The Value of Investing in Learning and Development When the Going Gets Tough

Business people, planning and meeting with team, woman speaker with presentation, seminar or brainstorming workshop.

By Charlotte Boffey, UK Head of Services, Employment Hero

It can be difficult for businesses of any scale to navigate economic struggles, and allocating budgets to new hires is part of that difficulty. Our Talent Insights report from earlier this year showcased that almost a quarter of UK employees who were surveyed (22%) would leave their current role due to lack of career opportunities, and 17% would leave due to a lack of training opportunities provided.

With this in mind, learning and development (L&D) has become more important than ever to employees and their retention within roles. During moments of an economic downturn, L&D is a great way to help businesses improve on productivity and efficiency, attract and retain top talent, and bolster their services for clients and customers.

Here are some tips on how you can improve your L&D programme.


Being committed to employee retention

What we love about learning and development is that it’s a great way to show commitment to your employees; especially during tough economic times, where you may have been forced to implement cost-cutting measures, perhaps even redundancies. Our latest State of Recruitment Report found that SMEs in particular are struggling to keep their workforce, with 89% struggling to match the salaries offered by bigger companies.

By investing in L&D, you can show how you’re dedicated to employee growth, which helps with employee loyalty and engagement. When employees perceive opportunities for learning and advancement within the company, they are more likely to stay — this enables you to keep some of your top talent and avoid turnover costs. Investing in L&D will also help you future-proof your business. Economic downturns are temporary, and eventually, markets recover and stabilise. A workforce with a more adaptable skill set will help you seize new opportunities and thrive when economic conditions improve.


Upskill and reskill your staff

There is the possibility that during an economic downturn, you could find your business with a skills shortage, because of headcount reductions or changes in the market. To adapt to a shifting landscape, L&D programmes can help you and your team upskill in some much-needed areas to help your business stay competitive.

This is important if you aren’t in the right position to hire a member of full-time staff or a freelance contractor. Having a member of your team step up has a lot of benefits for both you and them, as long as it does not overburden them, which could lead to burnout.

L&D programmes help employees develop the competencies to meet changing job requirements, increasing their employability and enabling them to transition to new roles or industries.


Foster a learning culture that can adapt quickly

If you invest in a positive L&D culture, you won’t just be upskilling your team, but also helping them shift mindsets, navigate uncertainty, build self-belief and much more – empowering them to better the business. Learning and development isn’t just about increasing industry-specific skills, there are soft skills to consider too. L&D helps to bridge the gap from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, and working in a team that can help you identify opportunities and feel confident to run with those ideas is going to be invaluable to you.


Things to remember with Learning & Development

It’s important as a business leader and senior HR professional to invest in your team through promoting continual development. By introducing upskilling, your team can have access to the tools they need to grow and develop on their own initiative. This sort of fulfilment to be a part of a growth mindset creates a positive impact in the moment, and for the future.

Employee Experience: How to Make a Positive Impact with Recruitment and Onboarding

Recruitment and Onboarding

When recruiting for vacant roles within your company, a huge concern may be how to retain the talent you’re bringing in. Especially considering the research showing that 30% of new starters leave their roles within the first three months, and the financial impact of replacing them can be as much as £30,614 per research from Oxford Economics and Unum.

This is a great example of why a good onboarding program can play a huge role in the retention of top industry talent.

Caroline Gleeson, CEO of Occupop, a provider of industry-leading hiring systems, offers expert insight into making a positive impact on your business with recruitment and onboarding.


Introducing workers to the company’s culture

When hunting for new prospective hires, it’s important to find workers who fit your company’s vision for what it means to be a hard worker with the same goals and drive. Knowing they’re aligned on your values can be reassuring that they’ll work hard to meet targets.

You can also use the recruitment process to find out whether these new hires fit not only your company’s vision but the environment and culture that your workforce has cultivated. An ideal candidate would be someone willing to integrate into the team and get along with everyone while also being able to maintain their work-life boundaries.


Increased engagement and greater retention

Disengaged employees have been found to cost the UK economy as much as £340 billion a year. But how does a lack of engagement occur? One reason for employee disengagement is a lack of connection to their role and the business. If interpersonal connections to colleagues and management aren’t made, it can lead to workers feeling isolated and actively disengaging or looking for opportunities elsewhere.

This area could be significantly improved when addressed at the source. When recruiting new talent to the workforce, onboarding them effectively can help with long-term productivity, as they feel more connected to the aims and goals of the business.

According to B2B Assets, an in-depth onboarding process improves worker retention by 82%, proving that your recruiting and onboarding processes should be refined to ensure you’re retaining the top-quality talent within your staff.


Overcommunicate and leave no stone unturned

The recruitment process and onboarding can be highly formative for new starters to be made aware of exactly what their roles and responsibilities will be when they get to their workspace. However, research from Gallup has found that only 29% of new hires feel prepared and supported adequately to perform well in their new role.

This is why when you’re first recruiting new starters, it’s important to communicate the expectations and specifications of the role through interviews. Building out your interview processes can help you find the right prospect for the job and ensure you’re making a quality hire.

