5 Signs It’s Time To Revamp Your Sales Script

Illistration of a hand holding a megaphone with a speech bubble saying

“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.”

 

This quote from a prominent business author and keynote speaker pretty much sums up how to handle sales. Even if a business has all the opportunities to make lucrative sales in the world, it won’t matter if it blunders on every one of them. With the lingering economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, never has proper sales management been more crucial than now.

With that out of the way, perhaps it’s about time business owners re-evaluate their current sales script. For one, since COVID hit, doing business has changed. Consumer habits, supply chains, business operations—none of these aspects can ever go back to what they used to be before the pandemic. Businesses unable to cope with this change ended up closing their doors.

For another, for all their expertise, sales reps are prone to getting complacent after successful sales. Because whatever they’re doing seems to work, they either won’t be in a rush to change their ways or tackle more than they can chew. When such tactics no longer produce the same effect, they’ll be at a loss as to what to do.

For the record, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a sales script if it still yields wanted results. However, if the following signs manifest, it’s time to update it to suit the new normal:

 

1. Misconceptions are rife

False beliefs and half-truths can induce a false sense of confidence, and businesses are just as vulnerable to it. Sales reps who cling to such misconceptions will be in a dangerous position when they come back to bite them. Contrary to popular belief, they occur more often than one might think. 

Here are some common misconceptions about sales:

  • There’s a one-size-fits-all sales pitch
  • Excellent sales reps can sell anything
  • Lowering prices entices more customers
  • A sale’s success depends on the first three minutes
  • Sales reps care more about commissions than customers
  • Quality products and services practically sell themselves 

Breaking them down one by one warrants its own article, but the gist is that these fallacies can appear in a business’s sales script. Specific lines like “I know you are busy” or “Can I have 15 minutes of your time” will give the impression that the rep’s just reading from a prepared sales script. Some consumers might feel that the sales attempt isn’t genuine.

Eliminating this dangerous mindset requires updating everyone’s knowledge of what constitutes good sales. This, in turn, reflects in better questions to ask consumers, information supported by data, and improved adlib, all of which are present in good sales call script examples. Sales reps will also be less likely to read them verbatim, which is the ideal way to do so.

 

2. Reliance on cold calling

Cold calling involves sales reps contacting people who have yet to express interest in a business and its products and services, typically by phone. Although slowly falling out of favor, plenty of companies still rely on it for several reasons: it helps find new customers and establish a healthy connection, and even hones fledgling sales reps in their craft.

That said, the reasons for cold calling’s recent decline are twofold: statistical and governmental.

  • First, statistics show that only 2% of all cold calls result in a meeting—and they cost 60% more to manage than other marketing methods. Over the years, consumers have become more aware of how blatant advertising looks and sounds. They don’t appreciate wasting their time. (3)

 

  • Second, several countries have enacted laws that protect consumer rights, including the choice of receiving such calls. In the U.K., the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) enables individuals and businesses to opt out of sales calls (similar to the National Do Not Call Registry in the U.S.). Companies can face legal action if they attempt to cold-call a TPS-registered number.

 

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that cold calling itself isn’t illegal. In fact, when done responsibly, it can help businesses yield positive results. When drafting a sales script that relies on cold calling, don’t forget to update it with the following elements:

  • Research data on the prospective industry or market
  • More personalized responses for various situations
  • Information provided by relationship-building tools
  • Inbound marketing principles 

More importantly, it pays to have more than one type of sales script. Given that some consumers don’t like being cold-called, businesses should develop variations for other marketing media. A multipronged approach can enable the brand to appear in more channels.

 

3. Too much dialogue

Arthur Miller’s 1949 stage play, Death of a Salesman, is a classic, if not spoiling the ending. The main character, a 63-year-old salesman, tends to be a chatterbox but can’t figure out why. He doesn’t get as much respect as another character, who seems to talk far less. Regardless, the play essentially portrays a problem among sales reps: they talk too much.

One study shows that seven out of ten consumers see sellers that help them discover their issues and offer a practical solution as having the most influence in their purchases. When it comes to the actual numbers, however, only three in ten sellers fit the description. This means that a seller’s words go nowhere 70% of the time. 

The reasons for such a habit vary from the sales rep’s personality to the quality of the sales script given. The latter should allow enough time for prospects to ask questions or share their concerns. A sales script that has a sales rep talking for more than half of the time isn’t ideal. One way to reduce unnecessary chatter is to include some questions to ask a prospect, such as:

  • What I heard from you is that [reiterate the prospect’s words], correct?
  • Is this relevant to your company’s goals this quarter/month/year?
  • Is there anything that I might have missed?
  • What aspect takes priority at the moment?

In the end, the most critical goal a sales script should achieve is the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with the consumer. It’s the best way a business can prove that it’s worth every penny of the consumer’s money.

 

4. Lacking valuable data

One thing that’s as dangerous as talking too much is talking too little, even to the point of having nothing important to say. Expect any sales attempt to fail if the sales rep can’t back up anything they claim or say with sufficient evidence.

People put a lot of faith in statistics and other hard facts; that’s why any information that carries these will appear credible. There are plenty of things the average consumer doesn’t understand, especially in certain industries like healthcare. Science-backed data is the best way to explain a phenomenon in layman’s terms, and statistics is the science of presenting that data.

A sales script should include any relevant data and the means to present it. If a prospect asks about a cheaper option, the sales rep must support its answer with hard facts. As trivial as it seems, the potential customer may have been struggling with this question for days. Getting customers to pick the brand will depend on the answer the sales rep gives.

Of course, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Packing a script with enough figures to make it a full-blown academic paper may be tempting but doing so will only veer customers away from the more essential points. Only include facts that’ll support a brand’s claims.

 

5. Lack of storytelling

Related to the point above, as credible as an informative sales script can be, it’s only half of a successful formula. As mentioned earlier, too much information, especially when it’s barely relevant, can quickly bore a prospect to the point of losing interest. 

In a twist of irony, there are statistics to back it up: among prospects, 63% remember stories vividly, but only 5% remember a statistical point. It isn’t hard to see why: storytelling connects to people on an emotional level better than statistics. Readers of a good novel can’t help but put themselves in the shoes of a struggling main character for the immersion. (5)

Whether in the retail or tech industry, whether to customers or other businesses, always keep in mind not to sell a product or service but the experience of using it. A good sales script should reflect this, focusing on the outcome of using a product or service more than its features. Experts refer to this as experience selling.

If a sales script appears rather bland after a run-through, it must be because it lacks a compelling story. A business can do this in three ways: asking what-if questions, highlighting its mission and vision, and citing testimonies from satisfied customers. Whichever the script chooses to include, the following storytelling tips apply.

