News Archive

8 February 2019

8 Ways to Crush the Career Blues in 2019

As we are in the cold, dark and dreary winter months, finding the enthusiasm to power through work after all the festivities can make the rest of year seem particularly gloomy. In fact, NHS estimates that one in 15 Britons experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) between September and April – a type of depression that is caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight during the darker winter months, although cold temperatures and weak daylight also contribute to this melancholic state.

A survey by Bidvine last year found the top priorities for workers in 2018 included travel and getting a promotion or pay rise, followed by the resolution to improve mental health. In 2019 a YouGov survey revealed much of the same, with people looking to eat better, exercise more, care for themselves better, learn new skills and get a new job.

With more employees looking to climb the career ladder in 2019, manage work-life balance and increase happiness, here are eight simple ways on how to crush the career blues with some positive changes, according to Instant Offices:

1. Ask for an Increase
A TotalJobs poll of 5,000 people in the UK showed 68% hadn’t received a pay rise or promotion in the last year, leading to unhappiness at work. If you’re committed to your job but need more to keep you motivated, it’s definitely time to stop stalling and ask for a raise. Don’t turn the conversation into an ultimatum – if you’re happy with your career but not the pay, make sure to communicate that clearly.

2. Find a Mentor
Take charge of your career track this year by finding a mentor willing to share their insights and experience. In addition to guiding you on career growth and decision making, their constructive feedback can help you expand your skill set. Fortune 500 companies understand the value of mentorship – 71% offer formal mentoring programs to their employees.

3. Get Involved in Teamwork
Volunteer to take on a challenging client project or pitch internal projects with coworkers. Collaboration and teamwork can increase creativity, help strengthen relationships, create a more positive work environment and boost confidence. Some studies also suggest team partnerships can increase productivity at work.

4. Stay Busy
Around 40% of UK employees admit to being bored at work, and more than half think their existing skills are being wasted, according to a study by OC Tanner. Boredom at work is a significant source of stress and can lead to depression and disinterest. Ensure you take regular breaks during long tasks, but during quiet periods, keep yourself busy by learning a new skill or pursuing personal goals that can assist with your career.

5. Upskill Yourself
Increase your value at work by learning a new skill. Research by World Economic Forum shows that over a third (35%) of skills that are considered important today will change in five years.

6. Use Vacation Days
Perhaps you want to save time off for a long holiday later in the year, or simply feel you don’t have enough time for a break, but taking regular holidays throughout the year will help you feel refreshed, relaxed and more productive.

7. Prioritize Mental Health
CIPD found 23% of British workers feel their organization doesn’t take employee wellbeing seriously, yet more than a third of the UK workforce experience anxiety, depression, or stress. With this in mind, it is imperative to recognize the signs that your mental health may be under pressure and to ensure you de-stress regularly.

8. Step Out of the Office
No more lunch at your desk in 2019. It’s not natural to stay seated for so long, and research shows Brits spend around nine hours a day sitting down at work – a sedentary lifestyle that takes its toll on our health. Reducing the amount of time you stay seated can do wonders for your productivity, as well as physical and mental health.

Take charge of your happiness and be proactive by contributing to a work environment that sees you excel rather than be demotivated in 2019.

Source: The Undercover

25 January 2019

5 Things a CV Won't Tell You About A Candidate

Most recruitment processes will start with potential candidates sending through their applications or CVs, and as a recruiter, it’s part of your role to screen the responses and pinpoint the most suitable applicants.

However, you could be missing out on some great candidates if you’re focusing solely on a candidate’s CV and not delving deeper into their experience.

A CV merely documents a candidate’s experience, listing their core skills, meaning soft skills such as communication, confidence or a candidate’s work ethic is harder to assess within their application.

Below are five things a CV can’t tell you about candidates and how you can identify these requirements elsewhere in the recruitment process.

1. Work ethic
While CVs will document candidates’ career history and allow you to explore their overall experience in a certain industry, it’s harder to detect their work ethic.

Hardworking, dedicated and motivated candidates are a must for any job role but focusing entirely on a CV won’t give you this information.

