Making the Difference

Founded in 2017, Tenthpin is a global management consulting firm with headquarters in Basel, Switzerland and offices in Germany, Portugal, UK, USA, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Following on from their success in the Corporate Excellence Awards 2020, we got in touch with Michael Schmidt to find out more.

With deep expertise in the Life Sciences, Agriculture and Chemicals industries, Tenthpin strive to be the most trusted advisor, who understands the unique challenges within each sector of their core industries across the entire value chain.

To begin, Michael offers more insight into the firm’s specialisms and its client base. “As the leading experts in our field, we typically specialise in Digital Transformation Programs, Global ERP (SAP) Transformation Programs, Analytics, Innovation Management, Mergers & Acquisitions, Project and Change Management, all tailored to the needs of the Life Sciences industry.

“With our clients coming from all relevant segments including Pharma/Biotech, Medical Technology, Animal Health, Clinical Research Organisations and Pharmaceutical Distributors, we cover the whole Life Sciences value chain, from the design/molecule to the patient.”

Working with many of the top 20 global Life Sciences companies, Tenthpin have been involved with a variety of business transformation projects in recent times. Moreover, as Michael goes on to explain, putting the client at the centre of everything whilst establishing strategic partnerships has been key to the delivery of successful project delivery.

“Once we start working with a client, we are typically collaborating for multiple years and we believe in forming long-term relationships. By providing independent, unbiased advice and services to our clients, with the latest technology drivers, we believe we are making a difference in transformational change. With our consultants possessing deep industry knowledge, we are recognised as a delivery focused organisation who can implement the solutions to make business strategies work.”

Currently, the consulting industry is an extremely competitive one to operate in, however as Michael goes on to explain it’s their client-focused approach, combined with deep industry and technology expertise, which has seen the firm distinguish themselves from their closest rivals. “Our founders are hands-on practitioners who work with our clients on a daily basis, so collectively we are fully aware of any potential obstacles. As a team of problem-solvers, we can develop powerful solutions and achieve great outcomes for our clients. Moreover, although we are a truly global firm, we are highly flexible in being able to adapt to changing industry requirements.”

One of the major reasons behind Tenthpin forming was down to the Life Sciences industry being at a crossroads. Moreover, as Michael goes on to explain, the firm were presented with the opportunity to help Pharma companies redesign their value chain. “Seismic shifts are disrupting the status quo of the industry, and the life sciences value chain of tomorrow, from the molecule/design to the patient, or vein-to-vein, will be leaner, faster and self-orchestrated. Value-based care models, risk-based-pricing, advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP), personalised treatments, and the increased focus on patient experience, are changing the face of the industry forever.”

Going the extra mile to ensure the firm and its clients are successful is what Tenthpin prides themselves on, and as Michael goes on to explain, the company culture currently in place is something everybody adheres to. “Our core values are passion for excellence and commitment to delivery, with our people staying true to these core values day in and day out together with our clients. In addition, with only three levels of hierarchy, communicating amongst each other has been that much easier.”

Regarded as key assets of the business, Michael feels very strongly about getting the most out of the talent at his disposal as he explains further. “With our mentoring concept based on the objective of getting the best and most out of our talent, we actively support their professional consulting career needs, whatever those are.”

If we take a closer look at the industry today, with new technologies being developed it is vital people’s skillsets are updated as Michael confirms. “We take knowledge exchange very seriously and by holding training sessions with our global team, we ensure our people fully understand what we are doing with our individual clients in all different markets.”

Despite working in a global competitive market, Tenthpin are able to attract some of the finest talent around due to the journey they’ve been on as Michael points out. “Even though the market is very competitive, our story is compelling and exciting, and this is why many candidates decide to join us opposed to joining a larger consulting firm.”

Finally, Michael comments on the future of the firm and the plans in place for 2020 and beyond. “Going forward, we will continue to extend our track record of successful transformation projects in various segments of the Life Sciences industry. At the same time, we will intensify our collaboration with the industry, especially for real co-innovations.”

“Currently, we are already co-innovating in the area of clinical e-labeling, and with the introduction of virtual, decentralised clinical trials, we are looking forward to further extending our list of co-innovations, specifically in the clinical supply space, during the next couple of months. Beyond that, we will continue to focus on growth, while at the same time remaining flexible enough to adapt ourselves to the ever-changing requirements of the Life Sciences industry. Last but not least, we are investing a lot of effort and energy into our team events, for which we bring our teams physically together for several days full of fun, entertainment and education.”

5 Most Useful Features Of An Auto Dialer

auto dialer

Auto dialers tend to be crucial for relatively any business. This technology is quite inexpensive, requires no special skills, and is easy to use. Also, in-house marketing representatives can use the auto dialer features to improve productivity and increase opportunities for sales. 

Here are five out of the many useful features of an auto dialer you should consider for your marketing campaign:

1. Easy Integration To CRM

Some business owners believe that adding new technology to marketing practices takes a significant amount of time, money, and effort. But, auto dialers may prove such a thought wrong. 

An auto dialer, like Call Cowboy, can easily integrate into other marketing practices. It’s because this technology can connect to your current customer relationship management (CRM) software. Thus, you don’t have to use another app to feed contacts into the auto dialing software. 

Some auto dialers may even offer cloud-based integrations. You can take advantage of these cloud-based features to capture and retrieve data from the cloud. In turn, it allows you or your marketing representatives to contact potential leads or existing clients from anywhere with a stable Internet connection. 

 

2. Unproductive Number Detection

Does your cold calling or telemarketing team have problems with contacting numbers that don’t respond?  Note that voicemails, answering machines, and unanswered calls are unproductive numbers. In other words, these contact numbers tend to have little to no opportunities in improving your marketing campaign’s success rate. 

