Breaking Down Barriers to Procurement

Cloudscene is a cloud-based platform for sourcing and selling network services. It caters for all businesses that need to purchase connectivity, colocation, or cloud services. The company’s core value is making sure the user is number one in everything it does, a principle it has carried through from inception and which will continue to play a key role in how it operates in the future. Company CEO, Belle Lajoie has been crowned Most Influential CEO 2021 – Australia by CEO Monthly, so we take a closer look at Cloudscene and how Belle earned this title.

Transforming the way businesses buy and sell network services, Cloudscene began as a start-up in Brisbane, Australia. Since its humble beginnings, it has expanded across the world, dedicated to creating a solution for network buyers and service providers. The company has purpose-built its digital procurement platform to simplify sourcing and selling for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Because no matter how big or small the business is, nobody wants to have to put up with yesterday’s problems of lengthy phone calls, back-and-forth emails, and mountains of paperwork, just to get their job done. Cloudscene is breaking down the barriers to procurement and empowering businesses to connect.

The company’s customer base is made up of a wide range of businesses, from some of the largest companies in the world such as Google, Oracle, and IBM, as well as SMEs looking to start-up or scale. Cloudscene works with any business that requires network connectivity and differentiates itself by using the most comprehensive industry data to fuel its marketplace, which means sourcing teams can make stronger, more informed business decisions, and save valuable time and money, giving them the tools to buy more effectively and for a lower cost.

An interesting time for Cloudscene was the COVID-19 pandemic as its marketplace was created on the basis of not needing to have in-person meetings and changing the entire process of how people procure services in order to consolidate their communication and tasks on a single cloud-based platform. Fortunately, COVID-19 has accelerated the need for Cloudscene’s Marketplace platform due to the large surge in remote workers using these services for daily productivity and communications, which has been great for the company’s growth and overall engagement.

None of Cloudscene’s success could happen without its staff, who are the heart of the organisation. The company is fortunate to have such dedicated and experienced colleagues, and its internal culture is a lot of fun and full of passion, with a focus on high performance. The crew is always very energetic and keep Belle on her toes!

The qualities that Belle looks for when recruiting new talent are passion, drive, hunger, and ownership. The rest is coachable. An individual who has the hunger and drive to completely own something from inception to execution is the kind of person that Belle wants on her team.

Belle Lajoie stepped into her current role as CEO back in April 2019, and since then, she has done an incredible amount of work in the way of transforming Cloudscene as a business, and cultivated a rich team culture which thrives today. It’s her years of diverse experience and her drive which encourage everyone to keep stepping up their game. She inspires everyone at the company.

She has a leadership style which involves being passionate about the team and everything it does. She encourages a safe space for having a strategic voice and cultivating innovation, and of course, focusing on execution. The company’s people are the single most important asset and making them feel valued is a key metric Belle holds for herself.

Speaking about her success at Cloudscene, Belle said, “My success is a shared success. I never sought a “big career”, I always sought out value for my employer and my leaders throughout my entire working life. When you continue to deliver value, your employer, leadership team, and board usually reciprocate that value. So, my focus is on the success of both Cloudscene and IntelliHR (as a board member) and their users.”

For further infromation, please contact Belle Lajoie or visit

Animal Welfare Charity Done Right

CaliCoin is the world’s first and only cryptocurrency dedicated to helping what is termed “Animals of Determination” (AODs) around the world. Company CEO, Caroline Lafferty has been recognised by CEO Monthly as Most Influential CEO 2021 – the United Arab Emirates. We delve deeper to learn why.

The easiest way to describe CaliCoin is it’s a “marriage” of differing vectors. Firstly, it is the marriage of CEO Caroline Lafferty’s love of animal and charity work, coupled with her passion for the cryptocurrency space. Secondly, it is a marriage of two general characteristics of the Millennial generation – a passion for social causes and in particular, animal welfare, and a high level of know-how and preference for virtual currencies.

Put all this together and CaliCoin is a unique concept: A charity token and donation platform, enabling donors who wish to donate to animal welfare organisations the opportunity to do so, with high trust that their donations will be put to good use, and leveraging the transparency and seamless transactions a virtual currency provides. CaliCoin’s focus is on the less well-funded charities with low exposure and in more need of funding. It is a means to expand the donor base for very needy charities; and also gives donors  peace of mind that their money goes to good use; and that the charities have been properly vetted. It is a win-win-win all the way around. The animals win. The charities win. And the donors win!

Noting the rising incidence of scandals and questionable use of donations among charities, CaliCoin starts by performing rigorous due diligence on prospective charity organisations worldwide that cater to AODs. Once a charity is fully qualified, it is added to the CaliCoin platform and assigned its own wallet. Prospective donors can then peruse the charities, choose one or more for a donation, and purchase and deposit CaliCoins seamlessly into the wallets of their choice. CaliCoin is 100% non-profit and takes no commission or added fees – the money goes directly to help the animals. Recipient charities may use CaliCoin for veterinary services, they may hold CaliCoins for future use, or they may convert it into fiat to pay other operating expenses.

Caroline Lafferty grew up in an entrepreneurial household as her parents always ran their own companies. So, starting up her own business is, in a sense, “in her blood”. CaliCoin is Caroline’s third successful start-up, and she would say that everything she has done to date has prepared her well to launch and lead CaliCoin. The key difference is, this is the first time she has coupled the entrepreneurial spirit with her passion for giving back and for animals. She firmly believes it is a moral obligation to help those less fortunate. There is nothing more noble than helping a disabled or homeless animal, or AODs. In this sense, Caroline’s CEO role is different and tugs at the heartstrings. She must do this job well as needy animals all over the world are counting on her!

She believes the only way a start-up can survive and thrive is behind a “Leadership from the front” approach. The leader has to be into every area and be willing to lead by example and pick up the broom and do the sweeping if necessary. She is hands on, and no work is beneath her as CEO, and she believes her team appreciates this. It is one team, one dream, and this is an important facet for inclusive leadership.

A firm believer in the power of a team, Caroline personally recruits everyone within her company. She’s always loved the quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and she tries to embody this within her organisation. She is Chinese-Canadian, her parents were immigrants from Hong Kong, and she comes from modest roots. She believes in old-fashioned values of discipline, honour, work ethic, respect and dignity for the individual. She looks for people who embody these values and she trains the rest. As someone who embraces diversity, she doesn’t care about someone’s “résumé” or who they know. She hires people, not diplomas or labels. And she strongly believes this is why the company is successful. This is a committed team, unified by a common set of values.

Meanwhile, as a cryptocurrency, CaliCoin faces the normal challenges anyone in this space faces. Whilst the world of cryptocurrency is truly “taking off” and news about Bitcoin, for example, is seemingly a daily occurrence, relatively speaking, the market for virtual currency enthusiasts is still quite small. But it is a future trend that is definitely here to stay, and the company only sees the upside as growth and adoption continues. Many of its member charities on the ground in places like India and South Africa have faced funding challenges through the pandemic, as many of their sources of funds dried up. CaliCoin has been very grateful to be able to step in and provide a new source of funding for these amazing operations which are doing so much good in the world.

CaliCoin prides itself on how, since its launch, it has been a model of sustainability and consistent growth. The cryptocurrency space has been known for its volatility and wild swings in coin valuations. By virtue of being a charity token, and its discipline in a controlled “do it right” expansion, CaliCoin has seen a near-perfect linear progression in token values, despite the ups and downs of the overall cryptocurrency market. This illustrates the validity of the charity coin concept, and also validates the company’s approach of doing things right; as opposed to doing things solely for the sake of speed.

Ultimately, the company feels a huge sense of responsibility to its prospective donors to carefully vet all charities to ensure they operate at the highest standards; so, it can reassure donors that their donations of CaliCoins to these charities are put to good use and are fully utilised in a responsible manner. CaliCoins’ due diligence on charities is massive and it is constantly adding new ones and dropping current ones who won’t uphold its standards and values. It currently has nine different charities who are all doing such amazing work for animals! CaliCoins’ goal across 2021 is to eventually reach a critical mass of 50 charities across the globe – all upholding the high standards and values that are embraced at the company. If readers wish to donate, they can do so by visiting

5 Qualities Every Good Leader Has

Being a leader is more than just knowing how to delegate responsibilities and motivate others. Your job is to serve as a role model and embody the best qualities of your field’s professionals. Leadership is something people develop over time, and it only gets better with experience. If you aspire to one day be a leader, then there are some ways you can start cultivating a leader mindset now. Rather than focusing on the higher pay grade, take this time to think about what a leader represents. These five qualities are all about awakening the confidence and courage necessary to be an effective leader. Nurturing them now will help you perform better in your current role while preparing for a bright future.



Leaders have to be able to visualize their goals so they can achieve them. Visionaries are people who are able to think about the future from a position of possibility. In other words, they focus on what could happen and believe in themselves and others to make that idea a reality. Their thinking isn’t confined to the present moment, which allows them to empower and engage their teams, especially during periods of hardship. True visionaries know that challenges are all part of the process, and they recognize perseverance as the catapult for growth.


Emotionally Intelligent

Leaders know how to read others’ emotions, assert their boundaries in a non-aggressive way and regulate their own moods. They have healthy ways of coping with stress, and they respect others’ limits as well as their own. Becoming emotionally intelligent is not always easy, and it takes conscious effort as an adult to truly evolve. Some leaders go so far as to study psychology in order to better help themselves and those around them. Earning your master’s in industrial psychology would prepare you to guide people in the workforce, helping them realize their greatest potential. If you’re interested in earning your graduate degree, you can pay for college while still working. Taking advantage of Earnest graduate student loans allow professionals to budget for their futures without compromising their current stability.



Telling the truth is one part of honesty, but it goes farther than that. The do’s and don’ts of being an honest leader means owning up to your own flaws and striving to grow from your mistakes. Good leaders know they aren’t perfect, and they don’t get angry or blame others for their own faults. Sometimes, they make the wrong call. They may offer guidance that backfires, or they take a course of action that leads to poor outcomes.

Being honest means letting yourself accept your flaws and inspiring others to do the same. If you struggle with perfectionism, you may find that honesty and acceptance are tough pills to swallow together. Honesty for many people often comes at the expense of self-love, but this needn’t be the case. You can embrace who you are, mistakes, flaws and all, and still respect and accept yourself.



True leaders act with integrity. They always strive to make sure people around them feel respected and heard. They do not participate in gossip, and they would never be caught saying something behind someone’s back that they wouldn’t tell them to their face. Trust is earned, but leaders also create room for it to grow. They expect the best from others without demanding it or using cheap manipulation tactics to get what they want. In order to keep integrity strong, good leaders work hard to build healthy relationships and promote a healthy company culture.



Passion is the lifeforce of purpose. Striving for money and a title only gets you so far, especially in a leadership role. You have to be passionate about what you’re doing and recognize the higher purpose of everyone else’s actions. Many people can find themselves in a job slump, believing that their roles are ultimately worthless. It is a passionate leader’s job to remind people that they count and give them chances to show why their work matters.

If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, it’s time to pause and take inventory of your life. What are you compromising for your own happiness and purpose? The sooner you release limiting beliefs, the sooner you can start working toward your own higher cause. Passion waxes and wanes with time, but a leader takes action to keep the fire burning. They know that even during periods of demotivation, there is a light at the end of the tunnel worth striving toward.

Time for Heroes

The role of the media has never been more important, especially when it comes to telling stories of important historical events. Context Productions is a media publishing company, focused on creating non-fiction 9/11 content for kids, raising awareness of these events as well as the heroism involved. The firm has achieved success under the leadership of Kristie Kiernan Bouryal who has now been recognized as the Most Influential CEO, 2021 – New York, the USA. We take a closer look to find out more.

For more than twenty-five years, Kristie Kiernan Bouryal has been working in building brands, demand and revenue generation across multiple industries, but it is with Context Productions that she has achieved her biggest success. The role draws on years of expertise in marketing and communications to tell invaluable stories of bravery and heroism to a new generation.

Kristie’s entire life has been built around helping others, and the heroic acts that people perform to protect from harm. The daughter of a retired nurse and a Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Officer, she knows what it means to be on the front line. Her father, former FDNY Lieutenant John Kiernan, was one of many people who helped to rescue the last man out alive from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Today, they and thousands of others suffer with multiple World Trade Center related illnesses. Telling the stories of that day to those who have never heard them is intended to make a difference to the future.

Kristie’s business is built on real people and real events. Her business is telling not only the story of one of America’s darkest days, but how the people who were there overcame the odds to achieve the remarkable. The story of how everyday people transformed immense evil into something good is one that is not only timeless, but can be told time and time again.

So far, she has been involved in the publication of three books on the topic through Context Productions, and the first “My Buddy’s a Hero — And I Didn’t Even Know It” tells the story of when Kristie’s father shared his 9/11 experience with his grandchildren for the first time. It contains incredible messages for kids that go beyond the bravery of those involved and into valuable lessons of active listening and asking questions of those who were there because real heroes need prompting to tell their stories.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only supported the release of these books as the values and lessons they teach prove to be eternally valuable. The pandemic has left many in education struggling with the day-to-day challenges of maintaining safe environments, securing resources and engaging students. The lessons from 9/11 that apply to COVID-19, or any time of national or global tragedy such as courage, perseverance, resilience, leadership and the fortitude of our American spirit can be found in the pages of the books that Kristie has published.

Throughout her career, Kristie has built brand names for others. She has acted as chief marketing and communications officer of a global healthcare diagnostics company, a global financial and professional services firm, as well as working in senior executive roles for a global information measurement company, dozens of top trade publications and multiple network news organizations. The work she does at Context Productions allows her to put all of this experience into 9/11 remembrance, a cause she feels passionately about. Her success is not just something to be celebrated, but is inspiration to remember those everyday heroes now and in the future.

For business enquiries contact Kristie Kiernan Bouryal at Context Productions via email at [email protected] or online through

Representing Working Mums: How Data Can Create a Workplace Revolution

Anna Whitehouse, founder of the Flex Appeal campaign, has spent the last several years campaigning for women and working mums to be hired and treated without bias in the workplace. And with good reason. In 2019, a widely-shared survey revealed that one in eight employers would be reluctant to hire women who might have children.

Becca Guinchard, Global Account Director at behavioural and motivational assessment company AssessFirst, believes that progress for working women, mums and minorities too often relies on tireless campaigns driven by individuals like Anna. Instead, she believes that a data-driven approach is the only way to eradicate the biases that lead to the overlooking of competent candidates.

Anna’s research – in partnership with Nationwide – during the pandemic, highlighted the great difficulty many working mothers face. Of those surveyed, 42% of respondents reported that they felt undue pressure to perform from employers without regard to their parenting responsibilities. This is why we at AssessFirst have been investing in research and development for so many years in objective people and behavioural analytics – to eradicate biases throughout the talent management lifecycle in work.

As Whitehouse has consistently underlined, employers have a bias – unconscious or otherwise – that disadvantages mothers, or women that may have children in the near future. At the same time as Whitehouse launched her latest campaign concerning flexible working for mothers, the journal Demography published its study where in over 2,210 fictitious identical job applications, the ‘candidates’ without children received consistently higher rates of call-backs across all sectors. In no sector did mothers receive more or equal call-backs. 

After this year’s delay to gender pay gap reporting, some workplaces have not yet implemented adjustments to encourage women back into the workplace post-maternity or facilitate childcare with flexible working policies. The rate of progress is still far too slow.

But this goes beyond gender and maternal responsibilities. The biases that discriminate against mothers can be logically applied to other underrepresented groups. We must stop focusing on the results of bias, turning attention instead to the bias present in recruitment and management itself.

I believe that a systemised process of recruitment, supported by objective data and fairly implemented artificial intelligence, will enable working mothers and the underrepresented to be more included. Applied as standard across all business sectors, this would provide a truly equal workplace, where value is attributed to motivation, potential and ability rather than only experience.

Removing bias 

Conventional methods of hiring and recruitment often rely on the CV to indicate candidate ability.

As humans, we can never be sure that we are making decisions that best meet the objectivity of a given task. This is especially true during the hiring process, where we are potentially making hundreds of decisions and judgments in a narrow timeframe based on the information contained within a CV and one or more limited interview encounters.

This is not about bad recruiters and good recruiters. Taking the example of working mothers and the Demography article, did all 2,210 companies consciously discriminate against working mums? It seems unlikely. I would suggest that the biases are deeply hidden, causing the alarming discrimination uncovered through the report.

A data-driven approach to hiring removes bias and provides opportunities for individuals regardless of age, gender, religion, social status and education, disability, or skin colour.

One of the biggest criticisms of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives that I encounter from the general population, especially in areas of high unemployment, is that these policies have become synonymous with ‘box ticking’: ensuring minorities are favoured during hiring campaigns – which leaves many working families feeling disenfranchised and disadvantaged. We must change the narrative to be less about equality and more about performance so that we can simultaneously drive diversity without undermining the value of the demographics that will benefit the most. 

Focusing on behavioural data, businesses will be able to confidently predict the performance of their new recruits and better manage their workforces. Working with companies who leverage technology in this way, I see that performance levels increase; diversity levels increase as a natural consequence. Embedding science into this process rather than instinct is a more sustainable way to tackle this issue.

Developing diversity and inclusion

Consider that the largest demographic in the workforce, Millennials want companies to align with their values. And Gen Z, entering the workforce now, believe good company values are the most important element of the workplace – and those values include diversity and representation.

If businesses are looking to the future and looking to secure new talent, they must focus on their culture now.

Implementing a technology-led recruitment process means businesses and candidates know that they are operating on a fair playing field: where people strategies do not discriminate against a single demographic; that they were hired due to their ability, skillset, and personality.

When you think about the future of work in these terms, the considerations of a woman’s present or future family life seems almost inconsequential in regard to her ability to be hired and developed in a role.  

CEO 100 2021

Welcome to this special edition supplement, CEO 100. This list has been created to look beyond a celebrity-driven or rich-list inspired group of people who typically dominate, but to give credit to the real world CEO’s. These are the people who have been at the forefront of change and steered their companies through difficult times of transition over the past two years.

It has been more important than ever to successfully navigate their teams with timely decision making and inspiring leadership, all while demonstrating a calculated manner. This supplement recognises these chosen CEO’s for their relentless passion and realising the value of crafting the perfect team to lead to success.

The profiled CEO’s are from different industries and from different countries around the world but all share drive an determination to achieve their own personal corporate mission.

Hungry For Change

Based in the US, Innoviom Inc is a global food and beverage company that analyses market trends and utilizes its findings to bring innovative new products to life. Specializing in functional wellness beverages and foods that are great tasting and proven to be beneficial to physical and mental wellbeing, Innoviom Inc has cutting-edge innovation embedded into the very fabric of its company culture. CEO and Chairman, Ahmed El Aziz tells us more, as he celebrates his recent recognition as Most Influential CEO 2021 of the USA.

Innoviom Inc is a dynamic food and beverage start-up that builds on consumer market trends and delivers innovative product solutions to global consumers.

Situated in the US and operating across the globe, Innoviom creates, produces and markets its own products that are purposefully designed to enhance wellbeing while also being delicious and nutritious. The team of global experts analyze market trends and uses more than a hundred years of combined business experience and success to create products that will meet global demand. When combined with the fresh, innovative ideas of those starting out in the industry who are in need of a platform from which to make themselves known in the global markets, Innoviom is able to create product lines that are guaranteed to meet international demand and exceed consumers’ expectation.

For instance, one of Innoviom’s most recent products to launch is Wowie™, a delicious, low-calorie, adaptogen-containing relaxation beverage that contains 20mg of hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD, per can. Made using all-natural ingredients such as lavender, lemon balm, chamomile and green tea, Wowie™ is designed to relieve stress, reduce anxiety and enhance mood without causing drowsiness, making it the perfect accompaniment to working in high stress environments that enables relaxation while being active. As such, with public feelings of stress and anxiety heightened during the Covid-19 pandemic, and other key political and social factors also taking a toll on mental wellbeing, Innoviom released Wowie™ at a time when demand for relaxation and anxiety-reducing aids was at a peak.

Profound knowledge of consumer market trends in the food and industry has been a key element of the Innoviom culture since its inception, having been founded by Chairman and CEO Ahmed El Azizi, who has over twenty-five years of experience in the beverage industry. Former Global VP of Functional Beverages at Pepsico with extensive expertise acquired from his work with Fortune 500 companies and start-ups across four continents, Ahmed is well-acquainted with the industry, as are the other members of his Senior Management team. Group CFO, Christine Morcos for instance, boasts more than thirty years of experience at P&G, Gillette and Pfizer. Chief Growth Officer, Julia Trofimova, has over twenty-five years of experience with Coca Cola, Red Bull, Diageo and Tranquini, while Chief Operations & Supply Chain Officer, Jorge Canizares has several years of experience at Pepsico to his name, in addition to major brands of other industries, such as Xerox and Hughes Helicopters.

The diversity and varied expertise of his team is a key feature in Ahmed’s guiding principles of leadership. “Ensure you have a team that is better than you at the things you are not strong at – and have courage to hire such a team, listen to them and embrace the diversity of thinking,” he says, when asked about his leadership style. After all, ‘you are only as good as the people you choose to surround yourself with.’ This to Ahmed is key to the success of any leader and is a philosophy that has served him well throughout his career.

Ahmed also advocates for hands-on leadership, that knows the business well and when to listen to the team. By actively listening to colleagues, as well as consumers and the market, a leader is able to understand without being swayed by certain opinions in order to make the right, well-informed decisions that they can put their name to with pride. As such, it is also important to involve other people in thought processes, both for their own development but for the development and refinement of an idea. The final principle of Ahmed’s ethos for leadership may be simple, but it is significant: to lead by doing, not just by saying.

With people at the center of Ahmed’s keys to success, recruitment is therefore a meticulous process championed by Innoviom. “We look for people who believe in our core values, who believe in diversity of thought, courage to speak their mind and most important of all, like to operate in an environment of constant change – our business, our consumer and our markets are always changing and we need to be just as flexible,” says Ahmed.

He continues: “We look for people who are hungry to make a difference, who want to have fun, who feel they own the business – and they do, as all our employees have stock in Innoviom and, most important of all, respect one another.”

The flexibility and adaptability of the Innoviom team is vital for the start-up as it manages costs without impeding or affecting the high levels of service or high quality of products. To do so, Ahmed and his team often have to ‘wear multiple hats’, a concept which has been “exciting, exhausting, but satisfying” for Ahmed, and has enabled the company to not only sustain business but grow revenue and manage cash and bottom lines, despite all the macros and challenges of the past year.

“The biggest challenge for our business was reaching our consumer,” says Ahmed. “This is where we pivoted very quickly to DTC (Direct to Consumer) and we have steadily built our business month on month [from there].” The new model allows Innoviom to engage directly with its consumers, learning from them so as to shape innovation strategies for future products as they are developed. Now, as the world reopens following Covid-19 lockdown, Innoviom is faced with the challenge of maintaining this dialogue with consumers who may consider returning to traditional retail shopping. By prioritizing the development of its DTC model, Innoviom aims to maintain consistency in its consumer engagement, with the ultimate objective of developing innovation as the company as a whole grows.

After all, there is no doubt that Innoviom as a company is growing, with plans to expand its geographic footprint into the UK, EU and Canada as it introduces ingenious new beverages and products to its product lines throughout 2021. It is an exciting period of evolution for Innoviom, and one that Ahmed is taking great pride in as he makes plans for the future. When asked what these are, he is succinct and clear in his aspirations: “to continue to build Innoviom into a world class food and beverage company, to have fun along the way, and to enjoy the ride.”

For business enquiries contact Ahmed El Azizi at Innoviom Inc via

Negative Leadership Styles to Avoid

Leaders are in a powerful position to influence — how they behave can inspire, motivate and innovate (or, the reverse). Being a leader is no easy task, but there are negative leadership styles that are ineffective at best and damaging at worst, which need to be avoided.

A leadership style is the behaviour a leader displays when they manage people. There are many different leadership styles which allow you to work in a way which is best suited to your personality. It provides you with the knowledge and awareness you need to get the most out of your team and bring success to the organisation you work for. 

In this article, Tony Gregg, Chief Executive at Executive Search firm, Anthony Gregg Partnership, reflects on how negative leadership styles can leave your team feeling unmotivated. Tony also emphasises the importance of adopting a leadership style that is well received by your team, matching the candidate’s leadership style to the right team.

Extreme micromanagement

Leaders micromanage their team members for a variety of reasons, including fear of loss of control and failure, belief that the team is unskilled and managerial inexperience. In fact, it often comes down to the leader’s own insecurities. It is vital that a leader has the self-awareness to change, because micromanagement is damaging for business and leads to a stressful working environment. As a result:

  • Staff are made to feel incapable 
  • Staff feel not trusted to do the job they are hired to do 
  • Productivity and innovation are decreased (fostering mediocrity)
  • Morale is lower
  • There is a higher staff turnover

Likewise, micromanaging will also negatively impact you as a leader:

  • Distracting you from your own duties 
  • Increasing stress, working longer hours; but without the output you need
  • Harming your efforts to progress your career 



The greatest leaders know that their way of doing things is not necessarily the best. They are self-aware, realising their own flaws and admitting when they do not have the expertise. They have no desire to be right all the time or profess to know it all. They employ people with different skill sets and approaches so that they can work together for the best possible result. 

On the other hand, an arrogant leader is narrow-minded and refuses to take advice from someone who is in a junior position to them. A leader who thinks like this will be missing out on talent and experience which will enrich the business.

If you recognise this in yourself, understand that you need others to achieve optimum results. Focus on the positive result and not how your staff members got there. Admit when a colleague has more knowledge than you on a certain topic and let them take the lead.

Poor organisation

A leader who is poorly organised will be less efficient and less effective in their role. Bad organisation can mean that you miss deadlines, confuse dates, miss meetings and generally become unreliable. Your staff will not respect a disorganised leader and will become resentful if they are having to deal with the consequences. This can result in decreased productivity as staff lack the motivation to work for someone whose poor organisation reflects a seeming absence of care. 

You can ensure that you are organised by knowing your team’s strengths, weaknesses and delegating effectively. You can also create open channels of communication so that you know what is happening at all times and can identify any potential issues. Finally, set goals and maintain efficiency by regularly reviewing processes. 

Lack of discipline

As a successful leader, you must identify your priorities and remain resolute and fixed on your goals. You need to instil routine and structure. A lack of focus and failure to pay attention to detail will let your team down and you will appear apathetic, or even lazy. You need to maintain concentration on the task at hand despite other distractions demanding your attention. Fortunately, self-discipline is an acquired skill — it takes practice. 

Closed-minded and inflexible

Closed-minded people don’t ask questions — they are more concerned with being right than with getting the best results. They don’t want to hear others’ ideas and theories. They can become quick to anger when challenged. This can hinder success as the leader will miss opportunities for innovation, growth and development. In fact, it is possible to adopt a collaborative leadership style — where you are still respected as the decision maker. You can avoid being a closed-minded and inflexible leader by asking others for their opinions, advice and feedback. You can make the most of learning opportunities by questioning and asking for help. 


A team needs autonomy to be able to work happily, but to avoid micromanagement they also need to understand what you want. They need to feel like they can come to you with any problem or query and that your reaction will be positive. An unpredictable manager will react to bad news differently, depending on their mood that day, which can lead to staff avoiding communication and being confused by mixed signals. You can prevent this by ensuring strong lines of communication, with regular check-ins.

Absent and unapproachable 

It is important to be present and approachable as a leader because people will feel comfortable enough to bring any issues to you. You will also gain their trust — the bedrock of a high-performing team. An open door policy encourages faster communication and  transparency, leading to increased productivity and efficiency. Without this policy, issues can get worse and staff can feel disgruntled. Leaders need to be spending a set part of each day supporting their staff, with regular one-to-one meetings and reviews. 

How to find your leadership style?

To find your leadership style, you need to consider how you behave when you are in charge of a team. You might realise that you change when you respond to different situations and you might recognise a variety of different leadership styles — some positive, some negative. The more self-analysis and introspection you can do, the easier it will be to identify ways in which you can improve. 

To begin with, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like to take charge and command? You might be an authoritative leader.
  • Do you elevate your employees to greater success? This is common for a pace-setting leader.
  • Do you find delegating easy, trusting your employees to reach their own goals? This is a laissez-faire approach.
  • Do you get the most out of your team by recognising their strengths and weaknesses? You could be an affiliative leader. 
  • Do you value democracy, motivating all your team members to participate so that each person has a say? This is what a participative leader does.
  • Do you influence and inspire change in your work environment? This is common in transformational leadership. 

Finding an effective leadership style while avoiding toxic leadership traits is a powerful tool in unlocking potential — yours and your team’s. This is particularly true for companies going through uncertainty in today’s rapidly changing business climate, where your leadership style needs to stay agile. 

Why More Women CEOs in Property is Crucial

Why More Women CEOs in Property is Crucial

Today’s business hiring practices are leaning further and further towards ethical recruitment and equal opportunities. More women than ever are being offered the chance to join firms at CEO level. Why is this? How might it benefit the property industry in particular?

In this article, the bloggers at Property Solvers look at some of the ways in which hiring female workers at executive level within your property firm may result in huge improvements when it comes to your performance, your reputation and your levels of public trust.

Your Turnover May Improve

According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the impact of hiring women in executive roles is measurably transformative. Net profit margins are notably increased in companies with female directors – almost anywhere in the world.

Actual and Perceived Discrimination within Your Company May Drop

Firms that feature women at executive level tend to be perceived by talented job seekers as fairer and more welcoming thanks, at least in part, to their rejection of any gender divide.

As a result of hiring women in top positions, strong candidates of all genders and backgrounds will be more likely to develop an interest in your firm and will stay there long-term. Your reputation in the eyes of the general public may also improve.

In the UK property and construction industries, latest estimates suggest that only 15% of the workforce is made up of women. Improving this figure may result in more successful headhunting and an improved level of retention.

The Public Facing Aspects of Your Business May be Transformed

According to the Human Capital Hub, female-led companies tend to lead the majority of industries in terms of approaches to marketing and publicity – including online presence – as well as event delivery.

These approaches are vital for firms that wish to build a strong reputation – and trust is vital when it comes to selling, letting or managing real estate.

You May Experience Improved Crisis Management

The last few years have revealed to us just how vital strong leadership is in times of societal or financial turmoil. This has been particularly notable in the property industry, where the risks inherent in the COVID-19 pandemic have threatened to topple housing markets.

According to the Harvard Business Review, female CEOs are particularly adept at crisis management – so your company is far more likely to weather an upcoming storm is there is a woman at the helm.

Your Business May Become More Morally Sound

Female CEOs tend to be more likely to focus on matters such as equal pay, childcare provision, ethics and fair treatment than their male counterparts.

These aspects should be considered a key part of any company’s moral code – and are also carefully scrutinised by unions as well as decision-makers among audiences.

Considering Female Candidates Equally Will Double Your Number of Potential Great Hires

Whether actively or subconsciously, many businesses of the past failed to grasp opportunities to hire ingenious innovators and revolutionary thinkers by narrowing their recruitment pool to only men.

By pursuing equality in your hiring approaches, your business will be able to have the pick of a much wider range of candidates.

Historically, far fewer women than men have been appointed as heads of major companies – often due to prejudices that were unfortunately prevalent in times gone by.

This means that many women CEOs will be the first of their gender in their family to head up a business – a factor that may influence “out-of-the-box” thinking and a fresh, inventive perspective.

Equality in recruitment should not only be a moral obligation – it also provides clear benefits to businesses across the industrial spectrum.

The Importance of Pregnancy Loss Policies and Why Every Business Should Implement One

With many high-profile figures speaking out about their experiences of miscarriage, we’re talking more and more about the reality of losing a baby. However, pregnancy loss is still a subject that falls under the radar, especially when it comes to workplace policies. With the release of the new documentary this October, Myleene Klass: Miscarriage & Me, there’s no better time to talk about the importance of pregnancy loss policies.

With that in mind, let’s find out more about the pregnancy loss policies here in the UK and what we could be doing better.

What are the current pregnancy loss policies?

Although celebrities such as Myleene Klass, Katherine Ryan and Stephanie Davis are working hard to break the stigma around miscarriage and speaking out about it, the UK’s policies have a long way to come. In March of this year, New Zealand passed a monumental law entitling parents to take three days bereavement leave if they go through a miscarriage or a stillbirth (no matter what stage the pregnancy was at). Here in the UK, however, there is no entitlement to any paid leave when the loss occurs before 24 weeks. Technically, UK law doesn’t recognise anything before 24 weeks as “childbirth”. Therefore, employees don’t have any legal right to time off work, even if the time is to be taken for bereavement.

After 24 weeks of pregnancy, however, the rules change a little. Since April 2020, parents have had the legal right to take time off work for “statutory parental bereavement”. This applies if parents have suffered the death of a child, including a miscarriage or a stillbirth after 24 weeks. However, this Baby Loss Awareness Week we’re asking: does this law go far enough? The emotional and physical trauma that can accompany a miscarriage should not be underestimated. It’s simply not as easy as getting up and going to work the day after such a heartbreaking ordeal.

This year, some companies have recognised this and put some big changes in place. Channel 4 and Monzo are among the first few brands to have implemented policies specific to miscarriages. These companies now offer both parents up to two weeks of paid leave after a pregnancy loss.

Why is it so important that more companies follow?

In light of the pandemic, companies everywhere know more than ever how important health and wellbeing is to their employees. Compassion and understanding are also key in maintaining a strong and happy workforce. With so many people having to endure the pain of pregnancy loss, a compassionate approach from companies is the only way forward.

According to research by Imperial College London, around 250,000 miscarriages happen in the UK every year. In addition to this, there are around 11,000 emergency ectopic pregnancy admissions each year. The same study revealed the consequences that these tragedies often have on women’s mental health. It was found that almost a third of women who experienced either a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy later suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety and moderate-to-severe depression were also frequently reported amongst those who had been through a miscarriage. Another study which was carried out by Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research revealed that approximately one in four women would go through at least one miscarriage in their lives.

Evidently, miscarriages are more common than many people might think. The taboo around the topic of pregnancy loss has meant that this subject has too often been ignored. However, with more awareness, we should also see better policies in place for women who have had to go through such a difficult experience.

What can be done?

Although there are currently no laws in place about workplace leave after pregnancy loss, there are plenty of ways in which companies can take matters into their own hands. Like Monzo and Channel 4, it’s a great option for other companies to introduce their own formal policies. This way, people who have had to go through the pain of pregnancy loss will feel financially and emotionally supported by their workplace. That’s not the only thing that companies can implement either. There are plenty of other ways to make sure employees feel supported and heard, such as:

  • Raising awareness about pregnancy loss and tackling the taboo.
  • Making sure your staff have access to useful information sources about pregnancy loss.
  • Offering compassionate leave and mental health days.
  • Training managers and other members of staff about how to support people who have been through pregnancy loss.
  • Offering flexible working options for those who have been through pregnancy loss.

We’re certainly heading in the right direction when it comes to pregnancy loss policies and greater awareness, with public figures tackling taboos about subjects from miscarriage to postpartum depression and postpartum bleeding. However, there is still much to be done. Following this year’s Baby Loss Awareness Week, don’t shy away from the subject. Reach out to your loved ones who might be suffering and help to implement new policies in your workplace.

Work Worries: A Quarter of Employees Are Too Stressed to Think About Healthy Eating Choices, Study Finds

Unmanageable workloads, excessive fatigue and inflexible hours are causing UK workers to make unhealthy eating decisions at lunchtime with many employees returning to the office. An average of 2 employees in every UK small business regularly skip lunch altogether.

Pandemic pressures have meant that almost half of employees have found they have eaten more unhealthy food at work in the last year. Employees have expressed their concerns that companies aren’t doing enough to support them with a healthy lifestyle as 12% of UK companies said to have stopped offering healthy food choices to employees returning to the office.

6% of employees in the UK will skip lunch altogether, which is equivalent to 2 employees in every small business regularly skipping lunch.* In the UK’s largest public sector employer — NHS England — this is equivalent to 84,000 employees skipping lunch every day.**

The 2021 Lunch & UK Workers Survey was conducted by RAMONA’s, an award-winning Mediterranean foods manufacturer specialising in houmous and falafel. It asked employees from 133 companies in the UK about their eating habits in the workplace. Data from the study looked into why workers are eating more unhealthy food and how companies can better support their employees to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The greatest impact on employee health choices was found to be from avoidable work pressures. Almost a third of workers have revealed that unmanageable workloads are causing them to reach for unhealthy lunches, with excessive fatigue caused by workplace pressures (30%) and inflexible hours in the workplace (28%) acting as contributing factors, a survey has revealed.

Companies are being encouraged to focus on supporting the health of young employees in particular. The data highlights that the majority (64%) of under 35’s picked up unhealthy eating habits, whereas 77% of those 35 and over have been on a healthy eating curve since returning to the office.

As many workers have returned back to the office since the first lockdown in April last year, employees are having to make an organisational shift and find a new eating routine to rethink unhealthy eating habits and foster more healthy ones.

What employees want from their companies:

  • A quarter of employees are calling on companies to encourage their staff to eat away from their desks. A further 25% want their companies to encourage workers to take a full lunch break in a bid to place greater importance on healthy eating in the workplace.
  • 2 in 5 employees would like their company to offer a lunch scheme that helps to promote healthy eating across the entire workforce. Workers also placed high importance on healthy snack options for the office now that many have returned to hybrid working. 
  • 28% of workers would like to see their companies offer gym discounts and memberships to help employees achieve a healthier lifestyle 
  • 23% wish for employers to encourage finishing work on time 
  • 20% would like their workplace to offer mental health support to help with workplace pressures
  • 25% ask for increased flexible working hours to focus on healthy lifestyles
  • UK companies are falling short of being inclusive to alternative dietary choices — 40% of employees want their company to provide vegetarian or vegan food options. 
  • One in eight employees would support their office becoming ‘meat-free’. For employees under 25 years of age, this figure rises to one in four.

Ramona Hazan, founder of Ramona’s, believes that our health should be priority for the food industry:

Emotions and workplace pressures can take their toll on our diets and eating habits. The findings above show that workers are really struggling with healthy eating as a result of the pandemic. When routines are unstructured and work presents challenges, people often find themselves reaching for comfort food. Sweet, salty, starchy foods are worker favourites because they are accessible and convenient. However, workers need to retrain their eating habits to ensure their lunches are full of nutrients that will provide energy for the rest of the day, especially when work is causing a hectic schedule”.

“For those who find it easier to ‘grab and go’, supermarkets are presenting healthier lunch options for workers who are conscious to still eat healthily. Sainsbury’s ‘Lunch’ concept for instance, offers workers the chance to choose healthy and nutritious lunches that don’t compromise on taste and comfort. Otherwise, prepping your lunch in advance and organising your schedule are two first steps you can take to help towards a mindful eating routine”.

Tracey Hudson, Executive Director at the HR Dept, said:

“Over the past year, people have been grazing more because they have been at home and have unlimited access to their own kitchens – there have been a lot of conversations about how the nation has been putting on ‘lockdown weight’ so now we are back in offices, encourage your employees to have healthy eating habits by providing appropriate facilities where they can prepare proper food and don’t have to rely on buying pre-packed sandwiches or the local chippy at lunchtime.

Having a space that employees can go to eat their lunch is important because otherwise they will sit at their desks and usually that means they keep working whilst eating a sandwich at the same time so they don’t get a proper break and then are more likely to make mistakes. This might be a meeting room that you put a couple of sofas in with a TV for example, or maybe start a walking club so staff are encouraged to leave the building at lunchtime and get fresh air.

If companies ignore their employees’ wellbeing, both physical and mental, then they risk loss of productivity and high turnover as the two biggest concerns”. 

Bespoke Financial Services Like No Other

In an industry with a tendency to focus more on market benchmarks than the specific success of each case, Artvera is a boutique money management firm operating out of London and serving a market of the most prestigious clientele. It bucks the trends of its sector in favour of absolute returns for all its customers, and today, CEO Artur Bounegra explores how this has benefitted both his company and its market.

Over the years that it has been in operation, Artvera Private Wealth Management has made its name as an independent wealth management company. A boutique business operating with prestige and efficacy to serve a small yet lucrative market, this company has developed rigorous processes of the highest standard to operate effectively. Its client-first methodologies and authorisation by the Financial Conduct Authority grant it a level of oversight that both it and its clients can trust. In tandem with this is the comprehensive and exemplary nature of its services. Between its highly knowledgeable staff, Artvera’s competencies range from comprehensive wealth planning solutions to corporate advisory services, expert in the provision of worldwide investment management. Its client base is predominantly high net worth individuals, serving their families and businesses to keep their investments secure and high in returns.

Artur Bounegra, the founding partner and CEO of Artvera, is responsible for developing and maintaining the heart of its enterprise. In this manner, he has ensured that at the very centre of all its operations, Artvera is professionally effective in wealth management, but also bespoke in its attitude towards its clients. When working with its clients, it approaches them knowing that no two people are the same, and so a ‘one size fits all’ solution to money management simply won’t do. It works hard to build long term and positive relationships with its clients over the course of time, getting to know them and their situation to give the most prudent advice.

