and plan ahead. We provide straightforward HR advice on robust WFAA processes. Get in touch.


Employment Tribunal in focus – How an employer’s inaction and inappropriate comments can be costly.

With a shocking ‘don’t think you can come swanning in here when you fancy it’ response from a senior colleague to a phased return to work request from an employee who had undergone surgery, this week’s tribunal highlights just how costly inappropriate comments and inaction can be.

Last month, an Aberdeen Court ruled that a disabled care worker was constructively dismissed and discriminated against by her employer after seeking a phased return to work following carpal tunnel surgery.

The tribunal highlighted an aggressive response to her request, awarding compensation for financial loss injury to feelings and declaring a clear breach of duties by the employer – with a payout of £29,218.88 ordered.

The judge determined the employee’s disability, supporting claims of discrimination and failure to make adjustments led to this decision, as medical advice was presented at the time. You can read more about this case here.

What is the take-home from this? Make sure you understand employment law and what you can and cannot do as a business owner/people manager and train your people so they understand the importance of reasonable adjustment in the workplace. We are happy to advise you on the latest legalities and identify the best training for your needs – to protect both you and your people.


If you need HR advice or are affected by any of the issues discussed this month. We are here to help.