Probing candidates about their work ethic in a pre-screen telephone interview could be a good way to combat this. Consider asking questions about the candidate’s prioritizes in a working environment, how they adapt to any changes or delve into their ability to complete tasks or projects within given deadlines.

Work trials could also be another great way for you to assess their work ethic, going beyond their CV and seeing how they perform in practice. Whether inviting them in for a few hours or half a day to get a real feel for the working environment.

2. Appearance
It’s becoming less common for candidates to use profile pictures as part of their application. Whether a candidate has a professional appearance in person is something you aren’t normally able to review until a face to face interview.

Video or Skype interviewing could allow you to see how a candidate presents themselves prior to inviting them in. Giving you an insight into how they dress to impress or put themselves forward in an interview.

Appearance isn’t limited to the way a candidate dresses or interacts, consider reviewing their social media appearance. Reviewing their LinkedIn profile and exploring any testimonials, endorsements or the posts they share or like in their network.

3. Presence
Whilst each position you’re recruiting for will require a different skill set there are some soft skills you should be detecting in each applicant.

Soft skills such as confidence, communication, and interpersonal skills are harder to embed within a CV and instead need a personal touch to spot.

A candidate’s personality will also play a big part as to whether they will fit with an existing team or manager. Contacting candidates via phone can help you decipher whether they would be a good match.

Avoid just asking questions about the role and the candidate’s experience and instead discuss the culture and ethos within that employer, recognizing the candidate’s reaction to that type of environment.

4. Reputation
The referencing stage of the recruitment process normally occurs after the interviews and pre-screening is completed, but then it could be too late.

Whilst most candidates won’t feel comfortable with you contacting their employer without a confirmed offer, you can assess their reputation through other means.

Probing with questions such as “how would you friends/colleagues describe you?” could make candidates reflect on their strengths from a different angle.

With the rise of social media, it is easier than ever to examine a candidate reputation. With LinkedIn, you can easily access testimonials from previous employers or endorsements from clients or colleagues that showcase their core strengths. Use your own network if the candidate has been referred to you to gain feedback.

Achievements are another way to identify a candidate’s reputation, while they may document some examples in their CV, a pre-qualifying telephone or video call could help you to dig deeper.

5. Are they easily managed?
Fit is a big part of the recruitment process and as a recruiter, your role is to determine whether a candidate would work well with a team or with management.

Management styles can vary, and a CV won’t be able to confirm which candidates will be able to adapt or if they are easy to manage in general.

Forming a strong relationship with your stakeholders or hiring managers is the best way for you to find out about that line manager’s management style, being able to match this with suitable candidates.

Interviewing candidates will give you an overview of their personality and how well they will react to instructions or specific guidelines, rules or procedures within the hiring company.

It’s essential to go beyond a CV and notice the potential of candidates. Picking up the phone and initiating a conversation will give you a clearer picture about who is the right candidate for the job.

Source: The Undercover

11 January 2019

7 Ways to Foster a Positive Work Environment

A key facet of any successful company lies in the working environment. A company will ultimately be limited in its successes if employers find the workplace unpleasant, negative or stressful. Yet fostering and maintaining a positive work environment can be tricky, especially when finding a balance and not ending up being under-productive and unprofessional.

Here are some tips to get that balance right.

1. Remember Everyone Is Human
Human beings are inherently flawed – they are not machines or resources for your company. Accept some level of mistakes and oversights, or risk feeling constantly frustrated at the work produced, even if everyone is genuinely trying their best. Make sure you allow some flexibility and work/life balance for your employees to avoid them resenting their work. A level of respect back and forth is key to a pleasant office environment.

2. Recognise and Draw Attention to Achievements
People will be less likely to want to work hard if their achievements are not celebrated. If the only time attention is drawn to somebody’s work is when it’s negative, people won’t see any motivation to give something there all. Make sure you notice hard work – and let people know their efforts are not in vain.

3. Don’t Micromanage
Giving employees some level of independence is hugely important. It will make them feel trusted to do a good job, rather than unimportant and like their views don’t matter. In turn, this will allow creativity to flourish. When empowered in this way, employees are likely to work both harder and smarter.

