Preparing for the end of furlough

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The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) comes to an end on 30 September 2021. This has provided a lifeline for many businesses and their employees over the last 18 months and furlough’s imminent finish will be a source of much trepidation and further uncertainty for anyone involved.

What happens now?

Businesses are now faced with the difficult process of ensuring their teams are aware of the situation and understand what happens next. While the scheme has ensured the continued employment for many people throughout the pandemic, its conclusion may mark the start of a different story.

We have had a look at the Government’s advice so far, and would like to share some of the advice provided by HMRC:

What should my business do when the scheme closes?

When furlough comes to an end, you will need to decide on one of three courses of action for employees that have not been working:

  • Bring your employees back to work on their agreed terms and conditions,
  • Agree any changes to their terms and conditions with them, or
  • Consider ending their employment.

However, it is very important to remember, that when making decisions about how and when to end furlough arrangements, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

When is my businesses last claim for the CJRS?

The last day that your business will be able to claim for is 30th September. Final claims for September must be submitted by Thursday 14th October.

Can I claim CJRS for employees on notice periods?

No. Employers cannot claim CJRS grants for any days an employee is serving a contractual or statutory notice period, including notice of retirement, resignation or redundancy.

If you do need to make any roles redundant, you must remember that normal redundancy rules and protections apply to furloughed employees.

Restructuring and redundancy can be an extremely difficult time for both employees and employers.

At Career Evolution, we are keen to help make the transition as painless as possible for everyone. If you would like to find out how we can help, please contact us today.

Recognising success – beating imposter syndrome

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Having an external opinion in the world of business is invaluable and this is where career transition and specialist career success management can help. Over the years, I have encountered many clients who have suddenly been faced with job loss and given outplacement to support them in their transition. They have been unprepared to be in the situation and perhaps haven’t looked at themselves and their role with any real clarity for a long time – if ever.

In our initial meeting, my clients are often having a bit of a crisis of confidence. Their attitude is: “‘I’ll never get another job at this level” or at the other extreme, “How did I ever get a job at this level?” This is especially true of long-serving people, who have been in the same role or company for many years.

The full picture

We begin by looking both at the future – where they would like to see themselves – and the past. We’ll take an overview of their career, a retrospective of their achievements and use this to create a really strong CV and clear career path to embark on. By recognising their strengths and success, they can see the reasons why they held such a role and how their talents are ideally suited to what they want to achieve.

Making a transition

Another way imposter syndrome can strike is when people say “I’m just a…” or “I’m only a…” and degrade what they’ve achieved. If you are, for example, ‘only’ an accountant or copywriter, you can work in literally any sector. Transition to other sectors can be one of the most beneficial moves anyone can make in their careers. Of course, the key to unlocking such progressions is transferable skills. For example, an accountant can work within any large organisation that has a finance department, while a copywriter can provide writing on any subject they can carry out research on.  I get my clients to look at the skills that they use in their role every day and ask themselves the open question – “How many jobs does this role cover?” And then, “How many sectors can these talents be transferred to?” The answer for most roles will be dozens.

The key to success

That is the beginning of recognising that success and flair doesn’t restrict ambitions but enhances them. It’s important to remember that imposter syndrome operates only in an individual’s own mind. If you can acknowledge what you have achieved and define your best qualities, you’ll never say “I’m just a….” ever again.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

New role? How to have it all!

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Imagine the scenario. You have been offered a new role – or perhaps you just want to renegotiate the terms of your current job. Many people find it difficult to broach the subject of what they really want from a job, and rarely do two parties have exactly the same concept of what is fair, acceptable or derisory. So, having broached the subject, do you know how to approach negotiating a good deal for yourself?

Clean slate

If you are new to the company and the role, it is probably easier to set out your stall from the outset. You’ll have a benchmark of your previous roles, but you will also have a blank slate when it comes to negotiating style and position. You’ll probably have had plenty of time in the last 12-to-18 months to think about work and life. If you have been working from home, you may have discovered this is something you’d like to continue. Or if you’ve missed coming into the office, this might be something you’d like to resume. These aspects need to be discussed with your employer, as part of your long-term career development and package. But you also need to know and understand how you would like to live your life.

