Gethin NadinGethin NadinJanuary 15, 2020
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9min644

This article was co-authored with John Petter, CEO of HR software provider Zellis.

 

It isn’t a new discovery that money worries have a direct impact on your employees; financial concerns are a serious cause of mental health issues, which themselves result in increases in both absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced engagement and productivity, and all manner of personal problems that make day-to-day working life a struggle.

Unfortunately, the prevailing social and economic conditions have made money worries increasingly common. Only rarely are employees, especially amongst the younger generations, faced with one specific financial challenge. It’s much more likely they are dealing with some dangerous combination of home ownership struggles, slow wage growth, too much borrowing, being a victim of a scam, and worries over their retirement savings.

This is all underpinned by low financial literacy, which Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, has said is actually getting worse in the UK. Financial education is supposed to start in school, but many students say they don’t receive it. And once they leave the school system, most people aren’t exposed to any kind of financial literacy education unless it’s self-taught.

What role should employers play in addressing this issue?

The answer is that employers should take a greater role in increasing literacy and awareness. Currently less than half (44 percent) of UK employees are offered financial education, according to research from Zellis. The traditional view that personal money matters shouldn’t be discussed in the workplace is still pervasive. In fact, according to The Close Brothers, the majority (58 percent) of UK employers don’t have any sort of financial wellbeing strategy in place.

But let’s look at it from a different perspective: what’s the central transaction in the relationship between an organisation and its employees?

That’s right, it’s pay and reward.

So it only seems natural that the employer should play a part in helping employees make their money go further, by explaining how key concepts like benefits, tax, and pensions actually work. Zellis’ research indicates that this is currently an underserved need. They found:

  • Most (58 percent) employees don’t fully understand their payslips
  • Less than a quarter (24 percent) check their statement every month
  • Around a third (32 percent) say they don’t have enough information about benefit choices
  • A quarter (25 percent) say the same about their pension options

And while trust in traditional financial institutions like banks is at a low point, employers can step in to provide much needed support and education. But we must make it clear that they shouldn’t try to provide financial ‘advice’, which is something regulated, professional, and typically relates to money choices (i.e. investments) that involve a degree of risk.

What practical steps can organisations take, then, to support employees – and what are the potential business benefits? Here are a few quick ideas:

Run financial literacy programmes

These could be created internally, or you could bring in an external expert to help. They should be inclusive of different ages, background and levels of knowledge, and could cover topics such as how to understand a payslip, how to access benefits, how the tax system works, and how to manage your pension.

Closing the awareness gap can make a huge difference. Consider, for example, the hundreds of thousands of low-wage employees who don’t claim Universal Credit simply because they don’t know they are entitled to it. An organisation that helps to bring this information to light can really change the lives of its employees.

Communicate benefit choices 

Your benefits package can make all the difference when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. However, organisations struggle with low levels of employee uptake either because the benefits on offer are not deemed relevant and useful, or because not enough is done to promote them and explain their value.

A solution is to involve employees closely in the process of designing a benefits package, improving both relevancy and awareness. Benefits awareness can also be boosted using a ‘total rewards statement’, offered as part of or alongside the payslip, which shows the total value of all pay and benefits received from the employer.

When employees are more engaged with their benefits it not only contributes to better financial wellbeing, but to better employee-employer relations as well.

Re-think your HR systems

Of course, helping your employees feel in control of their pay and benefits means having modern and user-friendly HR systems. When these systems are outdated, clunky and not mobile-friendly, important life-admin tasks such as updating bank details, checking your payslip and making pension contributions become harder and more frustrating.

The reality is that today’s employees expect near consumer-grade levels of technology in the workplace, so organisations that still rely on archaic systems need to re-think their approach. Convenience is key – if employees can get easy access to important pay and rewards information, they’re more likely to take positive steps towards improving their financial wellbeing.

Offer mental health support

The last tip is the simplest, but arguably the most important. Stress and worry can be made considerably worse in the absence of having someone to talk to. As an employer, you can help fill this gap by offering counselling. While it won’t be a direct fix for most financial problems, it will offer reassurance and let your staff know that it’s OK not to be OK.

Now we are into 2020, it would be amiss not to find a place for financial education and counselling in your HR strategy.

We’ve known for a while now that money worries aren’t good for the health of your staff or your business – so why not do something about it?


Olga PotaptsevaOlga PotaptsevaJanuary 7, 2020
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6min1202

When Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, he didn’t begin with a focus on the competition or restructured product portfolio; rather he set out to rebuild the company’s culture starting with redefining the mission of the company.

He engaged all its employees to recommend the new mission for the company, and with its new north star, the firm’s stocks prices tripled since he became CEO. This just illustrates the importance of employee engagement, with the objective to inspire the company to serve its customers in deeper, meaningful, and more purposeful ways.

To drive employee engagement with the Customer Experience agenda, companies should persistently focus on these four broad categories…

Leadership

Establish a CX vision and ‘walk the talk’: A CX vision creates clarity around a company’s intended experience and helps all employees understand how best they can contribute to provide better customer experiences. Alan G Lafley, the man who transformed Procter & Gamble, would make it a point to visit the retail stores around the world and observe the shopping behaviour of the customers, thereby exhibiting the behaviours for his leadership to follow.

The top leadership needs to be trained and inspired in driving CX across the organisation by taking tangible steps to remove blockers like long approvals hierarchy, short-term profit chasing, and toxic employee behaviours.

Ways of working

Cross functional collaboration: Fortune 500 companies are improving collaboration through internal hackathons that involve having people from different functions problem solving together in groups. IBM holds internal hackathons called Cognitive Build, where employees from across the world participate in the competition by forming teams of different people from different countries and different functions, aligning their perspective on CX and sharing customer knowledge.

Agile transformation & design thinking: Methodologies are being used to continually adapt to changing customer preferences, as it allows you to quickly test your hypothesis with customers and co-create solutions with them.

Developing emotional intelligence: This is the ability to understand how customers feel and take this into account when solving business issues at any level. It is only recently that emotional intelligence has become a topic of significant importance, and the one that gives a real competitive advantage in the current environment. 