4. Avoid Scare Tactics
An environment of fear is one of the worst places to work productively and positively. Try to instill in employees that mistakes are just opportunities and that taking risks should not be frightening. The ability to try and fail without fear will undoubtedly result in some surprising and innovative successes.

5. Be a Mentor
If you aren’t micromanaging and are allowing your employees more freedom with their work, you’ll likely have more time on your hands, too. Use this time both to innovate new ideas, and act as a coach to your employees. Offer your expertise and advice without over-asserting authority, and instil confidence in your team.

6. Invest in Training
One of the best uses for company budget is in training. Workplace success depends on individual employee success, and the best way to allow employees to flourish is by giving them what they need in a consistent way.

7. Check in with Employees
If you’re feeling unsure about the workplace environment, you can always ask. Reviewing what employees think and working things around them will keep them both happy and productive. Feeling like your opinions matter and issues will be taken into account is key to feeling positive about your work environment.

Source: The Undercover

2 November 2018

The 10 Psychological Ideas that Employers, Recruiters and HR People Need to Know

In Better Business Relationships, I have attempted to pull together a wide range of psychological ideas to help management. Ideas to enable managers to get the best from their people. Ideas to help new employees fast-track the creation of productive internal relationships with their bosses and colleagues. Many of these psychological ideas are valuable to employers, recruiters and HR professionals when interviewing candidates. Here we take a look at 10 of those ideas.

1. Cognitive bias
There is much about unconscious bias in the media at present – particularly with regard to gender and race. But cognitive bias extends further. Our brains are subject to a number of tricks – systematic patterns of deviation from rationality in judgment. Daniel Kaneman has written extensively on the topic. Recruiters may experience anchoring bias (over-reliance on the first information received), primacy and recency effects (remembering the first and last candidates better than others), confirmation bias (tendency to seek information that supports our existing beliefs) and salience bias (tendency to use available traits to make a judgement about a person or situation). The overconfidence bias makes 90% people think they perform higher than average people in their roles.

2. Non-verbal communication
In Western cultures, we rely heavily on non-verbal communication – particularly visual and auditory cues to form our first impressions of people. Research shows that how we say something is more important than what we say. Authenticity is where what is said aligns with how things are said. Nervousness or masks may hide true feelings. Recruiters may misinterpret those from cultures where non-verbal communication and expressive styles are different.

3. First impressions
A first impression is formed in a fraction of a second – and is based mostly on visual and auditory signals rather than the content of what is spoken. We each have a unique internal mental map of the world that acts sub-consciously to drive our perceptions in particular ways. Recruiters may form an inaccurate first impression of a candidate as they filter out or miss important information that contradicts their view of the world. Projection is another example – if a candidate triggers an unconscious memory of someone from our past we may project our views and emotions about that past person onto the person in front of us.

4. Rapport and trust
We have a natural rapport with around 10-30% of the people we meet. Understanding how rapport and trust are formed – and how to accelerate the process – is a vital skill for recruiters and those being placed in senior or sale positions.

5. Mindset
Some recruiters will have a fixed mindset – they hire for existing capabilities. Others will have a growth mindset and recruit for potential. .Psychologists have discovered that a third of people adapt to change more easily than others. Recruiting for a fast-changing environment means being able to identify the “adaptive third”.

6. Personality
Recruiters and HR people will be familiar with a range of personality assessment tools. Some are based on dubious psychological models. Some are not scientifically valid but widely appeal to commercial minds. Personality may present differently in a group or other situations. You need skill and training to interpret personality tests properly. Some simple personality assessments – such as dogs (motivated by affiliation), cats (motivated by achievement) and bears (motivated by power and achievement) may be valuable where formal assessments cannot take place.

