The role of proactive HR in your growing business

Emily Fuller (pictured above) is our Passionate PA based in Weymouth and West Dorset. She is exceptionally qualified in HR with a decade of experience working in successful large businesses. She is now using her skills and knowledge to help her clients revolutionise their businesses by providing the perfect mix of bespoke business support services and HR guidance. 

In today’s world, there has never been a better time for growing entrepreneurial businesses to move from reactive to proactive HR approaches.  You may well be thinking that with only a small number of employees, proactive HR (or indeed any professional HR consultancy) is just for the ‘big boys’ – but you’d be wrong. This is exactly the reason why Emily is passionate about helping local entrepreneurs get the right support, at the right time.

Here’s why Emily thinks it should matter to you.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, accounting for 99.9% of the business population. But, I truly believe they are missing out on some huge potential gains by not placing the focus on their people as their biggest asset, and proactively managing it. It is SMEs that will pull the economy back to its feet in the aftermath of the pandemic, but in order to do this there really needs to be a step change in how they utilise HR practices and procedures in order to keep their people engaged, thriving and committed to following the journey of the business all the way through the turbulent times ahead.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs make up around 60% of employment within the UK. All too often though, small and medium sized businesses tend to only see a need for professional HR support when things have gone wrong and issues arise such as the need for a disciplinary or redundancy programme.

With SMEs employing more than half of the workforce, why is it generally regarded that it is only the ‘big employers’ that can use proactive HR for their own advantage? Time and time again, SMEs allow themselves to fall into the endless issues associated with reactive HR such as poor hiring choices, disengaged employees and reduced employee productivity; all of which are often not dealt with for months, or even years, and as a result have a massive negative impact on the bottom line, efficiency and overall productivity of the company.

My clients don’t fall into this trap.

Why be Proactive?

Proactive HR has been proven to add value through improving the bottom line as it strategically aligns the objectives and vision of the business with that of its employees. Proactive HR involves:

  • Employee engagement
  • Employee wellbeing
  • Talent pool development
  • Succession planning
  • Personnel management
  • And much more

For example, mental health issues cost businesses on average £1,300 per employee, per year, in the UK. In reality, in small teams of fast growing businesses, this cost is much greater when it is one of your employees that is suffering with mental health issues. Investing in yourself (or your managers) so you can identify and support mental health issues and put in place flexibility and support mechanisms for your employees can help you to significantly reduce the impact. Solutions and approaches to mental health are equally as applicable and effective for SMEs as they are for large employers, and the costs don’t have to be a barrier. This sort of support can be provided by me for significantly less than £1,300 per employee per year!

SMEs that invest in proactive HR stand to gain in a multitude of areas…

Employee Engagement & Wellbeing:

  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Reduced recruitment and onboarding costs (on average, it costs six – nine months of an employee’s salary to find their replacement)
  • Reduced stress on other employees ‘filling the gap’
  • Engaged employees
  • Increased productivity and morale
  • Improved employee satisfaction with bigger commitment and loyalty to the business
  • Becoming an employer of choice and building a strong recruitment brand
  • Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Reduced costs and time spent on firefighting or reactive HR

Talent Planning and Personnel Management:

  • Reduced cost and time to hire new employees
  • Proactive use of government initiatives such as the apprenticeship levy
  • Hiring the right people first time though a structured process that suits your business
  • Reduced indirect costs of the wrong hire (absence and performance issues)
  • Reduced opportunities for grievances; in my experience, 9 out of 10 disciplinaries and grievances could be resolved and avoided if dealt with proactively at the outset thus saving time, costs, staff morale and productivity

Succession Planning:

  • Planning for the future workforce, not only replacing those that leave but also planning for the skills that are going to be needed in the medium to long-term; this could be the difference between the business being a market leader or failing in the future
  • Creating and nurturing the next generation of management!

How do you put this into practice? 

I understand this can feel overwhelming but, the fact you are reading this says you care deeply about your people – and that’s a superb place to start.