  • Remember the golden rule of storytelling: “Show, don’t tell.”
  • Don’t hesitate to be emotional (still support it with facts).
  • Make sure the prospect is following the story closely.
  • Tell it in a way that everyone can understand clearly.

 

Conclusion

Whether caused by a global health crisis or changing consumer habits, change in business is inevitable. No matter how long it’s been in use, a sales script could use a major update if it’s showing these signs and more.

8 Ways to Improve Product Quality In 2021

Product Quality

Improving product quality is essential for achieving long-term profitability and sales growth. While increasing product quality is no easy task, the rewards for doing so surpassed the challenges. 

It helps build trust with your customer and fuels recommendations and referrals. Excellent product quality also means fewer complaints and returns from your customers. All of these, impact your bottom line and encourage business growth

With that said, how do you increase the quality of your products?

 

1. Define Product Quality

Before you can start improving product quality, you first need to understand what constitutes a quality product. 

Quality is often defined in two ways:

  • Satisfying a set of pre-determined specifications
  • Satisfying the customer

In general, product quality describes the capability of that product to meet user standards. Here are the questions to evaluate a product’s quality. 

  • Is it tailored to your customers?

A product that’s tailored specifically to the needs of your customers shows that you understand its users and are willing to accept any suggestion they voice. 

  • Does it solve a problem?

No product would exist if it weren’t improving or solving something. The extent to which a product fixes and intended problems helps in determining its quality. 

  • Is it polished?

Dimensions, colors, fonts, and other elements of the design should all be in proper alignment. The product shouldn’t appear cheap or have any errors or mistakes in its construction in any way. 

  • Is it efficient?

A quality product shouldn’t just get the job done but do so efficiently. Meaning, it should deliver quickly with minimal effort from the consumer. 

  • Is it easy to use?

Quality products shouldn’t complicate the process of solving a problem. Customers should be able to learn how to assemble or use the product easily and effectively. 

 

2. Invest In Machinery

If your production primarily uses human laborers, then your products are more likely prone to errors and defects. 

With that said, you need to invest in quality machinery. Production machinery like precision CNC machining ensures accuracy for consistent product quality. Also, machines help increase the production speed and are far more cost-effective than hiring several skilled laborers. 

 

3. Implement a Quality Management System

A quality management system (QMS) is a set of internal rules that determines how your business will create and deliver quality products. Whether you’re manufacturing your products or outsourcing them, a QMS can keep your organization compliant with the latest regulations and standards in product quality. 

Implementing a QMS can impact your business’s total performance. An effective QMS allows your organization to meet customer requirements and regulatory standards as well as prevent errors, save money, and continuously improve your product offering. Most importantly, by ensuring consistent quality products, you can improve your business’s image and credibility and enhance customer satisfaction levels. 

 

4. Spy On Competitors

Checking in on your competitors is a great way to develop and improve the quality of your products. Competitor analysis allows you to understand the weaknesses and strengths in your competitors’ products in comparison to your own and find a gap in the market. 

How are their products performing? Look for weaknesses in their products and try to come up with an innovative solution for yours. You can also gain product ideas that you can improve to become more appealing and attractive to customers. 

Conducting a competitor analysis is important not only for matching your competitors’ offerings but also for putting you in a better position to compete with similar businesses in your industry. 

 

5. Infuse Quality In Company Culture

Implementing a QMS is essential, however, it’s not enough. These quality principles need to be embedded across your entire organization to work effectively. 

Your entire team needs to be on the same page on what constituted a quality product. Encourage managers to constantly reinforce the idea so you can get everyone on board with your vision of quality and more likely become part of the culture. 

Once your employees comprehend the larger part of the quality message, managers should empower them to use their own intuition and judgment to handle individual responsibilities. This means that managers can take a hands-off approach and allow their employees to freely raise concerns if certain procedures and policies take away their ability to pursue quality. 

In order to create quality products, employees need to have a say in the developmental process. After all, your employees can provide you with essential feedback regarding quality production. Allow your employees to have a voice in the business process and organize meetings where they can suggest any improvements to the company’s products. 

 

6. Train Employees

Training your employees at all levels can help improve product quality and lessen the problems. Training can take several dimensions. You can set up a new-employee initiation program, train your workers to focus on quality problems and in operating production machinery and equipment from the first day of their job. You can assign existing employees to train new employees since they can provide a firsthand perspective of how your business’s operations work. 

Also, you must provide employees with a history of the business through the lens of quality. Show them problems you’ve had in the past and how you corrected these issues. Also, let them know where your business stands with respect to its quality goals today. 

In addition, you also need to train your employees to see a connection between their actions and work ethic and the overall performance of the business. By tying their individual behavior to the overall system of working, you can give them insight on how to ensure product quality and good stewards of your business. 

 

7. Perform Product Testing

It’s important to test your products before launching. This way, you can anticipate how buyers will react to the product and see what changes you need to do before making an official release to the public. 

Product testing allows you to see how your product performs in the real world, ensuring if your product reflects the quality, usability, and efficiency you intended. Also, it provides insight into marketing strategies as well as your positioning against your competitors. 

 

8. Listen to Customers

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your customers. Collecting customer feedback can give you insight into what improvements can be made and how to enhance product quality. 

You can use any negative feedback to learn more about your customers’ wants and needs and help you in creating products that meet these requirements. 

 

Conclusion

Standing out in the competitive business world can be extremely difficult. But, if you’re offering quality products, you’re already a step ahead of your competitors. 

By following the above tips, you can offer quality products to delight your customers and make them come back for more.  

The Contacts You Need as a Small Business Owner in 2022

SME Owner

The day a person decides to start a business can be a momentous one. Many will quit jobs, cash in savings, take risks and put themselves in a position to be the captain of their destiny. It’s a huge undertaking and carries many risks and rewards beyond the prospect of supporting yourself financially and without management looming over you.

In addition to the entrepreneur, however, are a host of people who they’ll rely on for all sorts of support. Some provide emotional help for dealing with the stresses and strains of being a small business owner. Others will offer professional guidance or services. Much like a suspension bridge, missing any one of those links can cause a lot of difficulties. Knowing who you need around you to get the best out of your business journey. 

 

Speak to my lawyer

In reality, legal trouble is something you’ll want to avoid whatever size or stage your business is in. They’re not incredibly business-friendly, taking a lot of time and resources to see through a full legal process. SMBs are driven by consistent cash flow, unlike large corporations. Even before you get started, a lawyer can help you figure out what sort of business you’ll want to register as and the taxes you’ll pay. If you’re a sole trader – say a skilled professional working on hazardous sites – operating somewhere in the UK, you’re at risk of accidents. Knowing personal injury solicitors in Ireland, Wales or England is critical, due to the complex, detail-oriented nature of personal injury claims. Make sure you’ve got a lawyer who understands your regional base of operations, the laws you’ll need to abide by and the administration you’ll need to carry out to stay compliant. 