A reliable auto dialer tends to have advanced features, such as the automatic filtering of unproductive numbers. For example, one of your marketers tried calling a particular lead twice. However, those calls returned with no results as the person didn’t answer their phone. So, the system will perceive this event as a ‘no show,’ allowing other members of your marketing team to not bother with this phone number again. Other staff members may still attempt to call this individual, but they might do so using manual dialing instead.  

 

3. Predictive Dialing

Contacting potential leads and customers using cold calling and telemarketing techniques require putting deep importance on the value of time. In other words, timing is crucial in marketing through the telephone. Each second spent should allow marketers to get the most value out of the call. But, one second might spell the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. 

For example, one of your cold callers was trying to find the contact information of a particular lead in your CRM. Perhaps, this act took that individual three minutes before finding that phone number. Then, it took about ten seconds more to manually input the phone number using a conventional telephone.

Overall, it took about three minutes and ten seconds before that cold caller could even attempt to touch base with the lead. Some people might think that the time spent in doing this act isn’t so bad. But, if this scenario repeats several times in a workday, that marketer may lose valuable opportunities as they can use the lost time calling other individuals. 

Keep in mind that a company overlooking technology may stifle its business growth. Hence, a reliable auto dialer is one technology that may improve sales opportunities and enhance chances for business development. 

Let your marketers use an automated dialing app with predictive dialing features. With these functionalities, the software chooses the next number to call, and it should only take a few seconds to complete. Therefore, your business isn’t wasting time in contacting valuable leads and clients. Now, you and your marketers can make the most out of any workday by maximizing efficiency in employee productivity.

 

4. Set Pacing Speed

Keep in mind that each human being has their specific skills, talents, and flaws. This notion is still correct when looking at your marketers. For example, one marketer may finish a cold call within 15 minutes, whereas another can do it in five minutes. But, does that mean that the individual that took longer to complete the call is more inefficient than the other cold caller?  It depends as several factors are at play here. 

However, the cold caller who took longer might have a higher success rate than the five-minute finisher. One of the factors that may affect this success is the pacing of the calls. 

Some auto dialers can adjust the pacing of each dialed number, allowing your marketers to reach leads or customers at a desirable speed. Going back to the previous example, the 15-minute cold caller might take about ten seconds to breathe before dialing another number. On the other hand, the other marketer might require more time before contacting another person. 

This pacing feature may also benefit businesses in another way, and it depends on the length of the calling list. For example, your contact list has 100 phone numbers that your company needs to call within the day. Furthermore, your 20 cold callers are ready and waiting to touch base with the individuals in the contact list. Now, if each call finishes in about ten minutes, your marketers might complete the entire calling list in less than an hour. If this scenario happens, you’re going to pay for your marketers’ idle time. 

With an auto dialer’s pacing feature, it uses different algorithms to study each caller’s desired calling speed and the length of the calling list (along with other factors). This technology helps businesses make the most out of each workday, allowing employees to make the most out of each second.  

 

5. Follow Marketing Laws

Businesses need to follow strict marketing laws or, else, they’ll be on the receiving end of legal charges. Trustworthy auto dialers should have features that follow and respect these regulations, allowing you to have peace of mind while contacting potential leads. 

On that note, an automated dialing system may filter phone numbers registered in the ‘Do Not Call’ registry. Hence, you or your marketers won’t have to worry about calling individuals found in this list. 

 

Final Words

Your marketing representatives should do well with a reliable auto dialer. This program has several useful features, such as easy integration to a CRM, unproductive number detection, and predictive dialing. Use the right auto dialing app for your business, and you may see growth in productivity and sales soon.  

End of Furlough Scheme Impacts Job Vacancies: UK Jobs Drop 6%

lack of hiring

Vacancy numbers across the UK dropped 6% week on week at the beginning of September, with applications per vacancy higher year on year as the job retention scheme begins to wind down. That’s according to the latest real-time statistics from the world’s largest network of job boards, Broadbean Technology.

Skills shortages fuelling recruitment

Across the sectors, only two areas bucked the trend and reported an increase in jobs week on week. Education & training and ICT vacancies reported a 12% and 3% increase respectively for the week ending 6th September. This is indicative of the continued struggle to source teaching professionals as schools reopen. With the on-going preference for remote working, the demand for ICT experts to manage and update IT systems and infrastructure has remained consistent since lockdown was first announced, a trend that looks set to continue.

Job applications set to spike

Broadbean Technology’s data also revealed that the number of applications per vacancy were up 20% year on year last month. Despite this annual increase, month on month this figure dropped 31% between July and August. While this is encouraging, it is likely a seasonal lull in job hunting and it’s expected that September will see a sharp increase in applications as the job retention scheme nears its end.

Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology commented:

“The summer months tend to see a drop in the number of people applying for a new job as holidays stall candidate applications. Our data suggests that despite the crisis that we’re experiencing, this trend has continued in 2020. However, with the furlough scheme winding down and employers contributing more to the salaries of furloughed staff, we’re predicting that an increase in job losses will soon create an uptick in the number of people applying for each vacancy.”

“While the drop in vacancy numbers overall is something to keep an eye on, it too is a possible result of the holiday slump in hiring activity. The demand for education professionals, however, is a recurring trend that we’ve seen since before lockdown began, and with growing reports of teachers isolating already due to increased cases of the virus, education institutions will only continue to struggle to source staff in the coming months.”

Tips for University Study During COVID-19, According to An Education Expert

uni students

During the next few weeks, thousands of students are set to arrive at England’s universities. Under new Government COVID-19 guidance, students must limit socialising, stay within separate households, and be taught in managed groups or online. As the mass return of students raises the risk of a COVID-19 second wave, many universities have chosen to switch to full online learning. But for students, how can they effectively learn without classroom-based interactions? Richard Evans, of the Tutors’ Association and founder of The Profs, shares his top tips on how to study during COVID-19 for university students.