The knowledge it shares with its clients has the basis of many years of industry knowledge. The founder himself has over 26 years of working in financial service, with 13 of those having been in banking and 13 in investment management. He brings this and his dedication to exemplary customer service to the business. Artur also bolsters the services his business offers with his personal experience of macro and micro-economics, sharing his in-depth perspective on financial management, accounting, reporting, and auditing with his team and clientele. This has fostered an attitude of respectful, effective, professional service that permeates every aspect of its inner workings.

The bespoke nature of its services allows Artvera to go above and beyond the call of duty for its clients. It doesn’t stop at simply managing the numbers in a financial book, it takes into account the full picture in order to do so; this means that it can reassure its clients that its services will be right for them, because they have been tailored to fit. It believes that financial services should mould seamlessly around a client’s livelihood and provide it structural reinforcement, granting the client peace of mind and allowing them to concentrate on what matters most.

Its services are consistently comprehensive and industry-leading, with financial planning, tax planning, legal issues, estate planning, business succession, fiduciary, and trust services all covered. Artvera’s clients find themselves secured in much better and healthier positions regarding their wealth after working with this business, and thus, it has benefitted hugely from the increased word of mouth referrals from satisfied customers. Between the hard work of the CEO and the exemplary nature of this firm in general, it has secured its path to greater success. In tandem with this, it hopes to align itself further with the needs of its market going forward, striving to secure its spot as the best in the business, a goalpost that edges closer every day.

For further information, please contact Artur Bounegra or visit

Six Steps to Reduce Race Discrimination within Recruitment

Employment Law Expert Homa Wilson details the ways in which businesses can champion diversity when hiring

  • Research shows that those of minority backgrounds are still stifled when compared with their white counterparts in terms of career progression.
  • Organisations with inclusive cultures are eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes and twice as likely to achieve financial targets.

Homa Wilson, Employment Law Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, has detailed six ways in which businesses can tackle racial discrimination through their recruitment processes. 

A recent report following research by the University of Bristol, the University of Manchester and the National Centre for Social Research, found that whilst the employment prospects of some people from minority backgrounds had improved since the 1970s, they were still stifled when compared with their white counterparts and were being held back by racism. 

There is a copious amount of research to evidence that increased diversity within the workforce results in better financial outcomes for the business. 

Research conducted by McKinsey clearly demonstrated that more diverse workplaces perform better financially. Another report, by Deloitte, showed that organisations with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be more innovative and agile, eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes and twice as likely to achieve financial targets. 

The importance of having an inclusive workforce should not be underestimated by businesses. People from different backgrounds bring new and different insights to the workplace. 

Here are some steps employers can take to ensure their recruitment process is as fair and inclusive as possible: 

Outreach work 
  • Children from less affluent backgrounds do not have the same opportunities to secure work placements within professional settings. In many cases, they will have limited or no opportunity to network with professionals. To help bridge this gap, your organisation should proactively foster links with local schools and other youth organisations. The employer should also engage in mentoring, holding career workshops, and work placement schemes so that children from minority backgrounds are given an opportunity to engage with the business as well as build up their skills and network so that they are better equipped, when they do apply to your organisation for a job.
  • You should actively encourage your employees to volunteer as mentors. Examples include setting up a scheme, using your premises for the mentor and mentee to meet, allowing staff time off to participate in such initiatives.
  • Companies should have a dedicated section for ‘outreach work’ on their websites. Doing so will make information about the schemes offered /work undertaken by the company accessible for everyone. This can also be a useful way to invite schools and other organisations to approach the company and partner with them.
  • Hold workshops to fill the gaps in knowledge and soft skills. Your staff could deliver workshops giving sector-specific advice on topics such as: what to include in a cover letter and how to prepare for a job interview.
How you advertise
  • Start by looking at where and how you advertise. You should ensure you are reaching as wide an audience as possible. 
  • The photos used in your adverts should depict a diverse range of people – when individuals see someone who looks like them, they are more likely to feel welcomed by the organisation and therefore more likely to apply.
  • Ensure the wording of your advert does not create bias in any way and does not discriminate against potential candidates based on their race.
  • Ensure vacancies are posted on various job boards that are easily accessible to a range of candidates from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
Introduce blind hiring 
  • Name-blind applications will increase the focus on qualifications and merit rather than the biases that even the best-intentioned person may hold.
  • Another way to really minimise bias is to hold first round interviews as text based only, this means replacing the standard face-to-face interviews. This way the applicant will only have to respond to interview answers on their screen and submit these to the panel for consideration.
Train staff on unconscious bias 
  • You should ensure all those involved in the recruitment process have undertaken unconscious bias training.
  • This includes those who draft the job description, as well as those involved in shortlisting and conducting the interviews.
  • Also be open to challenge assumptions based on where someone went to school or where they live.
Ensure diversity amongst staff involved in the recruitment process 
  • People tend to hire people they like; this often means those who are similar to them.
  • Also try to ensure different employees are part of the interviewing panel, avoid using the same employees over and over again. This ensures different employees have an input and can potentially bring fresh insight into the selection process. Each employee has something different to offer and, as an organisation, you should be nurturing those differences.
Employee referral scheme 
  • Encourage diverse employees in your workforce to refer their contacts to you. This can be encouraged by offering an incentive – which can be financial or some other benefit.  

Issue 11 2021

Welcome to the November issue of CEO Monthly.

As always, CEO Monthly is dedicated to providing the latest news and features across the business world to our readership. By sharing knowledge, insights, expertise and success stories from around the globe, we aim to inspire individuals and promote positivity in a world that is in a constant state of evolution.

When it comes to business development, companies require a tenacious individual who is willing to go the extra mile to lead their employees to victory. From sturdy systems to strong management strategies, this issue of CEO Monthly takes us on a journey through an assortment of exceptional minds.

The cream has definitely risen to the top even throughout the course of the global pandemic. Things haven’t been easy for businesses around the world, but here we have a variety of incredible people who set an example in the realm of effective business. One such individual is Jumana El Khoury Maalouf from Aesthetic Today LLC, our featured company for this month, and winner of CEO of the Year, 2021 – Dubai, The United Arab Emirates. She tells us more about the success of her business within.

Again, we would love for you to join us in this month’s reflection across this board of extraordinary CEOs. We look forward to welcoming you back next month for the final issue of CEO Monthly in 2021.

Real Estate Development CEO of the year 2021 (KSA) Khalid Al Telmesani

Rua Al Madinah Holding Company is one of the Public Investment Fund companies (PIF) involved in the investment of Saudi Arabia’s vision for progression and evolution for 2030. Rua develops the most distinguished projects in line with the 2030 vision which seeks to enrich the position of the city and its Islamic heritage. Khalid M. Al Telmesani, recognised as CEO of the Year, 2021- Saudi Arabia, describes Rua’s role and importance within the Kingdom.

Rua Al Madinah Holding Company, one of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) corporations, aims to develop and diversify the economic base of Saudi Arabia by strengthening the position of Al Madinah Al Munawara as a prestigious religious destination with a modern infrastructure derived from its Islamic history. Furthermore, Rua inspires to raise the readiness of the central area of Al Masjid Al Nabawi – or the Prophet’s Mosque, built by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and opened in 622AD – by developing integrated hospitality, commercial, residential and edutainment projects that serve the Madinah people, pilgrims, and its visitors.

Rua Almadinah project, focusing on this vision for 2030, is embarking on a unique transformation of economic and social reform to reinvent Saudi Arabia to the world. This strategic framework would reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and diversify its economy by developing public sectors such as infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. Its fundamental goal is the reinforce economic investment activities and promote a softer image of the Kingdom. Rua’s initial design and initiation were to reinforce the position of Al Madinah as an Islamic destination by harnessing expertise, capabilities, and all modern technologies in its projects. The Rua project is known for its character by its strategic location and direct view of the Prophet’s Mosque from its eastern side, with a total area of 1.35 million square meters. In addition, the project is based on several essential elements, including complete separation between the movement of vehicles and pedestrian paths.

Rua has a modern design within a sustainable green environment, enriching the visiting experience while respecting the sanctity of the place. The project extends past the unprecedented urban renaissance experienced by Saudi Arabia and, therefore, reflects the community, with rich history and a bold, fresh outlook as a pillar holding up the municipal area. The Rua project is directed towards pilgrims, visitors, and Madinah residence and aims to host additional visitors to Al Masjid Al Nabawi. The project will do this by increasing the capacity of hotels and providing unique commercial, residential, and cultural projects in a great area, enriching the spiritual and cultural experiences of pilgrims and visitors.

It also hopes to develop cultural centres and museums around the area, comprehensive and modern systems for pedestrian passages, and facilitate arrivals and departure procedures. Additionally, the project is integrated and directly connected to the eastern yard of the Holy Mosque.

At the helm of this impressive project is Eng. Khalid M. Al Telmesani who joined Rua as Chief Executive Officer in 2019. Having previously served as a board member in several reputable firms, lectured in various seminars, and attended numerous accredited courses and executive programs in international institutes such as IMD, Lausanne – Switzerland, Eng. Al Telmesani is a leading authority in his field. He received his graduate degree in Systems Engineering and Operations Research from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUMP) in 1985 and since then has worked his way up the ladder of several significant and reputable companies before landing the role of CEO at Rua Al Madinah Holding Company, where he was recently recognised as CEO of the Year, 2021 – Saudi Arabia. He, like the team around him at Rua, is driven by the vision for 2030 and all that their project can contribute to this ambition: “We need to create a true sense of place, a destination and an opportunity,” he states.

Rua Almadinah project has adopted a lifestyle rich in serenity and spirituality. The project acquires its importance by facilitating the services of visitors from all countries of the world, offering pleasant stays next to the Prophet’s Mosque, and providing the highest standard of hospitality. Therefore, the project’s master plan was designed by world renowned consulting firms with local and vast international experiences based on best practices and standards of international quality and technology worldwide.

However, like many places around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically and significantly affected the real estate market since the beginning of 2020. This was the biggest challenge to overcome for the Rua project; however, the staff and team members have been highly willing and open to working from home whilst carrying on with the responsibilities required. During this period, face-to-face and personal experience with staff members are appreciated. It has been seemingly underestimated how important human interactions are for team members and staff members within the workforce.

For Rua, the employees are the actual assets of the organisation as they are the ones who contribute effectively towards the successful functioning of the company, the community, and the project itself. They strive hard to deliver the utmost best performance, of high quality, standard and regards and achieve the assigned targets and above within a timely and respectable manner. Therefore, the Rua hiring policy is based on but not limited to those who show long-term potential, enthusiasm, and passion. Additional aspects considered are loyalty, dependability, self-reliance, team players, and dedication to the business by working hard, practical, and intuitively. The team has been more productive throughout this virtual journey due to fewer interruptions within the workplace or working area. With this vastly unexpected progression, the Rua project has accomplished more than expected in its projected timeline and is looking forward to the future and the oncoming years. Rua will then be able to showcase all the hard work its dedicated members of staff have taken on during this time with a clear mission to enhance Al Masjid Al Nabawi and the incredible nation that surrounds it by 2030.

For business enquiries contact Khalid M. Al Telmesani at Rua Al Madinah Holding via

The Most Influential Business Women from Around the World

It wasn’t long ago that possibilities for women were severely restricted. Executive and managerial roles were reserved for men, whereas female employees could only aspire to second-class positions. However, with the advancement of gender equality, women are finally being offered the possibility to showcase their qualities as leaders and directors too.

This said, we have detailed a list of the world’s most influential businesswomen. Join us in the celebration of inspiring ladies that are sure to motivate future generations of bright female (and male) minds.


Mary Barra

Following in the footsteps of her father, a die-maker at General Motors for 39 years, Mary Barra grew up with a strong passion for cars and engineering. There is no hiding that, arguably, the automotive industry was always bound to be the perfect sector for her to thrive in.

Barra and GM’s journey together started in 1980, when the firm awarded her a fellowship to study at Stanford Business School. Once she graduated, she progressively worked her way up in the ranks and covered several different roles within the business. In 2013, she was chosen as GM’s Chief Executive Officer, becoming the first female CEO of a “Big Three” automaker. 

Fully invested in the science of climate change, Barra is striving to ensure that GM has only zero-emission vehicles on the market by 2035. What is more, she acts as an empowering source of inspiration for women, urging ladies to throw themselves at life-changing chances. Finally, she is a signatory of the OneTen coalition, which aspires to expand economic opportunity for those people who currently struggle to make their voices heard.

Gail Boudreaux

Gail Boudreaux’s academic career perfectly encapsulates the famous Latin saying “mens sana in corpore sano”, in that practising physical activity fosters one’s lucidity and mental wellbeing. While netting points and breaking records for her basketball college team Dartmouth Big Green, Boudreaux excelled as a student and graduated from Columbia University with high honours.

Mindful of the importance of team development, support and collaboration from her athlete days, Boudreaux understands how to lead a group of colleagues to achieve ambitious goals. Dedicated to improving people’s lives and to making US healthcare more accessible and affordable, she is in charge of American insurance firm Anthem since November 2017. Prior to this appointment, she was the CEO of UnitedHealthcare.

With numerous special mentions in both Forbes and Fortune’s lists of Most Powerful Women, she is undoubtedly a businesswoman that many look up to with respect and admiration.

Carol Tome

Similarly to Figaro, the renowned barber of Seville, Carol Tome is a true factotum. The American businesswoman started her career as a commercial lender at the United Bank of Denver and, following a long spell as Johns-Manville Corporation’s banking director, she served as the Chief Finance Officer for Home Depot from 1995 to 2019.

As if her CV was not impressive enough, Tome stepped out of retirement in June 2020 to take on the delicate role of CEO at United Parcel Service, a global and logistics services firm. She revealed that retired life on her farm was seriously boring, and she jumped at the opportunity of becoming UPS’s first female CEO – as well as the first woman president in this specific industry.

While focused on improving employee development, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability within the business, Tome’s charismatic leadership allowed UPS to efficiently distribute COVID-19 vaccines all over the world. 

Emma Walmsley

Born in Cumbria and raised in Kent, British businesswoman Emma Walmsley is a prominent figure in the pharmaceutical industry. She may have studied languages and classics at the University of Oxford, but she made a name for herself through marketing and managerial roles at L’Oréal in the UK, Europe, China, and the US.

In 2017, Walmsley replaced Sir Andrew Witty as CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, a well-known multinational pharma company. She originally joined GSK in 2010 and supervised the European consumer healthcare sector. As COVID-19 gradually had the world on the ropes by the early stages of 2020, Walmsley announced that her company would collaborate with global alliance Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), playing a significant role in finding a vaccine for the novel virus.

Julie Sweet

Another eclectic mind in the world of business is Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture in North America. Having joined the IT services and consulting firm in 2010 and having held various positions from secretary to general counsel, Sweet reached the company’s pinnacle in 2019.

The US-based businesswoman is also a member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees and is on the board of directors for the Business Roundtable, for which she chairs its Technology Committee. Moreover, Sweet strives to help young adults with disabilities who have just completed college to find meaningful jobs. Indeed, she serves on the board of trustees for the Marriott Foundation for “People with Disabilities – Bridges from School to Work”.

Not “only” that, but this inspiring and influential lady is a key component of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, an American think-tank that aims to aid decision-makers chart a course towards a better world. All things considered, it is no wonder Sweet was named No. 1 on Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women in Business” in 2020.

With the outstanding careers of these businesswomen in plain sight, it should be obvious to all that there is no place in this world for any form of gender discrimination. We hope that reading the achievements of these bright and successful women has both filled you with inspiration and motivated you to always give it your best shot.     

National Stress Awareness Week 2021: How to Overcome Occupational Stress

By Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero

Occupational stress is a huge concern across every business. Every business should be diverting a significant amount of energy towards ensuring their workplace and culture is a healthy and happy environment for their employees. Happier employees mean increased productivity, less turnover and absenteeism.

The working world must adapt to how mental health and wellbeing can affect business. Recent research from Employment Hero found that British businesses are facing a mass exodus of staff, with 55 per cent of people planning to move jobs in the next year. Two key reasons are being feeling underappreciated (31 per cent) and feeling overworked (26 per cent).

There’s no time like the present to learn more about occupational stress and employee wellbeing to make sure you are doing everything in your power to help your employees.

What is occupational stress?

Occupational stress refers to the ongoing and progressing stress an employee experiences due to the responsibilities, conditions, environment, or other pressures of the workplace. Work-related stress can be a response to an employee being presented with work demands that are not matched to their knowledge or skillset. When the pressure builds and gets too much – that’s when your employee’s wellbeing could be at stake.

Signs to look out for

Always be vigilant with your employees, and look out for any signs that they are under occupational stress of any kind. 

Some of the main telltale signs are:

  • An employee who is lacking the motivation to complete basic tasks in their working day
  • They are constantly missing deadlines; whether they’re important ones or BAU deadlines
  • Employees displaying frequent feelings of general stress, chaos and confusion
  • Physical signs such as anxiety, abnormally high blood pressure, noticeable changes in diet, sleeplessness and irritability
  • Abnormal feeling of depressions amongst your worker; listen out for an alarm bells ringing in conversations with them
  • Inability to perform or communicate in a productive manner
  • Feelings of excessive burnoutCheck-in with your employees

Build an employee wellness strategy that ensures you are regularly checking in with your employees and setting up\ initiatives for them to make sure they are happy at work. One way to make sure you are regularly checking in with your employees to monitor their stress levels is to send round regular employee happiness surveys to get a good understanding of how they are coping at work. Include questions about how they are dealing with their workload, if they enjoy coming to work in the mornings and if there’s anything that causes them stressor during the working week.

Tips on overcoming occupational stress

1. Control your working deadlines. 

By maintaining a diligent, reasonable work pace, employees can prevent procrastination and consistently finish the tasks they begin. This means that they won’t feel overloaded, overworked or overwhelmed with the number of unfinished tasks they have left to do.

2. Learn to push back.

A lot of time people dealing with stress at work will take on too much and this makes the situation worse. Make sure your employees feel comfortable and confident enough to push back on tasks that they just don’t have the capacity to do. Employee wellness is linked to productivity at work, so you should aim to create an environment that promotes employee well-being at all times. A good place to start is by letting your employees feel comfortable in having an open conversation with you as a manager, leader or HR professional. It’s good for them to have a place where they can clarify what’s expected of them, ask for any necessary resources or support from other colleagues or enriching their job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks.

3. Take a break.

Make sure your employees are taking regular breaks and getting outside for some fresh air for at least 10 minutes in the day. It’s also important to that everyone takes the time to recharge. To avoid the negative effects of occupational stress and burnout, humans need time to relax, destress and return to work with a fresh outlook and mindset. Switching off from work by having periods of time off, when you are neither engaging in work-related activities or thinking about work, is really important in making sure work-related stress doesn’t take over. Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That might mean making a rule not to check email from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner. Your time off is important and should be valued.

4. Track stressors.

Make sure you are taking notes to identify which situations create the most stress and how you responded to that stress. Record any thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved. This will give you a better understanding of how you deal with certain situations and what you can do better in the future.

5. Ask for support.

Accepting help from trusted friends, family or even other co-workers can improve your ability to manage stress. Your employer may also have stress management resources available through an employee assistance program (EAP). If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviour.

Brokering the Perfect Deal

The value of a business is often difficult to quantify, especially when you’ve put years of hard work into building it into something special. Someone who understands this deeply is Matt Arthur of Mayfield Practice Sales. He’s spent years building up a reputation as one of the UK’s most influential CEOs. We took a closer look at the business to see how he has been able to achieve such success.

Mayfield Practice Sales is a dental brokerage specialising in selling dental practices and groups. The teamwork alongside clients who are either looking to sell their business now or are starting to plan their exit in several years’ time. As a business, Mayfield specialises in practice valuations, financial health checks, financial due diligence and preparing for future sale.

It’s not an easy experience to add value to a business while preparing to let it go, and under Mr. Arthur’s leadership, the team have made the decision to position themselves as more of a partner than a consultant. He started the busines because he was fed up at seeing so many deals fall through, with such variable service from brokers. For many, there wasn’t enough attention paid into the intricacies of a business, which caused problems at the due diligence phase of buy.

The approach of Mayfield has always been to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Care and attention is taken to understand the business, and from this information, the team work to negotiate the best possible deal. Clients trust their advice, not only because it is personable and candid, but because the Mayfield team are always on hand. They take the time to get to know both the business and the owner so that everyone involved is satisfied with the end result.

The team is deliberately small, comprising over 30 years’ experience in dental finance and accountancy. What sets Mayfield apart is the team’s careers working in mergers and acquisitions on the other side of the deal, advising some of the largest dental corporates. They know exactly what these organisations are looking for as well as how to avoid pitfalls, how to ensure deals don’t fall through and how to eliminate the need for lengthy and costly renegotiations.

Because Mr. Arthur and his team serve clients that have successful, high-end practices and who have built their business with blood sweat and tears, it is important they get the return they deserve. The financial background that the team bring to each case is second-to-none, ensuring accurate valuations and hastening the process of selling a practice as a result. As the majority must work for a period post-completion, it is paramount that they also feel comfortable with the incoming buyer and can retain their reputation too. Mayfield have proven experienced in the negotiation of renumeration packages that everyone is happy with.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought new and unique challenges, including uncertainty in the value of practices. While private practices received very little government support, they were often able to open up before NHS sites, provided they were COVID-secure. Those who have needed urgent treatment have turned to these suppliers and are likely to stay with them, creating record levels of monthly revenue. Currently, there is high demand, with a market that is particularly hot.

The value of a good broker is not to be ignored, and Mayfield are one of the best. Thanks to the care and attention that Mr. Arthur has put into building up his business, he has been able to build others to even higher standards. Their success is something to be celebrated, both now and into the future.

For more information, please contact Matt Arthur or visit

CEO Monthly Magazine Showcases the Winners of the CEO of the Year Awards 2021.

The United Kingdom, 2021 – CEO Monthly Magazine announces the winners of the CEO of the Year 2021 Awards.

CEO Monthly Magazine set up the CEO of the Year Awards program in order to recognise and award the continuous hard work and excellence of CEOs across the globe. We look to acknowledge leaders who have proven their success by providing a healthy and supportive work environment to their employees as well as offering clients with undeniably brilliant standards of services. 

Running in its fourth consecutive year, we’re focusing on awarding those who have driven their businesses to new heights of success with their skills, dedication and passion. One of our winners of 2021, Alan Kennedy, Group CEO of Little Kickers, is the perfect example of whom we’re looking to celebrate. Mr. Kennedy has been the Group CEO of Little Kickers, a global franchise business, for over three years now. The company is working on an eco-initiative. Little Kickers have received excellent customer and franchise testimonials and reviews for the work that they do for individuals and children across the board. They’ve also recently been recognized by the Growing Business Awards and the Sports Business Awards in 2021.

Emily Corner, Media Executive has commented on the success of the program: “This awards program allows our winners to display their efforts and perseverance towards their role and their firms. CEOs are not only the face of the business but are also role models for their employees and are there to encourage the growth and development of their employees.”

About CEO Monthly

A business is only as good as its leadership, and whilst it takes many hands to make a company work, CEOs hold the majority of the responsibility and power in any organisation. This is a tough challenge, and as such through this dedicated publication, brought to you by internationally renowned publishing house AI Global Media, aims to offer the very latest insight, interviews and profiles of Chief Executive Officers from across the corporate landscape.

Free to subscribe to, the publication offers a dedicated newsletter, an ever-evolving website and a series of awards designed to showcase the hard work and commitment of businesses from every market and every region.

Keeping pace with the ever-changing corporate landscape around the world, CEO Monthly’s dedicated editorial team work diligently to provide the latest news and updates, drawing on their network of contacts from across the globe who span every major industry and sector, providing comment and insight which is invaluable.

CEO Monthly Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2021 Chairperson Awards

UNITED KINGDOM, 2021– CEO Monthly magazine announces the winners of the 2021 Chairperson Awards.

Knowing how to assess and navigate the competitive economical climate we experienced over the last year can make or break a company. A chairperson should be committed to overseeing these situations are dealt with in the best possible way, not just for the future of the business, but also in the bigger picture for all those it could also affect.

The CEO Monthly Chairperson Awards were created to recognise chairpersons globally, who do exceptional work to take their business to the next level. Among this year’s winners are chairpersons working in property, education, and agriculture, to name a few.

On launch, Awards Coordinator Dean Taylor took a moment to discuss the success of this year’s programme: “This was our first year of running the Chairperson awards, and we’re all incredibly proud of how it’s gone. We offer a heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and wish them all good luck for the future.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated professionals selected for them, please visit where you can view our winner’s supplement and full winners list.




Notes to editors.


About CEO Monthly

A business is only as good as its leadership, and whilst it takes many hands to make a company work, CEOs hold the majority of the responsibility and power in any organisation. This is a tough challenge, and as such through this dedicated publication, bought to you by internationally renowned publishing house AI Global Media, aims to offer the very latest insight, interviews and profiles of Chief Executive Officers from across the corporate landscape.

Free to subscribe to, the publication offers a dedicated newsletter, an ever-evolving website and a series of awards designed to showcase the hard work and commitment of businesses from every market and every region.

Keeping pace with the ever-changing corporate landscape around the world, CEO Monthly’s dedicated editorial team work diligently to provide the latest news and updates, drawing on their network of contacts from across the globe who span every major industry and sector, providing comment and insight which is invaluable. 


About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 12 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Tech-Savviness and Diversity

Bower Talent is an ethical and data-driven recruiter specialising in support staff; any roles with a focus on operations, people, HR, marketing and comms, or admin, from reception all the way up to senior leadership positions. It is a company led on vision, a fiercely loyal and talented team and emphasis on constant innovation. CEO, Georgie Bale has steered it to great success. Recognised by CEO Monthly as Most Influential CEO 2021 – London, United Kingdom, we take the time to profile Georgie and her company.

The team at Bower Talent is unrivalled, a strong team of people who are exceptional at their jobs. It is made up of ex-industry professionals who have deep and specific knowledge of support staff roles and who highly value the company’s way of working.

Priding itself on being highly ethical, Bower Talent always puts people before profit, i.e., if a candidate is choosing between two roles and one is clearly better for them, they will be guided in the direction that most benefits them, even if it means the company will lose a fee. The company also holds a very high duty of care towards its candidates as well as a long-term approach to clients, which means it doesn’t just walk away once the deal is done.

The company also boasts its use of tech and automation which keeps it efficient at the backend, whilst helping free up the frontend humans to ensure a warm, respectful experience for candidates and clients. It also focuses greatly on data and testing to ensure proper due diligence and consistent quality in its process, with bespoke tests which are highly functional in assessing people for roles and provide great insights into the talent markets and trends. Bower Talent’s testing assesses people for the softer, core skills, regardless of their background, and it allows less unconscious bias, creating a better, more inclusive recruitment flow.

CEO, Georgie Bale’s background is as an EA/PA. She won a very competitive role as PA to the Home Secretary at a young age. This was when the Home Office was dealing with extremely serious issues on the back of 9/11 and terrorism was becoming a huge threat. Her experiences whilst working at the Home Office really tested her skills as well as her personal resilience and gave her exceptional grounding for the rest of her career. She was promoted to Head of HR for a short time before returning to support in another Government office.

After this, Georgie moved to the private sector and focused on Hedge Funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds. She always worked for the CEO/owner and, with hindsight it’s clear that her more than 15 years as a senior EA/Chief of Staff was like a very long-term MBA; she saw how a business should be run and how it definitely shouldn’t! The most successful leaders she worked for really cared about people and put them before anything else. The ones that failed were all about profits and didn’t care who got hurt along the way.

Georgie has faced and overcome several challenges throughout her career and COVID certainly has been one, but over a year later, it’s clear there have been some positive outcomes. She feels that the huge pressure on her to keep the business together forged an extremely strong core team which now means the business has deeper roots and stronger legs. The decline in day-to-day business also allowed her to flex her creative muscles and develop two more business projects, Tech Warriors (tech-stack learning platform) and Good Eggs (ethical job board), both of which have the potential to become high growth businesses on their own, and which she has big plans for. She feels that her ultimate strength as CEO is that she’s very good at new ideas and pivoting products and services to accommodate market change or uncertainty.

The exit of the company co-founder at the beginning of 2020 was another challenge as until then, Georgie had someone to bounce ideas and problems around with. Becoming the sole CEO and founder has meant she no longer has that sounding board. Whilst that has been hard, it’s also been a growth opportunity for her; she now relies more on her team and has brought in external senior figures for the advisory board. She sees the importance of not assuming a CEO can or should know it all.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, Georgie’s immediate plans are to continue the high recovery growth post-COVID and grow Bower’s client base further (they are about to confirm a Government contract) Technology will continue to be used as a centre point for keeping the business agile and fresh, and a lot of the company’s focus will remain on marketing and noise in the market to hammer home to people its unique values and offering.

Longer-term, Georgie sees herself investing more in start-ups and using her experiences and expertise to help others navigate the tough but rewarding landscape of growing a business to success.

For further information, please contact Georgie Bale or visit:

Why Successful Leadership Starts with Listening

Leadership should be a two-way street, but managers in US organizations are falling behind. According to a 2019 study, 83 percent of workers would like their managers to ask for their opinions more often.

You’re in a management role for a reason. But that doesn’t mean that your teams can’t contribute effective ideas. Equally, a key part of your role is to listen to and address their concerns.

Here, we outline how you can improve your leadership by listening to your employees.

Make performance reviews a two-way street

Most businesses will carry out monthly, quarterly, or annual performance reviews. But many won’t be using them to their full potential. In recent years, performance reviews have been criticized for focusing on looking backward instead of forward. What’s more, 30 percent of employees find them unhelpful.

While it’s important to review your employees’ performance and identify areas in which they’re doing well, as well as what they could improve on, use them as collaborative sessions. In addition to identifying actions for your team members going forward, allow them to provide feedback. Are they receiving adequate support? Do they have any ideas that could improve your team or business performance? Do they have any concerns they need you to address?

Not only will this allow you to become better at listening to your employees, but it also creates an open and inclusive environment. This is essential to making them feel comfortable sharing their concerns, opinions, and ideas in the first place.

Create forums for employees to provide ideas and feedback

First and foremost, your employees should feel comfortable contributing ideas and feeding back about areas they’d like to see improved. Creating an environment of trust is essential to this, which can in part be achieved by the above point. But so is giving your employees additional appropriate platforms to submit feedback.

Having an online forum or tool specifically for employee feedback can help you facilitate this. If you adopted a tool like Microsoft Teams during the pandemic, you could create a chat or a team in there to allow employees to submit ideas and concerns.

Allowing employees to submit feedback privately or anonymously is also an important option. They might have a concern that is important to them, but it’s not something they want to speak about publicly. This is especially true if their feedback is constructive criticism. You could use an online survey tool that allows them to share their thoughts directly rather than in a shared forum. Equally, you could utilize the same tool to allow them to do it anonymously.

Ultimately, you need honest feedback from your employees and giving them an anonymous option will make them feel more comfortable about this.

Group and prioritize the feedback

Eliciting honest feedback from your people is important. But there’s little point in this if you don’t do anything with it. Categorizing the ideas and concerns your employees are submitting will allow you to deal with them more effectively.

When collecting feedback, encourage open discussion so that employees can talk about anything on their minds, or ask for ideas or thoughts on specific areas you want to improve on. Splitting this firstly by new ideas, like a change in your strategy, and concerns, such as slow processes, is a good place to start.

Once you’ve done this, you can start to address your two strands and work out key priorities. If one theme — such as high workloads — surfaces over and over again, this should be a top priority. Having an effective change management process in place is important too, especially if your employees are contributing to your overall business goals.

Be transparent with the changes you make

However you choose to collect employee feedback, make sure you’re providing regular updates on how you’re taking this on board and responding to it. Communication is key to your team members trusting you — 41 percent of US employees think their managers should improve their communication skills.

If your company hosts regular business updates, this is a great opportunity to share your updates. Collate the feedback you’ve addressed into groups of similar ideas or concerns, and share the changes you’ve made, or plan to make, in response.

Don’t feel like you need to be limited to formal meetings either — if you have an intranet or a dedicated feedback tool, utilize this to share frequent updates on the progress you’re making. Proactively providing updates throughout the year will show your people that you’re listening to them and actioning their feedback.

There are many skills required to be a good leader. As well as being confident in your own decision making, you should also be open to listening to your employees. Whether they have ideas on how your business can improve its operations or they need to share some concerns, creating an environment that makes them feel heard and understood is important.

Keep on Improving: A Guide to Successful Business Change

The majority of businesses have had to adapt their ways of working during the pandemic, but why stop there? Having gained a taste for improvement, many companies will now be looking at new ways to update their processes, systems, and infrastructure. However, effective business change requires careful planning to ensure it is successful. 

A switch to more remote working has arguably been the most lasting business change triggered by the pandemic. Many organisations have seen first-hand that it can improve employee wellbeing and cut costs yet result in high-quality outputs. As such, this working model is likely to continue. 

In order to enable remote working, use of technology has altered, with greater use of laptops and mobile devices, video conferencing and virtual collaboration tools, as well as Cloud-based applications and storage becoming the norm. In some organisations, these changes were a knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic, but many are now considering how remote working processes can fit their longer-term business model. 

Organisations that were already investing heavily in both their people and technology before the pandemic have found themselves on the front foot throughout this period of change. For these businesses, Covid-19 acted as a catalyst, accelerating uptake of their transformation agenda. This uptake has enabled these companies to evolve their approach, considering how they can mitigate the potential risks of working in the ‘new normal’. Employees have also used this time to re-evaluate their working preferences and how they would like to work more flexibly in future.  

While attitudes towards change have become more positive, it’s important to note that there have been disadvantages too. For example, virtual meetings have made interactions more functional – no ‘water cooler conversations’ to check in with staff or develop stronger working relationships. Collaboration and mentoring have also become more challenging, as in person working can enable employees to learn more effectively. As a result, businesses must consider which aspects of flexible working best suit their overall business model and put in place activity to bolster any perceived weaknesses in this approach, from an organisation, staff and customer perspective. 

When it comes to ways of working, customers, employers, and employees no longer accept what has always been. Questioning why we do things in a certain way is vital to continuous improvement, and the pandemic has opened up conversations regarding business practices. The world feels increasingly uncertain, so being able to adapt is essential. Ensuring organisational agility is perhaps the most key learning aspect of the recent period.   

Companies need to look critically at their investment in technology, as it’s not just about enabling staff to work remotely, it’s also about investment in staff skills, engagement with customers and improving business processes. Data is a core part of this, and people should have the tools, skills, and capacity to analyse data from different sources effectively. Companies that have invested in analytics are able to make more informed decisions and adapt more easily. Improving accessibility to business data via the Cloud can also help to ensure staff have the information they need, no matter where they’re working from. 

Businesses should also consider the lessons they have learnt throughout the pandemic, whether positive or negative. As well as looking inwardly, it is also wise to assess what other organisations and sectors have done in case their choices can act as inspiration or warning. This offers an opportunity to review the company’s strategic roadmap, considering whether it is still fit for purpose and has been adapted for the long-term. 

Immediate impacts, such as a rise or fall in profits and quality of service delivery is a quick way to assess whether the current business model is effective. However, other impacts may take longer to play out, which is why communication with staff is vital. They see the advantages and disadvantages of change first-hand, so are in an ideal position to provide actionable feedback. Keeping communication open throughout change is essential, as employees’ views will likely evolve as the various stages of the transformation process are implemented. Effective communication is a core component in supporting employee wellbeing, a topic which is currently high on the agenda. 

People are pivotal to the success of a change journey – they should be brought along for its entirety and help shape it. Collaboration and survey tools can be used to support engagement, enabling employees and customers to offer their views more readily.  

Improvement is a continuous process, so businesses should prioritise the changes they want to make depending on their needs. A key question to help prioritisation is ‘Will this change make my business more effective and agile?’ By looking at the short- and long-term impact of the change, organisations can assess whether activity directly contributes towards the business.  

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to transformation projects, which is why a holistic approach to change is essential. Every business has its own strengths and weaknesses, and improvement is about identifying these and tailoring your approach to capitalise on strengths and address weaknesses over time. No one can predict the future, but if a company invests in its people and technology, and ensures alignment to strategic objectives, they are in a good place to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead. 

Securing Hospitality for the Future

In some businesses, it can be difficult to connect the artisan nature of an organisation with the commercial side that keeps it afloat. Main Course Associates thrives on being a beacon for both sides of the coin. We take a closer look at the firm, and its impressive CEO Muhammad Asif to see how they have achieved such success and why they have been recognised as Most Influential CEO 2021 – London, the United Kingdom

Consultation forms the heart of many businesses, allowing experts to drop into different organisations as required to provide vital support when it comes to developing a company. While this approach was how Main Course Associates first started, it soon became clear to CEO Muhammad Asif that it wasn’t the best way of supporting his clients.

Mr. Asif has built his business on connecting restaurants, chefs, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs with the intricate world of finance and money. His solutions ensure that they have accurate, timely and defensible financial data whenever they need it. Not only does this ensure that that they have good information to hand, but it means that they can react quickly to it and drive further success.

One of the key innovations brought forward by the Main Course Associates team was the implementation of weekly flash reporting. This mini profit and loss account provides relevant Key Performance Indicators for the businesses they work with. Instead of waiting weeks for trends to occur, it’s possible to act on the data that is available immediately. In many ways, this reflects the proactive and adaptable approach that the team has always championed, delving deeper into how to secure success in a way that goes beyond the numbers.

With clients ranging from talented chefs and entrepreneurs who need an injection of business know-how, to overseas investors looking for a foothold in the UK, it’s clear that what Mr Asif has to offer is incredibly appealing. It has allowed Main Course Associates to gain a foothold on an international level, with offices in the UK, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Finland. Such a strong position has ensured incredible results for this hardworking firm.

Much of the success of the firm is down to the work that Mr Asif has undertaken. His leadership style is focused on inspiring others and leading by example, which is by necessity inclusive. He sees the team he has built as an extended family, and it has generated a great response from staff too. Instead of forcing people to follow his orders and demands, he invites them on a journey which allows them to grow and develop at their own pace.

 As the staff learns, so too does the firm and this education has allowed them to constantly develop their skills. These are lessons which once learned can be applied to a multitude of situations. Mr. Asif’s leadership was crucial during the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 as many in the industry were adversely affected by the pandemic. Fortunately, the resilience that had been built into many of the firm’s portfolio of clients ensured that they were safe during this difficult time. The impressive results from the firm made it clear to many businesses that a strong CFO was vital and has brought the team a great deal of work coming out of this difficult time.

When looking at Mr. Asif and his work, it’s impossible not to see it as a journey built around growth and development. Throughout his career as a CEO at Main Course Associates, he has tried to develop new ideas and ways of working that will benefit his clients, his staff and himself. With such an adaptable approach, it’s little wonder that he has achieved such success.

For further information, please contact Muhammad Asif or visit

New Report Highlights Several Opportunities for Global Business Expansion

COVID-19 has brought a new level of complexity to businesses around the globe. As companies plunged into uncharted territory almost immediately, it has put at risk our safety and livelihoods.

All aspects of business have been affected by the crisis, from where and how goods are sourced to where they are purchased and sold to where work is done and how it gets done.

In order to ease the burden on businesses, governments have also injected billions into their economies. TMF Group, a leader in international business administration services, found 1,114 COVID related individual government support programs available to companies around the world. Multinational firms have many options for assistance, but it is difficult to process and manage such large volumes.

Many companies will expand internationally as the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 crisis. A recent survey of U.S. business leaders revealed that more than 36% said the experience had helped them to plan for international expansion. Complexity is another challenge for firms when they move abroad. Multinationals must be able to navigate the complex web of laws, processes and conventions that exist in every jurisdiction.

TMF Group published a report on global business complexity to help businesses navigate the complex and changing business environment. The Global Business Complexity Index ranks 77 countries based on their ease of doing business. TMF experts from each jurisdiction were interviewed in detail to determine the ranking. TMF conducted surveys in three areas: accounting, tax, rules and regulations, penalties and human resources.

Although the implications of COVID-19 on international trade and business rules are not clear, the report highlights the issues companies need to consider when considering foreign investments or distributing resources among global operations. Companies had to work hard before the pandemic to be able operate in a complex regulatory and financial environment.

While businesses must compete with local and global forces, they also need to succeed. Among the rapidly changing trends is the rapid growth of technology and the emphasis on cross-border compliance. Multinational corporations may find it costly to follow the rules of individual jurisdictions.

Indonesia was the most complex jurisdiction. The country’s large population, 260 million people, and its abundant natural resources are attractive to businesses. However, there are many barriers to doing business in the country. TMF Group discovered that the greatest obstacles to foreign ownership are restrictive laws protecting workers and limiting foreign ownership. However, the government is making efforts to liberalize its economy. This includes deregulation and tax incentives to invest in special economic areas.