 

Counting on someone

Your accountant is going to have a deep knowledge of your business and what will be necessary to stay both financially sustainable and also on the right side of the taxman. Accountants are typically trusted advisory bodies as much as professionals; they’ll be able to help you plan future projects and expenditures, for example buying new equipment or hiring new employees. 

 

Lending Lessons

Money can come and go for small businesses. Many external factors can have an impact on demand and can result in cash flow being difficult to guarantee. What’s more, business loans can be the only way for many owners to get started affording things like premises and initial materials. It’s good to look for an institution that’s business-friendly; as to whether you need loans or not, a checking account is the minimum any SMB needs to pay and be paid.                                              

Family and friends are perhaps the most important of all. You’re going to face many challenges as a new business and will have to call upon a lot of different people for support. Whether it’s figuring out your next steps to sell your product, or simply needing to vent after a long week, it all helps you on your way. Because building a business, like so many worthwhile things, can’t always be done alone. 

Why You Should Despose Of Your IT Equipment Correctly & Safely

Dispose your Computing Hardware & Protect the environment.

At Concept Management both your security and the environment matter to us and we are passionate about helping our customers to recycle and dispose of their computer ware responsibly. Proper disposal of computers is important for several reasons including keeping your used computer hard drive content private and releasing the recycling potential from your devices. The potential for recycling components and raw materials in computer hardware is huge and contributes to us collectively reducing the negative impacts of tech waste in the UK.

Why are computers so important?

Computers are an integral part of the modern world. They are electrical devices which work by processing information and data. The likely hood is you are reading this from your own computer, tablet device, phone or maybe even a wearable tech so you may know about some of the many other things computers are good for. Besides surfing the internet, on a computer you can type documents, create spreadsheets, make images, edit film or music and even play games. Computers are made all over the world and there are major brands such as Apple, PC, Windows and Lenovo that make vast ranges of computers internationally.

What should you do with an aging computer?

When computers age they can become slower and less reliable. This can cause problems if a computer is relied upon heavily for work or personal use. As your computer ages it may become unfit for purpose, and you may therefore seek an upgrade. Here at Concept Management we care deeply about giving our clients the power of choice that this stage. It is important that you dispose of your computer and hard drive safely and correctly. Safe recycling or disposal of computer equipment is very important for both security and the environment. Whether you are needing to take care of personal or , we have some key information to help you do it well.

Follow WEEE Legislation correctly

Where recycling is not possible, responsible computer equipment disposal is also crucial as it can affect the environment and disposal services in the UK if you don’t correctly follow WEEE legislation and guidance. Along with your computer itself we also offer responsible recycling and disposal of other hardware including your keyboard, mouse, cables, monitors, laptops and external storage drives.

What do Concept Management offer?

At Concept Management we offer a full range of services in computer equipment disposal where recycling is at the centre and disposal is kept to the minimum. Where we can recycle, we will, as reusing precious raw materials in newer models is a great way to reduce the amount we mine the earth’s resources. Working ethically and ecologically is a priority for us as we want our customers to benefit from updating their technology in the most environmentally friendly way possible. We have fully trained and vetted staff who can assist you or your business with meeting your computer ware disposal needs which surpass the WEEE Directive.

An expert service you can trust

If you do need to completely start again with your computer equipment, we recommend that you use an expert service you can trust to ensure that your computer is effectively cleaned of any sensitive data before it is disposed of. Concept Management offers an ethically and efficiently minded service with onsite destruction of physical kit, hard drive erasure and other options for your obsolete computer ware at our HQ site.

Pioneering recycling service

The tech industry and culture is moving at a faster and faster rate and the demand for rapid renewal of devices is becoming a world waste issue. Where possible, reusing precious raw materials from older computers and devices and repurposing them in new ones is key in closing the production cycle. Disposing of your computer without proper content erasure or approved disposal methods is dangerous and illegal. But, at Concept Management we encourage our customers to go one step further than following the regulatory computer disposal guidelines as we offer a comprehensive and pioneering recycling service.

Highly trained staff

With highly trained staff, schooled in the practical and ethical issues around safe data sanitizing processes, we can confidently offer you a safe and hassle-free computer disposal service. So, whether you need information on the process of how to destroy your hard drive from your computer before recycling it or simply would like a quote for the job you need doing we are happy to help. You can rely on our expertise and experience for all of your computer recycling and data disposal needs.

What are the advantages of IT Recycling?

There are so many advantages to choosing to recycle your computer. From Macs to PCs, we want to have the opportunity to reuse the precious elements found in your old model and repurpose them again and again. Entrusting your computer to an accredited service provider such as Concept Management is also a way to avoid harsh and toxic chemical being released into the environment and polluting our treasured planet. We work beyond the WEEE directive standards which means you have the added benefit of being assured that your data and hardware are being dealt with properly. Improper disposal of computers can leave both you and the environment vulnerable, so we take every step to make your experience with us is safe. We work with each customer to offer a bespoke service for the needs of your job and offering our expert advice all the way so you can make informed choices about your computer recycling and disposal options.

Why should you choose Concept Management?

At Concept Management, we work to be leaders in the responsible and ecologically focused approach to computer recycling and disposal. Our HQ is based in Manchester and due to the substantial demand and our ability to meet it, we have a large team of brilliant staff that offer a 24 hour a day service during the 5-day working week.

Business Puns; How To Use Humor To Attract Customers

Introduction

Laughter is the best medicine. Everyone loves to smile, chuckle, or laugh because of your posts. Sometimes, they could just see your brand, and they are all cracked up because you have delivered great humor.

You do not have to create a comedy show where customers will gather and have a good time. No, that is not the idea. Instead, the scope is to engage customers and attract new ones to what you offer.

Does it work for everyone?

No, some people are not encouraged as they can feel differently about humorous posts. Therefore, rather than such engagements attracting them to your business, they are turned off, and they become uninterested. Also, its translations can be different based on varying cultures. Hence, using humor to attract customers will only work best if you are target customers globally.

On the other hand, some brands have become famous due to their humorous posts. There are several benefits business puns can offer. They include;

Free promotion

There is a lot of publicity, reputability, and promotion for different businesses and the puns to their name. However, the efforts might not be properly appreciated for some while it is free promotion for many others.

The truth is that it is easy for people to share every funny post with their friends and family. Such images can end up on the internet and even trend in magazines, newspapers, or daily articles. You want to get enough reputation for your business, and puns will do in this case.

You can take advantage of the promotion by adding your business details and the contact us section. As people enjoy the funny parts of the post, they can see your number and can be interested. Use the business puns to get the attention of people to your services.

