Monthly Archive for March, 2018

Win The Skills Game: How To Ensure Your Staff Training Is A Success


Devising and implementing an effective employee training programme is one of the cornerstones of success when it comes to business growth. Training should never be an afterthought, because it has so many positive effects in the workplace, such as improving employee retention, keeping processes and people efficient and profitable, and ensuring the quality and consistency of output is right. Ultimately, good training can benefit your business bottom line – increasing margins and ensuring that customers come back for more.

Training needs to be a holistic approach, with modules for each stage of the process carefully planned. Approach matters like a learning professional and you can have a real impact. So whether you want to improve and standardise processes or upskill your staff, the right approach will help you to get the most from a training investment. Here’s how to make sure you hit the mark:

Plan Your Training The Right Way

A haphazard approach is not going to produce the result you want, and is likely to be a waste of valuable time. So start with a business needs assessment before booking in any coaches. This should start with a review of your business plan and goals – what are your short-term aims for the coming year? Next, perform a kind of gap analysis by taking stock of the current picture. How far away are you from your goal? What are the barriers preventing your company from getting there? These barriers will inform the type of training you need to provide. Link them to your overall business strategy, and set specific KPIs – outcomes that you want to be delivered as a result of the training. Share these with your employees at the start of the training, and then give them a chance to feedback at the end of the session on whether they feel that the training adequately met those needs – especially if using an external training supplier.

Match Training To Specific Roles In Your Business

While hugely worthwhile when done right, training is undoubtedly an upfront consumption of resources, so be very clear about exactly what the business requirements are. Take the time to discover from them what it is about their roles or the systems they use where they feel that they need support. Whether its business-critical certifications such as food handler training certification, broader skills such as customer service and dealing with complaints or even systems-specific areas, you need to scope out the requirements and communicate them clearly to the provider. Many staff members may use the same tools – for example, a CRM system – to perform different functions, so being very specific about what is needed will help your training to achieve its maximum ROI.

Select The Right Format

The range of different channels and methods that can take place these days are vast, so as well as being sure about the content that needs to be delivered, it pays to think about the method of delivery. Training can sometimes be offered in-house by a skilled staff member, or even yourself if you have a small operation, but it can also be delivered by an external supplier – often this route can be useful for a session that requires participants to think openly about their own roles, such as conflict resolution. Make sure enough time is allocated for the session to cover everything, or if there are several levels of expertise at play with your staff, perhaps split the training into a beginner, intermediate and advanced level. If you want to develop existing staff, coaching can be a great way of getting individuals upskilled. While for new employees, induction and job shadowing may be more effective. Courses can be available via distance or e-learning online, or can be delivered at workshops. Whichever channel you decide suits, make sure all employees can access it. This can be a particularly important consideration if you have people working from home, part-time or any disabled employees.

Work With The Supplier

If you have chosen to go with an external supplier, selecting the right one is half the battle. Find a good provider and it can be the start of a productive long-term partnership, so take the time to select the right one. Trade associations and professional bodies are a great place to start if you’re seeking skills that are specific to the industry you operate in. They will understand what current training needs are prevalent in your sector and what skills are going to be needed in the future. They may have approved training suppliers on record, which will save you a search. Or some may even offer their own training courses. This can be especially important if the training is part of a programme of CPD (continued professional development) that your employees will need to retain accreditation. Make sure when you speak to providers that they understand your own objectives and the demands of your sector. Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients who would recommend them? What feedback do they gather to ensure their training is being received in the right way? And what outcomes do they expect to achieve for your investment? What will happen if these targets aren’t met?

Closing The Feedback Loop

After the training has taken place, you will need to evaluate the goals that you put in place before the course and ensure that you can see the positive impact on the business. There are lots of ways to measure success with training, and combining a few usually gives the best overview. Firstly, look at the quantitate results – these are the tangible metrics within your business that show success. It could be sales, output, staff turnover, or productivity – linked to what training took place. But it’s also important to evaluate success qualitatively – using better teamwork, fewer complaints or more innovative processes as your yardsticks. Ask your employees if what they received was relevant to their roles and level of expertise, what will change as a result of what they’ve learned and what they thought of the method of delivery – this can be anonymised for greater clarity. This process should be completed soon after the training to ensure accurate recall.

With a little careful thought beforehand, training can be the best thing your business will ever do. Get it right, and you could be ahead of the competition in no time.

Getting into Contracting

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The contracting sector is one that is evolving at a rapid rate as more and more people are wanting to take advantage of the benefits of flexible working. And businesses of all kind are also looking to hire people on a less rigid basis, so the demand is growing as well. Contractors often have the advantage of earning significantly better rates of pay, as well as being freer to choose when they want to have time off. So, if you are looking to leave the workforce and strike out on your own as a contractor, here is some advice to get you started.

Quit Your Current Job

Contractors tend to have enjoyed a great deal of success in their current field, so if you have the skills to offer, you are more than likely to find someone who is in need of them fairly quickly. Contracts tend to come and go pretty fast, and you are likely to get started within a short space of time. Of course, the decision to leave your job is a big one, so make sure that you are totally comfortable with your choice and you are in a secure enough position to do so.