 

1. Ensure you have all the right tools to study

Online lectures will require a well-functioning laptop and a good internet connection. Some students already own these but if you don’t, it is important to speak to your student services office about how this can be facilitated. Your university may offer a laptop loan service, or you could get a student discount which will help you get the equipment you need. Don’t forget to make use of the vast array of online resources you have access to, including the library, peer mentoring and digital workshops organised by the student’s guild.

 

2. Consider your work from home space  

Without lecture halls to visit, most large-scale group teaching will happen online. Therefore, it is important for students to set up a study space in their home, so they can differentiate between work and their downtime. Some students are lucky enough to have a desk in their bedroom but if you do not, try using the kitchen table or the sofa. Then, make sure you keep your study materials nearby so that you don’t have to keep getting up and ensure your space is free from distractions- whether that be from the TV or your flatmates. Whilst you may feel productive without a study space, working this way can lead to burnout and a sudden lack of motivation over time. A study space will allow you to concentrate on your work better and, when the time comes, you’ll find it easier to switch off.

 

3. Find out what type of learner you are

You don’t have to stick to a 9-5 schedule if it doesn’t work for you. Identify the hours that are most productive for you and schedule your individual study time around that. However, you should try to attend your lectures during their dedicated time slots, so you get the opportunity to ask questions and interact with other students on your course. It’s a good idea to stay active and take notes while listening to or watching an online lecture, as you would when attending in person. For this, it may be useful to identify what type of learner you are too. Perhaps you are a visual learner and organising lecture notes in pictures, diagrams and written directions would be the most effective way of studying, or perhaps you are an auditory learner and have an easier time understanding spoken instructions. Using this time to understand your preferences in which you absorb, process and retain information will prove useful for years to come.

 

4. Keep socialising where you can

Online learning doesn’t have to be anti-social. Forming a study group will make you feel less alone when you are studying. Whether this be with your housemates or virtual group chats, study groups maintain social contact, so you don’t feel too isolated studying alone. If you are studying with course mates, study groups allow time to discuss ideas, analyse texts and share academic difficulties together. So that the session is productive, ensure that you set a plan in place beforehand and try to stick to the topic. It may also help to schedule in group study sessions each week, so you have something to look forward to.

 

5. Embrace the freedom

Whilst studying without the usual structure of a university timetable can feel daunting, it is your chance to make your routine your own. Do you prefer to take regular breaks during the day to keep your mind fresh?  Or perhaps you like to listen to music while studying? Well, you can do these things now! You now have complete freedom to adapt your timetable to your preferences- so make the most of it.

Remote Onboarding – 5 Steps to Success

remote onboarding

Recruiting and onboarding new staff in line with social distancing is uncharted territory, but using cloud contact centre solutions can get you off to a good start. Thomas Rødseth of Puzzel and John Bhairoo of Black & White Recruitment share a five-point plan for success.

According to comparison site Finder, 60% of the UK’s adult population is currently working from home (WFH) during the Coronavirus lockdown*. It is a trend that is likely to continue as a result of the ongoing health crisis. At the same time, many companies are beginning to look for fresh talent to push their businesses forward and start planning for the future. As a result, employers will find themselves in the fairly unique position of onboarding new staff members remotely rather than in person or at the office. For contact centres still inundated with customer calls, how do they transform novice agents into fully fledged members of a high-performing team as quickly as possible?

Be prepared

Managers have a critical role to play in creating an end-to-end onboarding process that is welcoming and productive. Nothing is more demoralising than a ‘sink or swim’ attitude. Therefore, make sure new starters are engaged from the time they accept the job offer by fostering an inclusive environment where new agents flourish and quickly adapt to your contact centre’s culture.

Send new employees a welcome email a week or two before they begin with details of what to expect when they arrive, or login, along with mugs, T-shirts and other promotional accessories plus links to videos or a company handbook by way of introduction. In addition, use video to introduce other members of the team. Colleagues could produce pre-recorded introductions sharing something interesting about themselves and what they do, including how they are set-up to work from home (WFH) and fun things such as how their pets are part of the team. Consider buddying new recruits with a mentor who is on hand to answer quick day-to-day questions and illustrate contact centre culture.

In the new world of WFH, access to good IT tools and support is vital. Check whether the new starter has adequate Wi-Fi. If they are using their own laptop or mobile phone, help them understand your IT policies especially when it comes to security. Leave yourself plenty of time when placing IT orders so new recruits can be fully integrated and get off to a flying start.

Make the most of collaborative technology to create an enjoyable and informative onboarding experience. Set up video calls with key people in the business and organise a virtual lunch to welcome them to the team. Face-to-face screen time decreases feelings of isolation and builds trust, but don’t overload new agents and remember to ask for feedback so that you can improve the onboarding process for other new joiners.

5 Ways technology can make a difference

When Puzzel surveyed over 100 contact centre professionals, ‘IT issues and/or clunky technology’ were major barriers to agent happiness (at 71%) so give new agents the right tools to do their job** from the off-set.

1) One single solution, instant results – cloud contact centre solutions integrate seamlessly with corporate databases, CRM and social media tools so that new agents can find all the information they need to deliver a first-class customer experience quickly and with minimal training. What’s more, the latest agent applications are innovative in their simplicity. They bring together all communication channels in one place, providing new agents with a single view of customer interactions and enabling them to receive and respond to customer enquiries by telephone, email, SMS, social media and web chat.

2) Let Artificial Intelligence (AI) do all the thinking – maximise AI learning from the contact centre to provide agents with the real-time knowledge they need to resolve customer interactions without switching applications or resorting to pop-ups. New recruits might be home alone but using chatbots through either speech or text can help them find answers to customer queries and suggested responses quickly and easily.

3) Build confidence with Silent Monitoring – silent monitoring has long been a valued training tool for new starters and most vendors today embed some kind of silent monitoring functionality into their core contact centre solution. This allows managers to listen to agent calls and provide instant feedback to new recruits including both praise and advice to quickly build confidence and take them to the next level of experience, wherever they are located.