Customer immersion

Customer immersion programs: These help employees empathise and walk in the customer’s shoes. At Airbnb, every new employee goes on a trip and documents the entire customer journey, which will then be presented and shared with the entire company as insights, pain points, challenges, and opportunities.

Customer immersion is not limited to journey mapping, and involves continuous learning about customers’ needs and wants, as well as understanding your ability to meet them. Each employee in different parts of the organisation should be able to relate to how his role and department create value to the company’s customers.

Employee listening and involvement

CX governance: Listen to customer feedback though the employees, and establish an empowerment and escalation system whereby no customer problem goes unnoticed. In my work at a UK insurance company, I developed an employee feedback system for customer issues and within weeks we started receiving up to 4000 suggestions a month.

Sixty percent were addressed within the same month by addressing operational errors quickly, fixing broken processes, and preventing complaints resulting in cost savings. It also delivered continuous improvement in customer satisfaction with the contact centre (+5% over the course of the year).

Employee experience: Companies like Coca Cola and SCB Bank are using design thinking and employee journey mapping to transform their employee experience globally, focusing on employees’ daily journeys. Shifting the organisational focus from process to people creates more engaged and loyal employees able to deliver your CX strategy.

Recognition and reward system: This should encourage the behaviours creating value to customers. If courtesy and speed of service are of paramount importance to your customers, like it is to Hertz’s, these should be targeted and rewarded based on the customer feedback.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 3, 2020

4min1275

More staff in customer service roles will seek new employment this month than in any other, with new research showing that almost two-fifths of workers in these positions will seek to leave their post in January.

A seasonal slump in engagement and motivation is believed to be behind the spike in dissatisfied staff, and a survey by quality assurance improvement platform EvaluAgent found that 40 percent of customer service employees are less happy in January than any other month, leading to 39 percent actively searching for a new role.

The financial impact of this employee churn is considerable – based on the average customer service worker’s annual salary of £21,000, each departure costs businesses at least £6,300 due to recruitment expenses and reduced productivity.

The report estimates that around five percent of customer service workers will actually leave their jobs in January, so with 640,500 people currently in customer service roles across the UK, this could mean businesses stand to lose around £201,757,500 in January alone.

The survey also revealed that employers seem to be underestimating the issue, with 70 percent of workplaces not believing that staff are more likely to change jobs in January than in other months.

Fortunately, according to the research there are a number of engagement strategies that would successfully prevent customer service employees from starting their January job hunt.

According to the research, financial incentives such as salary increases and bonuses alone are an ineffective solution, with 47 percent of those surveyed saying that money would not affect their decision as to whether to stay or leave their company in January.

This was especially true for younger workers, with 59 percent of 18-24 year olds saying that money is not an effective motivation.

Instead, the research showed that businesses should be utilising a full spectrum of tools to boost employee engagement, including regular and timely feedback, which was deemed as effective as a cash bonus by 54 percent of employees.

Non-financial reward schemes were almost as popular, with 44 percent of employees saying these would prevent them from looking for a new job at the start of the year, while more than a third (36 percent) said employee benefits such as healthcare and flexitime would encourage them to stay.

Goal-based objectives can be an effective way of improving motivation, by increasing the sense of purpose and pride in a person’s work. Twenty-four percent said that this would be enough to make them reconsider looking for a new role.

Jaime Scott, co-founder and CEO of EvaluAgent, said: “High employee turnover in January is a real problem for many businesses, and can cause significant problems when it comes to productivity and customer satisfaction levels.

“Our research clearly shows there is a direct link between employee engagement and turnover, suggesting that businesses need to be making far more effort to engage their workforce at this time of year if they are to prevent the annual surge in departures.”


Rosalie HarrisonRosalie HarrisonDecember 10, 2019
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5min1588

A few months ago, I was retained to find a medical executive for a growing biotech.

The Hiring Manager set forth all of the expected criteria during our briefing and then something extraordinary happened. “You don’t need to find me a pretty CV,” she instructed.

“I am happy with a messy one. You know, its ok if you find someone with diverse experiences or who took some time off or traveled the world or whatever.”

As the proud owner of a messy – aka nontraditional career path – CV, I was ecstatic with this instruction. Understanding my joyous response probably requires a little background.

You see, 30 years ago, I applied to law school with a pharmacy degree and two years of pharmaceutical industry experience under my belt. I still remember the sting of reading my Harvard Law School rejection letter, which expressly declared my five-year pharmacy degree to be “vocational training” unsuited for legal studies.

Luckily, I have always been the type to persevere and received my law degree despite these narrow-minded rejections – performing quite well, thank you, despite my alleged lack of educational foundation. I then survived the interviewers that told me that I appeared professionally “unstable”, and landed a job at a top international law firm.

I spent the next 14 years pursuing a legal career, even reaching that coveted partnership milestone. The next decade, however, involved more wonderful mess. Expatriate living in two different European countries as a trailing spouse and mom, and my current (perhaps third) career evolution to a partner in a boutique (female owned and operated) executive search firm.

Now, when I walk someone through my professional history, the most common word that comes back at me is “impressive”. And, more importantly, in my current role, literally all of my life experiences are professionally relevant.

Given the historical response to my non-traditional career path, the current response to my “messy” CV always makes me smile. So, what has changed exactly to give a boost to the credibility of the non-traditional CV?

The answer is simple. The life sciences business trends are creating working environments that are increasingly dynamic (i.e. a nice word for messy) shifting the types of competencies needed for business success. Pressure to boost pipeline innovation and speed to market – while preserving efficacy, safety and quality – is creating a business model where cross-functional collaboration and external alliances are the norm.

Big Data, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence are drastically changing the scope and impact of products, services and operations. Precision and personalised medicine are creating health care delivery models that are literally dismantling established treatment norms.

Sustainability of health care ecosystems with limited resources are requiring that patient access to treatments be value driven. And, changes in global patient demographics, emerging market demands and opportunities, and an increasingly female talent pool, are presenting the industry with diversity demands that benefit from cross-cultural understanding and inclusion.

In an environment where change is a constant and lots of flexibility and curiosity are needed, the owners of a non-traditional CV experiences suddenly have attributes that are recognisable as being valuable to business success.