When you’ve filled the role, it’s important to help them feel confident in their new job by going above and beyond when it comes time to get started. Through onboarding, you can overcommunicate about the objectives and aims of the role through conversation and printouts they can keep while also keeping the floor open to questions. This way, they’re getting all the information they could possibly need to feel prepared to start.

Dealing With Long-Term Absences: Supporting Your Workforce

Out of office text on calendar desk on top of a laptop.

Long-term absence due to sickness is at a record high in the UK. From April to June of 2023, nearly half a million people took leave from work because of a long-term illness, adding to the 2.5 million people already absent long-term.

Recent figures reveal that over 185 million sick days were taken in 2022, a rise of 35.8 million on the previous year. A long-term leave period is generally defined as an absence of more than 28 days.

Mental health and musculoskeletal issues are the leading reasons staff give for needing time off, with around 76% of respondents to a recent CIPD survey citing stress as the reason for their absence.

The inability to receive required treatment quickly is also preventing employees from returning to work. As of August 2023, the waiting list to receive treatment from the NHS stands at 7.75 million people with a current average wait time of 14.5 weeks.

So, how can businesses address the issues caused by long-term work absence while also supporting their employees at a time of stress and discomfort? Beecham Peacock, employment law solicitors in Newcastle, offers some expert guidance.


Key findings

  • Long-term absence due to sickness is at a record high in the UK.
  • Workers took over 185 million sick days in 2022, a rise of 35.8 million on the previous year.
  • Mental health and musculoskeletal issues are the leading reasons for time off, with around 76% of employees citing stress as the reason for their absence.
  • The waiting list to receive treatment from the NHS stands at 75 million people with a current average wait time of 14.5 weeks.
  • 53% of employees in the UK have come to work despite feeling unwell in the last three months.
  • In 2023, the average worker in the UK was absent for 8 days.
  • Since the pandemic, the number of people ‘economically inactive’ has risen by 363,000.


A case-by-case approach

Every employee is different, which is why it’s important to treat each instance of long-term sickness on a case-by-case basis.

It’s essential to maintain and make your employees aware of your absence policy. This ensures that your employees are aware of the processes around sickness leave and feel comfortable addressing any issues. If employees are off work due to ill health, it is important to retain good communication, keep them informed of next steps and discuss with them what, if any, support you can provide. This will help employees to feel valued and secure in their employment.

If employees’ absences are becoming an issue, it’s important to seek legal advice for each individual case to ensure that you treat all your employees fairly and respectfully. Lisa Branker, Head of Employment and HR at Beecham Peacock recommends conducting “both formal and informal review meetings with your employee. You may want to meet with your employee informally in the first instance, to allow them to speak about anything that’s worrying them. You should be clear that if the absence is continuing that you will move onto the formal process, but reassure them that this is to ensure that you can support them, that they are paid correctly and that their sick leave is correctly recorded. Both parties should be aware of the relevant requirements, such as doctor’s notes.”


Supportive measures

A recent study shows that 31% of employees feel their workload is excessive during a normal week. Lisa Branker says, “With many employees citing stress and mental health concerns as their reason for a long-term absence, it’s important to put supportive measures in place. You should ensure your workplace is as compassionate and open as possible. Employees should never feel nervous reporting a mental health grievance or asking for time off due to stress or worry.”

Giving employees access to services such as confidential mental health check-ins and employee assistance programmes can be beneficial. Training particular team members to become mental health first aiders is also a great option, providing your employees with someone sympathetic to talk to who’s separate from the management team.

Although the number of people requesting long-term leave has risen by 363,000 since the start of the pandemic, the trend towards higher levels of long-term sickness began before COVID and the subsequent work-from-home culture. The option to work from home is still a great way to support your employees and offer them an easier way to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Offering flexi-time is another great way to show your team that you understand their home life will influence their work performance. This kind of provision can help minimise stress, particularly for employees who have caring commitments.


Post-absence support

The offer of alternative duties can help make an employee’s return to work following a period of absence easier. Alternative duties can include light duties, part-time work or a job share set-up with another employee. Providing returning employees with alternative ways of working will help them feel valued and encourage a smoother transition back into the workplace.

You can also provide physical changes for a returning employee. This is especially important to think about if they have musculoskeletal issues or physical pain. Standing desks, ergonomic chairs and raised screens can all contribute to a workspace optimised for comfort.

There is no one answer when it comes to long-term sick leave and, as Lisa comments, “you must take each case on an individual basis. A well drafted absence policy and dialogue with your employees is key”.

If you have an employee dealing with a long-term illness, remember above all to be sympathetic and helpful in your approach. Offer potential changes to their work day that might enable them to begin to return to work and keep a record of their absence.

Disillusioned and Overworked: How Can Gen Z Take Charge of Their Professional Future?

Hybrid work day

According to the latest statistics, there are over 3.5 million 16-24 year old employees in the UK today with employers commonly citing innovation, enthusiasm and tech-literacy as reasons for investing in young talent.

However, for many young employees – particularly those termed ‘Gen Z’ – career paths don’t always run as smoothly. In 2023, it’s estimated that 183,000 to 232,000 18-24 year old’s took a gap year.

While many of these may be students deferring university places, other young graduates often grow disillusioned with their career path. Overworked, underpaid or simply stuck in a job which doesn’t align with their values.

