Taking the right route

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The modern workplace – and the route to it – is changing all the time. Universities are not always offering the right path (or experience) into work for young people nowadays. In-house apprenticeships and earning-while-learning are becoming increasingly more important. Some companies are adapting and doing really well at this. Others are not. Traditional routes are no longer the only option. In fact, the experience for many roles is now better learned whilst actually working.

On-the-spot experience

There’s no substitute for actually doing a job to learn about it. It’s the quickest way to find out the processes you’ll need to be a success. Also, how the business works and the mechanics of the interaction between the staff. Of course, to secure a job, you need qualifications of some form, be they degree, diploma or other qualification. But increasingly businesses are offering their own apprenticeship schemes. These will create a workforce in the business’s image, tailored to its ethos and with the right attitude in place. In this way, the company’s ethics and practices are instilled from the outset. It’s a sound concept and will pay dividends in the future, with such aspects as knowledge-sharing and mentoring key facets of any successful business.

A different era

We are now in a different era of university education to the one many of us grew up in. For many years, there was a generation of students that were awarded grants. This made it a lot easier financially to make the decision to go to university. Nowadays, the student loan system places a considerable burden on students from the moment they leave education and enter work. Even if repayment is deferred until a certain earnings threshold is reached, the debt remains as an obstacle to other financial commitments, such as a mortgage or marriage. The range of university and college courses have increased too, and with it the number of students. Universities have become a combination of places of learning and businesses that need to make a profit.

Join the skills’ set

But it’s a lack of practical experience that is driving the current jobs’ market. The skills shortage is a problem and there’s no better way to learn skills than by taking on an apprenticeship. Some companies are doing it really well, such as the large local employer Airbus at Broughton aerodrome. This aeronautical engineering company, which is a key employer in the north west of England, is offering its own degree course.

The UK government website indicates the Top 10 Apprenticeship Employers for 2022. These employer rankings are developed by the Department of Education, in partnership with High Fliers Research, which independently assess and rank the country’s top apprenticeship employers. The Top 10 are the British Army, Royal Navy, BT, Royal Air Force, Department of Work and Pensions, Clarkson Evans, Mitchells & Butlers, RSM, BAE Systems and Grant Thornton. The Top five SME Apprenticeship Employers in the UK for 2022 are Lander Tubular Products, Adopstar, Lee Marley Brickwork, Applebridge and Darke & Taylor. But some of these companies are not household names and there are some very big employers out there that could probably do more with regards to apprenticeships and training.

HR managers are having to look at different ways to recruit and bring in the next generation of talent. The most imaginative and forward-thinking will ensure their futures, probably deploying a hybrid formula of recruitment and apprenticeships. It’s a great way to harness talent and mould it into something truly successful in the workplace.

Interviews through the ages

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Like so many things to do with work and finding a new job, interviews have changed considerably over the years. This is particularly true over the last three years. Once upon a time, an interview would always have been done in person. Now that isn’t always the case. In fact, depending on the type of role you are applying for, you might find yourself undertaking a number of different types of interviews and tasks at different stages of the process.

In person interviews

In person interviews are still the most likely form an interview will take. That could be a 1-2-1 between you and your potential boss. Alternatively, it could involve a panel of interviewers, that might represent the different stakeholders of the business you are interviewing for. Where it is an in-person interview, it’s important that you know where you are going, show up on time, dressed appropriately and prepared for your interview.

Call up

These days, particularly in the early stages of an interview process, it is feasible that you will be asked for a telephone interview. While your interviewer might not be able to see you, it is still important that you are prepared for the interview. That might still mean that you are dressed for an interview, to help you be in the right mindset. Make sure you also have somewhere quiet and private to take the call, so that you are not distracted.

Zooming along

With the increased familiarity with video conferencing, your interview may well be on-line. This is particularly likely if the job role is a long way from where you are currently living, or the company’s head office is overseas. Similar to an in-person interview, it is so important to be prepared and ready for an interview. Check your IT works beforehand and the sound is clear.

Ready for your close-up?

Less likely, you might even be asked to send in a video. While this is a good way to showcase your presentation skills, it is very one-sided. Therefore, it is not something that is used with too much regularity.