4) Make learning fun – incentives, competitions and rewards have always been a popular method of motivation in contact centres. The only difference now is that technology can automate the gamification process, making it a great way of educating and motivating new starters, especially remotely. When all your agents are working from home, shift the focus from individual to team performance for greater inclusivity. Virtual gamification has the added bonus of reducing onboarding time while making learning fun.

5) Workforce Management – combining work with domestic duties is difficult enough for the most confident, seasoned members of your WFH agents so imagine how daunting the process is for newcomers. WFM is a great way to create a supportive environment that minimises stress levels. Use it to build flexible schedules in the early days, ensuring new recruits have enough time away from customer-facing duties to benefit from training and plenty of opportunities to get to know their colleagues via informal online chat or videoconferencing facilities.

Puzzel’s partner, John Bhairoo from Black & White Recruitment believes it’s hard to replace the energy of being surrounded by colleagues in a contact centre, however, it is possible to recreate a positive atmosphere and culture by using the right onboarding techniques and communication tools.

Doubling Your Annual Leave In 2021

vacation

We know it’s still 2020, but I think we can all agree it’s been a pretty tough year for everyone, so you can’t hold it against anyone for wanting to plan ahead and make the most of the holidays in 2021. And what better way to make the most of your time off than to transform it from 28 days to 53. When it comes to Bank Holidays and annual leave, the UK workforce have an ok deal, with an average entitlement of 28 days per year (20 days annual leave and 8 bank holidays). So, not as good as South Korea on 16 days, but definitely better than the USA, which technically has zero.

You may be asking ‘but how do I get to 53?’. Here, we have HR Director and resident math-wiz Rachel Evans from Gear Hungry to provide the answers. ‘Luckily it’s not a case of suggesting you pull a load of sick days. Essentially, you need to book your days off around Bank Holidays and weekends, so you accumulate large periods of time off as opposed to a few days here and there. To be clear, this isn’t a guide that involves sinister actions like placing your work colleagues holiday application in the bin, or pretending to attend a dentist appointment for the 14th time in 6  months, but a system to use if you want to get the most out of your time off.’

 

Firstly, the 2021 Bank Holidays are –

  • Friday 1st January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 2nd April – Good Friday
  • Monday 5th April – Easter Monday
  • Monday 3rd May – May bank holiday
  • Monday 31st May – Spring bank holiday
  • Monday 30th August – Summer bank holiday
  • Monday 27th December – Christmas Day
  • Tuesday 28th December – Boxing Day

‘Like a puzzle, we have the outline of the days we need to work around, and by doing so we can double our days off in 2021 – let us get to work!’

 

Friday 1st January

‘I’m going to omit this from the breakdown, as it comes straight after a Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday, and being a stickler for rules, I do still consider this part of the 2019 holiday package.’

 

April Bank holiday – 16-day break (8 days into 16)

‘This is a welcome little break to have at the beginning of the year, and perfect for an Easter getaway or extended family time with your loved ones, and with strategic planning you can double you time off! Book eight days annual leave in two small chucks from 29th March to the 1st April, and then 6th to 9th of April, and as you have two bank holidays on the 2nd and 5th of April you’ll be totaling 16 consecutive days away from work, including 3 weekends. Time off from Saturday 27th March to Sunday 11th April and only using 8 days annual leave? That’s the perfect amount of time to recover from all that easter chocolate’.

 

May Bank holidays – double the fun (8 days into 19)

‘By now you’re nearly halfway through the year and – if you’re anything like me – probably miles away mentally dreaming of long weekend breaks away. Luckily May has two bank holidays that you can work around to get extended time off, using 4 days annual leave to get nine, and the best part is you can do it twice! At the beginning of May on the 3rd, the UK has a bank holiday that turns your 4-day break to nine, if you book from Tuesday 4th to Friday 9th, so consecutively you’ll be off from the 1st till the 9th of May. And then at the end of the month you can do exactly the same thing with the 31st Bank Holiday. Book off the 1st of June to the 4th, and once again get nine consecutive days off from the 29th of May to the 6th of June. Perfect for Americans wanting to celebrate Independence Day, or Brits wanting to celebrate the 4 days of sun we get every year.’

 

August Bank Holiday – Summertime Holiday (4 days into 9)

‘By now, you should be getting the hang of how to make the most of your annual leave, and as it’s now August, you’re probably looking to get away and enjoy some hot weather abroad. Make the most of your time off by once again stretching four days of annual leave into nine consecutive days off. The summer bank holiday falls on Monday 30th of August, so you’ll be looking to take you time off from Tuesday 31st August to Friday 3rd September, giving you nine days away from your desk from 28th August to 5th September. A welcome break to enjoy the last few days of summer’.

 

December Bank Holiday – no more winter blues (3 days into 10)

‘The Christmas break can feel like it’s already over by boxing day, as the mince pies run out, and the dread of returning to the office sinks in. Fortunately, there’s a way to prolong the festive period for a bit longer, so you’ll have more time to watch Netflix Christmas films and eat leftover turkey. The Christmas bank holidays fall on Monday the 27th and Tuesday the 28th, so for a few extra days off with your family, you can book the 29th to the 31st of December, giving you 10 days off straight!

Returning to A Toxic Workplace – How to Make A Change

toxic workplace

Setting the circumstances aside, for many working from home is a welcome break from the endless commuting, offices politics, and workplace gossips. With some normality coming back to 2020 – it looks like for most of us – we will be expected to return to the workplace. For lovers of the workspaces, this can be a welcome relief as it means no more zoom meetings at 9am, but for people who work in a toxic environment the thought of returning may be filling you with dread. A survey conducted by TopResume found that out of 1,229 professionals, 71% of them felt bullied by a boss or supervisor, and a minor 4% claim to have never felt bullied. Working in a toxic work environment is a recipe for disaster, for both your career and wellbeing, and it’s not just bullying that effects our metal health. Gossiping, unrealistic goals set by managers or negative personalities all play a part in reducing your happiness at work; so how can you combat this?