Gary Clark, Academy Director at gap year adventure company: Basecamp, shares how to spot when there’s no clear career path at your company and when to consider an alternative.

Read on for how to keep your future on-piste.


Assessing your career path

First of all, it’s helpful to understand the trajectory your career path offers. While some employers may view junior positions as transient – often accompanied by a high turnover of staff – you don’t want to do anything kneejerk which jeopardises your growth potential.

Instead, strike up a conversation with your line manager or HR department to gain greater clarity on the potential career path available to you.

Are there any training opportunities or mentorship programmes available to expand your skillset? How about the potential for progression and greater financial rewards?

Assess whether your company values personal development and whether their definition aligns with your own.


Exploring external opportunities

If, upon research, your company values none of these things and has no clear development plan for you in place, it could be time to explore your external opportunities – be it a new role, up-skilling or a gap year or sabbatical.

‘Job-hopping’ is becoming increasingly accepted in today’s dynamic job market, especially for those seeking growth and diversity in their formative experiences. Statistically, GenZers are far more likely to ‘job hop’ than their older counterparts, with 70% of Gen Z who say they are ostensibly ‘loyal’ to their employers, while actively seeking new work.

When looking elsewhere, ensure you assess potential employers not only on job descriptions but also on a commitment to development, financial progression and prevailing workplace trends.


Expand your network

The key to broadening your horizons may be networking – a powerful tool in discovering external opportunities. Seek out jobs fairs and seminars, attend industry events and engage online with professional communities and key players in your chosen field.

Networking not only expands your knowledge base but can also open doors to potential job offers and mentorship opportunities.


The gap year

Of course, you may wish to take some time out to fully consider your options.  Whether you’re travelling, teaching abroad or hitting the slopes, a gap year can be a transformative experience, combining career growth with adventure.

A gap year ski season course offers an opportunity for young people to step out of their comfort zones, acquire valuable life skills and gain a globally-recognised qualification.

Gary Clark, Academy Director at gap year adventure company: Basecamp, explains: “Embarking on a gap year with Basecamp doesn’t mean you’re placing your career on hold but quite the opposite. It can actually be a savvy investment in your future.

“Our specialist ski instructor course can help cultivate your leadership, interpersonal skills and resilience, while having a world of fun in the process. Whether you’re a seasonal skier or a complete novice, our courses are designed to provide comprehensive training and certification – many with a job guarantee at the end of it. Upon completion of the course, you’ll not only have had an enriching life experience, but also a totally unique qualification that sets you apart from the crowd.“



The beginning of your career path can be exciting and overwhelming in equal measure. Take charge of your future by assessing the opportunities currently available to you and exploring any avenues which may resonate with your goals.

Whether you commit to climbing the corporate ladder, reinvent your skillset or kickstart your career on the slopes as a ski-instructor, the secret is to make committed career choices which align with your long-term values and aspirations.

With these handy tips, it needn’t be all downhill from here.

Is Your Business Continuing to Embrace and Adapt to Hybrid Working?

Hybrid Working

Hybrid and flexible working have evolved how businesses approach the day-to-day in offices. Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 66% of organisations believe that offering flexibility for advertised roles is important in attracting new candidates.

These changes to office environments bring plenty of positives, and it’s forcing employers and employees alike to embrace and adapt to them.

Here, Dominic Fitch, Head of Creative Change at leadership development specialist: Impact, shares a few ways businesses can continue to adjust their processes to account for these changes.


Scheduling and timekeeping

When implementing hybrid and flexible working into your working day, the most important thing to establish is what the split between office working and working from home will be. Building a routine on which days everyone commutes to the office can help keep productivity consistent while also allowing for the flexibility that hybrid working offers.

Finding the right divide between building a strong office culture where your full workforce is together and working while also feeling they’re trusted when working remotely. One way you can assess which days are best for in-office is by analysing your internal data on outputs and productivity, as these numbers can help you make informed choices.

One thing that’s important to note is that these days don’t have to be permanent. If you feel like they’re no longer the optimal working days as time progresses, fluidly transitioning to different days is possible with hybrid working.

Keeping communication open with your workforce can help you make these decisions, as transparency will result in honest responses and reasoning as to how well the split is working.



As a business owner or management, a huge concern might be how you contact your workforce without feeling invasive. That’s why communication technology that allows for everything from instant messaging to live voice and video calls is an important investment.

These can be synced to your pre-existing email systems so that when meetings are scheduled, emails can be sent that attach a link to the online meeting link. This provides more flexibility when it comes to meetings, as while you might prefer everyone to be present in person for it, those working remotely can still be included.

It also can help make meetings with clients more flexible. You might have partnerships and projects with companies all over the UK (and sometimes globally) with whom you can’t always be in the same room, so being able to tune in with them no matter where they are means more open communication channels.


Collaborative working

Hybrid working provides a new challenge of collaborating with a colleague if they’re working from home and you’re in the office. Investing in the right software bridges the gap between in-office collaborative working and keeping those working remotely involved.

Statista Market Insights has forecast that collaborative software is on track to reach around £610 million by the end of 2023. Thanks to the developments of Cloud-based programs, there are plenty to choose from if you want one that is pre-built.

Alternatively, you can invest some extra time and money into your IT team to allow them to develop bespoke collaboration software if you want something more customisable and purpose-built for your processes and needs.

