Is Fear Running in your Workplace? How to Move Past Fear Culture & Build a Brave, New World of Work

Yellow smiley egg among others with negative emotions in package on light background

Fear is a primal emotion that has characterised human nature from the very dawn of evolution. It is a basic yet crucial emotion that is important to survival, triggering a response designed to keep us safe from threats and dangers. In this respect, it is fair to say that it is a valuable sentiment to experience from time to time, as it guarantees we are as secure as can be in specific circumstances.

However, problems arise when fear becomes a constant burden. This is particularly true if it happens in the workplace. Fear can instil sentiments of stress and anxiety, accounting for up to 60% of work absences during the year and costing companies an average of £666 per worker. Not only that, but it can also affect the efficiency and productivity of the business on the whole.

Hence, it is important for leaders to find ways to help employees overcome fear in the workplace. Here, we explore how business owners and managers can support fearful team members by building a braver, healthier environment.

 

Show empathy and build trust

One of the most important responsibilities of a business owner or manager is to establish a relationship of trust with your employees. Indeed, trust is the gateway to teamwork, collaboration, and high morale, acting as a powerful tool for decreasing feelings of fear and stress.

When your team lacks trust, they are likely to live in constant anxiety. When people feel they can’t allow themselves to be vulnerable, they may end up concealing their worries rather than speaking up and asking for much-needed help.

To build a sentiment of trust within the workplace and nurture team development, it is crucial to demonstrate empathy and emotional intelligence. Remind your employees that you are there to provide support and assist them along the way. Point out that anyone can have a bad day or experience moments of uncertainty. Also, be honest and transparent and consider letting them know from time to time if you are feeling worried or scared too. This is likely to create a stronger connection and, ultimately, high levels of trust.

 

Normalise fear

Let’s not beat around the bush: from CEO to apprentice level, everyone is bound to have reservations around some specific aspect of their job. Some may feel uncomfortable giving a presentation in front of their colleagues, while others may be pressurised by urgent, last-minute tasks.

Sharing that everybody has their own worries can help decrease the intensity of fear within your team. In fact, it normalises the experience and makes your people realise that they are not alone. Moreover, you may want to encourage them to recognise sentiments of fear as part of the process, while also highlighting that they are only temporary.

Incite your staff to speak to fellow co-workers and supervisors, and allow them to have an open discussion about how they have conquered fears in their professional careers. This will boost your team’s confidence and help them move forward.

 

Create vision and make your intentions clear

Another good way to limit feelings of fear in the workplace is to set a solid organisational vision and offer clear instructions when needed. In fact, some employees may experience increased sentiments of stress and anxiety if they do not know what is expected from them. By defining the end goal and their role in that, and by providing workers with the right instruments, business owners and managers can effectively nip this problem in the bud.

Not only that but, in certain circumstances, it could be wise to explain the reasoning behind your decision-making to your team. For instance, if you are hiring a candidate for a new role, some team members may worry about how the change will affect them. Some people may be concerned that it’s because they are not performing well enough, which may therefore knock their confidence.

Hence, outlining your intentions can prevent sentiments of fear from the outset. What’s more, your employees will be more likely to support and understand the decisions you make.    

 

React amicably to news and disagreements

There may be certain instances in which, however, your team will not agree with the actions you take to tackle a problem. If this happens, make sure you don’t shrug off your employee’s opinion or react negatively. Firstly, this might lead to narrow-minded and short-sighted decisions. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, your team may be less likely to disclose any issues or uncertainties they may have in the future. This is because they may be afraid of receiving an abrupt response.

Likewise, if your workers come to you with negative news, make sure to stay lucid. Things don’t always go to plan and there will often be options you can try to improve the situation. By embracing the right attitude and thanking your employee for informing you promptly, you can nurture a positive environment that leaves no room for fear.

It is only normal to experience fear and worry from time to time. However, workplaces should be made welcoming and collaborative to truly drive productivity and efficiency.

From building relationships of trust and normalising stress to making your intentions clear and allowing for disagreements, there are many steps you can take as an owner or manager to limit sentiments of fear within your company.    

MRS Digital shares the confused marketer’s guide to GA4

Businessman using Google Analytics in the office on the touch screen of his tablet.

With thousands of digital marketers still getting to grips with GA4, Google Analytics agency, MRS Digital, have designed a GA4 help sheet that explains the key updates and changes from GA3. With the steep learning curve that comes from functions being moved, renamed, and gone completely in the update, the familiar comfort of GA3 can prevent many marketers from making the big change. However, come 1st July 2023, they won’t have a choice and could be in for a shock if they don’t make the change soon enough.

The help sheet has been designed with MRS Digital’s years of expertise and knowledge and aims to make what is on the surface a difficult interface, an understandable one. The help sheet compares 16 sections and 79 features so that digital marketers can gain more insight into GA4 and instantly see how the function they’re looking for has changed.

Within the help sheet comes useful comments written by Google Analytics experts to provide a more in-depth explanation of the update to GA4. For example, in the ‘Control User Access’ section, the feature ‘providing users with different level of access’ explains that the GA4 update has implemented account structure changes, meaning that the user access level now has limitations.

Additionally, all the information in the help sheet is written using easy to understand terminology, meaning that even those who use Google Analytics when they need to will still benefit from the help sheet.

