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.

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.

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.

 

Next steps: what the end of furlough means for HR

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After 30 September, the furlough scheme will cease. This is going to have an impact on both employers and employees, and will make them think about what their business will look like going forward. Some have argued that the scheme has artificially supported businesses that were already struggling, while others have pointed out that the economy as a whole has, and will continue, to benefit from the initiative in the long-term. Hopefully, companies can simply bring their staff back as normal and business will pick up again. But not all companies are in as good a shape financially as they were before the pandemic and bringing all their staff back might not be an option.

Unemployment spike predicted

Economists are predicting that there will be an inevitable spike in unemployment after the end of September – and HR professionals should be prepared for their companies to think long and hard about what resources are actually needed in the present economic climate. The winding-up of furlough will remove this false sense of security that is present in the economy at the moment. It’s impossible to accurately chart how the economy is doing, or indeed predict how it will recover – both post-Covid and post-furlough. And it’s also difficult to pinpoint with any accuracy the UK’s current unemployment figures or get an accurate snapshot of the jobs market. All these unknowns are creating uncertainty for economists and business managers alike.

The shape of things to come

As ‘normal’ returns and people return to work, HR professionals will need to start looking at the structures in their own organisations. The big question is: will they need to bring everybody back? There have been some significant changes to the way offices function during lockdown, with remote working being implemented for many people. HR will have to look both at the people required to carry out the work but also in relation to the office space the company has available. If you’re adopting a hybrid model of working – with flexible home and office placement – then you’re not going to need as much office space all the time.

The value of outplacement

At times like these, outplacement advice is extremely valuable, when people are already feeling vulnerable and wondering what the future holds for them post-furlough. So, talking to an experienced consultant can help allay fears and give employees focus on where their future direction may be.

With so many different predictions of the landscape of employment, it’s impossible to predict what happens next. But looking at the overview now and preparing various HR scenarios could give your company an advantage, when the inevitable happens and furlough ends.

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

Under new management

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The new working landscape is bringing with it new challenges and working rules. Managers are having to adapt quickly to very different working conditions, both in the workplace and in the wider world at large. Some staff are still working from home, some are furloughed, some are back in the office. Teams are displaced and managers are left managing their staff across myriad platforms. With all these different ways of working, do you have the right processes in place to meet these demands and are your managers equipped to deal with the new normal?

Getting mixed messages

We are all trying to find the best way to approach this ‘new normal’. Some people are comfortable with masks and shopping, using public transport or going out for dinner, while others are taking things slowly and dipping their toes in the post-Covid water tentatively. Fearmongering in the press, which seems to be an electrocardiogram of emotions at the moment, isn’t helping. One day all is fine and freedom for all, the next day, the umpteenth new strain has emerged and the threat of lockdown looms again. How can business managers cope with this constantly changing news narrative?  We’re all back to work, we’re not. Work from home when you can, stay at home. Meet outdoors, go into the pub. These mixed messages are creating uncertainty for many people.

Plan ahead and build confidence

Every company is different. As an HR professional, you should be approaching your business with a view as to what is best for you and your staff. Keep a close eye on your employees. Monitoring their mental health is one of the most important things you should be doing, even working remotely. It’s sometimes difficult to ascertain if members of your team are struggling with working from home or are suffering anxieties about returning to the office. Not everyone wants to discuss it. And not all people working from home are doing so by choice. Some would gladly be back in the office, but the return process hasn’t been thought through and communicated, or there isn’t the capacity to safely bring everyone back in. Communicating with your team will help alleviate their fears and demonstrate that you have a long-term plan that they can have confidence in.

Out the other side

Staff need the security and guidance of good management. Some reply on it to get things done, while others can work well independently, and only need to check in from time to time. But having a roadmap out of this business crisis, a situation none of us could ever foresee and plan for, is imperative. It doesn’t look like the threat of this virus and its multiple variants is going to dispel anytime soon, so you need to look at your business model and see where improvements can be made.

The hybrid office model seems to be the way forward, with some staff in on certain days. In this way most office spaces can be mostly occupied, most of the time. Though work from home has had its critics, the world hasn’t ended. Office-based staff have been able to work from home, and all the essential services have continued to function. But the question remains that we all now need to see what the working world looks like, on the other side of this business crisis.

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

Brief encounters: Have face to face meetings had their day?

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For many years, discussions around environmental issues have highlighted a trend in modern business – the unnecessary journey. Was that meeting absolutely essential and did it have to be conducted face to face? But in the vast majority of cases, it was deemed essential, as that’s how business works and that’s how meetings work. But there’s been a massive change in emphasis in the last 12 months in where we work and how we work. With working from home and the rise of online conferencing platforms, have in-person meetings finally had their day?

Working apart

With some staff returning, albeit part-time, to the office space, it feels like things are getting back to some kind of normal. But certain work practices implemented for WFH have actually turned out to be advantageous to many people. A long commute for some has not been missed, for example. Nor the ‘getting ready for work’ routine in a morning, that involved actually getting dressed properly.

But other work formalities have changed too, such as in-person business meetings. The advent of online conferencing has enabled many people to carry on their office jobs much as normal. They have been able to have team meetings, to meet new clients and even generate new business. They have been able to see people ‘in the flesh’ (onscreen), rather than over a phone call, and they have even conducted interviews and hired personnel for new jobs.

The bigger picture

But think of the wider impact of that for a moment. These meetings can be achieved from your own home. There is no costly commute, there is no environmental impact from whatever mode of transport would have carried you to the meeting, and most of all, there’s no precious time wasted travelling to and from the meeting. Remember this can be a trip down a motorway in the UK, but just as easily be a flight to mainland Europe or in fact anywhere in the world. Of course, there’s still the same prep time needed before an online meeting and analysis of the outcomes afterwards. But if the same results can be achieved without having to do all those other things, what is the point of meeting face to face?

With purpose and outcomes

Well, there are also many people who believe in-person meetings remain an essential part of the business landscape. This is especially true if you are meeting new clients or employees. You can get a much better handle on a person’s true nature – confidence, ability, presence, personability – when you meet them in real life, than you would from through a screen or monitor. The fact is that meetings in the future need to be more purposeful. They need to have a defined agenda with an essential and necessary purpose.

What will actually happen, like the office/home working, is there will be a more flexible, hybrid model. If in-person meetings are to continue (and I’m a strong advocate for them to carry on in some form) then there needs to be a definite reason and business case for it to take place – a true justification of the impact it has on other areas of our working lives.

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