Is the future of interviews AI?

Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) technology, you may soon be interviewed for that job you really want by a computer. In fact, in cases this already happens and is a preferred format for some positions as it removes all types of bias.

With a VR headset you – or rather your avatar – will soon be able to be interviewed by AI software. This could be advantageous for some people, who will like the fact that there is no human being judging their performance, while others will miss the opportunity to build rapport with their interviewer.

Be prepared

It’s important to remember whatever form your interview takes, love them or hate them, in person or on-line, some things remain constant. Interviews are your chance to impress your would-be bosses. They are also an opportunity to assess whether the company is a place you would like to work. Make sure you are prepared and ready to get the most out of your interview

Quiet quitting – the silent enemy

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A variety of different factors – from cost-of-living uncertainty to the pandemic – have made a lot of people examine their work-life balance with forensic detail. What suits one person will not suit another, as everyone’s personal and working lives are different. One of the trends that has emerged is the concept of ‘quiet quitting’. It is associated with both work and home life, and can impact both. It is also causing problems for employers, managers and HR professionals, as this ‘silent’ change revolutionises the way people look at their careers. 

Balance or imbalance?

‘Quiet quitting’ refers to employees who elect only to work the specific hours of their contract and fulfil the remit of their roles to the letter – no more, no less. Any extra input, or rather output, from them will need to be paid for. It’s been attributed to a number of factors, such as overwork, employee burnout and mental health issues around stress and anxiety. But it is part of wider trend of people wanting to extend the flexibility and convenience of working from home, or the hybrid part-office/part-home working that many companies have adopted. Apparently, 60% of UK employees value their improved work-life balance and job flexibility over a 10% pay rise.

The lack of structure when working flexibly is being found to be detrimental to some employees though. There are factors such as not knowing when you are going to see colleagues, or when others will be in the office, which can itself cause uncertainty for staff. Some people need structure, uniformity and surety. The nine-to-five routine and ‘who is in the office when’ on any given day matters to them. Many workers now feel disengaged from the workplace, which may mean they also feel disengaged from their roles too. As a result, motivation and productivity have dropped and there has been a wholesale disengagement from working life. Some employees are not even sure of what is expected of them in work and what exactly their roles are for the company. 

The need to reengage

The drop in engagement began in the latter half of 2021 and has particularly affected younger workers. The social aspects of work – communication, chat, popping out to the shops or for lunch – have also been disrupted or supplanted altogether by working from home and the ever-changing routine of any given working week. This has led to over half the UK workforce now reportedly contributing to the quiet quitting trend.

If you don’t feel valued at work, are unsure of your role, or will only do the ‘bare minimum’ of what’s required of you, then this is partly due to poor management. Managers need to make sure their staff are aware that they are part of a wider company. They must feel supported and genuinely valued, and must be provided with a place to work where people can learn and grow, engage with other staff and collaborate to create great teams. Isolation and disengagement should never be felt by any employee and only if managers address this will ‘quiet quitters’ be encouraged to reengage once more.

 

Bouncing back – wellbeing in the workplace and the importance of resilience

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We are all faced with challenges and difficult situations at work every day, many of which are out of our control. The important thing to address is how you bounce back from them. We are taking a look at the importance of resilience and creating wellbeing in the workplace.

Promoting wellbeing

We all want to work in the right environment, where individuals and organisations can thrive. Wellbeing starts with the office and facilities available to the workforce. The office space needs to be designed with the employees in mind and should incorporate wellbeing measures.  Nobody wants to work in a cold, clinical or shabby office, it should feel inviting and fresh to help boost morale and productivity. You don’t need to spend lots of money to do this; you could try introducing plants, artwork or just add a splash of colour to the walls.  It’s easy to create a ‘home from home’ environment.

Be flexible

Where possible, help to promote a positive work life balance with flexible working. Many companies are now resorting to ‘hybrid’ working; not just because they had to during the covid pandemic but because hybrid working often more easily allows flexibility. Keeping healthy contributes to overall wellbeing, having a selection of fresh fruit available and different benefits like gym memberships, health insurance and cycle to work schemes can help motivate healthier lifestyles.