Create a memorable moment from every post

This fact is the most valuable and important part of your business pun. Since the posts will make people smile or laugh or chuckle, make it a memorable one that can be easier for them to remember. However, be careful of what you put out in a bid to be humorous.

You may need to do some research before putting out that post. However, there is a safe way to create a memorable moment from your business’s funny posts. You can do this by jumping on the trends in the world.

For example, there is a movie that is making the world skip – that is the show is on everyone’s lips. Take Game of Thrones or Squid Games as an example. You can create posts with them such that many people can easily relate when they see such posts. You do not have to think out of the box about this. You can use special characters in the movie.

The funnier your pun, the more assured it is because many people will repost the same.

The effect of multiple meanings

As a clever business owner, you can make one post have multiple meanings to different people. However, ensure your choice of words is harmless and cannot be an offense to anyone.

Creating multiple meanings may not be the situation at all times, but an intelligent person can create some for your brand. You can put out a word that could attract a potential customer as they are motivated to patronize you.

The truth is that a pun is a wordplay with underlying meanings. There are always points to discover – an extra meaning. Just make people happy with whatever post or extra meaning you are giving them. Such a post will not go out of their minds anytime soon.

Creating awareness

Do you know that you are creating awareness with those types of posts? Yes, you are.  It could begin like it is all fun until you see more people engage the post and, in turn, your brand. You don’t have to force the joke. You can only push it by engaging people as they react to your pun.

Conclusion

Business is a lot of work as it requires being strategic most time. You may need to think well for a post that will project your brand, and when you’ve successfully found one, then the joke is on your competitors. We’ve got more informative pieces to keep your business soaring. Visit the site to learn more.

6 Ways to Identify and Satisfy Customer Needs

Customer Needs

Customers are essential parts of any business enterprise. So, to grow your business and outshine other firms in the market, you might want to promote your customers’ experience. You can achieve this by identifying and satisfying their needs.  

Customers’ needs are what consumers prioritize and consider when purchasing a product. In other words, customer needs are motives that drive customers to buy products or services. That said, some of the factors that determine customers’ needs include price, quality, reliability, transparency, usability, empathy, and information. 

That said, here are the best ways to identify and satisfy your customers’ needs. 

 

1. Work With Experts 

Working with experts is the best deal for any business looking to attract more customers.  Though you can walk with various business professionals, one of them is a consulting expert.  

A consulting expert can help analyze your customers or target audience.  This is to enable you to get an insight into their needs. This enables you to provide customized products or solutions, thus boosting customers’ satisfaction.  

Thus, if you want to understand your customers’ needs better and take your business to the next level, you can work with innovation consulting firm Normative or other similar service providers. 

 

2. Communicate With Customers Regularly 

Communication is an essential aspect of any relationship, and customer-business isn’t an exemption. Here, communication means how a business exchanges information with customers through various methods. This can be through word of mouth, writing, electronically, and much more. 

Also, one of the best ways to communicate with your customers is by using effective solutions. This can include the use of automated tools to communicate with your customers in real-time. For instance, you can install a live chat application or a chatbot into your business systems to ensure that customers can reach you 24/7.  

Communicating with your customers could play a vital role in the success of your business.  Thus, you need to be consistent.  Communicating with your customers more often is the best way to understand their thoughts and needs.  

 

3. Conduct Direct Interviews 

You could understand your customers’ needs by conducting interviews. Conducting interviews is a practice of collecting customers’ inputs through personal engagements. This can be through online platforms or physical interaction.  

So, whenever you get an opportunity to interact with your customers, be sure to ask them about your products or services. For instance, you can inquire from your customers to know whether your products solve their problems. This allows you to know whether to modify your products or introduce new ones into the market. Also, it helps to answer customers’ needs in a better way. 

 

4. Observe Customers Behavior 

Another best way to understand customers’ needs is to observe their behavior. It involves closely monitoring your customers to understand their interests and buying patterns. Also, you could observe your customers by analyzing the data you’ve gathered from your interviews with them. This allows you to know what needs are they looking to satisfy. 

 

5. Analyze Your Competition

Analyzing your competitors is another great way to understand customers’ needs. It’s a practice of researching to help know what products or services other firms offer in the market. Understanding your competition can allow you to provide better products or services to outshine other firms in the market. Besides, it ensures that your business isn’t left behind in the market. 

That said, you can do this by monitoring your competitors’ sales for various products. This enables you to understand what products are in high demand. Therefore, the highly demanded items in the market can reflect customers’ needs. 

 

6. Take Customers Feedback 

Another best way to understand your customers’ needs is to listen to them. You can achieve this by taking feedback from them. 

Feedback is an opinion or information provided by a customer about their experience when searching for products or services. Listening to your customers’ feedback allows you to improve their experiences by providing tailored solutions. Here, tailored solutions are products or services that are customized or personalized to meet specific customers’ needs. That said, depending on customers’ feedback, you can improve your existing products or introduce new ones into the market. 

 

Takeaway 

Boosting your customers’ experience is the way to go if you want to remain connected with them. Though there are several ways of booting customers’ experience, the best way is to know their needs. After understanding customers’ needs, you need to provide solutions to them. This helps promote their satisfaction.  

How to Create an Effective Onboarding Plan for Your New Hires

Successful Onboarding

If you’re recruiting for your business or searching for new ways to improve your employee retention rate, a well-structured onboarding plan should be a process you are prioritising.

Creating a strong onboarding strategy will enable your new starters to effectively integrate into your business, providing them with the knowledge they need to start their new role and productively contribute to the growth of the company.

If you’re unclear on how to go about introducing new hires to your business, we’ve put together a complete guide on employee orientation to help you build an effective onboarding plan.

 

What is employee onboarding?

It is important to first reflect on what your understanding of employee orientation and onboarding is. Simply put, onboarding should be understood to be the process of integrating new starters into your company through internal training and support.

Whether your new hires are joining a multinational firm or a small startup, a clear and consistent employee orientation process is key to helping them settle into their new team and excel in their role.

A solid employee onboarding process involves providing job insights, aligning expectations, and sharing the cultural aspects of the company with the new employee.

Particularly in graduate recruitment, when new starters are likely to have limited experience in full-time employment, a strong onboarding plan is crucial in helping less experienced hires become aware of how their role fits into the wider goals of the company.

 

What does an effective onboarding plan look like?

The best onboarding processes are structured around the needs of the new hire, beginning before the new team member even steps foot in the office for the first time.

As an outline, onboarding plans can be divided into three basic stages: pre-start date, start date and probation period.

  1. Pre-start date

It is essential that all the necessary documents (offer letters, contracts) are provided to successful candidates as quickly as possible to prevent them accepting competing job offers. It’s a good idea to compliment these documents with a welcome pack, detailing the aspects of the job and company that the candidate may have the most questions about.

