There can be many reasons as to why a business decides to invest in a website. For some, it’s a vital for their business, fo…
There can be many reasons as to why a business decides to invest in a website. For some, it’s a vital for their business, fo…
There can be many reasons as to why a business decides to invest in a website. For some, it’s a vital for their business, for others, it’s to maintain an online presence to complement their brick-and-mortar premises. Whatever the reason, it’s important that we ensure that the website operates in the right way. If you currently have a website that was created some time ago, it may be worthwhile ensuring that your website is up to date.
Why Do I Need to Update My Website?
The updating of your website should be an ongoing task, as it’s very rare that a website can be set up and left to its own devices. While the early days of the Internet had limitations, this isn’t the case today. As such, users expect more from a website.
The speed we can download information means that more effort can be made to ensure that our website is more pleasing to the eye. Similarly, we shouldn’t look to overdo the aesthetics, we simply need to ensure that we meet the expectations of the online user.
Of course, it’s not all about looks, as users also expect a seamless experience when navigating the website. It’s also worth pointing out that mobile browsing is surpassing that of desktop users. This means that business owners need to ensure that their website is optimised for mobile users. If it’s not, you could be losing out on a lot of visitors.
You shouldn’t assume that because your website can be viewed online means that it’s suitable for mobile users. Those who access the Internet from a smartphone or tablet expect to be able to find what they’re looking for with a few swipes. If you find that you must pinch in and out of the website when using a mobile device, an update is vital to ensure that you maintain a steady influx of traffic.
Boost Your Search Engine Ranking
As well as holding benefits for the user updating your website also yields benefits for your business. Search engines such as Google are keen to ensure that only the most reputable and user-friendly websites are put before its users. Ensuring our website conforms to the modern-day user can mean that our business is promoted in a more pro-active way.
Website that are easy to navigate will always surpass websites that have a more primitive design, and this is simply due to how search engine algorithms work.
How Do I Update My Website?
When determining as to whether your website needs updating or not, there’s no set check list. However, there are a few things that we can look at to give ourselves a good idea of what needs looking at.
Making a list of the issues we recognise gives us a general idea of what needs doing. We then need to find a suitable service to ensure that each issue is rectified in the right way. For example, if you find your website takes some time to load, or has constant downtime, then you would need to find a more reliable hosting provider, you can check out this site that lists the top hosting services. Similarly, if the logo on your website is low resolution, then it may be worth considering the services of a designer who can provide a higher resolution representation of your business.
Maintaining the Website Moving Forward
When updating our website, it’s important that we able to maintain it in the right way, even if you are only looking for small business opportunities online. While every website has its issues, we should try to ensure that any problems are kept to a minimum. It’s also a good idea to build your profile on other platforms, such as social networks. This ensures that if there is a problem with the website, your business still has an outlet in which it can communicate with customers to keep them updated.
Another worthwhile consideration is to ensure that your content is updated regularly. If you have a business selling products, you may think that listing the products is enough. While descriptions are ranked by Google, offering some valuable content on your website can bring forward a series of benefits.
Many businesses look at content that fits within the context of their business. So, if a business were to sell gardening supplies, they could offer content that gives advice on maintaining their yard.
Make Use of Social Network Elements
Anyone who uses Facebook and Twitter can testify how many businesses have adopted the profile, and seen positive results as a result. Just as social networks can promote your website, your website can promote your social networks and make use of them. Having shareable content with social network icons ensures that your website and its content can be shared with the mere click of a button.
Make Search Engine Optimisation a Priority
Search engine optimisation is important, as it ensures that our website can be found. It also ensures that visitors to the website are satisfied. Search engine optimisation alone is a time-consuming job, but it undoubtedly integral in ensuring your website is conforming to search engine guidelines.
Keyword research will give you an idea of what search terms are being used, and how you can adapt the content of your website to make use of such terms. Meta descriptions ensure that users are given a summary of what your website offers, instead of sentences being cut off.
