Guide to SharpFutures

Guide to SharpFutures

Posted on February 23, 2017 by Ihtezaz

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SharpFutures Employee Handbook

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Hello and Welcome

Welcome to SharpFutures Manchester CIC. This guide is written to give you the important information that we believe you need.

No-one wants to read reams and reams of policies that they don’t understand, so we have reduced this to a simple Questions and Answers about the company in an aim to give you an overview of what our employees have said are important.

This document is updated regularly and if you can’t find your answer in here, don’t hesitate to ask a manager or HR.

This booklet is guided by the questions that you want to know so if you think there is a question that should be included send it to:

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Company Information

Q. What is the companies purpose?

SharpFutures is a social enterprise that supports young people into employment in the creative digital sector. By offering a range of interventions including Apprenticeships, Work Experience and Volunteering, SharpFutures nurture the transition into work, whilst responding to the fluctuating needs of creative digital businesses.

We Seed ideas through services for education, we Nurture the best talent we find through employment opportunities and real work experience, and we Grow through the sale of our business products and services.

SharpFutures writes an annual report and you can find these on our website. Read them to see how we have grown and our many achievements:

Q. What is the company’s organisation structure?

SharpFutures operates a fairly flat structure with the CEO and MD being involved in the operations of the business.

(a) Diagram 1.0 shows the structure of SharpFutures

Diagram 1.0

(b) Diagram 1.1 to show descriptions of employees:

Diagram 1.1

Q. What is a Work Placement?

A Work Placement is an employee who has joined the company for a specific amount of time in order to learn a new skill. Work Placements are usually employed for a period of 3 months.

Once completed a Work Placement they have the opportunity to join SharpFutures POD.

Q. What is an Employee?

An employee is a permanent member of the team. They are no longer training in their profession but have received the necessary qualifications to complete their role.

On occasion an employee will be asked to support a POD booking if their skills and experience suits the role.

Q. What is an Associate?

An associate is a freelance member of staff. They are not an employee but help guide the direction of the company or service by providing independent advice.

Q. What is POD?

POD aka People on Demand are casual members of staff. They are new entrants who wish you gain industry relevant skills in the sector.

POD connects new entrants to paid work within the digital creative sector. There are many difference routes to POD.

Q. What is an Apprentice?

An Apprentice is an on a fixed term contract that is trained in a certain profession while on the job.

All Apprentices are automatically entered into POD to build their experience in the sector and to support their understanding of different companies/organisations within the sector.

Q. Who do I ask if I am not sure what to do?

When you are first employed you will be told who your manager is. You should contact them in the first instance if you do not understand any procedure/policy. If you line manager isn’t around you can ask the HR department.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Getting to Know SharpFutures

What is an induction?

In many cases the people who are employed by us, this is their first job. An induction lets you understand what the company is in more detail and the expectations it has from you while you are employed.

Q. What is a probation review?

There are a number of checks that the company puts in place to ensure that you are completing the desired work and fit with the culture of the organisation. A probation review is a set time period (usually 3 months) that allows you and the company to test whether the relationship works.

You will have a chance to talk to your line manager and the company will gather evidence from peers, colleagues and clients to assess your capabilities.

There are 3 outcomes from a probation review:

    1. Passed and congratulated
    2. Extended (there are a few improvements to be made over set time period)
    3. Dismissed

Once you pass your probation period your notice period goes up. This means that if you wish to leave the company you have to give SharpFutures a certain about of weeks’ notice before this can happen. If you should check your contract for this period.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Leaving SharpFutures

Q. If I want to resign what do I do?

If you wish to leave SharpFutures you should tell your line manager and then put it in writing to your HR department.

You will have a fixed notice period in your contract. A notice period is the minimum amount of time (in weeks) that you have to let us know before leaving the company.

This time can be negotiated, however, this is at the discretion of the manager and the Company.

When you leave any outstanding holiday entitlement will be paid in your final salary, if you have taken more leave then your entitlement by the time of your termination date then this will be deducted.