As the start date gets closer, it is important to ensure that everything is ready in terms of tech. Make sure that new hires have an email address ready, along with an appropriate desk set up stacked with the necessary office supplies.

Create a structured first week timetable for your new hires, with pre-prepared sessions of HR induction and skills training.

Keeping in regular contact with the candidate, via phone or email, is also key. Having an open line of communication with the candidate enables both parties to provide updates on practical matters, such as first day admin e.g., proof of ID.

The lead up to the first day at a new job can be incredibly daunting. Staying in regular contact with candidates provides them with a sense of reassurance and creates a welcoming atmosphere.

 

  1. Start date

Starting your new hire’s first day with an informal ‘coffee catch up’ is a great way to put them at ease whilst informing them of the day’s proceedings.

Before starting formal induction, it’s a good idea to take new employees on a tour of the office, introducing them to their new team. It is also helpful to assign a mentor from the team who can act as a source of support for your new hire and be on hand to answer any questions that they may have.

Throughout the day, it’s beneficial to have regular check-ins with the new hire to make sure that they have been able to follow their induction timetable, and to gage whether they are settling in well.

Taking your new starters out for lunch or post-work drinks is a nice touch for their first day – it is a great way to show your new employees that they are valued from the start. 

 

  1. Probation period

As your new hire progresses through their first week, involving them in meaningful tasks is key to helping them gain insight into their responsibilities and productively integrate into the team. Moving further into the first month, providing your new hires with gradual ownership of tasks will boost their confidence and engagement.

Throughout the months of their probation, organising end-of-month reviews is useful for both the new hire and senior management. Reviews are a great opportunity to discuss performance, goals and wider ambitions. It’s also a great chance for both parties to gain feedback on areas for improvement.

As their probation period comes to an end, it is important to ask new hires to evaluate their onboarding experience to help your company improve its processes: What was useful? Was the induction thorough enough? How could onboarding be improved for future hires?

The best onboarding processes transform into career development plans once the probation period comes to an end, emphasising to staff that you care about their continual success and growth.

In doing this, businesses benefit from a stronger employee experience and increased retention rates. In this sense, the benefits of good onboarding practices extend beyond the needs of the singular hire towards the promotion of a better company culture for all.

 

Whether you are looking for support with building your onboarding plan or need to recruit top talent quickly, get in touch and discover our award-winning recruitment services and business resources.

Embracing Change, Creating a Workplace of Contentment

Happy worker

By Nicole Alvino, Co-founder and CSO, Firstup

5 steps to employee engagement and development in a world of hybrid working

Remote working has been a necessity in recent months, but as we emerge from the deeper grips of the pandemic and employees begin their return to their office or work in a hybrid way — we shouldn’t underestimate, that despite the flexibility that working from home offers, that for some being in the office is hugely valuable.

We recently conducted research on employee wellbeing, and communication in the workplace and found that in the UK around 40% of those surveyed, would prefer to go into the office every day — with the youngest age group needing the office more. Indeed, the global study of 23,105 workers found that globally 23% of those who most regularly worked in an office felt more valued, and got more attention from managers than their home-working peers.

This correlation between being valued, and being in an office environment makes sense. And for the younger generation, there’s a real level of developmental need that being in an office nurtures. Being surrounded by colleagues all working to a similar goal, working within a team that encourages collaboration and enhances relationships, whilst also creating a business culture that becomes endemic in the organisation. 

Having a working space that allows for productivity has also been key, and that’s where the younger generation who may still live with parents, or share with housemates have been most affected by the pandemic. Hubble’s recent “Shall we ditch the office” report found in its survey of 1000 UK employees, that Gen Z was the most ‘pro-office’ age group, whilst Gen Z and Baby Boomers were the most ‘pro-remote’. It found that the younger generation, the Millenials and Gen Z-ers, not only missed the modern perks of the office, but 37% of the Gen Z-ers missed the office as a place to do quiet focused work. They also found they were more productive in the office compared to their older colleagues.

Working from home clearly isn’t for everyone. A recent survey by Harris found that 80% of employees who have worked from home during the pandemic would like to continue to do so, but a whopping 57% actually felt enthusiastic about the prospect of returning to their normal place of work. This paints an interesting picture, it’s clear there is an undoubted enthusiasm for getting back into the office after being isolated at home for months, but also that maintaining work/life balance has become central to our lives, and was only highlighted during these past months. With maintaining an attachment to home now becoming a key focus for many employees, a McKinsey report found that unsurprisingly 50% of the employees surveyed felt that they’d like to work from home or remotely at least three days a week.

Embracing this change has become imperative for many organisations, to not only retain employees but to make sure their needs are being met. Offering choice, whilst supporting the needs of different age groups will be compelling reasons for employees to stay or leave.

So with hybrid working set to become the norm, how can employers ensure that all the benefits that come along with office-based working are readily accessible and communicated to those working remotely? And how will communications play a role in ongoing employee wellness and development?

Employee communication and engagement have never been more important than today. Whatever generations your employees span, these differing needs must be met. Personalisation will be key, and an internal communications strategy that takes into account differing work environments will need to be considered.

As we embrace hybrid working, human resources and internal communications teams are realising that their digital employee experience (DEX) strategies must be built around the switch. The ability to offer an equally slick and fulfilling experience to all employees, no matter whether they are home, deskless or in the office will be critical to attracting and retaining talent.

With that in mind, here’s our guidance on the key steps organisations should take to successfully bridge the gap between home and the office:

 

  1. Ensure all employees experience the company culture fully, whether at home or in the office: In a hybrid working environment the Digital Employee Experience, or DEX, is more important than ever. There are many things that a company can do in order to develop that virtual culture and facilitate those human connections – regardless of where an employee is based. Be it virtual coffee breaks, team building sessions that involve a virtual tour of Machu Picchu, or simply regular opportunities for employees to provide feedback – it just needs to be intentional and considered from the employees’ perspective. Create a sense of community even among a distributed workforce by sharing employee stories, successes and personal accomplishments.
  2. Ensure work/life balance is accounted for: Now more than ever we seem to be ‘always on’, and while that may have short-term benefits for productivity, it is not sustainable – and eventually will have a distinctly negative impact. it is important to set out clear guidelines for hybrid working and drive behaviours from the top – not just allowing, but encouraging employees to switch off digitally. For example, limit online meeting times, build in time for breaks, and reduce the number of daily priorities.
  3. Personalised experiences create value: using tools to personalise the digital experience based on data including their role, location and preferences will be key. A digital assistant providing continuous access to information, via every endpoint, channel or device they use will ensure only relevant communications are received. 
  4. Content is key: Use curated content to keep your employees connected to the company and ensure they are aligned on your business strategies, objectives and brand positioning. This is the content you might until now have distributed through traditional channels such as printed newsletters, magazines, postcards and flyers. But with electronic messaging, you can easily use segmentation and targeting to ensure employees only receive the information they need, helping them cut through the noise and focus on what’s important.
  5. Communicate frequently: Employees want their organisations and leaders to provide frequent and authentic communications. When employees feel ‘in the know’ and part of the organisation’s mission and vision they are more engaged. Businesses should communicate frequently and authentically. Consistent and frequent communication is the key to change management and employee engagement.