If you’re not confident yourself, then why not employ the services of a professional. While it may seem like another investment that’s not required, the use of SEO can make all the difference as to how successful your website is online.
There’s no denying that updating a website can take an investment of both time and money, but the benefits an updated website can offer make such an investment worthwhile.
Absence due to sickness is probably one of the main concerns of a business. If a company is a man down, then it can be very detrimental, not to mention stressful and costly. It’s worth noting that sickness isn’t always due to a stomach bug or a headache, and there can be more emotional factors associated with absence, such as stress and depression. There can be many causes for such conditions, but some may be surprised that the work environment can be one of the main causes.
In the past, many businesses have felt it necessary to lay out a series of ground rules to ensure productivity is the best it can be, often putting restrictions in places so the employee doesn’t have much choice other than getting back to the grind. Of course, the sole purpose of a business is to make money, but cracking the whip too hard can have an adverse reaction, so it can be beneficial to change the way we think about how office design is implemented and how it affects the health of employees.
Business and Pleasure Is the Way Forward
It would be easy to assume that placing fun little games such as Subbuteo in the office, as well as allowing access to television is sending out the wrong message, but quite the opposite is true. Having to focus an on a particular bottom line for most of the day can take its toll on anyone, and can really affect the mindset of individuals if they aren’t able to grab a respite.
Of course, there shouldn’t be a situation where an employee is slipping off for several hours, but giving workers a choice means that the business is recognising them as an adult, and therefore expects them to make an adult decision.
As well as giving employees a much-needed break, it makes for a more inviting workplace overall. In fact, there will be instances where members of staff will start arriving much earlier, due to the welcoming environment of the office.
Considering Co-Working Environments
Regardless of whether you’re a business promoting metal garages for sale or a freelancer, there will come a time when you will look to work on a project alongside others. While some may deem it acceptable to squeeze into a tight office space, the truth is that there is more to be gained from a co-working space.
Regardless of the setup, co-working allows like-minded individuals to share their ideas and collaborate on projects together. It also provides the potential for some powerful networking. It can also encourage those in attendance to really flesh out their ideas, as well as allow for some new perspectives.
A co-working environment really helps employees and freelancers gain more confidence in what they have to offer, and ensures loneliness is kept at bay, which can be one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to productivity.
Reducing the Carbon Footprint
Office space doesn’t just have to be about improving the health and mindset of today’s employee, but also the environment as a whole. Becoming eco-friendly has become important for many businesses and individuals, and when you look at the bigger picture, it can only be healthier for us moving forward.
Recent developments by companies have included a “paperless” system. This can be anything from sending customers invoices via email, to changing the way we light our office to more energy-saving lightbulbs.
As well as laying the foundations for a greener environment, the changes made are also likely to offer the business a series of savings, so it’s certainly something worth considering.
Changing the Way We Work
It may surprise you to know that strains and associated injuries account for 38 percent of workplace accidents, and some of the injuries could be attributed to the way people have worked in the past.
The human body isn’t really designed to sit for long periods of time, nor was it designed to be slouched over a desk. While the concept of sitting at a desk shouldn’t be demonised, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look at more evolved ways of working.
Standing desks are an ideal reference point in how the modern office is adopting new ways of thinking and passing the benefits onto the employee. Gone are the rigid and stressed workers of yesterday, and introduced are the more influenced and confident employee of today.
There is no template that can be applied to any business, it really is a case of engaging with employees and catering for different personalities. Of course, this could be a lengthy process in some instances, but the time invested will go to yield more benefits later.
OF course, there are more old-school routines that still hold a place within the work environment. Although there is a view to making the workplace a much happier one, members of staff still need to know where they stand when it comes to expectations. However, it’s important that the same rules and regulations are in place regardless of who is involved.
For example, if a senior manager was to miss a deadline, but there was no repercussion, this could cause ill feeling within the office. There’s really no place for favouritism or bullying in the workplace, as it just hinders productivity in the end.