Working towards making proactive HR a key element of your business will naturally create a culture synonymous with best practice. In turn, this will realise the benefits listed above, and more! Growing entrepreneurial businesses often do not have the capacity to employ internal HR support but that’s where outsourced specialists like myself add most value. Plus, the additional positive of engaging me as a Passionate PA is that I offer a truly unique package of services, not just focused on HR but also offering more general Business Support to help you grow at pace. I simply love rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in! 

I have created a flexible set of Business Support and HR packages to suit entrepreneurial businesses at each stage of growth. If you would like a free 1 hour discovery call to discuss how a partnership with me could transform your business, please email me. I’d love to talk.

Emily Fuller MCIPD
T: 07387 989 692
Let’s connect on LinkedIn

Sources – Government Website and Centre For Mental Health.

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Freelancers can help you weather this storm!

As the reality of coronavirus continues to imprint itself into our lives and into our businesses, working remotely has become intrinsic to working practices in all manner of sectors.

The business landscape has changed. New habits are becoming engrained in our society, and the pandemic has forced many business owners to embrace remote working and flexible working hours. It’s become the new normal for so many SMEs, corporates and ambitious businesses; even with the vaccine in sight, this way of working is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

But freelancers have been embracing this way of working for years. Freelancers can provide solutions to nearly every hurdle business owners face, whether providing an entire service on a long-term basis, filling in a skills-gap for an interim period or completing one-off projects. Freelancers are professionals, offering on-demand skills and experience that can add a serious edge to most businesses.

While government loans may prevent businesses from going bust during these strange times, those loans will need to be paid back. As a result, now more than ever, businesses need to look at long-term stability and accelerating growth in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Hiring a freelancer can help overcome challenges without the need to employ. They offer the flexibility businesses need in uncertain times, and, by the very nature of the partnership, the long-term loyalty often lacking in employees.

The Passionate PA offers exactly that; a relationship-led partnership that helps ambitious business leaders and entrepreneurs drive change, build momentum and generate results. Often a commercial sounding board forour clients, The Passionate PA finds solutions, challenges clients to think differently and ensures the highest quality service in all aspects of business delivery.

As business owners ourselves, we know what it takes to run and operate a business meaning we do not fit the archetypal view of a personal or virtual assistant. Rather than managing diaries, accounts or filtering calls, a Passionate PA can assist with anything from streamlining business processes, copywriting and project management right through to driving growth through effective marketing strategies. We are masters of implementation and if it’s on your business to do list, we will help you tackle it.

While effective communication and business management is vital when working with any freelancer, The Passionate PA brings a second business brain to key decision makers and directors who might not always have the senior support they need, or solopreneurs who have no one else in their business to help them think strategically about their vision, their goals and more importantly, how to make them a reality.

Finding the right freelancer can take time so be sure to ask trusted business networks for recommendations or read reviews and testimonials. It might be necessary to work with a freelancer on a trial basis at first, or at the very least have an introductory meeting, just to ensure you will work well together based on personalities. However, once you know and trust a freelancer who delivers a service in line with your brand and ethos, it’s a relationship that can last for years!

Freelance services will be intrinsic to business growth as we tentatively emerge from our lockdown bubbles. It’s a really viable option for those business owners who want to develop at pace with flexible, loyal, commercially minded support but no employment contracts.

David Anderson, Director of Anderson IT Management, has worked with Laurey, the Passionate PA for Peterborough, since July 2019. He said: “As a freelancer, Laurey has brought a skill set and ability to understand the future of my business that is invaluable.  Laurey has assimilated my business ethos which is reflected in the work we do together from marketing, refining in-house processes and administration.”

“The Passionate PA really is an unrivalled resource if you want to grow and prosper, but what I have truly valued since the start of the pandemic is the consistency, continuity and reliability Laurey brings to my business and the efficient approach she has to delivering what I need.”