Any training costs will also be deducted from your final salary and depending on your contract you may have to set up a re-payment plan. As an example an apprentice contract states that if you leave for any other reason than redundancy you have to repay the cost of the apprenticeship. You should speak to your manager if you ever feel you can’t complete your apprenticeship.

You will be asked to complete an exit questionnaire before you leave and we will hold an agreed reference on file for future perspective employers.

The HR department will walk you through the leaving process and ensure that all equipment is handed back.

Q: Training fees


All apprentices will sign an agreement in regards to their training fees. This means that the company will pay for the training costs relating to the apprenticeship. If the apprentice does not complete the training for any reason (including dismissal) then they could be subject to re-paying the entire amount of the training fee.

The amount is stated in the contract which the apprentice will sign and acknowledge before the start of their apprenticeship.

For any questions about this speak to your HR department.


Throughout your employment you may attend training courses that you will be required to sign a prior training fees agreement.

Any courses that trigger this policy you will be told about this before the course begins. It means that if you decide to leave the organisation within a certain period you may have to pay back a percentage of the training costs.

For any questions about this speak to your HR department.

Work Placements

If you join SharpFutures as a Work Placement you will be asked to sign the training agreement that covers the entirety of the training (approximately 3 months). If you leave the course (including dismissal) you will be asked to pay the entire cost back.

You will be told this before you start the training and asked to sign a copy within your contract.

For any questions about this speak to your HR department.

POD: People on Demand

As a member of POD you may be asked to join a Work Placement or SharpFutures either as an Apprentice or Employee you will be asked to sign the relevant training agreement. All policies will be fully explained to you before the training commences.

For any questions about this speak to your HR department.

Q: What is pay in lieu of notice?

In the event of the termination (your dismissal) of your contract of employment, the Company reserves the right to pay you not to work your notice period. This will be equivalent to basic salary.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


Q. When do I have to wear my uniform?

All employees and apprentices will receive 2xPOD T-shirts. These T-shirts should be worn in post, this is defined as:

  • Event
  • Running roles
  • Front of House (this can be paired with a blazer/jacket/Hoodie or ‘appropriate’ scarfs
  • Campus host including lunch cover
  • SharpFutures t-shirts should be worn for all POD bookings (nb*)

nb*: Please note that if you are booked out on a long term POD assignment (defined as over 3 consecutive days) or the place of work has a defined dress code that you are exempt from the above statements.

It is useful that you keep a T-shirt with you at all times so that if you are needed to attend an event you can change quickly.

It is also recommended that you always have a pair of sensible shoes that you can ‘run’ around in case you are asked to cover a Runner position.

Q:  I have been invited to Disciplinary: what is this?

A disciplinary is a formal process to address unacceptable behaviour or performance. In most cases within SharpFutures, all cases where behaviour doesn’t meet the companies will be addressed informally. Where behaviour doesn’t improve or there is a serious breach of policy you will be asked to attend a serious of meetings with HR and the Directors to investigate this behaviour.

You can read the full policy by following this link: Disciplinary & Dismissal Procedure

Q:  I am really unhappy at work: what can I do?

If at any time you feel that you have a grievance about your working environment/practises or relationships within work you should speak to your line manager. All grievances are addressed informally, however, if there is not resolution after your initial discussions you can raise this formally with HR.

You can read the full policy by following this link: Grievance procedure 

Q. I have been invited to a performance review; what is this?

Performance reviews are usually held annually and is an important measure on how you are carrying out the duties within your role. It allows a formal discussion between yourself and the line manager and takes into account the feedback from peers, colleagues and clients.

A review is also the perfect time for you to identify any areas that you feel you need more training or support on.

You, don’t however, have to wait until this review to inform your manager that you need help or further training. You will be in constant contact with your manager and they you should talk to them about your performance as much as needed.

Q. I work another job, is this allowed?


If you are a full-time employee, apprentice and work placements, you should wholly dedicate your time to SharpFutures, if you want to take another job outside these hours please always speak to your line manager first.

