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More and more British workers are checking their email out of hours, with 37% logging on when abroad and working during their annual leave.

So how can we manage our email efficiently to spend less time checking it while we’re away?

 

Before you go

 

1. Get clear before you get away

In the week prior to your holiday, clear out your inbox. A couple of purges ought to do it. For example, you can select a bunch of emails on the same topic and stick them in a folder if you’ll need them for reference. Or if you have the tool available on your system, archive them (thank you Google for Work).

Tip: set a timer and prioritise by topic/sender. When time’s up, either file or archive whatever’s left.

 

2, Brief your colleagues

A week before your holiday (possibly longer if the work is complex), compile a status list of current projects, with what needs to happen for each one whilst you’re away. Discuss it with your line manager and agree who will cover what, then add their names to the list.

Hold a handover meeting or conference call (no, not a round-robin email) with the named people and ensure they have the chance to ask you questions about what they’ll be doing (and can they email you while you’re away?), then agree the due by date and add that to the list. Circulate the final list to those involved.

Tip: this is where checklists can come in handy. Yes I know this post is about email on holiday; by taking this essential step you should end up with far less of the stuff.

 

3. Create rules for routine updates

Most widely used email systems have the ability to set up rules that can send emails on certain topics and/or from certain senders to go straight to a folder, skipping your inbox. I find this works well for emails from people whose content I value, but don’t want to read right now – they go to a ‘reading’ folder, which is frequently purged. Some updates, such as Adam Grant’s, are the kind of thing I really enjoy reading whilst waiting for or travelling on a train/plane. I also apply the rule to anything to do with going out, holidays and shopping – they go to another folder, also regularly cleared.

 

4. Respond to requests and inform people

Prioritise the emails you need to deal with and either a) write one-line acknowledgements to get the sender off your back and say when you’ll get the task done (only if you really will get it done before you go away), or b) say when you will get x bit of it done and inform the sender who’ll be picking this up (copied in) as you’re going to be on holiday.

 

5. Set your ‘Out Of Office’

You may want to check your employer policy on this – some are more enlightened than others (“we don’t do email on holiday here!”) Say when you’ll be back and who can be contacted in your place, if it’s about project X or project Y. Tread carefully with humour and personal disclosure; not everyone will be amused by your predicted beer consumption. If you are going to be picking up your email, say once a day, or if the mobile signal where you’re going is non-existent (bliss), say so. Set your voicemail greeting too.

 

When you’re away

 

6. Decide what you will and won’t do

Many of us are addicted to our smartphones. Do you really want to spend your holiday gazing at yours? Discuss with loved ones and travelling companions how you want to handle tech on holiday. You may want to use satnav, maps or apps to explore your destination, in which case you’ll stay connected at those times. Otherwise, you can decide when you’ll go off the grid.

By all means take those photos to share with your friends and family, but why not save them offline for sharing later when you’ll be back online? You may want to put all your devices in a safe in your hotel room each evening, or maybe take just one phone out with you. Switched off for the duration? Airplane mode from cocktail hour onwards? Never before breakfast? Decide what works for you.

 

7. Limit your email time

If you decide that you need to handle email whilst you’re on holiday, consider how you can limit your time with it. Some people find they need to check in three or four times per day; others are fine with one or two brief sessions to deal with it. I’m in the latter camp: before breakfast and before getting ready for the evening, each for a maximum of 30 minutes works for me (usually much less in practice – I find setting a timer really focuses the mind) and lets us get on with having fun. Friends with young kids are more disciplined, rising early to do an email update and shutting down just before the darlings wake up.

 

8. Do, defer or delete

Remember to set that timer. First scan what’s come in and identify the emails you need to do something about – and do it. Deal with the matter in hand but don’t be afraid to say you’re on holiday. What if something goes wrong? Depending on the severity you may want to schedule a call to clear up any misunderstandings: onerous maybe, but better than fretting on holiday or emailing in anger. Or you can reply with a step-by-step suggestion, or remind the sender that there are other people they can go to on this.

If you’re being copied in on emails from your holiday cover colleagues, monitor but don’t meddle. Send a quick ‘thanks’ (if you must: beware, they may reply) and let them get on with it. Deferring may mean a quick acknowledgement and intro to your holiday cover, or the date you’ll have that paper written by on your return (schedule the task if so, to prevent post-holiday memory lapse). Delete everything else. If you’ve set up rules for routine stuff you shouldn’t have too much else that needs your attention now.