South America is home to five of the ten most complicated countries in the world: Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. Brazil, for example, has many tax systems that span federal, state and municipal levels of government. There are also different rules for local and international companies. Furthermore, Brazil’s employment laws can favor employees over employers.

The United States is at the opposite end of the spectrum, and it’s the most complex business environment for multinationals. TMF Group has highlighted some key factors that make the U.S. business friendly.

  • The rules and regulations are clearly stated and publicly accessible. They can be subject to change or strict inspections. The assumption that all companies comply with the rules is the basis of the U.S. economy.
  • Financial statements audits are not required for publicly traded companies. This is in contrast to China and other large economies that still place heavy administrative burdens on multinationals to ensure compliance.
  • It streamlines tax and accounting administration and makes it easy to hire and fire employees.

Also, offshore financial centers like Curacao, Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands did well. They are becoming more complex for businesses as they respond to public pressure to enact stricter regulations and supervision in tax transparency, money laundering and beneficial ownership.

The Netherlands and Ireland are attractive destinations for foreign investments in Europe.

TMF Group concluded that global perspective, international alignment of laws and regulations and the increasing use of technology have led to greater synergy within international business. Multinational companies find it easier to navigate complex jurisdictions because of these factors.

It is important to note that countries that wish to attract foreign investment or create business-friendly environments must find the right balance among three broad trends.

Internationalism Vs. Localism

There are huge commercial opportunities for expanding operations in new areas around the globe. International business is being welcomed by governments. They are improving their processes and offering incentives to assist them in integrating into local economies. There are many jurisdictions that have had different success in creating an environment conducive to foreign direct investment.

Modernization Vs. Tradition

Modernization, in general, is about adhering to international standards and practices. Tradition is represented by localized obstacles to smooth operation. Many traditions are held by governments, regardless of whether they are laws or standard practices. These traditions can make it difficult for companies to operate.

They can add complexity to businesses because they are often out-of-date and don’t fit in the modern world.

They can be a source of idiosyncrasies that may increase the cost of complying with legislation.

Technology Vs. Simplification

A new jurisdiction must adopt new technology in order to be attractive to international businesses. This can cause a spike in complexity because jurisdictions have to adjust to digitalized systems and bridge the gap between online and paper solutions.

To be able to compete in the global economy, businesses increasingly rely on technology. Information and communication technology has been used by the least complex jurisdictions to improve their compliance mechanisms, making it easier to set up and operate a business. Technology, modernization, simplification, and unification are the key drivers to get the global economy rebounding from the pandemic. This will allow businesses to respond to market complexity more effectively.

Machine Learning: a Must-Read Introductory Guide for Managers

By Tammy Wood – Director of Global Technical SEO

Having our machines learn for us may still seem like a bit of a novel idea, but in reality, the (smart) robotic revolution has been gaining steam for years. Machine learning (ML) has been transforming companies from the inside out, and its astonishing potential isn’t showing any indication of losing steam. 

How exactly are our learning machines and software able to help us so tremendously and why, as a manager, is it becoming more and more crucial to jump on board? If you’re a bit worried, this doesn’t mean ‘crucial’ in a dystopian future, sci fi movie way. But it does mean ‘crucial’ in a staying-at-the-forefront-of-intelligent-business kind of way. 

This is because machine learning can help businesses interpret and get the most out of their data to drive smarter forward trajectories – from improving your mobile app to increasing business efficiency. It’s probably more appropriate to think of our learning machines as a type of statistics that can keep up with processing huge amounts of small-scale data much better than us human folk can. 

If you and your business want to get the most out of your data, it’s imperative to understand what machine learning is, what it can do, and ways you can maximise its benefits. This introductory guide provides all the information you need to familiarise yourself with machine learning so that it can do the most for your business.

What Is Machine Learning?

Rather than an actual robot, machine learning is better thought of as a specialized tool that can help businesses interpret data and solve problems. At its core, the concept of machine learning is about finding patterns in our data and making predictions about what is more likely to happen in the future. It turns that RPA challenge into real-time solutions and business growth.

But how does it do this? Well, machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence or AI which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn and make predictions based on this. Although the term ‘prediction’ is much of the time associated with the future, machine learning can also make predictions about things in the present.

Another way to understand how machine learning works is by thinking about how it differs from traditional software solutions. It all comes down to deductive and inductive reasoning:

  • Deduction – the traditional way to think about software solutions, deduction works on the basis of someone first identifying a problem, reasoning a solution, and then coding this solution into software. Deduction can react.
  • Induction – rather than deduction, induction works on the principle of using a machine learning algorithm that automatically discovers rules or patterns by looking at a large sample of data and then applying these patterns to still more data. Induction can predict.

With machine learning, computer systems take all available customer data and utilise it. It operates on what’s been programmed while also adapting and adjusting to new conditions or changes. Algorithms adapt to data to develop behaviours that were not programmed in advance.

How Is It Used in the Real World?

The gravity of what machine learning can accomplish really only becomes clear when you apply it to the world in which we live. So what about real-world examples of this kind of mechanical behaviour? Frankly, these examples crop up wherever you look, from automatic call distribution software to your Insta feed. Some of the most recognizable applications of ML include:

  • Image recognition software like automatic tagging on social media
  • Speech recognition software like voice dialling or appliance control (like Amazon’s Alexa)
  • Predictive analytics like predicting whether a transaction is fraudulent or not
  • Recommendation systems like those on Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify
  • Search engines like Google
  • Social-media feeds like Facebook and Twitter

This special software is gathering as much data as possible, from what genres you like watching to which statuses you are reacting to and using machine learning to make a highly specific, highly educated guess about what you might want next. Using ML to do things like automated testing on software makes way for continuous development once it’s been launched.

Machine Learning Vs Artificial Intelligence

It’s important to note that machine learning and artificial intelligence aren’t interchangeable concepts. In fact, it makes more sense to think of machine learning as a type of AI. While AI refers to the broader idea that machines can execute tasks in a smart way, machine learning is based on the idea that machines should be able to learn and adapt through experience.

Artificial Intelligence can actually be applied to machine learning, deep learning and other software techniques that solve real-world problems. In fact, artificial intelligence contains many subfields, including:

  • Machine learning automates analytical model building to find hidden insights in data without being explicitly programmed where to look or what to conclude.
  • A neural network is a kind of machine learning that mimics the workings of the human brain. It’s a computing system made up of interconnected units (like neurons) that processes information by responding to external inputs, relaying information between each unit.
  • Deep learning uses huge neural networks with many layers of processing units to learn complex patterns in large amounts of data. 
  • Computer vision relies on pattern recognition and deep learning to recognize what’s in a picture or video.

Machine Learning Methods

As you may have gathered, there are all kinds of ways to use machine learning, but generally, these algorithms are categorized as either supervised or unsupervised. Let’s take a closer look at these methods.

Supervised Machine Learning 

With supervised machine learning, algorithms apply things that have been learned to new data using labelled examples to predict future events. Starting from the analysis of a known training dataset, the learning algorithm produces an inferred function to make predictions about the future. 

Unsupervised Machine Learning 

Algorithms indicate when information used to train systems is neither classified nor labelled. It studies how systems can infer a function to describe a hidden structure from unlabeled data. Rather than figuring out the ‘right’ answer, this kind of machine learning explores data and draws inferences from datasets to describe data structures otherwise hidden from view.

Semi-supervised Machine Learning 

Semi-supervised machine learning falls somewhere in between, using both labelled and unlabelled data for training. The systems that use this method are able to considerably improve learning accuracy. Usually, semi-supervised learning is used when the acquired labelled data needs skilled and relevant resources in order to learn.

Reinforcement Machine Learning 

This style of machine learning interacts with its environment by producing actions and discovers errors or rewards. It allows machines and software to automatically determine the ideal behaviour within a specific context in order to maximize its performance. 

Automation: Maximizing Machine Learning’s Potential

The world of machine learning is huge and has massive potential. So what are some ways that your business can start using ML today? It might be easier than you think, and much of this innovation comes from harnessing automation. 

Automation is a real-world application of machine learning and it can help increase efficiency across a business or organisation by eliminating a significant amount of repetitive workplace tasks, reducing hours your employees spend on redundant tasks and helping improve productivity. Here are a few ways that automation is helping businesses.

Automating Customer Services

From automated chatbots to RPA implementation, there are many ways automation is transforming customer service. Having a dedicated automation service to answer, say, frequent customer questions, can shave response times, lower costs you might otherwise spend on hiring more staff, and free up the staff you already have.

Customer service automation also makes for more responsive and reliable standards of service, providing quality over quantity. When the potential for human error is eliminated from some of your customer service functions, customers get the answers they need and businesses don’t end up eventually paying for these humanly mistakes in the long run.

Automating HR Services

From streamlining the hiring and onboarding process to reducing errors and ensuring compliance, machine learning is helping HR functionality in a big way. HR process automation is freeing up human time and collecting, reconciling, and updating data across many different systems while giving HR workers time to advance strategic development.

Automating Sales and Marketing Services

Automation here too gives sales and marketing teams the opportunity to reach more customers and build client relationships by automating time-consuming, manual tasks. Employing sales marketing automation enables companies to automate repetitive tasks like email marketing, social media posting, and ad campaigns. Not only efficient, but it provides a more personalised experience for customers.

Machine Learning: the Bottom Line

Although machine learning has the potential to transform the entire way we think about conducting business, it’s important to remember that machine learning is a tool rather than a solution. It can help you understand your customers better and make smarter decisions with data, sure, but only if there’s a dedicated team behind the scenes.

Most Influential CEO, 2021 – the USA

Alpha-G is fusing generation Alpha and artificial intelligence to form exemplary AI and augmented reality products. Lead by an ambitious and tenacious guiding hand in CEO Sergio Emanuel Cusmai, this company is quickly and efficiently blazing its own trail to the top.

A company specialising in ‘turning virtual into real’, Alpha-G is a company working in augmented and virtual reality solutions with realistic looks for a variety of industries. With clients across a wide cross-section of sectors, its work can be found in telemedicine, education, culture, tourism, and more, and its AI solutions go way beyond chatbots. Furthermore, its telecommunications and teleworking have revolutionised the ‘innovation culture’ of its client’s companies in a world that is becoming increasingly digital. Headed up by leading mind Sergio Emanuel Cusmai, Alpha-G has been the result of years of learning how to lead effectively, and the time and effort he has invested in these skills shows in Alpha-G’s operation from the bottom to the top.

When Sergio first started his career in leadership, he found delegation difficult. For many in leadership positions this is something they can empathise with; when one cares about something deeply, they find it hard to let it go. However, it was a skill that required his attention, and so he honed it carefully, to make Alpha-G a company that works by people being able to delegate work as required, getting the right eyes on the right tasks. Sergio tried many different formulas when crafting the correct one for Alpha-G to use, working with experts and a huge team of developers, setting goals and rewards for good work, and taking feedback in order to adapt to criticism – all of this has resulted in the excellent company that now exists. Sergio champions the idea that to succeed, a person must be given the opportunity to fail and grow from that failure.

Since its humble beginnings in 2019, Alpha-G has come a long way; and still has many more goals that it yet wishes to accomplish under the leadership of Sergio. However, its achievements up to this point should also be celebrated. Working with augmented reality, virtual reality, natural language processing, and ambient data, it developed its Augmented Presence product, its third and most distinctive landmark breakthrough. This is a streaming service that is facilitated by AR – it allows a projection of an individual to be streamed as though they were standing in the room with a client, such as a salesperson, perhaps with a product the client is interested in. This product was successfully tested when a rock band used it to ‘visit’ two lucky fans who won a competition.

It wishes to be an effective business tool to share what it knows, and to help this technology become far more widely accessible, believing that it has numerous and broad applications that have yet to be realised. This begins with its clients. Alpha-G’s clientele are global leaders and often come to it prompted by word of mouth referrals. Due to this, it is currently upgrading its marketing, all staff working tirelessly to push Alpha-G to greater success. With an open culture and holding the principle of curiosity at its heart, the internal environment is exemplary; this allows them to do the best work, even in the crucible of challenge that was Covid-19.

Its staff facilitated Alpha-G’s elegant pivot to telemedicine, taking it to a new level by applying its augmented reality services to the solutions it provided with this pivot, and dedicated to being the company to help companies recover their bottom line by use of its technologies. Sergio is honoured to be surrounded by people who are so motivated and continually prove their work with each project. Moving forward into the rest of the decade, Alpha-G cannot disclose its upcoming work at this time, but Sergio will be working hard to keep his finger on the pulse of his market’s needs to adapt accordingly.

For more information, please contact Sergio Emanuel or visit

Millbrook Healthcare: Supporting the NHS to Support Patients

Run by influential CEO Phillip Campling, Millbrook Healthcare Group reflects on its past operations and the acquisition that changed everything. We caught up with the CEO himself to find out what has made the company pull ahead of the competition so dramatically.

Made up of four companies that provide products and services to support the health and social care infrastructure in the UK, Millbrook Healthcare Group was founded in 1995. Since this beginning, its services have experienced heavy demand, propelling the company into further growth when it became the leading provider of community equipment services, home improvement agency services, wheelchair and mobility aids, and care technology. Its services are used by the NHS and other social care groups, and it has developed a high standard of excellence over the course of working with these bodies. This allows it to ensure it can always respond to the needs of its service users. Millbrook Healthcare is committed to giving such users the support they need to continue living in the comfort of their own home, championing working care into their home life and ensuring it fits the individual instead of moving them away from home care. Its specialisms also include outsourced clinical wheelchair services. One of its acquisitions, Consolor, was bought in 2018 to allow Millbrook Healthcare to provide yet more specialist services; this time seating users who require complex posture support.

Its most recent acquisition, however, was Ross Care. This merger has allowed Millbrook Healthcare’s services to be brought to a wider user base by allowing further expansion into the North of England with wheelchair repair services. All told, the business has an excellent turnover rate that exceeds over £155 million, with a huge team of 1200 colleagues across 45 centres. This impressive expansion has allowed it to improve the quality of home care for many more users, as the decisions of the CEO have aided in further supporting the services that seek to provide this care. Starting out as a family run company in the 1940s, the current CEO Phillip Campling joined Millbrook Healthcare in 2008 as managing director. He aided in the building of the company under the previous owner, Colin Croll, and took over as CEO after Millbrook Healthcare was acquired by Cairngorm Capital in 2019 when the family decided to sell all its shares.

The sale was directly followed by a boom in investment growth for its services and systems; but one of the most notable priorities was Millbrook Healthcare turning its focus towards developing its teams. Further building upon one of its founding pillars, the concept of a good team making a good company, it sought to further encourage the following code: care and respect for colleagues and service users, accountability and pride, a readiness to learn, a dedication to enhancing the lives of others, and a commitment to being socially responsible, ethical, and transparent. In putting significantly more effort into this, it fundamentally strengthened its foundations, allowing it to fortify its position in the industry as its team upskilled and developed. This also facilitated the permeation of its core vision throughout the entire company. Namely, enhancing the health and wellbeing of the communities it serves with empathic, advanced and effective care solutions. Yes, its services are purchased by health and social care bodies, but the most important person in this transaction is the end user receiving the product or service.

When he joined the company, Phillip Campling began setting it on the path to diversifying its services and supply chains. Now, as CEO, he retains his emphasis on ensuring that these are vertically integrated, allowing Millbrook Healthcare to provide competitive services at better value. This internal betterment and development have been continuing throughout the past year even during the pandemic, when it was incredibly busy supporting its service users. During this time, it also helped the NHS in discharging patients thus decreasing the pressure on hospitals. Looking forward to a lucrative future in 2021 and 2022, Phillip Campling forecasts seeing his company grow into further success. Millbrook Healthcare will be looking to grow within its contract markets, expecting a surge in tenders once the dust of the pandemic has settled, and maintaining optimism regarding further new opportunities in e-commerce. To this end, it has been developing a new business to client solution and expanding its care monitoring centre, which was brought online in March of this year. With the support of an incredible team behind him and the ability to work under pressure, the CEO has every faith that he and his colleagues will continue to thrive in their dynamic industry.

For more information, please contact Philip Campling or visit

National Worklife Week: New Research Reveals Exactly What Employees Want From Their Career

This week (11th – 15th October) marks National Work-life Week – a national event celebrated to raise awareness of workplace wellbeing and work-life balance. 

  • Recent research by Bupa UK has revealed key areas of development employers must focus on to support employee wellbeing in 2021 and beyond.
  • Google searches for negative workplace environments are on the rise – 357% increase in searches for the mental health condition ‘boreout’.
  • Employees are actively searching for career development advice and tips, with a surge in searches for ‘career development plan’ and ‘job progression’.
  • Naomi Humber – Clinical Psychologist and Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa UK reveals how to give your career a boost

Employees are turning to Google for advice on coping with negative working environments

New research from Bupa UK found a drop in employee wellbeing and job satisfaction, with 34% of older workers (55-64) finding the workplace less inclusive when working remotely. Similarly, 17% of employees reported longer working hours resulted in a negative impact on their mental health.

Naomi Humber, Clinical Psychologist and Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa UK explains, “over the past year we have all faced uncertainty and change in our working lives, so it is no surprise many employees have experienced workplace health conditions such as, boreout, anxiety and presenteeism.

As we look beyond 2021, businesses must make employee wellbeing initiatives a focus. Providing access to health services, promoting work-life balance and career progression opportunities, are all steps employers can take to boost employee wellbeing. As a result, businesses will benefit from a talented, resilient, and motivated workforce.

Negative work environments have a huge impact on employee wellbeing, job satisfaction and engagement. Before addressing factors that contribute to poor working environments, it is first important to understand the signs and symptoms of each condition”.

An analysis into our searching habits on Google found toxic workplace trends are on the rise:

357% increase in Google searches for ‘boreout’:

Boreout is a negative workplace condition you experience when you feel as though your work is repetitive or doesn’t challenge your abilities enough and can often leave you feeling anxious, stressed, or fatigued.

With multiple lockdowns and for some decreased working hours it’s no surprise many employees have experienced boreout over the last year.

180% increase in Google searches for ‘imposter syndrome at work’:

Imposter syndrome is a form of self-doubt. Often those who experience imposter syndrome are high achievers and find it difficult to accept their achievements and praise.

It is normal to experience feelings of self-doubt from time to time, especially when starting a new job or taking on a new responsibility. However, with the increase of remote working, national lockdowns and so much change to our working lives, the pressure to perform I all aspects of life have been amplified. As a result, many UK workers will have experienced imposter syndrome.

89% increase in Google searches for ‘anxiety at work’:

Anxiety is a response to stress, stress and can leave you feeling, unsettled or worried about the future. Work anxiety can be caused by multiple factors such as job insecurity or a high workload.

Over the past year we have all faced uncertainty and change in our working lives, resulting in an increase in those experiencing anxiety in the workplace.

83% increase in Google searches for ‘presenteeism’:

Presenteeism is a workplace phenomenon, where employees continue to work although they may be experiencing poor health. There are lots of things that can cause presenteeism. For example, an employee may not take sick leave as they can’t afford to take the time off work due to illness.

With a global pandemic causing a recession and job insecurity, it’s not surprising that absences for sickness were lower in 2020. However, encouraging them to take the time off to recover when they are ill, results in a healthy, engaged and productive team.

UK employees are actively searching for career development advice and tips

Bupa research also found employees are looking to progress their careers and develop their skill set:

  • 133% increase in Google searches for ‘positive work environment’
  • 60% increase in Google searches for ‘career development plan’
  • 69% increase in Google searches for ‘personal development goals’
  • 55% increase in Google searches for ‘job progression’

Career development supports employee wellbeing, resulting in an engaged and motivated team. Employers should look to coach and develop their team’s skillset, building on each employee’s individual strengths so they can reach their potential.

Naomi Humber, Clinical Psychologist and Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa UK, shares how managers can support their team with career development.

1. Check in and provide regular feedback

Talk to your team about their role, find out any areas they enjoy as well as areas they’d like to progress – this will help you to support them in achieving their goals.

Similarly, set time aside for annual and quarterly reviews to help your team visualise their future with your business, as this will ensure your employees stay engaged and feel valued.

2. Share new opportunities

Lead by example and share further learning opportunities with your team. For example, putting a member of your team forward to attend a learning session or industry networking event.

Further learning doesn’t have to be directly linked to your current role and may open you up to new opportunities for career progression and personal growth.

3. Promote workplace wellbeing

When supporting employees with career development it is important to focus on various workplace wellbeing concerns such as boreout and anxiety which may impact on job satisfaction and the success of everyone to reach their potential.

Promote wellbeing initiatives such as work-life balance and access to healthcare to create a positive work environment and reduce the impact of work-related illnesses such as stress and presenteeism.

4. Continue to pursue your own career goals

To be successful in supporting your team with developing their career, continue to set yourself new goals to achieve. Recognising your strengths and achievements and working towards new goals can help to boost your own self confidence. You can do this by, setting time aside to develop your own skillset, as this will help you to grow both professionally and personally.

Issue 10 2021

Welcome to the October issue of CEO Monthly.

As always, CEO Monthly is dedicated to providing the latest news and features across the business world to our readership. By sharing knowledge, insights, expertise and success stories from around the globe, we aim to inspire individuals and promote positivity in a world that is in a constant state of evolution.

After a period of almost two years that have been trying for so many on so many levels – be it emotionally, financially, professionally or otherwise – in the corporate world, it has required the steady hands and confident guidance of CEOs and business leaders to maintain stability and continued development in the face of multifaceted adversity.

However, now more than ever, it is clear that to achieve such calm and resilience in such circumstances, these leaders put a great deal of trust in the people who support them. Whether it be in a small family-run business or a large, multinational corporation, people are integral to success.

That is certainly the sentiment of entrepreneur Wagner Pontes, CEO of our cover company for this month, D4U USA Group. A network of businesses across industries, D4U is tapping into the potential of people to support a myriad of companies enjoy incredible success as we enter an unprecedented era in the corporate world.

We invite you to join us as we explore similar success stories from around the globe in this issue of CEO Monthly and wish you all the best for the month ahead.

A Helping Hand

With a brand-new CEO at its helm, TaskRabbit, the global service platform, is preparing for the next stage in its evolution, a move which has been accelerated by the global pandemic. We find out more about the role TaskRabbit has played throughout the Covid-19 crisis, and how CEO Ania Smith has begun to make her mark on the international digital enterprise.

TaskRabbit is a dynamic service platform designed to make life easier by connecting users with skilled and reliable ‘Taskers’ from within their local community, who can help them with a myriad of odd-jobs and errands, freeing up the users’ time to be more productive. From minor home repairs and wall mounting to moving furniture and sweeping flats to waiting in queues and rushing passports to the airport to avoid travel crises; TaskRabbit is the ultimate destination for solutions of all shape and size, covering more than fifty categories of tasks.

For Taskers, the TaskRabbit platform opens up a world of opportunity, whether it be for earning extra income or building their own business. The platform’s ease of use and multitude of capabilities means that Taskers can manage the back end of businesses with minimal fuss, allowing them to focus on delivering high quality services in a timely and conscientious manner. The importance of independent contractors in the global economy has never been so clear as it is now during the pandemic, when individuals have relied on those ‘household heroes’ for carrying out essential work such as bringing food and medicine to vulnerable people who can’t leave the house.

As the central ethos of TaskRabbit centres around neighbours helping neighbours and supporting local communities, the platform has developed to support the demand that has seen an accelerated increase owing to the pandemic. As many Taskers began to offer their services for free, TaskRabbit launched its volunteer category in the early stages of the pandemic to enable those who were struggling financially to access the support of their local community. As a result, TaskRabbit has become a more highly valued resource than ever before.

This applies to Taskers too, who are able to create meaningful income on their own terms thanks to the growth of the shared economy and two-sided marketplaces like TaskRabbit. The platform provides the perfect launchpad for entrepreneurs looking to drive innovation in the way they work, benefiting from the flexible working hour model that is unique to TaskRabbit and their ability to take home 100% of their rates and tips, thereby enabling them to increase and strengthen their role as independent contributors to the current and post-pandemic economy.

Taskers and users alike are also able to benefit from TaskRabbit’s strategic partnership with IKEA, enabling access to support for tasks around the home and to opportunities for working on household tasks. The relationship that TaskRabbit has built with IKEA has been fundamental to maintaining a well-funded and healthy business that can endure adversity and crisis and as such, will continue to be prioritised in the ongoing evolution of the platform.

This is just one aspect of the plans for TaskRabbit’s future that CEO Ania Smith has focused her efforts on since being appointed in August 2020. She is also facilitating the continuous development of TaskRabbit from the auction-type platform that it was conceived as in 2014 to what it is today, while simultaneously growing the global reach of the platform. With the launch in Portugal in November 2020 and in Italy in March 2021, Ania has seen TaskRabbit successfully enter its seventh and eighth markets globally, in addition to the US, UK, Canada, France, Spain and Germany.

Ania is at the head of a team of 250 that is dispersed across San Francisco, New York, London and Austin, and is defined by its values that focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion, which has led to the development of a leadership team that is 77% female. Ania’s twenty years of leadership experience have seen her grow to recognise the value of surrounding oneself with a team of experts who can be trusted for their support. As a result, she is a leader with empathy and compassion, who prioritises listening to the different perspectives and experiences of her diverse team in order to generate motivation and inspiration throughout.

Prior to joining TaskRabbit, Ania worked with UberEats and Airbnb, primarily focusing on the supply side of each business and looking after couriers and hosts. She has also managed strategy and growth for other major organisations such as Walmart eCommerce and Expedia, all of which have contributed to a twenty-year career focused on scaling and building multi-sided marketplaces, with a particular interest in enhancing the overall experience for all sides of the marketplace. Thus, as she settles into her new role at the helm of TaskRabbit, Ania is looking to make her own mark on the company by looking in particular at Tasker management and how their experience of the TaskRabbit platform can be optimised. As she does so, with the support of her team, Ania will facilitate the ongoing evolution of TaskRabbit as it plays its part as a vital pillar of communities across the globe.

For more information, please contact Ania Smith or visit

British CEO Secures Swedish Success

When Paul Evans started working for EasyTelecom in November 2016, he couldn’t have known that he would become the company’s CEO the following August. Since his appointment, he has seen the firm through many unique challenges. Now, with the firm on the rise, this British icon of business has been recognised for his success as he is named Most Influential CEO, 2021 – Sweden. We take a closer look to find out more.

The world of telecommunications has been transformed over the last few years, with new technologies playing a key role in its expansion and development. A natural part of this success is down to strong leadership in challenging times and no leader has ensured the success of EasyTelecom like Paul Evans.

When Paul first arrived at EasyTelecom, it was as a project manager, with responsibilities for development and deployment with a focus on timescale/budget. He also planned expansion and entry into new markets both technical and geographic. This growth that he was responsible for in this role saw his instalment as CEO where he has taken these plans and executed them incredibly efficiently.

This achievement was thanks, in no small part, to a background of IT and how best to incorporate that knowledge into the way in which the telecommunications industry is serviced. The last two decades have seen Paul, working for several different European telecom service providers. By working across such a range of different backgrounds, he has been able to combine these experiences to achieve a remarkable success.

The strength of EasyTelecom comes from its ability to work within the telecommunications industry. Paul’s rise to the role of CEO reflects the way in which the company is always looking to the future. No other approach would have allowed the team to foresee developments and trends in quite the same way. Indeed, this approach has ensured that before such developments become commonplace, there is already significant support for such systems built into the very fabric of the services that EasyTelecom offers.

Much of the team’s work revolves around being an enabler and provider for MVNOs, operators and resellers. Historically, much of this work, and most of the firm’s success has revolved around the Swedish market, but under Paul’s purview, the firm has been able to expand its offerings into new and exciting territories with the future success of the company very much focused in this area.

Part of the key to the firm’s success is their approach which embraces the potential of their small, but nimble operation. EasyTelecom was an early entrant into the independent provision of telephony services and found that there was a lot that could not be done by other parties or was cumbersome. The result, therefore, was a decision to build in-house, instead. The team is now proud to say that they have developed and provided numerous systems for the provisioning, routing, and billing services for MVNO’s, resellers and operators in Sweden, Denmark and Australia, as well as strategic partners in amongst others USA, Cyprus, Spain and the UK.

The growth of the firm, therefore, is not dependant on any other operator. Instead, when the team at EasyTelecom see the need to extend their services, they can take the appropriate measures at their own speed.  In enabling as much control as possible over their operation, the team at EasyTelecom have been able to serve their customers to an incredibly high standard. It’s a service that is certain not to be ignored.

The success of this independently minded approach enabled EasyTelecom during 2020 to be providing and supporting the largest independent operators of telephony services across Sweden handling over 18 million minutes of calls a month and in excess of 3000 concurrent calls during peak times.  This impressive achievement is a credit not only to the team, but to the leadership who continue to guide them to greater heights. The decision to always look forward can be seen clearly in how Paul operates, and in the direction that the company has taken. It is consistently bold and ambitious in equal measure.

To ensure that clients can thrive in their unique environments, the team at EasyTelecom have developed a variety of bespoke business models for their services. With a platform that is built specifically on modularisation, it’s easy to enable the services that are required as well as easily implementing the new bespoke modules designed at EasyTelecom to meet customer requirements and market developments. Such an approach ensures success for all parties, as care and attention are applied throughout.

For MVNO partners, there is the obvious selection of services that goes from SIM Card personalisation through rating and billing to financial performance and accounting, but there is also the advanced switching and routing platform that sits quietly in the background. This is key to the enabling of advanced telephony solutions for companies, which includes PBX, call recording, IVR, preferred routing, LCR, fail-back routing, MEX services, conference calls and many more.

The system is carefully kept over a range of strategically selected locations built to function as a singular unit.  Specifically, and deliberately avoiding the clamour for cloud computing is a mainstay of EasyTelecom, maintaining complete control over their systems means they can ensure impressively high service delivery levels which is managed through their own NOC. Because the service that EasyTelecom offers is so broad, they are in demand from start-ups and established firms alike.

Another advantage of the team’s modular approach is their incredible capacity for growth. Instead of having to upgrade the whole system, new modules for specific purposes can be added as and when they are necessary. When businesses move to EasyTelecom, they gain an enormous amount of flexibility in the way they operate. The growth and expansion of a company comes simply as all the functionality is contained within a single system with a single interface. This relative simplicity is indicative of the reason behind the firm’s astonishing success.

When EasyTelecom took on Paul Evans, they could not have known he would be the man to define their future. That said, he has been an incredible force for the company, allowing the team to thrive in uncertain times, pushing them to achieve the truly remarkable. We celebrate his astonishing success, and the success he has brought, and continues to bring to this forward-thinking firm.

For further information, please contact Paul Evans via email at [email protected]

Championing Accessible Automation Technologies

Working hard to make advanced automation technologies available to all, Mekkanos is a young company that has quickly made an impact on its market. Fuelled by the drive of CEO Sree Ganesh, its work has brought it notoriety as it helps budding businesses get the software they need to succeed.

A business dedicated to helping other companies achieve their best, Mekkanos works hard to give its clients the leg up they need to take their work to the next level. In this way, Mekkanos is modern company with a contemporary vision and a fresh attitude to its work, transforming businesses using intelligent automation technology, creating industry specific software that will provide leadership solutions and streamline processes. It knows that often lack of good internal processes can be a barrier to further growth. In taking this burden off a client by introducing them to new ‘digital workers’ that take care of specific elements of work for them, its clients can focus on achieving the goals that truly matter.

Now more than ever, in a world still suffering from the impacts of a global pandemic, businesses have been forced to reassess internal workflows and operations. Many have had to pivot to fully online remote working, and many more have experienced significant difficulties with the need for increased onboarding of more staff in this new environment. This is where Mekkanos has been able to step up to the plate. A relatively young company, CEO Sree Ganesh started it at the beginning of 2020, and he has worked hard to grow its client list and support as many businesses as possible through this trying time. The business has benefitted massively from the mind behind its creation, as Sree brought with him his previous experience in developing, implementing and adopting new technologies, as well as the knowledge he gained from earning his degree in Engineering.

He has ensured Mekkanos’ core principle has remained the idea of making streamlining technologies more accessible. Many businesses found themselves constrained by the cost of Mekkanos’ competitors services, unable to divert the funds when revenue streams were already suffering, and Mekkanos saw this. In response, its services have been specifically developed to be good value for money and to help the companies that need it the most. Its eventual goal is to make these new and invaluable organisational automation solutions available to all businesses. This will hugely cut down on human error in places where accuracy matters the most, improving productivity and decreasing costs across the board.

Working with several prestigious partners and with a highly skilled team of people behind it, the CEO ensures all of Mekkanos’ solutions are constantly in upgrade and development, making them the best they can be. It is this consistent competitive mindset that sets Mekkanos apart from the rest, showing that value for money does not mean one has to scrimp on quality. This business has grown exponentially since its inception, with a client list that has quickly expanded, and facilitated securing new bases in the USA, UK, and India. Its services have now also expanded to include visual process automation, conversational process automation, and robotic process automation.

Its biggest clients are in the staffing, healthcare, and cosmetics industries, but this list is also growing. Mekkanos’ team is predominantly young talent with big visions, and all hold an ambition which fuels the company in moving forward, a huge part of what has put it on the map. It also shows no signs of stopping as it moves on from here, with big goals coming up on its road to success that it is in prime position to achieve. Working with its major partners, it will be striving to break into the South-East Asian, North American, and European markets next, updating its existing expertise in everything from RPA and AI to ML and Blockchain. It is also working hard on projects that are soon to be unveiled, such as one combining RPA and Data Modelling to create a seamless Data Relations Engine. As it takes its market segment by storm, Mekkanos is expecting a further 100% growth over the next 12 months, excited to see where this will lead it next.

For further information, please contact Sree Ganesh or visit

The World of Tomorrow

Bywire News is a vision of the future for the news industry. It allows readers to see the best of independent news on a single platform. Under the leadership of Michael O’Sullivan, the firm has achieved the remarkable. For his efforts, Mr. O’Sullivan has been recognised as Most Influential CEO, 2021 – Richmond-Upon-Thames, the United Kingdom for his work in this disruptive field. We take a closer look to find out more.

What does it mean to be accountable for your actions? For the team at Bywire News, it means to create space where mistakes and errors can be called out. It means denouncing fake news as opposed to doubling down. It means taking a platform which is often maligned and creating somewhere full of hope for the future.

Bywire News is that future. Today, democracy is at the risk of total collapse as we slip steadily towards a post truth, post fact society. Bywire offers a way around that, with accountability and attribution built into the very fabric of how this new web 3.0 decentralised app, network, and web platform works. The team’s technology is stored on the blockchain, which means it cannot be censored or blocked by hostile corporations and tyrannical governments. The truth will remain available to the public, regardless of the censor.

With big tech, decisions can be made a million miles away, but the work of Bywire is explicitly transparent and democratic. The Bywire network is government by an executive council, which is made up of its publishers and creators. Sitting on the council is by democratic means and is renewed regularly. Readers are invited to participate in as much or as little of the democratic process as they wish.

At the heart of this start-up is Mr. O’Sullivan, a man who has always run his own businesses and gone his own way. An entrepreneurial spirit has always been in his blood and has led him along numerous paths. While a man with a passion for web development and how this medium can be used, he is also incredibly politically active, working for the Labour Party, Vote Leave and being a founder of Labour Future. These two interests, combined, formed the heart of Bywire as an idea – one which could change the world.

Mr. O’Sullivan started Bywire with the idea that the public wants to consume news through media with greater trust. They don’t want news put through a political filter, but presented in a way that is as accurate and non-partisan as possible. Knowing that many are suspicious of models which provide free content in return for data collection, Bywire allows publishers to earn revenue from the Bywire democratic ad-network and the revolutionary micro-payments and reward token systems, build around the unique Bywire crypto token: Wirebit.

As a relatively young CEO, in a new and exciting position of the market, it’s clear that Mr. O’Sullivan’s challenges are going to be unique. Currently, however, it’s the growth of the business that is the biggest difficulty. Expanding at the team’s current rate brings difficulties in the form of scaling issues and urgency, but they are also challenges that are good for any business to have. Currently, the team are exploring options for new investors who share the firm’s strong sense of ethics. Finding the right person is key, and it’s worth taking the time to ensure they’re a good fit to secure the future of the firm.

When we think of news, we think of whether it can be trusted. Mr. O’Sullivan has developed a platform where everyone can trust what is being offered. Using blockchains and cryptocurrencies, he has secured freedom of speech and incredible levels of accountability for all. We celebrate his success and look forward to what the future brings.

For further information, please contact Michael O’Sullivan or visit

Next Generation Care

Despite being one of the most important industries in the UK today, the care sector remains one of the slowest to adopt new technology into its administrative operations. Founder of Fusion Care Solutions, Martin Jones, tells us how his company and its innovative cloud-based software is providing a much-needed update to the industry.

When Managing Director Martin Jones established Fusion Care Solutions with the support of four care sector professionals in 2010, it was with a vision to bring the administrative systems of the care sector up to date. Historically, the sector had been slow to adopt new technologies into its operations, favouring paper-based systems that are inefficient and increasingly outdated.

Built on years of experience in the long-term care industries and expertise in the development of care specific software, Fusion Care Solutions is an innovative, user-friendly software designed to enhance administration processes in care homes. The cloud-based software offers end-to-end solutions in a single-entry portal through which teams at residential care homes can manage Staffing, Time and Attendance, Resident and Care Planning, and Task Systems. Since its creation over a decade ago, the Fusion platform has continued to evolve to serve its users as effectively as possible.

Strong client relationships are consequently of paramount importance to the team at Fusion, in order that the consistent development of its software aligns to the needs and demands of its network of care homes. “Our USP is our ability to develop our product quickly to benefit our clients,” states Martin. As such, Fusion has built a reputation for proactive, reliable and friendly customer support that is dedicated to delivering cutting-edge products. “Our clients know we are there to help and assist in training and support in a timely manner when required,” continues Martin. “Given that currently our sales are doubling year on year, we are confident that we are achieving our vision to bring to the sector a quality product enabling our clients to run highly effective, efficient and profitable care-centric businesses with enduring value.”

Martin puts a great deal of that success down to his team. “I can guide and manage but the team has the talent to turn ideas into reality. Many of my staff started working with me over fifteen years ago as young men and women eager to do a great job and they continue to have that work ethic today.

“It’s important to have a good working environment,” he continues. “It’s not all about getting your head down, but also enjoying the company of your colleagues, which I firmly believe improves productivity and quality.” As the leader of his business, Martin believes his primary responsibility is to provide a workplace in which people are happy to come to work. He also finds that he is strongest as a leader when he stays true to himself. “Trying to be the manager you aren’t doesn’t fool anyone. I’ve come across this many times in my career and seen the negative impacts it can have on both staff and managers.”

The last few years have truly shown the strength of the Fusion team, which has overcome great adversity, not least in the form of Covid-19 and its significant impacts on the care industry. However, Fusion’s quick adjustments to deal with data relating to Covid-19 meant that the firm has seen growth in demand, with those care homes that were still reliant on paper-based systems realising they were not equipped to deal with the modern challenges of the care sector.

Fusion has faced other challenges as an SME as well, battling with the influx of larger software companies buying out its competitors and providing them with more funds for marketing. Although Fusion has been approached to sell, Martin made the decision to maintain its position as an SME. “My challenge has been to target the smaller care operators who appreciate our customer-focused offering. This has led to us having a very broad customer base with loyal clients resulting in few customer losses and excellent recurring revenue streams, which in turn increases the value of our business.” As Fusion continues to develop, its focus remains on increasing that value by improving its products with the help of the feedback and regulatory needs of its clients.

Having successfully run businesses for more than thirty years, Martin is beginning to turn his attention to finding someone to take over from him at the helm of Fusion in the near future. The perfect candidate is one who will bring fresh enthusiasm and new ideas to the table, and securing the individual who will confidently lead Fusion into the next generation of care will be Martin’s greatest, but most exciting challenge yet.

For business enquiries, contact Martin Jones from Fusion Care Solutions Ltd at

Nurturing Growth

Acara Bradbury, CEO of AvA-V, is a born leader, who has been in managerial positions since she left school at 16. Today, she is leading AvA-V, client focused business of Cheshire dedicated to unlocking the potential of a business and its people to facilitate productive and sustainable growth. Acara tells us more as she celebrates her recent recognition as the Most Influential CEO 2021 for Cheshire.

For Acara Bradbury, life’s greatest lessons began at the age of just sixteen, when she left school with a handful of GCSEs to take up a full-time career for a Transport and Accommodation company, realising that to truly get the most out of life, she needed to start putting the work in. Her unerring ambition and drive meant that Acara was given complete responsibility in only four weeks, charged with managing employees and clients with professionalism and care. At the age of sixteen, therefore, Acara began a lifelong journey of leadership.

Several years later, Acara met her husband David who, with her support, began his own training business. Twelve months after the company’s inception, Acara joined him to invest herself fully in supporting the growing business that was expanding internationally. As years passed and David and Acara’s family grew with the addition of Ava, so too did their business, which has since been named AvA-V, in part after Acara and David’s beloved daughter. In addition to the training side of the business, AvA-V introduced two additional divisions: strategy and recruitment. As David focused on the training division, he handed the reins as CEO over to Acara, who continues to lead AvA-V today.