What is resilience at work?

Resilience can show how effectively you handle challenging situations in your personal life and at home. It is often described as the ability to ‘bounce back’ and comfortably carry-on during adversity. Resilience means facing challenges, solving problems, and recovering from mistakes.  It can help employees manage their stress levels and encourage motivation when facing challenges. Here are several ways that highlight the importance of resilience in the workplace.

  1. Helps with self-esteem

Resilient employees may have better self-esteem because they can face challenges that may be presented at work with confidence and positivity.

  1. Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism

Absenteeism can present itself when the individual is stressed, overworked, or dissatisfied with their job. They may be struggling with their physical or mental health. Promoting wellbeing and resilience can help alleviate stress and work-related anxiety. In turn Presenteeism, where an employee works longer than required or through sickness, can indicate a stressed environment where they are unable not to work. By supporting physical wellbeing, offering flexible working hours, and making sure workloads are manageable you can help to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism.

  1. Boosted productivity and supports innovation

A resilient workforce will perform. This will mean an employee will have the capacity to thrive. It helps them to adapt, cope, and respond positively. A resilient employee feels more comfortable and confident and copes better with the idea of failure. As a result of this, they will take well-informed and measured risks within the workplace by trying new things, sharing new ideas and helping to lead the team.

A workplace needs strong leadership which can demonstrate resilience to others. Learn about employers’ needs and consider resilience training. By taking on board all the different factors mentioned, you can help improve wellbeing in your workplace.

 

And now time for something completely different…

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There are many reasons why you may be returning to work after a break – from extended holiday or illness, to maternity leave or career hiatus. It may be that you’ve had time to take stock and think about where you see your career going in the future, and where you see yourself in 12 months’ time or longer. If you are returning to work, do you go back to what you know – or is this the opportunity to try something completely different?

Career overlap

The most important thing to remember about a change of direction is that it doesn’t have to be sudden and radical. It can be gradual and considered too. Many of us have already found how one aspect of our careers can overlap into other areas of expertise. This can sometimes happen completely by accident, or it can be something we engineer. ‘Transferable skills’ are an aspect of our working lives we have often talked about at Career Evolution. This is where we can move between sectors but using our skills in different industries. It can provide the opportunity for change without a radical shift.

Moving sideways

Many office-based roles are easily transferable between sectors and it’s often the case that people who do this are the most satisfied and fulfilled in their careers. Many workers remain in the same industry their entire working lives, and they enjoy the security and continuity that brings. But sometimes it can feel like you’re stuck in a rut too, and that is where a literal ‘change of scene’ can work wonders. A sideways move to an adjacent sector can be the answer. We know from life in general that trying something new can be invigorating and if you feel as though you’re simply going through the motions, then a big career change might rouse you from that.

New horizons

One of the big plusses that has come out of the ‘working from home’ ethos is the fact that you are not geographically tied to a certain area when looking to change careers. This can mean that you can work anywhere in the UK, or indeed the world. This opens up many more options in terms of trying something new. If you’re proficient in languages, then you will have even more choice, and it can really broaden your horizons on what is available to you.

Social media – what’s not to like?

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If you are looking to change career, social media, particularly LinkedIn, provides great opportunities to promote yourself and engage with your audience.

People like to use social media for many different reasons; to be entertained, gain knowledge, and keep up to date with the latest information from their favourite people and businesses. So, creating interesting and unique content with your posts will help you appeal to your followers and gain new ones, encourage engagement and provides opportunities to be noticed.

Be social

With so many time pressures, it can be difficult to stay on top of updating your social profiles. However, social profiles need to be renewed with quality and consistent content, to help grow your audience, engagement and conversions. Posting regularly, rather than leaving large gaps between posts, will help to keep your followers coming back for more information, and engaging with it with likes, comments and shares.

It’s not just what you say…

It’s not just for your followers that content should be updated regularly, but for the social media platforms themselves. The more you post, the more chance you have of the social media platform prioritising your content. This means more people seeing it in their feeds. This will expand the reach of your content online, create new followers, and potentially lead to greater engagement with your community.