Take a pragmatic approach

For realistic negotiations, you need to be pragmatic in your demands and expectations. Your lifestyle is important, especially from a mental health point of view. There’s no point is working for a company you loath, in a role you dislike. But your discussion with your employer should also be balanced against your business self. What do you bring to the table? What are your strengths and what makes you unique and invaluable to your company? And most of all, does your employer agree with your summation?

Presenting your business case

When you open a discussion about terms and conditions, including salary, you must be prepared to state a realistic business case. This needs to be primarily focused on business need, rather than personal preference. It might be beneficial to seek out some advice to do this, from someone such as a career Consultant, which can help you outline how you’d like to handle the situation and your attitude to it.

A fresh pair of eyes can look at your current position and identify where your strong points and positions of strength for negotiation lie. Discussing them openly with a career expert will also give you a chance to rehearse your approach – in this was there will more chance you will be successful in your bid. Being confident in what you’d like the outcome to be and having realistic expectations will make you better placed to discuss and negotiate. It will also give you a more compelling case going forward, to realise your ambitions within the company.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Note to self – you’re a success

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In the next few weeks, our new Career Evolution A5 notebooks are being sent out to all our new clients. We have always found it useful to have a notebook on hand, that is solely devoted to a single subject – your career progression and all that relates to it. By having all that information in one place, you can refer to it easily.  Hopefully the mere presence of the notebook will encourage our clients to make notes, which can be retained and reread for future reference. If you encounter a challenge in your career that you have faced before, perhaps you have made notes and commented on it in the past. This accumulated knowledge will end up being invaluable to you in the long-term.

The write stuff

With so much work done these days on computers, phones and digitally, it’s rare and refreshing for some people to put pen to paper. In fact, when it comes to having to write notes out longhand, it’s almost become a lost art, so used have we become to typing and keying in words. For some, indeed most these days, it’s become complete second nature to type rather than write – and the thought process linked to writing, to being creative, is entirely enmeshed in the typing process. But it’s also important to retain skills like writing by hand. If you write for a living, you probably use a mixture of both. It’s easier to take notes longhand on a notepad when you’re interviewing someone over the phone, for example – most people type two-handed, but write with only one.

When it comes to devoting time to writing for yourself, the act of writing makes you think slightly differently to someone typing. Putting pen to paper gives you more time to compose, to think about what you want to say, as ink isn’t as easy to erase as the delete button a keyboard. Digital text documents can be updated to reflect today, but earlier drafts – which may contain an occasional nugget of observation – are lost forever. Not so with pen and ink.

When writing longhand, you may want to draft it out first. But if you’re jotting down thoughts and observations in a notebook, you also tend to go with your gut feelings – and often this results in more honesty. It doesn’t matter if there’s crossings out and scribbles, it’s for your own use and should be treated as such, not something to be published or seen by others.

Duly noted

In our Career Evolution notebooks, you should take notes during your job search and subsequently when you are in your new role. You can keep notes on where you’ve been successful and include positives about the role, but also be honest and comment on possible negatives too. In this way you can keep making a note of your successes, achievements and experiences. It’s not so much diarising your career, but it is worth it, from time to time, to just stop and look at where you are and how you are feeling about your work. Like a diary though, it’s private, so you it should be a true reflection of you and your career path.

It’s also useful to start using the notebook when you are at the beginning of a new role, or even just in appraisals and conversations with your manager. Listing out what you’d like to discuss in a review can form part of your groundwork for an appraisal meeting, and the outcomes can be duly noted alongside your preparation – with ideally some of your ambitions countered with some constructive results. If you like, you can divide the notebook into subsections relating to different aspects of your career, such as CV updates, interview techniques, ambitions, advice – in much the same way as our own Career Evolution notebooks.

If you are a new Career Evolution client, look out for your notebooks arriving soon. If you are one of our valued current or past clients and would like a notebook too, please contact Sue Thomas via email, Twitter or LinkedIn with your address details and we will send one out to you. Hopefully you’ll have some positive observations and thoughts to write down, when you put pen to paper. Happy scribbling!

Your trusted colleague

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Company changes and restructuring can sometimes lead to senior executives being offered outplacement support to help them recognise what they want next out of their career. No matter how senior a person is, it’s important to remember that everyone needs someone to hold them to account. Outplacement is much more than just ensuring your CV and interview skills are up to scratch.  Outplacement specialists like Career Evolution actually take the time to match you with a Consultant that not only has the necessary skills and experience to help you, but also has the right chemistry to work with you and get the best out of you too.