 

9. Consider your recipients

Many frequent travellers find there are specific times when it’s handy to deal with email; time zones can be used to advantage. Please consider your recipients and schedule sending so they don’t get inbox notifications from you in the middle of the night (I use Boomerang for gmail; your system may have built-in tools for this).

 

When you’re back

 

10. Catch up and say thanks

if you’ve followed point 8 above, you shouldn’t come home to an email mountain, but if you’ve let a few things pile up, it’s now another case of do, defer or delete. Catch up with colleagues on progress whilst you’ve been away and what you need to pick up right now. Be sure to say thanks to the people who covered for you.

 

About the author

Dawn SillettDawn Sillett has been designing and delivering training workshops and executive coaching for over 15 years.

 

Author of: The Feedback Book

THE FEEDBACK BOOKMaintaining performance today is no longer simply about having an annual appraisal and telling employees “you must try harder”. Research demonstrates that regular discussions about performance and providing feedback to the people you manage is a more effective way to motivate them and keep them on track. Distilled into this single, handy-sized volume are 50 tips, advice and techniques to help any manager become quickly skilled at regularly discussing performance, setting goals and objectives and providing the necessary feedback to ensure individuals and teams thrive in the company. Structured into five key parts, each of the 50 concise chapters also contains a practical exercise to help the reader understand and implement the concepts and ideas of this book.

 

Assertiveness is a behaviour that many of us tend to shy away from talking about or developing.

 

As if it’s somehow a negative, an undesirable and simply not us.

But those types of beliefs (and they are just beliefs) are inaccurate. And they’re limiting. Because in today’s world of less hierarchy, greater equality and meritocracy, and more competition for resources, assertiveness is a necessary skill.

It’s also a hugely rewarding behaviour: not just in terms of achieving the things we’re standing-up for. Assertiveness is empowering, encourages psychological health and improves relationships. It is an authentic expression of our personal excellence.

Negative connotations on assertive behaviour come down to definition. So, let’s start there.

 

Defining assertive behaviour

Being assertive is simply being confident and direct in dealing with others.

It’s about stating our views, expressing our feelings, enjoying our rights and asking for what we want. And it’s about doing all of that with integrity, honesty, directness and respect for others.

Assertive behaviour is focused on achieving that balance of upholding one’s own integrity and dignity whilst encouraging and recognising the same in others.

 

Finding the balance

In response to the tensions of any stressed social interaction, we have 2 primal reactions:

Fight: Our behaviour is aggressive and we put our personal needs first.

Flight/Freeze: Our behaviour is non-assertive and we acquiesce, prioritising the needs of others ahead of our own.

 

There is a third modern-day option: to be assertive.

Assertive behaviour finds the balance and acts accordingly. We make a conscious choice to prioritise the needs of others or give greater consideration to our own needs.

Assertive behaviour, then, is simply our considered response to difficult situations.

 

The challenge of being assertive

Aside from misunderstanding what assertive behaviour is, there are a number of other reasons (principally fear) why assertive behaviour is a challenge for many:

  • Fear of conflict
  • Fear of upsetting others
  • Fear of rejection
  • Feeling overly-responsible for the other person

 

And we support these beliefs with self-defeating mind games (generalising, mind reading, filtering, doomsdaying and so on) and unhelpful inner voices (the way we talk to ourselves strongly influences how we feel and how we behave).

But with a few simple techniques, we can learn to revel in the act of assertiveness and enjoy the process of standing-up for ourselves and what we believe in.

 

Assertive behaviours in practice

 

It starts with positive body language

Assertiveness doesn’t work without authenticity. And we can’t claim authenticity when our body language doesn’t match our spoken words.

Focus on a maintaining a relaxed and open posture; responsive expressions; high eye contact; and direct, friendly and well-moderated speech.

 

Learn to handle – and make use of – criticism

Criticism is simply feedback. And that’s useful because one meaning of our behaviour is the response it elicits in another person. But maintaining that positive frame can be easier said than done.

To hear, work-through and accept/reject criticism in an assertive way:

Start by reminding yourself that not all criticism is useful, justified, fair or correct. Verify the details, first.

Focus on thinking through, rather than fighting through, criticism.

Watch for extrapolating criticism. It’s unwise and not useful to generalise from specifics.

If the criticism is not about specific behaviour, then it’s not useful. Discard it.

 

Know how to disagree

In situations where assertive behaviour is most called for, there are likely going to be disagreements.

The assertive response is a constructive response that puts your case without getting emotional, surrendering your integrity or losing your respect for the other person.

