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The business gurus
RBS Group’s Mentor is made up of a specialist team of legal and health and safety experts, environmental consultants and tax wizards, dedicated to providing outsourced expertise and advice to SMEs.
When businesses hit a hurdle, it’s not always easy for them to find a way over it on their own. For SMEs, in particular, internal resources can fall short – particularly when attempting to negotiate an increasingly complex stream of employment law, HR issues, health & safety, environmental and taxation rules and regulations.
This is where Mentor comes in. A valuable service which has been offered by The Royal Bank of Scotland Group for 15 years, Mentor provides businesses with information, guidance, training and more – including, perhaps most crucially, peace of mind.
As John Muncey, Head of Mentor and Member of the Chartered Banker Institute community, explains: “Mentor started in 1996 and is now a core part of the Bank. We offer a service to business customers focused around four key areas – employment law and HR, health and safety, tax and the environment. Over time, the products we have made available have been enhanced and we now conduct stand-alone consultancy, as well as training.”
The customer is at the heart of everything Mentor does, helping to ensure that value is continually added to their overall relationship with the Bank. It offers an exceptionally in-depth and comprehensive advice service (available 24/7), with Mentor Consultants working with customers over long periods of time, being at the other end of the phone should advice or more hands-on input be required. This fits with the RBS Group’s view of being more to their customers than simply a supplier of finance.
“We offer business expertise, helping our clients to make informed decisions, and to deliver practical and relevant solutions,” Muncey explains. “There is a plethora of red tape that businesses have to deal with. We want to help simplify this, with consultancy that’s relevant and straightforward – allowing business owners to spend their time on what they do best, which is increasing the productivity and profitability of their business. We aim to understand our customers’ ambitions, the sectors in which they work, and work in partnership with them to take their business forward.”
Mentor achieves this via a network of professional consultants, solicitors, barristers, health and safety professionals, and more, all employed by RBS: “We have depth and breadth, with consultants based across the UK. Some of our services are delivered over the phone, but consultants also visit customers face-to-face in their workplaces,” Muncey says.
MentorLive is an important initiative, introduced two years ago to offer an online management system to clients. It includes information on employment law and HR, with health and safety features such as accident and incident reporting and online risk assessments. It allows the entering of employee details such as sickness absence, holidays and training completed, complementing the overall Mentor service.
“We’ve also introduced a range of free e-learning packages covering employment law and HR, health and safety and environmental issues, from free introductory courses to more in-depth,” Muncey explains. Clients are usually recommended to Mentor via their RBS or NatWest Relationship Managers, but can also find Mentor on Twitter and via its website.
“Depending on the level of service the client wants, we offer a monthly subscription, or can provide stand-alone consultancy for specific issues, such as grievance procedures and tribunals, or other one-off issues that businesses feel they could use extra support on, such as compromise agreements,” adds Muncey.
“We’re always looking at our offering to see how we can give even more value to customers. We are looking to develop complementary products sitting alongside what we currently provide. We recognise the current tough economic climate and would like to build our client base, helping them to manage the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.”
"Mentor? I’ve got them on speed-dial!”
In the past year, Kim Mclellan has been confronted with some particularly tough staff challenges – one involving a grievance and disciplinary process. Relatively new to her job in charge of HR at Middlesex-based LLynch Plant Hire and Haulage, Kim confesses: “I don’t think I’d have been able to deal with it all without Mentor. They’ve been an absolute godsend. I’ve got them on speed-dial!”
From the very start, Kim recalls, Mentor helped with an investigation procedure, including a formal grievance meeting, and then talked her through the disciplinary process. “They told me how to deal with it, sent me templates for the letters I needed to send with the wording I needed to use. They were always there to guide me through the next stage.
“And the Mentor Advice Service staff are excellent. They always know who I am and what stage everything is at. I don’t need to keep explaining. They make it all so easy.
“It can often take just hours for a staff complaint to turn into a full-blown grievance that’s beyond informal procedures. Even as I’m on the phone to Mentor, they’re sending me emails with templates I can adapt for my situation.
“It’s given us so much confidence,” says Kim. “Our staff know we’re doing everything by the book. It’s made us feel stronger as employers as we’re giving our staff up-to-date and relevant staff handbooks.”
“There’s more to Mentor than you might think.” Says Catherine Watmore, Mentor Employment Law Consultant: “As well as supporting Kim through some very difficult procedures and providing training in her HR role, I’ve worked with her on many day-to-day aspects of Employment Law. The company has been involved in contract work on the London 2012 Olympics site and we’ve helped them fulfil specific contractual requirements. We’ve put together a proper vehicle and driving policy and updated staff handbooks.
“Mentor gives employers peace of mind. We limit risk and ensure everyone keeps up-to-date with recent legislation, without spending hours trying to find out about it themselves. We now also offer a mediation service to try to resolve issues outside of, or in addition to, our formal service.”
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