 

Instead of worrying about the location of employees, organisations need to focus on their communication strategies that bridge both types of workers. By building leader-employee relationships, providing opportunities for personalised two-way communication, sharing updates frequently, and using relevant communication channels engagement and employee nurturing can be maintained whether they’re in the office or not. As we embrace this change to a more hybrid model of working, employee engagement should not be impacted using the right technology and tools available to us today.

4 Ways to Put Your Business On a Path to Sustainability

People discussing

The word ‘sustainability’ used to be a vague term, but businesses have evolved. Whether it’s addressing climate change or diversifying their workforce, these companies and businesses have created ways to be sustainable.

Car manufacturers, for example, have taken steps to produce energy-efficient and fuel-efficient engines to reduce pollution emissions. Tesla uses rechargeable batteries as a way to fuel their vehicles. Other car manufacturers like Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, among others, have also followed.

Another example is Nike. The leading sports apparel manufacturer has also moved towards sustainability by being transparent with its supply chain and production practices. They also help reduce waste by using post-consumer recyclable materials in some of their products. They’ve also developed an app where you can compare the environmental footprint of different types of fabric.

 

A Sustainable Business

Achieving a sustainable or ‘green’ business isn’t supposed to be complicated. It’s about looking into products and services in your company and thinking about their impact on the environment. Looking inward and assessing existing policies and strategies is already one step towards being sustainable.

There are different strategies you can take to create a sustainable business. Below are some of the ways you can put your business on the path of sustainability:

 

1. Reduce Carbon Footprint

In a factsheet published by the Center for Sustainable System from the University of Michigan, the industries below contributed the following percentages of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States: 

  • 28.9% from the energy industry
  • 27.3% from the transportation industry (where 23% comes from road transportation and 2.4% from air transportation) 
  • 10.3% from the manufacturing industry (where 7.9% comes from overhead allocation and 5.6% from industrial processes)

One way of reducing your carbon footprint is to limit the overproduction of goods and start using recyclable materials. By developing strategies to consume less raw materials, you can contribute to the decrease in demand. You can also encourage consumers to practice recycling instead of throwing their trash away and contribute to the global waste problem.

Another way of reducing carbon footprint is to use renewable energy like solar power. Airis Energy Solutions’ solar power in Miami and other similar solar power providers can help reduce your monthly expenditures by helping you save more on your energy bill. Using energy-efficient lighting can also help reduce your electrical usage and, subsequently, reduce your energy costs.

 

2. Rethink Company Policies

The challenge for some businesses is adjusting to the new normal. More employees prefer working from home instead of going to the office, so they don’t have to worry about commute times.

In a study by the U.S. Census Bureau, an average worker travels 26 minutes to work, 20% longer compared to the 1980s, which is 21.7 minutes. These long commutes have hampered employee productivity and contributed to mental stress.

Before, employees had to wake up early, prepare, and compete with other workers rushing to get to their respective offices on time. Now, employees only have to worry about waking up on time for work. 

Another benefit of working from home is it could save you money from leasing building spaces. These savings could be transformed into additional employee compensation or perks.

 

3. Practice Corporate Social Responsibility

Setting up policies to address a social issue is already part of most companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There is no ‘right’ way in developing CSR, but companies strive in their own way to contribute to the public.

For instance, Microsoft aims to have Zero Waste by 2030. To date, they’ve reduced and eliminated waste by reusing materials, reducing sourcing, and recycling. All of their waste is treated with environmentally responsible methods. Coca-Cola is also aiming to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% by 2030. 

CSR creates a positive image for your company and can also serve as free marketing. You and your staff can join clean-up drives during weekends which can also be a form of camaraderie between co-workers. Other CSR strategies include:

  • Environmental Responsibility

You don’t need to restrict yourself to joining clean-up drives to be environmentally responsible. Simple steps such as reducing wasted water or recycling used paper can help you move towards greater environmental responsibility.

Google, for example, has demonstrated their commitment by investing in renewable energy sources and sustainable offices. On the other hand, Facebook has achieved their goal to transition to 100% renewable energy last year. They’re now committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2030.

  • Ethical Responsibility

Without your employees, your business won’t be a success. The employer-employee relationship should be nurtured. Providing them with fair compensation and other benefits is the right thing to do. Their workplace should be free from harassment and discrimination. They should also be fully equipped to deal with and avoid potential hazards.

Starbucks, for instance, has developed ways for employees to have a voice by getting their feedback and suggestions heard. They’ve also diversified their workforce by attracting and employing workers from various communities. They pay special attention to gender issues and have barred discrimination against gender in the workplace. 

 

4. Be Transparent

Transparency builds trust not only with your employees but with your investors and consumers as well. It can lead to high employee morale, taking feedback as the driving force to improve processes and policies. However, you don’t want to be ‘too transparent’ with your business to the point of jeopardizing your business.

In the internet age, almost all information is available at our fingertips with just a simple online search. Some of these keywords, however, lead to confidential information from unsecured websites.

In a report from Built With regarding CMS usage, 35.63% of websites today use WordPress, and this CMS can be hosted on any server as long as it has MySQL and PHP. In a simple Google search query, “index of /wp-content/” will return over 5 million pages. These pages show what is stored inside the “/wp-content/” of a website running under WordPress.

Some websites have non-disclosure agreements with other companies. Documents such as invoices show what was agreed between parties and other sensitive information. Again, a simple Google search query “index of /wp-content/ intext:invoice intext:pdf” will return over 15,000 pages showing invoices in PDF form that is stored in the website’s “/wp-content/” folder.

While tech companies like GitHub and GitLab allow companies to make their source codes available to the public and encourage developers and other users to collaborate on features and fix critical flaws through the ‘Free and Open-Source Software’ project, there are companies that were not spared from data breaches. For example, LinkedIn, an online platform for career development and professional networking, suffered a data breach twice. The latest June 2021 breach affected 700 million users.

 

Final Thoughts

Even though sustainability is a vague term in business, it can provide significant benefits to your company. Reducing carbon footprint, including CSR as part of your company’s priority to address social issues, listening to your employees’ suggestions and feedback, and building trust are a few ways to be more sustainable and contribute to the welfare of future generations. With a lot going on today, businesses can help reduce chaos through comprehensive planning and concerted effort.