Founded by Dorset businesswoman Sarah Howells in 2007, and franchised in 2016 by Director, Kate Chastey, The Passionate PA has worked with leading brands such as Virgin Media and the Institute of Directors. It now supports a wide range of entrepreneurial professional services companies as well as agencies in the recruitment, digital marketing, financial services, IT and creative industries to name but a few.

To find out more about how a freelance PA can help you emerge from this storm stronger than ever before, contact us today.

You can find out more about Laurey by clicking here or the rest of our skilled team here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Could apprenticeships be the answer to your prayers?

Emily, with Award sponsor Gary Neild – 2017.


Emily is now a professional and dedicated freelance PA, with vast experience from a career in Human Resources.

In 2017, whilst employed with Atlas Elektronik, Emily was recognised by the Dorset Chamber Business Awards for her company’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships’ – a programme Emily single-handedly designed and managed in her role as Senior Learning and Development Officer. With full support from senior management, Emily developed a fresh talent pool for the company with some incredibly valuable results for all involved.

In this blog, Emily shares her insight and experience, bringing to light a real potential for YOUR business.

Calling all small businesses… have you realised that apprentices are for YOU?

Written by Emily Fuller, The Passionate PA for Weymouth and West Dorset

Throughout my extensive career in HR, I have developed a passion for people and employed many apprentices. Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, I truly believe that it is small businesses that stand to gain the most from employing apprentices. With all the challenges small businesses face, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed and frustrated right now. But, there is a largely untapped resource available that you could benefit from.

In a nutshell, here are the facts:

  • As a small business, employing less than 50 people, the government will pay 100% of the costs of the apprentice training, up to the funding band maximum. This in fact means that you could utilise up to £27,000 worth of training for a member of your team for free!
  • If you hire an apprentice before the 31st January 2021 you can claim an additional incentive payment of up to £2000 if they are aged 16-24, and up to £1,500 of they are aged 25+, with an extra £1000 available if you employ a 16 – 18 year old or someone with additional needs. These payments apply even if you employ an apprentice that has been made redundant from another company due to the Coronavirus, so they would be joining you already with skills you can use.
  • Apprentice salary expectations are lower than those of people coming into your business that still may require training to get them up to speed. It is well known that you can pay apprentices a very low wage, but this really should be reviewed against the job they are doing, not just regarded as ‘cheap labour’.
  • You will develop skilled, home-grown employees that know your business from the ground up.
  • The training that your apprentice does is adapted to suit your company.
  • You will gain fresh, new approaches and opinions, especially if you recruit from the technology savvy ‘generation Z’.
  • You can use the recruitment of an apprentice to upskill other members of your team by completing knowledge transfers based on the training they are receiving, introduce reverse mentoring, as well as use the opportunity to allow someone with management potential to take the lead on managing the apprentice.
  • You will experience increased productivity from the addition of the apprentice, as 78% of employers asked by the government reported improved productivity after recruiting an apprentice.

In my experience, all apprentices that I have employed have benefited the organisation and all recruiting line managers have requested more apprentices to join their teams year on year. 90% of the apprentices that I have hired have secured full-time permanent jobs with the companies and the other 10% have benefited from identifying their next career step externally from the company which they completed their apprenticeship with.

The belief that it is the duty of big companies to employ apprentices because they have the capacity to do so, is out of date. Apprentices really do add value and the list of additional benefits outlined above highlights only a small number of reasons why small businesses really should be looking to employ apprentices to fill their skills gaps and build a resilient workforce for the future of their company.

If you’d like an exploratory conversation about whether apprentices could be right for you and your business, book a free 121 with me by emailing

You can find out more about Emily by clicking here!

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Emily Fuller joins The Passionate PA


Dorset, we’ve got you covered!

The leading freelance PA business, The Passionate PA, welcomed a new face to the team in July which means they now have coverage across the whole county, and beyond.

Emily Fuller - The Passionate PA (Weymouth & West Dorset)Emily Fuller (nee Gollop) has been involved in business since she was old enough to walk as her family ran the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. She is now a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional having spent 10 years with SMEs and global engineering companies, honing her skills in people management and business strategy.