AvA-V is a Cheshire-based consultancy that believes in the power and potential of people, and therefore seeks to support organisations in creating a culture in which individuals thrive so that teams can flourish in order to generate sustainable and successful business growth. Across its three divisions- Training, Strategy and Recruitment – AvA-V delivers bespoke solutions curated by a global team of experts dedicated to ensuring returns on investments for clients.

Within the Training division, AvA-V offers a range of courses and programmes that can be delivered virtually or in person to enhance the skillset of individuals and teams. The firm’s V Range Solutions offer a choice of programmes that clients are able to choose from and which form the foundations for tailored training sessions within a range of fields, including sales, customer service, and leadership.

In Recruitment, AvA-V is committed to getting to know a business profoundly on every level, so that it can find the right employees to support it in driving forward towards its mission in line with its values. Once it has secured the right individuals, AvA-V is able to offer its extensive training resources to enable a smooth integration for new hires and their employers that will become a launchpad for successful progression.

Finally, AvA-V’s Strategy division focuses on providing experienced leadership – or the ‘V-Team’ – to organisations across the globe to work with CEOs and Senior Management teams to develop and enhance their performance. The V-Team adheres to the AvA-V Formation, a philosophy that exists at the heart of the company and is influenced by the V formation in which geese fly.

The team consists of experts who ‘fly’ behind the client, bringing their unique expertise to the table to support the client in a strategic process that coincides with the work of others in the team to generate comprehensive, bespoke solutions. Having worked with companies like Stanley Black & Decker, Seven Brothers Brewery, Micro Focus, Totally Wicked and Henry Schein, across a myriad of industries, AvA-V knows that one size does not fit all when it comes to business solutions, and its AvA-V Formation has been meticulously designed accordingly.

As a company that operates all around the world, AvA-V has inevitably been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, predominantly owing to the fact its team is no longer able to travel around the world to meet clients. The result, however, is a business that is much more efficient, utilising digital platforms to communicate with clients in a way that is easier and less time-consuming, and has paved the way for other process to be digitised too, such as recruitment fairs and assessment centres. Activity has therefore remained consistent for AvA-V and enabled it to continue moving towards its objectives for growth and development. For Acara, this has predominantly been facilitated by her team.

It has taken many years of development for Acara to be in a position in which she wholly trusts her team to have autonomy and the freedom to make mistakes, recognising that by doing so, they as a united organisation grow to be a stronger entity. This is a skill that has been acquired through years of leadership and one that she continues to develop alongside other capabilities, including juggling motherhood with management.

However, with the support of David and her team and her own unwavering drive and ambition, Acara is triumphing in her many responsibilities, developing as a leader and growing her business simultaneously. In doing so, she aims to nurture and inspire the next generation of young leaders throughout her community, empowering women of all ages as they take on the world of business.

For further information, please contact Acara Bradbury or visit

One Step Ahead of Innovation

The hospitality industry has experienced a strange and transformative period since early 2020, with the repercussions set to alter operations within for good. As Jason Jefferys celebrates recognition as the Most Influential CEO 2021 of London, UK, he tells us about how he and his team at POS8 have brought his vision of reimagined mobile order and payment systems in hospitality and entertainment to life through FETCH.

Created by POS8, a UK based developer of ready-made interactive leisure and entertainment software, FETCH is the new mobile order and payment system that has been reimagined to give users a simple, efficient and contactless way to take orders and view vital customer insights in real time. Serving SMEs and franchises throughout the hospitality industry, FETCH is unmatched in its industry for its extensive capabilities that mean instant ordering powered by AppClips and Instant Apps is possible without needing to download an app or scan a QR code. Restaurants, bars, hotels, cafes, and even sport stadiums and events are now benefiting from the convenience of FETCH for both staff and customers.

The customisable app is easy to set up and use, and is suitable for use on smartphones, tablets, or a venue’s existing POS to receive orders. Users need only upload their menu, prices, timed offers and order prep times, and visitors have easy access to all the information and services they need on their own phone. However, while mobile order and payment systems are by no means a concept unique to POS8, FETCH is unique in its proprietary location technology that enables users to pinpoint guest’s location to an accuracy of 10cm. The advantages to this are numerous, not least because it eliminates the need for table numbers, thereby making the process of ordering even easier.

With constant innovation fuelling the development of FETCH, POS8 is set to fulfil its ambition of creating the leading on-premise mobile order and payment solution in the industry. It is Jason Jefferys, Co-Founder and CEO of POS8, who is responsible for this vision and the motivation of the POS8 team to pursue that ambition. Having worked with web and software application development since 1997, Jason is well-seasoned in his field and therefore well-placed to promote the budding start-up as it establishes itself in both the web development and hospitality industries. However, Jason recognises that it is his team who makes the realisation of his vision possible.

“Our staff play the most important part in the success of the business,” he tells us. “Our internal culture is to do whatever it takes to get the job done and there’s always a solution to any problem. We have tremendous support for each other and always try to communicate well.”

He continues, “I like to empower my team to reach their objectives and try and support them as much as I can. Over the years I have realised that you have to let people fail and not to be afraid to do so. Failure gives us valuable lessons and without failure you are not taking risks.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an equal mix of positive and negative impacts on FETCH, which has seen POS8 working at full capacity to continue on its upwards trajectory. While social distancing measures and hygiene protocols have accelerated the adoption of mobile order and payment solutions, the financial and social implications of the pandemic have meant that selling to hospitality venues that have been closed or do not have the means to invest in new tech has been difficult. As a result, POS8 introduced a business model in which its systems were provided in full for no cost, but with only a small transaction fee for all orders that go through FETCH.

As a start-up operating in an already trying period with ambitions for growth that are limited by business resources, it is smart and effective decisions such as these made by Jason and his team which are instrumental to the success of concepts like FETCH. Creative and efficient solutions mean that spending millions on development and advertising in the early stages of a launch is not necessary, saving energy and funds that can be invested into sustainable growth.

As such, 2021 is set to be an exciting year for POS8 as it looks to its product roadmap and rolls out its patent pending location technology. In the meantime, FETCH will be installed in several sports stadiums and hotels, entering new verticals alongside the core restaurants, bars and cafes that the firm has worked with up until this point. On a personal level, Jason feels optimistic about the future: “I’m excited to be leading a talented team and plan to scale the business exponentially over the next few years. I think it’s going to be a very exciting journey.”

For further information, please contact Jason Jefferys or visit

Empowering Through Education

Now holding the title of the ‘Most Influential CEO’ for the United Kingdom, Joe Crossley has been taking Qube Learning from strength to strength. Working with strong moral calibre and helping people across the country realise their potential, the industry leading organisation is spearheading the way for education provision and employment support.

Joe Crossley, CEO of leading national recruitment and training solutions provider, Qube Learning, heads up a forceful organisation that wholeheartedly champions pre-employment training programmes, Traineeships and Apprenticeships across the nation. Joe’s undeniable commitment to looking at raw talent and how that can change not only someone’s life but a business too, has left large imprints across personal and professional spheres.

A progressive company that is always looking at ways it can enhance the experience for student and employer, Qube Learning supports many individuals, from school leavers to those looking to change their profession later in life and helps them get set up on the path to the rest of their career. It has developed a sensitive and empathic way of working that has been lauded as exemplary, and its courses cover a wide range of topics, as well as delivering programmes from Level 2 to Level 5. Recently, Qube has also been expanding its services to national recruitment. This has seen the advent of Qube Talent, which focuses on providing support to employers and pointing them at the right employees to match the roles they need filling, a service which has proved invaluable to many, with the dust of the pandemic somewhat settling and employers turning back to filling their ranks once again.

Through this platform, Qube assists with the retraining and upskilling of candidates too, using an up-to-date training catalogue. In tandem with this, Qube has funnelled significant investment into its Qube Vision platform; this eLearning solution sharpens skills and encourages the learning of new ones and has enabled learning to continue throughout unpredictable climates. This is part of what has supported Qube in becoming a Matrix accredited Ofsted ‘Good’ provider. Joe Crossley, the CEO, appreciates what it is like to finish education and not know what direction to go in, and is therefore committed to making choices more visible for those in the same place he was. He got on well as a Retail Manager, finding his passion in problem-solving and people management – but mostly, he was inspired by helping the young people working for him to similarly progress.

With Qube’s ‘Steps to Success’ programme, the company created accessible early career courses and worked with some of the UK’s largest employers, developed to give people the tools they need for career advancement. Qube has become a market leader in this sort of work and is a household name for employers and employees alike, fuelling ambition and motivated as always by Joe’s passion for supporting younger people. Joe further bolstered Qube’s model and growing reputation by writing opinion articles, topical news stories on the industry, and moving case studies on their incredible young and mature students; all of these provided clients with a clear idea of what they can achieve with Qube.

The clear and consistent PR and marketing paid off, with a significant boost in users and a growth spurt that shows no signs of stopping. Internally, Qube has also been increasing and developing, too. The culture created within the company is one of constantly striving for bettering oneself, following clear roadmaps and being transparent about milestones. It is fundamental that everyone understands where the company is heading and why, to help it get there. Joe speaks to his team every day, bucking the trend of appraisals and emailing, going the extra mile to keep in touch and ensuring everyone is seen and heard.

Qube took a significant knock at the end of 2020 with the loss of its owner, Gavin Whichello. A mentor and friend to Joe, and someone always willing to productively talk through issues and ideas in detail, Gavin – a gregarious character – was a cornerstone of operation and will be sorely missed. Throughout this difficult time, Joe found himself stepping up to encourage the company towards further expansion: growing provisions across different funding streams, seeing the development of the Traineeship programme and being proud of how far it has come, despite it being a challenge. Additionally, Joe has focused more on becoming a more strategic mind for Qube over the years, developing a long-term strategy for the company that will shepherd it through the next 10 years. Qube have worked closely with IFATE, the Traineeship Policy Team, accruing trustee status with many charities, and contributing towards numerous roundtable events; Joe has successfully rounded out his role at Qube and contributed fundamentally to the business’s progress.

Qube is now also widely known as a 2019 Association of Employment and Learning Providers AAC Award winner, Learning Providers AAC Award winner, and Skills for Care Endorsed Provider. It also recently won the Educate North Social Mobility provider of the year award for its work encouraging ‘disengaged young people’ into employment. It fully believes that everyone has the right to learn in a manner that is comfortable. Therefore, it has a staunch dedication to the goal of not letting postcode or background be an obstacle to education, eliminating that barrier for its service users.

In this manner, Qube is not just an employment provider, but an instiller of self-belief and worth. It wishes to shine a light on what success can be to people who may have never thought education to be an accessible thing for them, facilitating the growth and development of talent and ambition. Through this, Qube has been proving its status as a ‘people first’ business, working with students, customers, employees, and employers to increase productivity in every element of its operation. The clientele that reaches out to Qube are also a widely varied and international market segment, with global, national, and local businesses represented, as well as working with businesses from small to enterprise scale. Therefore, its recruitment service, Traineeships and Apprenticeships are highly scalable across all sizes of business and are accessible and flexible, working closely with employers to provide a bespoke long-term service.

Its work can be described as being on a ‘national scale with a localised approach’, and it has an operations team of skills tutors delivering coaching and learning. This ranges vastly in field, from leadership and management to business services, as well as health and social care, hospitality, retail, warehousing and logistics, and how to work within small, medium, and large-scale companies. Its dedicated learning support specialists are also on hand throughout the course to help students with their Functional Skills qualifications. Quality and compliance are also something that fall within Qube’s remit and reassures Qube’s clientele that its services are delivered with consistent quality, continuous improvement and rigorous quality testing.

Even though the last year has been challenging with the pivot to fully remote work, Qube has been continually impressed by its employees. Each person being committed and hardworking, inspired to help each one of its service users on a personal level, they are charismatic, knowledgeable, and friendly. Its tutors have also learned how to help students manage the increased stress and anxiety of the pandemic. Further to this, in the coming months, Qube is setting up a new internal training team, continuing to work on its online service provision, empowered by the motivation and drive of its team as it moves towards the future.

For further information, please contact Mollie Whichello or visit

The Team Taking Business Consultancy by Storm

Working with can-do attitudes and an unbeatable dedication to helping its clients be the best they can be, Fourstone Partners’ consultancy services are experiencing an ever-increasing rise in demand in its region.

A specialist consulting firm working with a myriad of clients on business development, sales outsourcing, and operational support, Fourstone Partners has developed a reputation for excellence. It is the 2020 winner of the Philadelphia 100 Entrepreneurs Forum, the Big Innovation award, and was named an EY Entrepreneur finalist in the same year. It also made its name in the media when it was lauded as the 38th out of 100 fastest growing enterprises in the Philadelphia region. It has developed a unique approach that allows it to stand out amongst its competition, focusing on a collaborative model when it comes to its clients. Fourstone Partners works to develop a rapport and a personable relationship with the client, prioritising practically in its suggestions, and ensuring that its recommendations are as tailor made as they are actionable. To build upon how it operates, Fourstone Partners’ employees each strive to engage with a client in a way that is high energy, high intensity, results driven, and effective. In this way, its efforts optimize its client’s performance across the board, driving them forward towards a better future.

To do this, it recognizes the importance of a strong set of internal values. Therefore, as a company, it holds to the principles of integrity, loyalty, honesty, intensity, and practicality, all of which it looks for in new applicants and fosters internally. These have remained unchanged since its founding. Furthermore, its mantras pertinently show what a client can expect when contracting this company; it will leave nothing open to interpretation and will always show rather than tell. By doing this it seeks to cut through the jargon and deliver results over promises. Clear, concise, and lucrative interactions are key, and so it thrives on ensuring that every interaction benefits the person it is working for. Fourstone Partners first and foremost find its clients in the workers’ compensation industry and at every level, for example: payers, managed care companies, and medical providers, to name just a few. Its interactions with such a varied clientele have allowed it to significantly better its solutions, and it takes pride in its ability to assist start-up companies’ entry into workers compensation. Further to this, it has given this ‘leg up’ to 12 different companies, encouraging and supporting them throughout the process and into the next stages of their careers.

Hence, alongside the notoriety of its services for clients across the board, it has become especially well known for it attitude towards young companies, bringing them ‘from the idea phase to the revenue phase’. It considers this one of the most rewarding aspects of its business. In tandem with this, each member of its staff is an expert in their field and has a forward-thinking mindset that its clients find refreshing and rewarding to engage with, boasting one of the ‘most knowledgeable teams in the business’. This paired with its practical solutions being the priority focus, it collaborates with its clients through the ideation phase and all the way to implementation. Fourstone Partners has in this way made itself completely accountable for its consultancy advice services. This is a rarity in its industry, and an element that has enhanced the trust between it and its client, ensuring many a return customer and glowing word of mouth reviews. Its dedication to keeping these aspects at the centre of its operational model comes from its CEO, Thomas P. Shivers, who recently participated in an enthralling panel hosted by The Entrepreneurs Forum. He started Fourstone Partners in his basement with a grand total of $500, beginning the journey with only one client. Since then, with ambition and tenacity, the company has reached great new heights and drawn to it a charismatic team that matches the energy of the founder.

Internally, Fourstone Partners is a highly competitive group of people that does not believe the word ‘quit’ should enter their vocabulary. The staff being the driving force behind the company’s momentum and the reason so many of its clients go away completely satisfied, the recruitment process is one of ensuring an applicant will fit in. It seeks great team players, highly intelligent people, and those with exemplary leadership skills. All these things make up its in-house culture, and it believes that every person contributes equally. In this way, the CEO has fostered a culture of mutual responsibility and care within Fourstone Partners’ ranks that ensures all employees take personal pride in their work. Furthermore, Thomas Shivers’ own competitiveness is also continuously bringing new opportunities into the business’s orbit, and the journey has been supported by the many ‘great mentors’ that he encountered throughout education and his corporate career. That very first client whose business catalysed Fourstone Partners was one such tutor, a friend of the CEO’s that had found themselves in need of good sales consulting.

It was this that spurred Thomas Shivers’ idea to grow the start-up into a national consultation service that would rival even the biggest voices in the sector. Nowadays, of course, he is proud to say that it has achieved this; and with such a dynamic and changeable industry, there is no shortage of challenge and opportunity to keep the CEO and his company on its toes. Its numerous consultancy clients each bring a new case and a new angle to the table, meaning that the job is never dull as no job is ever the same – for the CEO personally, who has a background in sports coaching, it draws on his skill for being adaptable in his supportiveness. This means that he has developed an intuition for knowing what a person will respond positively to, and what kind of support they would benefit from, over the course of discussions with them. The skills needed for this is something he shares with his staff, supporting them just as much as they are supporting his business. In this way, he firmly sticks to an attitude of team playing, believing that to be an effective team leader, one must first immerse themselves in that team.

Thus, the hierarchy at Fourstone Partners is a flat one. In addition, the CEO is always on the move within the corporate sphere to see where he may be able to take his venture next. In one of his more recent moves, he has been working closely with his healthcare consultancy clients to grow that element of Fourstone Partners even further, acquiring a pharmacogenomic testing company to enhance this. This company recently won the 2020 Business Intelligence Group Innovation award, and as a toxicology company, it will be seeking to grow the products it sells going forward. In tandem with this, Fourstone Partners bought both a forensic auditing and a legal services company in 2019, both of which it will be similarly seeking to grow in the next few years. From these moves and the increasing influence held by Fourstone Partners, evidently, the collaboration between its CEO and the team has bolstered the good repute it enjoys in its sector and in the corporate world. With such an airtight operational model and exemplary attitude towards customer service, we daresay that the accolades it has earned so far will soon be joined by many more.

For further information, please visit Grace Guenzer or visit

At the Top of his Game

Most Influential CEO 2021 – Fraser Gemmell

Having captained rugby teams at both Oxford and Auckland Universities, Fraser Gemmell, CEO of Pepper European Servicing, has spent decades proving his mettle as a strong leader on and off the pitch. His appointment to the head of the pan-European Servicing and Asset Management company just two years ago has provided the stage for Fraser to confirm that strength, having led the company through its best year yet in 2020, despite the challenges presented by Covid-19. Now, named the Most Influential CEO of 2021, Fraser tells us more about Pepper European Servicing and its successes under his leadership.

Established in 2012 with €0 Assets Under Management (AUM), Pepper European Servicing (PES) is today a diversified and independent, pan-European Servicing and Asset Management business that currently boasts more than €40 billion in AUM and employs a team of approximately 850. Operating in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Greece and Cyprus, PES is growing, with the acquisition of a small business in Italy that is due for completion at the end of May 2021.

Fundamentally, Pepper is an outsourced credit solutions provider for a host of different clients, managing credit investments for institutions that have originated those investments and require expertise in managing certain aspects or elements of their portfolio, and institutional investors, such as private equity firms or hedge funds, which have acquired portfolios of mortgages, commercial real estate, buy-to-lets, auto loans, personal loans and more, sold off by other institutions.

Serving a variety of large firms and financial institutions that operate in a heavily regulated and operationally intensive industry, Pepper has rooted itself in an entrepreneurial mindset that is highly ambitious and growth oriented. Uniquely built from scratch, unlike many of its competitors which have typically been spun out from large banks during deconsolidation processes, PES operates in strict adherence to its own values – Can Do, committed to delivering innovative opportunities and solutions; Balanced, that handles the relationship between opportunity and risk to create solutions for success, even in adversity; and Real, Pepper’s guarantee of respect, honesty and integrity in dealing with its network of clients and partners as well as its employees. Driven by those values, the PES team, led by CEO Fraser Gemmell, adds value to its clients via innovative, proactive and data-centric solutions.

Formerly the team captain of the Auckland University rugby club, of various Auckland Provincial representative sides, of the Oxford University team, and an occasional player for the New Zealand Barbarians, Fraser Gemmell has long been regarded as a competent leader. “I have been in leadership positions, both professionally and in an extracurricular sports-based environment for many, many years,” Fraser tells us. “Leadership comes quite naturally to me and is something that I think enhances the way I operate, be that on the sports field or in a professional context.”

His appointment to CEO of Pepper European Servicing in 2019 therefore may have been his most overt corporate leadership position to date, but it is a role he immediately took to magnificently. Having been a major player in the PES team since day one as the primary business plan builder for Pepper across Europe, armed only with a laptop and a mobile phone, he was able to hit the ground running when he took up the CEO role.

Just as he did on the rugby pitch, Fraser has spent many years refining and developing his leadership styles, adjusting them dependent on the contexts he is operating in, but always rooted in the same core principles. Absolute transparency; enormous trust in the team; total clarity and conviction in the direction of his company and what it seeks to achieve; the creation of a very robust culture; and decision making that is grounded in data and analytics are all embedded into Fraser’s mentality as a leader.

This mentality is combined with the ‘lenders’ or investors’ mindset’ that is adopted not only by the executive team but through the entire organisation. It is a mindset that has been developed through PES’s own heritage as part of a global company (the Pepper Group) that owns multiple lending businesses around the globe. As a result, the PES team seeks to constantly go beyond the role of a pure service provider – thinking and acting like an asset owner, underwriting, managing and constantly refining operating strategies just as an asset owner would do.

This enables PES to meet and exceed the expectations of its clientele that is predominantly made up of highly sophisticated, institutional credit investors. Employing an extremely data-intensive approach that comprehensively uses data and analytics to demonstrate both capability and value-adding, PES seeks to operate with absolute transparency, focusing on the underlying performance of a position that is rooted in data. It is a unique approach that sets Pepper apart from its competition, and one that drives the firm to push itself further by asking itself hard questions about its strategic goals, and by striving to contribute to the broader momentum of its market, rather than waiting to play catch up.

In Fraser’s view, the proactivity that is such a key driver of PES’s development would not be possible without the teams located across the continent. “If the culture wasn’t what it was, and our people weren’t who they were, then we wouldn’t have achieved the successes that we have,” he asserts.

While technology and robust processes are integral to PES, as a human capital-intensive business, it is the people and culture that are truly vital to the company’s successes.  “The culture is entrepreneurial and ambitious. We roll up our sleeves and get on with what is required, again a legacy of where we’ve come from – no one’s too big for the job. We also have a growth and learning mindset, constantly seeking to understand what we need to do to be better. I like to think we are very open and very transparent in the way that we ask questions of ourselves to enhance and grow the business. That permeates throughout the organisation.”

Fraser continues, “We hire for culture, we don’t hire for talent. Talent is important but you’ve got to look beyond the CV at what the individual can bring to the business. If they can enhance or contribute to what it is that we’re building at the cultural level, and if the core values are in place, talent will look after itself.”

Once recruited, PES employees are offered extensive training and development, as well as opportunities to have their say in how the business can be better through weekly pulse checks that are part of the firm’s award-winning employee wellness programme, “PES People Matter”. The programme, which was built by employees, for employees, gives Fraser and his executive team insights into the issues that are affecting their teams and take efficient steps to resolve those matters.

“PES People Matter” was just one of the outcomes of the last year brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Like so many other businesses, Pepper saw the impacts of the pandemic but unlike many, it reacted immediately and early, moving 95% of its employees to remote working in only a matter of days with a seamless efficiency in which Fraser takes great pride. It is likely that PES will maintain this more flexible working structure throughout the pandemic and beyond, broadening its recruitment net as well so it is no longer limited to the catchment area around its offices when seeking out the best new talent.

In a wider context, Fraser sees Covid having a material impact on the broader European financial sector. Similar to the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis, this will require European servicing platforms to deliver innovative and proactive solutions that meet the needs not only of their clients  but also that of regulators across the UK and Europe. PES is spending significant time and capital in looking at ways it can drive innovation and deep insights into the impact of Covid on the portfolios it manages.

Despite the intensity of 2020 that was caused not only by the pandemic, but also by a takeover approach from one of its competitors that ultimately fell through and a rapidly changing macro environment, the last year was PES’s best yet. So while Fraser and his team are focused on PES’s recovery from the intensity of the last year, they have also embarked upon an in-depth review which will set out the longer-term strategic direction of the business, ensuring PES continues to deliver the best possible servicing and asset management solutions to their clients.

“Everything we do at Pepper European Servicing, right across the group, is driven by the quality of our people, the robustness of our culture and a myopic focus on data and analytics,” concludes Fraser. “We have a very client-centric and customer-centric view of the world, which is underpinned by absolute trust, transparency, accountability and challenge. While we are proud of what we have achieved since we started the business back in 2012, we are hugely excited about what the future holds. We will continue to set our internal aspirations high and work until we reach them. Then we will reset them and go again”.

For more information please contact Laura Gosling at [email protected] or visit

Working Remotely is More Productive for 67.6% of UAE Employees: Poly Evolution of the Workplace Report

Poly, released today a new report outlining the evolution of the workplace and changing employee attitudes to the 9-5.

The report also examines how attitudes and behaviours have evolved – factoring in key variables such as working patterns and culture, frustration and noise, including what we wear.

“Almost two-third of hybrid workers (64%) believe that office culture has changed forever,” says Dave Shull, president and CEO of Poly. “The uptick in hybrid working is a signal that our professional life is set to transform further. Work equity and equality of employee experiences are now at the forefront of all discussions as both organisations and workers are embracing the new ways of working. This is the change that Poly is helping our customers navigate – enabling them to create balanced and personal experiences for all employees, regardless of location.”

From a UAE perspective, the trend was almost similar with only 45% of the hybrid or home workers agreeing that they could be discriminated against, or treated differently, to employees that choose to be in the office while 34% felt that they would be affected by the ‘noise rage’ if their colleagues were too loud with 21% of the men strongly agreeing compared to 18% of the women surveyed by the report.

The report also revealed that better equipment and technology (44%), attending meetings (34%), brainstorming and collaboration (31%) were the main drivers for coming to the office in the future giving an impression that the traditional office setup was still a viable option for almost half of the country’s workforce.

The report, which surveyed hybrid and office workers who mostly use technology as part of their day-to-day official duties in the UAE, also found out that only 36% would spend two days working from home and three days going to the office. 23% of the workers surveyed said that they would work from home for just three days and only two days in the office.

The report comes in the wake of Poly’s new product lineup announcement for its new Pro-Grade video conferencing devices, which are set to debut at this year’s GITEX Technology Week. The Poly Studio X70 and Poly Studio E70, which are part of the Poly Studio family, are designed to upgrade the video collaboration experience and generate meeting equality by bringing pro-grade audio and video to large workspaces.

Always On vs Anytime Working – Why employers need to set clear boundaries to prevent employee burnout

The research suggests hybrid working is here to stay. 82% of respondents intend to spend at least one day a week working from home in the future, with 54% planning to split their time evenly between office and home. One of the drivers for this shift is the emergence of ‘anytime working’ – whereby employees have greater autonomy over when they do their work – with over two thirds of UAE employees (69%)saying the 9-5 has been replaced by anytime working. When asked about the benefits of working from home, the top three responses given were: avoiding lengthy commutes, achieving a better work-life balance and feeling less stressed. Similarly, when asked what they would miss about working from home, people highlighted lie ins, time with family and finishing on time.

However, while many workers have reaped the benefits, working from home has not been a smooth transition for everyone. Worryingly the lines between anytime working and being ‘always on’ are blurring: more than half of UAE workers (58%) felt that the rise in remote working has meant they are ‘always on’ and always available, leaving them unable to relax or switch off from work. Added to this, being expected to work outside of their hours was listed as the second biggest drawback of working from home – after having less fun with colleagues. The findings also show:

  • Difficulty collaborating, lack of IT support and lack of equipment to enable home working are listed within the top five drawbacks of working from home – suggesting many employees have not been provided with the right tools to work effectively.
  • Nearly half of UAE workers (48%) said they worried about missing out on learning from peers and seniors when working from home.
  • A further 63% UAE workers think hybrid or home workers could be discriminated against or treated differently to employees in the office full-time.
  • 27% of UAE remote workers felt that being expected to work outside their work hours was one of the main drawbacks of working from home. In terms of gender, only 28% of the male workers felt this way compared to 23% of the women.

“Anytime working should not be confused with being always on,’” says Paul Clark. “The organisations that promote a healthy work environment and empower anytime working will see a much happier and more productive workforce. This is especially important as we are experiencing the ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon, where people across industries are leaving their jobs due to the pandemic. Businesses cannot afford to lose talent so must offer the best working experience possible to all its employees, no matter where they are located.”

The Future Role of the Office and the Rise of ‘Noise Rage’

The research suggests that there are very mixed feelings about the return to office. While many have missed the camaraderie and connection of seeing colleagues and clients, others are feeling anxious and worry their performance will suffer. What is evident is that for many, the changes of the past year are here to stay – with 72 %  of UAE workers saying that office culture has ‘changed forever’. As a result, while many intend to return to the office, the role of the office and office etiquette are likely to evolve.

The survey suggests noise will be a particular hot button for returning workers, with the potential to cause friction between workers:

  • 61% of UAE workers expressed concern that noise levels in the office will make them less productive.
  • 60% of UAE workers worry they will be prone to “noise rage” if their colleagues are too loud.
  • 64% of UAE workers think they’ll get fed up if their noisy coworkers break their concentration.
  • 57% of UAE workers fear that they will be more prone to outbursts in the office now that they’re unable to mute themselves or turn their cameras off.
  • Comparatively, 51% of UAE workers are looking forward to returning to the office because of the noise at home.
  • UAE’s healthcare, legal, arts and culture emerged as the industries that are likely to be affected by noise levels upon returning to the office environment.

Despite the concerns, workers are looking forward to having more person-to-person interactions. Office banter, going for lunch with clients/ colleagues and office camaraderie are listed as the top three things workers miss about the office. The findings also highlight how the role of the office will evolve. When asked how people would see themselves using the office in the future, results tended to be practical and task-oriented. The ‘top three reasons to go back into the office’ were brainstorming/collaborating with colleagues, attending meetings and access to better equipment and technology.

Corporate image has also changed. Even industries such as financial services that have always expected employees to maintain a certain standard of dress are now becoming more relaxed. 61% of UAE workers in finance think that hybrid working has brought about the death of the suit, and that wearing suits might go away for good – eight points higher than the average of 53%.

“The role of the office and what people want to use it for is changing. It’s evident that people have craved human interaction since working from home and are looking forward to getting back to the office,” says Paul Clark. “However, noise is a legitimate concern for many, particularly for those younger workers that are new to the workforce or a new environment. To address the rise of ‘noise rage’, organisations need to provide employees with the right technology, such as noise-canceling products, to reduce distractions, improve productivity and ensure equality of experience. Where possible, organisations should also look to create dedicated quiet spaces (booths, more rooms, spacing out desks) equipped with the right technologies.”

The Impact on Young Workers and their Future Careers

The findings highlight the impact remote working has had on young workers and how their careers could be in jeopardy, with many worrying about the return to office. Two-fifths of respondents have been unable to visit their new office – either because the company had moved offices, or they joined during the pandemic – a figure that rose to 49% of 18–24-year-olds in the UAE. Of the young workers who have not yet visited their office, 80% of workers in the UAE said the thought of visiting the office for the first time, and the potential noise levels, kept them awake at night.

Younger employees also worried about the impact of working remotely on their abilities to form relationships and communicate with their peers, with many worrying that this could hold them back:

  • 52% of workers in the UAE aged 18-24 were concerned that working remotely would have a negative impact on their development and career progression, compared to the average of 43%.
  • 53% of 18–24-year-olds in the UAE worry that remote working has made them less confident in their ability to communicate and work with colleagues effectively, compared to the average of 42%.
  • 50% of young UAE workers fear they have lost the art of small talk, compared to the average of 39%.
  • In the UAE, 60% were worried that remote working could affect their development and career prospects with 40% of the women feeling the same compared to 44% of men.

Poly recommends that businesses think carefully about how they manage any future transition to a more permanent form of hybrid working. Here are some top recommendations from Poly:

  • Understand your employees’ personas to truly understand the personality types within your business and how to get the best out of them.
  • Equip the workforce with the right tools to conduct business from everywhere. Video has rapidly become the de facto way for teams to connect, however, the quality and experience can vary widely.
  • Modernise centralised meeting spaces, while enabling the ability to connect and collaborate from anywhere.

“To unlock the benefits of hybrid working, organisations need to keep people, technology and spaces front of mind,” comments Dave Shull, CEO of Poly. “Firstly, businesses need to understand employees’ personas and working styles. Secondly, they need to clearly define their future office – fwhat spaces will be needed? Should we create more areas for quiet working or collaboration? Doing so will allow organisations to better understand their technology requirements to help the workforce become happier and more productive. Most importantly, this will ensure everyone has an equal experience, no matter where, when or how they work. This will allow everyone to reap the rewards and truly make hybrid ‘work’.”

World Mental Health Day – 14 Ways to Help Your Staff’s Mental Health This Winter

By Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity in Leadership

World Mental Health Day (10th of October) is nearly upon us and after unprecedented global change and trauma, where many of us became ill, developed long term chronic symptoms, lost loved ones, lost jobs, weren’t able to socialise, had to home educate our children, developed an increasingly poor work/ life balance, weren’t able to go on holiday, were furloughed, were pinged and isolated, mental health has never been more important. Today many employees are still facing worries about redundancy, face a lack of opportunities or suffer from bullying, harassment, or workplace stress.

Whilst the stigma of mental health is slightly improved from a decade ago, and the Olympics may have been a watershed moment for mental health in sport, mental health is the number one reason cited for sick days in the UK and is on the rise. Before the pandemic even took its stranglehold in the UK, it was estimated by Deloitte in January 2020 that mental health issues cost UK employers up to £45 billion a year.  Today the additional cost of the pandemic on mental health is not yet fully known or quantified but 18-24 year olds, the unemployed, single parents and those with long-term disability or pre-existing mental health problems are more likely to be suffering from new mental health issues.

Recent months have also seen a spike in workplace burnout, with research suggesting that symptoms of burnout increased by 24% in UK employees in 2020. Many employees are suffering from lack of sleep and then chronic daytime fatigue, feel depleted, irritable, resentful, anxious or depressed, have trouble focusing, and have blurred lines between work and home life.  Health is not just physical.   Mental health affects every aspect of someone’s life, including their work, and if that isn’t enough to make us do something, the hidden costs of an unhealthy working environment come to enormous sums that no business can afford to ignore.

Every business can support struggling employees, and better still, can proactively ensure that being at work is not part of the problem, particularly as things are still likely to be more difficult than usual this winter in the health arena. Here’s what you can do.

  1. Employee experience is at the core of good business. Steve Whitton, the Founder of the Global Movement for Mental Health in the Automotive Industry, says we shouldn’t just be talking about customer experience because employee experience is equally important. Leaders should ensure the working infrastructure, ethos and culture of the business focuses on looking after their people.
  1. Take the temperature of what is going on in the business by finding out how your people are. If you are a manager, your job is your team and looking after them first and foremost will drive creativity, profit, performance and productivity. Regularly check in with staff to see how things can be done better to support them, make sure workloads are balanced and encourage collaboration on projects and mentoring.


  1. Prioritise wellbeing – Younger people coming into the workforce are vocal about wanting to know how their new employers intend to look after their wellbeing and mental health, but this is now no longer unique to the younger age groups. Covid 19 has taught all generations that good mental health needs to be prioritised in the workplace.
  1. Understand a problem-solving mindset doesn’t always work. Not everything can be fixed, sometimes we just need to be supported. Discuss mental health openly and encourage your team to check in on each other too.
  1. Don’t just recruit a version of you. Actively choose diverse candidates to improve the atmosphere and culture of a business, in addition to all the commercial reasons it’s good to have a team rich in different experience, skills and knowledge. 


  1. Create a culture that supports mental health. Most employees still feel they are unable to address their mental health issues with management and that it will count against them. We need to move away from a culture that says if you are overwhelmed or have too much on your plate it is a sign of weakness. An open workplace culture that approaches mental health openly and without judgement encourages their staff to be honest about their situation.
  1. Then implement a clear mental health policy and invest in a mental health programme. This should include a definition of mental health, the signs to spot someone struggling, and clear strategies in place to support employees experiencing problems. Wellbeing programmes are recognised tools to manage mental health in the workplace including offering professional advice on mental health related topics and pressures such as family or health problems, bereavement and debt.
  1. Educate staff on spotting the signs early to help prevent an employee’s mental health from spiralling. Offer mental health support to an employee if you notice changes in their behaviour, such as if they appear overly tired, anxious and withdrawn, or there is a decrease in their motivation, focus, creativity or productivity.
  1. Don’t burnout your employees. Promote a healthy workplace environment that empowers staff and allows employees to thrive. Don’t ask your employees to burn the candles at both ends. Respect their weekends and their time once they have finished work for the day. Allow them to subsequently take time off if they have had to work longer hours for an acute pressured period. Encourage them to take their holidays.
  1. Ensure confidentiality. Employees need to feel reassured that their personal information will not be shared with anyone they don’t want it to be.
  1. Don’t depend on low statistics to prove that bullying and harassment doesn’t exist in your organisation. Even with strong protocols in place, many bullied and harassed employees will not report it. Actively protect against bullying and harassment in order to improve mental health on an individual and systemic basis.


  1. Be emotionally intelligent and remove the mental health stigma. Only 13% of employees feel comfortable discussing issues related to their mental health in the workplace. Set an example by speaking up about what you struggle with to be a real mental health influencer. Encourage all genders to talk openly to break down any stereotypes.
  1. Give your employees more say in where they work. Allow employees to have a say in how often they come into the office versus working from home. For some, working from home is hugely beneficial in avoiding commutes, or having better flexibility with childcare. Others may prefer to work in the office as it helps them have a separate work identity and a change of scene.
  1. Allow flexible working hours so staff can start earlier or finish later in order to support their mental health. Mental health issues are often accompanied with insomnia which means those suffering with their mental health often struggle with early starts. Equally, giving employees more time in the mornings to deal with other demands like getting the kids ready for school can relieve pressure and stress.

Beyond Gender Pay Gap Reporting: Diversity is a Whole-Team Job

Gender pay gap reporting alone does nothing to reduce disparities in wages or encourage workplace diversity and equality, argues David Bernard, CEO of artificial intelligence firm AssessFirst.

David explores how businesses instead must implement processes for inclusive recruitment – or gamble with critically untapped performance.

At the current rate of progress, the gender pay gap will take around 200 years to close. This is not hyperbole from social justice activists, this is from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF was once criticised for fortifying that pay gap, so when the same group begin warning of the severity of gender pay disparity, we can be assured that current policies, such as gender pay gap reporting, are not ‘fixing’ the issue anywhere near fast enough.

Since the gender pay gap is a topic that divides opinion, let’s clarify what we mean by the term. It is not – but is often confused with – equal pay. The notion that men and women performing the same role must be paid equally by law.

Rather, the gender pay gap refers to the differences in pay between men and women across an entire organisation. If we are looking at gender pay gap reporting in the kindest light, we can say that it has, at best, created discussion and debate. Indeed, you are reading such a discussion now.

Companies that diligently fill out these reports in the belief that they are contributing to some future national wage parities are mistaken. Despite The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) promising “unlimited fines and convictions”, The Guardian discovered in 2019 that precisely zero companies had been fined, yet hundreds of businesses had not reported their data.

Three years after it was launched, there is little reason to believe that reporting pay is advancing fairness and inclusion, as was promised on its much-heralded launch. Even if current polices appear tokenistic, businesses have two essential reasons to pursue I&D (identity and diversity) strategies.

First – and most important – is the moral obligation to fairness. Secondly, the performance of a company increases if the correct I&D strategy is implemented.

How does I&D make your company perform better?

In their study “Diversity wins: how inclusion matters”, McKinsey analysed data from 1,000 large companies across 15 countries. They observed the correlation between performance and gender/ethnic/cultural diversity in corporate leadership.

The results are compelling: “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.”

Regarding ethnic, cultural and gender diversity, they found that “top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36 percent in profitability”.

But how so? The findings show that when diverse people meet, they enrich the company with varied perspectives inherited from their personal background and experience. They can tackle a larger variety of issue and tasks, bringing more creativity and innovation to their teams, according to Scientific American.

In addition, businesses that display a robust I&D strategy are likely to attract a larger pool of potential candidates who share this vison, resulting in highly engaged personnel. As Gen Z enter the workforce, attracting the best candidates will require a visible commitment to a diverse workforce.

In the US, the National Association of Colleges of Employers (NACE) asked new graduates to rank the importance of a diverse workforce. That first year, diversity ranked 12th out of 15 options. By the spring of 2020, it had risen to seventh out of 19 options; over 79% of respondents called it “very important”, a marked increase form its first survey in 2008.  

Perhaps no example proves the value of diversity better than Qantas. In 2013, they posted a record loss of AUD$2.8 billion. The future of Australia’s national airline looked bleak.

By 2017, Qantas had turned around its dire finances to the effect of a record AUD$850 million profit, winning a raft of industry awards in the process. Commenting on the spectacular turnaround, CEO Alan Joyce told The Australian “We have a very diverse environment and a very inclusive culture.”