Power Plant Management: How to Transition to Remote Operations

Power Plant Management

Physical management of power plant operations can be taxing and time-consuming. By transitioning to remote management, you could help your power plant achieve more. Increased productivity and profits are some of the possibilities that may arise from remote management.

To achieve these, you may want to consider the tips listed below, which can enable you to smoothly transition to remote management for your power plant operations.

 

Invest In the Right Technology

Choose the right technology so you can run your operations off-site efficiently. Though you may want the latest equipment, remember to stay within budget. This will prevent you from overspending and ensure that other significant aspects of the transition aren’t overlooked due to financial constraints.

Some of the technologies you may want to consider include the following.

  • Management Software

Various options for power plant maintenance software are available in the market. Most offer maintenance solutions and asset management features, which can allow you to better facilitate operations.

You should make sure to get software that meets all the needs of your plant. Even if one option seems better than the rest, you shouldn’t purchase it if you’re only going to use a segment of its services or if it doesn’t meet most of your requirements. The best software to invest in is one you can maximize to cater to your power plant’s specific needs.

  • Sensor and Diagnostic Equipment

Sensor and diagnostic equipment can help you detect problems before any damage is done. Some systems scan equipment and monitor their performance, so if there are any changes or unusual activity, you’ll be notified. This allows you to quickly respond to any existing issues.

You can also incorporate condition-based maintenance instead of interval-based maintenance. With sensor and diagnostic equipment, you’re notified whenever there’s an issue that needs fixing. However, with interval-based maintenance, check-ups are done whether there’s an issue or not. This results in wasted money and time.

With sensor and diagnostic equipment, you can avoid needless maintenance while still providing a quick response to issues that may arise. You’ll also be able to troubleshoot issues even while off-site.

  • Advanced Security System

With most of your operations being conducted online, you may want to hire IT experts to establish and maintain a strong security system for your power plant. This will protect your power plant’s systems from cyberattacks, which can damage or delay your operations.

 

Automate Processes

Automate all operations that can be automated, such as security updates. This will help you reduce the labour needed on-site. It also saves you money and time, with regard to wages and time spent supervising labour on-site.

However, don’t completely do away with human labour. It would still be wise to have two or three personnel on-site in case of emergencies.

 

Have a Competent Team

There are two ways you can have personnel assist you with remote operations.

  • Have Employees On-Site and Off-Site

You can assign a number of your employees to operate off-site, with one or two remaining on-site. The off-site team can help you oversee operations, and the on-site team can readily respond to issues that should be handled in person.

  • Outsource Labour

If there are on-site tasks that don’t have to be handled daily, you can outsource these to another company or service provider. For example, maintenance isn’t required daily, so having employees on-site who only handle maintenance would be a waste of resources.

It would be best to hire the services of a company with qualified personnel to carry out maintenance when required. You save money since you only pay when there’s work to be done. You can then focus your resources on other significant aspects of the power plant that require more attention.

 

Have an Established Protocol

As you transition to remote operations, all your employees and outsourced personnel should know their responsibilities. If issues arise, you should have an established protocol for them to follow. An organizational chart showing the hierarchy of command would help as well. This ensures a smooth flow of operations, and it prevents conflict and delays during emergency situations.

 

Conclusion

As seen above, remote management of power plant operations requires adequate planning. Organized systems have to be put in place to ensure that it runs smoothly. However, the transition to remote operations doesn’t have to be complicated. With the tips listed in this article, you can have a good start for making a smooth transition.

12 Must-Include Items In Your Cyber Security Audit Checklist

Cyber Security

As cybersecurity threats continue to increase every year, it’s crucial to protect your business at all costs. When your business stores digital assets in the cloud, it’s at risk for cybersecurity threats. Data loss can be a catastrophic blow to your business, as it can cause a drop in trust level among your customers while facing the costly setback to put your business back in order.  

One way to keep your business safe is to audit the cybersecurity plan of your business. Here are several must-include items in your cyber security audit checklist:

 

1. Update the Operating System  

The operating system your business currently uses should have automatic updates. This means that the system will automatically initiate updates once available, depending on your business policies. However, in some cases, it might require a professional to perform the necessary updates.  

Remember that system updates are crucial to ensure seamless business operations and processes. 

 

2. Assess the Cybersecurity Protocols of Your Provider  

When employing the services of a managed security service provider (MSSP), it’s essential to review the policies and protocols to learn how they secure their data centers and cloud infrastructures.  

Working with professionals with the skills and expertise in the industry will ensure the best protection for your business. A team of experts will also determine whether your critical business assets are at risk. This is because they can identify any security vulnerabilities before an attack occurs. 

If you want to ensure the safety of your business at all times, you can consider opting for MSSP security to keep potential cybersecurity threats at bay. 

 

3. Check the Accessibility of Your System 

It can be daunting what a USB storage device and Internet connectivity can do today. In just minutes, a hacker can copy your business data or corrupt your system. 

With the potential risks, it’s crucial to control who can access your system. As a start, perform a thorough background check on all employees or contractors before allowing them access to your system.  

As you scrutinize and update your IT policies, you should also prioritize training for your employees. Always remember that human error is one of the biggest challenges for IT security. Generally, it’s best to include regular discussions on the current IT security threats, preventive measures, and phishing drills. Doing so will significantly help minimize potential loss. Most malware or phishing attacks will fail if employees are well aware of your policies and follow security protocols.  

 

4. Update Antivirus and Antimalware Software 

Businesses should ensure that antivirus and antimalware software are always up to date. Missing out on an update can put your data at risk.

Most antivirus and antimalware software will check for updates frequently and scan the system on schedule along with any media inserted into a workstation. Among larger companies, the workstations have configurations in which they report the status of the updates to a centralized service, which can send out updates automatically when necessary.  

 

5. Provide Email Awareness Training 

As part of the safety protocols, employees should be cautious when opening suspicious emails. So, make it a priority to remind employees how to take the necessary precautions before clicking on an email link or to check the email properties if the sender’s email address is a match.  

The employees should also be reminded not to click on or open suspicious attachments. Instead, they should send them to the IT team to assess any harmful elements.

 

6. Secure Communications 

The lines of communications can be a weak point in which potential threats can infiltrate your system. Your business must have specific tools that allow secure communications, especially when it comes to sending and receiving data.

All the employees in your company should undergo training on utilizing the business portal or encrypted email solution when handling any data containing sensitive data.

 

7. Review the Data Loss Prevention Policies 

The convenience the cloud provides makes it convenient for anyone to access and share information. Sadly, this can be a potential threat to your business operations. You’ll never know when employees might download a file with sensitive data over public Wi-Fi or share it with others.  

Take the necessary precautions by reviewing the data loss prevention policies of your company. If necessary, you should set policies that limit document sharing or encrypting files before sharing.