Messy CV owners have proven an ability to challenge the status quo, an attribute that is needed to drive and/or embrace creative and innovative ways of working. Flexibility and change management resilience are derived from both personal and professional life choices. Living and working internationally supports multi-cultural understanding. Engaging in cross functional roles or educational experiences enhances contribution and collaboration.

So what is our advice? If you are a professional with a nontraditional career path, take a look at the competencies you’ve gained as a result of your varying professional and life experiences and display them confidently in your messy CV.

No apologies needed.

If you are hiring manager, don’t be afraid of messy CVs. Nontraditional candidates might just have all of the competencies that are needed for success in your challenging and dynamic global environment.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 9, 2019
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7min1476

Office workers in the UK would ‘fine’ colleagues for rude or offensive behaviour the most out of a list of pet peeves.

Commercial property agents SavoyStewart.co.uk surveyed 1,466 UK office workers to find out which unprofessional actions they would fine their colleagues for and what ‘rate’ they would set the fine to for each misdemeanour.

The poll follows reports that Chelsea FC head coach Frank Lampard fines players for a list of fouls including being late for training sessions (£20,000), and their phone ringing during a team meal or meeting (£1,000).

Office workers unprofessional actions/behaviour

The percentage of UK office workers who would fine their colleagues for ‘offence ‘

The average fine UK office workers would charge their colleague each time ‘offence’ is committed 

Unnecessarily being rude/offensive

81%

£25

Not meeting an agreed/set deadline

77%

£30

Not turning up at all to a scheduled/arranged meeting

74%

£22

Making/taking multiple personal phone calls during working hours

69%

£14

Taking a longer lunch break than allocated

65%

£8

Showing up more than 5 minutes late to a meeting

60%

£10

Agreeing to come to a work social but then not turning up at all

53%

£8

Showing up more than 5 minutes late to work

48%

£6

Dressing inappropriately/sloppily

42%

£5

Personal phone ringing during a meeting

26%

£2.50

Darren Best, Managing Director of SavoyStewart.co.uk, said: “Working in an office can be fun as well as challenging. It’s an environment where people don’t have control over who they necessarily work with but should make every effort to be respectable and professional at all times. But unfortunately, this does not always happen, and people’s actions/behaviour in an office can be aggravating.

“This research highlights the unprofessional actions/behaviours that office workers most have grievances with, certainly enough to fine their colleagues considerable amounts for committing them.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 5, 2019
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2min1275

US Mexican food chain Chipotle is employing nurses to validate the claims of employees who call in sick, its CEO has revealed.

The chain, famous for its burritos, tacos, and guacamole, provides nurses to check the claims of workers who call in to let their colleagues know they are ill.

Despite sounding a touch extreme for some, once the illness claim has been validated, the employee will receive a full day’s pay while being told to stay at home and recover.

The practise, revealed at a conference in New York’s Barclays Center this week, is part of the firm’s improved food-safety initiative, and was implemented following an outbreak of norovirus in a Virginia outlet in 2017 which was partly attributed to an ill employee.

CEO Brian Niccol said: “We have nurses on call, so that if you say, ‘Hey, I’ve been sick,’ you get the call into the nurse. The nurse validates that it’s not a hangover – you’re really sick – and then we pay for the day off to get healthy again.”

He continued: “We have a very different food-safety culture than we did two years ago, OK?” Niccol said. “Nobody gets to the back of the restaurant without going through a wellness check.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 28, 2019
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3min1249

Despite being a front for a criminal empire built on crystal meth, Breaking Bad fried chicken restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos is among the best fictional food franchises for Employee Experience, according to new research.

Food box company Gousto has revealed a list of the TV and movie eateries most likely to make it in the ‘real world’, and have rated establishments such as JJ’s Diner from Parks and Recreation, The Winchester pub from Shawn of the Dead, and The Simpsons‘ Krusty Burger based on the combined averages of their real-life counterparts through success markers including TripAdvisor reviews, length of time in operation, and Instagram hashtags.

Can I take your order?: TV villian Gus Fring would make a great boss, research suggests

Los Pollos Hermanos, from the hugely successful US crime drama about the rise and downfall of mild-mannered chemistry teacher-turned drugs godfather Walter White, topped the poll for Most Likely to Succeed, and was named Most Employable and Most Influential of the 20 fictional franchises, making it among the most desirable places to work for potential staff.

Gousto found that if it were real, the chicken restaurant chain founded by sinister meth kingpin Gus Fring would employ up to 39,000 people.

Rachel Chatterton, Food Development Director at Gousto said: “There’s a clear link between food and entertainment – they are both highly emotional and our Fictional Foodie Franchise ranking is a fun way to link these, drawing on inspiration from some of the delicious scenes in our favourite television shows.

“Our study shows that there’s no one clear ‘recipe for success’ – it’s much more complex than that and takes into account a number of factors.”

Chick-it out: The fictional stats of fried chicken chain and drug front Los Pollos Hermanos from TV hit Breaking Bad

 

 

 

 

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 21, 2019
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3min1433

Productivity, wellbeing, and staff retention are suffering due to a dearth of financial literacy among employees in the UK, a new report has shown.

A survey of 2,000 British workers across major industries such as retail, manufacturing, and financial services, shows that less than half (44 percent) offer programmes to help employees make informed financial choices and boost their overall financial wellbeing.

The report by payroll and HR software firm Zellis also indicates a clear need for more financial education in the workplace, as the majority of workers (58 percent) don’t fully understand their payslips, while only a quarter (24 percent) look at their statement every month.

Many also struggle to access important information about their employment package, with four-in-ten claiming they don’t know the total value of their benefits and rewards, despite ranking it as the second most important factor after base salary when looking for a job.

Additionally, nearly a third (32 percent) of employees said they aren’t given enough information about the benefits available to them, while a quarter said the same about their pension options, preventing them from making choices that truly meet their financial needs.

John Petter, CEO, Zellis said: “The best organisations are creating a modern, cohesive pay and benefits experience for their employees, with financial literacy and wellbeing at the heart of it. Unfortunately, they are in a minority. There is a real need to focus on the basics of helping colleagues understand the true value of their employment package, including their payslips, workplace benefits, and pension options, as the evidence suggests a need to significantly improve awareness. Organisations that get this right will enjoy better hiring, retention and performance – as well as happier colleagues.”