Secure Your Contracts

There are two main ways that contractors tend to secure their contracts. The first is approaching the client directly, and the second is going via a recruitment agency. The latter tends to be the most common way of getting started unless you have extensive contacts within your field who you can call upon to give you work. Scour through the online job boards to see what sort of positions are available. Keep your online profiles updated and visible so that people can find you if they want to.

Build Your Connections and Suppliers

You need to build up momentum in order to really get the ball rolling in the world of contracting. This means working hard to build up your connections. Depending on what sector you are getting involved in, you may also need to build up some suppliers so check out this website if you are entering an industrial field. Over time, it should get easier and easier as you start to learn your profession and make a name for yourself.

Decide on a Payment Structure

Payment structures tend to come in two main forms. The first is that you become a director and shareholder of your own one-person company, while the second involves working for an umbrella organisation. Bear in mind that limited companies incur accountancy fees, and you may find that hiring your own accountant pays off.

Getting into the world of contracting is likely to be a route that more and more people go down as they search for that all-important work-life balance. So, if this is a path that appeals to you, these are just a few of the things that you can do to get yourself started in this fast-moving and competitive area.


It’s Time to Chase Your Own Dreams Rather Than Building Someone Else’s!

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When it comes to work, we have it so ingrained in our minds that we should work for someone else that many of us never even consider working for ourselves. While we are at school, we gain all sorts of qualifications and are encouraged to take on all sorts of extracurricular activities. When we ask why we need to do all of this, the benefits of learning new skills that could help us in their own right, we are told that these things will “look good” on our CVs. That employers want to see these things before they’ll give you a job. That the purpose of our education is to impress others who should hopefully hire us down the line. Then we are taught all sorts of interview skills to be able to get us through the process of applying to work for someone else. We learn how to sell ourselves, how to highlight our best traits, and how to answer awkward and hackneyed questions such as “where do you see yourself five years from now” or “why do you want to work for this company”. Everything is always about making yourself look good to employers and standing out from the crowd to be taken on. But while being an employee can offer a relatively comfortable lifestyle where your working day starts at nine and finishes at five, have you ever considered that by accepting this, you’re simply building someone else’s dream on their behalf? That you can be extremely limited to your roles? That you’ll have no direct decision in regards to what direction the company you’re working for takes and that you might never receive a promotion that will take you onto a higher wage and position of more authority? While there are benefits to being an employee, there are serious limits too! So, if you have an idea that you think will make you some serious cash and you want a little more control over your life and the direction that it’s going to take, it might be time to start chasing your own dreams. For now, let’s take a look at freelancing as an alternative to full-time employment. Here’s how you can go about it.

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The first career option that allows you a lot more freedom over what you do and who you work for is to become a freelancer. You can be the individual who companies and brands outsource their work to. You never have to be tied down to a single contract and you can have a whole lot more control over the terms you work on. This also comes hand in hand with a regular change of scenery. You can have new contacts and colleagues for every project you work on. Your work will also change on a daily basis, as projects will shift and expectations will change from one client to another. In order to be a successful freelancer, however, you do have a little more work on your hands than a typical employee. After all, you’re going to have to get yourself off the ground by making a good name for yourself to start with and from this point on, you have to constantly be reaching out to new clients, forging new relationships, and securing constant work. Here’s how to get started on the right foot.

Becoming Self-Employed

First things first, you need to register as self-employed. Remember that if you’re working for yourself, you need to sort your own taxes out for the end of each fiscal year. The sums won’t automatically be deducted from your pay in the same way that they might if you were an employee. This means you’ll have to exhibit a little more self-control when it comes to your finances. You should deduct the relevant taxes from your own pay packet and store them in a savings account which you can then access to pay your tax bill when the time comes.

Setting Up Shop

Once you’re registered as self-employed, it’s time to get started on making a brand of yourself. You need to set up shop by taking to the world of E-commerce. Many people mistakenly believe that E-commerce is merely for retailers who want to sell goods online. However, it is an equally important space for people who are offering services rather than wares. Potential customers will still use your site in a similar way as if they were looking for a tangible product. They will take a look at what you have to offer, compare your services to the others on the market, and secure a deal by communicating with you through the contact details or online payment methods that you offer through your site. Consider your webpage an investment. After all, it can make or break people’s interest. If it’s difficult to operate or just doesn’t look the part, individuals visiting are likely to close the tab and look elsewhere, falling right into the arms of your competitors. So bring in an experienced and professional web designer (unless you’re intending on becoming a freelance web designer yourself, in which case it’s time to put your skills to the test and to try out a little DIY). Remember that the journey isn’t over once your site is up and running. You need to ensure that it is well maintained and updated regularly. Magento Technical Support Services will be able to help you with this, managing integrations, migrations, and security patch updates.