5 Things Your Business Needs to Consider to Improve Staff Retention

Staff Retention

According to data, the employment rate for people aged 16-64 was down to 75.7% in the last quarter. As employment levels dip, it is important to keep in mind what is needed to keep your staff happy and in their jobs.

Helen Law, Senior Client Service Director at Jumar, says: “You need to be bringing people together in your business to see any success. Your business likely runs on the people you employ, so making sure they’re happy means considering not only their professional but also their personal lives.

“Unhappy employees can lead to sudden spikes in turnover, inconsistency across the business, and a lack of communication and productivity. By investing in your employees and their skills, you can foster a better working environment.”


Skill gap hires

Talent acquisition is crucial to secure the correct members of your team. You want to ensure that you’re hiring the right people for the right jobs so that your current employees benefit from the new hire. 

If you have a current skills gap, focusing on this as an area of recruitment can help strengthen your teams, bringing fresh knowledge into the company and ensuring you have the right people, resources, and skills to achieve your goals in the coming year.

Helen says: “If you knowingly have a skills gap in your business, you could be putting additional stress on existing team members and ultimately losing valuable income. Ensuring you’re hiring the best people for the positions means your team can be more productive, but additionally can bring skills and growth opportunities to your wider workforce.”

Hiring to fill your skill gap doesn’t only ensure you’ve got the right skills on your team, but it can also provide more opportunities for other staff to be trained in a new skill area.


Invest in development

Today, employees are often seeking more than simply doing their day-to-day tasks at work. Instead, they’re looking to enhance their skills and advance professionally. In fact, 70% of employees surveyed wanted to upskill last year. With such an appetite for growth, it is essential for you to proactively invest in your employees’ development by providing training and upskilling opportunities, which in turn can foster both individual and organisational growth.

Whether you’re hiring consultant-level workers into your business to nurture the growing skills of your teams or you’re investing in spending time training new staff on your processes, ensuring everyone across the business has access to growth opportunities can lead to a happier workforce.

Helen Continues: “If you have the right skills in the company, training your staff and encouraging growth opportunities becomes a much easier process. Whether it is upskilling in the specific business area or making sure you have the resources to allow your staff time to train in other areas, supporting professional development at all levels is key.”


Reduce burnout

According to data, 51% of long-term sick leave is due to stress, depression, and anxiety – with the effects of burnout causing staff to take time off to recover. Burnout can represent itself in many ways, but some of the common themes include helplessness, cynicism, and a loss of motivation. Employers should be able to recognise these symptoms and act quickly to help understand how to improve the situation for their employees.

Confidence is important when it comes to reducing stress and burnout. It is important to make sure your staff are well equipped and trained to perform any tasks they are given. Open communication and transparency can help address worries quickly, as well as keep your employees well-informed if their job roles require new tasks.

Helen says: “A well-informed workforce is going to work better than one with poor communication. Keeping your team updated can ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal. By cutting down on unnecessary stress, you can help your staff manage their workload better and provide a more comfortable work environment.”


Embrace workplace wellbeing

In the UK, it is estimated that 1.8 million employees are suffering from work-related illnesses, including mental health problems. Whether this is a physical injury brought on by repetitive strain or stress-related anxiety, focusing on your employee wellbeing can ensure a happier, healthier workforce.

Helen highlights: “An unhealthy workforce can make for a difficult time for everyone. No one wants to find themselves struggling with work, while sick days can cause extra strain on the remaining team members.

Having wellbeing spaces in your workplace can give your employees a break area during the day. These should be work-free zones which encourage social interaction. Incentives such as discounted healthcare or gym memberships can also encourage workers to maintain their mental and physical wellbeing.


Take quitters seriously

Helen says: “Employees who have handed their notice in can be a great source of information when it comes to how to improve your business. If you’re looking to improve your staff retention, talk to those who are leaving the business.

“Knowing why people are quitting can help you identify areas for improvement within the organisation – whether you need to hire more skilled staff to help with the workload or it is a shift in policy your company needs, past employees could have the answer.”

Not only should you be putting in place measures to ensure future employees don’t leave for the same reasons, but you should also be taking quitters seriously by managing the workload they leave behind.

As discussed earlier, burnout can be a substantial factor in employees considering resignation. Ensuring you have steps in place to handle the extra workload can prevent your teams from burning out quickly.

With what has been termed the “Great Resignation” and younger workforces preferring to choose unemployment over unhappiness in the workplace, it is more vital than ever that employers look into what staff actually want from their jobs. Whether you’re improving growth opportunities or managing burnout, keeping your staff happy is the only way to maintain staff retention.  

Nurturing Authentic Identity: Linking Your Brand with Its Purpose

woman using laptop and smiling

By Ruth Zawoda Clea, founder and CEO of Truly Content Ltd.

In the digital age, regardless of your qualifications, expertise, or experience in your field, the significance of a reputable, resilient, and sincere brand identity cannot be overstated. It serves as the linchpin not only for helping your target audience discover you but also for choosing you in the online sphere. Whether you’re promoting a personal brand, a business brand, or a fusion of both, remaining dedicated to your brand identity is essential in your marketing endeavours and in fulfilling your brand’s true mission.