Here, HR Director Lauren Wolfer at LastVerdict breaks down a selection of problems we can face in a toxic work environment, as well as how to tackle them. ‘Having to continuously return to a location or place of work that damages our mental well-being can whittle our confidence down and make us question our career choice. From experience, you should never hide your feelings and say ‘well, this just the industry, I’ll get on with it’. Look to make changes, tackle the issues and make your life better’.

 

Toxic co-workers

We tend to think of difficult co-workers as either bullies, or toxic, but as Wolfer states, they are not mutually exclusive. ‘They’re the same thing usually. Whether it’s a co-worker subtly digging away behind you back, or another correcting non-existent mistakes the outcome is always the same – your mental health suffers. Typically, negative people who bring the workspace down tend to do it for the same reasons a school bully does; they thrive on the power they have to manipulate others and/or they’re insecure about their position. Unfortunately, toxic environments can sometimes produce success by enforcing fear or a negative workspace, but staff tend to not stick around to see (or care) about the results.’

‘Toxic co-workers can be your friends also, as there’s such a thing as ‘blowing off too much steam’ with a colleague. Ranting about work is an important and natural part of life (and has proven to be healthy for team moral), but it should be kept in check, and it’s essential to know if there’s a line that’s been crossed. If not kept under control, complaining at work can turn an already negative and toxic workplace into a hostile one, leaving you focused on the bad qualities and blind to the good ones. If you find yourself being dragged into a situation that might be negative, it’s best to put a stop to it as soon as possible. When you walk away from the conversations you have and think ‘do I feel positive or negative right now’? If it tends to be more negative than positive, then it might be time for a change.’

 

Can a toxic workplace effect my health?

It is not the most helpful thing to ‘grin and bear it’ or ‘keep a stiff upper lip’, as -and who would have guessed it – ignoring the causes of stress result in more stress. ‘Obviously there are clear reasons to try and remove a toxic environment – work efficiency suffers greatly, as does team moral and respect for the company, but the effects on your mind have real ramifications. Scientifically, there’s a reason you dread sitting down at your desk on Monday morning, as a toxic environment keeps your mind endlessly on edge. The constant flow of cortisol, testosterone, and norepinephrine produces physical, emotional, and mental stress on the body and makes it almost impossible to maintain a healthy work rate’.

 

Making the change

Making a change in your social life when you have complete control can feel like a herculean task in itself, so how do you change your situation at work when aspects are totally out of your hands? ‘Because it’s common to feel down about your work, don’t think that you’re alone fighting this battle. Try to establish a network of work colleagues you trust and consider honest. It doesn’t even have to be a big network, just one or two close people will provide the guidance you need when questioning things that seem unfair. In all likelihood, they will have experienced relatable circumstances in some way or another. Getting advice that helps you see things from another point of view can provide a different understanding of the situation, and you may start to understand (if not agree with) the other person’s intentions. Ask yourself what’s making them act this way to you? What actions are they expecting from you? What can I do to make them less hostile? Just remember to choose your friends wisely, as you’re probably going to be speaking candidly about you concerns, and the last thing you need is to be spilling your heart out to the office gossip.’

‘It’s a bit tacky sounding, but if you’re looking for change, then it doesn’t hurt to ‘be the change’. Toxic workplaces tend to be very competitive, making the atmosphere tense and unwelcoming. In these types of environments, it can feel that you’re always on high alert and ready for a new attack, but you don’t have to lower yourself to their level. Look for way to improve yourself, and in turn the place you work, from being nice to everyone (even the problem people) to giving a helping hand to people you would normally stay a million miles away from. ‘Work hard, be nice’, and stay as far away from drama as possible. The effects of this won’t be immediate, and in no way am I suggesting you’re become best friends with everyone, but it will change their intentions towards you, though probably not to others. Combine this new attitude with staying focused on work and steering away from office gossip, and although you maybe won’t change the entire office dynamic, you will focus on it less, and hopefully become happier outside the workplace too.’

‘Toxic environments have a knock-on effect on your social life too, and it can become an all-consuming 24/7 void. Aim to cement a perfect work balance of only focusing on the people from work when you’re at work, which can be done by setting boundaries to ensure you have a job and a social life. Going into work after spending a whole weekend thinking about how much you hate it is only going to create a cycle of distress.’

‘If all else fails, and you just can’t seem to escape the bitching and infighting of the workplace, and it’s making you feel worthless, both physically and mentally, then take a deep breath, reevaluate the situation and make the leap into looking for somewhere else. Never be rash, try to think things through, and remember that all situations are temporary. Spend an hour or so a night seeking out different opportunities, because ultimately the best way to overcome a toxic environment that will never change is to move on from it’.

The 5 Easiest Languages to Learn for English Speakers

spain

When you hear stories of new language learners who reached proficiency in a short time, you can’t help but wonder how they did it. While it’s true that we can learn anything, we set our mind to, some goals are easier than others. As the English language has its roots in many other languages, some languages share extremely similar grammar and structure, making it extra easy for any English speaker to learn these languages in no time.

We spoke to language expert at Absolute Translations, Sergio Afonso on his thoughts on the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Whether you have been recently studying a new language or it’s been a while since you brushed up on your bilingual skills, the fact that you already have the foundational knowledge needed means you will learn a new language in no time.

 

1. Spanish

With nearly everyone on this planet knowing a Spanish word or two, Spanish is one of the most popular and spoken languages in the world, with over 477 million native speakers expanding over 20 countries and 572 million speakers as a first or second language, Spanish had to be the first language on our list. While there are many significant grammatical differences between English and Spanish, the fact that they share many identical words and similarities makes Spanish one of the easiest languages to learn.

 

2. Portuguese

With the rise of the Brazilian economy, Portuguese has become an increasingly popular language to learn. Lots of jobs and new opportunities are flourishing in South America especially Brazil, making Portuguese a highly demanded language to learn. If you know English and Spanish, Portuguese will be an easy language to learn. Whilst English is a Germanic language it does have its roots in romantic languages. This means both Portuguese and English share similar language roots, making it easier for an English speaker to quickly pick up the language.

