It’s all about me this week! 


I’ve said before that writing my blog is at times as much about therapy for myself as it is anything else. The core purpose of my blog is to engage and connect with others on a personal and professional level. How I do that I’m not too fussy about, sometimes I write about business topics other times I write about my own experiences and sometimes I just wang on about how I’m feeling.  Today’s blog is one of those just how I’m feeling right now blogs. I have been writing it all week as a way to get my feelings down. On Wednesday I wrote this…
I’ve just cried. Had a melt down and now I’m back in the positivity zone after taking an hour to read the book I’m currently loving.  The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is so motivating.  I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to be productive, motivated and fired up. In the book there is a 30 day challenge. I’m about to try that soon with a couple of friends. I will let you know how I get on. I will save that for another blog. 

So why did I cry, well, I finally had it confirmed that I leave my employer of 17 years on the 4 November. I asked to leave earlier than the original planned date of 31 January and it’s been agreed so this is great news. It did however hurt. The thing that’s been coming all year is finally here.  It feels like the most bizarre thing ever.  This absolutely is going to be a pivotal moment in my career that’s for sure, Oh hey, hi new beginnings and all things Sparkle!  If there is one thing I’m proud of (now bear with me because speaking positively about myself is not easy, but I’m getting better…..seriously, I’ve said this before, get a coach!) anyway, one thing I’m proud of is how I’ve kept going this year through a really tough time. Getting up, doing the day job and showing up for my dreams. If I want to continue to be successful it’s only going to happen with determination, resilience and bloody hard work.  If I hadn’t done that I would be utterly petrified right now about the future but as it stands I’m not. I’m sad to leave a job I love but so excited to head in to my new chapter. I’m ready. 

This week alone I’ve been told by 5 different people that my blog is inspirational to them or that it helps with their own challenges and I’m pleased it serves in that way. It is good to know that I am connecting with others as I had hoped. Like anything, my blog is progressing and I’m enjoying that.  

A few positives to end on, my website will be live from the end of November, I’ve now become a member of the Women in Business network and have taken the HR spot at Chesterfield, I’m cracking on with my coaching diploma and all in all I’m excited about being able to focus on one thing from the 5 November and that is Sparkle HR. People keep asking how I’m finding clients, the best way is through recommendations or connections so please do keep me at the front of your mind if you or anyone you know needs HR support. 

I have some exciting potential clients in the pipeline and some brilliant work lined up already. Hold on, here we go! 

Thanks for listening, I feel better already. 

Cheers to Friday! 

Whatever it is that you write, putting words on the page is a form of therapy that doesn’t cost a dime – Diana Raab

Love Laura x

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Life is busy at Sparkle HQ


What’s been going on guys?! I feel like the days are rolling in to one and the weeks are just whizzing by. 
The world of Sparkle HR is super exciting right now.  We have some potentially new and exciting clients to work with in the coming months and that means long days making sure things are right. 

I’m a planner, a structured worker. There’s nothing wrong with that in fact there is lots that is positive about that. However, at times that can feel like a lot of pressure. This last 2 weeks I’ve learnt that having to turn something around super quick and it being off the work plan can produce equally as great results. 

My leaflet has generated lots of Interest, especially with the 2 offers available right now.  Lots of you have been asking what it is I do exactly. Well, now you know. Feel free to make any recommendations should you wish 😉. I’m also in the process of mailing the PDF version of this out to some of you. If you would like one to share with your contacts please let me know. 


Along with the business planning I have also been focussing on the personal development stuff. I went to a GDPR update, important for my business but also for my clients.  It may seem like a dull subject to many and to be fair, it is. But, it’s coming and all businesses need to know about it and be ready.  So I figured I should be too!   I’m also reading a book right now called the miracle morning by Hal Elrod, it focuses on supporting you to transform your life. I find a positive mindset has been key this year. Without it I wouldn’t have achieved what I have so far. Loving this book I have to say.    It’s motivating me no end. I’ve also been to a new WIBN networking group in Chesterfield. Again, a hugely positive couple of hours and I’m signed up now for the year. There are some truly amazing people out there achieving amazing things. It’s great to connect with some of them. 

Oooo also exciting news, my website is now in the stages of being built. I can not wait for this to go live. I will let you know when it is, of course! 

My to do list is now longer than I care to think about, I have so much to do. You know what, I am loving that. I am learning so much each day, I feel fulfilled and energised. 

Right now, this rollercoaster I speak about so often is constantly doing loop the loop, a mix of utter excitement and deep anxiety! It’s a good thing, I’m enjoying that feeling. I also happen to love a good rollercoaster! 

I get to choose the woman I want to be today – Cara Alwill Leyba

Love Laura x

8 Tips for a successful seasonal recruitment campaign

How exciting, this week I was asked by my friends over at Smart Resourcing Solutions to write a guest blog for their clients.  So here is what I said….