Those characteristics, according to Joyce, “got us through the tough times…diversity generated better strategy, better risk management, better debates, better outcomes.”

How should companies implement I&D?

The Qantas turnaround shows how it is prudent to discard generalities and focus on your company’s specific situation. This task requires more than a single point of view – it’s job for the entire team to lead to avoid bias and blind-spots.

To discover existing problems that have yet to be articulated requires giving everyone a voice. Doing so means you may discover problems you were not aware of. Everyone’s outlook is influenced by their own identity and hierarchical level. Amplifying the voice of colleagues can fix this.

The best way to get answers is to ask questions. A survey will allow you to gather a vast number of opinions in a brief time. Choosing to make to make the answers anonymous can make some people more comfortable and help them to speak more freely.

If, for example, you have a discrepancy in gender pay, surveying staff will bring this issue to the fore, explain where the issue is, and how it can be resolved. This is much more useful to individuals and companies than pay gap reporting.

 Examples of questions to ask include:

  • Would you consider yourself as part of a less-represented group? If yes, which one?
  • Would you say that our company respects individuals and values their differences? (With a long and open answer box)
  • Which actions implemented by our company to promote diversity are you aware of? What other actions would you recommend?

It is an important to remember that, despite the discord that can surround I&D, we must never succumb to simply aiming for figures, ticking boxes or presenting a picture of what we think looks good.

The process must be kept human. Productive I&D should not be about equality – rather equality of opportunity to thrive individually and collectively.

The Recruitment Process

When recruiting, we should not be looking to allocate quotas. And, to execute this strategy fairly means removing cognitive biases.

Cognitive biases are conditioned by past experiences, but also by our emotions, cognitive abilities, and social pressures. One of the most telling and common bias is how we can see how they affect others yet struggle to admit they control our own actions.

Without a process to remove these biases, I&D risks becoming as tokenistic as gender pay reporting – good intentions with little real-world benefit.

The Educated Entrepreneur

Being able to make quick and effective business decisions depends on having the right information to hand. The team at TheTableau are experts in ensuring that organizations can make the right decisions from the right data. The company has thrived thanks to the stalwart leadership of Irene Jeremic, who justifiably won the title of Most Influential CEO, 2020 – Canada in last year’s CEO of the Year awards. With such a strong history of success, we thought it time to examine how she did it.

When Irene Jeremic came to TheTableau, she brought over fifteen years of hard-won experience in executive management and operational turnarounds with her. Having worked in both the private and public sectors, she has been able to provide a unique perspective to the firm that has allowed it to achieve solid success.

At the heart of Jeremic’s approach is her multidisciplinary education from some of Canada’s most prestigious universities. She obtained her B.Sc. in Computer Science from Simon Fraser University (SFU), her MBA from Athabasca University (AU), and her L.L.M. from the most coveted Osgoode Hall Law School with York University. While studying at SFU, she was approached to join a team working on what was then the largest multi-university project, involving Industry Canada.

This strong education, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, made her the ideal choice to run TheTableau. The company has seen recent successes with Lean Office and Lean Manufacturing solutions, earning a lucrative contract with the leading Canadian wheel manufacturing company, that resulted in the implementation of their 1st Kanban system in the province. While these impressive developments have been made, Jeremic has written several white papers to accompany them. Her “Lean Paradigm™ and Safety Principles for Manufacturing, Mining and Distribution: How to Maximize Customer Value and Safety, While Minimizing Waste,” was presented at the Tokyo’s School of Management in 2019.

For Jeremic, the future of the company lies in further development of data applications. The team has started work on bio-informatics solution for healthcare and is considering a private acquisition offer. Of course, she values the work she currently goes greatly, but is already looking for the next big step on her own personal journey. Another interesting career, perhaps a doctoral degree, is within her sights, if she chooses.

For business enquires, contact Irene Jeremic at TheTableau Inc. via [email protected] at

Employee Recognition – How to Cater to your Workforce’s Mental Wellbeing

By Alex Hattingh, CPO at Employment Hero

1. Get personal

It’s important to be specific, personal and accurate when recognising an employee. Use positive words, and demonstrate to the employee that you actually understand their accomplishments. 

Outline exactly what they did well, how it impacted a particular project or scenario and highlight exactly how that happened because of their individual successes or participation. The more personal recognition the better as it shows your employee that you really were paying attention to them and their work.

2. Provide opportunities

Some employees don’t get the chance to excel because of the nature of their jobs or reduced expectations for certain types of work.

Employees who do their jobs well should be able to earn opportunities for expanded responsibilities and training for job advancement. Don’t let employee recognition end after a few nice words.

3. Magnify recognition

While verbal communication is clearly the most effective way to recognise employees, the best strategy is to back it up by publicising employee accomplishments across multiple forums such as company newsletters, dashboards and in team meetings.

Technology-based recognition programs are a great way to do this. They should be mobile-friendly, allowing recognition to happen anytime, anywhere.

4. Motivate with financial incentives

Although financial incentives aren’t always the best motivators, they can certainly demonstrate appreciation for work well-performed. The best financial incentives are more open-ended and unpredictable because they motivate people to work their best at all times.

5. Non-monetary rewards and bonuses

The best practices for awarding non-monetary or financial bonuses include offering a standard reward, bonus or gift package and rewarding people for outstanding performance with special awards, extra cash bonuses, holiday gifts or recognition for yearly performance.

Don’t let your imagination run away with you when setting up reward incentives for your business. Especially in SMEs, your company budget might not stretch that far. Work out a rough budget per employee and work off of that calculation.

What are employee rewards? Employee rewards and benefits work to reward performance and motivate employees at both an individual or group level. By rewarding your employees, you can improve workplace culture, improve employee engagement and reduce employee turnover.

Below are some examples of high and low budget employee rewards and benefits you can implement in the workplace.

High budget incentive examples:

  • Lunch clubs for high performers or people that reach their targets
  • Weekends away for successful teams over a quarter
  • Income bonuses for high performers
  • Tickets for events, attractions, concerts or activities of interest

Low budget incentives:

  • Company merch; water bottles, mugs, hats, t-shirts – anything that your MVP’s (most valuable player) can wear around the office to show that they did something great
  • Let them be the office DJ for the day (A niche one! But if someone’s done something of merit it’s a fun little perk you could offer them)
  • Reward certificates or trophies for employees to showcase on their desk
  • Handwritten thank-you notes from the CEO or leadership team

6. Facilitate peer-to-peer recognition

As well as you or your leadership team setting up reward and recognition incentives for your employees, you should also encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Peer-to-peer recognition has a huge impact on the performance and overall job satisfaction of everyone in your business. The benefits are endless.

Peer-to-peer recognition can:

  • Help build a trusting culture by creating transparency amongst different departments and authorities. It also eliminates old-school problems of managers taking credit for their direct report’s work or ignoring the value of a piece of work
  • It will help boost employee engagement and retention as employees are motivated to work harder to impress colleagues and therefore stay at their jobs longer where they receive acknowledgement and praise for work
  • Empowers teamwork across the business for team-based projects as individuals feel more appreciated by their peers

There are plenty of benefits that will surface if peer-to-peer recognition is done correctly. Make sure it’s meaningful and ensure your team is recognising achievements or behaviours that are truly worthy of being recognised. Like people who are going above and beyond their everyday job roles to get something done or fix an urgent problem.

13 Ways to Develop Sustainable Company Values

Millennials in particular are more likely to spend money with a company, or consider joining their workforce, if it has clear business ethics that align with their own, or if the business shows corporate social responsibility or clear integrity.  These younger consumers are extremely important not least because have also have the loudest voices on social media which they can choose to share at the click of a button. Some companies without a public profile, even if they are extremely large, have felt that lack of profile enables them to behave without a corporate social responsibility conscience, but this is changing.

Clear, strong company values which represent the beliefs and principles that drive the business are becoming ever increasingly important, whether they are aligned with some or all of: sustainability, ecology, fairness, equality, inclusion, diversity, innovation, respect, integrity, passion or respect for the work/life balance and family.

Company values guide the actions of an organisation, characterise its brand, promote employee engagement, unite the workforce, boost competitive advantage and the bottom line, and ultimately shape an organisation’s culture, vision and business strategy. So, we asked Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity in Leadership, how can we develop (and fully adopt) core values for business success? Here are his top tips.

1. Involve everyone. Whilst the core values of a business tend to reflect the morals and beliefs of the company’s founders, offering the opportunity to all colleagues, employees, suppliers and customers to share what is important to them and then working towards a collaboration of common values creates a vibrant culture-rich workplace. Empower, involve and also delegate to others.

2. Values are not slogans or token ideas. Values need to be fully integrated into all day to day operations, thought leadership, the hiring process, website, intranet and processes throughout the company. They need to be visible and deeply ingrained into work culture including the business’s vision and mission statement. Ben & Jerry’s values for example focus on social and economic justice, human rights and dignity, and environmental protection and those values are visible at all levels. Values | Ben & Jerry’s (

3. Show commitment and longevity to the cause. Uphold these values by consistently providing updated training and development opportunities to staff which directly reflect your company values. Integrating these values throughout the hiring process encourages new employees to commit to the company from the outset. Do this by ensuring new employees read the company’s purpose and mission statement, and they are talked about, challenged and reinvigorated.


4. Be transformative even if it’s hard or a lot of work at the start. Identify barriers and seek to eliminate them. The Body Shop was a pioneer in selling make-up, haircare and bodyproducts inspired by nature and ethically made, and continue to be vocal about protecting our planet, being actively against animal testing, supporting Fairtrade and defending human rights, even under their new ownership.

5. Operationalise your values. It was found in a study 100% of leaders in companies had values but only 11% had thought through the values into desired behaviours. If senior leaders are not living the espoused values, it creates cynicism and a huge resistance to change. You have to walk the talk and reinforce the desired behaviours.

6. Be an ambassador and ally. When colleagues see you implementing and practising company values, they are more likely to replicate your behaviour, reinforcing these throughout the company culture. Allow people to ask questions and encourage dialogue so they are more likely to get on board. Identify influencers, energisers and blockers, and remove the blockers.

7. Be transparent. Every good business should have values that are simple and easy to understand. They need to be aligned and to underpin the company’s purpose. These values should also be congruent with the goals of your organisation even if these are profit driven. Communicate your values regularly and show how working with the purpose is so important.


8. Be accountable. Live by your words in every aspect of your business from your suppliers to your team, to your customers. Although perhaps dented by their acquisition by Amazon, Whole Foods still strive to promote team member growth and happiness, care about their communities and the environment, and offer a price win-win partnership with suppliers.

9. Develop and deploy a listening strategy. Organisations that set themselves up to really understand their workforce are the ones that will be successful in the coming years. Employ various pulse methods regularly (monthly or weekly, even) to hear what your people are thinking and feeling – technology and AI are advanced today and can facilitate getting to the real issues. Amazon for instance have been asking a question a day such as: “Is your manager a simplifier or a complexifier?”


10. Reward team success. Company values can act as goals for your entire team and are best achieved through a joint effort. Whilst it is important to celebrate individual achievement (and typically we do it far too little), rewarding team success should be a priority to create cohesion and harmony amongst employees.

11. Become a B Corporation. Certified B Corps are a new kind of business that balance purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using businesses as a force for good.

12. Genuine diversity and inclusion promotes individuality, a healthier working environment, new thinking and respect, and unites us, and is a must have as part of any set of company values in the modern day.

13. Review & evolve. Your values should grow with your company. It is important to review and update your values especially when your company is given new opportunities or encounters new challenges. This maintains transparency and authenticity and encourages the organisation to stay up to date.

The Government Consultation on Flexible Working and What it Could Mean for Employers

By Blaser Mills Law

The pandemic has led to an increase in flexible working and, as restrictions continue to lift and employees return to the office, employers are anticipating an influx of requests around working remotely and flexibly.

The Government has responded to this with a planned review later this year to examine a proposed expansion of employees’ rights regarding flexible working and working from home, with a Government spokesperson claiming the consultation will consider making flexible working the default.

While there is no legal right for employees to work from home, it is important for employers to take this chance to review their current policies around flexible working, and their obligations should an employee make such a request.

Responding to a statutory request

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, requesting flexible working arrangements is a statutory right for employees. An employee has the right to make this request if they have had the same employer for 26 weeks and may only make a statutory request once in any 12-month period.

The employee must make this request in writing to their employer and should include the date of the application, the nature of the change in working conditions they are seeking, and when this change would come into effect.

If an employee fails to attend a meeting to discuss their application or appeal and fails to attend a rearranged meeting without a good reason for example, illness, an employer can consider the request as withdrawn and must then inform the employee.

When an employer receives a request, they must deal with it in a reasonable manner and notify the employee of the outcome, including the result of any appeal, within a 3-month period unless an extended timeframe has been agreed with the employee.

If an employer chooses to reject a statutory request, they may only do so on one or more of the following statutory grounds:

  • Burden of additional costs on the business
  • Inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • Inability to recruit additional staff
  • Detrimental impact on quality of work
  • Detrimental impact on work performance
  • Detrimental to meeting customer demand
  • Insufficient work for periods employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes to the workforce or business


What constitutes a “reasonable manner”?

Requests for flexible working must be dealt with by an employer in a reasonable manner, and failure to do so could mean an employee has the right to complain to an employment tribunal.

While an employee may not take their case to a tribunal simply because their application was denied, they may do so if their application was incorrectly treated as withdrawn or was rejected based on incorrect data. Dismissal or poor treatment for example, being denied a promotion or pay rise of an employee due to their request can likewise be grounds for a tribunal hearing.

Employers should always ensure compliance with their own internal flexible working policies, along with the Acas code of practice on handling in a reasonable manner requests to work flexibly.

Though there is no statutory right for an employee to appeal a decision on their request, offering an appeals process does allow an employer to demonstrate they are handling flexible working requests in a reasonable manner. In these cases, it is important that both the employer and employee follow the company procedure on appeals.

Proper implementation of flexible working

Along with a balanced approach to dealing with flexible working requests, it is also important for employers to consider the wider impact of any flexible working company policies they may choose to implement.

Employers must ensure that any flexible working policies they are considering will not result in certain groups of employees being unfairly prejudiced. If any employees are put at a disadvantage from improper implementation of these policies, it may give rise to a discrimination claim.

One example of this is termed the “childcare disparity” between men and women, whereby women are less likely to accommodate certain work patterns due to a greater burden of childcare responsibility. Employers must therefore consider these responsibilities and any other constraints that could impact employees’ ability to work flexibly.

Likewise, flexible working opportunities should be extended to those unable to work from home to avoid benefitting only those with office-based roles. This could include job sharing, part-time working or flexi-time.

Certain employee rights must also be upheld when working flexibly or remotely, including equal treatment to office-based employees, and access to the same training and promotion opportunities.

Employers should remain mindful of their obligations towards data protection in cases where personal data in stored at an employees’ home and should ensure the same health and safety standards extend to home-based employees as those in the office.


The pandemic has had a huge impact on employees’ approaches to work and the need for flexibility in many cases, leaving companies forced to adapt to these changes as restrictions are lifted.

While the Government considers plans to make flexible working the default, employers will need to weigh up the potential benefits, such as increased productivity, against potential negative impacts on collaboration and team cohesion.

If you have concerns about how these changes could affect your business and how to handle requests for flexible working from staff then seek legal advice from a specialist employment lawyer who can advise you on keeping your company policy up to date and the best course of action when handling these requests.

Why Improved Digital Solutions Sit at the Heart of a Successful Office

The pandemic has changed a lot for businesses, whether that’s their customers’ buying behaviour or product demands.

One of the biggest challenges for many businesses was the shift to home working. In March 2020, companies who hadn’t already implemented dedicated digital solutions scrabbled to adapt. Digital transformation was accelerated – McKinsey found that businesses sped up their digitisation by three to four years.

Digital solutions will be key to our business success in the office and beyond. Here, we cover some of the key ways you can use digital solutions to drive your business forwards.


Hybrid communication is key

2020 was the year of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Whether we implemented them into the workplace for remote collaboration or we joined a Zoom quiz, video calls epitomised our year. Now that the work-from-home order has been lifted, it may be less essential to some businesses, but it’s still an invaluable tool.

The many businesses that have embraced flexible working will see the value in continuing to utilise these tools. There’s no better way to mimic in-person sessions than via a video call, and we know that this can keep remote employees engaged.

Our sporadic inability to travel for work over the past 18 months has made many of us re-evaluate how necessary it is. If your North East-based business has clients in London that you used to visit, save precious resources by hosting online meetings. Reserve those trips across the country for critical reviews instead.


Drive performance with visibility

For employees coming into the office, there are ways you can use digital solutions to maximise performance. Displaying your company objectives on digital signage screens will help to motivate your staff. This works especially well if you have a large in-office sales or customer service teams who work to defined KPIs.

It also gives them an understanding of how their work contributes to the business’ overall goals. What’s more, when employee and business goals are shared with more senior staff members, people are more likely to achieve them. Sharing real-time data on screens around the office will keep your employees committed to meeting their KPIs and the company’s overall goals.


Blend business and pleasure

The true value of digital solutions during the pandemic was seen in how they enabled us to remain connected. The ability to chat via Microsoft Teams, for example, allowed us to feel close to our colleagues even as we were separated.

Injecting some fun into your solutions is a great way to keep your hybrid workforce engaged too. Whether that’s setting up a fun chat on Microsoft Teams where you host midday quizzes or sharing employees’ personal news on a dedicated intranet site, you can foster a great culture wherever your employees are.


Keep systems up to date for productivity gains

As well as implementing new digital solutions, chances are that your business has also updated its core systems in the past year. If not, perhaps it’s time to do so. A survey by Dell found out exactly how impactful good and bad technology is on your employees, and the results are stark.

Not only can employees achieve 37% more in a workday when the technology they rely on works well, but for every hour worked, they can save a huge 23 minutes. That equates to 15 hours in a 40-hour working week, highlighting how essential functional technology is to your workforce.

Outdated systems and hardware can hold up your employees, not only impacting their productivity but also their stress levels. The same study found that bad technology can double employee stress levels – with it being 30% more stressful than public singing. That says something!

The pandemic and subsequent work from home order accelerated business technology adoption in a way we’ve never seen before. This has been a silver lining of the past 18 months as businesses have implemented digital solutions. Whether your office is active once again or you’ve adopted a hybrid working model, these are the key areas where you can improve performance in your business through digital solutions.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Employee Wellbeing Strategy

The COVID-19 pandemic and multiple national lockdowns have once again highlighted the importance of employee wellbeing. One survey found that 36% of employees struggled with their mental health because of the way they were working during the pandemic.

11 million days a year are lost due to workplace stress, so this is clearly a pressing issue. Employee wellbeing should be a priority in any business, regardless of your sector. Employees who feel they are being looked after are happier and more satisfied with their job and their workplace. Happy employees are also more productive and loyal to their business.

If you don’t have a formal strategy in place and you’re not sure where to start, this article will guide you through implementing a comprehensive and successful workplace wellbeing strategy.

Understand what employee wellbeing means in your business

Wellbeing can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s the overarching matter of employees’ workplace experience, happiness, and satisfaction, and it branches into a number of areas. It feeds directly into the performance of the business and affects morale, staffing, and productivity.

For others, it’s a laser focus on mental health in the workplace and comes with the availability of counselling and mental health support. Some businesses focus on physical health support with healthy eating and activity initiatives. In reality, there is no one definition, but it covers many of these elements.

How a workplace and an employee’s role affects them personally is a key tenet of employee wellbeing. Initiatives to reduce stress and workload in the workplace are where many businesses start with their wellbeing strategy. This is especially important as work is the biggest cause of stress in the UK.

Gauge your employees’ baseline wellbeing

When creating an employee wellbeing strategy, it’s important to tailor it to your business and your people. Frontline NHS workers will have starkly different wellbeing needs than employees at an accounting firm.

Engage your employees to find out what they need support with and what they’d like to see from a wellbeing strategy. Many corporations will jump into this head-first and incorporate trendy initiatives like relaxation areas without consulting their employees when what they really want is more support for their emotional wellbeing.

Carrying out a confidential survey into the existing wellbeing of your employees is recommended because you’ll be able to identify trends, such as people struggling with anxiety since returning to the office. A further exploration of what your people want and expect from a wellbeing strategy will help you prioritise your initiatives.

Identify your priorities

Once you’ve received feedback from your employees, it’s time to put it into action. If most people would like confidential mental health counselling available to them, this should be your top priority. Establishing short-, medium-, and long-term goals will help you create a rounded strategy that incorporates all areas of wellbeing while prioritising the most pressing.

Your wellbeing strategy might begin with the introduction of a 24/7 confidential counselling support line, which is immediately available to employees. Then, three months down the line, you could look at rolling out an initiative focused on small healthy changes your employees can make, like taking more breaks away from their desks or offering free fruit as snacks. Longer-term, you could incorporate weekly workload reviews for all employees to help them prioritise and manage their tasks.

Offer a blended approach to wellbeing

By now, you should understand the most pressing issues facing your workforce and prioritise your actions. It’s important to offer employees multiple options when it comes to improving their wellbeing. While some may utilise your newly introduced counselling line, for example, others may prefer to seek support privately.

Introducing private health cover is a great way of allowing your employees to seek support in the way that suits them best. After all, if they’re not comfortable using a work-mandated support line, they may be put off from seeking support at all. Offering a health cash plan or private health insurance means they can seek their own support and claim the money back.

The great thing about these solutions is that they cover many options that you may not have considered, like physiotherapy and dental care. Giving employees the opportunity to address multiple health needs is a great way to make them feel valued.

Promote and measure your wellbeing efforts

A recent survey showed that 35% of employees don’t know or understand their company’s benefits. What’s the point of putting the hard work into a wellbeing strategy if your employees don’t even know it exists?

Hosting sessions on the support available is a great way to introduce both new and existing employees to your wellbeing offerings. These sessions can also double as feedback tools – your strategy should never stay static but should instead evolve around your people’s changing needs.

It’s important to promote this externally too. 80% of jobseekers would choose good benefits and support over a higher salary, so this is essential to your recruitment efforts too. In a crowded market, you’ll be able to stand out to prospective employees with your wellbeing initiatives.

We know that employee wellbeing initiatives offer a range of benefits for both your people and your business. Supported employees are happier and healthier, which leads to better productivity and increased loyalty. This ultimately translates to better productivity, which allows your business to perform better. Carrying out further confidential surveys will allow you to measure the success of your strategy.

Workplace wellbeing is now more important than ever after an especially challenging year. People who are unsatisfied and don’t feel supported at work are more likely to leave and will be less productive. Not only will creating a workplace wellbeing strategy help you to look after your valued employees, but it’ll also translate to improved performance for your business. By following these steps, you can put an effective, flexible strategy in place that’s tailored to your people.

Issue 9 2021

Welcome to the September issue of CEO Monthly.

As always, CEO Monthly is dedicated to providing the latest news and features across the business world to our readership. By sharing knowledge, insights, expertise and success stories from around the globe, we aim to inspire individuals and promote positivity in a world that is in a constant state of evolution.

Although the weather we have recently been enjoying might suggest otherwise, summer is indeed wrapping up. Sad as that fact may be for some, for others its back to work at full speed and excitement for all that lies ahead in the final months of 2021.

In this month’s issue of CEO Monthly, we meet some of the CEOs from across the globe who are looking ahead to the remainder of the year and beyond with great enthusiasm. While it has been a challenging period for all, many have thrived in adversity and are now excited about what the future holds. From hygiene goliaths to innovative technological developments, we’ve spotlighted just a few of the most exciting businesses from around the world that have big plans for the rest of the year.

As ever, we hope you enjoy this September issue of CEO Monthly and the success stories from across the globe that it holds. Have a great month ahead.  

Five Ways to Keep Employees Engaged Post-pandemic

As employees venture back to the workplace post-pandemic, employers must reconsider how to re-engage staff to help prevent high staff turnover, reduced productivity and low morale.

New ways of working have challenged businesses, meaning it has become increasingly important to ensure employees don’t feel isolated and they remain connected to a larger purpose on their return.

Since the pandemic started, HR specialists Breedon Consulting have had a surge of questions from employers needing advice on how to keep employees motivated and productive once their period of furlough or working from home has come to an end – be that part-time or full-time.

We know that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202% (Gallup), therefore, the team have outlined five key areas that businesses can focus upon to ensure staff remain confident and thrive.

Managing director of Breedon Consulting, Nicki Robson, said: “Reintroducing either furloughed workers or those who have been used to working at home brings with it a new set of challenges.

“As workers have become accustomed to a different environment its extremely important to engage with them effectively on return to the workplace – the impact of this transition can be reduced by following our one-to-one advice.”

1. Communicate the overall business strategy

It’s vital that on return to the workplace staff understand your business position and strategy clearly following the impact of Covid-19. It can be a worrying time for employees, with questions around how the business is performing and in turn how that may affect their position and flexibility.

Be transparent, communicate effectively any changes and share any future business plans or goals. This will directly correspond to how their role adds value within the wider commercial setting, and allow the employee to feel respected and involved.


2. Relay role expectations and opportunities for progression

Outline clear responsibilities to staff, monthly expectations, and if appropriate, re-communicate clear KPIs – allowing performance to be measured effectively by both the business and individual. Communicate any career opportunities and consider providing training. This should help to re- establish motivation, clarity and confidence within the workplace.


3. Have fun

After such a long period, it can be a daunting prospect to acclimatise to a sociable office environment and work alongside colleagues again. Ensure to put together a calendar of activities and events to aid an employee’s adjustment. Think about activities that will unite your team – perhaps a common interest. It will help boost team morale and can also provide a level of healthy competition in the workplace.

If members of staff are working from home – put in place Zoom socials or set aside time where teams can talk about things other than work.

4. Create a safe space to share 

During the pandemic, employees faced many stresses including job security, health and safety. With so many employees becoming accustomed to the benefits from working from home – it was inevitable workers would start to require levels of flexibility and support. Create a safe space for employees to share any concerns or needs they may have on return to the workplace. Consider sending out anonymous surveys or creating a staff forum where workers feel able to share their worries.


5. Adapt and update the working environment

Adapting to sitting at a desk daily when it’s become a norm to work from the comfort of your sofa could encourage a shift in how we perceive the office environment. Consider adding a ‘breakout’ area for individuals to work on laptops and ensure there is a space to eat lunch away from their desk. Factors such as increased interruptions and noise could be unsettling, so provide quiet areas for working. Also consider allowing employees to wear headphones if this wasn’t in your policy previously.

Building Resilience Is Key for Companies to Adapt

Resilience is not a personality trait, it is something all employees can improve upon, says Towergate Health & Protection, and this opens up potential for everyone – particularly crucial as we need to adapt to living with Covid-19. Resilience is of benefit to both the employer and to the employee. It is not just about managing stress but giving staff the means to deal with pressure and stop it becoming overwhelming. People who are emotionally well and resilient have fewer negative emotions and are able to bounce back from difficulties faster.

Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection says: “While defining, building and supporting resilience is not always easy, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that resilience is not a personality trait, it is something that can be taught and learned, something that everyone can takes steps to achieve – and that provides an opportunity for everyone.”

Start as you mean to go on

The first step in building resilience is understanding the workforce and having a baseline reading of how resilient employees are and what stresses they deal with in their work and home lives. From here, employers can identify the biggest risk factors and address them.

The company culture also needs to be right in the first place and will need to be one that encourages resilience. It is important to remember that this is not about being able to give employees greater workloads but enabling them to better cope with the work that they are required to do.   

Discussions about resilience should start at the interview and induction, and progress from there. It should be made clear that the company wants to help build the resilience of its employees. This dialogue around resilience should be included from the start and the skill should be deemed as important as knowing how to log-on to the company’s systems. Companies that have robust support in improving resilience will fare better in recruiting the best talent.

Make the tools available

Ideally a company should provide a range of resources that appeal across the board and can be utilised as required.


Health risk assessments help to build a picture of the workforce’s overall wellbeing. Once this has been established, employers can act upon any risks identified. It is important not only for the employer to understand the resilience of their staff but also for individuals to understand their own resilience.


Mental health first aider training can be a great way to provide support, and it can often be sourced through benefits providers, such as those that provide group risk benefits. Many benefits providers will also offer webinars, apps and hubs for additional support.

Training in stress and resilience enables employees to explore and recognise triggers to stress and gain insight into resilience – what it is and how to develop it – helping them to keep mentally healthy. Withstanding change and disruption is something in which employees can be trained and is especially useful around situations like Covid. Line managers can also receive training on how to lead through change, giving them tools to run a successful organisational change initiative.

Employee benefits

There are specific and specialist employee benefits, devices, and methods that can help to guide and coach employees in resilience and the techniques they can utilise. These include apps and tools that provide regular and personalised tips.

Adapt the offering

There is no one single solution or booster to resilience that will be relevant to every company and workforce. Much will depend on the employee demographics. The industry the business is in will, to some extent, give an indication of some of the typical pressures and stressors. Each individual will deal with stress in different ways and will need different motivators and support. It is vital, therefore, to have solutions that will appeal to as many personalities and demographics as possible and it’s important that employers are prepared to adapt the approach in line with specific requirements.

Debra Clark says: “There is support for resilience within many health and wellbeing benefits. Within our own company we have run webinars on resilience for our staff. We have found that repetition of messages and offering bite-sized information, along with refreshers, is a very useful approach.

“It’s important to remember that resilience is something we all have the ability to learn and build upon, and by doing so it will fulfill our emotional wellness.”

Diversity Data & Gender Equality: How Much Do We Really Want It?

We live in a world where equality, in numerous forms, continues to reside at the forefront of many people’s minds. From gender to race and everything in between, things have certainly improved, but there is still a very long way to go.

Today, there are a mere six female CEOs in the UK FTSE 100, with the average male CEO earning 17% more than the average female CEO. Gender equality has been in the spotlight far longer than other protected characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age and it continues to remain prominent.

And here, CEO and founder of AssessFirst, the innovative artificial intelligence recruitment firm, David Bernard, asks why, if we are losing the battle for gender equality in the FTSE 100, we should expect to see diversity, equity and inclusion successes across a much wider cross section of the business community.


A race to equality and diversity

The business case for gender, cultural and ethnic diversity is strong, and is only getting stronger.

Since 2015, McKinsey has conducted extensive research and produced compelling reports that demonstrate ironically, whilst the business case for diversity is robust, international progress is weak.

The latest reports show that those pushing ahead with gender diversity are 25% more likely to financially outperform companies in the bottom quartile. What’s more, for ethnic and cultural diversity, the top quartile companies are 36% more likely to be profitable than bottom quartile companies.

The UK (aside from the US) leads the way with gender equality on executive teams. But representation here only grew by 5% between 2014 and 2019. McKinsey’s global data set for 2017-2019 shows a mere 1% increase. This pitiful and indeed slowing progress is a problem. We need to do better.

Yes, the UK and the US lead the way with gender diversity, but there is still a long way to go, and neighbouring countries need to make quick and impactful changes.

And, let’s not forget, whilst gender equality is of pressing importance, businesses and leaders should ensure that other cases, such as culture and ethnicity, are considered no less important.


A knock-on effect

I see a lack of diversity and equality in workforces as a psychological manifestation of who we are.

We, as are all humans, are programmed to find differences in our perceptions distasteful. We just do not like change – even if we adapt to it in the end – and even ‘feedback’ on our actions is naturally offensive to us.

So, with that in mind, it is inevitable that we have ended up in a situation where we have an echo chamber of talent that isn’t necessarily supported by objective performance data.

The problem manifests itself everywhere; from the executive hires in the world’s biggest companies to the latest bartender pulling pints at the local pub.

Conventional hiring and recruitment, such as only using a CV to identify and rank talent, is part of the root cause of bias decision-making (however implicit it may be) because the initial filter sifts candidates based on their upbringing, education, experience, or even appearance.

We are, thankfully, at the start of a movement of change. But this is a problem that is hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of years in the making. We need to unpick that problem with a collaborative and collective effort.


Covid-19 impacted diversity, equality and inclusion progress

There has been a polarisation of diversity, equality and inclusion efforts, also known as DE&I, as a fallout of Covid-19, the ongoing pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.

In the spring of 2020, companies rightly turned their attention to the Covid-19 crisis. Most have continued to do so – either to stay afloat or even gain a competitive advantage – which meant DE&I became more of a focus for some whilst a matter of less significance for others. 

Those that deprioritised DE&I – perhaps as a short-term measure to consolidate HR and hiring resources – have weakened their position; whether that is in their ability to retain, recruit, or mobilise their workforce, or even all those stages in the talent lifecycle.

Diverse talent is often most at-risk during times of challenge and hardship, as downsizing can have a disproportionate impact on roles held by those from more diverse backgrounds. And with increased home-working practices, all manner of inequalities can manifest in ways that will hit the bottom line and badly impact minorities.

For example, those who are managing childcare responsibilities during periods of isolation or school closures or those who are living in shared accommodation may be frequently working against the odds in order to keep pace with their peers.

Without a diverse collective of perspective catering to a diverse workforce, these problems can multiply to cripple performance from the ground up.


The acceleration of DE&I

The generational leap of tech-first remote working for so many companies provided an opportunity to build inclusive and agile cultures. Though we may be coming out of the ‘crisis’, there remains a golden opportunity – and one that businesses should seize.

Traditional management structures, reinforced by physical office environments, have been fundamentally changed forever – even if we see a hybrid home-office working pattern become the norm from this point onward.

With this revolution, HR departments find themselves in a situation a pathway to achieving diversity and inclusion goals seems more realistic.


Make or break: what’s next?

There is no silver bullet. There is much to consider and even more to do.

But, with a few simple changes, real and meaningful progress is possible. What encourages me is that with all the companies that I speak to, particularly within the UK, there is almost wholesale agreement that this is an important issue – notwithstanding the economic arguments. However, the same cannot be said for all other countries across the globe.

The most common question I receive from those who recognise the criticality of this however is, “But, where do we start?”.

And to that, my response is always the same; “What is the data telling you? What is your workforce saying about your DE&I efforts?”

We must know what the scale of the problem is before we can tackle it. Every single company is unique, and the manner of their ideal solution is unique to suit.

Once the problem is identified, I recommend a few ideas that can be considered to start spinning the wheels of change:

  1. Get unbiased views of candidate potential (internal and external)
  2. Consult with your DE&I team, committee, or lead when publishing job descriptions
  3. Implement DE&I training for your workforce
  4. Offer remote working opportunities where practical and appropriate

I’m proud that AssessFirst continues to help companies of all shapes and sizes with their DE&I goals through our data-led psychometric technology. We practice what we preach with our own remote workforce and using this technology as part of our own talent lifecycle management. But I recognise that fantastic technology is most effective when it is embedded as a part of a wider reaching strategy.

I have hope for the future, though there is ongoing work to do, and there will be for quite some time. But as the UK economy stirs back to life within what feels like the closing chapters of ‘crisis’, we can also bring the equality gaps to a close with renewed urgency.

Working in partnership with a handful of partners in the UK, we created a Diversity and Inclusion strategy guide. Whether it is for you or a colleague, you can get it for free by clicking the link below:

For business and media enquiries contact  Fran Prince on [email protected] 

5 Key Sustainability Trends in the Post-Covid World of Work

There’s always been something rather bittersweet about the back-to-school season. On one hand, it marks when the mornings start to feel a little more crisp, the return to the grind after that last bank holiday until Christmas. On the other, there’s a sense of hopeful optimism – a chance for new beginnings and an opportunity to return to work feeling refreshed.

That notion rings particularly true this year, as many of us also make the long-awaited journey back into the office. But just because we’re now returning to our old desks doesn’t mean we should automatically fall back into old ways.

Even before the pandemic, sustainability was firmly placed on the global agenda, but almost by chance Covid-19 has had some truly positive side-effects on the way we work; with our offices, businesses and commutes all becoming greener. Here, we outline five sustainable initiatives that workplaces can embrace to catalyse a change for the better.


1. Sustainability as a Growth Driver

The importance of sustainability has grown for companies across sizes, sectors, and regions. Nearly half of the UK workforce admits to being more environmentally responsible at home than they are in the office, mainly due to a lack of control over green activities at work and a lack of information around their employer’s energy and sustainability policies. However, 69% of businesses say they would support their workforce to reduce the impact on the environment.

Companies are also feeling pressure from their customers and their competitors to become more sustainable, yet at the same time, they acknowledge that sustainability is a growth driver. In fact, sustainability is cited as the fourth biggest growth driver among companies looking to expand in the next two years, behind the strength of the customer base, the quality and availability of the workforce and the quality and availability of suppliers and raw materials.

Recent global lockdowns due to the pandemic have encouraged debate around the sustainability of businesses, office space and commercial property; sparking a change in the way we think about work and the way we interact with our environment every day.

Therefore, it’s little wonder that companies are increasing their level of investment to become more environmentally sustainable. 45 per cent of companies surveyed say they plan to increase investment in the next 1-2 years – among them 65 per cent plan to increase their level of investment by more than 5 per cent.

According to new data by Tech Nation, European ‘net zero’ start-ups (categorised as companies which have no negative impact on the environment) raised a total of £2.1 billion from venture capital funds last year – a 129% increase on the year before – and a testament to sustainability’s growing prevalence pre-Covid-19. Although agile start-ups are leading the way when it comes to sustainability, larger businesses are also taking steps to become more sustainable; from incorporating green roofs, to reducing their plastic footprint, and using environmentally friendly promotional materials, start-ups and corporate giants alike are noticing changing consumer attitudes and using the pandemic as a catalyst for change, reducing their carbon footprint and adjusting their practices.

Forward-thinking companies around the country are beginning to embrace this trend as part of accelerated action towards tackling climate change. Print company Solopress, which produces products such as business cards, flyers and posters, saw a notable increase in demand for their Solopress Green range of sustainably produced and recyclable products during the pandemic months, reflecting the increased environmental awareness of businesses.  

Simon Cooper, Managing Director at Solopress commented “In recent years, we’ve seen a marked rise in demand for eco-friendly print products. Following this increased demand for the sustainable materials within our core-range, we introduced Solopress Green to offer customers the further assurance of CO2 neutral paper production. The response has been phenomenal, confirming that our customers share our concern for the environment, and that they’re prepared to adapt their buying habits to minimise their impact.”


2. Increase in Flexible Working

It’s safe to say that Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of flexible working. Regular lockdowns forced many companies to work from home – even those that were reluctant to work anywhere but the office. Working from home, as well as other types of flexible working, such as staggered hours, co-working spaces, and working closer to home, will continue to form a part of our working lives in the future.

While this partly comes down to ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic, it’s also a consequence of our newfound focus on flexibility. Even before the pandemic, experts were predicting that half of the UK workforce would be working remotely by 2020, but the pandemic has demonstrated that different people, roles and tasks require different parameters for optimal performance.

Even working from home or from a more local co-working space for one or two days a week can help businesses reduce their CO2 emissions and achieve a lower carbon footprint. In addition, providing flexibility in terms of working environments, places, working hours, and agile working setups can boost employee productivity, engagement, and happiness.

Undeniably, despite our newfound acceptance of remote working, there is a growing need for businesses to provide office space for their employees to develop their skills, collaborate and learn from one another. Although most people have certainly enjoyed this newfound flexibility in our working lives, research suggesting that ‘Zoom Fatigue’ is real demonstrates that people are also sincerely missing their office environments – and everything that comes with them. 

In fact, research by Knight Frank shows that only 8% of UK employees want to work from home five days a week, and 53% of UK businesses said they wanted their offices to feature more collaboration space. So, while the demand for flexibility continues, social capital remains critical to finding the right balance.


3. Active Commuting

As businesses return to the office, some employees are nervous about commuting while the Covid-19 virus continues to exist among the population. As a result, active commuting – commuting on cycle, on foot, or by e-scooter – has become a popular way to both avoid public transport and break up a sedentary working day.

At the start of lockdown, Britain’s biggest cycle retailer, Halfords, reported a 500% jump in sales on selected cycling equipment. In addition, cycle-to-work schemes (which offer tax benefits to employees buying bicycles and equipment) have seen sales double.

All this points to the fact that businesses are keen to embrace a more sustainable commute, and it’s likely this trend will continue, with employers looking to provide offices fit for an active commute, installing showers and secure bike racks.


4. Sustainable Office Spaces

It’s evident that the pandemic has kickstarted a new wave of green thinking in the world of work. In fact, 56% of consumers feel that reducing single-use plastics, lowering carbon footprints and behaving more sustainability have become ‘a lot more important’ since the pandemic.

A survey of over 1,000 young people has revealed that 57% per cent of people aged between 18 and 34 would prefer to work for an employer who shared their environmental values. In response to these findings, more and more businesses should make sustainability a key part of their employee engagement and hiring strategy, highlighting the use of renewable energy in the workplace, conveying how the company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and understanding that equality and diversity are critical factors.

As well as more sustainable office spaces, businesses are realising the value of creating spaces that are less traditional, incorporating sleep pods, mothers’ rooms, gyms and workout facilities, and placing a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing; encouraging staff to take time out for yoga, tai chi, or even volleyball.