 

3. French

The language of love has its roots in the romance language family, yet it’s not as easy to learn as Spanish or Portuguese. Differences between English and French manly exist in the grammar, as there are 17 verb forms in French, compared to the English 12, not to mention that it gets harder when you count the silent pronunciation and accents. Yet, French culture is loved wherever you go around the world. The fact that there are plenty of French movies and TV shows online, French speakers and great job opportunities in France makes this language very accessible and familiar to many people.

 

4. Indonesian

You must be wondering, how did an Asian language make it on this list? But we listed the Indonesian language for a good reason, as it’s one of the few Asian languages which uses the Latin alphabet. While other Asian languages usually use unfamiliar written characters, Indonesian is one of the rare exceptions. Moreover, what makes the Indonesian language easy to learn is the fact that words are pronounced exactly as they sound! Making Indonesian a straightforward and easy language to acquire.

 

5. Afrikaans

Widely spoken in South Africa, Afrikaans comes from the same West Germanic language family as English. This means several things for English speakers: no verb conjugation, gender, or pronouns that you must specifically learn for Afrikaans.

Is it practical to eat healthily whilst keeping busy at work?

healthy lunch

So many of us start the week with good intentions and a healthy, pre-prepared packed lunch, however, it’s all too easy to be tempted by the various sweet treats brought in by generous colleagues. Furthermore, In today’s society of instant gratification, it is sometimes very difficult to remain steadfast in the face of ubiquitous fast food outlets, expensive high-street coffee shops and grab-and-go snacks. No matter if you work for a high flying tech company or a property buying company, there are numerous ways in which you can maintain a healthy diet at work.

 

Seven ways to eat healthily at work

 
Consider breakfast

There’s a reason why doctors describe breakfast as the most important meal of the day. A filling and nutritious breakfast is the ideal way to start a day of healthy eating, whether you have breakfast at home, on the morning commute, or perhaps even at your desk. If convenience is vital for you some good options are overnight oats, a granola bar or even a nutrient-dense smoothie.

 

Preparation is key

Perhaps the most crucial piece of advice when it comes to eating healthily at work is to prepare well in advance. This means working out a meal plan at the start of each week which will allow you to make good choices in advance rather than having to stay strong in the face of temptation throughout the week. After you have made a list of what you want to eat, go shopping for any supplies that you need and get meal-prepping.

 

Pack a small treat to savour

This is important as you will quickly tire of your new healthy eating plan if there is no room for any treats whatsoever. The key here is to pick a treat that is small enough to satisfy your sugar craving while still keeping you on track with your overall health plan. Good examples of a small treat include a small brownie, a flapjack, or some chocolate or yogurt covered nuts and raisins.

 

Keep hydrated

Many of us are not fully in tune with our body’s signals and mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger. Having a full water bottle on your desk at all times can help to stave off hunger and keep you hydrated for optimal performance at work. For those who don’t like drinking plain water consider adding a low-sugar cordial to your water.

 

Be smart when snacking

It’s not realistic to expect that your healthy lunch will keep you going all day so make sure that you have packed some wholesome snacks such as nuts, seeds, wholegrain crackers or dried fruit. Furthermore, keeping healthy snacks in your desk drawer is a great idea as it means you don’t even have to worry about packing snacks to take into work and you can simply refill your healthy snack drawer when required.

 

Learn how to politely decline treats from colleagues

The modern-day office can be a minefield for those trying to eat healthily. Whether it’s cake brought in to celebrate every birthday or a well-meaning colleague who likes to bring in doughnuts every Friday, it can seem as though it would come across as rude not to indulge. However, there is a way to politely decline- simply smile and say, “That looks great, I’d love to have one but I’m being good right now, thanks anyway”. A considerate colleague will understand and won’t try to pressure you into abandoning your healthy eating plan.

 

Have a healthy, appetising dinner to look forward to

Finally, after a successful day of sticking to your healthy eating plan make sure that you have a filling, satisfying dinner to look forward to after your long day. This will keep you motivated and will be a good way of reinforcing your positive lifestyle changes.

 

Keeping the momentum up

Whether or not you are actively trying to lose weight, these tips offer sound advice for those seeking to improve their health overall. By changing your routine just a little and practising good self-control throughout the day you will soon be achieving your health goals and optimising your performance at work.

Finally, if you find you need greater accountability for your actions why not buddy up with someone who is looking to take similar steps to improve their health. Similarly, there are many apps that can be downloaded to track your progress and keep you motivated to make good choices. When your hard work starts to pay off it should be easy to see the results and to enjoy the benefits of your new healthy lifestyle.

Finding the Formula to Combat Back-to-Work Anxiety in STEM

stem

Article By Experts at My GP

Mental health is a popular topic at the moment, while the majority of us were trying to maintain a healthy routine and lifestyle while stuck indoors, it begged the question, what about after lockdown? Back to work anxiety was bad enough for some of us after months of leisure time and lie ins. But entering the next stage of eased lockdown regulation is a cause of mental health disruption for some of us, bringing a sense of unease, worry, and anxiety.

At first, the thought of losing our freedom and summer plans caused anxiety in itself, but once we got used to our new life it subsided. While some are eagerly anticipating a return to work and normality, others are genuinely distressed by it — whether this is facilitated by concerns of the virus or facing our colleagues, there’s a real issue that needs addressing.

In this article, we’ll take a look at back-to-work anxiety in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries, providing helpful tips to deal with feeling anxious.

 

What is back-to-work anxiety?

Being away from your job for a period of time can affect your feelings regarding work, whether it’s the workload or challenging colleagues. Some of us have time to mull over our skills and put ourselves down over our abilities, knocking down our confidence. According to research by YouGov, two in five are anxious about returning to work and the threat the virus has to our health and wellbeing.