Well, can you believe that it is the time of year again when lots of businesses are recruiting for Christmas seasonal staff?  I know I can’t!   Speaking from my own experience I can say that recruiting in the retail industry at this time of year is becoming more and more challenging.  Christmas is coming later, and by that I mean that shoppers are not starting to spend in stores as early as they once did.  The impact for recruitment means that contracts required are typically shorter than they used to be and that can be a huge factor to an applicant accepting an offer or not.  Competition for the best candidates is tough.  Of course this is not just applicable in the retail industry.  Candidates are making decisions based on practical things such as the pay, length of contract, the number of hours available, the flexibility provided and the chance of securing something more permanently after.  However, they also will make decisions based on the candidate experience, the application process, the assessment/interview process and the reputation of the business.  In reality, if you fall down on any of these things you will most likely miss that fabulous applicant to another business that did better than you!  So presuming you get all of that right here are my top tips for you as an employer to ensure you are compliant in your processes.

  1. My first top tip for recruiting any role is to think about the wording in your advert.  You should advertise without discriminating in any way.  The same goes for selecting who you offer to of course.  Both of these things should be done without discrimination.  It is always sensible (and best practice) to ensure the line managers completing recruitment are aware of unconscious bias and how to ensure this does not influence decisions being made.
  2. A fixed term contract is one that will terminate on a specified date or on the completion of a particular task.  When recruiting someone on a fixed term contract you have the responsibility for ensuring they are not treated less favourably than a permanent employee, unless you can show there is good business reason to do so.
  3. This includes offering the same pay and conditions, the same or equivalent benefits package, information about permanent vacancies in the organisiation and protection against redundancy or dismissal.
  4. If you have people in your organisation on fixed term contracts that last over a year they have added rights and it is important that you aware of these in advance.
  5. If you have any permanent positions in the organisation all employees both fixed term and permanent should have the ability to know about these, apply should they wish and be considered for the role without discrimination.
  6. Fixed term contracts will usually end automatically on the the agreed end date, the employer does not have to give any notice.
  7. If you would like to end a fixed term contract early you should check if anything is mentioned in the terms of the contract offered, if not you could be in breach of your contract.  It can be ended early if you have given proper notice and there is reference to this in the terms of offer.  If a fixed term employee has worked for you continuously for 1 month or more they have the right to a minimum of 1 weeks notice period.
  8. If an employee works longer than the contract end date without this being formally reviewed there is an implied agreement by the employer that the end date has changed and the employer still needs to give proper notice to close the contract.

It can all seem daunting and process heavy but if you follow these guidelines you will not go wrong.  As a credible employer you will want to treat people fairly and that is all an employee is looking for too.  If you are unsure of anything you can get advice from GOV.UK or ACAS.  Both of which are useful resources for employers and employees alike.

Have a great Christmas when you get there, I hope you find the best employees to suit your needs and they contribute to delivering success for you at a critical time.

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers – Stephen R Covey

Laura x

Coaching


Last week’s blog is somewhat late but in my defence, it was a crazy week.

 As part of my continued professional development I started my journey to completing my ILM L7 executive coaching and mentoring qualification. That’s a mouth full huh!  Last week was the intensive coaching skills part which has to be completed before you embark on the diploma.  When I was looking for the training provider to do this with I found it a hard decision. I wanted the learning to be practical and theory based but fun and interactive. In the end I chose Management Futures as a friend recommended them to me. I am so glad I did. 

The week was exactly what it says it is. Intensive. It is 5 days of learning theory and models whilst continually practicing these skills with each other. It’s not role play based, thank god! I hate role play. The practical element is you as the delegates providing each other with real life scenarios you are facing and using these to put your learning in to practice. What an awesome way to learn. I had 5 days of being coached and being the coach.  

It is something I would highly recommend if you are considering brushing up on your skills, developing them at a deeper level (as I am)!or even if you are just discovering coaching. 

The next steps for me are to move on to the Diploma which could take up to 2 years to fully complete. Part of this is building up my coaching hours and I am now really looking forward to adding all of my new skills and techniques to my existing skills and knowledge to become the best coach I can. One thing I know for sure, I’ve always believed in coaching as a fab tool for improving performance and I’m even more inspired now I have a much deeper knowledge. 

As you know, I have a coach myself and I swear by it. I also have some clients of my own ready to go and I am looking forward to working with them. I will also be looking for new clients in the coming weeks. More about this in a future blog. In the meantime, if you are interested please do get in touch. 

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. 

Love Laura x

A lesson in resilience 

My reason for writing this weeks short but to the point blog is simple. I’m open, I’m honest, I’m supportive of others  and above all else I am committed. I have however this week learnt that not all people have positive supportive intentions. That has been a good lesson in being resilient. (I attended a webinar this week on that topic funnily enough and it was fantastic). 