Defining Your Purpose and Core Principles

Crafting a meticulously defined mission statement and core values represents the foundational pillar upon which the success of any business is built. These elements serve as your brand’s guiding light, shaping its identity, and influencing every facet of its operations. But where should you start?


Revealing Your Vision

Commence by uncovering the purpose and vision that underlie your business or service, enabling the creation of a focused and influential brand. This vision often becomes clear when you delve into the “WHY” behind your venture. What drives you, and what is your ultimate purpose? What long-term objectives do you aim to achieve, and who do you aspire to become?


Defining Core Values

It’s essential to define core values that truly resonate with your vision and strike a chord with your target audience, establishing a profound emotional connection. While common values like “trusted,” “professional,” “personal,” and “results-driven” have their merits, they can be rather generic and fail to set you apart.

If you haven’t yet pinpointed your core values or formalised them, consider envisioning your brand as a person. What qualities define you, and what sets you apart? How do you make people feel, and why should they place their trust in you? For instance, could your colleagues and loved ones describe you as “authentic,” “kind,” “dedicated,” “friendly,” “proficient,” “distinguished,” “esteemed,” or “exceptional”?

Even when imposter syndrome starts to creep in, it’s imperative to embrace your strengths and proudly highlight what makes you unique. This self-doubt, characteristic of imposter syndrome, often arises when we underestimate our abilities and question our legitimacy.


Crafting a Mission Statement

A compelling mission statement provides a guiding light for your brand, ensuring that every facet of your clinic or business mirrors your vision and values. Your mission essentially outlines the path to realising your vision while upholding your values at every turn.


Defining and Recognising Your Ideal Client Base

For a thriving business, gaining insight into your target audience is an essential step. Keep in mind that establishing a trusted brand presence extends beyond mere marketing efforts and the production of consistent content to attract new clients or consumers. It also involves aligning your business with the expectations and aspirations of those who have chosen to engage with you. Ensure that your practices consistently mirror your brand values throughout every aspect of your client’s journey.


Creating Authentic Content

Through the art of storytelling, you can adeptly communicate your brand’s mission, captivating your audience with genuine content creation. The use of sincere and relatable content plays a pivotal role in establishing meaningful connections with both prospective and existing clients. Distributing your content not only on your website but also across various social media platforms enables you to narrate your brand’s story, thereby fostering engagement and loyalty among followers who resonate with your message.


Stay Committed to Your Mission

In the long run, a sincere and mission-driven approach reaps numerous benefits, from establishing loyal clientele to carving a distinct niche in a competitive market. Stay committed to your mission and watch your brand flourish with authenticity and purpose!


Ruth Zawoda Clea, founder and CEO of Truly Content Ltd.

Ruth Zawoda Clea is the CEO of Truly Content Ltd., a renowned marketing agency that has been assisting clients to build authentic and impactful brands for almost a decade. With her extensive experience, Ruth has become a leading voice in the field of both marketing and aesthetics offering invaluable insights into the importance of aligning mission and brand identity.

Mounting Pressure to Bridge Gender Skill Gap in the Construction Industry

Female Construction Worker

Recent data analysed by ERP software supplier RedSky has highlighted disappointing growth in the number of female construction workers within the last two decades. Since 1995, the number of women working within the industry has risen a measly 3%, with less than a fifth choosing a construction-based role in 2023.

There are now mounting pressures and initiatives to increase the representation of female workers within construction. Encouraging a more diverse workforce offers significant benefits for all areas of construction, such as greater access to top-tier talent, enhanced critical thinking and even improved workplace culture. In a male-dominated industry, it’s clear construction firms must do more.


What’s Causing the Gender Skill Gap?

With over 3.1 million workers in the construction industry, it’s a popular sector within the UK. Around 9% of Britain’s working population is employed in a construction-based role, ranging from on-site contractors to data analysts. Despite popularity, the industry is heavily male-dominated, with women making up only 16% of all workers, so why is this?

  • Lack of Female Representation

According to one study, just 21% of board members identify as female, meaning many construction firms have minimal to no female representation higher up in the chain. Without vocal representation, many women will disregard construction as an industry to work in.

  • Perceptions, Misconceptions and Stereotypes

Despite living in 2023, discrimination is still rife against women in the workplace. Sadly, this is also true in construction, with around 12% of female construction workers expressing they’d been ignored for a promotion because of their gender. Whilst it’s a problem in the industry, it’s still an issue in the UK overall. Around 75% of the UK’s population believes gender stereotypes still exist.

  • Unconscious Bias

If 75% of the UK population believes that gender stereotypes still exist, then unconscious bias is still common, even in an industry like construction. Unconscious bias is the act of judging or making decisions about someone based on your own experiences. From a young age, we tend to prefer people who are like us, because we see them as safe and predictable. This is why some workplaces may seem to be full of very similar people, and why HR teams need to be mindful of unconscious bias when hiring.

For example, many women may be passed up for promotions because people assume that they want to have children and therefore cannot commit to the job, or that they are physically weaker than men and therefore not strong enough for the job. These judgments are made without talking to the individual to find out if they are true.