If you do have another role it is expected that the duties and responsibilities of SharpFutures come first.


We understand that POD members have a variety of work streams and therefore Resource Guru is your friend. You can log on and let us know when you are looking for work and when you are free.

When a job comes in that matches your requirements and that you are free to work, you may be offered the role.

You should update your schedule as much possible. Bear in mind that rotas are usually completed weekly and released on a Friday.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Salary and Benefits

Q. When do I get paid?

You get paid on or around the 25th of every month. This payment covers the entire month. You will receive an itemised payslip via email and it’s your responsibility to look after these.

We outsource Payroll, which means that an external company is responsible for the payments. If there are any problems with your pay, you should email:

Q. My tax code has changed, why?

HM Revenue and Customs are in charge of your tax code. When we receive a notification that this is changed it is automatically updated.

If you disagree with your tax code or have any questions you should contact in the first instance.

Q. Do I get expenses?

You should not need to claim back expenses, however, if you have to buy something for the company, ensure that you keep the receipt. All purchases should be run past your manager first.

POD members are not eligible to claim back expenses for travel within the Greater Manchester area. If you are asked to work outside this area travel will be negotiated prior to the booking.

Q. I received a gift from a client, can I accept it?

There may be occasions when clients offer you gifts, this could be at Christmas or on your birthday. Although this is a lovely gesture you should not accept the gift personally you should thank them and accept it on behalf of SharpFutures and then give the ‘gift’ to your manager. All gifts are then raffled off at Christmas.

Q. What does everyone do for lunch?

SharpFutures are lucky to be housed in The Sharp Project. This means that there is a canteen in Campus area that is open throughout the working day (from breakfast to snacks).

You can ask to set up a tab at Amanda’s, however, this is a personal agreement between yourself and Amanda and it is expected that you pay this off on a regular basis and this debt does not impact on the company’s reputation.

If you leave the Company with an open tab: we will pass on your email and telephone number so that Amanda’s can call you to settle the debt.

There is also kitchen facilities available for you to bring in your food and drink. There is a small fridge & kettle in the SharpFutures office, however, there is also communal kitchens where there are microwaves and panini presses.

If you ever on location you should always pack yourself a lunch/handy snacks that can be eaten on the move/anywhere. Although a ‘production’ or company may include you in their lunch order this should not be taken as a given. These details are usually available before however it is always best to be prepared.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Safety and Security

Q. What is confidential information?

All business information should be considered confidential. This means documents, all media, logo’s brand guidelines, training manuals, policies.

You should not disclose any confidential information, either whilst employed or having left the organisation.

All employees are asked to sign a confidentiality clause when they start which means that you are legally bound not to share information.

If you don’t understand what could be considered confidential, you should ask your manager.

Q. What is meant by security?

Whilst employed by us you have a responsibility to take care of any company property and equipment that you are using.

As a company, we aim to provide a safe and secure working environment for our staff. You are given a security pass that allows you access to the building 24/7. You should keep this safe and report it the moment you think you may have lost it.

You will be charged £12 per any additional cards that need to be replaced and this will come directly out of your salary payment.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


Q. Someone asked me for a media quote about SharpFutures, what do I do?

Unless you have been briefed by a member of the management team, do not speak to a member of the press.

If someone calls and asks for a quote or more information then politely take their name and number and arrange for the Head of PR & Marketing to call them back.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


Every member of SharpFutures (Employees, Work Placements, POD) agree that SharpFutures can use their likeness and/or name in any photograph, image, video, motion picture, performance or sound recording for purposes related to its corporate mission including advertising, publicising or marketing its programs or for any other commercial or lawful purpose, and to use and license others to use it for such purposes, without any compensation.

You will be asked to sign the media agreement prior to you starting with SharpFutures. If you have any concerns over this policy please speak to your line Manager.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Systems and Technology

Q. What is Resource Guru?

Resource Guru is an on-line scheduling tool that allows you to see your rota on any device. You will be given a login and password when you first start.

The rotas are usually confirmed on a weekly basis (Fridays) for the week ahead and you should check this regularly as shift patterns can change due to operational need.