The concept of ‘Biophilia’, popularised by psychologist Edward Wilson in 1984, describes the innate relationship between humans and nature and is one of the key drivers behind the shift towards more sustainable workspaces. Studies have found that bringing in elements into a work environment that allow direct connection with nature (such as parks and lakes) or indirect connections (interior design using natural elements), can help alleviate stress in the workplace, restore calm and provide respite for employees. Businesses that take proactive steps to promote employee wellness can improve their financial performance by up to 10% and reduce sick days by 27%.

5. Greener Data

Every move we make in the online world has a real-world environmental impact. From responding to emails in our inboxes to photos and videos on the cloud, every file hosted online is stored on a server that requires energy to house, cool, power, and maintain.

The average email user hoards about 10,000 emails in their account, and over the course of a year, one inbox consumes enough energy to drive 212 meters. This alone isn’t so bad but what happens when thousands or even millions of people hoard emails? All the inboxes in the UK consume enough energy to drive to the Moon and back 18 times!

By 2023, it’s projected that over 347 billion emails will be sent and received globally every day. That’s an awful lot of data sitting around in inboxes, and if we just leave it there, its impact will only get bigger.

It’s a small part of a much bigger problem, but if businesses and employees alike take control of their data storage, then it can make a real difference to collective energy consumption. Managing newsletter subscriptions, reducing email file sizes, deleting calendar invites, and deleting old email accounts can be great ways of keeping your inbox in check.

Aside from emails, websites can also have varying levels of carbon consumption; considering each aspect of web design from an energy consumption perspective can help to make your website much greener than most other sites. For example, using high contrast colours, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs), cloud-hosted web fonts, static web pages, and green hosting services can all help when designing low energy websites and reducing their respective carbon signature.

A Greener Future

With the COP26 conference taking place in the UK between 31st October and 12th November 2021, giving the UK a chance to step up as a global leader in tackling the climate crisis, a global focus on greener living and sustainable business practices looks to continue. Recent findings from HSBC also show that three in four businesses have set sustainability targets in 2021 and 86% expect their sales to grow as a result of adopting more sustainable practices.

It’s encouraging to see that although the pandemic has created numerous unforeseen challenges in the business world, the unique circumstances have presented new idea and opportunities for businesses to reflect and adapt their practices to make positive environmental change possible.

Could the Employment Bill Pose a Risk to Businesses?

With the Employment Bill back in the limelight, Amanda Badley, head of employment at BHW Solicitors, a leading UK law firm, urges employers to find a synergy between business need vs business want.

The proposed Employment Bill (Bill) has been in the pipeline for some time, being first announced in 2019. One of the fundamental elements of the Bill is to make flexible working the default position; effectively flipping the current situation in which employees’ only have a right to request flexible working.

Over the last 18 months, the Bill was placed on the back burner, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Labour party are now pushing for the Bill to be at the forefront of the Employment Law agenda.

The pandemic has forced both businesses and their employees to work differently, changing the working landscape considerably. Unsurprisingly, many more people (including business owners) now want the option to work from home, at least for part of their working week. 

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has reported that the number of people working from home in 2020 increased to 37%, up from 27% in 2019. Further, job adverts referring to homeworking are three times above that which were recorded in February 2020, suggesting that many businesses are going to adopt permanent hybrid working arrangements for their office-based staff.

This trend is likely to encourage the implementation of the Bill and therefore flexible working as the default position. It is therefore important that organisations consider what this means for them, and how they will navigate the potential difficulties this presents.

When speaking with clients, I advise them to first consider how flexible working fits with their business operations currently. While it is important to embrace the changes on the horizon regarding flexible working, there has to  be a balance with ensuring businesses continue to run efficiently and effectively, as there is no one size fits all.

Employees are likely to push for flexible arrangements that suit their lifestyle, or give them a better work/life balance, and while a positive attitude from employers is key when considering these requests, compromise between the parties is essential. There may also be times where flexible working simply cannot be accommodated, and others, where the employer has no justification for not permitting it.

Whilst my experience is that most employees have, at a minimum, wanted to return to office- based working on a part time basis, there are still employees that are reticent to return to office working. This has been for a number of reasons; however, health and safety concerns are prominent due to the pandemic. Some employees have raised issue with working alongside colleagues who are not vaccinated. Unsurprisingly, employees who are vulnerable or pregnant have also raised concerns about returning to the workspace. More generally, employees may have strong views about the policy decisions of the employer, for example, lateral flow testing and the wearing of masks. These latter issues have been raised with me regularly.

I always reassure clients that juggling government guidance and regulations will be difficult and there will always be employees to challenge policy decisions made. As long as employers have well thought out policies and procedures in place to protect staff, and they have justifiable reasons for requesting employees to return to the workspace, they should not be afraid to request them to do so.

When approaching the concept of flexible working, there are certain considerations and steps that I recommend businesses take:

  1. Approach flexible working with a can-do attitude. Remember that currently, you can always trial an arrangement and if it does not work, then there is no obligation to make it permanent.
  2. Forward thinking is key – It is important that time is taken to consider how the business can effectively run if all or the majority of its staff had some type of flexible working arrangement. If consideration is not given from the outset, there is a risk that decisions will be made without thought for the business as a whole.
  3. Applying a consistent approach to dealing with flexible working is crucial to minimising the risk of discrimination claims. If requests will not be dealt with centrally, managers should be given training and guidance to ensure that the business is operating as one.
  4. Be reasonable. If your employees can work successfully under flexible arrangements, this could be a positive for a business and could improve morale and productivity.
  5. Don’t forget mental health. Out of sight, out of mind is a concept all too familiar to many. The pandemic has certainly seen businesses adapt to virtual means of communication and this should not lapse.
  6. Where necessary, undertake risk assessments. These may be in the workplace or at the employees’ home but either way, the employer has a responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for all its staff.
  7. Put policies in place that deal with all of the above. This way employees will know where they stand and be reassured that everyone is being treated equally. If adopting hybrid working arrangements, having a specific policy that sets out how this works is advisable.

The way in which people work has drastically changed over the past two years. With offices being redesigned, the increase in remote Zoom meetings and many businesses undergoing structural changes, it’s more important now than ever before, for employers to demonstrate themselves as innovative and forward-thinking in the face of continual change, while helping with the retention of morale, motivation, and mental health in the workplace.

The 4 Key Points for You to Follow to Be a Leader, Not a Manager

Managing a team of people comes with a new level of responsibilities. But have you ever considered the vast difference between being a manager and a leader? Harvard Business Review reports that 30 is the average age of a first-time manager while 40 is the age where people first embark on leadership training. This is a decade of lost years of building leadership skills – this can lead to ingraining bad habits and not practising to improve your style.

Being a manager doesn’t automatically make you a leader. The main difference between a manager and a leader is that managers delegate tasks to those who work for them whereas leaders have people follow them and believe in what they’re setting out for the company. The best part of the last year has demonstrated that leaders need to be prepared and agile to respond to protect their business and employees.

Here, we will determine the four ways that managers can transform themselves into leaders.

Respect goes two ways

Firstly, and most importantly, be respectable. Respect should be earned, not expected – no employee is going to consider a manager their leader if they don’t respect them. There are a number of things you should consider in order to gain your employees’ respect. After all, if they respect you, they’re likely to work harder for you, cooperate more with others, be more creative, resilient, and likely to take direction.

These include:

  • Leading by example. Be prepared to pick up tasks big and small, for example making your own cup of coffee or printing copies out to hand out to the workforce.
  • Listen to your team. Open the floor for others to speak and allow them to voice their opinions on how to improve things. Holding steady team meetings opens up a dialogue of feedback and ideas.
  • Follow through on deadlines and agreements. If you can’t meet your own deadlines, why should your team? If you offer to help someone on a particular project, honour that promise.
  • Accept responsibility if things don’t work out.


Communication is key

Never underestimate the power of communication. Managers with poor communication skills often alienate their workers, leaving the team confused and with little faith that things are being run properly. Take time to communicate your ideas, expectations, strategies, and everything in between, making everyone else feel involved in what’s going on. You can do this by thinking of any strategy the same as telling a story to someone who knows nothing about it. You can focus on things you don’t know or what you need to understand yourself in order to relay it others.

By involving your team and keeping them engaged, this will also allow successful executions and a happy, motivated team – you can’t expect a strategy to work if it isn’t understood and nobody is committed.

Shape company culture

Leaders should contribute to an active company culture. If workers’ characteristics don’t fit into the culture, this could influence their decision to leave. By defining a culture early on and recruiting those who fit into the talent pool, employees will feel comfortable which will have a positive effect on their performance.

Harvard Business carried out research to find out which qualities are most important in leaders. 700 workers were asked which qualities they value the most – 70 per cent agreed that creating a culture of engagement is a very important attribute and results in lower turnover rates, more productivity, and more profitability.

This reiterates what was mentioned in the first section – leaders must lead by example. They can determine how valued traits are within the business, for example, communication, integrity, and commitment. Employees who work in an engaging culture with their leader will have positive opinions about the company and will be strong advocates.

Leadership training programs

Go over and beyond for your team and consider enrolling on leadership training programs. which are designed to guide leaders through key issues and how to effectively adopt forward-thinking strategies. Organisations are constantly evolving in the modern world, therefore so does the nature of leading. Building on agile and reactive skills can help you become a capable and inspiring leader.

Leaders certainly have a big responsibility to inspire and encourage their workers – so it is important to do it properly.

Five Things an Employer Needs to Instill in Remote Teams to Halt the Rise of Ransomware

Ransomware up by over 200% in the first half of 2021 – what can an employer do to advise staff?

ProLion, a best-in-class proactive ransomware and data protection solution for ONTAP storage, has today issued five top tips for employers looking to secure their organisations from ransomware attacks as a direct result of insider threats or plain negligence.

Ransomware is on the rise globally targeting industry and organisations with a number of high-profile attacks already this year. It is without doubt creating a number of significant cybersecurity challenges.

Robert Graf, Founder, ProLion, stated: “Ransomware is a type of malware where key files are encrypted by hackers that then renders data inaccessible to the victim. To put it bluntly it is criminal extortion which sees hackers promising to restore systems and data when ransom is paid by the victim.

“But with many employees still working remotely, many organisations are struggling with breaches as a direct result of poor security management. This can and does open the door to an insider threat – either through negligence or malicious intent. As a result, we have developed a Five Point Plan for HR and risk and compliance teams which, if implemented throughout a distributed enterprise, will lead to reduced risk of attack.”

  1. Don’t store proprietary data on personal laptops: this makes any remote worker a highly attractive target in the first place.  This risk has increased dramatically as a result of people working from home as a result of the pandemic. And while efforts have been made with the roll-out of new security levels, if your employee still stores data on their hard drive, not a lot will stop the hackers and while this is plain negligence, businesses must also recognise the issue of insider threats.
  2. Be sensible with your digital profiles: employers must begin to take a stronger line on employees who continually post where they work and what they do.  Guidance needs to be issued to all employees on what can and cannot be posted on social media in relation to their jobs.  No-one is suggesting pulling off social media platforms altogether, just being more circumspect on what information is posted.
  3. A word about passwords: It goes without saying that a password must be a tough as possible and not the same one across all employee accounts. It should also be stressed to employees that when they are prompted for a change in a password, they do just that – change it and not just reuse the old one.
  4. Browsing: there are plenty of security tools out there that block access to certain sites if you are working on a company laptop. But if an employee is using their own you may have less control.  The message for employers and employees alike is to get educated on the very real possibility that you could end up with a malware infection as a direct result of visiting a dodgy site.
  5. Don’t engage in online conversations with people you do not know: we all know the risks associated with catfishing. Your personal data or your employer’s data is a highly attractive target for many.

Graf concluded: “Today’s distributed business and IT environment, when seen in conjunction with the inter-connectivity of digital commerce, means an expanded attack surface for bad faith actors. Like the bank robbers of old, cybercriminals go where the money is accessible, and the easier it is the easier for them to reap benefits from extortion. 

“It only takes one click by an employee to infect an entire network, spreading from a local computer to Network Attached Storage. That is where our solution sits, detecting and blocking attacks aiming to access proprietary data. 

“For the distributed organisation the challenge is to protect and defend the enterprise across a far greater estate. Now is the time for business leaders, risk and compliance experts, IT departments and HR to work in tandem to reduce that exposure and call time on the hackers.

CEO Monthly Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2021 Global CEO Excellence Awards

UNITED KINGDOM, 2021– CEO Monthly magazine announces the winners of the 2021 Global CEO Excellence Awards.

Strong leadership is, by all regards, vital in business. Whether it be driving growth, or steering the company down a profitable path, leaders play a fundamental role in companies of all shapes and sizes. While it is true that a company’s overall success lies in the efforts of the greater team, CEOs, Managers and Directors have the weight on their shoulders when it comes to weathering particularly intense storms. Though the difficulties of the last 18 months have largely passed, leaders and their businesses around the world have learned hard-won lessons in the importance of perseverance when facing unexpected uncertainty. And now, in many cases, those lessons are paying off.

With this in mind, we feel it is a perfect time to recognise and acknowledge those that are experiencing exceptional growth after a period of relative quiet. Those that are reopening their recruitment efforts in light of greater activity, and those that are launching new products and services that have waited patiently in the side-lines for the all clear.

On launch, Awards Coordinator Katherine Benton took a moment to discuss the success of this year’s programme: “It’s always a pleasure to interact with the CEOs and leaders that are named in the Global CEO Excellence Awards. This year was certainly no different. I wish all of those recognised in the awards a wonderful and successful remainder of 2021 ahead. Congratulations!”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated professionals selected for them, please visit where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.


Notes to editors.

About CEO Monthly

A business is only as good as its leadership, and whilst it takes many hands to make a company work, CEOs hold the majority of the responsibility and power in any organisation. This is a tough challenge, and as such through this dedicated publication, bought to you by internationally renowned publishing house AI Global Media, aims to offer the very latest insight, interviews and profiles of Chief Executive Officers from across the corporate landscape.

Free to subscribe to, the publication offers a dedicated newsletter, an ever-evolving website and a series of awards designed to showcase the hard work and commitment of businesses from every market and every region.

Keeping pace with the ever-changing corporate landscape around the world, CEO Monthly’s dedicated editorial team work diligently to provide the latest news and updates, drawing on their network of contacts from across the globe who span every major industry and sector, providing comment and insight which is invaluable. 

Six Steps to Take in September for Creating the Perfect Graduate Onboarding Experience

Alex Hattingh, CPO and Employment Hero

After rounds of interviews and many applicants, you’ve now found your star candidate and you’re ready to hit the ground running. Onboarding a new graduate should be handled a little bit differently to those who have years of experience. You want to make them feel comfortable and not overwhelm them on the very first day. 

Before they start you’ll need to ensure that their contract, policies and paperwork are all up to scratch. There should be a proper induction plan in place to ease them into the business, especially if this is their first full-time role. We all know that first impressions count, the last thing you want is for your new hire to wait for hours for their manager to turn up or sit there twiddling their thumbs. Make sure that when your new graduate’s first day comes to an end, they know they’ve made the right decision in becoming part of your business. To help you get organised and give your new graduate an amazing first day, week and month, we suggest following these simple steps. You want to show that you’re organised and excited for them to make a real impact in the business:

Before the first day

Work Space
  1. Prepare your new employee’s work area and office space and equip it with supplies
  2. Order appropriate access keys/security cards and make sure they work
  3. Order business cards, if applicable
  4. Arrange for parking, if required
Technology Access
  1. Order technology equipment (computer, iPad, phone) and software
  2. Set up their system in advance and assign them to a printer
  3. Arrange for access to shared drives
  4. Add their name to relevant email lists
General Communication
  1. Share the news about the new starter with everyone in the business
  2. Assign a buddy or mentor to the new hire
The first day
  1. Have a small gift waiting for them such as your company t-shirt, mug or keychain
  2. Give them a tour of the office or workplace and introduce them to key team members
  3. Present them with their onboarding pack, containing important information like account info
  4. Ensure they get a proper induction
  5. Meet with them and their manager to explain the expectations of their role
  6. Have their manager assign some initial tasks
  7. Organise for them to have lunch with their new manager and/or team
The first week
  1. Introduce them to employees from different areas of the business
  2. Follow-up to ensure they’ve accessed, read and acknowledged your company policies
  3. Check-in with them and their manager regarding initial tasks
  4. Have their manager assign them their first project
  5. Ask for first week feedback
The first month
  1. Hold regular check-in meetings and evaluate their progress after a month in the company
  2. See how they’re getting along with the rest of the team and whether they’re enjoying their work
  3. Assess and action training needs
  4. Check in with their manager on how their one-on-ones are going

With these steps, you’ll be on your way to giving your new graduates a recruitment and onboarding experience they’ll remember for many years to come. Remember, the key is to be personal, be upfront, and tailor your process to suit them. So go on, go find your gold star grad!6. Encourage graduates from all backgrounds and experiences to apply

When it comes to hiring graduates, you need to be inclusive. Be conscious of framing your workplace as an accepting and inclusive place to be. Consider putting a statement on the end of your job ads that invites people of all backgrounds and identities to apply. 

If you would like, we can provide further insight from Alex who has over 15 years of experience in partnering with business leadership, establishing company culture and improving employee experiences on an international scale.

The Perfect Office Icebreaker Post Lockdown

Murder on the Second Floor:

Crime Writer Launches Back-To-The-Office Team Building Game

Award-winning crime writer Fiona Sherlock has opened bookings for her interactive ‘office return’ game, Murder on the Second Floor, to help companies welcome staff back to the workplace post lockdown. The mystery-inspired game has elements of a treasure hunt and escape room to allow staff to explore their new office environment and become reacquainted with new colleagues after such a long period working from home.

During the pandemic, Sherlock’s virtual murder mysteries were played by over 20,000 players internationally, including corporate organisations Zurich, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a range of banks, institutions, schools and voluntary organisations. The games remain a popular team building event for those working a hybrid of remote and in-office, and Murder on the Second Floor is the perfect one to reconnect colleagues and boost team morale.

The premise of the 90-minute, five-clue game is that it’s the first week back in the office for a fictional law firm. Things have changed since the pandemic, but a routine office tour takes a turn for the worst when a dead body is discovered under a desk. The top brass doesn’t want word to get out and sully the company’s reputation, so the staff must examine the evidence, search for clues, and figure out whodunnit! With many office layouts changed or redesigned for returning to work, the game allows clues to be planted in customised locations. The game can be reused multiple times for example when new team members join.

“The power of our imagination is immense – we have seen just how far our minds can stretch and adapt during the past 16 months,” says Sherlock (yes, that is her real name). “My mission is to create memorable stories and experiences that help people come together. Resocialising after such an extended period can be awkward, my hope is Murder on the Second Floor helps to break the ice and give people a chance to get used to their new surroundings whilst reiterating the values of inclusivity and diversity that organisations now require.”


Dr Keith Lyons, Behavioural Psychologist said: “Creating memorable experiences and opportunities for engagement help teams to be more collaborative and productive. An immersive experience like this is ideal to reintroduce staff to the office environment in a fun way.”

Murder on the Second Floor will be available internationally in self-hosted formats where organisations can print all the materials and run the event, with prices starting at £500 for 20 players. It includes:

  • Customised welcome video – insert a backdrop/logo from your own reception area!
  • Host guide detailing how to host and plan the game
  • Evidence dossier for each player containing a range of fun resources including the victim’s suspicious emails, diary entries, memos and pieces of evidence
  • Printable prop pack including crime scene tape, mugshot backdrop and prisoner ID number
  • Certificate of sleuthing – a fun keepsake certifying the participation of your team

As a special offering to organisations, Sherlock can host managed events with professional actors, with costs for 20 players starting at £2,800. There are a limited number of spots available, and booking is now available on the Bespoke Murder Mystery website.

For press enquiries, please contact Bei Guo | [email protected] | 07704 501 242

iov42: Digitally Connected

Blockchain solutions provider iov42 has been turning heads with their advanced strategies and has recently secured a blockchain partnership, beating out some of the bigger names in the industry. We spoke with CEO Dominic von Trotha Taylor to find out more about iov42, and what makes it different from other industry giants.

iov42 is a blockchain-inspired identity platform, which helps to build trust between organisations, built for governments, enterprise and business.

How do we do this?  We seek to strengthen the areas of weakness found in ‘traditional’ blockchain: making all data held on the platform immutable whilst at the same time ownership is retained by the originator of the data; replacing strict anonymity with trustable identities, and offering security through a decentralised distribution of data.  We also seek to support applications that conform to the requirements of different regulatory jurisdictions and to provide the ability to scale sustainably.

In this way, online interactions and transactions can be codified on our platform and are then shared among a number of trusted identities; for example, an industry’s or organisation’s stakeholders. By providing transparent access to these records, based around verified identities, we help users ensure that rules are being followed and that they can trust those they are working with and the information they’ve been given. As an example, we have built an application called Timber Chain on our platform that allows stakeholders in the timber industry – from growers, exporters and importers to certification agencies and retailers – to build trust around the provenance and processing of timber and its derivatives in the supply chain.

My motivation for taking on the role of CEO at iov42 was driven by my interest in both the need for stronger online models of trust and privacy in our increasingly digitised world and the game-changing potential of blockchain as an enterprise solution. In addition, I really enjoy working with young companies that are pioneering emerging tech with the potential to create seismic change. I originally joined iov42 as an investor. Since then, I have grown increasingly excited and confident about the company’s ability to provide genuinely transformative technology that could vitally strengthen our digital infrastructure.

So far in my time as CEO, we have transitioned from building our platform to being an operational company with live customers, and we have received validation from organisations such as the European Commission about our vision and approach.   All this is underpinned by great and ambitious people determined to realise our vision. Nonetheless, we are still in the early stages of our development with a long road ahead of us. As enterprise blockchain is relatively new, the challenge for companies like iov42 is not to seek to sell another technology, but to prove its benefits to customers. This ‘proof of value’ is something I’m hugely passionate about and see as key to unlocking the potential of enterprise blockchain and therefore the opportunity for iov42.

There is quite a divide in opinion when it comes to blockchain, fueled mainly by the common misconception that it is synonymous with largely unregulated cryptocurrencies. These negative connotations have, for some, given blockchain an undeserved reputation. It’s also poorly understood outside of tech circles. There is still so much untapped potential to be grasped. 

We are targeting governments, enterprises and businesses who don’t really care about the tech – they care about robust, sustainable and scalable enterprise solutions that can create efficiency and trust at a predictable price. The application of these solutions will need to be more than a change of technology; they will need to add clear value at a fair price. I think enterprise blockchain is heading in that direction and we are one of the companies driving this forward.

Beyond the normal startup challenges, like everyone else, the past year has brought us many different challenges to overcome. Working remotely and being unable to visit friends or spend time with work colleagues has been extremely isolating. I’m sure most of us have found switching between work time and home time when working remotely really difficult and we all know this can bring about a lot of stress.

But through it all, iov42 has managed to keep morale high and execute a lot of positive change. With our team dispersed across Greater London, Vienna, and Zurich, we were already fairly accustomed to remote working before the pandemic, and were able to continue effectively collaborating. Although working remotely will never fully emulate being with one another in the same physical office, we’ve been able to facilitate the next best thing by taking full advantage of communications software including Slack, Miro and Spatial. 

We’ll certainly be glad to see the back of Covid, and we are excited to meet with both customers and colleagues in person once again. But we’ll be carrying forward a lot of valuable lessons learned from having to adapt to the crisis to inform the way we work in future. 

As the recent IPCC report indicated, it is very much a ‘now or never’ situation for climate action, and a significant overhaul is needed to meet adequate levels of sustainability. iov42’s blockchain-inspired platform has been built to provide the very infrastructure needed to enable such a transformation. 

By better connecting all of the different cross-border organisations that need to come together to solve these major issues and being specifically built to cater to evolving regulation, our platform is facilitating the tangible delivery of sustainable action. iov42 provides a mechanism which builds trust across the important data points relating to sustainability. Safeguarding against corruption and malpractice, this enables simpler, more robust sustainable action and holds every stakeholder to account.

With our Timber Chain model, for example, we’re helping timber supply chains tighten up sustainability by making transaction records transparent, immutable and shared. This system rewards ‘good’ actors in the sustainable supply chain space and identifies those ‘bad’ actors who are counteracting sustainability aims. This model can be applied across any number of supply chains and industries to ensure that rules are followed and sustainability measures consistently met. 

We can no longer afford for any company or organisation to shirk the responsibility of sustainable action. By applying our technology across a growing number of industries, we will be able to provide the accountability necessary to ensure that everyone plays their part in implementing sustainability. 

There are countless potential applications for iov42’s technology. So far, we’ve started helping sectors ranging from timber, right through to product authenticity and identity solutions – and we’re not stopping there. Following our work on Timber Chain, we will be offering increased security and trust for transactions throughout a wide range of interacting and interconnecting supply chains. We’re especially focused on helping the agricultural industry to improve transparency within commodity trading and strengthen the fight against climate change by enabling greater sustainability, while holding the big players neglecting these to account. 

Almost every organisation performs interactions and processes online which currently face the risk of corruption, error and a lack of trust and security. We’re ultimately aiming to apply our technology to address these issues and deliver reliable trust and accountability across the entire online landscape.

Blockchain technology has the potential to contribute to the  provision of infrastructure for a digital landscape in which trust is guaranteed. This has the potential to completely transform the way public services operate online. Records and data are shared between multiple trusted identities, rather than being stored by only one. With permission needed by individuals/consumers to access and edit data, this forms a more robust, incorruptible record of transactions and online activity, giving agency back to individuals. From increasing the transparency of data to safeguarding the transaction of assets and commodities, blockchain forms the backbone of a system in which public services can eradicate corruption and widen participation.  

It’s possible to imagine a world in which data held on a blockchain would allow individuals, businesses and public sector bodies to prove facts about themselves that can be trivially verified. Such a technology would allow whole ecosystems to emerge where contracts can be negotiated and deals done, by humans or AI, without the risk that whoever you’re interacting with is misleading you or is part of some sort of scam. For example, we can imagine a self-driving taxi that’s able to bid for fares, prove its environmental efficiency and safety record, buy its own electricity and even book its own repairs, all built on an ecosystem of verifiable trust—a ride hailing ecosystem without the need for the ride hailing company middleman. Ideas like this and more become possible if we embrace blockchain for so much more than cryptocurrency.

Creating An Office Space Fit for Purpose

By Edward Griffin CEO, WorkPad

The office is still a vital component of the world of work in 2021, especially for small and medium sized businesses which are leading the way in the return to the workplace.  

Latest figures from property agent Cushman & Wakefield shows that office lettings are at the highest level since lockdown started, and our own occupancy rates at WorkPad concur with this.

We’re seeing 100% occupancy across our spaces in Soho and Covent Garden in London, with clients wanting greater flexibility in their office requirements. Across our portfolio of more than 19 Serviced Office sites in the Capital, occupancy levels are on average 92 per cent. And this level is set to increase further in the autumn as more employees intend to return to the office from September onwards.

Even with many businesses considering a move to a hybrid office, having a beautiful space to enjoy commuting into and occasionally host clients in, cannot be replaced by a complete working from home set up.

Combine this with a need for complete flexibility in their contracts and the ability to claim a city centre presence, it’s not surprising that we have seen a major spike in requests for our office spaces with a record number of enquiries coming from growing SMEs and downsizing companies.

What’s more, for junior members of staff, returning to the office and learning from their more senior and experienced colleagues is imperative for their growth and development. This is also true for people who started a new job during lockdown and are yet to meet their colleagues in-person.

Returning to the workplace is an exciting time for most businesses, but it can be daunting if your business has shrunk, grown, or even remained the same size over the past 18 months. Your requirements for office space are sure to have changed. If you are looking to open the office from the autumn onwards, here are some top tips on how to best to return to existing office space or seek a new home for your business.

Seeking new office space

What will your space be used for: It is important when looking to downsize or upsize to consider what environment your office will be. Will it be a place for hot-desking, a chance to collaborate face-to-face, or just a change in scenery? How many people will be coming into the office on a regular basis, or a part-time basis? Think about private desk space and quieter spaces for working, alongside open space, large tables and chairs, and white boards / large scale video conferencing facilities for collaboration. A key aim when returning to the office is to champion community, long are the days of the workspace being entirely for completing tasks, it is now a place for employees to get together and collaborate.

Negotiating a flexible lease: With policies on returning to the office changing all the time, it is important to work with an office space provider that offers flexible leases and contracts. You want to have the ability to flex the size of your business and refurbish your office space. During the pandemic, we launched our Flex Start agreements, allowing businesses to secure a WorkPad office with no commitment to pay until they are ready to move in.

Location. Location. Location: Now that you are looking for an office space that benefits both work from home and in-house employees, an office that is close to transport hubs is a great way for your employees to continue enjoying their work-life balance. Also ensure you are close to shops, eateries, and a range of amenities for employees to benefit from.

Returning to existing office space

Hybrid working office space: It’s imperative to create policies that benefit both working from home employees and in-house employees. Everyone should feel like they are key members of the team, even when working from home. Creating spaces for remote collaboration with ample video conferencing facilities is key, alongside areas for hot desking, private meetings, health and wellbeing.

Listen to your employees: it is important to engage with your employees and find out how they plan to use the office and what environments help their productivity. It is also important to consider how employees in different roles will have differing requirements. As an employer your role is to entice your employees back to office and send a clear message that you are listening to what they need.

Adapting your office design: Making changes to your workspace can add real value to your business and its employees. It is important that your office caters to all working types, including collaborative spaces as well as individual working zones. It is also a good idea to offer your staff exercise spaces to increase their health and wellbeing.

Make sure the workplace is safe: Despite the government’s removal of social distancing rules, there are still many high-risk people that are still practicing social distancing. It is important to ensure that your office is following measures to allow high risk employees to be able to safely return to the office. Look at changes to ventilation system, open windows, space desks appropriately, and increase cleaning of all areas.

Entice The Best Candidates By Writing A Compelling Job Advert

In order to entice the best candidates into applying to work for your company, you need to write a compelling job advert. When a potential applicant looks at your advert, you need them to read the entire piece. This will help weed out any overqualified applicants or those not suitable for the role, and it should give the candidate a good understanding of your business.

However, when candidates first open a job advert, they skim it before they settle in to read the information entirely. They do this to get a quick idea of if the role is a suitable fit; if it’s not, they move on. If your job advert is a wall of text instead of formatted with bold and concise subheadings to make skimming the information easier, they will most likely move on without reading your job advert at all. 

We’re here to help you write a captivating job advert to attract the best candidates for your role.

Understand Your Target Candidates

Candidates apply for jobs that they are excited about; tap into that emotion to encourage your prospective applicants to respond to your job advert.

Create a persona for your target candidate; what are their professional goals? What will make them happy and excited? Use this information you compile to create promises your company can keep and that your target applicant will be looking for. The right benefits and guarantees will make it more likely that a candidate will respond to a job advert, but be careful to only include ones that your company can deliver on. It’s essential to stay away from off-putting language as that can also cause candidates to ignore your job advert.

Advertise On Multiple Platforms

Once you have a clear and exciting job advert, you need to think about how to advertise a job. The first place that many companies go to is generic job boards, posting their advert with as many as possible. This can be detrimental to the quality of the candidate that you have responding to your advert. Instead, choose one or two of those boards, and place your advert on an industry-specific job board alongside them; this will increase your visibility without diluting the quality. 

How to advertise a job online is the easy part. Next, you want to look at other platforms to get the most out of your advert. Take to social media to get the word out to your followers that your company is hiring. Tailor your approach to each social media site you use; some social media sites expect a more professional language, whereas others prefer a casual and fun approach. 

Respond To Applicants

An auto-response mechanic is an excellent way to reply to every applicant with what to expect next; set a clear time frame for when you will be contacting successful candidates. Doing this will not only make your company look better to job seekers, encouraging them to apply again if unsuccessful, but it also eases the workload for you in not having to reply individually. 

Create a shortlist and narrow that down again to have the applicants you wish to interview. For the candidates you liked but didn’t make the cut for interviews, reply personally to wish them luck in the future. Again, this encourages them to apply for future roles.

The Key to Staff Retention and Recruitment: Understanding Employees Post-pandemic Work-perks & Must-have

Over the past year, the coronavirus outbreak left many workers confined to their homes. While this presented a number of challenges, it also allowed people to enjoy their creature comforts. From regular (perhaps too regular) trips to the fridge, to watching TV or playing video games on lunch breaks.  

The UK workforce has certainly become accustomed to a more convivial working environment. The question for many businesses, is how does this translate into work-place expectations when so many are now flocking back to offices?  
The UK’s leading business energy retailer Love Energy Savings wanted to find out. Through a survey of over 1,000 UK employees who were sometimes or always working from home during the pandemic, they ascertained what office-workers new requirements and must-haves are for their workplace/employment, now that they have worked through a pandemic. 

Top 5 ‘nice-to-haves’ that people would like their employers to offer:

1) 75% said dedicated mental health days to take off on top of holiday allowance 
2) 75% said a health care cash plan  
3) 69% said private medical insurance 
4) 64% said birthdays off work separately to annual leave 
5) 61% said social events and activities paid for by the employer 

Top 3 ‘must-haves’ that people expect employers to offer:

1) 60% said having more than the statutory minimum holiday allowance of 20 days 
2) 43% said fully flexible working hours 
3) 36% said enough parking spaces for every employee 

It looks like the impact of the pandemic has really driven home the need for mental and physical health care, and it seems holidays have become more important than ever!  
According to Lori Rassas, an SPHR-certified Human Resources consultant and author of It’s About You Too it’s more important than ever for employers to take these wants and must-haves seriously: 
“The pandemic provided so many employees with the time to reflect about their work-life balance.  These reprioritizations are leading to turnover and a consequent war on talent, where employers are working to both retain and recruit top talent to replace those employees who opt to move on to new opportunities.   
“In this type of environment, it is increasingly important for employers to ensure their employees are open about their wants and needs, so they have the opportunity to determine whether they can address them.” 

Top Tips for HR Professionals & Business Owners:

Open up a dialogue:

Those companies looking to come out on top need to ensure a dialogue is opened up between staff members. As Lori pointed out, it’s only when we ask honest questions that we receive honest answers. While this may mean asking difficult questions for businesses (wage satisfaction for example), burying heads in the sand is not going to aid in staff retention.

If businesses don’t ask staff exactly what they can do to keep them, employees will move on, especially with the current buoyancy of the job market across many industries.

Re-asses existing work-perks:

A number of work-perks currently in place across many businesses need assessing to ascertain whether they are fit for the digital age of flexible working. They may require modernisation.

If a business has adopted a hybrid working model, the question needs to be asked: are staff who don’t go into the office missing out on in-office perks like a free on-site gym or subsidised meals or snacks? If this is the case, can these items be monetised, and digital alternatives offered?

These could really add up in some cases and allow for swish annual rewards ranging from holiday allowances to large Christmas hampers. The sky is the limit!

Hybrid working requires hybrid work-perks:

If a business now operates within a hybrid working model, the work-perks need to reflect this. Offering a choice of benefits to suit staff will result in happier employees who feel that their personal needs are being listened to and met.

Some may not wish to take advantage of an on-site gym (or can’t) but would benefit hugely from an employee healthcare scheme to help them upgrade their glasses.

Final thought:

The pandemic and home working provided a source of perspective to many in the UK, while the furlough scheme offered employees the time and space for reflection.

Employers should therefore not be too quick to dismiss these changes in employee attitudes and priorities as a temporary side effect of the past two years. Instead, businesses need to understand that these sentiments were only brought to the fore by the pandemic and these demands are likely here to stay.

In order to thrive, business leaders must evolve and listen to a changed workforce. 

Daniel Tannenbaum – “I Used to Make Tea, But Look At Me Now”

London-based digital marketing consultant, Daniel Tannenbaum, finished University in 2011 with dreams of working for a startup environment. After a decade of tricky clients and challenging work placements, he has established himself in the digital marketing sector.

“I graduated with a degree in business management and Spanish from the University of Nottingham in 2011 and this was in the heat of the economic crisis – so working for a bank or in finance didn’t seem too appealing.”

“It was following a work placement at that changed my perceptions about employment choices after Uni. There were some highly intelligent people there who were ex-Paypal, ex-Facebook and Oxbridge grads and it opened my eyes that you could finish Uni and work for a startup and not have to become an accountant or lawyer, something that is pretty much a right of passage in my tight knit community of north-west london.”

“I was desperate to get a job for a startup after graduation but there were no real major ones around in the UK, other than the likes of TripAdvisor, Groupon and Expedia. I darted around working with a number of hopeless entrepreneurs, working out of garages, basements and even their Gran’s spare bedroom – although she made nice sandwiches on one occasion. These people were probably running businesses because they couldn’t do anything else and I got sucked in as a hapless junior, making tea and sometimes not even getting paid.”

“Finally, a year after graduation, an opportunity emerged to work for an online finance startup, with extremely bright and intelligent people. They worked with a top digital marketing agency and my role was to be the middleman between the agency and the senior staff – and this was where I got to learn the ropes and ins and outs of digital marketing across SEO, PPC, affiliates, emails and user experience.”

“In 2015, I felt I had enough experience to become a freelancer and I specialised in SEO (search engine optimisation), the obscure and often vague techniques needed to rank websites to the top of search engines such as Google.”

“I started working with family friends, friends of parents and any job going around to make a name for myself. Fast-forward a few years, I have truly become a specialist in my niche, working with small startups, family businesses and the dizzy heights of David Cameron, Lord Sugar, McDonalds and Betway.”

“I have always been entrepreneurial and have always run a number of my own websites in parallel with managing clients. Creating sub-sites have always been successful, but driving them to the top of Google and receiving commission for any leads or sales, including vehicle and health insurance, funeral plans and mortgages. One of my most rewarding experiences has been running, which is a site I run for free, and has grown into one of the UK’s largest resources online for Holocaust eduation.”

“My most recent venture is Pheabs, which combines all the skills and connections I have made over the last 10 years. The website is a loans connection service based in the US and connects people looking for loans with those banks and lenders who are most likely to approve them. The website gets an application every 10 seconds and received over 70,000 visitors last month.”

“Overall, I am glad that I followed my passion for startups and digital marketing, because it was an unlikely path to follow 10 years ago, but today it is one of the most popular options for University graduates. I will continue to live my dream, even if my Mum still wants me to be an Accountant!”

The Intense Dedication of the Modern Entrepreneur

A new survey from Superscript: the subscription-based, online business insurance provider, found that business owners and entrepreneurs across Britain are happily choosing to prioritise their business over their personal lives. A shocking 52% of men and nearly half of women (48%) surveyed agreed that it is often necessary for them to put their work or business first, over their family or friends.

Superscript asked entrepreneurs and business owners, with its unavoidable impact on home and family life, is starting up and running a business all it’s cracked up to be? Surprisingly, a third of entrepreneurial respondents (33%) said that they would rather choose to work on their business over spending time with their friends or family most of the time! It is therefore no surprise that 40% of those surveyed said making their business a success is their number one priority right now, putting personal relationships firmly to one side.

“The fact that business owners are willing to put their personal lives to one side to start up and run their own businesses illustrates the intense dedication of the modern entrepreneur,” says Cameron Shearer, co-founder, and CEO of Superscript.

Entrepreneurial spirit continues to grow post-pandemic as 35% of respondents suggested that they were now choosing to centre their lives around their business. For 48% of respondents, this need to prioritise their business has had an initial negative impact on their work/life balance as they opt to park their personal lives for professional gains. Although it is a necessary sacrifice that many entrepreneurs have to make, 60% of respondents did feel that it is worth it, as they thrive from knowing they have delivered a good service for their customers and clients.

Half of British business owners agreed that they love what they do so much that they don’t see it as work at all, highlighting growing feelings of positivity amongst those who have taken the plunge as entrepreneurs.

43% of respondents said1 that they see their work as much a part of their daily lives as they see socialising, so much so, that they do not consider running their business to be an infringement on their work/life balance at all showing it really is possible to new business owners to ‘have it all’. Cameron Shearer, co-founder, and CEO of Superscript has developed tips for achieving a harmonious work/life balance while being your own boss:

  • Prioritise your time – as an entrepreneur, sticking to working hours can be tricky when the next milestone is within grasp. Superscript’s research found that the top motivation for becoming self-employed is greater control over your schedule – use it wisely. Being proactive about your schedule and carving out downtime within your day can help achieve a more harmonious work/life balance.
  • Take a break – as a business owner, your business is your baby, but it is important to look after number one too. Looking after your mental health and managing your screen time is important to avoid burnout. Make sure to exercise, keep hydrated and take that lunch break – you’ll see the quality of your decisions rise as a result.
  • Switch off – it is all too easy to fret about work after-hours, and that is particularly the case for entrepreneurs. Being unable to switch off can often have a negative impact on relationships and cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. It is important to unplug, shut your laptop down and declutter your kitchen table of work documents and devices at the end of each day – this will not only work wonders for your own headspace but also for whoever you share your space with.
  • Re-evaluate success – we can’t all be the next Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, but what success looks like for you can be difficult to pin down. Set long term goals and short term objectives. There is only so much you can do in a day – so remember to celebrate even the smallest victories every day.
  • Get social – we all know how consuming running your own business can be, but it is important to keep your personal relationships healthy. Our research found that, along with exercise, leaning on friends and family helped entrepreneurs with their mental health the most during the pandemic. Whether it is Friday drinks, a trip to the theatre or a mid-week gym class, plan out your personal life like you would your professional life to make sure you stick to your commitments.