John Burton, Head of Strategy at MRS Digital, said:

“Our help sheet is designed to give marketers a snapshot into the future of Google Analytics, as come summer 2023, they could be in with a shock if they are still relying on the familiarity of GA3. Getting to grips with GA4 has seen a lot of turbulence in the marketing industry and it’s clear that marketers who aren’t experts with Google Analytics need a resource to point them in the right direction.”

“There’s still a lot of change to come in Google Analytics, and it’s crucial to learn the basics before that happens. For those who haven’t yet migrated properly and familiarised themselves with GA4, we recommend that this is done as soon as possible. Our help sheet will benefit you, and a lot can be learnt from it.”

As GA4 is updated, new features and tools will become available. Since launch, GA4 updates have included Performance Max and Smart Shopping data becoming available, which provides users more visibility and insight into their campaigns such as the amount of traffic attributed to their campaigns.

MRS Digital are Google Analytics specialists with a wealth of expertise and experience in the marketing industry. As native users of Google Analytics, users of the help sheet can be guaranteed to see their overall knowledge of GA4 enhanced.

When GA4 was initially launched, there was significant resistance from marketers adopting it who had become so accustomed to GA3, only to have it a lot changed in the update. However, it is essential for marketing professionals at all experience levels to learn as much about GA4 as possible, as come summer 2023, GA3 will no longer be an option and the jump to GA4 could be a shock.

Google Analytics Infographics

More Than A Third Of UK Remote Workers Agree Mental Health Has Improved

business woman talking to her colleagues about plan in video conference

34% of employees insist their mental health has improved since the new way of working came into play. Increasing to over half, 56%, in workers aged between 18-34.

New research has confirmed that UK workers are happier with their mental state as a result of the new way of working. Despite the well-publicised pandemic related mental health concerns, over a third of UK workers (34%) insist their mental health has improved.

The improvements are even more pronounced in those aged between 18 and 34, where over half (56%) have seen an improvement.

These results are part of an independent research report called ‘Changing behaviours of a flexible workforce in 2022 and beyond’ research, commissioned by Smart Locker Provider Velocity Smart Technology. The research investigated how offices will change in 2022 and how business leaders can support the future of IT support.

The ability to better juggle work and family life are likely to play a key part in this generation’s preference for a more flexible approach to work. Certainly, those who have returned to the office confirm commuting (23%) and loss of flexibility of the working day (20%) are the main challenges – especially for younger people. 

Anthony Lamoureux, CEO of Velocity Smart Technology, said, “From walking the lock-down dog to managing side jobs and the new or rediscovered joys of taking time to be outside during the working day, substantial numbers of individuals now recognise the nonsensical nature of the old nine to five.”

Organisations have made a positive transition to accommodate employees’ needs over the past two years and appear to be more focused on employee well-being as opposed to equipment. 

Almost two fifths (39%) provide options to seek mental health/ well-being support but businesses still seem to fall short at supporting remote workers outside of the standard office hours with only 28% providing out of hours IT support.

With more people working from home, this is becoming a much bigger problem. More than a third of employees said they’ve experienced more prolonged IT issues since they stopped working exclusively from an office.

Lamoureux adds, “Whilst businesses should definitely be giving themselves a pat on the back at how they have managed to adapt and support their workforces. They by no means should be kicking back and getting complacent. 

As we all know, employees have more power than ever to turn around and walk out the door if they don’t feel happy, fulfilled and supported. Whether this is through mental health support, IT support, or even better – both. Businesses need to be focussed on enhancing employee experience overall.

The biggest problem with most IT resolutions, is that it’s a convoluted and time consuming process, especially now with employees spread out because of remote working. And this is only exacerbated when it involves a problem that can’t be resolved quickly.

Adopting new technology like cloud, mobile, machine learning and newer technology like smart lockers will all combine in the future to create a more modern, productive and profitable workplace that also increases employee engagement.

And it’s the business that acts first which will see the biggest benefits.” concludes Lamoureux.

Three Key Benefits of Having a Diverse Workforce

Diversity People Group Team Union Concept

Following Pride Month and the criticism of businesses that changed their logo to the Pride flag without any meaningful action or diversity-led policies, it’s time for organisations to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices. But if your business has never really focused on equality and diversity, what are those benefits?

Here, we’ll delve into the benefits a diverse workforce brings to businesses.

You can understand your customers better

A lack of diversity can impact your clients and the output of your business in many ways. For example, hair companies may produce products for afro hair without really understanding the specific needs of that type of hair. Or, across many sectors, accessibility provisions may take into account physical disabilities but not mental ones.

When people from diverse backgrounds come together, they can offer viewpoints that may not be considered by a more homogenous group. We know from current political events in the USA that when these voices aren’t heard, decisions are made without considering their needs. This applies to businesses, their employees, and customers too. An IT consultancy firm or UK call centre will stand a better chance of attracting and delivering an excellent service to customers with a diverse workforce.

Attracting and retaining top talent

Boards and senior management teams in the UK are still overwhelmingly male and white. As we go down the ranks, diversity increases, but many businesses are still seas of uniform faces.

Predominantly white businesses may struggle to attract BAME workers, while research has shown that 40% of women qualified in engineering will leave their roles because of “unwelcoming social barriers” that include being perceived as incompetent, being sexualised, and being excluded from social events.