If you cannot attend a shift for any reason you should speak to your manager.

Try and avoid the following common pitfalls

  • Don’t assume your shifts will be the same as last week
  • make sure you are checking the right week
  • If you can’t see your rota on your phone call the office to check your shifts or take a photo of the rota.
  • Make sure you check your shifts in enough time and set your alarms for the week.
  • Make sure resource Guru is updated (POD members only)

Q. What is meant by company equipment?

This means all equipment owned by SharpFutures, such as printers, cameras, iPads, telephones and laptops. All equipment is logged and needs to be signed in and out every day. All equipment should be looked after and any damage/breakage should be reported immediately.

The Office and Resource Coordinator looks after all the equipment logs and if you are booking equipment should be consulted before any equipment is taken or used.

Q. What is the ED?

The ED is the elastic desktop. This is a cloud-based system that allows you to access your work desktop on any device, including emails.

When you are working on any device you have to sign into the Elastic desktop. You should always sign into this and save all the work in the corresponding folder.

When you first start your ED will be set up by 8 networks (IT assistance). You will be given a password. Remember this password and save it somewhere safe.

All computers should, therefore, have nothing saved on their desktop and be kept completely free of any additional software.

Your elastic desktop is your responsibility to look after. You should follow the filling tree and keep it tidy at all times.

You can call 8networks for support: 0161 872 7266 (for urgent enquiries regarding your ED or the internet connection) for all other enquiries.

You should always ask ‘The office’ if anyone is having common problems so that we only have to call once.

You should also email: who will hold a record of the most common IT queries

Q. Where do I file my documents?

You are encouraged not to save anything on the desktop unless absolutely necessary and if you do it should be moved to the proper folder as soon as practical.

SharpFutures has a filing tree that should be adhered to when filing all documents and media. Read the following link: Filing Tree Master and ask your manager if you have any questions.

Spot checks are carried out on laptops and files. You risk your work being deleted or moved without warning so always ask your manager if you are not sure.

Q. Can I download different software onto my elastic desktop

You should always ask your managers before you download any new software as they will have to give you permission via 8networks.

No reasonable request will be denied, however, we have to make sure that all software is safe.

Q. What email system do we use?

We use Outlook for our on-line communications. Outlook has a number of different features that you should familiarise yourself with:

(a) Mail

Your inbox can be adapted and folders added to help you organise your emails. Emails should be filed in a corresponding folder and you should only have the emails that you are currently working on in your inbox.

(b) Calendar

Your calendar is an important tool. Resource Guru organises your shifts, your calendar organises internal meetings.

(c) People

The People tab looks after all your contacts, which can be synced to your phone if this is something that will help your job. When networking and after you have collected any business cards you should enter them into this tab.

(d) Tasks

The task tab helps you prioritise work that comes in via email, if you flag an email, it automatically links to your task tab. Once the task has been completed you can ‘tick’ the email which will help you know that you have completed the task.

Q. Can you send an instant message?

You can use Skype for Instant Messages (IM) between your colleagues. Skype comes as part of the software package on the elastic desktop and to access this it is your official email address and password for your elastic desktop.

Business acronyms that you may come across

  • FYI (For Your Information)
  • HoD (Head of Department)
  • COB (Close of Business)
  • ETA (estimated time of arrival)
  • SF (SharpFutures)
  • PR (Public Relations)
  • OOO (Out of Office)
  • POC (Point of Contact)
  • NRN (No reply Necessary)
  • RE: (Referring to)
  • IM (Instant Message)
  • QA (Quality Assurance)
  • DM (Direct Message or Direct Mail)
  • PPC (Pay Per Click)
  • RT (Retweet)
  • ☺ (shift & colon, bracket (closed)) **only seen on a windows on a mac it appears as a J
  • ☹ (shift & colon, bracket (open)) **only seen on a windows on a mac it appears as a J
  • HR (Human Resources)

Q. What is an email signature?

When you first start you will be sent your email signature from Studio. To embed this in your emails follow these simple instructions:

  1. Go to Outlook and click on File
  2. Click on Options
  3. Click on Mail
  4. Click on signatures
  5. Click new and copy and paste signature into the text box and save

 Q. Can I access my emails on my phone?

You can access your emails through Outlook365 which can be used if you are on another device.