Ensuring a employee is healthy is about much more than ensuring they are able to carry out the role physically, it’s about ensuring that they are in the right mindset. People can prefer different ways of working, but if you’re able to strike a balance and give employees some sway in the decision-making, you should find that you have a much healthier workplace moving forward.
Website management can sound a little dull, to the untrained eye there’s probably not a lot involved – deciding on some content, images and an attractive layout and surely you’re there? Well, not quite. A website begins with nothing; it needs the right design backed by the correct knowledge, it should consider the end user experience and goals and, if you’re planning some effective marketing, it should be a place of valuable content that’s consistently refreshed and updated.
There are literally billions of websites – and probably thousands of those, if not millions, are offering something similar to yours. If your site and business is going to fly, you’re going to want to get your website management exactly right.
Once you’ve registered your domain name it’s likely you’ll only have a generic holding page provided by your domain provider. So, it’s time to build! How this is done is going to depend a lot on your skill level.
If that level is zero, then you’re going to want to think about getting someone to do it for you – start looking for web design companies, website management services, and individuals that fit the bill. Low levels of web and design knowledge? You might want to look at using a ‘what you see is what you get’ site building tool like Wix or Squarespace. If you’ve got a level of knowledge that you consider slightly higher, using a development tool like WordPress is a nice balance of layperson usability and technical features.
Whether your level of programming ability is zero or HTML-hero, the ability to put a site together doesn’t necessarily mean you know what it should look like or how it should work. With this is mind, consider the following:
The biggest tech company in the world, Apple, derived most of their success from working toward the utmost simplicity in everything they do. Your site should strive for the same, try to strip out elements that serve no marked purpose – whatever the goal for your customer, it’s unlikely to be helped by unnecessary elements.
Don’t go overboard with colour, most experts suggest between 3 and 6 as a good number. When considering a typeface, try to use something that reflects the tone of your website while still being 100% readable. Images and graphics are great – but try to use them when you need them, rather than just dotting them around with a misplaced sense of design prowess.
You’ll probably notice, perhaps even unconsciously, that a lot of websites act and display in similar ways. Want to quickly get back to the homepage? The chances are you’ll click on the logo at the top left of the page you’re currently viewing. You’ll expect links to other website to display underlined in the standard ‘hyperlink’ blue – and a menu to be found toward the top or at the left.
Sure, you could lean away from these norms, but do so and you’re risking customers not being able to interact with your site in the way they expect to – often meaning they’ll leave quickly.
The term visual hierarchy refers to the prominence of the elements on the page you want the user’s eye to be drawn to. So, you’ll never struggle to find a ‘buy now’ button on a page – whereas you might have more of a challenge finding a terms and conditions link.
Getting the visual hierarchy right means your customers are more likely to be interacting with your page in the way you want them to. Are you using tools that let you see where and how a customer clicks and interacts? If they’re not taking the path you desire, look at altering the visual hierarchy of elements on the page and see if you can signpost users a little more efficiently.
What are you hoping happens when a customer visits your site? Lots of people think “I need a website” without actually thinking about why! Without understanding what the customer journey should be it’s difficult to decide if you’re managing your site correctly.
When you’ve decided on your goal you should look at visitor numbers. There are plenty of industry averages to be found when looking at how many people convert – whether that’s from a lead generation sense, actual completed purchases, article shares and so forth – how do you line up against these averages?
If the answer isn’t great, looking at how you can manage your site toward your required goal should be on your priority to-do list…
Do you have a blog on your website? If not, you could be missing a big marketing trick – however, it will take some management. Blog are almost essential if you want to create interesting content that you can refer to in your marketing campaigns. You’ll never ‘go viral’ if you don’t have something people can share.
Are you able to write relevant content yourself? Would it be better outsourcing that to a copywriter who specialises in creating web content for your field? Whatever you decide, writing is only half the battle – when you’ve got great content are you making it easy for people to find? Are you sharing it over all your outlets to maximise expose and visits?
It’s unlikely any other page on your site will take as much management as your blog – but it’s also unlikely that any other page will attract quite as many visitors – particularly as you start out.