Inclusive measures are also important for those with both visible and invisible disabilities. We’re aware that people who require mobility aids will require ramps and lifts to access certain parts of our buildings, but what about those with arthritis or chronic pain? Are your offices designed with developmental disabilities like autism in mind, or are they potentially overwhelming? Factoring in the needs of people from diverse backgrounds will show that your business cares about diversity and equality and can help you attract and retain so much more talent.

Better staff well-being

Employees who are surrounded and managed by people who share similar characteristics to them are likely to feel more welcomed and included. If a company is dominated by straight white men, it can sometimes contribute to a ‘laddish’ culture that can exclude women, LGBTQIA+ people, and those from different ethnicities.

A happy workforce is already a major benefit to businesses, but it also brings with it plenty of additional advantages. Businesses with a diverse set of happy people have a lower turnover and higher productivity and can even be more profitable. It pays to be diverse.

Diversity should always be a priority for businesses. Offering opportunities for people from different backgrounds is important for societal change and social mobility, but it’s also critical to business success. So if your organisation doesn’t yet have an equality and diversity policy in place, consider these three points and make them a priority.

Source – https://www.wearekura.com/

Top Apprenticeship Opportunities For School Leavers

Five Apprenticeship Sectors You Should Consider as a School Leaver

Recently completed your GCSEs or A-Levels and unsure what’s next?

Building expertise in a field and getting your foot in the door can be difficult – which is why apprenticeships offer a great way to move from education to employment, allowing you to earn a wage whilst learning from experienced professionals in your chosen field.

As a school leaver having finished your GCSEs or A-Levels, you will usually have three apprenticeship levels open to you.

Level 2: also known as “intermediate apprenticeships”, these are generally agreed to be the equivalent of 5 passes at GCSE level, with the only requirement usually being a minimum of level 3 (D) in English and Maths GCSEs to apply.

Level 3: also known as “advanced apprenticeships”, these are generally agreed to be the equivalent of 2 passes at A level. Although requirements vary by company, these roles will commonly expect either a level 2 apprenticeship or a certain set of GCSE/A-Level results to apply.

Level 4: also known as “higher apprenticeships”, these are less common and often have higher competition for placement. Applying for these courses will usually require solid A-Level results in relevant subjects or an equivalent qualification such as NVQs or a BTEC.

As a school leaver going out into the world of employment, it can be difficult to know which areas offer the best potential for progression, stability and a rewarding career. With that in mind, we’re breaking down five in-demand areas you should consider for an apprenticeship.

 

Construction

The UK government’s recently-published list of the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers for 2022 is full of companies in the construction industry, with 10 of the top 100 apprenticeship companies operating in the construction sector – and for good reason. The wealth and range of opportunities as part of the top 100 list alone is huge, from electrical apprenticeships with Clarkson Evans to painting and decorating apprenticeships with Bagnalls, all offering the chance to gain employable skills in a booming industry with high demand for jobs, excellent pay and progression opportunities to management or even directorial roles. Plus, you can always be sure that no two days on the job will be the same; if you choose a career in construction, you’ll be visiting a range of sites as part of your job, each one presenting new challenges, opportunities and rewards. You’ll also get to see the projects you work on develop over time, with immense satisfaction completing each one and seeing it have an impact on its environment.

 

Energy

The energy sector is currently thriving with job opportunities as the UK aims for net-zero and a sustainable energy future following the commitments made at COP26 last year. With around 738,000 people currently employed in the UK energy sector, there’s no shortage of job opportunities around the country and apprentices will have the opportunity to develop an exciting and varied career with competitive pay. From technical and mechanical roles to opportunities in design and engineering, these offer the perfect way to get your foot in the door in an innovative sector that’s set to see enormous growth, with a projected 50% increase in electricity demand by 2035.

 

Digital Marketing

As a rapidly developing industry with a steady annual growth of 10% in the UK, there’s currently a huge demand for those with digital marketing skills in roles like paid social media, analytics and content marketing. With a Digital Marketing apprenticeship, you’ll build knowledge of marketing basics and experience a wide range of business areas as part of your course. As you start getting a feel for the sector, you’ll usually get the chance to choose a preferred area to specialise in such as content writing, analytics, website development, social media, digital PR or even account management. An apprenticeship provides the perfect balance of theory and practical experience to enter a marketing role, as you’ll spend time in college lessons and shadowing colleagues as well as getting to work on your own marketing campaigns and build a portfolio of work.

 

IT

With a 50% year-on-year rise in tech job vacancies in 2021 and IT vacancies currently making up 13% of total job vacancies, an IT apprenticeship ensures you’ll be going into a sector with plenty of demand and opportunities. An IT apprenticeship encompasses a wide range of jobs, allowing you to specialise as you progress in your apprenticeship role and discover the areas that interest you. Whether it’s setting up PCs, installing new software or becoming a troubleshooting whiz, an IT apprenticeship will let you build key abilities which will serve you for the rest of your career. Another advantage of working in IT is the level of flexibility; 21.6% of all job ads in the IT sector are currently advertised as remote roles, meaning you can choose from a range of companies and courses across the country regardless of your location.