She joins The Passionate PA as a franchisee covering Weymouth and West Dorset, fulfilling her own ambition to be a business owner but adopting the company’s very clear mission; to assist ambitious business leaders and entrepreneurs in their pursuit for business success. Working in partnership with clients, each Passionate PA offers a unique and valuable set of skills to help create the momentum and results their clients desire. Services range from Business Admin and Organisation to Event Planning and Project Management, right through to Marketing and Business Development activities… there is no end to the skills and commercial experience offered by the team at The Passionate PA!

Emily brings an added layer of knowledge with 10 years spent in the cut and thrust of growing HR departments. She has a passion for doing things exceptionally well, and bringing people together to achieve incredible things. She loves nothing more than helping ambitious businesses creating a full ‘Employee Lifecycle’, helping the owners/directors create structure for their people through selection, recruitment and retention.

Emily’s career highlights include completing her masters in HR Management with Bournemouth University and becoming a Chartered Member of the CIPD. She has led and managed various change programmes and been involved in takeovers. During her time at Atlas Elektronik, Emily developed a Leadership Programme to future proof the company and create a consistent, authentic and effective leadership style for current and future senior managers.

It was also at Atlas Elektronik that Emily was recognised during the 2017 Dorset Business Awards for the company’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships Award’ and ‘Young Chamber Award’ – Emily was fundamental in both these wins.

Emily says: “I thrive on making a difference to people and the businesses I work within. The business world as we know it has changed hugely throughout the recent pandemic so businesses are having to adapt in order to survive. I believe that a number of those changes are opportunities for me too, now I am a freelance PA.  With my skills, experience and knowledge I can help businesses not just survive but thrive. I’m not simply an overhead to clients; I will add real value when I’m working with them, and when I’m not with them, there’s no cost to them at all. I don’t have to be a long-term, permanent commitment.”

Flexibility is key to the success in entrepreneurial businesses. 

Emily is joining a growing team of Passionate PAs, the most recognisable faces in Dorset are business owners Debbie Frith (Poole & North Dorset), Claire Bartlett (Ringwood & New Forest) and Jenni Bowman (Bournemouth & Christchurch). Each of them provides freelance PA services on a one-to-one basis, as well as to teams, delivering cost-effective solutions to help their clients grow. Dorset based clients include Shrinkwrap Machinery, Aspire Jobs, Hamworthy Heating, Dorset Business Angels, Chris Croft Training, Peer 2 Peer Boards, Alan & Thomas Insurance, Motivational Maps, Experience UX, Just Shutters Franchises and Vinyl Solutions.

L-R: Debbie Frith, Dominique Bailhache, Kate Chastey, Jenni Bowman, Laurey Buckland, Louise Cummins, Claire Bartlett
Gary Neild and Emily Fuller

Kate Chastey, franchisor of The Passionate PA still also works directly with Poole-based Blue Sky Financial Planning. Director Gary Neild awarded Emily with the Young Chamber Award at the 2017 Dorset Business Awards and at the time, recognised her dedication, enthusiasm and professional approach.

Gary says: “Kate has provided an extensive skillset and an ability to understand and support the future of my business. I would not have achieved some of the things I have in the last five years without her by my side. The team she is creating is nothing short of inspirational and I know Emily will offer clients just as much as the other Passionate PAs do. They are an unrivalled resource if you want to grow and prosper – and fun to work with too!”

Emily is now looking to build her business across Weymouth and West Dorset. If you would like to find out more, visit or call Emily directly on 07387 989 692.

You can read all about Emily’s skills and experience by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

How to delegate your to do list

There’s no shortage of ambitious business owners that feel they have too much to do, in too little time. Or, like most of our clients – just want to focus on key activities, with more efficiency, in order to fulfil their own potential and business goals.

As Passionate PAs, we offer a tailored freelance PA service to suit the needs of each ambitious business owner or entrepreneur we work with. To us, your industry, target market, business structure and growth model are important, but what we really want to know, in detail, is how can we help you?