As 12% of female workers have said, they have been passed over for promotion in the construction industry. It is possible that unconscious bias played a role in this. It is also likely that male candidates are preferred over female candidates in the recruitment process. However, this does not mean that a female worker should always be selected for a role simply to combat unconscious bias. It simply means that we should judge people based on their merits and qualifications, not their gender.


What Initiatives are Driving Female Talent Into Construction?

1. Sponsorship and Mentoring Programmes

There are a handful of sponsorship and mentoring programmes for women looking to start and progress a career within construction. For example, Moving On Up by Women Into Construction supports companies in retaining and progressing women within their workforce. From demonstrating gender diversity in tenders to improving work culture, this initiative offers significant benefits.


2. Attractive Pay Package

Out of Britain’s major industries, construction is in the top 10 for average weekly earnings. Workers in the industry earn an average of £742 a week, beating industries like Education (£531) and Transport (£679). Its attractive pay package is an incentive to bring many into the industry, not just women.


3. Flexible Working Arrangements

With huge deadlines and completion dates to adhere to, many construction workers have experienced long hours to get their jobs done. For many people, this lack of work-life balance is unattractive, meaning it can also turn women off, especially those who value their free time or have young families. Now, construction firms are devising ways to improve flexible working.


4. Inclusive Company Culture

Introducing more women is just one step to creating an inclusive company culture. By embracing a range of genders, ethnic backgrounds and abilities, construction firms can start to demonstrate a level of inclusion and acceptance amongst their workforce. Creating an inclusive company culture also aids retention rates.


5. Opportunities for Progression

Around half of the construction workforce expressed they’d never had a female manager. Of course, many companies are already looking to change this, and are seeing major benefits in return. From improved productivity to having an extra pair of hands, female workers bring many skills to the industry that must be recognised.


It’s Time for Construction Firms to Act and Embrace More Female Talent

The construction industry offers significant opportunities for women, yet their representation remains at a mere 16% of the workforce. To bridge the skill gap and address the current shortage, construction firms must act swiftly. By reassessing workplace culture, actively recruiting female workers, and implementing effective mentoring programs, these firms can tap into a vast pool of untapped talent. Prioritising the inclusion and advancement of women will not only address the gender imbalance but also drive innovation and success in the industry.

According to Monique Campbell, Customer Services Director for RedSky, the time for action is now. She states, “Women in our industry not only bring diversity but also fresh perspectives and innovation. We bring a vast range of skills that benefit all areas of construction, from board management level to business analytics and independent contractors to project managers.

She continues, “Closing the gender skill gap is essential if we want this industry to keep thriving and evolving. The industry has seen shortages in labour and resources in recent years, which can easily be filled by skilled female workers.

How Can Tech Boost Productivity Across Different Departments?

Tech Productivity

Recent conversations around technology in businesses have been around artificial intelligence (AI) and automation of tasks, with a survey by Slack finding that 83% of desk workers believe it could enable them to produce more impactful work.

AI is predicted to continue becoming more prevalent and integrate more into businesses across every sector. It could have similar impacts on productivity that previous technology integration has had in businesses.

Caroline Gleeson, a recruitment software expert and CEO of Occupop, looks at the technology that’s become commonplace across different departments that have boosted productivity.


Cloud and collaborative technology

Working from home (WFH) and hybrid working have risen in popularity over the past few years and will likely remain commonplace. With so many workers divided between the office and WFH, being able to collaborate while not physically together is hugely important not to interrupt processes.

This is where the cloud and other collaborative technology can play a huge role. Not only does it allow workforces to store data and files online but also access and edit them in real time, seeing the changes live.

PwC’s 2023 Cloud Business Survey found that 78% of business leaders have introduced and integrated cloud software into most or all areas of their company. And with the revenue of collaboration software predicted to see an annual growth rate of 1.69% between 2023 and 2028, it’s likely that even more investment will be made in cloud and collaborative software.


Instant messaging and communication

Email revolutionised the way we communicate and rapidly became the preferred method within businesses, especially with the ability to attach files to send as well. However, with the rising number of hybrid workers and people WFH, it’s important to be able to interact with team members across departments, knowing you’ll get a near-instant response.

Communication technologies have had a huge effect on how departments interact throughout the working day. If there are multiple departments working on a project, it can help to align the whole team and keep communications within one thread or chat.

Meetings are made much simpler with communication technology, as most come with video call functionality. No matter where you and your workforce are, you’re able to conduct meetings remotely. This can also help to align your business with your clients if they aren’t able to travel for meetings.


Data management – security & analysis

Data is crucial to every business, and depending on its size, there can be a nearly overwhelming amount of it. Technology’s constant growth has allowed for the development of software for a more streamlined and efficient form of data management.

Within this software, not only are you able to store and manage the data available, but they also offer tools that can be used to analyse patterns within the datasets. These outputs can forecast outcomes based on existing data through said patterns. Many of the analytical software available have a tool that can provide great visualisations of your data with dashboards that give you a greater insight into the numbers, as well as pulling charts and graphs. Having this technology means that jobs that were previously difficult or monotonous can be simplified, allowing for them to be done more productively.

And when you have a lot of sensitive data, keeping it secure is crucial. Data technology has evolved so considerably that protecting information from cyber attacks is made even easier than before, reducing the amount of downtime that businesses face.