7. Emotional intelligence
Sometimes, technically well-qualified people lack “people skills”. You can measure emotional intelligence (EQ) and understand how self-aware candidates are, how well they manage their emotions, how well they recognize emotions in others (i.e. empathy) and how good they are at relationship management. People can improve their emotional intelligence – it isn’t a fixed trait. Our minds are plastic. Research suggests that EQ is a leading predictor of success and leadership. A futurologist indicated that “those whose only advantage is intellectual skills will lose out”. He suggested that only 1% of the workforce will see their income increase and 99% will see it decrease and the difference lies in interpersonal skills for the “caring economy”. There are models to develop people’s political astuteness in dealing with internal politics and engendering stakeholder support. In an increasingly global environment where recruiters are assessing candidates’ suitability for international roles, there is a tool to measure cultural intelligence.

8. Motivation
People are motivated by different things and this can have important implications on what roles they perform and how they fare. Exploring the main motivators – particularly when it comes to negotiating reward packages – is a key part of the recruiters’ job.

9. Coaching and counseling
Coaching is focused on helping people to reach their potential in the future. Counseling is focused on helping people deal with issues from their past. They are different disciplines. Recruiters may need to coach candidates through the recruitment process and the early stages of their employment. Candidates going into team leadership roles will need to be able to coach and develop their team members.

10. Feedback
Recruiters have to provide feedback all the time. Research by neuroscientist Naomi Eisenberger has shown that the brain treats social pain much like physical pain. Giving positive feedback can activate reward centers the same or more than financial windfalls. There appear to be five social rewards and threats that are deeply important to the brain: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. Some people experience feedback as an attack on their “status,” which to the brain is perceived as a physical attack.

Source: Undercover

17 August 2018

5 Interesting Work Social Ideas

Think your staff are getting tired of the same old corporate social events? Many companies play it too safe when it comes to social events for their employees, plumping for the traditional office Christmas party or the run-of-the-mill Thursday after-work drinks in your local. If you fancy shaking things up a bit and giving your team an event to remember, here are just five exciting alternatives for your next work social…

1. Escape Games
Escape games are becoming wildly popular with office parties. The idea is simple – you and your team are trapped in a room with an hour to get out and must solve cryptic clues and mentally-challenging puzzles to escape. Not only are they great fun, but they also have the added advantage of forcing people to work together as a team and are much more interesting than your traditional team-building away days. Happy hour in the local watering hole will start to look very dull after an hour of high-intensity escape room games!

2. Flashback Friyays
Fridays can be a very dull and dead day in the office, with everyone winding down to the weekend by quietly internet shopping and ‘checking their emails’ for an hour come four o’clock. Add a bit of energy to the last day of the working week by turning them into a Flashback Friyay. You could invite staff to an after office hours party themed by decade – who can resist the urge to don a scrunchie and choker to relive the 90s, accompanied by some Spice Girls tunes or the dulcet tones of Mariah Carey?

3. Host a Cook-off
Shows like MasterChef and The Great British Bake-off have convinced a lot of people that they’re a dab hand in the kitchen. Often their self-belief goes far beyond their actual culinary talents, and the results can be hilarious. You could try dividing your staff into small teams and getting them to cook using a particular ingredient or cook a particular type of cuisine. Host a cook-off, and you’ll inject a healthy dose of competition into your work social, as well as enjoying the laughs which come with cake mishaps and dodgy flavor combinations.

4. Board Game Battles
Turn the boardroom into a board games room for an afternoon, and play some of the classics such as Scrabble, Snakes and Ladders or Cluedo. Games which call for people to form teams can be a great way of getting people to work together and socializing with one another. As an alternative to a quiz night, they can be great fun, as long as nobody brings along Twister…

5. Go Strawberry Picking
On those rare occasions when the weather is nice, what could be more quintessentially British than a trip out to the countryside for some strawberry picking? Escape the office and the city for an afternoon, and this is a great way for your team to spend some time together, doing something a little different. Most people won’t have been strawberry picking since childhood, but there’s something oh so satisfying about enjoying the fruits of your labor and a cheeky glass of champagne on a summer’s afternoon.

Hopefully, these five suggestions will have given you a little inspiration. Avoid the standard warm beer in a dingy pub or the tedious office dinner and try something a little different next time you want to hold a work social.

Source: Undercover

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