Back-to-work anxiety can have physical effects such as headaches, stomach issues, trouble sleeping, and behavioural changes like feeling irritable and isolated. If your job was stressful to begin with, it’s likely that returning can be even more difficult. Although anxiety is a normal emotion, there are many self-help methods you can use to manage these feelings. You should always consider seeking medical and therapeutic care if this severely interrupts your days.

 

STEMming from anxiety

STEM industries have recently been under scrutiny regarding the working environments in these sectors fostering anxiety and depression. For example, a report called “Masculinity in Engineering” noted that more than a fifth of engineers take time off due to their mental health as well as over one in three UK tech professionals claiming they’re worried about their mental health as it has deteriorated during Covid-19 which was previously one in five before the pandemic. The fast-paced and competitive nature of the work can stop workers from switching off.

These industries are traditionally male and white-dominated sectors notorious for a toxic masculine culture which can make people feel isolated. So it isn’t surprising that this, combined with the notion of returning to work after a period of absence from the office or lab, is having a significant impact on STEM workers mental health.

Although it’s difficult to judge how exactly social distancing measures can be implemented across a broad range of sectors from science to mathematics and the different ways that these job roles are carried out, many workers are also nervous about the spread of Covid-19.

engineeringpc

How to handle back to work anxiety

Try to make the transition back to work easier and consider these steps. It’s also helpful to identify the source of your worries to come up with solutions. myGP, a smartphone app for online NHS services including specialist areas like mental health, suggested the following:

 
Prepare yourself

Getting into the routine of work life can be a daunting feeling, however preparing yourself can make it easier. Whether this is preparing your lunches for your break, or dinners in advance for when you get home late and are too tired to cook, what may seem like minor preparations can actually relieve your mind of things you need to do for yourself. Remember, you and your needs should come first.

If you’ve been spending lockdown not getting out much and waking up late, try to get into a good routine to prepare yourself for when you’ll be on your feet again. Spending time outdoors whether it’s walking through nature or laid out in your garden can help to calm you down and keep you grounded in the present moment.

 
Speak with your manager and colleagues

Solidarity can be helpful in alleviating feelings of anxiety — try speaking to your colleagues to comfort each other and provide support. Recognising that others feel the same can help you feel like you’re not alone.

If you feel comfortable, it could be worthwhile speaking to your manager about your concerns and throwing yourself back into work life. Employers can be helpful in introducing informal support mechanisms like online resources and volunteers to provide support. They may be able to reduce some of your concerns or make plans to help your return to work.

Find out what will have changed in the workplace. For example, you may find that there will be fewer people in the workplace in order to maintain physical distancing. You could arrange a visit prior to your first day back which might reassure you about the measures that have been put in place to keep you and your colleagues safe. This brings us to our next point.

 
Seek resources

Lear, an automotive technology leader, created a comprehensive guide of returning to work to ease anxieties workers may have, including protocols, procedures, and rules in place to keep everyone safe, as well as mandatory onsite health screenings in ‘drive-thrus’ of temperature and overt symptoms.

Many organisations have mental health or counselling resources that you are eligible to use if you are an employee — if not there are lots of useful resources online that provide techniques for reducing anxiety.

 
Plan fun things to keep your mind busy

Summer might’ve been cancelled by Covid-19 this year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan fun things in the meantime. Meet up with your friends outside abiding government guidelines, go for mind clearing walks and hikes in nature, or, if you have the funds, plan a holiday next year to look forward to! Making fun plans can help tackle the looming feeling of dread when thinking of going back to work.

Avoid unhealthy habits such as reaching for alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine when you are feeling stressed or anxious.

 

Words of wisdom…

Research mindfulness and breathing exercises you can practise to improve your mental state. Meditation can be helpful as often when we feel anxious about things, we try to distract ourselves or might spend hours scrolling through our phones to avoid the pressing issue. Writing down your problems to face them can also be extremely helpful, as well as noting down the positives and the parts and people of your job that you enjoy. And remember — try to get a good night’s sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat healthy meals to keep your energy up.

If the feeling of back-to-work anxiety feels serious or you find that you’re not getting any relief, consider getting medical advice from your GP or book an online doctor appointment if you’re concerned. Anxiety is a real condition that can be helped with the right treatment. Don’t ignore how you feel, or this can be even more difficult to cope.

How To Improve Company Culture with Payroll

payroll

By Steven Cox, Chief Evangelist at FMP Global.

It is widely accepted that a good company culture is essential for a business to succeed, but various aspects that can help create this often go overlooked. The implications of payroll on company culture is one such aspect. The fact is, payroll has an effect on many areas of a company including cash flow, productivity, and overall business success. Because of this, it’s vital that business owners and senior staff do what they can to make sure payroll runs smoothly and correctly.

 

Why is payroll important to company culture?

Research carried out by The Workforce Institute at Kronos revealed that 49% of Americans would start looking for alternative employment after just two payroll errors in their current workplace. This statistic illustrates just how important it is to make sure payroll is consistently correct.

Not only this, but it’s known that when they’re looking for a job potential employees value perks, programs, and benefits that come with a position. In most workplaces, these would also come under the responsibility of the payroll team.

Without an effective and efficient payroll department that can accurately maintain wages/salaries and other compensation, it’s likely that costly errors will start to occur. If this happens, doubt and distrust among employees could easily start to spread. This, in turn, would damage company culture. To understand more about the relationship between company culture and payroll, read on for advice on how to cement this relationship.

 

How payroll builds company reputation

Ensuring that your payroll department manages all its processes well, and adheres to strict security measures, means there’s a lower chance of mistakes and questionable activity. This helps engender a good reputation for your payroll department, and by extension your company.

On the other hand, if your payroll team become known for regularly making mistakes and for potential suspicious activity, this will lead to bad press. Whether this is through the media or simply word of mouth, it can severely damage your company’s reputation. Such negativity will likely impact your relationships with stakeholders, including staff who will feel let down and maybe even tempted to part ways.