Unleashing Cognitive Capital: The New Boardroom Agenda

An Evolving Corporate Atmosphere

The last decade has heralded a novel narrative in the business landscape – one that champions mental robustness alongside financial acumen. The cogs that drive enterprises forward have discerned the imperative of mental health and cognitive well-being in fostering a competitive edge. As the demand for mental acuity and endurance in decision-making soars, business leaders are on a quest for viable avenues to bolster their cerebral prowess. Amid this backdrop, the nootropic market burgeons, promising enhanced mental performance and resilience.

Decoding Mental Performance in Business

The business arena is a hotbed of incessant decision-making, problem-solving, and innovation. These activities are the sinews of mental performance, influencing not only an individual’s career trajectory but the overall vitality of the business entity. Ensuring optimal mental health has therefore morphed from a personal pursuit to a boardroom agenda. The mental fortitude of business leaders invariably ripples through the organizational fabric, impacting productivity, morale, and ultimately, the bottom-line.

The Correlation Between Mental Health and Business Outcomes

The dialogue between mental health and business efficacy is backed by a corpus of scientific research. A study by the World Health Organization elucidates that an estimated $1 trillion in productivity is lost annually on a global scale due to depression and anxiety disorders. Hence, the narrative to fortify mental health transcends mere corporate social responsibility; it is a pragmatic endeavor to foster business resilience and sustainability.

Nootropics: A New Frontier in Cognitive Enhancement

As enterprises venture into unchartered territories of cognitive enhancement, nootropics have emerged as a beacon of promise. These substances, often dubbed as ‘smart drugs’, are geared towards enhancing memory, creativity, and motivation. Amid the plethora of options, Neuriva and Prevagen have positioned themselves as the leading lights in this domain.

Neuriva Vs Prevagen: A Comparative Analysis

Neuriva and Prevagen, what’s the difference? – a question that has piqued the interest of many in the business sphere, given the rising popularity of these nootropics.

Neuriva: This nootropic rides on the back of plant-sourced ingredients, chiefly Coffee Cherry and Phosphatidylserine. It professes to enhance five domains of brain performance: focus, memory, learning, accuracy, and concentration.

Prevagen: Touting a single active ingredient, apoaequorin, a protein derived from jellyfish, Prevagen is pitched as a memory enhancer, especially targeting individuals facing age-related cognitive decline.

The juxtaposition reveals a divergent approach towards cognitive enhancement – while Neuriva tends to cater to a broad spectrum of cognitive facets, Prevagen narrows down on memory fortification.

The Scientific Verdict

The efficacy and safety of nootropics remain a topic of ongoing debate in the scientific and medical community. While some studies offer a nod to the potential benefits, others decry a lack of substantial evidence to underpin the sweeping claims made by nootropic manufacturers. Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not officially endorsed the memory-enhancing claims made by Prevagen, adding a layer of skepticism.

A Prudent Approach Towards Nootropic Adoption

As the corporate world dallies on the brink of a cognitive revolution, the allure of nootropics is undeniable. However, a prudent approach necessitates a thorough examination of the scientific evidence underpinning these substances coupled with personalized consultations with healthcare professionals.

A Multifaceted Approach to Mental Resilience

Enhancing mental resilience and performance in the corporate world is not solely hinged on the ingestion of nootropic substances. It’s a multifaceted endeavor that intertwines various life aspects. A regimen of regular physical exercise, a balanced diet, ample sleep, and mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga are paramount. Additionally, fostering a supportive work environment that alleviates stress and nurtures mental health is equally vital.

Future Trajectories

The trajectory towards enhanced mental performance and endurance is ceaseless, driven by the exigencies of the modern business frontier. The rise of nootropics underscores a burgeoning quest for cognitive enhancers that are both effective and safe. It beckons a future where the amalgamation of lifestyle modifications, supportive work environments, and perhaps a sprinkle of nootropic aid forms the bedrock of superior mental performance in the business domain.

The proactive engagement of business leaders in nurturing their mental health and seeking ways to optimize their cognitive capacities heralds a paradigm shift. It’s a narrative that underscores mental health as a quintessential asset, pivotal in navigating the complex and dynamic business terrain that lies ahead. This narrative is poised to evolve, anchored on the advancements in neuroscience and pharmacology, shaping the future of mental health and performance in the corporate echelon.

Pressing Pause: Why It’s Okay to Take a Mid-Life Career Gap

Career change

Around 90,000 workers in the UK take some sort of mid-life career break every year, whether it’s to travel the world, look after a loved one, or seek a new opportunity.

It is fair to say that, as you jump on the career ladder, you are expected to stick to one profession or move seamlessly from one job to the next until you retire.

But pressing pause and taking a mid-life career gap can have many advantages, such as reflecting on who you truly are and discovering what you want to achieve.

SIA Austria, the largest ski instructor academy in Europe, offers tips on how to make the most of a career break while exploring how to highlight the skills and experience gained to a future employer.


Follow your passions

Taking a career break can give you plenty of time to think about what makes you tick.

Gary Clark, gap year course expert and Academy Director at SIA Austria, said: “People often have a coveted passion that’s had to take a back seat in their previous career. Sometimes, jobs can be demanding and mentally draining, meaning you don’t have the energy to pursue your favourite pastimes when you unplug for the day.