 

Health & Social Care

Like construction, Health and Social Care feature heavily on the Government’s Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers 2022 list, showing the number of excellent opportunities available here. Ideal for those who want people-focused roles, apprenticeships in this sector can include everything from social worker jobs to management or healthcare positions, giving you the chance to gain knowledge and soft skills from experienced workers in your field whilst enjoying a rewarding job role which makes an impact in people’s lives on a daily basis. With over 35,000 live jobs currently listed on the NHS Jobs website alone, this is a sector that’s always in demand and provides excellent stability for your future career.

Joanne Gualda, Group Marketing Director at Bagnalls, comments: “Apprenticeships can provide the perfect chance for school leavers to gain education and practical experience in their chosen field, allowing them to earn as they learn and offering the ideal stepping stone into a successful career. The recently-published Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers 2022 list shows the variety and wealth of apprenticeship opportunities available in the UK, regardless of whether you’re looking for something digital, hands-on or a mixture of the two.”

Menopause In The Workplace

With the conversation around menopause and the workplace becoming a focal point in recent months, workplace discrimination and employment law solicitors Beecham Peacock reveal the current status of employment rights relating to menopause and how these might change in the future.

 

Where Does Workplace Law Currently Stand on Menopause?

Whilst important discussions have been taking place in recent months around menopause and its impact in the workplace, menopause is currently not a protected characteristic and there are no plans for this to change in the immediate future. It was confirmed as recently as May 2022 in a letter from The Minister for Work and Pensions (Lords) and the Minister for Women, Baroness Stedman-Scott, to the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Caroline Noakes MP, that the Government has no plans to introduce menopause as a further protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

This does not mean that an employee who is impacted by the menopause and its symptoms cannot take action under current UK Law. Protection can be found under the Equality Act 2010 as the menopause and its symptoms may be covered under other protected characteristics such as sex, gender reassignment, age and disability (for example, where the symptoms of the menopause have a substantial and adverse impact on day to day life). However, this is, of course, not as straightforward as recognising menopause as a protected characteristic in its own right.

In addition to the Equality Act, 2010, other Legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and Public Sector Equality Duty also place obligations on employers to ensure those experiencing menopausal symptoms do not suffer a detriment.

 

What Workplace Support Currently Exists?

Historically, there has been little formal workplace support in many UK companies, with the subject almost being seen as taboo. 8 in 10 UK women employed during menopause say their workplace had no basic support in place. This has led to menopause being referred to as the ‘Silent Career Killer’, with 1 in 10 women in the UK who worked during the menopause leaving jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms according to a 2022 Report by the Fawcett Society into Menopause and the Workplace.

An increase in Employment Tribunal claims by 44% from 2020 to 2021 shows that employers have not been getting things right and that employees are beginning to take action where the correct support is not in place.

 

What Circumstances Breach Your Employment Rights?

The symptoms and effects of menopause, including but not limited to fatigue, hot flushes, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, concentration and memory issues (often referred to as ‘brain fog’) and mood swings, may fall within the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010 where they amount to a “physical or mental impairment…[that] has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [their] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

It is generally accepted that long-term means lasting, or likely to recur, for 12 months or longer for the purposes of this definition, meaning that workplaces treating employees less favourably or failing to make reasonable adjustments for those experiencing menopause symptoms could in many cases face a discrimination claim. This may include issues relating to uniform, toilet breaks, time off for medical appointments and increased flexibility in working arrangements.

Those who are treated less favourably or victimised due to their sex, gender reassignment or their age, which can be linked to the menopause, may also have grounds to make discrimination and harassment claims.

 

How Is The Climate Changing When It Comes to Workplace Menopause Support?

Thankfully, the increasing openness to discuss issues surrounding the menopause, both in the media and in workplaces, has led to a number of employers, including HSBC, M & S Bank, First Direct and Huddersfield Town FC being granted ‘Menopause Friendly Employer’ status, whilst Huddersfield Town Football Club recently became the first football club in the UK to achieve “Menopause Friendly Employer” status. Likewise, several large employers, including NHS England, the Civil Service and the House of Commons, have already signed up to the Menopause Workplace Pledge. We are likely to see many more follow suit in the coming weeks and months.

This has led to an increased and more open discussion of menopause and its impact in the workplace. Increasingly employers are introducing a menopause policy and/or training to deal specifically with the symptoms and impact of menopause, rather than including this under existing policies. This tailored approach enables employers to better support employees. Menopause and Wellbeing Champions are also being introduced into some workplaces.

 

Could Menopause Workplace Support Be Formalised Through UK Law?

Although there is presently no legislation that requires employers to have a menopause workplace policy, and no existing workplace laws specifically relating to workers experiencing menopausal symptoms, as the conversation progresses we are seeing positive changes in practice even though there are currently no plans for formal changes to UK law.

At present, those facing workplace issues in this regard can still receive professional advice on their working rights and support specific to their situation, including the option of filing a discrimination claim in many cases.

What is an Exit Plan, and Why Does My Business Need One?

man holding a box with personal items stuff leaving the office

Starting a business is an exciting life chapter, but that’s not to say there are no risks. Whether it’s new to you or you’ve had plenty of experience in the past, it’s important to carefully consider what you need to ensure that you reach your potential.

Thankfully, an exit plan prepares you for any difficulties you could face in the long run. In this article, we will explore the topic of business exit plans and how they can help you.