While having a harmonious work/life balance is possible for some business owners, for others, putting their business first comes with a need to make more sacrifices than just social engagements. Other personal commitments at risk of getting parked because of work include; birthday parties (with 19% of respondents saying they have missed a friend’s birthday celebration and 18% said they missed a family birthday celebration more than twice), holidays, with 15% saying they have cancelled a holiday more than twice, ticketed events such as sporting events, concerts (17%) and even current relationships, with 22% saying they have cancelled plans with their partner more than twice because of the business.

Shearer adds, “The amount of small businesses buying insurance from Superscript has more than doubled month-on-month since the start of the year. It’s great to see despite the sacrifices many must make to see success in their new ventures, that the British entrepreneurial spirit is growing. Business start-ups were up 24% at the end of last year, showing just how much opportunity is out there for those willing to take the leap”.

Odore: Creating Sample Data with Product Samples

For many beauty brands getting new customers can be tricky because of the volume of competition. Having reliable data to work from can really help your platform and create new opportunities for your beauty brand. Odore is the number one digital sample platform for many leading brands, including Dior, L’Oreal, Clarins, and Sephora, among many others. We sat down with co-founder Armann Mehta to find out more.

Karan and I co-founded Odore to enable beauty brands to access product sampling campaigns fit for the digital age. Sampling and product testers have always been a huge part of the industry; beauty products and fragrances are incredibly personal and customers like to try items before purchasing them. Brands also benefit, as people are four times more likely to buy a product they’ve tried first. But, more often than not, the brands have no way of tracking where their samples end up, or if they lead to purchases.

Typically, brands can’t measure the outcomes of sample campaigns. This means that they’re missing out on opportunities to learn about their customers and what they want, and in turn, forgoing opportunities to optimise their conversion and retention rates. 

A conversation between myself, Karan and a friend in the beauty industry helped us to understand why brands struggle with sampling, and made us realise how we could help. And that was that. We left our respective marketing roles and pooled our expertise to build Odore: a platform which allows brands to build, track and fine-tune end-to-end sampling campaigns using digital tools. 

Before the pandemic, most brands relied on in-store sampling to let customers try products. Department stores lined with makeup testers and staff spritzing fragrances were always the go-to place to find your perfect shade or scent. Of course, e-commerce has been steadily stealing the march on in-store purchases and the pandemic has accelerated that trend. 

Store closures and new safety measures mean that brands can no longer rely on old methods. New sampling solutions are needed for them, as well as the brands moving to online only offerings. Now more than ever, brands are also well aware that innovation is key to coming out on top of new challenges, and standing out in what is an incredibly crowded beauty market. We’re therefore seeing a bigger appetite for innovation than we did pre-pandemic. 

We’ve seen a 401% increase in revenue over the past 12 months, but it’s not come without certain pressures. The main challenge is keeping up with the incredible machine that is the beauty industry. For every new trend or fresh product launch, it’s our job to develop new marketing solutions and strategies to support them. 

Rapid growth has also forced us to think hard about what aspects of the business – the startup we worked so hard to build from the ground up – we want to focus on moving forward. Whilst we’ve doubled down on efforts to evolve our software and subscription services, we’ve been scaling back the in-store devices which initially helped us to make a name for ourselves as we strongly believe there is much more growth in digital services compared to hardware offerings, despite them serving an important purpose at the time. 

Customers have been forced online over the past year, and some may choose to stay there. But the in-person shopping experience isn’t going away just yet. It’s about seeing, smelling, and testing different products, admiring tactile packaging and chatting with shop assistants to find your perfect match. All these things add up to product sales. But they’re also what make the experience so personal and enjoyable. It’s essential that brands build this magic into digital shopping experiences if they’re to nurture meaningful relationships with their customers, accrue loyalty, and ultimately retain them. 

We’ve recently been expanding our team, investing in talented engineers and software developers. It’s all part of the plan to continue developing our platform and ensuring that our product sampling tech is unrivalled in the beauty space. We’re already working with the likes of Guerlain, Clive Christian, and other international beauty giants. And exciting emerging beauty brands are joining us all the time. It’s thrilling to be able to help them grow, monitor their journeys and see the results. So watch this space for new and disruptive partnerships!

Our entire journey – since first co-founding the business and being selected for L’Oréal’s Beauty Tech Accelerator in 2018 – has been a whirlwind. Through that programme we quickly won international attention and partnerships with beauty brands we’ve always dreamed of working with – we count each one as a huge success. Then, over the past year we’ve managed to quintuple our revenue and complete our first Seed funding round. Achieving all this with what is for each of us our first business, and in the midst of a pandemic, is what we’re most proud of. 

Thank you to the co-founders of Odore Armaan Mehta and Karan Gupta for their time. For business enquiries please visit Odore.

Covid’s Start-Up Explosion

26% increase in job title change to Business Founder during pandemic

The number of professionals who have changed their job title to Founder/Co-Founder in the past year has increased by +13%, Small Business Owners have risen by +8%, and those formally adopting the title of Entrepreneur (+4%) or Owner (+1) has also increased during the pandemic.

In total this signals a +26% increase in the past year of people who want to be recognised as business or start-up owners in the past year, according to professional services recruiter Robert Walters.

In a year of job uncertainty and furlough, the number of professionals leaving employment to start up a business by themselves has hit record levels – with the ONS reporting new business creations was +28% higher in Quarter 2 (April to June) of 2021 than in Quarter 2 in 2020. Industries that showed significant increases in business creations included business administration and support, and construction industries.

The pandemic has bought about widespread uncertainty for professionals, with almost 10% concerned that their current skillset will be completely redundant within five years. As result 84% of professionals stated that they would be willing to retrain or learn a completely new skill to secure their future earning potential.

Lucy Bisset, Director of Robert Walters comments:

“In a year of remote working, digital upskilling, furlough, reduced hours, and lockdown, professionals have had ample time to think about their career path and what they want to do with their future.

“Added to the economic uncertainty; the removal of office structure, and the lack of facetime with management has had a negative impact on progression rate – which in turn has sparked a culture of ‘will it be better to work for myself?’

“The increase in people starting businesses is not concerning at all, and in fact in times of economic upheaval we do typically see a spike in creative and entrepreneurial thinking – resulting in some of the most successful businesses we have today.”

Success Rate of Start-ups

With funding in 2021 for start-ups currently sitting at $89bn, the country is firmly on track to surpass the $98bn raised for start-ups in 2020 – a sign that the UK is birthing more start-ups with ‘high growth’ potential than ever before.

Lucy adds: “With growth comes the need for exceptional people to lead the way, and one of the biggest mistakes a high growth start-up can make at this stage is to hire the wrong people.

“In fact, the cost of a bad hire for a start-up in the UK is estimated somewhere between £25-50k, not counting the time wasted during the hiring process, or the opportunity cost of the growth and forward momentum you could have been gaining.

“Your first ‘head of’ hires will also have an enormous impact on the development of your company culture — a non-negotiable for attracting and retaining top talent.”

According to the Robert Walters research, 20% of new businesses will close their doors within just 12 months and 60% will go-under within three years. Whilst product and market fit are the leading factors for start-up success, third in the list is the team and people you hire around you.

The Robert Walters Guide for UK Start-Ups lists best practice advice when approaching those all-important executive hires – starting with the most in-demand roles advertised by UK start-ups across Product, Engineering, Go-To-market, Design, Information Security, Finance, People/Talent, and Legal.

Lucy Bisset – Director of Robert Walters – provides her 8 top tips for high growth start-ups when faced with the challenge of trying to build a winning team:

1. Emphasise your employee branding and purpose

Employer branding is incredibly important for start-ups since you don’t yet have an established reputation. The first thing a potential candidate will do is gather all the information they can about you online. Don’t underestimate the value of a company mission statement page. Airbnb does this extremely well. Consider sharing your company’s origin story, particularly if you built the business to solve something that was impacting you personally.

Ritual also does this extremely well, basing much of their marketing and advertising on the story of its founder, Katerina Schneider, who built her vitamin company when she struggled during her pregnancy to find a prenatal vitamin free from questionable ingredients. Just as people want to buy from people and not an “entity”, people also want to work for other good people who share common values.

2. Sell your employee proposition to attract the best talent

Understand that as a start-up, you are perceived as a high-risk (but potentially high-reward) opportunity. Every founder believes their product or service is the best new thing to hit the market, but convincing top talent at a well-established company to leave their high comp strategic role and roll up their sleeves to work at a start-up requires more than just passion.

Developing a strong elevator pitch now will be important for the interview process later. This should be different than the elevator pitch that you gave to potential investors, where the focus was financial. Later, open every interview and close every interview with this pitch and be sure you have buy-in on your vision before pursuing a new candidate.

3. Use company equity to attract top talent

Not everyone has an equal understanding of equity. Learn how to sell equity if that is a benefit you will be offering potential candidates. This will be particularly important for candidates who have never worked at a start-up before.

To help you estimate the value of your equity package based on various scenarios, we recommend you check out this Compensation and Equity Calculator.

4. Look beyond the job title

Titles within start-ups can easily become inflated, failing to accurately describe the level of responsibility someone had in a previous role. Focus on what a candidate accomplished rather than what titles they have held. Be conscious that candidates will be looking for a title that fits their own personal branding (an individual who was formerly a Head of GTM or Marketing will likely expect the same titling or higher in future roles).

5. Define your business goals

Define how the success of a first hire will be measured. Don’t make the mistake of seeking a hire “because your VC partner said you needed one”. Really sit down to assess what you need. That might be new traffic, new business generated, growth, or profitability. Defining that in a clear way will help you identify candidates that have a proven track record for achieving those goals.

6. Agree spread of equity

Don’t run out of cash-runway. Decide on a budget and determine how equity will be distributed. Will it be distributed evenly among executive level roles? How will you approach the equity conversation when speaking with new talent? What are the (realistic) salary expectations for the roles you are hiring for in your area?

Salary and pay rates for start-ups can vary based on what stage funding you are at, the sector you operate in and the equity you have to offer.

7. Pipeline future talent pools

Always be building a talent pool. In the beginning, lean on personal referrals and advisor networks. Once you have exhausted personal networks, you may consider posting your roles publicly.

Common start-up job boards include AngelList, BuiltIn, and of course, LinkedIn. Lean on your recruitment partner to assist with job descriptions, head hunting, and sourcing strategies.

8. Avoid homogeneity

You can’t build a 100-person team and then later decide to incorporate a diversity and inclusion program. If you hire based solely on referrals, or only choose people who “remind you of your younger self”, you will ultimately create a stagnant environment.

Build your team with diversity and inclusion in mind from the start, and you will have better engagement, employee retention, creative problem solving, and higher profitability. (It’s been proven time and time again!)

Business Loans vs Business Line of Credit – Which One is Best?

Business loans are pretty straight forward but lines of credit are something a lot of business owners don’t fully understand. They might be the best solution for you, however. There are many factors that you have to consider when seeking out financing. One is the amount of money you need. You also have to consider what you need the funds for. Once you’ve established that, it will be easier to find the best option for you. Let’s take a closer look at how both work and see which one you should pick.

Business Loans

Business loans, or term loans as they’re often called, are when a financial institution gives you a lump sum that has to be paid over a term at a certain interest. Repayment terms are typically from 1 to 5 years.

Business loans are usually the best option if you want to make a big one-off purchase, like expanding to a new location, for instance. You can also use this money to buy equipment or make important repairs.

With business loans, it doesn’t matter when you spend the money. You will have to start paying the loan immediately on a schedule that can be monthly or daily. They also come with various fees, such as packaging fees, origination fees, and even fees for paying earlier. You will also need to show the lender exactly why you need the money, and they will only give it to you if you have the business credentials, credit, and if you can demonstrate that the loan will translate into more profit.


Business Line of Credit

Lines of credit are slightly different. Instead of giving you a lump sum, a line of credit will give you access to a predetermined amount from which you can draw. These work pretty much like a credit card, just a more powerful version.

With a line of credit, you only have to pay back what you use. You also don’t have to let the lender know what you will do with the money, which is a big advantage.

They often call business lines of credit operating loans because they are usually best for people who want to cover operating costs. These can include things such as payroll, repairs, inventory, etc. They can also be used to pay for unexpected payments, like a tax bill, for instance.

Getting a line of credit is not always easy, but it’s easier than with term loans. Many alternative lenders also have lines of credit, and they usually have even less stringent requirements. AdvancePoint Capital offers lines of credits to a wide variety of businesses, and they will look at things beyond your credit score to see if you’re eligible, so don’t be afraid to look at your options.


Which Option Is the Best?

It all depends on what you want to use the funds for. If you need something flexible that will always be there for you and back you in case of an emergency, then a line of credit might be a better option. But, if you only want to make a purchase and you feel like you have strong enough credit, credentials, and plan, then you could consider a loan.



Choosing between a line of credit and a loan depends on your needs and what you can realistically get. Look at both of these, but don’t hesitate to look at other options as well.  

How Your Business Can Gain a Competitive Advantage in Your Industry

Businesses of all shapes and sizes will all benefit from gaining a competitive advantage within their industry. However, it can be tricky to identify just how to do this. Here’s how your business can start building for further success.

Attract the Best Talent

In order to drive your business to be more competitive within your industry, it is imperative that you have the best team on your side. That means looking at all levels of employment within your business and thinking carefully when it comes to the hiring process.

Not only should incoming employees be skilled enough to be effective in their roles, but they should also be around long enough to be impactful. The last thing you want is to hire an employee, spend time and money training them, just for them to leave a month later. Employee retention is crucial to building a loyal and successful business.

Understand the Needs of the Customer

Your business will be doomed to fail if you fail to provide a product or service that is wanted by customers. Indeed, you need to give the people what they want, in order to be as competitive as you possibly can. Even if your business has the tools equipped for success, if you ignore customer demands then your business could possibly collapse.

Educate Yourself and Staff

When it comes to running your business, you should be knowledgeable enough to understand unique industry challenges and know how to manage your team. Likewise, your team should be well equipped enough to work without you looking over their shoulder all the time.

In some cases, the best way to overcome these challenges is through education. For example, you could enrol your employees into programmes that help improve specific skills that will benefit themselves and the business.

You yourself as a business owner or manager could look into courses specific to your area of work, such as learning effective management skills, or learning how you can develop strategies that drive a culture of innovation. This will not only help you within your business, but it could also benefit your business externally.

Fortunately, there are plenty of online universities and colleges with a range of courses that you could look into. If you’re wanting to get a bigger advantage over the competition, then you should look into leading professional service firms programmes that help you understand the modern business landscape, and what emerging trends you need to be aware of.

Clarify Your Strengths

You may well be familiar with some of your strengths, as a business or individual, but it will be of a great benefit to clarify and understand them deeper. For example, you may realise that one strength of your business is so effective that it would need more investment, both in terms of time and money.

This way, you will be able to realise what works for your business and understand what needs to be done to help drive your business forward. You may discover that you are not able to focus on your business strengths, as you have too many other tasks and responsibilities. That could help you realise it’s time to expand, and hire workers with strengths you don’t have, in order to focus on your own strengths and gain a competitive advantage.

Discover Your Weaknesses

You can imagine just how important the flip side of this is too. Identifying your weaknesses will help put you in the best position possible to find what needs more work. Weaknesses, no matter how small, can hinder a business and stop them being successful. This could be down to individuals within a workplace, or models used within the business.

Once you have identified your weaknesses, you will be able to boost your growth by knowing for sure what isn’t working. Not every element of your business will be able to be fixed. In fact, it’s perfectly possible that there will be dead weight within your organisation, in terms of business practice, that could be outdated or just not needed.

Increase Price Over Time

When it comes to gaining a competitive advantage, sometimes money can be one of the most important factors. You will have probably noticed that prices from your favourite business have increased over the last ten years, and that’s no coincidence.

Prices will rise with the success of a business, as well as to help match inflation. When prices rise, you should follow that example in order to stay competitive. This will help you maintain success and drive profit.

Utilise Data

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of utilising data. Gathering data has become easier in the digital age, as there are multiple platforms and applications available that can do all the heavy lifting for you.

Data could help show you what’s effective and ineffective within your business, as well as find cost saving methods you could utilise. The end goal is to help drive your business in your industry with a more competitive edge.

How to Create a Learning Culture at Work

By Helen Barraclough, Global Education Manager – Customer Success

“The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organisation’s learning culture”, according to a recent Bersin report on how learning cultures can empower businesses to be successful. 

Findings from Xero’s Future of Small Business Report reveal that the pandemic has led to ten years of innovation and technological adoption taking place in just 90 days. This disruption has led to a shift in demand for human expertise –  in fact, the World Economic Forum suggests we are on the brink of a ‘Reskilling Revolution’ as we’re required to work more intimately with intelligent machines, data and algorithms. 

To put this into context, a recent report from LinkedIn has revealed that the most in-demand skills today didn’t even appear on their list three years ago. Now more than ever, there is a premium on employees with the intellectual curiosity to adapt and develop new skills. 

Encouraging a learning culture at work is essential to attract top talent, give employees the necessary tools to become successful and thrive as a business. But how can you create a thriving learning culture for your business? Here are the three biggest changes that you can make to your business to do just that. 

1. Encourage questions 

Learning cultures are all about having a growth mindset, meaning it’s important for your employees to seek out and engage with new information whenever possible. Collective knowledge is a powerful thing, and actively sharing it among your employees should be encouraged. 

One way to do this is to ensure that your team is able to ask each other questions without feeling self-conscious. In fact, tough questioning should be welcomed as a constructive process. 

There are other ways to grow your business’ collective knowledge, too – engaging with feedback, acknowledging opinions (especially the ones that challenge your own), asking for help and sharing frequent updates on the business are all equally effective. 

This active sharing of information will enable your employees to learn about the business and how it works on an ongoing basis, ultimately developing your business’ learning culture. 

2. Find the right tools

When it comes to creating the perfect learning culture at work, having the right tools can supercharge your business’ development. 

There is now no excuse for even a small business owner not to have the best insights and control over every part of their business, from marketing and customer acquisition, to customer service, financial performance and staff wellbeing. There truly is accessible technology for everything. 

Even learning to stay on top of your finances – the thorn in the side of so many small businesses – is made easy with cloud accounting software like Xero, which has over 1000 apps for you to choose from to build a personalised toolkit for your business. 

Finding and implementing the right tools will result in a culture that empowers your employees to develop their understanding and productivity in new areas – in turn, this will nurture your business’ learning culture. 

3. Celebrating failures

Perhaps the biggest way for your employees to learn is through failing. Failures are natural for any business – especially in the early days – and the ability to adapt and overcome them is essential for your growth. 

By accepting and even embracing failure as a business, you will create a culture that enables your employees to use failure constructively as a stepping stone towards success, while learning how to improve for next time. 

Creating a vibrant learning culture at work will enable you and your team to stretch each others’ capabilities and thrive. This article has explored the three key ways for you to nurture this kind of culture – from encouraging questions from your team, finding the right tools to supercharge your skill development, and celebrating failures as opportunities to learn. 

But ultimately, the most important aspect of creating a learning culture is openness. By being open to new ways of thinking and challenging old approaches, you can unleash and maintain a growth mindset among your employees that accelerates your business’ potential. 

How to Create a Learning at Work

By Helen Barraclough, Global Education Manager – Customer Success

“The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organisation’s learning culture”, according to a recent Bersin report on how learning cultures can empower businesses to be successful. 

Findings from Xero’s Future of Small Business Report reveal that the pandemic has led to ten years of innovation and technological adoption taking place in just 90 days. This disruption has led to a shift in demand for human expertise –  in fact, the World Economic Forum suggests we are on the brink of a ‘Reskilling Revolution’ as we’re required to work more intimately with intelligent machines, data and algorithms. 

To put this into context, a recent report from LinkedIn has revealed that the most in-demand skills today didn’t even appear on their list three years ago. Now more than ever, there is a premium on employees with the intellectual curiosity to adapt and develop new skills. 

Encouraging a learning culture at work is essential to attract top talent, give employees the necessary tools to become successful and thrive as a business. But how can you create a thriving learning culture for your business? Here are the three biggest changes that you can make to your business to do just that. 

1. Encourage questions 

Learning cultures are all about having a growth mindset, meaning it’s important for your employees to seek out and engage with new information whenever possible. Collective knowledge is a powerful thing, and actively sharing it among your employees should be encouraged. 

One way to do this is to ensure that your team is able to ask each other questions without feeling self-conscious. In fact, tough questioning should be welcomed as a constructive process. 

There are other ways to grow your business’ collective knowledge, too – engaging with feedback, acknowledging opinions (especially the ones that challenge your own), asking for help and sharing frequent updates on the business are all equally effective. 

This active sharing of information will enable your employees to learn about the business and how it works on an ongoing basis, ultimately developing your business’ learning culture. 

2. Find the right tools

When it comes to creating the perfect learning culture at work, having the right tools can supercharge your business’ development. 

There is now no excuse for even a small business owner not to have the best insights and control over every part of their business, from marketing and customer acquisition, to customer service, financial performance and staff wellbeing. There truly is accessible technology for everything. 

Even learning to stay on top of your finances – the thorn in the side of so many small businesses – is made easy with cloud accounting software like Xero, which has over 1000 apps for you to choose from to build a personalised toolkit for your business. 

Finding and implementing the right tools will result in a culture that empowers your employees to develop their understanding and productivity in new areas – in turn, this will nurture your business’ learning culture. 

3. Celebrating failures

Perhaps the biggest way for your employees to learn is through failing. Failures are natural for any business – especially in the early days – and the ability to adapt and overcome them is essential for your growth. 

By accepting and even embracing failure as a business, you will create a culture that enables your employees to use failure constructively as a stepping stone towards success, while learning how to improve for next time. 

Creating a vibrant learning culture at work will enable you and your team to stretch each others’ capabilities and thrive. This article has explored the three key ways for you to nurture this kind of culture – from encouraging questions from your team, finding the right tools to supercharge your skill development, and celebrating failures as opportunities to learn. 

But ultimately, the most important aspect of creating a learning culture is openness. By being open to new ways of thinking and challenging old approaches, you can unleash and maintain a growth mindset among your employees that accelerates your business’ potential. 

Quick Ways to Save Money As A Business Leader

Leading a business as an executive means that there are a lot of decisions you need to make to ensure that your business prospers. One of the key things a business leader needs to figure out is how to save money and reduce spending costs so that they can maximize profit.

Unfortunately, the prospect of saving money often requires a great deal of time, which not every executive can make room for, particularly when trying to run a business.

Thankfully, there are ways to start saving up and cutting costs sooner rather than later, often without having to think about it too much.

If you feel as though you could be doing more to reduce the costs of running your business, here are some tips and tricks you might want to take a look at.

Switching Utility Providers

In the past, switching utility providers may have been a terribly time-consuming undertaking, but thanks to some wonderful price comparison sites and online advisors, it can be done exceptionally quickly while still allowing you the chance to find the ideal service.

This is a great way to save your company money on its overheads without wasting too much time waiting around for results. For example, if you needed to cut down on your business water costs, you can do it from your smartphone with a simple swipe of the thumb. Doing this for all your utility providers can add up to a sizeable saving that a business leader can invest into other aspects of their business.

Hire Freelancers

If you need to get a project done but do not have the workforce to make it happen as soon as you would like, hiring a brand-new member of staff can take up a seemingly unfathomable amount of time, money, and energy, and even then, you might not find the right person for the job.

Hiring freelancers might be a way to get around this while saving yourself some money on wages and hiring costs.

Thanks to some great online platforms that offer transparency and quality, it may be a quick fix to a potentially drawn-out problem. Furthermore, freelancers are great options for executives who need their services for a limited time only.

Automatic Savings Apps

Being a business leader can be difficult if you cannot sufficiently manage your own finances or if you need to use your personal account for work purposes every now and then.

Automatic savings apps could be worth checking out if this is the case for you, as they can pick up the responsibility and start saving behind the scenes, so you do not have to worry about it.

Some of the best apps can even help you come up with your budgeting plan for the foreseeable future and make you aware of where your money is going on a day-to-day basis.

Budgeting often needs to be done realistically and honestly if it is to be effective, but this can take time, so seeking out some help from a reliable AI partner may be a great way to go.

Hire an Intern

Needing help on administrative matters is a fairly common position for small business owners and executives to find themselves in, especially when they are trying to juggle a range of different duties on a daily basis.

Hiring an intern may be able to help you take some pressure off, save yourself some money on wages, and hopefully give an eager individual some valuable work experience at the same time.

3 Ways SMEs Can Recognise Employees

Employees are at the core of any successful organisation, and that is why the best employers understand the value of employee recognition and realise its benefit not only to individual performance, but to the wider company as a whole.

The key benefit is improved motivation, with two thirds of employees (66%) reporting to feeling more motivated to stay at their job with the presence of a corporate recognition program. However, recognition not only drives retention, but also leads to improved productivity and greater overall employee output.

There is a common misconception that recognition has to be monetary, for instance celebrating an employee’s achievement with a cash bonus. But luckily for smaller businesses looking to boost employee performance, this isn’t the case.

Instead, there are different levels of recognition schemes available to suit businesses of all shapes and sizes. With this in mind, employee benefits provider, Sodexo Engage, has put together three cost effective ways SMEs should recognise their employees without breaking the bank:

1. Public appreciation

It may feel a little old fashioned, but publicly appreciating members of staff through initiatives such as ‘employee of the month’ can really go a long way to boosting an individual’s self-confidence. A framed photo on the wall is no longer necessary, and for some employees might be their worst nightmare, but a great alternative would be a regular roundup email highlighting people’s successes or a celebratory social media post.

Over half of employees (53%) want more recognition from their manager or supervisor, and public acknowledgment is one of the best ways to do it. Showing appreciation publicly not only tells the employee that their achievement is something that their manager is impressed by, but it’s in fact good enough to be of interest to the whole company. This makes people feel like their work is valued and gives them a sense of understanding of how their individual efforts contribute to the overall company output.

2. Peer to peer recognition

As beneficial as monthly recognition rewards are, it is imperative that business owners foster an environment of regular and immediate acknowledgment for good work. Immediacy is key as the positive behaviour which earned recognition is more likely to be reinforced if it is highlighted sooner.

A practical way to achieve such an environment is through peer-to-peer recognition. This is because even before the pandemic managers often struggled to keep up with the actions of every single employee they were responsible for, and working remotely has only made this harder. Co-workers meanwhile are more tapped in and attuned to the everyday activity of team members, so it is much easier for them to spot good work. As well as being easier, it is also just as effective as praise from management, with a Harvard Business School study revealing positive recognition from colleagues can increase an employee’s output by seven per cent.

3. Make it personal

While managers having a professional working relationship with their employees is key, perhaps what is more important is being able to connect with them on a personal level. Recognising your staff as individuals is vital, and going the extra mile when they go the extra mile can show just how much you appreciate their work.

To bring this personal approach to life, managers can consider recognising good work with rewards. Avoid generic one-size-fits-all gifts, and instead provide personalised rewards which the employee will actually appreciate and recognise as their own. Unlike a cash bonus, something like an eVoucher can be tailored towards an employee’s favourite retailer or restaurant.

Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments:

“While it’s true money is a big driving factor for a lot of employees, we recognise that it isn’t necessarily the key to happiness, productivity and satisfaction in a role. Depending just on financial rewards has in fact got a few pitfalls. The most obvious downside is monetary bonuses are often paid as part of an employee’s salary, which means the reward disappears into their monthly outgoings and isn’t presented with any fanfare.

“Non-monetary rewards are far timelier and offer something tangible which the employee can enjoy immediately. It’s also typically a lot more engagement oriented, for instance a public thank you – something which will hold a lot more value than a bank transaction at the end of the month.”

New Research Shows Nordic Countries are Shaping the Future of Shared Parental Leave

  • Shared parental leave is on the rise, with a 33% increase in Google searches for ‘shared parental leave’ in the UK over the past year
  • An analysis of all parental leave policies across Europe has revealed Nordic countries offer the most flexible paid parental leave
  • Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK, shares the benefits of shared parental leave for new dads and dads-to-be

Throughout the pandemic many workplaces have offered their employees more flexibility.

Flexible working options such as adjusting hours, days, or place of work, are attractive to many employees, and can offer your team more control over how, where and when you and your teams work. New research by Bupa found that 27% of working parents want to see more flexibility at work, too.

One area that’s surged in popularity over recent months is ‘shared parental leave’. This is where both parents can take time off in a more flexible way during your baby’s first year. Our new research has revealed a 33% increase in Google UK searches for ‘shared parental leave’ over the past year, too.

Bupa’s experts have analysed every country in Europe to find out who offers the most statutory maternity and paternity leave for new parents (the number of days new mums and dads can take off work whilst still being paid from their employer when a child is born).

Nordic countries are shaping the future of shared parental leave

Our research has shown that Nordic countries are paving the way for more flexible parental leave, allowing parents to share their time-off.

New parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days leave after their child is born, compared with 50 weeks (380 days) in the UK.

Which European countries offer the most maternity leave?

An analysis into every European maternity policy found that Bulgaria offers the highest paid time away from work (58.6 weeks). This is closely followed by a wealth of countries offering 52 weeks of statutory paid leave, including Albania, Denmark, and Serbia.

Whilst the UK currently offers new mums 52 weeks off, only 39 weeks must be paid by your employer. This ranks the UK in 6th place, tied with Kosovo and North Macedonia.

Which European countries offer the most paternity leave?

Paternity leave varies widely across Europe, but in general fathers are entitled to fewer days off work compared to new mothers. The average paid paternity leave is just 3.4 weeks, compared to 23.1 weeks for statutory maternity leave.

Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland) offer generous paternity leave policies, with Sweden offering the highest statutory paternity leave at 34 weeks.

With more parents searching for flexible working options in the workplace, we spoke to Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director of Mental Health at Bupa UK, who has shared how to make shared parental leave (SPL) work as an employer.

“Creating more options for new parents gives them greater choice in how to balance their own work and home life. Similarly, allowing parents more choice and flexibility to combine work with childcare responsibilities means that as an employer, you’ll be able to better recruit and retain talent”.

1. Make your team aware of all their options

It’s important to communicate all the parental leave options available to your team that are offered by your busines. This will help your team to make informed decisions that work both for their families and careers.

If you’re unable to advise your team members on SPL in your workplace, put them in touch with a department that can. If you don’t currently have the sources available to offer advice on SPL don’t worry – there are lots of useful organisations that can provide this information such as GOV.UK and Maternity Action.

2. Work together to finalise your employees parental leave plan

It can be both daunting and a little confusing to understand how various types of parental leave – especially for first time parents.

As a business leader, take the time to talk to your team members about how they are feeling and work together to create a plan that works for both the individual and your business too.

3. Check-in regularly

Becoming a parent can be an overwhelming experience, especially for the first time. However, being open and available to talk to your team about their worries or concerns can help them feel supported.

For those parents currently on leave, it can be easy to feel disconnected from their team the longer they are away from their role. Taking the time to catch-up with your team members on SPL can help them to feel part of the team – helping to make the transition back to work smoother once they return to their role.

Offering a phased return through split SPL can help those team members returning from SPL transition back to their role.

4. Offer support for those returning from parental leave

Before a parent returns from SPL, get in touch to see if there is anything you can do as a business to help them transition back into their working environment. Offering your team member help and support as they adjust back into their role is important. For example, understanding as a new parent their schedules may have changed to fit around family commitments.

Similarly, if you notice a team member may be struggling offering metal health and wellbeing support services can help.

Why Employee Benefits Can Create a Positive Workforce

Working within a positive work environment can be beneficial for both employees and also the business’ bottom line. When individuals are happy with the work and the environment, they are often more productive and less likely to make mistakes.

Employee benefits are more than extra perks for employees – they are an essential part of creating a workplace culture that supports the wellbeing of the staff.

The Perks of Employee Benefits

Offering employee benefits can help form a workplace that supports its employees, helping to make their lives a little bit easier and their time at work better. The reasons why all companies should be offering their employees benefits are endless. These are just some of the perks.

Help to Retain Talent – Finding a new employee can cost more than keeping a current one. Staff turnover can also cause disruption and loss of continuity for both employees and customers alike. After bringing on board great employees, the firm’s focus turns to how to ensure they stay with the company. Employees are no longer only comparing salaries when considering a new position. Instead, they review and offer in its entirety, weighing up its total values, including the benefits packages they offer. Employee benefits packages that go above-average ones will go a long way in keeping employees at a company.

Boost Company Appeal – The changing employment figures has meant that the recruitment market is starting to favour employees over employers. With a rising number of jobs available, partially due to the pandemic, candidates are being more selective about the company they choose to apply to and work with. For companies, this means they need to do more to make their business stand out amongst competitors if they want to secure highly skilled employees who will bring experience, dedication and strength to the company. With a strong employee benefits package on offer, candidates are more likely to be attracted to applying for a role in a company. It can also be the deciding factor for whether they decide to join the company if they were offered the position.

Increase Engagement, Productivity and Morale – Employee benefits can be highly emotive. When a company provides its staff with opportunities to enjoy activities that are important to them, or if it helps them to save money in their personal lives, it shows them how much they are valued in the business. Offering benefits to employees can help to make a real contribution towards leisure activities or lifestyle choices. These can help in creating a feel-good factor – that can lead to a boost in morale, engagement, productivity. When employees are unhappy, they are more unlikely to be productive or engaged with their work. In turn, this will have an impact on the prospects of a business.

Examples of Benefits to Offer

Having a positive working environment can do wonders for both employees and a business. It can eliminate stress and negativity, which leads to a rise in productivity from employees. With a highly energised workforce, that is happy and motivated – they will use this energy to ensure the best results are delivered. For a company, this dedicated, confident and loyal team of employees will help the business to reach its goals and have great success in the future.

Knowing the positive impact that offering employee benefits can have on a business, many employers are looking for what they can offer to their team to help boost morale. These are just a few examples of employee benefits that can help to retain talented, experienced employees.

Offering Health Benefits 

Providing your employees with company health insurance will provide access to excellent healthcare in private UK hospitals. It allows them to skip out on NHS waiting lists for eligible conditions. Therefore, they will get treated quicker and potentially be able to return to work sooner. Finding the best health insurance for your team is not as challenging as some might have initially thought. When looking for the best health insurance to offer your employees, it is worth reaching out to firms, such as Switch Health, which allows you to compare schemes on offer and helps you to find the best match for your company. Utilising services such as these to find the best health insurance to offer employees will help you save time searching for the right scheme.

Flexibility with Work

Before the pandemic, many businesses did not offer the option of working from home. After over a year of working from home, continuing to work from home or offering the choice for employees to continue working from home is becoming increasingly popular. Offering the choice to work remotely can help with boosting employee morale, but also help to reduce stress levels. In addition to remote working, allowing flexitime builds a level of trust and commitment, which can increase productivity.

Putting Employees First

A significant portion of a company’s success is thanks to the dedicated and talented team working behind the scenes. To ensure that this level of productivity can achieve the desired goals, employees want to feel as though they are being heard and cared for by employers. By offering an enticing employee benefits package, a firm will have the power to attract the best talent and retain it.

Why Should I Use a Compliance Consultant?

If you are looking to work in an FCA regulated environment or become FCA authorised, there are a number of ongoing compliance tasks that you need to comply with. You can oversee your compliance responsibilities in-house and the FCA will give you guidance to stay on the right side of the law.

However, there is also the business case for using a compliance consultant who can leverage their background and experience to help you with your business model, reporting, complaints, marketing material and more. Today, we give an overview of why you should consider using a consultant rather than someone in-house.


Expert Guidance

Perhaps the most obvious reason to hire a compliance consultant is to gain access to their expertise in the field.

A good consultancy such as Bovill, Scott Robert or RQC Group can provide an independent and objective view, and tasks can be delegated to compliance consultants depending on their experience. compliance consultants will have years of experience in dealing with compliance regulation so are better able to identify small infringements of regulation that may be overlooked by the untrained eye.


Stay Up-To-Date

Compliance regulations frequently change, and it can be difficult to keep up with these changes whilst fulfilling your job role.

A compliance consultant would be solely focused on ensuring your company remains compliant with the latest updates. It is the job of a compliance consultant to stay up-to-date with new compliance regulations and fully understand how these should be implemented practically in the industry.


Avoid Penalties for Breaking Compliance Regulations

As a compliance consultant will have extensive experience in Compliance Regulation, they will be able to identify problems that may have been overlooked by someone without their expertise. By identifying these issues quickly, compliance consultants can help your company avoid receiving penalties for breaking compliance regulation.


Ensure Compliance Faster

A compliance consultant’s experience enables them to work much more efficiently. There will be some regulatory issues that many companies experience, so compliance consultants often have procedures in place to deal with these issues quickly and effectively. These procedures can become invaluable for a company to lean on repeatedly to quickly resolve common regulatory issues.

Meet TieTa, The Company That Will Handle Your Complaints

For businesses, one of the most stressful parts of the job is likely to be dealing with customer complaints. As companies grow, so do the number of complaints and enquiries- and this is inevitable. Plus, it can interfere with the daily running of the business and divert attention from staff members who need to be doing tasks elsewhere.

But help is at hand, thanks to a new startup that has just launched in Oxfordshire.

TieTa offers a fully white-labelled solution to the complaints your business receives. As soon as a complaint is received, TieTa’s team of highly skilled and friendly customer service agents act on your behalf by handling these complaints, logging them, and feeding back to your company. As well as complaints handling, TieTa can help your business with general customer services including text messages, telesales, live chat, and emails across industries such as finance, retail, and health.

TieTa was already ahead of the curve when the COVID-19 pandemic struck with staff members already set up remotely and ready to help firms who couldn’t access their premises.

They thrived during this time, helping businesses of all sizes and finding a real niche with clinics offering COVID-testing customer services by handling their text message alerts, appointment scheduling and delivery of test results.

Founder and CEO of TieTa, Caroline Walton, explained:

“For the last 8 years, we have operated as the customer service team for one of the UK’s largest lenders. Working in a highly regulated environment and dealing through thousands of enquiries daily, we gained some excellent hands-on experience and we are delighted to launch TieTa and be able to offer our customer service and complaints handling solution to businesses of all sizes.”

Caroline continued: “The onboarding process is fast and effective, with a training session with your brand and our advisors to perfectly understand your business, get the right tone and script so that we can answer any query that comes our way. We understand that customer service and staying on top of never-ending enquiries can be draining for businesses and it can sometimes feel like you are on a treadmill that you cannot get off. TieTa offers a very affordable and innovative solution – and we are here to help you get off the treadmill today.”

Customer service agents are available on a day rate, based on their level of expertise and the complexity of the business. Clients have the option to use TieTa’s staff for as many or as little days as they wish, including out of hours support, overflow customer services, evenings and weekends.

“With TieTa you can scale us up or down as you wish, we are very flexible in this way,” Walton explains. “We want to learn about you and your business and truly help in anyway that we can.”

Mental Wellbeing at Work: Sectors Most Impacted by the Pandemic

  • Accountancy sector is most impacted, with one in three employees (33%) reporting a negative impact on their wellbeing
  • 27% of those in the financial services sector say their wellbeing had been impacted during the pandemic
  • However, 36% of those surveyed agreed that their employer is now more understanding about mental health
  • As restrictions ease and employees prepare to return to the office, Naomi Humber, Head of Mental Wellbeing, shares 4 wellbeing priorities for your business

It’s impossible to overstate the impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses over the last year. Organisations in all industries have had to adapt and evolve to survive in the face of the crisis, all while working against a backdrop of major economic uncertainty.

As businesses begin their COVID recovery plan, new research from Bupa UK’s Wellbeing Census has shown the true impact of the pandemic across each sector. Bupa’s new research shows that the wellbeing of employees working in the accounting sector has been most affected, with one in three (33%) employees saying their wellbeing had been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Elsewhere, the wellbeing of employees working in media, marketing, and PR (32%) and education (31%) were negatively impacted by the pandemic, too. Retail (28%), construction (26%) and manufacturing (25%) all saw an impact on employee mental health.

Surprisingly, those working in industries hit hardest by the pandemic, such as hospitality and leisure, fared slightly better, with 1 in 5 employees (20%) reporting a negative impact on their mental health.

This may be because of reduced working hours or furlough schemes, which have been prominent in the industry. In contrast, businesses that have continued to operate over the last year have juggled adjusting to new ways of working, changes to remits, and possible longer working hours.

There are significant demographic differences, with women more likely to report a negative impact than men. Two-thirds (66%) of female employees say the impact has been negative, compared to 57% of men; however, 6% of both men and women reported an extremely negative impact on their overall wellbeing.