“Career breaks are the perfect opportunity to brush up on skills and interests you’ve had to put aside for a while. If you have always had a soft spot for skiing, for example, this could be your chance to hit the slopes again and perfect your abilities.

“Following your passions could also open the door to new, exciting career opportunities. You could finally take that ski instructor course you’ve been longing for and potentially find a job that matches your renewed skills.”


Network and stay engaged

Mid-life career gaps also give you a chance to solidify your professional network.

When you are not busy working in the office on a day-to-day basis, you will have more freedom to attend industry events or join online groups.

This way, you can get up to speed with all the newest niche trends in your sector and have a vital ace up your sleeve when the time comes to seek a new job.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts and expertise on social media too. Online platforms provide you with the invaluable opportunity to network with like-minded individuals across the globe.

It only takes one person to be impressed by your refreshing post to start a new, stimulating business relationship.


Nurture your mental well-being

More than three-quarters (79%) of UK employees have experienced burnout at some point in their careers, with 35% reporting high levels of constant stress and exhaustion.

Taking a job break can allow you to rest and relax without pressing deadlines to meet. It will give you a chance to unwind, focus on your mental well-being, and recharge your emotional battery.

What’s more, it provides you with plenty of time to socialise and carry out things that make you happy. In fact, meeting up with loved ones works wonders for your brain health, as it helps stimulate attention, strengthen memory, and favour neural networks.  

This way, when you decide to go back to work, you will feel refreshed, re-energised, and more resilient overall.


Promoting the positives of a career break

When you feel the time is finally right to look for a new role, you may feel nervous about explaining the gap in your CV to prospective future bosses.

That said, there are ways in which you can use your career break in your favour in upcoming job interviews. For example:

  • Be transparent – Don’t fall into the temptation of covering up a career gap by lying or extending previous employment dates. If your interviewer finds out, you may burn your chance of bagging an interesting vacancy.

Instead, be completely open and transparent. People appreciate, and respect honesty, and more companies are beginning to recognise the value and benefits of taking some time off work.

  • Talk about transferable skills – If you have used your break to take on new activities, make sure to mention them in your resume or during an interview. If you have been solo travelling across Asia or South America, it will show that you are not afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Employers like candidates who are happy to take on unusual tasks or challenges, so flag any soft skills you have acquired during your time off.
  • Keep your friends close, your colleagues closer – When job hunting, previous colleagues can act as a valuable secret weapon in your back pocket. In fact, they can vouch for your leadership abilities, work ethic, commitment, efficiency, and professionalism.

What’s more, if you haven’t quite found the ideal opportunity yet, reconnecting with your old co-workers might facilitate your job search. Whether through an internal referral or by directing you to the right hiring manager, they can play an important role in helping you transition back into the world of work.

A Happier and More Productive Workforce: How to Encourage Staff to Get More Active

Happy workforce

Research from the World Health Organisation has found that a quarter of adults around the world don’t get the sufficient levels of physical activity needed to live a healthy lifestyle. Businesses should take note of this, as there is a direct correlation between exercise and workplace productivity.

In fact, a study by the University of Otago in New Zealand has found that employees who exercise regularly are 13% more productive at their workplace. This seemingly small percentage could have a huge impact over time if more workers took up exercising and could see huge increases in productivity and output.

For those wondering how best to broach this topic with your employees, Ben Mercer, mountain bike enthusiast and director at bike business: Leisure Lakes Bikes, offers some top tips to encourage staff members to get more active for benefits both inside and outside the workplace.


Share the statistics

Many members of your team might already be considering investing more time into their exercise routines to benefit their health. One thing that could help them finalise this decision is sharing your findings with your wider teams.

Effective, open, honest communication is crucial for making your workforce feel valued and part of the conversation. By conveying the data and research you’ve done into the benefits of activity and exercise can have on both mental and physical health, you can help push your workforce to engage more actively with their bodies.


Embrace the everyday fitness – cycle to work and more

There’s plenty you can do around your workplace to make it more accessible for those looking to benefit from exercising to and from the office. Many might see their morning and evening commute as the perfect opportunity to burn some calories and get the blood pumping through their bodies through the likes of cycling or even donning some trainers and running.

Nothing is sure to discourage people from exercising before work than the prospect of arriving sweaty and worn out without a place to get changed into their uniform or appropriate attire. Or worse, be forced to smell for the rest of the day. Introducing purpose-built changing rooms with showers is a great remedy for this.

Similarly, for those cycling, they’ll want to be sure they’re able to safely store their bikes while they’re working. Bike racks or sheds can encourage cycling without fear of theft or damage.


Provide benefits and incentives

Everyone loves a freebie, and offering benefits and incentives to those in your workforce who want to get a bit more active could help drive the idea home. You could partner with local sports brands that make and sell fitness and workout gear, ranging from apparel to peripherals like wrist straps for weightlifting. Their brand gets free exposure, and your workforce gets some additional equipment to help them during their workouts.

Gym memberships can sometimes be costly, making people uncomfortable committing their hard-earned money to a membership contract. Offering a discount or a free trial membership for a few months when they first start with your business could help get them into the groove of going and exercising. If they enjoy it, they might sign up for a full membership and feel encouraged to go more frequently and learn about exercises that help them become more active.