 

What is a business exit plan?

A business exit plan is, in simpler terms, a strategy for what will occur when you decide to leave your business, whether for a new venture or simply retiring. Just like you created a plan to start the business, it’s the same thing when you decide to call it quits.

An exit plan allows you to reduce or liquidate your stake in the business and make a profit where possible, limiting your losses. It’s important not to assume that an exit plan is in place solely for failure, as many business owners can start their company with the intent of leaving.

 

What does a business exit plan look like?

There are several strategies you can choose when it comes to your exit, and ultimately, it depends on the reason for leaving and your goals. There’s no timeframe when it comes to an exit plan, as this can depend on a range of things, like investors – however, the preparation allows you to act quickly when you need to.

Merger and acquisition is used when you’re selling your business to a different company or merging, and especially beneficial for start-ups. With this plan, you can negotiate prices and set your boundaries.

Selling your stake to a partner or investor is applicable to those who are not the sole owner of the business, and the buyer is generally someone you are familiar with and trust. The business will typically carry on as normal with few disruptions.

Family succession does what it says on the tin – it allows the business to stay in the family. This way, the new owner will most likely have knowledge of the business, making it a smooth transition.

Acquihire is another strategy where the new owner has bought the business based on the skills and talent of the employees, allowing you to set strong terms and take care of the team.

Management and employee buyouts allow individuals already working for the business to move higher up in their role and take ownership. This type of plan gives you peace of mind knowing the new owner is someone experienced in the company.

Initial public offering (IPO) consists of opening your business to the public and selling shares of stock to shareholders. It’s a challenging plan, but it opens doors for a lot of profit, more than other strategies.

Liquidation is the plan you might resort to if you want to put a complete end to the business. This doesn’t necessarily mean failure, as your next business venture could be on the cards if you opt for liquidation.

 

Why should you consider an exit plan?

There are several reasons why an exit plan will protect you in the long run if you find yourself facing any business surprises.

You can rest assured knowing you have much more control with an exit plan in place. If your business is making more profit than you expected, you might be eager to sell due to its high value. In this case, the strategy offers you control to take action and makes the ownership transition run smoothly.

It’s a given that your employees are a vital part of your business, so it’s important to protect them too, and this is possible with an exit plan. Employees can rest assured that their job is safe thanks to the ownership transition.

The risk of financial failure is reduced by implementing a business exit plan. Many factors can lead to financial failure, like changes in the market, but any loss may be reduced by moving quickly. You can plan ahead when you want to sell by conducting ongoing research into the market to get an insight into how your business will look in the future and when it’s best to leave.

Taking risks can cause quite a bit of stress when it comes to your business. However, with an exit plan, you will undoubtedly feel at ease for your future and be prepared for any problems that might come your way.

A Place For Everyone!

Diversity teamwork with joined hands

Finding ways of building a company culture that embraces diversity and inclusion is a no-brainer to many, but many companies struggle to incorporate these factors into their ways of working. Charlotte Sweeney, of Charlotte Sweeney Associates, is changing all that. Earning the title of Most Influential Diversity & Inclusion Consultant 2022 – UK in Corporate Vision’s Corporate Excellence Awards, we thought it the right time to dig into the secrets of her and her team’s tremendous success.

People work better when they know that they are being listened to. That principle lies at the heart of an inclusive workplace. Creating an inclusive workplace is not an easy task, but it is one which has the results of a stronger organisation because it listens to everybody equally. Workforces with stronger voices work more effectively than before, but making these changes for the benefit of society as a whole has been an immense challenge.

Since 2012, Charlotte Sweeney Associates has been leading the fight for diversity and inclusion across the business world. Working from the inside out, they have partnered with companies and businesses around the globe to implement a better vision that suits the needs of people in the 21st Century. Through events, forums, seminars and reports, the team have been able to have a major impact on the way that these leading organisations see the issues of diversity and inclusion, and more importantly, they have changed the way in which many of them do business in order to include some of the most valuable lessons.

As founder of the business, Charlotte Sweeney’s name understandably carries a great deal of weight. Her work in the field has been ongoing for many years, inspired by a successful corporate career in the financial services sector. Here, she discovered an incredible passion for inclusivity and diversity, and for finding ways of implementing policies that would ensure a broader range of people could find themselves thriving at ever-higher levels. Nowhere has her skill in this regard better been shown than when she was asked to produce The Sweeney Report at the request of Sir Vince Cable and Lord Davies. This seminal piece examined the voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms and the way in which this might be improved in the future.

Whilst much of her work has focused on the needs of women, the breadth of Charlotte Sweeney Associates’ work showcases the way in which Charlotte understands the challenges facing many different groups of people. Her team comprises a wealth of different people with a host of different lived experiences. Each brings a unique perspective to the table which makes the firm stronger.

Charlotte Sweeney Associates sets itself apart through the way in which its guidance is built on practical experience. Every member of staff comes from a position of having worked for change in a wealth of different organisations whilst holding passion for the important issues surrounding inclusivity and diversity. This awareness of the unique challenges facing every organisation allows the team to provide tailored advice that comes from insider experience. Far from offering platitudes and performative action, the work of Charlotte Sweeney Associates is specifically designed to make real change that has a tangible effect on how a business is run.