It’s how you say it…

With so many social media platforms available to choose from, be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and more, there are people and companies all vying for attention. Being able to stand out from the crowd is a sure way to get noticed for all the right reasons. For example, videos are attention grabbing for the audience. LinkedIn videos drive five times more engagement than any other styles of posts on this platform. These can provide vital information in a quick yet effective manner.

Say it again

You don’t have to create new content all of the time. Pre-existing content can be repurposed and reinvented into different formats to make it seem new. For example, resharing information from blogs as a post, or into a summary video can provide snapshots to your audience, who might have missed it going live the first time.

This will drive new excitement and interest, increasing the chances of content being seen and engaged with on social media.

 

 

Managing a hybrid workforce

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Of the multitude of challenges thrown up by Covid, the changes it made to the world of work are still being felt by all of us. Many of these changes look like they are here to stay. Thousands of people found themselves having to adapt to working from home almost overnight. Now, well over two years after that first national lockdown, with some people still working exclusively from home, many more have combined working some days in the workplace with some time working from home.

 Adapting to a new way of working

Some organisations were already very familiar with this ‘hybrid working’, long before the pandemic, and had it down to a fine art. Many more have had to adapt quickly to find ways to ensure their employees can carry out their role from their own home as easily as they might at the office. Technology, with the extraordinarily speedy adoption of platforms such as Teams and Zoom, can make the adjustment easier. However, it can also bring its own challenges, with broadband accessibility, for one thing, frequently being patchy, particularly in more rural areas.

 No ‘one size fits all’ for hybrid working

Some employees love working from home, with the time and money saved without commuting. It can help create a work-life balance that has benefitted mental health, and in some cases, even enhanced performance. Other people can struggle with working from home. They may miss the team spirit and camaraderie that sharing a workplace can bring. Equally, not everyone’s home lends itself well to becoming a workspace. Lack of space or caring responsibilities can make working from home overly challenging to be sensible for everyone. It’s really important that managers bear this in mind when it comes to setting new rules for their working model.

Every organisation needs to ask if hybrid working suits it. How is the mental health of the workforce being benefited, for good or ill? Is a good work life balance being achieved or are some employees feeling left out and isolated? Is there a danger that those who work from home more may feel they are missing out. Not just on the day to day, but feeling marginalised on longer term opportunities, for promotions and training for example?

Its all about trust

Managing a hybrid workforce effectively really just comes down to trust. Before 2020, many employers would have been concerned that working from home allows employees too much freedom. How would you know that someone is really working if you can’t see them? It is actually surprisingly difficult to quantify and monitor how much someone is working, wherever they are located – in front of you or many miles away. After all, presence in the office is no guarantee of productivity.

Managers need to change their mindset and trust their employees to manage their time effectively. Good managers focus on the outcomes. Does your workforce’s new way of working negatively impact your customers? Are their needs still being met? If the work is being done and your employees are available for customers when they are needed to be, surely that should be all that matters.

Staying relevant in a changing world

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It’s very easy in the day to day, to lose sight of what actually allows you to carry out your job. We all take our attributes for granted to a certain extent. If you have experience in a discipline or sector, it does become something of second nature as to how you work and how your role is carried out. If you’re someone who works in an office, you don’t sit down at your desk in the morning and think: ‘What should I do today?’ We naturally check our emails, attend meetings, carry out tasks, do our jobs, but the process is entirely instinctive.

Working and learning

However, instinctiveness and routine perhaps encourage us to rest on our laurels too. This can lead to complacency when it comes to keeping up to date on new legislation and the latest industry thinking in our sectors. Some companies implement training and updates as a matter of course. If this is offered, it makes sense to take whatever opportunities are available. Employers may fund courses, including master’s degrees and other further qualifications, as well as conventional diplomas, degrees and relevant vocational qualifications.

Further education in the workplace is a positive outcome both for employer and employee. This mutually beneficial option is worth exploring if there are areas of research and education you’d like to take on. There will be a multitude of options, from in-person courses to online certificates. However, make sure that any academy purporting to provide certificated accreditation is authentic and the real deal, and not a bogus organisation.

