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Business Development & Marketing General

Flexible working can foster innovation and creativity

flexible working is good for businessA set of annual awards launched seven years ago is demonstrating the positive benefits of allowing employees to work flexible and part time hours.
The Timewise Power Awards winners for 2019 have just been announced and, as the founders say, they demonstrate the art of the possible.
Among them is Srin Madipalli, a wheelchair user who works 85% full time for AirBnB and combines this with public speaking to raise disability and accessibility issues at forums including the United Nations, Rio Paralympics and the Tech Inclusion Summit.
Chris Bryant, a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, works three days a week helping clients from all sectors to prepare for Brexit, and at the same time cares for his daughter and writes for musical theatre. His work has been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and is now being developed for a nationwide tour.
Amy Haworth, a director working on an 80% contract for Deloitte, combines her working life with 60 to 80 performances a year as an international classical singer, and Joanna Munro, creative head of Fiduciary Governance at HSBC Global Asset Management, has managed to combine her three days a week working for HSBC with completing a Masters in creative writing and is now writing a crime novel.
While others have combined their flexible working with starting up a new business, developing an app or caring for relatives, what they all have in common is that the businesses they work for are able and willing to accommodate and see the benefits of allowing their employees to work flexibly.
Often their work feeds back into their work for their main employer, to the benefit of both parties.

How a willingness to accommodate flexible working could benefit your business

There is some truth to the adage that a change is as good as a rest and certainly if you want to retain key people it is important that they feel valued and fulfilled.
However, it is perhaps taking too narrow a view to assume that their focus should be only and entirely on their work for the business.
The stimulation of an outside interest, or the possibility of pursuing a related interest that is not directly within the scope of their primary role can lead to innovative ideas being brought back into your business.
Also, the success stories of the winners mentioned above can benefit your business reputation, not only by demonstrating that it is a forward-thinking company when it comes to the terms and conditions of employment but also in the additional kudos from those employees’ successes in other pursuits.
Such enlightenment can also help a business attract and retain both outstanding and highly motivated people.
Please do respond with your own stories about similar examples.

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Business Development & Marketing General Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery Turnaround

You just can’t get the staff these days!

 

A problem that many SMEs struggle with and have raised again in recent weeks is finding suitably qualified people who will fit in.

There are several issues that particularly affect the small employer.

As well as paying another salary, NI and pension contributions, there is the management and admin time spent on payroll which has significantly increased due to tax and employment legislation such as the recently introduced Real Time Information (RTI) for PAYE.

While there may still be many unemployed people available since the 2008 financial crisis, finding someone with the right set of skills can be a costly and difficult business and already would-be employers have been identifying a shortage of people with IT, sales and financial skills.

Also, according to new research, The Flux Report, produced by the talent management group Right Management, the most important qualities employers will want from future employees will be resilience, flexibility and the ability to cope with change.  This is partly because of the economic volatility that has been apparent since 2008, and partly because the pace of change in technology, marketing and other areas has accelerated dramatically.

So what other options are available to SMEs?  Plainly costs need to be kept under control and many do not have the resources to train someone.  One solution to consider is outsourcing basic functions such as bookkeeping, payroll, credit control, secretarial work or answering the phone. Other functions such as sales & marketing, IT, delivery, premises management, and even manufacturing or servicing clients are often best done by external experts brought in as and when necessary. This can leave an SME to really focus on what it does best.

I know of a number of professional service and management consulting firms that focus on marketing to bring in the work and then outsource it to others to actually carry out. I know others that outsource their sales and marketing so they can focus on doing the work.

Those who want to take on staff might consider offering work experience to interns, seeking help with the cost of apprenticeships or with new employment costs from the new Employment Allowance scheme that can contribute up to £2,000 towards an SME’s National Insurance bill.

Most importantly growth starts with having a clear business model, a clear plan and identifying what skills gaps will be needed before starting to search for the right person.