An increasing number of your customers are going to be accessing your site using a mobile browser – if you’re not accounting for these users you’ve missing the chance to get your message over to a big chunk of your audience.
A site that is optimised for use in a standard desktop or laptop browser can be difficult to use on smaller devices. Understanding where your traffic is coming from and the devices they’re using can be the difference between successful interactions – or people quickly bouncing to another site.
While all the points we’ve covered are important individually, there’s also an impact on the overall customer experience to consider. If your site displays and behaves in the way customers are expecting, you’re already winning an enormous amount of credibility. Large retail outlets invest millions to make sure conditions are right for a customer to do exactly what they want them to – the same should be true of your site – management is vitally important if you want to make the most of the customers who spend and make important decisions while online…
For a number of years dyslexia in education has been a hot topic which has led to many companies now offering online support, for example this course that provides online dyslexia training from CPD Bytes. Once up on a time, dyslexic children were considered lazy, unable to focus or just badly behaved – where now, significant differences to brain function have been identified and adjustments to the learning environment are made.
It’s difficult to say if we can boast the same type of changes in the workplace. Even in the 1990s there was still significant scepticism in education about the condition – so how many dyslexic people left school without any support, only to find themselves in an equally unsupported workplace? Studies suggest around 10% of the working population are affected by dyslexia – so it’s highly likely that the condition could be a factor for your business.
Here we’ll look at how dyslexia can impact an employee and what an organisation can do to support and maximise the potential of anyone facing the difficulty.
Although as a manager or business owner it’s not your place to diagnose dyslexia, you may find yourself supporting someone who has been through the education system with little or no support. Dyslexia is not a reflection of someone’s capacity to learn or perform in the workplace – and in fact, you may find that someone who has formulated their own strategies to work with dyslexia brings an incredible level of adaptability and tenacity to your team.
Providing the right level of support
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, a ‘learning difficulty’ and a ‘learning disability’ are very different. If someone is described as having a learning disability – it means their ability to learn is permanently reduced compared to the ‘average’ ability of someone their age. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty – essentially it’s a barrier to learning, but not a reflection of intelligence. The impact of any learning difficulty hinges around the support that a person receives.
What is it?
People with dyslexia often find it difficult to deal with phonics, meaning it can be hard to grasp the sounds that letters make to create a word. This impacts the ‘translation’ that occurs between the point where a person’s eyes see characters on a page – and the brain turning that into understandable information. Because the brain can struggle with the formation of words and sentences, it means lists, names and other information can be extremely difficult to recall quickly – and there can also be similar difficulties with maths.
As a result of the increased effort needed for reading and writing task, there are a number of other impacts that can be observed for someone who struggles with words – working memory can be impaired, it can be difficult to focus or keep attention on specific task and busy working environments can be difficult.
While we’ve noted the difference between ‘difficultly’ and ‘disability’ – dyslexia is legislated for under disability law – in particular the 2010 Equality Act. As such, your company must be able to demonstrate an ability to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for an employee with dyslexia. Above the requirements of the law, you may find that while making adjustments for an employee who comes with an awareness of the condition, you enable other employees and even customers to engage more effectively.
Dyslexia will almost always present differently from one person to the next – as such, it’s important to work around the specific needs of an individual. Below you’ll find a list of possible issues and some adjustments that might be appropriate.
Does the individual struggle with reading and/or writing?
Does the employee work at a computer?
Do you see spelling and grammar errors?
Does the individual struggle with verbal communication?
Does the employee struggle with the workplace environment?
What else would help?
As previously stated, no one person with dyslexia is the same as another – so requirements will change. There can be some shame and embarrassment that a person associates with their dyslexia, but working with an understanding employer can go a long way to remedy this. Talk to your employee about what they struggle with and what might help – the impact of dyslexia can be wide reaching, so try to keep an open mind and research where other people have found solutions to similar problems.
What’s in it for your business?