The rising interest in inclusivity and diversity amongst the general public has made it a matter of interest for many different businesses. To be able to show a difference in this field makes them into more appealing employers in an increasingly challenging job market for employers. Their workforce want an environment where inclusivity is embedded, and employers have come to recognise that such an environment generates better results financially too.

Because the desire for inclusivity is one which is at the heart of so many people’s ambitions, it’s not simply a matter of building new ideas and concepts into a business. It’s about finding a way of unlocking a way of working that empowers people to achieve their best possible work. Charlotte Sweeney Associates takes on the role of a critical friend, always exploring new ways in which this culture might be showcased, collaborating closely to make things happen. Needless to say, the various solutions proposed by the team are bespoke designed to suit the individual needs of the corporation, but each is built on practical successes achieved elsewhere.

The success of Charlotte Sweeney Associates over the years has come from this proactive and pragmatic approach to inclusivity. Many people think the issues involved are extremely complex – and this is by no means untrue – but finding a way forward that enhances the operations of a business can be straightforward indeed. At the core of everything offered by the Charlotte Sweeney Associates team is a desire to find better ways of communicating so that everyone can understand each other. By eliminating the complexity that often surrounds these matters and focusing in on the individual, it has been possible for the talented team to propose and implement programs that have brought about sustainable and lasting change.

Alongside their impressive track record working closely with businesses and companies to build inclusivity in the heart of their operations, the team at Charlotte Sweeney Associates have also produced vlogs and blogs that are free for companies to use. These resources often take the form of content from experts in the field, acting as case studies in the experiences of people from the LGBTQ+ community and BAME backgrounds. As mentioned before, drawing on these experiences is one of the easiest ways to start changing the way a company works to include more people and their various perspectives.

In short, the success of Charlotte Sweeney Associates comes from their determination to centre the way in which people think around voices which are often ignored. Pushing boldly forward at all times, and working from ground up within organisations around the world, the team has managed to create change that many did not think possible. Their success is a credit to them. We cannot wait to see what they do next.

For business enquiries, contact Charlotte Sweeney from Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd via email – [email protected] or on their website – https://www.charlottesweeney.com/

Webchats: Will Growth Continue in a Post-Pandemic World?

Successful customer service representative using laptop at office

Keeping communication open with customers is an important part of any business process, and we’ve seen a lot of change in how we do it. UK businesses are growing fast, and so are the ways they react to customer service enquiries, with efficiency and ease front of mind.

With virtual customer demand heightened even more during the COVID-19 pandemic, live chats and chatbots have become something businesses value for their communication. Chatbots especially have had an emphasis placed on their value, being considered forward-thinking.

Janine Hunt, client partnership director at Kura, the UK’s leading independent outsourcer, comments: “Communication is necessary to effective and efficient progression between business and customers. The quality of your product and service will only be enhanced by quality interaction with those putting trust in your company. Here at Kura, we strive for this level of communication to show our customers how much their business means to us and encourage them to return in the future.”

In this article, Janine explores the ways businesses can use these evolving communication methods and how they should adjust their strategies to continue delivering outstanding customer service.

 

The COVID Effect

Research from Hubspot suggests that 93% of customer service teams say customers have higher expectations than pre-pandemic levels. They know brands have the tools to automate and personalise many aspects of customer service, and now expect it to happen.

Once COVID had forced us all indoors, we had to find new ways to conduct our business processes and keep channels of communication open. Not being able to interact face to face saw the use of live chats skyrocket, with a number of industries, including automotive and estate agents seeing huge increases as time wore on.

While calling it a benefit of the pandemic might be generous, lockdowns meant that customers and businesses were all in similar positions. Working from home meant that everyone was within touching distance of a laptop, tablet, or phone. Customers now expect prompt responses to their inquiries with the same quality and speed they got during the pandemic.

This can be directly linked to the rise in popularity of chatbots. Not all companies have the resources to dedicate an entire team to customer service and look to AI to automate the process but keep communication open.

 

How Should Businesses React?

While chatbots might seem like an effective method of covering interaction with customers, it’s not a fix-all solution. Thanks to research from Usabilla, we can see that 36% of customers prefer to talk to a chatbot for “simple” inquiries such as requests or issues, but a wider number still want human interaction.

Chatbots carry the issue of being quite restrictive. You can program them to respond to particular keywords or sentences, but it doesn’t account for the more complicated issues that occasionally arise. Research from the Publicis Group shows that if a customer had a bad experience using a chatbot, 73% of them wouldn’t use it again.

While we’re not saying to get rid of your chatbots entirely, integrating them into a wider customer service support where humans are the next port of call for more complicated problems could help improve satisfaction. This can be done by programming in an option that if, after a certain amount of time spent talking to the chatbot, it hasn’t produced an adequate solution, you can be transferred to a live chat operator to take your problem further.

This way, the time spent developing your chatbot and pre-determined responses isn’t wasted, but you also value the customers and their need to fix their issues effectively. Onboarding and training individuals for live chats in-house can take time, but customer service outsourcing can eliminate these issues and allow you to focus on the further development of your product or services for your market.