 

Payroll can increase employee engagement

Being paid correctly is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – priorities for employees when it comes to work. If staff are subjected to incorrect payments more than once, they are likely to start feeling undervalued. This will then lead to a feeling of disengagement. Why would an employee want to put in 100% of their effort if they are going to be paid insufficiently or incorrectly?

Incorrect payments can also plant a seed of doubt regarding the financial stability of a company. If staff are not receiving an adequate amount in their pay check, they may well start worrying that the company can no longer afford to pay them. This too will likely lead to feeling demotivated.

Employees are hired to do a job in exchange for an agreed payment. Therefore an effective payroll team that gets this payment right every time is needed in order to maintain the relationship. It’s also reassuring for staff if they know they can communicate with the payroll team as needed, and get any queries answered in a timely manner.

 

The payroll department provides compensation

No matter how much an employee enjoys their job, the fact is that they are only doing it on the understanding that they will be compensated in the form of a pay check and any agreed benefits. This age-old system is vital in order to keep employees feeling motivated and happy at work. Without correct and adequate compensation from the payroll department, it will only be a matter of time before employees feel angry and a poor company culture is born.

If a member of staff goes the extra mile, while they might not expect it, financial compensation can go along way toward ensuring they feel valued and happy. Performance-based pay models can be useful in some businesses because they mean that staff are properly compensated in accordance with their performance, which could include commission or a target-based bonus. Such flexible compensation needs to go through a reliable and accurate payroll department.

 

Payroll motivates employees to progress

A big factor in achieving a good company culture comes from whether or not staff feel they can progress – or even whether they want to. Stagnated employees invariably end up feeling bored and discontent, which can be toxic in a work environment.

These kinds of feelings can be avoided, however, if it’s clear that there is room for progression, and that any promotions will come with an increase in salary from the payroll department. It’s vital that the payroll team is always fully in the loop when it comes to staff job roles, so that they can administer the right payments to the right people, whenever they are due. This may not always be salary, but also bonuses and other benefits too.

 

Offer more payroll visibility

Another helpful way to improve company culture via the payroll department is to offer staff more visibility of their pay packet and any other relevant benefits. This can be done using effective and reliable payroll software that includes the option of online payslips or a payroll app service for employees.

This kind of additional service means that employees don’t always need to approach their payroll team to get their questions answered, because their pay information is readily available on their mobile or tablet. Having this access to their information will offer reassurance to employees, who will gain more confidence in the payroll team due to the level of transparency.

Considering all the ways in which the payroll department effects employees, it’s clear that payroll has a significant impact on the overall culture of a company. With ineffective or poorly run payroll, businesses will soon end up with a bad reputation, unhappy staff who are disengaged, and probably a high employee turnover. To avoid these issues, business owners need to make sure they invest time, money, and attention in their company’s payroll.

8 Innovative Social Distancing Tips for Small Businesses

social distancing work space

Lockdown measures have significantly eased, and the economy is getting back into the swing of things. However, if we want to keep thing good momentum going, then it’s important not to forget about maintaining social distancing. Otherwise, we could be facing a second wave of coronavirus. This is vital for small businesses because they’re the ones who might not be able to survive another lockdown. Therefore, we need some innovative social distancing tips which can help small businesses combat coronavirus and keep the cash flowing. We’ve got 8 great ones right here, so read on to find out what they are.

 

1. Leaving/Arriving Schedule

It’s difficult to maintain social distancing from your work colleagues when you’re all flooding into the premises at the same time. Therefore, small businesses might want to create a schedule for when everyone arrives and leaves work. Stagger out the times to reduce crowding and prevent there from being congestion in the corridor. This will keep everyone safe, making working in an office more sustainable during the pandemic.

 

2. Creating Extra Room

One of the biggest problems that small businesses face in light of social distancing is making enough room in the office for everyone to remain two metres apart. This is extremely problematic when your business premises are small. However, managers might be able to create more room by putting some of the unnecessary office furnishings into storage. Companies like Safestore have secure lockups which help you do this. Try to find somewhere you can put away all the extra items as soon as possible.

 

3. Looking After Workstations

Where you can, keep the same people working on the same workstations. This will prevent different germs to the other employees. You could also assign a time of day for employees to wash down their desks. It’s also worth supplying each member of staff with their own hand sanitiser for their workstation. Place some tape on the floor around the station, too, so employees definitively know where they can and can’t go.

 

4. Communal Areas

It’s going to be difficult to maintain hygiene and social distance in the communal areas of your business premises, such as the kitchens and bathrooms. Review each of these places and consider what strategies to implement. Perhaps you could only allow one or two people in a room at any given time and tell each employee to wash down whatever appliances they may have touched.

 

5. Traffic Systems

You could adopt ‘road markings’ for your workplace to control traffic and ensure social distancing. In narrow corridors, introduce a one-way system; in the office, place down markings and arrows which show people what direction they should take whenever they wish to move. Visual aids that demonstrate how much a two-metre distance is are also beneficial.

 

6. Screens

Inevitably, social distancing isn’t always going to be possible. In these circumstances, we recommend small businesses place screens wherever rules might inadvertently be breached. For example, erecting screens between workstations or bathroom sinks will keep a level of separation necessary for preventing the virus’ spread.

 

7. Air Circulation

Social distancing is important because coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets which people spray from their mouth and nose. These droplets can remain suspended in the air, long after they’ve been expelled from a person’s body. As such, small businesses should invest in methods to increase air circulation and purification – like dehumidifiers, air conditioning and open windows.

 

8. Sorting Out Rotas

Avoid having everyone in the office and categorise employees into households. Only have employees from the same household in on the same days. This will reduce how many people are being infected.

These are some innovative tips for social distancing that small businesses might not have thought of before. See if you can come up with a couple of others yourself.