Knowing me, knowing you

Our expert Consultants have many years’ experience of all kinds of outplacement support and are also able to look at things from a holistic viewpoint, tailoring the service they provide to meet your individual requirements. We can provide the ongoing support and challenge to senior people, who are going through outplacement. In fact, clients in the past have described us as their ‘trusted colleague.’ Someone that ‘gets it’ and isn’t wary of holding them to account – in a positive way of course.

The independent nature of using an outplacement Consultant not only provides a fresh perspective, but it also means you are working with someone that know about you and understands what you are trying to achieve.

An independent eye

There is a natural assumption that if you are operating successfully in a senior role, then it stands to reason that your CV and interview skills will be equally impressive. However, all too often, this really isn’t the case.  In all likelihood, if you have been in your role for some time, then your CV may be out-of-date in terms of content, layout and approach. Reorganising your CV to adequately highlight your achievements is imperative, and our Consultants can help you to create an up-to-date CV that will be attractive to prospective employers. Sharpening your interview skills is also time very well spent. Your Consultant will also ensure that you are leveraging your network – both in person and online – and will help you make the most of your LinkedIn profile too.

Managing the marketplace

If we assume that CV and interview skills are sorted, managers might still be out of touch of what the marketplace is actually looking for. Being able to identify opportunities and demonstrate how a person can fit the criteria to find their perfect job is one of the most important roles an outplacement advisor can fulfil. When it comes to periods of transition, having a Consultant that you trust is crucial to ensuring your next step is the right one.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Is working from home (WFH) working for you?

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Over the last 18 months the subject of working from home (WFH) has been discussed in detail.  Many companies are considering the future options of having a remote workforce or embracing a hybrid working model that gives people the flexibility to work remotely or in the office depending on personal and business pressures or preferences. However, this type of working does not suit everyone, and it is important to remember the needs of your workforce are as diverse as the people themselves.

Space to work

While many people have enjoyed the reduced commute, the flexibility and maybe even the novelty of WFH, others have struggled with this way of working for a myriad of reasons.  These range from the straightforward challenges of a home environment not suited to work – lack of space, too many people or too much noise – through to the more complex issues around loneliness, lack of motivation or missing the benefits of socialisation and collaboration that the office environment can offer.

Energy levels

Some extraverts have also found the potential isolation of WFH challenging.  In general terms, extroverts gain their energy from being around other people, and where this has not been possible – and not been replaced properly with virtual interaction – have missed being around colleagues and clients perhaps even more keenly than introverts, who recharge through time alone. That being said, introverts too still need social interaction.

Collaboration is key

Some roles rely on collaboration, and while the virtual platforms that have come to the fore during this period have admirably filled much of the gap being unable to meet in person has left, they don’t necessarily bridge the more informal collaboration that comes from being around people physically in the working day. Other roles, particularly some sales, business development or consultancy-type roles have had to change beyond recognition to work around social restrictions. Whereas before the pandemic, these people spent the majority of their time travelling and meeting people in person, the focus of the role has had to change to account for the restrictions in place.

Moving forward

Career Evolution has always been a very ‘in-person’ business, and I have talked previously about how the pandemic has changed the way we work and will continue to do so in the future. Our personal and professional relationships are still at the heart of everything we do, but we have discovered that we can develop these to a whole new level by combining our virtual and physical approach. However, as things reopen and some semblance of normality starts to return, we have a golden opportunity to change the landscape of the working environment for good. I think it’s vital that employees and employers use this opportunity to find the most productive way of working for them.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Outplacement companies – finding the perfect match

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Outplacement companies, like any business, come in all shapes and sizes. Some specialise in certain sectors, while others are able to offer a broad service that can cater to most businesses’ needs. An established outplacement company will have built up a great deal of experience and knowledge of a wide spectrum of sectors and how to approach each one. But selecting the outplacement company that is right for your needs is one of the challenges facing HR professionals from the outset. You don’t want to find yourself wasting time and money on a Consultant and process that benefits no one, so choosing one that is a good match is absolutely crucial.

Planning ahead

Any outplacement company which is engaged to provide support for individuals within your business should be able to allow a Consultant to spend some time with them, so they can get to know each other and discuss a tailored approach.