Gethin Nadin, award-winning HR author and Director of Employee Wellbeing at Benefex (part of the Zellis group) added: “The UK has some of the lowest rates of financial literacy in Europe. Add to this the effects of austerity, stagnated wage growth, and increased borrowing, and employees are really struggling. With little support available elsewhere, all eyes are turning to the employer to assist.

“This research confirms that a wellbeing strategy which focuses on improving knowledge of financial products and employee benefits is much needed.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 15, 2019
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3min1694

One hundred percent of the UK’s retail bosses claim to act on employee feedback, but only 67 percent of employees agree, new research has revealed.

HR solutions provider People First, surveyed 250 bosses and 250 employees across the UK, and along with the disconnect over acting on feedback, the research found just two-thirds (66 percent) of staff believe their bosses measure their satisfaction, even though 95 percent of employers claim to.

The research also revealed a growing sense of disconnection among new entrants to the workforce, with only 50 percent of 18-24s believing feedback leads to action.

In addition, only 56 percent of retail employers report the results of employee feedback monitoring to the wider company. More than seven-in-ten (71 percent) of those acting on what employees tell them say they do so at board level only.

Mark Williams, Senior Vice President Product at People First, said: “Trouble is brewing because although employers say they put feedback into action, it doesn’t ring true with workforces. This is just not good enough. Feedback needs to translate into action.

“If there is no feedback loop, it can do more harm than good, annoying employees and discouraging them from taking part in future.”

Indicating the importance of principles and beliefs among workers, the research found nearly half the workforce (49 percent) will accept or reject a job on values. The figure rises to more than three-quarters (67 percent) of Gen Z respondents.

Eight-in-ten bosses (80 percent) measure employee satisfaction through employee surveys, while 61 percent use structured review meetings. More than half (53 percent) use informal conversations, and exactly half use focus groups.

“Retailers don’t just need to listen to and understand employees so they can pick up warning signs of disenchantment, they must act on feedback,” added Williams.

“An ad-hoc approach is no good. That’s the same for gauging how employees feel about their own work and the company’s values and for putting that feedback into practice. This is an area that companies must tackle head-on in a much more thought-out and systematic manner, taking time to deploy the most effective and appropriate solutions to nurture employees throughout their time with a company.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 6, 2019
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12min2049

It’s not your average job interview, but a description from Luke Murfitt, founder of Integrity Cleaning, of how one woman kick-started her career after a chance encounter shines a light on the ethos of his business.

Picture the scene: a dark, damp evening at a London train station, and after disembarking, a mother struggles with her children and bags as she attempts to scale steps up to the pavement and begin the long walk home.

“No-one else was offering, so I asked if I could help get her up the steps,” says Luke as he explains exactly why ‘supporting mothers back to work’ is more than just a media-friendly slogan for his firm

“We got to the top and I asked if I could help her further. She said she lived about a 20-minute walk away, so I offered her a lift in my car. During the drive I was able to ask her where she worked. She said she didn’t work, and that people didn’t want to employ her.

“I asked her what she would want to do, and she said she would like to be either a carer or a cleaner. I said ‘happy days, I have a cleaning company – would you like to start this week?”

Working with Integrity: Luke Murfitt, founder of Integrity Cleaning Ltd

It sounds like the happy ending to a feel-good film, but this was reality for the mum in this story. She was able to work as a cleaner, fitting her duties comfortably around school hours, and as a result was able to move into a larger home than the one-bedroom flat she had before. Thanks to her income from Integrity, was able to start planning for her future.

“She’s now a full-time carer, in the career she wanted,” Luke says.

“She calls me her angel, but she was pretty good to me too, working hard and driving Integrity forward.”

Integrity Cleaning has been shortlisted in the Best New Business category of this week’s 2019 UK Business Awards, and this achievement is part of the ongoing success story for a firm that was born out of personal adversity.

Luke is a former high-flying salesman at a blue-chip company, who in 2015 was handed a life-changing diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

But rather than allow this to limit his scope for life, Luke decided to challenge himself and use the diagnosis to spur a career change that has led to a current total of 85 cleaners signed on for employment through his company, ranging in age from 19 to the mid-60s.

“After the diagnosis, which was obviously a bit of a challenge, I realised I didn’t want to wallow in self-pity, and so I used it as a catalyst to springboard me on to do greater things, and here we are,” he says.

That route first took him to his local job centre where he was told to seek benefits following his diagnosis, but his hunger for something more led him instead to seek advice on starting his own business.

“I felt I had a lot more to give. I told the staff at the centre ‘there are people over there who are looking for jobs, and I’d like to employ them’. I wanted to set an example of what can be achieved, and they said ‘fine, go for it’. So they sent me upstairs to the next level and a department that assists in setting up businesses.”

From the window of that same building, Luke gazed out at London’s ever-sprouting skyline, with gleaming new buildings taking shape.

What was simultaneously taking shape was his own business future, thanks to Luke “turning adversary into opportunity”.

He continues: “I looked into the cleaning industry, and spent six months planning. I was careful though, as I had seen people who set up cleaning companies and ended up cleaning themselves out!”

However determination, and the hard work and support of wife Diana, pushed Luke towards realising the recession-proof nature of his chosen sector, and what it could do for them as a family, along with the wider community.

“Cleaning has grown and grown and is a massive employer. I saw it as a chance to impact many more lives and provide better opportunities, rather than with, say, an office of five people.

“With around 33,000 cleaning companies in the UK, with 700,000 cleaners, there’s plenty of scope. I knew I needed only a small portion of that to be successful, and not to fear the competition, but actually be better than them.

“And also be something that they are not, because what I realised was – not many people actually choose to be a cleaner. Instead they often ‘resort’ to being a cleaner.

“I thought to myself, these are the people I want to help. They’ve found themselves in a situation they didn’t choose to be in, but I could at least assist them and make the area of work they’re in as pleasant as possible – give them opportunities and ensure they feel respected and are able to grow, move on, and not just remain cleaners forevermore.”

Mum’s the word: Integrity cleaning offers mothers a chance to get back to work in a supportive environment

Integrity continued to take shape, and the ethos of assisting mums at a crucial time of their lives grew from Luke meeting fellow parents at the school gates while waiting to collect his daughter.