When potential clients are asked this question, there are a ream of responses;

“Ah, I’ve got this one niggling task, let’s do that first!”


“I hate doing X, can you take that away?”


“Tell me what you can help with, we’ll start there?”


“Here’s my to do list – crack on!”

All are valid responses that we, as freelance PAs, will happily work with. However, at the beginning, we encourage all of our client to assess their working patterns, task lists and priorities to understand where we can add real value, remove stress and anxiety, increase efficiency and profitability – and also inject a little fun! Who doesn’t want more fun in their work life?

So, at our first discovery meeting, we’ll always ask new clients if they have the time to do this exercise. It usually takes about 40 mins (but depends hugely on the size of the to do list and the new client’s propensity to go off on a tangent 🤪).

The result of this activity usually brings about a clear set of tasks and responsibilities that can be handed over to their new Passionate PA.


Request your free Delegation Tool today to help you take control of your to do list. 

Meet The Team

Each of our Passionate PAs has an extensive skill set and varied business background. We are all business owners and come together as #TeamPassionatePA with a shared ethos; to make a difference to our clients’ lives through our unwavering motivation, striking efficiency and remarkable ability to simply ‘make things happen’.

Meet the Passionate PAs


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Compartmentalise and Conquer!

Being organised and productive is a choice. That choice is the difference between being a busy fool and a successful business person.

The one trait really productive people share is the ability to compartmentalise their activities. So, in this blog, we share our top tips from over a decade of working with inspiring business leaders:

  1. Write down your personal definition of success i.e. are you wanting to be the world’s greatest parent, a caring employer or a successful business owner. OR, are you trying to create balance – if so, what does balance actually look like in reality with the values and responsibilities you have?
  2. Write a daily To Do List of the things that must get done in order to achieve your overall success goal. One sheet of A4 – no more.
  3. Be ruthless, if the task in your head doesn’t “make your boat go faster” or serve your personal values, do not write it down – scrap it.
  4. Create barriers to all distractions – physically and emotionally. Set times to turn off your phone, get off social media, step away from the news. Create space in your day for the important, critical To Dos.
  5. Allocate time to each ‘compartment’ on your To Do List, and a set time target to achieve each individual task. Remember ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’.
  6. Multitask with cautions. Only do this on the things that don’t really have an impact on your success.
  7. Share your planned way of working with others and set clear boundaries for them i.e. between 8am and 10am every day is your Business Development time so you cannot be disturbed or between 5pm-7pm is exercise and healthy food prep. Explain to others why this protected time is so important so they become advocates, rather than distractions.

Here is a tool we use to help clients get started with this new ‘compartmentalise and conquer’ approach.


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Sharing the secrets to our success…

Countless people dream of leaving employment to become their own boss, yet few have the courage. For those that do take the leap, becoming a business owner is no mean feat. It’s a path fraught with challenges and the statistics are not in their favour – a high proportion of start-ups fail within their first 3 years.

Whether it’s issues with funding or financial control, a lack of business planning or an unclear value proposition, or simply poor marketing or an overreliance on one or two customers – it’s so easy to ‘fail’ when it comes to running a business.

It isn’t easy, particularly in the freelance world, building a resilient, valuable business that makes a profit and fulfils an individual’s potential. As any freelancer or sole trader will tell you – it’s oh so easy to work 70 hours a week, never see your family, or do the things you love, and end up not making a great living from it anyway. 

Three of our Passionate PAs are celebrating a very different story! Having each decided they wanted to embrace the challenge of becoming self-employed, they chose to invest in a franchise opportunity with The Passionate PA. For them, this was the peace of mind needed to ensure their gamble paid off. 

Debbie is celebrating the start of her 5th year in business, and Jenni and Claire are each celebrating the start of their 3rd. As they reach these important milestones, they are reflecting on the secrets to their own success and sharing some valuable advice for all business owners at the beginning of their journey.  