The growth of webchats throughout the pandemic was born out of the necessity to keep communication open. But coming out of the worst of lockdowns and isolations means that customers’ expectations have increased around how fast their queries are dealt with. Further growth must happen to accommodate these needs, and we’re likely to see it continue, as the data gathered around chatbots show they’re not a permanent solution. Investing in customer service can only help grow your business with the ever-evolving customer satisfaction trends.

Trust, Respect, and Common Goals: Building A High-Performing Team

Successful business team makes high five in the office

There are many factors that can help drive success into your business. Modern equipment will keep you in step with the times, an accommodating workplace will improve people’s overall well-being, and a wide client base will generate profit and enhance your reputation. However, the most valuable asset of a company is its employees. With great dedication, variegated knowledge, and sectorial competencies, talented workers can truly make a difference.

It is safe to say, though, that teams can make better decisions, solve more complex problems, and execute more quickly than single individuals. This is why it is always important to put specific conditions into place that can effectively aid team development. As a manager, it is your responsibility to instil a sense of belonging and proactiveness in your workers.

Ultimately, a high-performing team is likely to yield the results you are aiming for. But how can you mould a cohesive group to benefit the efficiency of your business? Here, we explore how to shape a successful squad by focusing on targets, trust, communication, and encouragement.

 

Set clear roles and priorities

First things first, it is essential to ensure that each member of your team knows what their duties are. Defining everybody’s responsibilities will help your employees understand what is expected from them and deliver accordingly to the best of their abilities. In fact, any ambiguity or confusion at an individual level can hinder their own productivity, while also having a detrimental impact on the team as a whole.

Moreover, it is wise to assign roles and tasks in line with people’s qualities. Are they good with numbers? Allow them to deal with stats and numerical data. Are they technically gifted? Software and computer-related duties will suit them best. Handing clear and tailored roles to your employees will harness their real potential and maximise your team’s performance.

That said, if you want to nurture your squad and broaden their skillsets, consider investing in continual learning and development. High-performing teams tend to be curious and will welcome the opportunity to explore new paths and constantly build on their knowledge.

 

Embed trust and respect

A team in which members both trust and respect one another is more likely to efficiently work in unison. Making sure that people value each other – and feel valued in return – will increase cooperation and spark appreciation towards their colleagues’ strengths.

Therefore, creating a culture of trust is essential, and should be put into practice as soon as a new mind joins the business. In fact, it has been found that a pleasant onboarding experience lowers turnover figures by 157%. What’s more, it increases employees’ dedication and interest in the role by 54%.

As a manager, you need to take steps to ensure that you are trusted too. The truth is that humans tend to trust people that they like, so building positive relationships with your team members can generate sentiments of respect. Get to know them and check on their feelings from time to time. This shows that you care about them not only professionally, but on a personal level too.  

Consistency is also important, as walking the walk makes you a manager that your fellow workers can rely on. Have you promised to carry out something? Have you organised a meeting? Follow through with your appointments, or your team’s drive may soon start to fade.

 

Communication is key

There is no hiding that communication is the magic glue that keeps teams united. Indeed, from mitigating conflicts to solidifying team building, it conceals an array of crucial benefits. To nurture a close-knit, high-performing team, try to promote interaction at all times. Why should employees keep innovative thoughts to themselves? Why should they not share ingenious solutions with their colleagues? Saying things out loud and discussing specific ideas collectively can help teams work towards the same goal in an effective manner.   

In this respect, make space for thinking time and creativity sessions. Allowing your employees to spend time consulting each other will favour decision-making processes, helping them tackle any challenges with confidence and originality.

Furthermore, you should consider cultivating a transparent feedback culture. Sometimes, giving unsolicited feedback can lead to awkward situations. In fact, people may feel uncomfortable sharing their advice, and the recipient may not accept it gladly. However, providing constructive feedback can nip potential issues in the bud, and therefore enhance group performance. Normalise this process and encourage team members to frequently offer advice to one another.

Also, don’t shy away from praising hard-working employees. Everyone appreciates some well-deserved recognition from time to time, and it will work wonders on their motivation levels too!

 

Create sense of purpose

Finally, it is vital to instil a sense of purpose inside your team. Employees will feel more connected with their squad, as well as with the business on the whole, if they are presented with a common goal. What are the company’s targets? What should your staff be aiming for as a group?

With clear directions and well-defined ambitions in mind, your team can truly thrive. Working towards shared, key objectives is what a team needs to optimise their productivity. Hence, to raise a group of high-performing people make sure to set out a well-organised itinerary for them to follow. You will be delighted with the end result!

So, what will be your next steps? From establishing clear roles and building trust to outlining common goals and valuing communication, you will be providing your team of employees with the tools they need to excel.  

How Can an MBA Help With Your Career?

Large group of graduation caps during commencement

An MBA is a course that can add a lot to your employability which can help with potential career changes.

In this article, we’ll break down how an MBA plays a large role within business, as well as some job roles where having one is a necessity.

 

What is an MBA and what are the benefits?

An MBA is a postgraduate degree course that is the business equivalent of a master’s degree. These courses focus on managerial and administrative practices so are usually taken when you have a few years of experience in the world of business. This is rather than taking the course after finishing your undergraduate degree and can be done remotely through online courses.

There are plenty of benefits to taking on an MBA course. Not only are you adding crucial knowledge around management and leadership roles to your repertoire, but you’ll also meet like-minded people on the course from a wide variety of business backgrounds. This networking can help you connect with businesses down the line or could encourage you to start your own business alongside these contacts.