If you feel that having your emails on your personal mobile is useful to you and your role please speak to your manager and this can be agreed.

A couple of guidelines that you should consider if you do have emails on your personal mobile:

  1. Ensure that you have proper protection on your phone in case it is lost or stolen
  2. Be careful in regards to spelling and grammar
  3. Never email when you are angry or intoxicated
  4. Ensure that you have a work-life balance and not continually check your emails outside of work.

Q. Can I use my own laptop?

The Company will ensure that you are given a laptop to work on. If, however, you choose to use your own equipment you should speak with your manager.

If you decide that it is ok, you must ensure that no files, documents, media are stored on your own personal folders and that at the end of the day all files are transferred to the S drive or external hard drive.

Q. What can I say on social media?

SharpFutures respects the rights of all employees to a private life. However, employees must be aware that where they are identified as a SharpFutures employee, they are expected to behave appropriately and in line with SharpFutures’ values and policies.

Any content published online in personal social media accounts is your own; however, anything published about SharpFutures cannot be kept entirely separate from your working life.

All employees of SharpFutures are requested to add one of the following caveats to their social media pages if that page is linked or associated with SharpFutures.

  • Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer
  • My tweets are my own
  • My opinions are my own

Many employees can easily fall into a social media pit of not knowing how to interact with their company. Below are some do’s & don’ts.


Employees should be following all social media accounts associated with SharpFutures and liking/sharing content posted by us. Employees are encouraged to get involved with trending topics and discussions around the activities of SharpFutures and the creative digital sector.

With this in mind all employees are asked:

  • To follow all SharpFutures social media accounts
  • To RT (Retweet)/Like/Share content
  • Engage in conversation with accounts such as Heather Paprika

Table to show SharpFutures Social media accounts. Click to investigate further:

Social Media Account URL
Twitter (SharpFutures’ mascot, Heather Paprika)






SharpFutures need to ensure that reputation is not damaged and that confidentiality is protected. All stakeholders must be able to trust the integrity of our employees. Furthermore, SharpFutures may be liable for the actions of employees who post inappropriately.

With this in mind all employees are asked:

  • To be aware that they are responsible for any content on their pages, including tags and comments
  • To ensure that any comments or posts in their personal accounts about SharpFutures activities do not bring SharpFutures into disrepute
  • Not to share confidential information arising from their employment with SharpFutures
  • To respect privacy and confidentiality and not to discuss or criticise clients or colleagues
  • Not to use work email addresses to set up personal accounts
  • Not to accept clients/service users known through the course of their work as ‘friends’ on personal social media sites (excluding LinkedIn). If employees are repeatedly contacted by a customer or service user known through work on personal social media accounts, they may wish to seek advice from their line manager.
  • To ensure privacy settings are in place to restrict open access and understand who could have access to personal social media accounts.

Once information is published, it is very hard to remove and can be copied, amended and shared by others without direct permission. There can be serious consequences of publishing inappropriate content: defamatory allegations made on social media sites can result in civil legal action, such as being sued for libel.

Social media can be used by the online criminal community to deliver malware, malicious software such as a virus, and carry out schemes designed to damage property or steal confidential information. To minimise risk related to such threats, adhere to the following guidelines. While these guidelines help to reduce risk, they do not cover all possible threats and are not a substitute for good judgment.

  • Do not use the same passwords for social media that you use to access SharpFutures computers or devices.
  • Do not follow links or download software on social media pages posted by individuals or organisations you do not know.
  • If any content you find on any social media web page looks suspicious in any way, close your browser and do not return to that page.

Most online communities have their own rules and guidelines, which you should always follow. Where possible, we will rely on the measures of protection and intervention the social networking site already has in place (eg. against illegal, harmful or offensive content) by flagging comments or alerting them to any breaches of the site’s terms and conditions.