Debbie Frith

I’ve always loved helping businesses to grow, it’s been my job for 28 years in various guises. I love the cut and thrust of business. I love the highs and the lows that make us work harder and push ourselves further. I love the learning and development that comes with a growing healthy business. 
The new challenges faced daily provide opportunity for both personal and business growth. As a Passionate PA, I get to support not just one business, but many businesses in varying sectors. This makes for a diverse and engaging schedule, I can tell you!
My personal strategy is to focus on using my strengths when partnering with clients; to do what I enjoy doing and what I know I’m good at so I can deliver tangible value to their businesses. This is the ‘not very secret’ to my success. Spending time wading through tasks that don’t float my boat, makes for a very dull and unhappy me. As a Passionate PA, I get to choose who I work with, what I do with them and when, giving me the balance I need in life. 
There’s always a challenge, but then that is what drives and motivates me. Knowing The Passionate PA team are there to celebrate the highs and support me with the lows makes all the difference and why I know for certain that choosing a franchise for my self-employment was the right thing to do.

Debbie Frith Passionate PA Poole

Jenni Bowman

There have been many highs and lows for me over the last two years – and many lessons learnt! It’s definitely not all been plain sailing. However, there is one piece of advice that I try REALLY hard to adopt and it is something that I tell my clients all the time; “Just Be You”.
Life as a Passionate PA means that I am very fortunate to garner close working relationships with my clients. I get to see the best and the worst of them, and this is one of the many aspects of my work that I love! A common theme I have found amongst all the business owners I create relationships with, whether they be networking contacts, my clients, my friends or my colleagues, is that we all feel vulnerable at times. It can be really hard trying to sell yourself and your service in the big wide world – hence why being You is just so important. 

The secret to my success has been personality! People buy people. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that is ok. In business, I want to form relationships with people who understand me and who I can understand too – that goes way deeper than just getting things off their To Do List! There is simply no point trying to be liked by everyone or appeal to everyone – and even less point trying to tell everyone how you can help them ‘do everything’ which is so common in our line of work. That’s what I love most about my business as The Passionate PA; I am allowed to be me and play to my strengths. My clients love that too.  

Jenni Bowman Passionate PA Bournemouth

Claire Bartlett

My first two years as a business owner have been a huge learning curve. Coming from a corporate background, it took some very strong determination to carve my own path. The secret to the successful growth of my business, and myself as a businesswoman, has been complete clarity and confidence in my own USP. It’s been so important to me from the outset that my clients understand the skills and expertise I bring to their business, and the value that creates for them. 
Having a strategic marketing plan is critical too – and this really is why a franchise was right for me. I knew nothing about marketing when I started, but now, I am confident I have the skills to drive my business from strength to strength. Knowing what to do, and when, particularly at the beginning, was mind blowing! My advice for anyone launching a business would be to have really clear goals and a routine approach to Business Development, try different networking events in your area until you find those that fit with you and your business. Grow your circle of trusted resources and confidants, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, in fact, insist upon it (both good and bad) as this is the only way any of us grow. 

As a parent with a crazy busy home life, I would also say it’s important to know your personal limits and created positive boundaries. Be known for being reliable, trustworthy and honest – but never over promise. Integrity is everything in our business but so is passion. I love what I do, and I believe it shows. Do what lights you up inside as this keeps your own motivation levels high but also inspires others to be the best they can be too.  

Claire Bartlett Passionate PA New Forest

Collectively, Debbie, Claire and Jenni provide freelance PA support to 18 ambitious business owners across Dorset and West Hampshire, clocking up over 300 hours a month of support to the region’s finest entrepreneurs, directors and business owners. With their expertise in Business Development, Operations, Process Management, Marketing, Project Planning, Event Management, EA support  and so much more being shared on a daily basis – these three women are valued additions to the management teams within their clients’ businesses.  

If you’d like to learn more about having a Passionate PA in your business, please visit our Team Page or call 03 3000 20 200.

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