MBA graduates are also among the highest paid of any graduates within the UK, as the skills you learn are crucial for high tier roles within business structures. In fact, research from Emolument found that the graduates with MBA degrees make £89,000 annually on average, while executive MBAs fetch up to £100,000.

 

The importance within the business sector

Within business structures, roles that are further up the chain of command will require the skills that you got while studying for your MBA. These vary from taking charge of hiring employees who are hungry to succeed to retaining the staff you currently have and encouraging their individual development.

Alternatively, the skills you pick up could revolve around managing the company’s finances and forecasting its planning and growth. This will also involve decision-making. Being able to decide what to do on a whim and take responsibility is crucial for managerial roles.

MBA degrees are renowned all over the world. Having one can open doors internationally if you were thinking about changing up your environment and day-to-day life. This feeds back into the networking you can do through the course, as a study from Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) found that 7 out of 10 graduates from business schools are international students, and 11% of that number took MBA courses in the UK.

 

Which roles require one?

There are a wide variety of roles where an MBA is needed to qualify for the job. The Business Statistics Briefing Paper from 2020 showed that within the UK alone, there are around 6 million companies and organisations in the private business sector. Having an MBA can be the key to obtaining employment within businesses in this sector.

The transferable skills you obtain through your course can help the roles that would be offered by these companies. MBAs focus a lot on the internal finances of companies, which fits into finance manager roles that revolve around budgeting the incomings and outgoings and building a timeline for future growth. Another option would be managing human resources departments, making calls on who to hire and making tough decisions around the day-to-day communication.

Roles like this often require an MBA, as CEOs and business owners want to put their trust in someone who understands the importance of what the jobs entail. Having such a qualification shows your dedication to management and the inner workings of a business and inspires a level of trust.

The business sector has a lot of doors that can be opened by getting an MBA. Within the sector, roles higher up in the structure of many businesses require one and offer a high salary. Having an MBA can also open a lot of doors on an international level, as they’re recognised as high-achieving degrees that hold a lot of weight and teach important skills.

How to Update Your Management Habits

Business Team Meeting Strategy

Over the past few years, we’ve seen how quickly and succinctly businesses can adapt to modern requirements to keep operations running smoothly. With a staggering 41% of employees in the UK considering leaving their jobs to find more gratifying work, there is a greater need for businesses to change to retain their workforce.

There are several ways you can continue engaging in practices that develop your business, but this must involve letting go of old-school management methods. Holding on to management styles that worked in the past won’t help your business become a champion of innovation in the future.

In this article, we’ll go through a few of the ways you can update your management habits in order to build a better future for your business.

 

“The Status Quo” – put learning at centre stage

You can never learn too much about your industry, no matter which one your business is part of. Assuming that the nature of the industry will stay the same forever and that you know all there is to know can hinder your development as a manager. Your employees and your business will suffer as a result.

Keeping up to date with trends and learning new skills within your industry is important as it helps you to maintain relevance along with the change. You can do this through internal seminars for your employees that impart some of your own knowledge, bringing in a third party to teach staff something new, or by engaging in one of many online courses that are available.

Investing time and money into learning, be it in-person or online, can show your team and your clients that you are dedicated to being proficient in your industry. Similarly, it will build trust from your employees as it’ll show that you want to continue developing them on an individual level and will help with employee retention as they’ll in turn feel motivated to continue growing.

It’ll also help your business in the long term. Keeping on top of developing trends can help develop new ideas rather than being held back by outdated industry ideas.

 

Flexibility

One of the main developments that has affected the working world positively has been hybrid working. Giving employees the option to work from home as well as in the office has revitalised employees’ happiness, with the CIPD finding that 56% of UK employees feel happier when they work from home.

Hybrid working should be an option for employees when possible. It’s shown to work and productivity levels can still be maintained, with research from Currys finding that 55% of people are more productive when working from home. This productivity could result in your employees feeling more motivated to continue working hard to grow your business.

Plenty of technology has been developed to make hybrid working more common among businesses, and it should be encouraged if it helps your employees. Communicating with them that you’re keeping their best interests in mind and not pushing for a mass return to the office builds trust in employees and encourage them to keep up productivity no matter where they’re working from.

 

Embrace the digital

On the topic of technology, embracing digital solutions throughout your business doesn’t just streamline practices that were difficult and arduous before introducing technology. Whether that’s calendar scheduling or payroll management, digitising these processes makes everything more efficient.

Technology is what makes options like hybrid working possible for employees. Implementing things like shared data storage through the cloud and remote video calling and chat solutions allows employees to take their work with them anywhere. This nomadic style of working can help your workforce to be inspired by their surroundings and can contribute to new ideas.

Making sure your managers are trained for the digital programs that you use is critical, as well as keeping an eye on developing tech that could help streamline practices even further. The digital world is constantly evolving so there’s no doubt there’ll be plenty of software under development that you can implement into your processes to continue to streamline for efficiency.

The way we work is constantly changing, so management styles need to change with it. Maintaining levels of knowledge around the evolving trends in your industry, as well as listening to what your employees want with hybrid working can help develop new ideas and grow your business. This can be done by undertaking online courses and digitising business practices to streamline them into systems that can be managed remotely.