 

8. Ensure Safe Connections 

Making sure the connections in your system are secure should also be a priority. The IT team should provide training to the employees on how to connect securely to the information resources of your system either by utilizing a virtual private network (VPN) or other secure connection.  

 

9. Review the Layered Security Scheme

Layered security involves several layers of protection for your business. It’s best to consider layered security such as a firewall to protect against potential cybersecurity attacks. If you already have one in place, work with a professional to make the necessary adjustments. 

One of the practices worth implementing is a combination of antivirus or malware software with a firewall and an intrusion prevention system (IPS).  

 

10. Perform Data Backup 

When you want to minimize the damage to your data or any disruptions to your business operations, it’s best to regularly back up your data to a secure, encrypted, and off-site location.  

The approach can be advantageous to your business operations since it can help ensure a seamless recovery from a cybersecurity attack, human error, and natural calamities. Additionally, it’s also essential when it comes to complying with government regulations.

 

11. Conduct Internal and External Vulnerability Scans 

As part of maintaining the security of your business operations, perform scheduled internal and external vulnerability scans to pinpoint any potential weak spots in your system. Generally, a professional will implement these scans through a program to identify any threats.  

An internal scan might identify an undesirable program. As for an external scan, it can gauge the overall strength of the network segmentation and segregation. 

 

12. Cybersecurity Insurance  

In your cybersecurity audit, don’t forget about cybersecurity insurance. Sadly, many companies overlook this aspect and still end up a victim to hacking attempts despite implementing several safety measures.  

The cost of this insurance has significantly dropped in recent years, and you should consider both first-party insurance to cover the direct losses from a breach. In contrast, third-party insurance would help cover any damages to your client’s data. 

 

Final Thoughts 

With the help of a cybersecurity audit, it’ll ensure a secure and safe future for your business. Cybersecurity can be quite complex and tedious, but protecting your business must be your priority. Performing a cybersecurity audit with a team of professionals will ensure you’ll cover everything in keeping your business secure and safe at all times.

Addressing the HGV Driver Shortage as an Urgent Priority

HGV driving along a main road with a sunset in the background

The UK’s haulage sector, having struggled for 18 months, is at breaking point. Workers have been leaving the sector at an alarming rate, and there’s now an estimated shortage of over 100,000 drivers.

Measures including offering short-term visas to non-UK nationals have been introduced as immediate solutions, but it’s clear the sector needs a future plan. As well as speeding up the process of new drivers entering the sector, bringing back experienced workers who left is important. This can by done by improving working conditions through the use of technology and HR initiatives.

Hauliers and the government must come together to address this shortage as an urgent priority. This article explores some ways we can do that.

 

The state of play

A number of factors have contributed to the HGV driver shortage, which has been growing for a while now. According to an RHA member survey, drivers reaching retirement age is the biggest contributor, very closely followed by Brexit.

By 2029, a quarter of the current workforce is expected to have retired. What’s more, the average age of haulage drivers is 57. Additionally, it’s estimated that 80,000 EU nationals left the workforce in the year leading up to the Brexit deadline. Over 40% of hauliers also cited COVID-19, pay rates, and drivers leaving for a different sector as key reasons for the increasing gap.

Getting new employees into the sector has been difficult as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The HGV driver test backlog, which was caused by multiple national lockdowns, has slowed down this progress significantly. All of these factors have led to the driver shortage almost doubling since the beginning of the pandemic, rising from a shortage of 60,000 to over 100,000 in under two years.

 

The current measures

In July, the government temporarily extended the hours HGV drivers can work – this was due to end on 3rd October but has been further extended to 31st October. This move was met with criticism from the sector. According to Richard Burnett, the RHA’s Chief Executive, this was making the job even less attractive and putting unnecessary additional pressures on an “already exhausted” driver workforce.

On 25th September, a “package of measures” was announced by the government to train new HGV drivers. Up to 4,000 drivers can take part in HGV driver training courses, with 3,000 expected to take part in a “skills bootcamp” in order to gain a category C or C&E licence, while a further 1,000 are expected to access training locally. The Ministry of Defence and the DVSA has committed to providing thousands of additional tests to allow these trainees to enter the workforce as quickly as possible.

The government has also recently announced temporary visas for foreign drivers as a short-term measure, but this has been met with criticism. Representatives from leading organisations including the British Retail Consortium and the European Road Haulers Association have warned that this is not enough to plug a growing gap.

 

The additional steps we can take

We know that this crisis won’t be solved overnight, and long-term solutions are needed. But, because it’s reaching a breaking point right now, there are more measures that can be taken to plug the gaps.

One option is to look at workers already in haulage businesses. While they may still need to pass the formal tests, they’ll have the benefit of knowing the business and its processes and systems inside out.

Looking at sectors that have workers with similar skills, such as private and public transport drivers, may be useful. But this should be approached with caution – a number of public transport providers, including Go North East, have announced driver shortages.

Some of the drivers who have left the haulage sector may have done so due to poor working conditions – many drivers cite poor company culture, unrealistic expectations, and bad technology as reasons for leaving their haulier businesses in Glassdoor reviews examined by Mandata in its recent whitepaper.

 

Can driver roles be positioned as more attractive?

If drivers have left the sector because of poor working conditions, it’s important to show them how this has been addressed. These workers are qualified and experienced in the role, and highlighting the positive changes made since they’ve left is important in plugging this critical skills gap.

Interestingly, the Mandata whitepaper also highlighted that bad technology is a source of frustration for drivers and haulage employees. If a job is hindered by the technology required to do it, it’s natural that this would frustrate employees. Hauliers who have invested in market-leading digital technologies like transport management systems will be more attractive to prospective drivers – especially those who have left the sector for this reason.

 

Are there ways to increase your existing workforce’s output?

The relaxation of the rules on how many hours drivers can work in a day was designed to increase output, but the sector has rightly criticised this for putting additional pressure on already overworked drivers.

There are ways, however, that you can increase your drivers’ output and efficiency without them working more. Through the use of technologies like electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) and smart back-office solutions that allow you to divert drivers if they encounter traffic, you can increase your workforce’s efficiency and allow them to do more in their standard hours.

As well as increasing efficiency, this can also increase their satisfaction – en-route delays can be avoided, meaning they waste less time on the road. Not only can they potentially fit more deliveries in, but these solutions can also make sure they finish on time. The more satisfied your workers are, the more loyal they’ll be to your business.

 

The sector has been raising concerns about the HGV driver shortage for some time now, and we’re finally seeing some action taken. But due to a myriad of issues such as an ageing workforce, Brexit, and COVID-19, the gap has only widened and has now reached a critical point. While the government announcing support initiatives is welcome, we need a blend of short- and long-term strategies in order to resolve the immediate crisis and ensure the sector is never struggling for drivers again.