As we look ahead to restrictions lifting across the UK, businesses must now prioritise a COVID recovery plan and focus on how to prioritise employee wellbeing.

However, there has been a number of subsequent ‘wellbeing gains’ from working through the pandemic. Our new research has shown an increase in wellbeing awareness across businesses, with 36% of those surveyed agreeing that their employer is now more understanding about mental health. The impact of workload on mental health has dropped from 36% to 27%, too.

Naomi Humber, Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa, shares four wellbeing priorities for every business:

“Wellbeing in the workplace means different things to different people, so it’s important to offer a diverse mix of wellbeing strategies. It’s vital to keep up the momentum, with so many businesses focusing on wellbeing support during the pandemic.

By seizing the wellbeing opportunity presented by the pandemic, there are numerous benefits to be found, too. From a greater focus on mental health recovery to encouraging diversity at work, here are four wellbeing priorities for every business”.

1. Accessibility is key

We’ve seen a marked increase in the number of health and wellbeing services offered by businesses over the last year. Employees surveyed for our latest research said that their employer has introduced some form of initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and many hope that these changes will become permanent.

Ensuring your employees have access to both physical and mental health support can increase productivity, reduce absence in the workplace and improve morale.

2. Prioritise mental health recovery

Mental health has been hit hard due to the pandemic, both at home and work. Research has revealed that pressure was the most common cause of work-related stress last year, with many of the UK workforce experiencing mental health conditions such as boreout and burnout.

Promisingly, our research shows that 78% of UK employees say they have experienced  good mental wellbeing at work during the pandemic – this is even slightly up on pre-pandemic levels.

It’s important we keep this momentum in the workplace and focus on mental health support, both for treatment and recovery. For example, ensuring you have regular catchups with your direct reports can make a huge difference.

3. Provide access to wellbeing services

46% of the UK workforce believe wellbeing support services offered by their employer have improved over the past 12 months – a key wellbeing gain of 2020.

However, whilst we have seen an improvement in wellbeing services available, businesses shouldn’t stop there. Over the next few months businesses should look to follow a health-first approach to people management, ensuring employees have access to both mental and physical health support services. As a result, businesses will see greater productivity, reduce turn over and absences – all which account for a successful business environment.

4. Encourage diversity at work

Whilst steps are being made to improve workplace diversity and inclusion across many businesses, we must strive to put diversity at the top of the agenda. Our research showed that 14% of UK employees would like to see more policies ensuring workplace diversity and inclusion over the next year.

As we look towards the future business leaders need to look towards how they can embrace diversity and inclusion within their organisations. From educating managers in diversity and inclusion matters, hiring leaders who understand the importance of these values and helping employees to feel comfortable to express themselves and their values -these are all achievable steps that can be taken to promote workplace culture, diversity, and inclusion.

May Cause Side Effects: the Challenges of Managing a Partially-Vaccinated Workforce

By Daniel Parker, Associate in the Employment practice at Winckworth Sherwood

After over a year of dismay and disruption, the relaxation of COVID-related public health measures in parts of the UK this summer suggests a potential return to some form of normality, whatever that may look like. Badged as “Freedom Day” in the press, the guidance from the Government has seen a removal of almost all restrictions in England, including the longstanding recommendation that individuals work from home.  Some employers may well welcome a wholesale return to the office or factory, however, the lessening of restrictions has been tempered by messages advising that the public should continue to take caution and suggestions that a gradual return to any workplace is the most sensible course of action.

While the general uncertainty continues, it is entirely understandable that employers should be tempted to rely heavily on vaccination status as an indicator of reduced risk, and a key factor in introducing policies, plans and routines which make the most of the medical advances to date.  Nevertheless, organisations must remain agile and mindful of the challenges posed by managing a partially-vaccinated workforce in what remains a very uncertain and changeable situation.

“No Jab, No Job” & discrimination

Perhaps one of the most controversial responses to the pandemic has been the so-called ‘no-jab, no-job’ approach to recruitment and potentially retention of employment.  The difficulty with this is that there are groups who may be unwilling or unable to obtain the vaccine, such as those who have strong religious or philosophical beliefs prohibiting it, or those with certain medical conditions.  Equally, many younger workers still await a second dose of the vaccine, due to the nature of the rollout.  To the extent that recruitment or employment policies exclude these cohorts or result in them being treated differently – this could lead to allegations of indirect discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”).  The Act allows scope for employers to justify that discriminatory impact – most obviously, with cogent health and safety or other viable business reasons – but measures which prevent an individual being employed altogether may not be justifiable as the most legitimate or proportionate response.

There is also anecdotal evidence starting to arise that some employers are beginning to ask their employees to disclose their vaccination status.  Although it seems likely that many employees will have no difficulty doing so voluntarily, forcing or requiring individuals to share this information may undermine both their privacy rights and the trust and confidence which underpins the employment relationship, unless there is a very good reason for requiring it.  Furthermore, a person’s vaccination status is ‘special category’ personal data under current Data Protection legislation and therefore must be treated with particular caution, sensitivity and purpose.  The Information Commissioner’s Office has released clear guidance stating that this information should not be collected ‘just in case’ it may prove helpful.  If it is collected and accidentally disclosed, that has the potential to be a particularly serious breach of an employer’s data protection obligations.

Forced return to the office

Furthermore, there are signs of some employers either prioritising or requiring individuals who have been fully vaccinated to return to the workplace.  While this has a certain logic given the latest developments in government guidance, there is still potential for indirect discrimination claims, particularly from younger staff who may be keen to return if they live in circumstances unsuited to home working, but are not permitted as they are awaiting a second vaccination.  For now, the more prudent approach from an employee relations perspective may be to frame this in a positive way: by encouraging fully vaccinated staff to come in, rather than forbidding those who are not from entering work premises. It is also not helpful to employers that the government has declined to require NHS front line workers and care home staff to be fully vaccinated.  This is likely to somewhat dilute the ability for employers to justify mandatory vaccinations as a ‘business requirement’.

Besides the legal risks, any proposal which relies on vaccination status has its own practical issues.   Most notably, as NHS guidance states, it may still be possible to catch, carry and  spread COVID-19 notwithstanding vaccination.  Even after relaxation of the rules, employers will still need to continue to ensure a safe working environment and conduct appropriate risk assessments with that in mind.  Furthermore, when seeking to justify return-to-work policies or practices, employers should monitor and ensure they understand the latest scientific guidance to have the best chance of doing so.

Vaccine Passports

Unfortunately, despite some discussion of the idea of a ‘vaccine passport’, there remains as yet no authoritative and easily-usable means of evidencing vaccine status (or accompanying) at present, at least for domestic use.  Therefore, any measures which depend on establishing vaccine status will require a degree of trust, taking into account that many people are presently under severe economic pressure.

These are only some of the challenges employers are likely to face and if cases increase again significantly, then there are likely to be yet more to grapple with in the future.  Despite the continuing uncertainty, however, there are some small but significant steps which employers can take during this transitional period.  The first is to continue to monitor government guidance and adhere to it to the fullest extent possible. Moreover, when intending or considering implementation of internal policies or procedures, employers should consult meaningfully with employees, to allow for evidence-based decisions which have a better chance of support from the workforce, and are less likely to then be the subject of challenges.

Ultimately, it is undoubtedly in both individuals’ and organisations’ interests for vaccination to be as widespread as possible.  Employers should do their utmost among their staff to promote and encourage that core public health message, which remains as relevant as ever and perhaps, for the time being, hold fire on any thoughts of mandatory requirements for vaccination.

How To Effectively Optimize Your Local Marketing Campaigns

Local marketing campaigns are vital to your firm’s bottom line success.

For an SME, local marketing can be their bread and butter as they reach out to their primary customer base. For larger businesses that have since expanded beyond their home regions, local marketing is a point of pride, a charming reminder that the firm is respectfully in touch with their roots. Therefore, local marketing is always important.

However, when it comes to optimizing local marketing campaigns, it can be helpful to have a few pointers in mind. Any lost time here can reflect negatively on the firm. Therefore, it is best to get ahead of the curve while you can – and stay ahead of it.

Here is how to effectively optimize your local marketing campaigns.

Adapt Content with the Times

As has been well documented elsewhere, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated many industries.

However, the businesses that are affected have needed to rethink their company model; from staff working arrangements to the viability of what they are selling in the current climate. Put simply, a total reshuffle of operations has been required almost across the board in many companies.

Marketing has been influenced also, with many firms altering their marketing in a way that reflects the pandemic appropriately. Therefore, it may be best to follow a similar strategy. It will show your firm’s sensitivity to world issues with a local focus, highlight your willingness to educate and be educated in trying times, and put your company in a position of leadership where others may shirk their responsibilities.

Perhaps you could tap into the local mood on these matters and discuss how the coronavirus has affected your firm and other people? It could also be a good idea to showcase the steps you are taking in combatting the virus, whether that is making PPC equipment for other local firms or enforcing different parts of the guidelines. Communication is incredibly important during these times, so flagging areas of concern or providing reassurances could go a long way in terms of your local public perception.

Support Your Local Community

You should also strive to support your local community if it is within your firm’s capabilities.

This will improve relations between your business and the nearby consumer. It may also incentivize loyal customers to shop with your company a little more should trading conditions worsen even more in the near future.

Many businesses have been going the extra mile for their communities, with Adobe offering free at-home access to their software over the course of the pandemic period. Of course, it might not be that gracious acts such as these are within your means but try to compromise where you can so that you can show the real integrity behind your firm’s operations.

Local businesses need to be kind, empathetic, and friendly to generate exposure and carefully curate their reputation. Other endeavours such as charity partnerships and fundraiser initiatives are also worthy of marketing mentions that should greatly improve your local standing. 

Combine Digital and Print Marketing

Many firms might incorrectly assume that advertising at a local level should involve physical forms of marketing only. 

While depositing leaflets through people’s front doors can be useful, any robust local marketing campaign should benefit from both digital and print forms of marketing. That way, you can cover more demographics in your region, engaging elders with more traditional forms of advertising while sparking the interest of today’s youth through online promotions.

For example, you could upgrade your email campaigns with an assortment of free email templates that save time and money if you have limited HTML coding skills. Many sites offer them with a host of extra perks, so do your own research to see what is best for you. Additionally, you could bolster your search engine optimization strategies, so that people searching for your services in a specific geographic region can find you on the first page of results in a search engine.

Ultimately, both forms of marketing have their uses and can improve any local campaign with resounding results. The main aim is to generate increased exposure in a concentrated space, so engaging with a variety of methods to spread the word is undoubtedly a good idea.

Include Testimonials

Testimonials play a crucial role in legitimizing your firm’s local marketing efforts.

Any overwhelmingly positive feedback provided by your customers and clients can be quoted and strategically placed in any of your marketing materials. However, while some firms unfortunately resort to falsifying their reviews, if you can work to maintain authenticity in yours, it can reflect very well on the virtuous character of your firm.

This effort allows you to emphasize the community spirit of your firm. It can help pool together a range of diverse voices from your local region, and can serve as the final push that prompts people to engage with your products and services. Ultimately, local marketing campaigns thrive at their best when they include an underlying theme of togetherness and positivity, which are two things that testimonials readily provide.

Ageism in the Workplace Spikes Due to Covid-19

By Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity in Leadership

As lockdown restrictions are now easing and many businesses may be choosing to ease back into office life, D&I experts are increasingly concerned about how age discrimination has been exacerbated due to the pandemic. Affecting both personal career trajectory and mobility, as well as stagnating the workplace, many fear that ageism is only set to get worse with more than one million people over the age of 50 still on furlough, which is due to end in late September.

The pandemic has already cruelly affected different age groups in the workplace. There has been a spike in age-related unemployment; research by Rest Less found the number of over-50s made redundant almost tripled to 107,000 between last November and January 2021. A survey earlier this year by found 44% had experienced age discrimination at work and 48% during the recruitment process. 40% felt they were side-lined or left out of discussions at work and 24% said they had experienced discrimination when it comes to promotion.

Older workers (specifically those over the age of 70) are considered at higher-risk to Covid-19 and suffered accordingly.  Employers have been using Covid-19 to make older workers redundant and they have then found themselves disadvantaged when looking for new work. Employers have also kept more expensive older workers on furlough for longer and brought younger employees back sooner. Many workers have revaluated their skill set and are looking for a career change, again harder to do when you are older. 

Many women who suffered from burnout during the pandemic already experience ageism as young as 40 because employers assume that they have less ambition and energy than their younger colleagues.  Attitudes to menopause are largely based around avoidance; most male leaders have little or no understanding of this phase in every woman’s life and associate it with a mindset of the end of a woman’s ability to contribute. Younger workers eagerly trying to get a foot on the job ladder have struggled to find jobs or have been left to work isolated at home, unable to learn from being around co-workers.


Opportunities for training or more exciting projects may be offered solely to younger colleagues.  Age-related comments or jokes made about colleagues are commonplace. Many older workers are actively excluded from meetings or activities and overlooked for pay rises or promotions.  A common assumption is that an older colleague won’t be tech-savvy and find it harder to learn new skills and are counting down the days to retirement. Equally ageism can go the other way and assumptions are made that younger workers are lazy, ignorant and entitled. Some younger colleagues aren’t given time off during the Christmas and summer holidays because they don’t have young children at home. 

So what can we do to tackle ageism?


1. RECOGNISE STEREOTYPING & GET RID OF IT THROUGH TRAINING. Stereotypes affect inclusivity, diversity, motivation and productivity and can also make your company open to legal challenges. Age is not a factor that determines capability.  Training is the key to all aspects of diversity and inclusivity, including ageism, but leaders must be on board and training requires participation from all employees, including management and stakeholders.

As we have found with race awareness, unconscious bias and ethics training, so with ageism: using a tick-in-the-box approach with compulsory one-time or annual short immersions has little or no positive effect and often produces the absolute reverse effect of what was hoped for.

2. HAVE A DETAILED AGEISM POLICY & IMPLEMENT IT. This should include a clear definition of ageism, examples, reporting procedures and grievance procedures. Staff should be cognisant of any form of age discrimination at work and be aware of what to do if they are either a witness or subjected to it. Check all recruitment policies, employment terms and conditions training, training, promotions and dismissal policies and identify and rectify any areas of age bias. Check your policies with a wide spectrum of your workforce so you surface bias in their construction.


3. REVIEW THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS. Avoid words like ‘energetic’, or ‘tech savvy’ to describe the ideal candidate. Focus on general words which convey a candidate’s work ethic such as ‘passionate’, ‘dedicated’ or ‘proactive’. Consider the information you collect from applicants and evaluate whether all of this information is truly necessary. For instance, do you really need to know the year an applicant finished secondary school, or would this information pander to unconscious bias?

4. VALUE LOYALTY & SKILLS. Research shows us that 45 – 54-year-old employees remain at the job twice as long as their 25 – 34-year-old counterparts; and 67% of workers aged 40 – 65 want to keep working after 66.  Creating the right environment and opportunities drives loyalty.  Encourage managers to value skills and how they match the role, not age. There is much wisdom that comes with the experience of life, wisdom that adds pragmatism, realism as well as creativity and healthy challenge.

5. ENSURE FAIR OPPORTUNITIES & PROMOTIONS – Make sure there is a personal development plan for all employees to maximise their potential and opportunities by recognising abilities regardless of age. Hiscox found that 51 years old is the age most workers believe they are likely to experience workplace discrimination.

6. ENCOURAGE A COLLABORATIVE WORKPLACE CULTURE between staff members of different ages to develop inclusivity and strengthen bonds between all age groups. Having a mentoring programme in the workplace can benefit all generations, as can pairing two colleagues of different ages to work on tasks together to boost integration, creativity and productivity.


7. WATCH FOR BIAS-LED, UNACCEPTABLE SOCIAL CUES such as jokes about age. What seems like banter can lead to isolation, poor mental health and grounds for age discrimination lawsuits.


8. CHOOSE AGE INCLUSIVE COMPANY SOCIAL ACTIVITIES – Ensure all meetings and company social activities are fully inclusive and encourage all to attend.

9. CREATE AN OPEN-DOOR POLICY – Having a safe space work environment where employees can voice their concerns about ageism in the workplace creates positive communication.

10. CHECK YOUR COMPANY COLLATERAL AND VISUAL DISPLAYS. Displaying pictures of all age ranges, such as ‘about us’ on your website can attract both new talent and customers who may have been put off otherwise to help break down the barriers that sometimes form inadvertently or overtly.


11. BE AN AGENT OF CHANGE AND USE YOUR VOICE. Role model the right behaviours and call out the wrong ones. Encourage individual responsibility and a speak-out workplace culture. Make sure you check once in a while that you yourself are not falling down the pitfalls of reinforcing stereotypes.

12. ENCOURAGE DIVERSITY. Not only is maintaining a diverse team fair and the right thing to do, but hiring people from all ages, as well as races, religions, genders and backgrounds is proven to improve productivity, cohesion, creativity and team focus.

As the demographics of societies across the world shift with birth-rates falling and people living longer, ageism becomes increasingly damaging. Companies that embrace the reality of these social trends will benefit from the advantages that a truly diverse and inclusive workforce offers.

Top 5 Biggest Cyber Risks for Businesses

Cyber-attacks and cyber crime are becoming the number one enemy for businesses of all shapes and sizes across the globe. As companies become increasingly reliant on remote working and company devices in varying locations and connected to various networks, they are also becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Here we explore the top 5 biggest cyber risks for businesses:

1. Human Error

They say to err is human and that is no truer than when we look at cyber security issues. More often than not, a large-scale security breach is caused by a careless employee. If an employee uses a company phone or laptop, this is an easy entry point for unwanted eyes to see sensitive data.

Depending on the company and the sector, this can be detrimental to the company’s reputation and can have fundamental implications for the clients. Smartphones and laptops are frequently used to access unsecured databases with sensitive client records.

Data shows that, more often than not, it is the lower-level employees of a company who are the targets of cyber-security attacks. Whether out of carelessness or sheer ignorance, these employees are prime meat for hackers. Make sure you take into account their access levels as well as providing company-wide training.

2. Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks account for 90% of all breaches faced by organisations worldwide. Annually, they account for over $12 billion in business losses. Phishing attacks occur when an attacker masks themselves as a trusted contact and lures the user into clicking on a malicious link or download file.

Increasingly sophisticated, these attacks are becoming more and more commonplace in companies around the world. Part of their danger is that they are very difficult to combat. These attacks, more than other types of attacks, target human weakness rather than technological weaknesses.

Specifically within businesses, Business Email Compromise is growing. This is when phishing attackers steal business email account passwords from the company’s higher-level executives and then use this information to request payments from employees.

3. Cloud Vulnerabilities

Businesses of all sizes and all sectors have become increasingly reliant on cloud services. However, what they may not realise is that this dependency opens them up to a range of cyber-attacks.

Specifically, cloud services can make companies more vulnerable to DoS (Denial of Service Attacks) and Account Hijacking.

To protect against these kinds of attacks, businesses should consider having an effective cloud back-up solution, specific insurance policies and regularly changing passwords.

4. Third-Party and Supply Chain Attacks

A supply chain attack or third-party attack is the name given to cyber-attacks which target a larger organisation via their outside supplier’s security system. Many retailers and large organisations rely on third-party services such as payment processing companies.

Data from the Ponemon Institute suggests that 75% of IT professionals have confirmed that this type of attack is both dangerous and becoming increasingly common. The data shows that 63% of data breaches can be traced back, either directly or indirectly, to a third-party attack.

When dealing with these types of attacks, it is important to note that your company is still liable even if the attack comes from a third party vendor.

5. Ransomware

Ransomware is a buzzword in the business world, as the responsible party for millions of attacks annually. One of the most lucrative forms of attack, ransomware involves blocking a company from its own data via encryption and forcing the company to pay a ransom fee in order to access it.

Small businesses are often an easy target for these types of attacks, making up 71% of all ransomware attacks in 2018. Companies are forced with the tough decision of whether to lose their data forever, or pay up a fee which is, on average, around $116,000. These smaller companies tend to be especially likely to pay a ransom as they often do not have their data sufficiently backed up. One way to prevent this is to get cyber insurance cover in place – just to offset any potential losses.

Data from Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that Ransomware is predicted to hit $11.5 billion in damages and claims a new victim every 14 seconds.

An Attractive Proposition for Growth

The growth of business must be a company’s first priority in order to ensure that it continues to achieve success in the long term, but making this into a reality is not always easy. We take a look at Mark Lim, and the firm he co-founded, Magnetic Alliance. Now known in CEO Monthly’s Business Elite as 2021’s Leading Experts in Business Growth Services – Australia, we take a closer look at how they’ve helped numerous businesses to discover the real secrets of their success.

In November 2011, Mark Lim and Jack Gleeson got together to create Magnetic Alliance. While they started as colleagues, they quickly become business partners and friends who played a crucial part in the growth of many companies in Australia.

Mark’s work as CEO has secured the firm for the future. The team he has built focuses on helping business owners achieve business growth by providing end-to-end solutions. These solutions take a client through every stage of growth, piecing together the business puzzle until tangible results have been achieved. From the moment a client starts to their point of exit, Magnetic Alliance is on hand to offer the vital assistance and second perspective that all firms need to thrive.

Key to Mark and his firm’s success has been the development of a sophisticated system that has helped many businesses to boost their revenue, profits, ROI and free up time to do what they love while achieving consistent growth. The system works in a variety of different industries and has proven to be incredibly successful for those who take advantage of what the team has to offer.

At the heart of the firm’s impressive process is the value of people, and empowering teams to become the best that they can possibly be. Mark and his team believe strongly in the value of relationships, knowing that people who are happy in what they do, perform to a higher standard. When the team works with business owners, it takes on a “client for life” mentality. This comes from the top, and Mark knows that by building relationships that can last the long term, he can succeed alongside his clients. This drives further growth for all concerned.

Needless to say, the passion with which Mark approaches the industry makes him an ideal leader. Few could argue that his strong approach to growth has brought about incredible success as he has worked with some of the most impressive entrepreneurs in the region. Not only can he support leaders in the field, but he is a wealth of knowledge to those who have just started out in the industry.

This passion comes from a lifetime of experience. Alongside his business partner, Jack Gleeson, Mark has spent years working within the sector of corporate affairs. Here, he was responsible for the operation of large-scale global business portfolios, the running of complex business transformation programs and implementation of strategic profit and growth improvement initiatives. His track record in this field is without parallel, as these initiatives yielded 100%+ to 500%+ profit improvement upside in businesses turning over $3.2 Billion in revenue. That success is why the firm is in such high demand to this day.

The success of working with Magnetic Alliance speaks for itself. Under Mark’s capable leadership, the firm has been able to secure 8 years of consecutive growth in its first 8 years of business from trading in May 2012. The team thrive on being able to secure that incredible level of growth for their clients too. It’s why Mark and his firm have been able to achieve so much since opening their doors.

For business enquires contact Mark Lim of Magnetic Alliance via [email protected]

SHY Aviation, Bold Practices

Quickly making its way to the head of the pack in its industry through excellent customer service and internal ambition, SHY Aviation is shaping the future of jet charter. Serving a myriad of market segments and planning to break into more in the future, co-founder Giles Vickers-Jones reflects on the company’s past year and future goals. 


SHY Aviation is a global charter aviation company, working hard to take the next steps to become a worldwide leader in its field. With exemplary processes and award-winning attitudes shared throughout its team, it has access to all available aircraft on the market, putting them to good use for personal and private services. Its services strive to ensure that jet and aircraft hire is effortless and streamlined. For its clientele, there is no job too big or too small, and no challenge it can’t rise to, with an enviable attention to detail that has been lauded as exemplary by a growing pool of customers. The core philosophy behind everything it does is the simple notion of truly caring. Therefore, every member of its team is serious about customer focused business action, and the processes that make its work possible reflect this, keeping the client and their needs at its heart throughout. 


When a client is working with SHY Aviation, they are connected and in control; whether they wish for a private jet for one high net worth individual, a group charter, or a cargo charter, they will have all the information they need at their fingertips. This ensures that a customer knows everything about their charter. Keeping a client in the loop like this gives the client peace of mind, showing them just how on the ball SHY Aviation really is, to have such an in-depth overview available always. A cut above the others in its industry, this company strives to offer services that clients cannot find through commercial air travel.


Such solutions encompass business and personal travel, such as CEO’s who need to get from city to city quickly and efficiently, and don’t have time to wrangle commercial airport queues. It also offers the use of helicopters, which has become a highly popular offering, transporting its clients all over the world and even to events or getaways, such as the Grand Prix or to ski slopes in the Alps. Its group charter has ferried all manner of groups from sports teams to companies to their destinations, and herein we see how truly tailored SHY Aviation’s services are. No matter the destination or person, SHY Aviation is dedicated to creating an itinerary and having the aircraft that will truly suit their purposes. 


Having been developing and changing dramatically every day for the past 9 years since its founding, on an exponential path to further growth that certainly shows no signs of slowing, it has learned a lot. The SHY team very much match the tenacity and work ethic of the founders, and so this growth through learning on the go has always been a priority. During the past year, this diligence has been crucial to survival. Pivoting to helping Governments with repatriation and PPE cargo transport during the pandemic, it found itself serving more of these types of roles than ever before. It was this flexibility and adaptability that allowed it to survive, and eventually thrive, being able to encourage dramatic yet sensibly scaled growth. 


Its 24/7 on demand offering, outstanding customer service, and staunch resolution to going above and beyond the call of duty have all been tested by the last 12 months, and it has responded in kind by rising to the challenge. The workload having almost doubled due to the need to adapt to paradigms that changed on the daily, the team showed tremendous effort and dedication. This is something that has been evident to the clients and to the founders. Giles Vickers-Jones, the company’s Founder and Chairman, is incredibly proud of his staff and the herculean efforts they put in. In this way, the pivot was made far easier than it perhaps could have been; the entrepreneurial spirit of the owners and their colleagues proved SHY Aviation’s processes to be made of incredibly strong stuff. 


Its growth and upscaling meant for the hiring of more staff. This is something Giles mentioned to us as being a new frontier for the company, as previously, himself and his business partner personally handled all departments. This was something he enjoyed immensely, and caring so much about SHY Aviation’s future made it hard to switch to delegating these things, but he found that in doing so it relieved some pressure from his shoulders and has benefitted the company overall. The hires included senior management staff, including 2 highly paid experts in their field, a new FD, and a new strategic officer, amongst others. All of these people have proved their worth over and over again since the choice was made to hire them, and the owners could focus more on running the business overall rather than having to split their time between getting into the nitty gritty of multiple departments. 


The immediate benefit to this was further growth opportunity. SHY Aviation was able to move towards an improved structure which keeps specific tasks within specific teams, leaving things that require expert attention in the hands of the newly hired experts. Whilst Giles described this initially as a leap of faith when passing these over, SHY Aviation has consequentially flourished, and propelled it further along the path to becoming a world leader in jet charter. To Giles and the team, every problem is an opportunity in disguise for further learning and bettering SHY Aviation. This is an attitude he himself learned from many of his previous roles, which has included TV presenting and hosting, book writing, column writing, and the owning of several other businesses that he has grown with his business partner. 


Giles is used to seeing businesses flourish, but every single one of them has taught him new lessons, lessons that he takes onto the next one. He also was the head of a production company, a testament to his ability to project manage effectively, and was dabbling in other areas when SHY Aviation was being set up. It eventually became the priority as its expansion took off, presenting Giles with a daily, dynamic learning curve like no other before it. This has very much informed himself and his current staff, as well as the belief he has in them that was proven over the course of the last 12 months. SHY Aviation’s tenacity, dedication, skills, and capabilities have pulled them through, and will continue to do so. Moving forward into the future for Giles and SHY Aviation, the immediate future will see a continued focus on expansion with a number of mergers and acquisitions in the pipeline, and developments into EU market segment, and focusing that on the US in year 3. Giles expects further growth in the next 3 to 4 years of over 25%, taking SHY Aviation up to an £120 million company, and cementing its place as the world leader for jet charter. It intends to do this by not only being the best, but the easiest to use; backed up by its already stunning customer service. Needless to say, the future forecasts clear skies for SKY Aviation.


For business enquiries contact Giles Vickers-Jones at SHY Aviation via

Living with the Virus: Workplace Wellness Post-Pandemic

Advice on Back-to-Work Health & Wellbeing for the New Normal

Many Brits are both excited and nervous as they contemplate their return to the workplace following yesterday’s announcement on the lifting of restrictions. With continued talk of new variants, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the nation must “begin to learn to live with this virus”. However, experts agree that it’s prudent to continue to think smartly about health and safety measures at work, and are placing greater emphasis on improving the quality of ventilation within indoor environments as a way to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

In a survey conducted by JD Cooling*, more than two-thirds of employees (68 per cent) were worried about contracting Coronavirus upon their return to their place of work after restrictions have completely eased. Almost half (47 per cent) of those surveyed cited the possibility of catching Coronavirus through airborne transmission indoors as their biggest concern, followed by 40 per cent who said poor air quality is a worry for them when returning to their workplace.

With those concerns in mind, here are just a few ways to minimise the spread of viruses, reassure employees and keep them safe in the post-pandemic workplace this summer:

Continue with the basics: Implementing social distancing, frequent cleaning, supplying appropriate PPE and Perspex screens where social distancing isn’t possible, and providing hygienic hand-washing areas, are of course all known measures that can minimise spread.

The power of fresh air: Good ventilation reduces the concentration of the virus in the air and reduces the risk from airborne transmission. By improving air quality through opening windows, this can help the air flow in the workplace. If you have windows on either side of the room, this will allow an even better air flow and provide a more effective circulation of air.

Walk the talk: When in-person meetings are essential, encourage staff to continue to hold ‘walking meetings’ with clients and suppliers, utilising voice notes as a way to record key actions. This provides wellbeing through exercise and fitness while also minimising the risk of spreading viruses, and common colds, – so it’s just a good habit to keep as we head into the new normal.

Encourage outdoor breaks: Instil an office culture where work-based socialising, lunch and breaks are to be taken outdoors. Identify a range of nearby outdoor locations, al fresco cafes, walks, benches, bike rental stations, parks, and other spots suitable for a walk or with a sitting space, within a short distance from work.

Minimising the spread: Certain infrastructures may not have windows that open, and actually, relying on open windows and doors isn’t a sustainable or economical long-term solution. A mechanical ventilation system will improve air flow by removing stale expelled air and bringing in fresh air from outside. Better air flow reduces the risk of spreading germs and viruses because ventilation improves the air quality and reduces the likelihood of breathing in harmful airborne viruses and germs.

Upgrade your air con: As outdoor temperatures rise, the air con dials will too, but an air con system without a ventilation system circulates the same air. An air con system with a ventilation system allows an environment to control its temperature, while providing ventilation at the same time – expelling stale air from indoors to outdoors, and then circulating fresh air from outside into the indoor environment. Adding a ventilation system onto an existing air con system is one way to minimise the spread of viruses such as Covid-19.

Air con maintenance: If you only have an air con system with no plans to install a ventilation system, you can still help to minimise viruses spreading by having your air con system regularly maintained.

Consider mist systems: There are also sanitised mist systems that can be added to air conditioning systems, to clean equipment and help sanitise the area. Environment disinfection such as hydrogen peroxide fogging is often used in the healthcare sector, and can provide added reassurance for other work environments too.

Employee-first approach: First and foremost it is vital for employers to gauge how their employees feel about their return to the workplace so they can provide relevant solutions that offer reassurance. A way to do this could be to conduct an internal, anonymous employee survey to gain an accurate view of how the team feels, and what they need to do to help them feel more comfortable in the workplace.


Ramp up internal comms: Communicating changes on internal policies and safety measures will continue to be an essential way to reassure staff. Employers need to use clear two-way comms and assess staff views and needs to fully support employee wellbeing.

Embrace flexibility: If you haven’t already, consider introducing a rota-based hot desking system and flexible working. This will allow you to better control the number of people in your place of work at any one time and reduce the risk to you workforce.

Disclaimer: To effectively assess your workplace, explore expert advice to evaluate your environment and existing ventilation system, as some of these tips may not work for all locations.

6 Benefits Your Colleagues Can Enjoy from Team Building in London

The hustle and bustle of London City life is enjoyed by millions of us across the globe each year. Whether you’re a London native, or you’re looking to take your workforce on a trip away, London is bursting full of team building activities for you and your colleagues to enjoy.

Here are 6 of the fantastic benefits that your workforce can enjoy from team building exercises.

Boost Staff Morale

Partaking in team building exercises can be hugely rewarding for an individual. It helps to increase their motivation whilst creating a nurturing company culture. Momentum is created through the completion of exercise which can make employees feel good about themselves by building their confidence. For an employer, it can give you a great deal of confidence in your team’s ability to work together collaboratively.

Improve Communication

Communication is often seen as a key to success in business. It is vital that your employees feel like they can communicate confidently and effectively with their colleagues. Team building exercises strongly encourage communication between others as often they will need to work together to solve problems and complete tasks. If an activity is fun, it encourages employees to get to know each other better as they are enjoying themselves. You will find in these situations most people can put their differences aside and start to explore what they have in common with one another.

Improved Mental and Physical Health

It is hugely important to prioritise the mental health of your colleagues. If you have a large team, it can be easy for people to slip under the radar, and they may be struggling without having expressed their feelings to you.

Both physical activities and problem-solving activities can be hugely beneficial for an individual’s mental health. Completing challenges can be a helpful boost for confidence and self-esteem. Check out this resource for more information on how you can manage mental health issues in the workplace. Physical activity is also great for clearing an individual’s head space and allowing them to forget about work and enjoy some well-needed socialisation.

Encourage Collaboration

By setting tasks that encourage your team to work together to achieve a goal, you are encouraging them to collaborate with one another. Your employees will realise that each team member has a unique skillset, and they will work together to approach the task from diverse angles. You’ll find some unique London based team building events that can really encourage creativity which will allow your colleagues to utilise these new-found varied skillsets and challenge them to work as a team to succeed.

Enhance Productivity

Increased productivity is the main aim that most employers want to achieve through team building. By encouraging your team to communicate and collaborate effectively with one another, you are decreasing the duplication of effort. Because there is less friction and resistance between colleagues, you will achieve a better output from each member. A happy team is a productive team.

Can Identify Leadership Qualities

Problem solving tasks can be a great way for an employer to identify leadership qualities in team members. They will be able to see who takes control of tasks and how they can communicate effectively with others. For an employer, this can be a useful tactic if you are looking for people to progress in your team and take on more responsibility. It can help you highlight who is more confident than others and this may help you dictate who to put together in a department. You may find it useful to pair up a confident colleague with someone who could benefit from some encouragement and support.

Effective And Efficient: 3 Areas Of Your Business To Automate

Automation is the secret weapon that can help to create an innovative business. Saving time, improving efficiency, reducing your workload whilst also providing clients with improved experienced, automation is an excellent tool to help improve the overall standard of your business.

From small businesses up to large-scale companies, automation can provide numerous benefits in helping to create a more effective and efficient way of working. Since time is a very precious thing for all businesses, automating areas of the company to create extra time for other tasks is always warmly welcomed. Here are just a few aspects of your business to automate for a more effective and efficient working process.

Financial Processes

Invoicing and payments, as well as other areas of finance, can also easily be automated. Whilst automating financial processes can help to save time, they can also identify potentially fraudulent activities. Flagging up an issue once it occurs can allow you to act on the incident quicker, helping you prevent further damage to your firm’s finances.

By automating these processes, employees will have more time to focus on other areas, in particular ways to help the company grow.

Ecommerce Orders 

If your business sells products online, you may want to invest in storing them in an eCommerce fulfilment centre. Firms such as Zendbox will scan all of your inventory, providing you with an oversight of what stock you have through their suite of intelligent tools.

Investing in such a service can help to reduce any errors or waste – thanks to the technology used to fulfil every order efficiently and in record time. Additionally, you will receive reports on everything happening with your products – from live orders and inventory levels. These tools are excellent in allowing you to have more control and make profitable decisions for the business.

Boost Marketing

Any social media platform can be an effective tool used to market a business. However, there is the issue of creating quality content to post and having someone share them across the various channels. Having a social management system in place can post content to your accounts automatically, ensuring that you are sharing content daily, without having to find time in the day to post it. Additionally, your marketing team can spend more time creating quality content for sites the automation services can complete the rest.

In short, automation helps to save your business save time, resources and boost efficiency in various areas. However, there will always be certain areas that do require a personal touch, such as building relationships with clients, creating quality content or even providing customer support.

Automation is best implemented for the more mundane tasks, the ones that are repetitive and can create low morale amongst employees. Instead, it creates time for your employees to be more creative and helps to improve morale, making them more productive than before.

Although it will be an investment integrating automation into various areas of a business, you will be reaping the benefits of a more efficient company and a happier workforce in the long term.

Factors to Consider When Creating a Client-Friendly Business Environment

You may have started your business with nothing more than a laptop and your kitchen table. You worked on brand awareness and client acquisition. When meetings were necessary, you managed by renting office space, linking up at a nearby cafe or restaurant, or commuting to your client’s home or office. 

Now, you’re planning to run the company out of a proper business space. There might even be a receptionist’s desk and a conference room or two. But how client-friendly is your business environment going to be–really? 

So, you’ve decided to create a client-friendly business environment. Although you know it will require some financial outlay upfront, the investment comes with many advantages. A client-friendly office improves your brand’s image. As you begin to draw up plans for your new headquarters, there are some factors to keep in mind to ensure that you and your client’s needs are met. 


The first consideration is where you’re going to set up your offices. A business park or light-industrial area might be great for keeping your overhead low, but are your clients going to want to come see you there? It may cost quite a bit extra in monthly expenses to set up your headquarters in an urban space, but if you plan to have your clients come see you regularly, this is an expense you may want to consider.

A medical practice should be accessible to your patients. A tax firm should be easy to get to. And an advertising agency’s location should make a statement about the quality of your work. On the other hand, if your clients are contractors, they might not mind driving to see you in a light-industrial complex.

Cleanliness And Organization

No client wants to walk into a space that’s dirty or disorganized. It sends the message that the company doesn’t care much about its brand or patrons. Trying to conduct business in a disorderly space is also uncomfortable and inconvenient. So, once you’ve decided where your office will be, the next thing you want to do is get rid of the clutter. 

Remove anything from the area that isn’t necessary for business. Then clean and sanitize from top to bottom and reorganize anything remaining. Bookshelves, wall units, and decorative storage containers make it easier to organize things professionally. 

Furniture And Equipment

Now that you have a clean slate to work with, it’s time to invest in the appropriate furniture and equipment for your office. Although the list will vary based on your business type, there are some staples to consider. For starters, you need desks, office chairs, laptops or desktop computers, and printers, copiers, scanners, and fax machines. You’ll also want to invest in chairs or a sofa for your clients, a table for meetings and large projects, and lamps for adequate lighting. 

Aesthetics and Comfort

First impressions are everything in business. If you want to secure more clients, you must invest in your workspace’s overall look, functionality, and convenience. Once you’ve got your basic furniture and equipment, you can invest in aesthetic appeal and comfort. Select inviting yet professional color schemes for your walls and decor. Add things like an area rug, paintings, vases, fresh flowers, plants, and other accent pieces to create an authentic look for your office. You should also invest in things like a water cooler and coffee maker just in case clients get thirsty. There’s always the option to use resources like HomeAdvisor to find a qualified contractor to add features in your existing space to make the office more appropriate for clients.


You’re almost ready to open your new office to your clients. The final step is to consider your business exterior. You’ll need to do some landscaping to keep up with curb appeal. You should also have a designated space for parking, signage, and a well-lit walkway for clients to quickly identify and enter your office. 

Sure, technology has enabled entrepreneurs to conduct business exclusively online. There are tools, devices, and platforms you can use to host virtual meetings, share and collaborate on files, and more. Be that as it may, there’s something about traditional in-person meetings that take the cake. If you’re interested in inviting clients into your office, consider these factors above to ensure you create a space that accommodates their needs. 

Best Practices for Hiring Employees Post-Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the entire world into a tailspin. However, companies and employees are still feeling the effects of the global health crisis, as navigating throughout nearly every industry in a post-pandemic world poses a litany of challenges.

One of the most apparent challenges, though, is hiring employees post-pandemic. Here are the best practices for hiring employees post-pandemic:


Go to the Talent

Before the pandemic, it was still preferable for hiring managers to attract local talent. However, with the accelerated advancements of working virtually, you can interview and hire talent worldwide for many industries.

Since the pandemic made many industries quickly figure out how to work remotely, it is much easier to onboard employees or contractors virtually. This virtual freedom opens your hiring process up to a world of possibilities. So, all that is left is for you to take advantage of those possibilities.


Offer a Virtual Work Option

Even if your company cannot or does not want to continue working virtually full-time, there is still a benefit to considering remaining partially virtual.

According to a study conducted by Dice,  71% of workers listed remote work as the most important hiring factor. While safety is a factor, the allure of working from home is emphatic. During the pandemic, the workforce practiced the benefits of working from home instead of just theorizing about them. Now, employees don’t want to give that up.