Making your organisation dyslexia-friendly doesn’t just mean you fall in line with the law – a lack of support around the symptoms of dyslexia can be a significant trigger for workplace stress. As such, if you’re able put support in place, you’re very probably going to see reduced sickness and staff turnover – as well as increased productivity, motivation and loyalty.
Whether the dyslexic person sitting before you is an employee or an interviewee, they’ve likely overcome more than most who find themselves in that position. If you can support around their issues with dyslexia, you’re likely to unlock levels of creativity, adaptability and dedication that will bring big benefits your business.
When you first started out in your business or role it was easy to think about ways of expanding and growing your organization – ideas coming thick and fast, nothing to stand in your way – and quick results. When companies and roles are more established, it’s easy to focus on the hard-learned lessons that stumbling blocks along the way have provided – and growth can suffer as a result.
Don’t become complacent, make sure growth stays on the agenda – and harness these world-class tactics to drive your business to new heights…
Retaining clients is one of the best and easiest ways toward enormous growth – but it’s a tactic that is painfully neglected by a lot of businesses. Hundreds, if not thousands of customers; you have all their details, they know you, they like your products – they’re walking away. This is the reality for companies who focus entirely on their new sales and marketing strategies without dedicating the resources needed to keep the customers you’ve already worked hard for.
Customer retention can’t be summed up in a few lines; it’s a complex balance of communication, incentives, support, care and tailoring your service to suit – as far as is practical and, ultimately, profitable. Look at how many customers you lose each month or year and ask yourself (or them!) what might have kept their loyalty. Every business has a churn rate of clients, the key to maximizing growth across the board is keeping that number as low as is possible.
It’s easy to think of other companies in your industry or area as just competitors, there to take clients and money away from you and your bottom line. Instead, looking at collaborations and alliances can be a much healthier way to move toward growth.
Do you regularly outsource some element of your workload to another company? Why not talk to them? You might have the killer sales process that they haven’t got the means to implement – so with your efforts, contacts, and workforces combined – you might be able to scale to heights that just wouldn’t be achievable for you individually. It’s normal to be hungry for success – but don’t let greed narrow your options.
When it comes to creating a solid bedrock for your company you’re going to want some consistent performers. However, safe hands aren’t always the hands that will lead you toward scaling up an excellent example of this is Vectorcloud who are an IT support company in Glasgow. They continue to grow due to the investment in experienced staff and training.
Look at individuals with proven track records of taking companies to higher heights – perhaps they’ll work for you, maybe they’ll consult for you – whatever the route, this fresh outside energy can come in with increased objectivity and a host of great ideas to take your solid service to the next level.
We know, you’re already online – website, some marketing and social media, etc. Instead of asking if you’re online – ask if you’re making the most of being online. With the absolute most respect intended, you’re not – neither are 99% of the world’s other businesses.
The Internet presents opportunities for insane levels of growth – talk to some Freelance SEO Consultants about what they could do for you, your product might have to adapt slightly, but with the right deal, you could have your product or company in front of millions of people every day. What do you want? Sales prospects? Completed business? No problem, there are experienced people out there who will take your company into the stratosphere and are happy to be paid on results only.
Your brand is a product of its own that stands atop your business if you want it to. Here’s what we mean – you’re the best coffee shop in your town, so start a video channel and blog about what you do. You’re an IT service provider – instead of just providing IT services, tell others how they can provide IT support services as successfully as you do. Write a book, provide training, consult with other businesses and share your knowledge, for example you could write a post around the top hosting services in the UK which is similar to this one for on Inc.com.
The world is constantly moving toward demanding more ‘value’ – people want more from your product and organization. It can be hard to offer more value than the next person, company or shop, so you need to get thinking about how you can approach what you do from a different angle. Be a business and a resource for your industry – your knowledge is worth more than you’re currently making, apply it more widely and you’ll see incredible growth – sometimes into areas you had never envisaged.