Making a Name for Yourself

Now you’ve established yourself as a brand of sorts, it’s time to show what you’re worth. Your first jobs are some of the most important, as they will be where you can get some good customer feedback and recommendations for others looking at using your services. The better your reviews and recommendations, the more likely you will be to secure further business from others. Word of mouth goes just as far as advertising, as people will actively seek other real individuals’ opinions when they are considering trying you out themselves. So, make sure that you complete every job to the highest standard and deliver the best customer service possible at any given time.

If you follow these steps, you should be on the right track towards establishing yourself as a freelancer and breaking free from the trap of working for someone else your entire life!

Is Your Workplace As Productive As It Can Be?

If you look around the office to see yawning faces, heads on desks and people twiddling their thumbs a little too often, the chances are that your workplace isn’t as productive as it could be. You want to sense dynamism, hear the chatter of ideas and viewpoints and see people busying themselves with their work. While your employees need to take some responsibility for their work ethic, the onus is also on you as the employer to provide an environment that is conducive to productive working. Beige carpet tiles, poorly designed ergonomic seating and endless cubicles of desktop computers simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Take a look at how you can bring your office into the twenty-first century and make it a more productive environment for your staff.

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Although it may be a large financial outlay initially, implementing new hardware such as laptops, monitors and screens can allow you to reap productive rewards. There’s nothing more morale-sapping and frustrating than having a photocopier that breaks down all the time, intermittent wifi connections or computer crashes. Your employees will be pulling their hair out, and there will be an obscene amount of work time wasted dealing with technical issues because of old hardware. Ship in the new stuff and launch it with a fanfare. Your staff will feel valued, and the ethos of the office will be lifted with new kit adorning the workplace.

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A refurbishment of the office needn’t cost a fortune. Think about what you want from your staff and create an environment that can facilitate this. If you want plenty of discussion and meetings where creative ideas can flow, make sure you have plenty of open plan working areas. Allow people the freedom to move around the office, have those all-important water cooler moments and enjoy chatting about work over a coffee.

Make sure the coffee is of good quality, install some luxury hand dryers in the bathrooms and ensure that there is plenty of greenery adorning the office. These little touches will show your staff that you care about where they work. They should feel reinvigorated to be productive as you have demonstrated your commitment to providing them with a top quality environment in which to work.

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If you’re not the best at showing your face around the office, you should start. Staff love seeing their boss, catching up and saying a quick hello. If it’s hard to tear yourself away from tasks, ensure that you send a weekly email at the very least, to keep your team updated of progress towards targets, the business vision and celebrate successes. Namecheck some staff members who have done exceptional things that week to make them feel valued and encourage productive working. It’s vital employees have buy-in to the goals of your business.

If you can achieve an environment that fosters productive working, your staff will be receptive to this. Follow this advice and make your office the most productive environment possible.

Hosting The Business Event Of The Year: The Four Commandments

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Aside from lead generation and raising brand awareness, the great thing about a corporate event is the flexibility. Not in the sense that there aren’t strict time deadlines because that would be a lie. No, it’s more to do with a lack of a game plan. A strategy is essential, but the one you choose is totally down to you and your team. In a world where rules are king, this is pretty exciting. Of course, there are always anomalies that prove the rule. In the case of a business event, there are four and you can find them below.

Focus On The Purpose

Concentrating on what you are trying to achieve is a sure-fire way to hit those targets. Otherwise, the entire night will drift by without anyone having a conversation or interaction of any note. In the beginning, it’s vital to tell the attendees the reason for the glorified party in the first place. Don’t be transparent and say “we want your money”. Instead, tell them what you are looking to show off. For example, a fashion show is about showcasing new trends. Obviously, you want donations too so inform employees and anyone involved in the meet and greet process. It’ll help focus their efforts.

Add Value

Companies lose sight of what they are offering because they think freebies are awesome. Yes, people like to receive gifts, but only if they are high in quality. A pen, for instance, isn’t going to make the guests think it was a weekday night well spent. Instead, look to provide rewards that intrigue them and promote brand awareness. Are you trying to break into the fishing industry? If so, a boilie pouch is perfect because it relates to the industry. Where possible, try and giveaway novelty gifts that wow. Maybe you can’t afford a car, but a scooter or a Segway is less expensive.

Delegate Responsibility

Attempting to cover all the bases on your own is madness. There is too much to consider, and trying to go it alone will lead to mistakes. Also, your stress levels will skyrocket. Once you have your plan, make sure there is a person or a team of people who are in charge. Catering may go to Mike in accounting, for example, while Sarah in HR can handle the guest list. This isn’t outsourcing, but hiring a third party is acceptable if you have the budget. Always choose people you can trust and who are organised.


Delegating the details means there are bound to be lots of moving parts. The only way to bring them together is to communicate on a daily basis. Start the day with a meeting and address the most pressing issues. Anyone with problems can raise their concerns and ask for help, while you can collate every piece of information. During working hours, don’t be scared to check in with people and inquire about updates. Even if they don’t have any, speaking directly is a nice way to put your mind at rest.

After these, you can do whatever you like to make the event a hit.