If you find that the relationship will work, outplacement programmes have a variety of collateral benefits that are part of the discussion and coaching process. For example, if your outplacement candidate is looking at where they are currently with their career and where they would like to be, it goes without saying that they will be helped to assess their options and build and strengthen their CV and LinkedIn profile. They will also be given the opportunity to practice and hone their interview skills.  It’s also critical that the Consultant explores other avenues including self-employment, contracting, interim and perhaps Non-Executive Directorships. Strategy and review is a vital ongoing component to ensure the individual keeps on track and feels supported.

How to get on

What will become quickly apparent is how important that relationship with the Consultant is. Candidates must get on well with their Consultant on a personal level as well as a professional level to get the most out of it. As the HR professional, it’s also important that your point of contact at the outplacement company has spent time with you too, to ensure you not only know the full scope of the service, but also that your employees are engaging in the process.

At Career Evolution, we have always worked on a holistic basis, to help support clients, and ensure that our outplacement candidate not only get the right job, but also one that will suit their preferred lifestyle. Never has this been more important than in the past 15 months, with so much of our lives that have been out of our control. This uncertain period has changed many people’s expectations of work-life balance and also what they hope to fulfil in their career.

An extra mile

When asked about their experiences of the last year or so, and the positive or a negative impact that the pandemic has had, there is no ‘one’ answer to this question. The impact of the pandemic will continue to feed into candidates’ moods and also their sense of achievement and capability for some time to come. You need to choose a Consultant that has a considered, empathetic approach. Understanding and ‘reading’ people’s moods through their words and actions is an important part of guiding them on their career path. Going that extra mile is part of what we’ve always done at Career Evolution and the value of it has been magnified since March 2020. At no time has this greater care and attention, the personal touch, been more relevant and needed than during a pandemic.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Screen savers: time online versus the commute

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Talking to colleagues and connections over the past few weeks about the lifting of restrictions and what that will mean to the way they ‘do’ business and meetings, and the answers have been as varied as the people I have been speaking to.

Prior to the pandemic, many of us used our cars as our occasional office, making calls and responding to emails – sometimes even working on documents and presentations – between meetings, out on the road. I haven’t met any of my clients face-to-face since March 2020 and I’m itching to do so, but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that face-to-face meetings won’t be totally replacing online meeting in future.

Time to consider

Over the various lockdowns I have had time to think back and reflect on my career management career to date. What I find interesting is that, although I haven’t physically met any of my clients now in over 18 months, I am actually spending much more time with my corporate clients, and those individuals who had been referred to Career Evolution to support during their job search, than I would have done pre-pandemic. Not only that, but I have more time to see more people, and I have carried out job search programmes with many more clients than I ever did previously. I love it, and I have found a part of my role that I’ve been able to formalise into my own job description.

So, what’s changed?

I think that the biggest change is obviously the commuting time. While potentially previously, I could have seen more people, the big reason that I didn’t book in more meetings was that I needed to build in time to take into account the vagaries of potential traffic jams or trains running late. Ensuring that I could get to my meetings on time, meant I could book in a lot less of them, precluding this lovely part of my role.

Preventing Zoom-fatigue

Zoom-fatigue is a real thing, and I too can get ‘zoomed out’.  However, all it needs to make it work is a little bit of careful planning.  In reality, if organisations and individuals are able to plan their time, a simple 10 – 15-minute break between meetings can be really effective.  Meetings don’t have to start on the hour or half-hour, as they so often currently do.

You might think it’s one set of stresses ruling out the other, but compared to navigating off the M6 to find a quicker route when you are stuck at the back of a 10 mile tail back, looking at the clock and hoping that you make it just in time without speeding, then I for one think keeping the Zoom meeting, post-pandemic, is an easier fix!

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Breaking the work cycle – getting the most out of your holiday

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It’s that time of year when people’s minds are turning to holidays. Of all the years, 2021 is one where we all deserve one. When you go on holiday – if you can find anywhere to book in this highly-competitive era of UK holidays, or finding a country abroad you’re actually allowed to visit – it’s important that you take the time to switch off and recharge your batteries.

Sometimes this is easy, but often it takes a few days to unwind and feel completely relaxed. This is especially the case if you work for yourself, or run your own business, but is true of anyone, in any walk of life. Getting the most out of your break, in terms of rejuvenation and rest, is after all, why you’re going on holiday. Otherwise, you might as well just be working from another location.