While we’re talking diversity, there’s a mass of possibilities that don’t require huge adaptations to your vision of the company. You provide a service to a particular industry, what’s stopping you looking at a new industry and applying your winning formulas in that area? Tunnel vision is the enemy when growth is being discussed – but it’s hard to snap out of.
Ask yourself who else could use your product – if the answer is enormous, then narrow your focus down to industries that have similar requirements to your current customers. If your product is very specifically designed for one type of customer, look at another customer type and get your research and development hat on! “What could we do to our service to make it suitable for x or y…?”
Anything involving the word ‘global’ sounds big, doesn’t it? The truth is, it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve got a well-honed company with processes that are working well here – why not look at promoting your service in another English-speaking country? Alternatively, consider what you would need to do to appeal to a non-English speaking country.
Language barriers are one of the stumbling blocks when it comes to global expansion – but the internet’s made bringing that barrier down easier than ever before. Translation of your website and marketing material by a skilled multi-linguist can be done incredibly cost-effectively – as can set up home-based workers in your target location.
Language isn’t your only challenge – but a simple internet search will set you on a path toward gauging how feasible it is to move into selling your service in any particular country.
If you ask someone what they think the biggest benefits of working from home jobs would be they’re likely to talk about being your own boss or working in your pajamas – far fewer people consider the positive financial implications of making home your office. That’s because there’s a big bundle of expenses you outlay on the ‘life stuff’ that surrounds having a job – although not on the job directly.
Take a look at the bigger picture of your working life and think about how much money those in working from home jobs can save when you think about:
At the time of writing a liter of fuel costs an average of £1.20 per liter. If your car returns an economy of around 40 miles per gallon of fuel that means a 10-mile commute (the average distance for workers in the UK) costs around £2.70 each day. That might not sound too bad, but with around 260 working days in the year, that works out at over £700 spent at the pumps each year.
As someone who works from home, this can remain as money in your pocket – and you can feel content knowing you’re not contributing the increasing environmental cost of longer commutes.
Saving – £700 (although it could be significantly more if depending on miles and vehicle)
If only the cost of running a car stopped at the fuel! Now, this might not be fully accurate if you run a car anyway – but if your car is primarily for commuting purposes than that previously mentioned average commute is going to put another 5,000 miles on your car each year. Average servicing costs run to around £150 before you’ve had any remedial work done.
Most manufacturers recommend interim services too – which can be another £75-100. If you rely on your car for work, keeping it running and reliable is a must. If you’ve put an older car through a MOT – you’ll also know this cost can vary enormously…
Saving – £250 on servicing + MOT cost
Convenience is one of the biggest additional costs we face as workers – and lunch is where the cost of convenience is felt the most. The average sandwich, crisps and drink ‘meal deal’ costs £3.50 – and even if you only go for the out-of-the-office meal deal 2-3 times each week, that still adds up to around £450 each year. If you’re a fan of sushi, pub lunches, and other decadent options then you can multiply that figure by 4 or 5!
Saving – £450 for the 2-3-day meal deal connoisseur
Sadly, clothing costs seem to be an area where there’s some significant inequality in the workplace – men report average work clothing expenses to be around £500 each year, where women spend triple that – £1,500. Studies suggest that women feel expected to diversify their wardrobe more than a man might, hence the greater spend.
Now, we’re not suggesting that men or women will spend their days working from home either undressed or in pajamas – but there’s significantly less expectation when you’re not seen by co-workers or clients – meaning far less diversity and formality required. And you can consider the odd pajama day as a perk…
Saving – £500-£1000 on average (differing slightly for men and women)
The reduced requirement for formal workwear means more of your wardrobe can be washed at home – lessening your reliance on dry-cleaning services. Consumer research shows that dry cleaning costs can top £600 for professional city workers. Even if your costs are much lower, that’s a lot of washing liquid and fabric softener!
Saving – an average of around £250 across the UK
The next saving is one that is difficult to calculate as it depends almost entirely on your hourly rate, or if you’re self-employed, your daily output.
