Be Prepared, Stay Prepared

 No one can fully predict what the future holds, but you shouldn’t underestimate the power of forward planning. Many factors feed into our career progressions and several are completely out of our control. But the planning you can do is worth your time and effort, as it can pay dividends in the long run. Look at where you can make your own future steps and map out a career path that takes you to a place where you can picture yourself being successful and happy.

Positive forward planning is something that so many people take for granted. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but how many of us really look at our business, our staff and ourselves, and plan for the long-term. On a personal level, staff can plan ahead in terms of keeping their network of contacts up-to-date. Networking and membership of professional bodies are both good ways of maintaining an air of preparation for the unexpected. Ensuring qualifications and work practices are as current as they can be is also key to smooth career progression. Attend seminars and conferences if you think they are relevant. Look at and plan what you need to make yourself an attractive candidate, either for new positions or promotions. Attend networking events, even when you don’t need to, to keep your hand in. Retaining updated CV’s is another good way to forward plan and not get left in the lurch when an appropriate resume is suddenly required. By tracking career achievements in real time, it’s much easier not to make omissions while the details are fresh in your mind.

If you use social media in your working life, such as LinkedIn, be consistent in your ‘message’ across all platforms. This will make sure you have one ‘online persona’, not several outdated ones, floating around the ether. When planning out your career path, keeping alert is a vital part of the process. Look out for job opportunities and seek out as many new experiences and relevant contacts as possible. Absorb as much experience and knowledge, and hone and practice interview techniques too. Be ready for change, with a multitude of hypothetical scenarios – if this happens, then do that. All these aspects of your planning and self-scrutiny will enable you to better prepare you for transition and make sure you have a clear strategy for career advancement.

Back to basics – introducing wellbeing in the workplace

It has been said that a healthy workforce is a happy workforce, and a happy workforce leads to greater productivity. Health and wellbeing is currently receiving a lot of air time, but what can you do to ensure that you pay more than lip service to creating a healthy working environment?

To engage, motivate and inspire your team, you need to lead by example and here are some simple steps you can take to create a healthier workplace.

Step one: drink more water – on average you should drink two litres of water a day. Among other side effects, attention and memory can be severely affected if you are dehydrated. Two good reasons why you should encourage your team to drink more water. Providing a water cooler or water bottles might be just the motivation they need.

Step two: exercise more – 10,000 steps is the daily healthy target we should all aspire too. It’s harder to do than you might think. But providing your team with pedometers or setting up an office walking challenge are simple ways that you can encourage your team to move more. There are also a whole host of exercises you can do at your desk. 

Step three: easy on the eyes – eye strain is an issue that affects anyone who spends all day at a computer screen. It creates short term symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches and more. To avoid you or your team developing these symptoms, encourage everyone to schedule in a couple of minutes away from their screens every half hour. This time could be used to make some telephone calls, hold a short meeting or even go and get yourself a drink (encouraging step one and step two while helping step three!).

Step four: work/life balance – enabling your team to achieve a positive work/life balance will go a long way in ensuring health and wellbeing. Building flexibility into the working day and managing your customers’ expectations will help with this too.

Step five: digital detox – many of us have become reliant on modern technology. In some cases, this has led to an ‘always on’ culture, where people send, receive and respond to work-related emails via their mobile devices at all hours of the day and night. Discourage your team from checking their work email in their own time. This in turn will lead to a refreshed and motivated workforce during the working day.

And rest: don’t forget to take a break – research has shown that everyone needs to take a break from work – whether this is a lunchbreak, an evening off or a proper holiday – some downtime is vital.

New Year’s Resolutions

Many people make New Year’s resolutions in their private lives. Breaking old habits or improving your lifestyle can bring great benefits – and sticking to the task is both a challenge and a reward in itself. But how often do people make New Year’s resolutions with regards to their careers?

It’s important at the start of any year to take stock and look at where you are. People often find the beginning of a new year a good time for reflection and it allows you time to think about setting priorities for the year ahead. New starts mean new opportunities and challenges – and they should be grasped with both hands.

Are you in the place you want to be career-wise? Do you feel that you, your colleagues or employees are stuck in a bit of a rut? If that’s the case, then look at what improvements can be made.  Do you fancy a change of career? If so, it might be worth talking to a career expert, to see what opportunities are available to you. Look at sectors where your skills are transferable, and also look at your overall wellbeing and happiness. Is there room for improvement? And if so, make a start at planning that change and seeking out the areas where development would be valuable.

When you come to setting new goals for the year ahead, make sure they are realistic. Think about how changes to your career and work patterns can benefit you in ways beyond the workplace. Sometimes a career change can improve work-life balance, or allow greater freedom to work remotely or flexibly. More and more jobs are becoming geared up to this. The happier and more comfortable a workforce is, the more productive and loyal it will be. Think beyond convention and see how new and different working methods could be helpful to you.

Another good thing to address at the beginning of a New Year is your CV. Look at your CV today and spruce it up, not when you are desperate to issue it, for a job application. An updated CV should reflect your current ambitions and goals, as well as highlighting experience, knowledge and achievements. Looking at your CV will also allow you to look at your achievements in a positive and encouraging way – such affirmation is a great way to banish those January blues.