“There comes a point when a lot of mothers want new working opportunities, but there are often few firms offering that. This was part of my plan – to offer such opportunities, and make a success of it.”

The company got off the ground when Luke secured a significant contract with a hotel in London’s Bromley borough, having first garnered a workforce ready and willing to put the hours in.

Low start-up costs and lots of hard graft helped Integrity gain momentum, and as the journey continued, so too did the cleaning contracts with churches, community groups, and other eager clients.

However, it was a return to the skyscrapers of central London that saw Luke land the firm’s most significant contract.

“I was at a training event and I looked out the window at these apartment buildings which were going up, 41 storeys high, and I thought ‘they need cleaning’. I had no experience of construction cleaning at all, but I walked over to the site, which had around 600 people all milling about.

“I was wearing a suit while they were in their construction safety gear, so I got some looks. I found a door saying ‘staff only’, walked in, and eventually located the project manager. I said to him, ‘Hi, I’m Luke from Integrity Cleaning, you’ve got some great buildings here, and we’d like to be the company that cleans them’.

“He told me my timing was interesting as they were just three days away from tendering for a cleaning company, so he took me to the senior management in order to apply.”

Several months later, having seen off competition from some of the biggest companies in the market, Integrity was offered the contract.

“They could see I wanted to do a good job, and we ended up replacing a company they had used for the last 25 years.”

Luke’s bold approach to securing employment for his team provided many months of solid work, cleaning 1,000 or so million-pound apartments, over four thorough stages each, to make them ready for residents.

And so Integrity rose to its current position as one of the UK’s most caring and community oriented commercial and construction cleaning firms.

“My primary goal isn’t about making money, it’s about helping other people,” Luke states.

“This year alone I’ve helped 25 mums back into work. Of course, helping mothers doesn’t just help them, it helps their children, families, husbands, and whoever else. It impacts lives.

“We help with their training, and we look towards assisting with transport costs, and being flexible with working hours. We’re also there to provide references for when they’re ready to move on. We work as a team, and they love it. To me, each of them isn’t merely a cleaner – they are a person; something they never normally hear in this industry.”

From year one to year two, Integrity has grown by 650 percent, and his nomination for a UK Business Award tops a hugely successful year that has also seen him share his story with thousands of listeners on radio station LBC.

“I have appeared twice on LBC’s The Business Hour, and plan to return to answer questions from listeners in the near future and share my advice.”

On the subject of advice, Luke leaves us with one final inspiring message.

“Never let a challenge – in my case my diagnosis – stop you from doing what you want to do. Never limit yourself.”

 

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Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 4, 2019
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3min1698

New research offers an insight into how employers and employees differ on a range of issues, including being fully engaged in their roles.

A study by HR solutions provider People First found that 93 percent of UK employers think it’s important to be liked, but 90 percent of their staff want their day-to-day experience of work improved.

Exploring the attitudes of 250 bosses and 250 employees in UK firms, the research revealed how employers lack an accurate picture of how staff feel and the way it affects their work.

Eight-four percent of bosses think their staff are happy and 76 percent believe most of their employees are fully engaged in what they do. Howeverr, only 64 percent of staff find work makes them happy, and just 42 percent are fully engaged or absorbed in what they do to earn a living.

Mark Williams, Senior Vice President Product at People First, said: “Likeability is good in a boss. But with so many staff wanting their experience at work improved, you have to ask if employers really understand their workforces. There’s obviously a happiness gap where managers believe morale is better than it really is. They are clearly failing to measure staff engagement regularly.”

The research found men are more likely to say their work really engages them (48 percent) than women (37 percent), reflecting the longstanding difference in support and career development offered to women, as well as the well-publicised gap in pay between the sexes.

Meanwhile, lack of understanding plays a role in another difference between bosses and workers. Whereas 39 percent of employers believe most staff quit a job for emotional reasons, only 17 percent of employees say that’s the main cause of them handing in their notice.

The research also found more than half of UK employees (56 percent) regard being rewarded for excellent work as important to their experience at work, while 51 percent want more opportunities for flexible working.

“Poor productivity is a British disease which we can cure through better understanding of what motivates employees and gets them into the flow where time flies and work is more enjoyable and fulfilling,” added Mark.

“That’s why it’s important to rely on more than gut feeling about how happy or engaged staff are. Regular check-ins must replace the dated annual appraisal as only with regular conversations can an employer see the true picture of their employees.

“There are so many different aspects to any job, such as training, career development and flexible working, that making assumptions about what employees want is misguided. As an employer you need to know what makes your staff happy to work hard and what makes them leave.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 30, 2019
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4min2079

The ability of workers to improvise and innovate while on the job is being underused, a new report has revealed.

A study of 1,000 workplaces published in Thinking on your feet, a report by the commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, RADA Business, found that 91 percent of people say they regularly experience situations where employees have failed to apply a flexible way of communicating and common sense as a result of not being able to think ‘in the moment’, respond appropriately, and improvise a creative solution.

The report identifies the effects of not being able to think creatively and reveals that 46 percent of people have experienced impatient customer service. Other poor staff behaviours found include unhelpfulness (45 percent), poor communication (38 percent), or rudeness (37 percent).

Customers are quick to make judgements about organisations as a result, with 88 percent admitting that they make negative assumptions about the entire organisation due to inappropriate staff behaviour.

Those working as professionals in the healthcare sector were revealed to have the strongest ability to improvise and work well under pressure (40 percent), followed by counter staff in banks (23 percent) and admin staff in the NHS (23 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum, the research found that those working as estate agents (nine percent), staff at utility companies (10 percent), or staff on public transport (15 percent) struggled to think quickly and be able to improvise effectively.

Stage craft: Customers value staff ‘thinking on their feet’

Although all three sectors require the ability to communicate well with customers and to make a positive impression, it’s clear that often this isn’t always delivered effectively. This can be due to a range of reasons including difficult customers or stressful situations.

Kate Walker Miles, tutor and Client Manager at RADA Business, said: “Customers appreciate being heard and react positively towards workers who go the extra mile, but robotic service and a diminishing ability to improvise can leave customers feeling frustrated.

“By viewing the organisation from the perspective of your customer, you can understand clearly how the business is being perceived and encourage a positive culture of improvisation.