The average commute time in the UK is currently around 60 minutes every day – although for around 3 million people that figure is much greater, at around 2 hours each day. Effectively, if you’re adding even 1 hour to your working day that means you’re adding around 200 hours of time that is dictated by your job each year. 200 hours – that’s the equivalent of 5 full working weeks either behind the wheel, on a bike or squashed next to a stranger on the bus or the tube.
If you were to apply that time to work at home, your output would be through the roof – which as a self-employed person mean money – but can mean promotion, pay-rises and other perks for remote company workers.
Saving – the financial equivalent of 200 hours each year!
Oh, you thought we were done with the driving expenses? Sorry to disappoint – but parking can add anywhere between a £3.50 and an astronomical £50 each day depending on where you live and how close to a city center you need to park. Londoners – congratulations, you officially live in the most expensive city in the world when it comes to parking! Not to mention any congestion charge.
Savings – £500+ each year. Londoners – our calculator ran out of space…
The tax implications of working from home are long and fairly complicated – meaning it’s prudent to get some professional financial advice to ensure the figures you’re working with are accurate for you. Telephone calls using your own mobile or landline phone, heating, lighting and electrical costs are all things which you might be entitled to claim as expenses – and sometimes you don’t even have to have kept records of these costs.
There are also rules around claiming tax relief on other household costs – effectively, if 20% of your home is used as a workplace, then there’s tax relief to be had on 20% of your household costs. If you’re working from home and self-employed, a good accountant will be able to talk you through how to make working from home work for you.
Savings – talk to your company or account for a full breakdown
‘IVA,’ ‘Trust Deed,’ ‘Attachment of Earnings’ – as a business owner or HR manager, these are phrases you’re likely to be hearing more of relating to your workforce. Debt has traditionally been an employee’s own issue, left at home and not expected to affect their work – but with problem debt statistics reaching an all-time high, now could be an appropriate time to think about how those issues impact your business.
What does the statistics say?
It’s extremely likely that people in your workforce are experiencing financial problems.
Unsecured household debt is at its highest level since the financial crash of 2008 – and worryingly, an analysis shows that this debt is generally not a result of lavish spending, instead, a pattern of persistent lending to help many individuals make it through the month. Without the savings to offer a buffer zone when things go wrong, risky borrowing is sometimes the only answer.
A recent study explored the relationship between personal finances and the workplace. These were some of the responses from HR professionals:
Interestingly, this study was performed across a broad range of industries – indicating that the debt problem faced in the UK spans all sectors and pay scales.
The link between financial and mental health
Particularly in the last 10 years, medical professionals have increasingly highlighted links between debt induced stress and reduced mental well-being. At the lower end of the spectrum this won’t necessarily manifest as a diagnosed issue for individuals, instead, companies tend to see a pattern begin to play out:
A pattern like this can be devastating for a small business or team – and an often-held perception that debt issues are a ‘dirty secret’ means few businesses get the chance to intervene when it’s important. Many people facing debt issues feel isolated and unable to talk.
Remove the shame
While debt feels like a taboo subject for many people, it shouldn’t be. Statistics show that the vast majority of people in the UK have some level of debt – and huge numbers of those people will experience some issue with that debt during their lives.
As an employer, it’s useful to offer a realistic view of debt. The shame associated with financial problems often comes from a perception that excess spending or an unaffordable lavish lifestyle has been the instigating factor. Although this is rarely the case, people feel far more comfortable talking about their debt issues if they believe that the person listening isn’t judging them – however, the debt has been accrued.
How can you offer support?
Creating a particular culture in your workplace is never going to be a quick job – but neither is trying to build bridges with a workforce that is feeling the impact of debt amongst its ranks. Whether you’re a larger business with an HR department – or a smaller business with directors that look after certain roles, demonstrating that there is an open door for staff communication is vital.
Beyond hoping that people come to you, you can invite discussions about debt. If employees aren’t keen on talking in person, sending an email that ‘normalises’ financial issues can be the catalyst for talking.