I’ve been feeling really positive recently. I’ve worked hard to get myself mentally prepared for the next step in my career.  I’m the first to say and have said often over the last few months, it’s not been easy. At last, as I said a couple of weeks ago, I’m there. I’m ready. 

I am continuing to do the day job requirements, albeit the work is changing and the amount is reducing and as hard as that is to accept it is the case but despite that it is still my absolute priority. After that I focus on my future. The one I am building for a successful life after redundancy. What most people don’t see are the hours I have ploughed in to this since January. Every spare second of my evenings and weekends are full to the brim of learning, networking, reading, meetings, workshops, blogging, coaching, mentoring and studying.  I support others in their plans and make time to share what I’ve learnt with people who want it. All of this alongside a deep sadness of leaving a job and business I love, my friends and colleagues of 17 years, my absolute life. I worry about paying the bills, continuing to be successful and being happy in my chosen future. I also worry about the uncertainty of being a business owner but the excitement now soon takes over! 

So what’s been going on this week?  This week I have achieved everything in the day job, attended 3 webinars, read 4 chapters in my book, attended a half day workshop in Manchester, arranged a meeting with an accountant, updated my LinkedIn profile, written my blog and today I have a video call with my coach and a meeting with a company about my website all before I even get to the to do list!   I’ve been actively tweeting and interacting with HR related threads and I’ve had a call with my mentee. I also had a day of feeling super low, a horrific stress headache and a lack of self belief. But you don’t usually share that kind of stuff huh. 

I write my blog for 3 main reasons

  1. To support others going through a similar transition 
  2. To keep myself on track, hold myself accountable and a kind of therapy! 
  3. To connect with potential clients and other HR specialists. My content will gradually become more HR specific but I wanted to bring people on my journey from the beginning. 

To be successful you need to be positive. You have to believe in yourself and you have to start prioritising you a little more. You also need to not feel guilty for any of that. When you have given more than you have taken all of your career you can hold your head up high and know you are making the right decisions every time. 

Kindness is king people, never forget that. Thanks as ever for the ongoing support. 

Whatever you do don’t get stuck on the one thing that ruins your day, smile and be grateful. Life is too short for negativity. 

Love Laura x

What makes a great Employee experience?

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Good morning everyone, it is Friday again….how do the weeks fly by so quickly?!  I watched something yesterday that says you should not spend each week waiting for Friday to come, and that you should focus on finding employment that makes you truly happy and fulfilled.  I spend my weeks wondering how on earth it is Friday already so I know I currently have this bit right!

Over the last week I have been giving consideration to why I have stayed with the same employer for 17 years, why didn’t I move on sooner, what was it that kept me there and why was I so happy.  In essence, why was my employee experience so positive?  Employee engagement and culture is also something from a work perspective I am naturally very interested in and a huge part of what I do but thinking about these things from my own perspective has actually made reflect back much further.

From the age of 15 I worked for a food retailer as many do, a part time job to see you through your education.  I then went on to work full time for that employer and it was then that I began by HR journey.  Being entirely honest there wasn’t many positives of my 6 years there but it did show me the career path I was passionate about and demonstrated to me from an early age what best practice did not look like!  Now, in the interest of being balanced, the company itself on paper is a good one, the employee package was competitive and the intent to be a great “family run” business was there.  The culture however in my store was terrible and the employee engagement was poor.  Why?  Simple, the store I worked in was ruled by fear, the senior management team  were bullies and therefore the middle and junior managers were yes men.  You feared to speak out and your opinions and ideas were not welcome.  Your commitment was measured on the hours you were in store and not on your productivity.  Critiscism was often and praise was rare.    You were treated as a number, a body, nothing more.  By the time I left this company my self belief was at rock bottom.  Yes I was young, I had a lot to learn and I am sure there were things I would do differently now but I was always eager to learn, keen to deliver and passionate about getting things right.  I cared about others and had the desire to make the place I worked a good one.  That wasn’t recognised and so eventually I found the courage to move on!  That was the best decision I ever made, well done 21 year old me!

I went from an employer that demonstrated how to do it wrong to one that was the complete opposite over night.  Don’t get me wrong, I found the transition an odd one, I didn’t believe a business could be run in this way and spent the first year waiting for someone to yell at me or tell me I couldn’t go home.  I was sceptical when I was asked for my ideas and even more baffled if people listened to them. I was in awe at this place, I felt like I belonged but in the early years didn’t feel I was worthy!

So what am I trying to say….employee experience really does matter, it counts.  Your people are your strongest asset and they deliver you the success you desire.  We know that it is less common now for people to stay with an employer for life or to build significant lengths of service.  There are pros and cons to this of course but here are what I consider to be the top 9 points to delivering an outstanding employee experience from day one for however long that employee may be with you.  When that person leaves you they can be brand ambassadors for life or not…..your choice!