“There are simple training techniques available to support workers who struggle to think quickly and react to situations in a flexible way, tapping into the power of improvisation, which can empower everyone in your workforce to make imaginative yet informed decisions.”

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 28, 2019
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6min1784

Some say there has never been a better time to be searching for employment.

It is true that the whole process has significantly improved, especially with the growth of technology and the internet. Plus, long gone are the days when everyone needed to be in London to find a job, with other cities in the UK growing at a tremendous rate. In fact, Manchester has been the fastest growing city in England and Wales between 2002-2015. So finding jobs in Manchester with online recruiters is just as easy as getting a similar position in London.

With that being said, it can be argued that being successful at the interview stage may be one of the trickiest parts of the course. Especially with recruiters getting more creative these days when it comes to looking for their perfect candidate; which has seen digital interviews become increasingly popular.

Digital interviews, in many respects, are the ideal way to put a potential recruit to the test, so if you’re facing one any time soon, we have some fantastic tips for you.

Research

One of the first things you can do to prepare to nail a digital interview is to put effort into research. There’s a lot of things to study ahead of the conversation, but by making time you will give yourself a better chance of being successful.

Begin by researching the company, learn of the vital information. From there, study the role you’re applying for, as well as doing your homework on the interviewer.

After getting the research done, preparing how you’re going to present yourself is the next step. Research again can help here, especially if you’re able to ascertain the dress code of the company itself or the role you’re applying.

Looking smart is always a requirement, and remember, first impressions count. However, don’t be overdressed. The interviewer is more interested in what you have to say, so don’t let your appearance take their attention away from this.

Practise

So, now not only do you know the company, your potential role, and the interviewer you’ll face, you also know how you’ll present yourself too. Now it’s time to call on a friend or two, as you’re going to need to practice ahead of the real thing. Practice digital interviews are essential, especially when using multiple people, as they allow you to refine your approach and work on areas that perhaps need a bit of improvement ahead of the upcoming interview with the employer.

The great thing about practice digital interviews is that they can be recorded and then watched back. It will allow you to get to grips with how you’re presenting yourself, the way you answer questions and everything else which will prove to be prominent on the day. Having the opportunity to have practice runs will give you the chance to perhaps pick up on overusing words or phrases or talking too fast, or too slow.

Rest

Now it’s on to the eve of your digital interview. A good night’s sleep will be needed ahead of the event, as not only will you look more presentable, your cognitive function will also be better too. Therefore, you’ll be able to think quicker, provide better answers, and remain calm too. A shower after walking up is essential also, as this will help refresh and relax you, and again have a positive effect on both your appearance and state of mind.

If you use all the tips we’ve provided above, you should be well on your way to nailing your digital interview. Remember, stay calm and focused, and most importantly of all, be yourself and enjoy.

It is your chance to impress.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 24, 2019
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2min1902

A new e-book on successfully implementing tried-and-tested Employee Experience initiatives is available for free from the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI).

Ben Whitter is the founder of the WEEI, and the world’s foremost expert on Employee Experience. Successfully leading the Employee Experience (EX) Masterclass, Ben has also authored what has become the go-to guide for helping organisations maintain staff productivity, Employee Experience: Develop a Happy, Productive and Supported Workforce for Exceptional Individual and Business Performance.

Now a new publication is available as a free download, based on research carried out with Holistic EX Practitioner and CCXP Robert Pender.

Ben Whitter (left) and Robert Pender

In it, readers will learn practical tips on establishing EX foundations and specific considerations for EX practitioners to implement. Full of tips and valuable EX insight, A Practical Guide to Implementing and Succeeding with Employee Experience is essential reading, and available absolutely free of charge.

 

 

 

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 23, 2019
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4min1764

Festive traditions in the workplace can boost employee productivity according to new research.

In the study, 74 percent of employees said they were motivated to work harder if their employer embraces Christmas, despite only 36 percent of businesses offering a party for their staff and almost a quarter of businesses (24 percent) avoiding Christmas completely.

December is traditionally a low productivity month, but in the poll by artificial Xmas tree manufacturer Christmas Tree World, 78 percent claimed to work as hard or harder in December, with 22 percent of these citing the reason as so they can enjoy time off over the festive break.

The research of 1,000 UK workers also revealed that more than half (60 percent) of employees are likely to be more productive if Christmas incentives such as bonuses are available, despite only 15 percent of UK businesses offering this.

However, it’s not just financial rewards which are proven to drive productivity, with 74 percent of workers claiming office festivities, such as decorations, trees, and Secret Santa schemes boost morale and productivity, despite only 36 percent of workplaces investing in this.

Meanwhile, 39 percent of workers polled believe Christmas parties enhance productivity levels due to improving teamwork and communication.

Stephen Evans, Managing Director at Christmas Tree World, said: “It’s shocking to see the high number of businesses which are simply missing a trick in embracing the festive season as this research demonstrates it really does pay dividends in boosting staff morale, happiness and productivity.

“It’s understandable that some companies are unable to offer financial rewards such as Christmas bonuses, and even a Christmas party as costs can escalate, though it’s surprising to see how few companies even put up a Christmas tree and decorations in the workplace.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 17, 2019
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5min1862

A positive company culture is more important for businesses now that at any stage in their history, with a recent poll suggesting 92 percent of senior executives cite cultural change as a critical driver to increase their firm’s values, but only 16 percent agreeing their culture was where it needed to be.

As anyone in a management position can tell you, poor company culture can lead to workplace bullying, harassment, and a lack of productivity among other things, and a new book by Colin D Ellis, Culture Fix: How to Create a Great Place to Work is a game-changing guide to building an enviable company culture.

Ellis argues that culture is key to success for every organisation, and is increasingly critical for millennials, who are prioritising organisations which offer a great culture over other traditional factors such as salary.

Culture Fix contains exclusive case studies from brands such as HSBC, Zappos, Google, and Manchester United among others, and the author employs his experience from working with global brands including Red Bull, and the governments of Australia and New Zealand.

In a competitive jobs market, culture is essential to attracting – and retaining – top talent in a new era of employment. As flexible and remote working becomes the norm, Ellis reveals how to ensure this doesn’t negatively impact the drive, cohesion, shared purpose, and innovation of teams.