Improved prospects

The importance of keeping relevant isn’t always naturally encouraged by employers. It may be down to the individual to make the effort themselves. There are many ways to keep abreast of industry developments. This can be through the membership of industry bodies, or it may be through websites and courses.

You can also tap into your colleagues’ knowledge. They may be able to advise you where to find relevant information, or even provide the tuition or training themselves. Sharing skill in the workplace is one area in business that is often overlooked. Networking might also be an option, with tips and news on current thinking and development often best heard by word of mouth. There’s no quicker way to impart information than an in-person conversation. It’s often the most straightforward and low-key situations. An informal chat over lunch or a coffee, for example, can prove the most unexpectedly rewarding.

Looking beyond the expected

You can also look beyond your sector too. There will be affiliate courses and accreditations that will be useful in your long-term career path. Certainly, any academy courses and memberships of official organisations – that will, in simple terms, ‘add letters after your name’ – will expand your skillset. This will make you a more attractive prospect for any employer in the future, and of course enhances your CV. Joining organisations will ensure you keep in the loop regarding industry developments and technological advances. You may also like to look at coaching and mentoring, whereby you will undergo a career appraisal that will identify areas where you can explore. A good Career Coach will both find out where you are in your current situation and identify areas you can address for career advancement that will keep you relevant – both for your current career path, and the road yet to be explored.

Shy and (un)retiring

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The current economic climate is leading to all kinds of unusual phenomena. From the continuation of work from home to the adoption of hybrid working models, people are changing their lifestyles and working life routines in a multitude of ways. One aspect is that people are continuing to work beyond their retiring age – but also some are coming back into the workplace, having already retired. This can be for many reasons, from financial necessity to personal choice. However, ‘unretirement’ is an undeniable trend that is worth looking at.

Uncertainty and finances

Research from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that there are now more people aged 50 and over in work – or actively looking for work – than since just prior to the pandemic. This is driven by a  number of key factors that are affecting everyone, in one degree or another. These new findings identify upwardly spiralling inflation, volatile financial markets and the soaring cost of living as leading to the ‘great unretirement’.

Some of the statistics are telling. Of the increase of 116,000 over-50s working or looking for work in the past year, more than half of them were men aged over 65. This is an increase of 8.5%. This research also showed that 37,000 more women over 65 were also now in work or looking for work. Experts deem this increase is being driven by former retirees returning to work, rather than people working longer.

Volatile financial markets are said to be creating significant fear and uncertainty in people’s perceptions of their future retirement income. Any kind of pension pot can be affected by all kinds of factors and in some instances, if there have been financial difficulties with the business, or any kind of personal fallings-out (such as divorce), this can have a big impact on savings, assets and pension arrangements.

Wellbeing and benefits

In addition to the obvious financial benefits, there are of course a variety of positive impacts on a worker’s wellbeing by continuing to work. For many the void or retirement simply isn’t for them. Working can provide a sense of purpose and direction, of motivation and routine – not to mention exercise, both mental and physical, depending on the role. The social aspect is very important to many people too.

The ‘great unretirement’ also keys into some important aspects of Career Evolution’s vocation. We work a great deal with people who are getting work-ready and getting used to entering (or re-entering) the jobs market or workplace once more. We guide our clients on using networks and keeping up-to-date on developments in their sectors. It’s always worth subscribing to newsletters, or retaining links to your sectors via networking or even socialising, just to keep up to speed on any new legislation or technological developments. In this way, it won’t be such as shock when you re-enter the working environment.

With the jobs market becoming particularly competitive, it’s more important than ever to gain an edge. By continuing to keep in touch with your network and being creative and flexible about what a career might look like, it will ensure that you are prepared – should you want to ‘unretire’ yourself and enter the world of work once more.

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

WELCOME TO OUR FOURTH VLOG!

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Welcome to our new vlog from Career Evolution!

We will be sharing weekly advice and updates from the industry on outplacement, career management, and coaching.

In our fourth vlog, our director, Sue Thomas, rounds up some of our posts from July, including developing your personal brand, portfolio careers, identifying transferable skills, and a case study with Peter McCarthy.

Watch the video below:

See our first vlog here, our second vlog here and our third vlog here.