  1. Recruitment process – from the day a potential employee applies for your organisation, give them a good impression, keep communication strong and the experience a positive one.  You are selling yourself as much as they are, this is as much about the candidate wanting to work for you as it is you deciding if they are the right fit.
  2. Induction – don’t fall down at this hurdle, make them feel special, wanted and welcome.  Have all necessary paperwork, passes and equipment ready but also arrange a buddy, maybe a welcome pack, take them for coffee.  Don’t get lost in the process,  do something to make them want to return the next day!
  3. Walking the walk daily – So you sold your organisation and the applicant is now an employee….don’t let them down.  Ensure you deliver whatever it is you said you would.
  4. Line manager experience – I would argue this is the crucial part to any employee experience, weather you are the line manager or weather you are the CEO, do what you need to do to ensure you or your leadership team deliver an outstanding experience for their team.  Invest in this population and check the vision is being executed well.
  5. Learning and Development – It is important to ensure people in your organisation have the room to stretch and grow, experience new opportunities and develop skills they never knew they had.
  6. Reward and recognition – Be fair, recognise a job well done, have a clear pay policy in place and make your employees feel valued.  It isn’t always the grand gestures or the annual pay review either, a small thank you, praise when appropriate and a thoughtful token can be equally impactful.
  7. Meaningful work – We all want meaningful employment, make sure your employees are clear about the role they play in your organisations, where they add value and how they can develop.  Listen to their ideas and implement them if appropriate.  Empower people to deliver results and take ownership where they can.
  8. People are not a number – Listen to your team, learn from them, embrace the diverse opinions and experiences they bring, treat them as an individual not a number.  Don’t get wrapped up in policies and procedures, make a pragmatic decision based on them as a person.
  9. Exit – When your employee does finally decide to move on, make the exit process as positive as the on boarding one.  Complete an exit interview to gain insight to shape your business further.  Of course, you would hope if you get all of the above right the exit interview will not bring any skeletons out of the closet but you never know.

Thank you to my first employer for teaching me how to not treat people and thank you to my current employer for showing me how fabulously it can be done.  Sparkle HR is taking all of this experience and insight to work with other organisations to create a great experience that delivers results.  Bring it on!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is to not stop questioning – Albert Einstein

Love Laura x

An open mind and positive outlook really does make all the difference 

I haven’t written a blog for 2 weeks. Simply because my beautiful friends got married, I was a bridesmaid and I had my friends staying over from Florida. So it’s safe to say it’s been busy and I simply haven’t had time. I have had a wicked few weeks though! 

I mentioned in my very first blog that way back in January I read Carrie Greens book, She means business. Carrie talks about opening your mind to possibilities and subsequently things will happen, she actually refers to it as asking the Universe. I appreciate this kind of mind set isn’t for everyone but it works for me.  I’ve learnt this year to find things that work and run with it. I used to hate a motivational quote but these days I live by them. They remind me to stay focussed, be positive and appreciate the good stuff. 

Anyway, since reading what Carrie had to say I’ve tried to approach life in this way and I have been truly amazed at what has happened since then. Things I could not have imagined only 8 months ago have actually become a reality. Some small things some more significant.  In essence I’m acutely aware of what I would like and need to happen. I believe that because of this I am consciously and sub consciously taking action to make them a reality. I’m asking the Universe and so far it is delivering! 

So anyway where I am up to this week. After having 2 weeks off and not driving my plans forward I have been full of guilt. I have no idea why, my work plan factored in a 2 week break so I’m not behind but I suppose it just felt alien. My head is full of work all the time at the moment so to try and put it to one side was hard.  That aside though I’m back in the zone this week and making stuff happen. I’m feeling good. Really good. 

5 notable points over the last few weeks. 

  1. I have started my outplacement support that my current employer is providing for me. It’s a massively useful support in helping me in the transition to this new part of my life. 
  2. I have been to London whilst on holiday as I am doing some work with smart resourcing solutions and one of their clients. This is really exciting and a very interesting topic so looking forward to getting stuck in. 
  3. One of my mentees has just secured a job. I’m thrilled for him and pleased to have been able to support him on his way. 
  4. I have written a proposal for a potential future client which is the kind of job I am made for. It excites me and I know Sparkle HR can add loads of value to their business. It’s good to feel that kind of energy. 
  5. I have finally accepted that my John Lewis days are coming to an end and am 100% excited for the next chapter. I feel like my heart has finally made the decision and caught up with my head. I have said it before and will again, it’s been a blast of a 17 years and I’m going on a high. Bring it on!

The next few weeks are going to be crazy busy, I will keep you updated. This months reading is this and I’m looking forward to seeing what I learn. 


I’ve had some really uplifting conversations with people the last few months. Sharing experience and making time for others is important. Keep doing it…..

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody 

Love Laura x