His highly practical book will teach CEOs, managers, and team leaders to build self-motivating teams that not only bring value but create a fantastic Employee Experience.

Culture Fix is based on the six pillars of company culture: Personality & Communication, Vision, Values, Behaviour, Collaboration, and Innovation. Readers will learn to build an aspirational vision for teams and organisations, and about the importance of emotional intelligence in a successful team.

The book will tell you if your current team is stagnant, and offer skills to manage diverse teams which often cross cultural barriers.

Speaking to CXM, Ellis said: “Culture pervades through absolutely everything that’s done on a day-to-day basis in every organisation around the world, from the behaviour of senior leaders in large global organisations to the way that a sports team trains for a game at the weekend.

Man of culture: Colin D Ellis

It dictates where people sit, how meetings are run, how decisions are made, how people are hired, how teams work together and how new ideas are implemented.

“When time is made for the staff to define the culture they need in order to be able to achieve the goals, then engagement will increase.

This leads to greater productivity, more sales, improved revenue, fewer safety incidents, reduced turnover of staff and, most importantly, happier staff and customers.

“This is why culture is important.”

 

Culture Fix: How to Create a Great Place to Work is out now, published by Wiley, priced £15.50.


Tony LynchTony LynchOctober 15, 2019
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18min2259

According to a recent survey published by Harvard Business Review, 41 percent of board members recognise their biggest challenge is attracting and retaining top talent.

We also know that with good leadership, talent does not come and go – rather talent comes and grows.

Effective leaders focus on ways of developing talent within their teams and organisations. Retaining and growing talented teams to reach their potential grows fulfilment, effectiveness, productivity, and profitability.

However, this all starts from recruiting the right type of people to your organisation. Selecting the right person to your team can be a challenging task. Having interviewed and hired numerous people for over 25 years, I fully understand the importance of getting this right.

The hiring of people to join your team can have a huge impact upon the company one way or the other. Therefore, the interview procedure must be carefully planned out. Strategic coaching questions should be crafted in order to get inside the heart and mind of the person you are interviewing.

The 7 C’s Strategic Approach for Successful Recruiting I am about to share with you will provide a solid process, which will enable greater success for you in hiring the right person to your team.

It is a process I have used and added to over the years. As a business consultant, I know that the process for selecting the initial interviews, the questions asked in the interview, and the process to the appointment can be weak and needs to be addressed.

I often say that in order to develop a company, develop the team – however for this to be successful you must have the right team members on board.

So be honest with yourself as you answer the following question:

  • On a scale of 1-10 how effective would you describe your recruitment process?

Which areas need to be up levelled in order to attract the very best to your company, and to ensure you are saving on recruitment fees?

It can often be said that when someone joins your team, they are one day closer to leaving. However, the aim and intention is that you attract the very best in the marketplace and that you both enjoy a long-term and very successful business relationship.

What should you be looking out for when recruiting someone to join your company? 

This is a key question that must be given great consideration before the interviews start. So where do you make a start?

Always have an agreed established process in place to ensure that you are making a wise judgement when offering someone an opportunity to join your team. Don’t rush this, think into this well. 

What will your process look like?

As I have previously mentioned, the interview process for some companies and teams may not be as robust as they could be, which can lead to the wrong person being offered a job as well as costing the company a large amount of time and money.

Too much money is being wasted when it comes to recruiting. Successful recruiting allows you to reinvest in your own business. Making the wrong choice when it comes to increasing your team can have huge financial implications for the company. 

For small companies with less than five people, this can even lead to the company failing. Don’t let this happen to you – the pain is far too great and not needed!

So, first, recognise that hiring the best staff is an art. It takes time and wisdom as you seek to determine who could be the best candidate to fill a function or role you have available.

Good employers ask great questions – at the interview stage, well-crafted, well-thought questions will help to determine the quality of answer that you are looking for. Never rush this process; consider in advance the questions you want to be asking.

Don’t just think of questions during the interview. If there is a panel interview, decide in advance which questions each of you will be asking. Don’t put yourself in the position that you say after the interview has finished thinking to yourself I forgot to ask a good question!

Prepare in advance for the interviewing process. Always use a personality profile approach as this will help to reveal the strengths and limitations of an individual, but will also reveal how they respond to being part of a team.

As a Business Consultant I would highly recommend for you The Seven C’s Strategic Approach for Successful Recruiting:

1. Character

A member of staff with a good attitude, who is able to learn, and with skills that can be developed will have huge positive effect on your team, productivity, and profitability. Character is often described as what are we like when no one is watching.

Good character will ensure you have someone working not just for you but with you, someone who is honest with you, the customer, and themselves. They will not be compromised.

2. Coachable

Are they coachable or do they think they know everything there is to know?

Are they open to change? When you employ coachable people on your team, you can be assured they will have a great attitude. A coachable person will always go far within a team. You can see this in business as well as in sport.

A team member with a very pleasant attitude is a great person to be working with. It will be easier to work with someone with a good coachable attitude than with a poor one.

3. Care

Do they care?

It is so important to have team members who care – about the vision, mission, fellow team members, and values of the company. Caring team members know how to care for their customers.

Caring team members will go the extra mile. They care about the work they do. Ask them to share with you some examples of how they have displayed a caring approach in their work situation. You want to hear their stories about this.

4. Conscientious

You can always spot conscientious team members; they are often good listeners.

They will always look out for what is best for the company, team, and customers. They can often be great thinkers.

You want these types of people on your team. They won’t be looking to cut corners. They have high standards and will always seek to do their best.

5. Can-do attitude

Do they have a can-do attitude? Do they see the possibilities, or do they just see the problems? 

A can-do attitude is very contagious; it spreads well within a team and causes it to become very courageous. Are they prepared to have a go and take on new responsibility?

When you have a can-do attitude amongst your team, when it becomes part of the team DNA, it inspires everyone to step up. Ask leading questions to find out if they have this approach and if they do, ask them for a few specific examples and the difference it made.

6. Competent

Do they have the competency to fulfil the position you are offering? Can they do this role today and are they someone you can develop for a wider role in the future?

Do they have the skills and talents you could develop as you look to grow your business? A good leader will look to develop the talents in each member of their team, both for now and the future.