While most people understand that companies have provisions in place when a person is unable to work because of sickness – fewer people think that their employer would be interested in supporting around debt problems, despite the fact they can quickly lead to illness.
What can you say?
In an email or newsletter, you could offer a case study of how you have supported around debt issues in the past – you don’t have to have a specialist debt counselor in the business, you could simply explain that there is a provision in place for people who need support, that could be:
This is not an exhaustive list, you may be able to think of company specific alternatives that would be helpful to employees who are facing money issues.
There are also numerous employee assistance programs your business could offer that will provide specialize debt support. That can support around budgeting, signposting to companies who offer specialist debt solutions or counseling for when the symptoms of coping with debt become too much.
Why should you act?
Levels of debt in the UK are at extraordinary levels – the numbers of people who are repeatedly borrowing because they cannot make it through the month are higher than they have ever been. It is medically proven that debt contributes to illness – both mental and physical.
Even if you were in a position to do so, upping salaries is not the answer. Instead, a fresh view of debt and its impact on your business is needed. It is vital that businesses acknowledge debt as being the gateway to sickness, reduced productivity and low morale. If you’re willing to reach out to your employees and offer an ear for the difficult conversations, the performance of the business will thank you for it.
Does your company need business advice? Whether you’re a stainless steel strapping and banding supplier, or a small local retailer that’s has been in business for years or decades, it’s important to make sure that you’re dealing with fundamental issues like finance, marketing, and technology. Unfortunately, not all business input is of the good variety.
Here are some of the top benefits of effective advice from business consultancies:
When you hire a business consultancy one of the main benefits is they can dedicate their resources to your company. This might be tougher if you handle the issues in-house or hire someone part-time to deal with the issues like low sales or outdated technology. When hiring a consultancy, they can provide full-time professional staff to deal with your issues.
A business consultancy can help to provide your company with innovative solutions. When companies have to deal with tough issues like sales and technology sometimes, it’s a matter of thinking outside the box to find solutions to tough problems. On the other hand, if you try to solve the problems in-house it can be tougher to use an innovative approach to solving problems.
This is particularly useful in terms of technical skills. For example, if your company wants to revamp its technology it’s important to hire IT consultants who can figure out how to upgrade your business’s tech to get better results. That could include CPUs, business software, networks, etc. Your company might also require technical skills like marketing or finance if your business lacks know-how in those areas. Or if you are in the construction industry you may want to provide further CCNSG training for your staff.
In fact, this is one of the main reasons companies hire business consultants. There are times when your company’s staff might have basic skills in areas like IT or finance but might not have specifics skills/knowledge to deal with specific issues like tax laws, cloud storage, etc.
This is another key benefit of hiring a business consultancy. When you use other sources of advice like books, videos, blogs, etc. the information you get will be somewhat general. That’s even true if it’s advice for your sector.
Meanwhile, if you hire a consultancy, you’ll have the benefit of getting advice that’s specific to your company. The consultants can evaluate your company’s situation then design a business plan to achieve your company’s goals like higher sales, more traffic, better margins, etc.
When hiring business consultants, they’ll have expertise in solving business problems. They might even have experience in your particular sector. If that’s the case, it’s a plus because it means you’ll get specialized advice for dealing with specific problems. This is also a plus because certain solutions will be more effective in certain types of businesses or should be tweaked for different sectors. A consultancy will have the know-how to do that.
This is somewhat of an X-factor related to hiring a business consultancy. Factors like management can be roadblocks for companies to implement change that will help to solve their problems and get on the right track.
Meanwhile, a consultancy can contribute to providing objectivity when dealing with a company’s problems. This is a plus because they won’t be biased by focusing on the company’s sales and profits, for example. In fact, sometimes finding solutions can mean dealing with some very tough issues.
These are some of the top benefits of business consultancies to keep in mind. If your company has pressing problems, it’s one of the best sources of some good advice. There are many benefits including the advice being fresh, innovative, speedy, and comprehensive. Keep in mind the goal is to get results and make companies better, so they’re more competitive in their sector.