Key points to remember

  • If employees choose to disclose that they are employed by SharpFutures, they must not post controversial/offensive content, as well as content that is detrimental to the reputation of SharpFutures. Employees must also be aware of their privacy settings on their personal accounts.
  • Employees must not discuss or criticise colleagues and/or clients on social media.
  • Ensure that procedures to avoid viruses/malware are carried out at all times.
  • Employees are advised to follow all of SharpFutures’ accounts across different media channels and that you like/share/retweet where possible. All of the social media channels that SharpFutures currently operate on, as well as various clients, are below.



Q. I am an apprentice, what training do I get?

During your employment, you will receive external training specifically tailored to your apprenticeship. You will receive constant work placement training by your manager and senior peers.

You may be required to attend training courses to enhance your training and development. You will be required to sign a training agreement, details of which can be obtained from our HR department.

In particular, we provide ongoing training for our placement and apprentice employees which is at a considerable cost to the Company. The monies will be recouped should you leave your position before it has finished. Please refer to your contract of employment or HR for more details.

You may also be invited to attend seminars/workshops and taster sessions. Before you attend these, speak to your manager as they may be out of hours or if they are in work hours you will be asked to work these back.

Read the employees/apprentices guide to absences / events / workshops and time in lieu guide for more info.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

workplace agreements

Q. What is equal opportunities?

Equal opportunity is a promise that SharpFutures will treat everyone fairly. We ensure that all our policies and actions including recruitment and promotion are fair and non-discriminatory.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Keeping Safe

Q. What is meant by Health & safety?

Health and Safety means that you should always be working in safe conditions and be aware of your surroundings. Ultimately you are responsible for your own safety and you shouldn’t purposely do anything that causes you injury.

In the event of a fire evacuate the building and meet in the designated rendezvous. Make sure that you follow the Fire Marshall and ensure that you don’t stop to pick up equipment or personal possessions and exit the building quickly and efficiently.

You should read the tenants handbook and familiarise yourself with the building and take note of the fire exits.

Q. There is a bar, can I drink at work?

You are free to use all the facilities within The Sharp Project including the bar. However, this should only be used after your work hours.

You should always remember that this is still your place of work and that you should act professionally at all times.

You should be able to prove if required that you are eligible.

Q. Where can I smoke?

There is a designated smoking area in Red. Ensure that you clean up after yourself and don’t leave cigarette butts on the ground.

You should always ask your manager before you go on a smoke break and if necessary you should reduce your lunch break to accommodate regular smoking breaks.

Q. I have had an accident, what happens now?

Always report any accident, no matter how minor as they all need to be recorded. If you speak to the POD & HR Administrator they will record all the details.

If you have an accident in work and then have to take time off because of the accident this needs to reported immediately.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Information we hold about you

During the course of your employment, we have to hold information on you for legal reasons. This information will include:

  • Address
  • Bank details
  • Email address
  • Social media accounts

(List is not exhaustive)

We also hold information about your performance, health and time off. All information is confidential.

Q. I have changed my phone number, who do I tell?

You should tell your manager and email the ‘office’ email as your details need to be updated.

Q. I have changed my main email, who do I tell?

You should tell your manager and email the ‘office’ email as your details need to be updated.

Q. I have changed my address, who do I tell?

You should tell your manager and email the ‘office’ email as your details need to be updated.

You may have to show proof of new address in the form of a bank statement or utility bill which will be scanned and placed on your personal record.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Helpful Stuff

Q. I want to add all my designs/content to my personal portfolio, can I do this?

All work created when in employment with SharpFutures in owned by SharpFutures so before you put any work in an on-line/public portfolio/forum you should ask your manager and get their approval in writing.

SharpFutures maintains intellectual property rights to all work created on Companies property or under direction from SharpFutures and can ask you to withdraw any work from your private/public portfolio/forum.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Version control

Version & changes Date agreed
SharpFutures handbook v3 7/2/2017


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