Therefore, it’s important to see if they have the capacity for growth as you grow your business.

As I mentioned earlier, with good leadership talent does not come and go – rather it comes and grows. It’s important never to despise a small acorn when it comes to talents. If you want to grow your company, grow the talents within your team.

7. Chemistry

Can I really work with this person? Can they work with me? Is there a personality clash? Can they work with the team? Are they a good team player? Will they be accountable?

Get this one wrong and it can spoil your entire team. Just because someone is competent does not mean they are a right match for your team! 

There have been times when I have not appointed someone to join my team, not because they lacked the competency –  in fact they could do the role very well – however they were simply not the right match for the others.

The chemistry just did not fit. Team to me is more important than just one person.

You need to be asking tough questions such as: will this person not just work for me, but will they work with me?

Is it all about them or is it about working towards the vision and mission of the company? There is a huge difference between someone just working for you (pay cheque) and someone working with you (loyalty).

Don’t be tempted just to take someone on because of their reputation or record achievements alone; you are interested in the future success of your team and company.

Get this one right and you are doing your best in building a great team. This is so important, please read this part again! I really want you to succeed with this.

So, when recruiting, consider The Seven C’s Strategic Approach for Successful Recruiting. 

You may be a manager, or in HR, or maybe it’s your job to lead the interview process. Ensure you have a solid process and plan ahead to stay ahead when it comes to recruiting.

Your ability to recruit well will determine the success of your team and company. These effective recruitment strategies and practices will save you time and money so that you continue to build a successful and sustainable business.

Some final questions to consider:

  • How will you upgrade your process for successful recruiting?
  • What could the impact be on the company once you make those changes in the next 12 months?
  • What could the impact be on the company in the next 12 months if you did not actively change your recruiting process?

Tony Lynch has authored a white paper, Developing and Growing a Team for Optimal Performance: A Close Up Look at a Team Development Model That has Stood the Test of Timewhich is available to download for free from Keep Thinking Big.

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 9, 2019
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4min1978

Most UK employees anticipate a positive impact from artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, a new report from Genesys has revealed.

The global leader in omnichannel Customer Experience and contact centre solutions studied the evolving relationship between employees and technology in the workplace. They found that 64 percent say they value AI, but the exact same percentage believe there should be a legal requirement for companies to maintain a minimum percentage of human workers and for relevant bodies to implement regulation around it. 

The survey also found that while employees welcome new technological tools, a significant majority (86 percent) expect their employers to provide training for working with AI-based tech, as less than half of all respondents say they possess the right skills.

When asked whether they would use augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) for job training, more than half (53 percent) of employees said they would be willing to do so. This finding is significantly higher than those who would be open to being trained by an AI-powered robot, with just over a third (35 percent) of employees accepting this method. 

The convergence between humans and technology is increasing, as reflected by the fact 41 percent of millennials say they spend at least half of their time at work interacting with machines and computers rather than humans. These findings suggest that when it comes to implementing new technologies, employers will need to find the right balance between tech and human workers.

When it comes to how employees expect to use new technologies, 58 percent would like to use a digital or virtual assistant to support them in managing tasks and meeting deadlines. This appetite for virtual assistants suggests that the widespread use of technologies like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri in workers’ personal lives is opening people’s minds to the possibilities that similar AI-driven assistants can bring to the workplace.

Meanwhile, almost a quarter of workers believe AI will have a positive impact on their job in the next five years, and
69 percent say technology makes them more efficient at their jobs. Forty-three percent say new technological tools in the workplace save time and allow them to focus on other things.

Mark Armstrong, interim Vice President for UK and Ireland at Genesys, said: “Employees across the UK are ready to embrace new technologies in the workplace. The research shows that UK workers understand the benefits of AI and are overwhelmingly positive about its potential impact. It is also evident that employees understand that businesses will need to leverage AI and other emerging technologies to maintain longevity, as only 21 percent believe their companies will remain competitive without it.”

To obtain the full survey report or for more information, contact genesys@whiteoaks.co.uk.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 9, 2019
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4min1787

UK employees are wasting two hours each week trying to track down the right information internally, which is in turn impacting the quality of customer service they deliver.

That is the findings from new research by 8×8, which quizzed 2,000 employees in mid-market and enterprise organisations. The study looks into how work is carried out and uncovers the communications challenges that fast-growing organisations face.

The main reason productivity suffers is because 29 percent of people can’t find the information they need to do their jobs effectively on the systems they use.

Fourteen percent said they are not able to locate the right expert internally, while 17 percent say they are held back by information not being shared in a central place.

Employees also say that a few experts within their organisation hold most of the information about the company (63 percent) but they can’t always contact them.

This is impacting customer service teams in particular, with at least two different people required internally to get the right information to answer a single query. This means it takes them longer to answer customer queries (50 percent) and the quality of service falls (52 percent).

Not being able to access the right information has impacted businesses in a variety of ways. Thirty-four percent of employees said they are working longer hours to complete their tasks, while 34 percent reported a ‘slow’ resolution of problems. Inaccurate information was also used, according to 24 percent.

The data was also analysed by age group and organisation size. When asked what channel they would respond most quickly to, millennial workers said email (39 percent), followed by phone (35 percent) and online chat such as Slack (nine percent), but baby boomers preferred phone (50 percent) followed by email (31 percent).

Those in large organisations say the problem has gotten worse as they’ve grown. Almost half of employees (43 percent) say it has become more difficult to reach the right experts internally as the business has scaled.

Collaboration technology makes it possible for expert knowledge to be open to all staff at any time – 71 percent say that this type of tech would help them do their job more efficiently.

Lisa Clark, VP Product Management, Contact Centre at 8×8, said: “Typically, a small portion of a company’s staff holds the majority of the expertise. This isn’t an issue when these employees are available, but when this isn’t the case, staff and customers face potentially difficult situations.

“We can see that employees across organisations are struggling to complete everyday tasks and answer queries because they aren’t able to get the information they need. This is impacting productivity on a massive scale, as time is being wasted scrambling around for answers on systems that aren’t connected across a business.

“By using one cloud communications platform, teams and individuals can collaborate much more efficiently and all employees can access information faster – no matter what channel they use.”




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