Off and on again

Everyone’s different when it comes to relaxing. Some people love reading a book by the pool or on the beach, while others enjoy something more energetic, such as a clifftop hike, or sailing, or surfing. Doing an activity, in particular, can occupy your mind and take your concentration elsewhere and away from work. Some people are advocates of completely turning everything off, while others take a laptop ‘just to keep an eye on things and in case of emergencies’.

But having the opportunity to do work can sometimes mean you end up doing some.  If you have a team back at the office, they can surely hold the fort for a week, can’t they? But also, if the worst happened, and an emergency arose and needed to be dealt with, there are some times when a mobile phone with an internet connection just isn’t enough. It’s a fine balance between going on holiday with peace of mind, that you have left no loose ends, and abandoning ship and hoping for the best.

Very remote working

Of course, for many people part of the appeal of a holiday is the fact that they can get away from everything and everyone, and work can’t intrude at all. This can be helped by the location – parts of Scotland and Cornwall, for example, are notorious for their lack of phone signal, which for many is part of their appeal. Not having the option to work certainly ensures none gets done, but equally there’s no point going on holiday fretting about what’s going on back home.

It can also be tricky finding a spot in the year to take time off that ensures you truly have a work-free holiday. Some of my colleagues in HR have mentioned that in these unusual times, with working from home, or returning to the office, or the job’s market picking up again, it has taken all their energy to keep up with their workload. And as things return to normal, time constraints and schedules are only going to get busier.

Rest and relaxation

But it’s important both to get that time off and to make it count.  Even if you find you are still catching up on work whilst you are away, hopefully you will find that the division of being in a different place or country, breaks the mental link and allows you to enjoy yourself too. It is vital that you have the opportunity to reset your mind and fully appreciate and benefit from the welcome break.

I am currently on holiday in Scotland, and I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend some time away from work (writing this article doesn’t count!), though I must admit I have obviously taken my laptop with me. But because of where we are  – our usual trip to Scotland – and what we are doing – walking and sightseeing – the laptop is a prudent precaution, rather than a necessity…

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

 

Home working and family life

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Even as the UK government begins to lift restrictions that affect all aspects of our lives, it seems that ‘work from home’ (WFH) is here to stay. Although the actual directive ‘work from home of you can’ is about to be revised, many firms have found that they have been able to work more efficiently during WFH. Such aspects as time saved for commuting and money saved on commuting and shopping during the working week have seen staff think differently about how they should be carrying out their jobs. They have also seen how much better their work-life balance can be, if a hybrid part-WFH, part-office-based model is adopted in the future.

But working from home is not a natural state of living for many people. For example, if you work in a house with other members of your family that may be home schooling or on school holidays, or if they are doing their own jobs from home, then it’s not always as easy to be as productive as in an office –  away from the myriad distractions and your ‘normal life’.

Positive family impacts

So how does your working at home affect your family? Often it can be in a very positive way. Some clients have mentioned to me that their working from home has made other people realise how difficult their job was, or how many meetings they had each day. As all this is taking place within four walls at home – no traveling to meetings, all calls taken at home – there’s no way of disguising the fact that if you’re busy, you’re busy. Because an office job formerly happened ‘behind closed doors’ to your family life, no amount of explaining could fully define what your working day was. Now they can see it for themselves.

Unconscious signals

Even working from home, you need to try and keep your work life and home life as completely separate entities where you can. We don’t always realise how family and partners absorb the unconscious signals and information we are putting out. I’ve found this can be especially noticeable with younger members of the family. I was thinking about this in relation to my youngest son, when he started asking me when he was about 10, “How many people have you helped to get a job today?” The fact that he even acknowledges what my job entails is interesting in itself, but also that he understands that I am helping people to find employment as part of my own day-to-day life.

I have also heard him comment: “You like your work. My friend’s parents moan a lot when they get home from work.” Again, this is very gratifying that he has taken on board what I am doing and that I am enjoying it. His comment also highlights another aspect of WFH of course – that for many people going to an office every day is actually a welcome distraction from home life and it’s not always seen as a an ideal. And that their children have noticed this too. That cut-off of leaving work every day for many is a vital part of their lives. However, I think I may have gone too far and my son has been listening to me too much when he said he’d applied to be a Junior Road Safety Officer at the age of seven – because he says it would look good on his CV…

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.