Here’s a process you can follow:

The Affirmative Statement. Start with “yes”: not to indicate agreement but to prepare your counterpart for what you’re about to say. Starting with a “no” puts others into argument mode, not listening mode.

The Softening Statement. Our views are formed in the context of our background and experience. Recognise this within a softening statement, for example: “As someone with first-hand experience of this, I can understand where you’re coming from.”

Setup the Explanation Process. If there is going to be any sensible discussion, you need to be allowed to put your case. Indicate how you’ll do that: “Can I take a moment to explain how I arrived at my viewpoint?”

Give Your Reasons. Here, you can present a balanced view of pros and cons; or you can simply give your reasons or justifications. Either way, keep it direct, succinct, open and relaxed. And don’t feel the need to rush.

The Disagreement Statement. Finish with strong, clear and unapologetic language (including matching body language) as you underscore your disagreement. Be professional and friendly, but be clear: “So I cannot agree with you.”

 

Have fun with negative assertions and enquiry

When we’re called names or given negative labels, the non-assertive instinct is to feel hurt and retreat; and the aggressive instinct is to defend ourselves and attack our attacker. There is a third (assertive) option: negative assertion.

Negative assertion is like jujitsu: using the power of your protagonist to turn the situation to your advantage. You do this by accepting the part of the attack that might be true in a matter-of-fact and light way.

Negative enquiry invites extra, more-specific, criticism which has the dual benefit of providing more feedback, but also challenging the worthiness of the criticism.

 

Here are a few examples:

“If you think that, you must be stupid”
“I admit, I’m not the brightest person around.”

“You’re always making mistakes.”
“Yes, I do make the occasional mistake.”

“You’re so lazy!”
“Oh really? In what way, specifically?”

“You’re always over-complicating the requirement.”
“Always? When specifically have I done that?”

 

The many benefits of assertiveness

 Assertiveness is a necessary and hugely beneficial skill that enjoys the benefits both of non-assertion (e.g. fitting in, no feelings of guilt, no upsetting people) and of aggressiveness (e.g. high self-esteem, getting what you want, people no taking advantage), without the disadvantages of either.

Like any behaviour, it can be learned and developed. And is absolutely worth the investment.

 

SOURCE: Dan Beverly

Dan BeverlyDan Beverly is a leadership and performance coach, helping high-achieving professional women embrace the pivotal career moments.

Almost two in five businesses (39%) take just two weeks to discover that they have hired the wrong person, according to independent research commissioned by Robert Half.

 

With almost one in four applicants lying on their CV, the impact is huge. Lost productivity due to wasted time in re-training and re-hiring, higher workloads and increased stress all have a negative effect on business growth.

The findings come as part of an international study of almost 5,000 managers in 13 countries on hiring trends and career ambitions in the modern workplace.

Typically, 39% of businesses realise within a fortnight that a new hire is not meeting expectations. Meanwhile, over one in seven (15%) employers realise they’ve made a mistake within a recruit’s first week on the job.

The most common reasons given were a mismatch of skills (44%), underqualified candidates (42%) and people found to be lying on their CVs (37%).

 

Consequences of hiring the wrong person

When asked what steps they took to address a poor hiring decision, 40% of employers said they terminated the employee’s contract and started the complex and costly process of finding a replacement, compared to 39% who developed a training programme to build the employee’s skills.

In the event of a bad hire, one third (33%) of employers turned to a staffing agency to find a replacement, while the same portion have restarted the hiring process from the beginning. Surprisingly, 32% adopted a wait and see approach to see if the employee’s performance would improve on its own.

Hiring the wrong person for the job can significantly impact an organisation. The top three consequences of a bad hire according to managers are increased workload for colleagues (50%), increased stress on colleagues (39%) and lost productivity (33%). Aside from increased stress and workload for management, other negative consequences include higher recruitment costs (32%), lost business opportunities/revenue (24%) and low staff morale (24%).

Bad hires can be highly costly for companies, though many companies struggle with accurately calculating the cost of hiring the wrong person. While 16% say they don’t track these costs, 41% said they fail to compile all the data in an overview.  More than one third (34%) say some costs are not accurately measurable and 5% admit they have not looked at doing it.

 

How to get it right

“Businesses go to great lengths to find and attract the right candidate, but the cost of making the wrong hire can be significant,” said Matt Weston, UK Managing Director at Robert Half. “Whether organisations decide to terminate their employment or invest in training them, it will impact the company financially and cause significant disruption and stress to the existing workforce. It’s therefore critical to get it right the first time.”

“While some factors, such as cultural fit, attitude, or even lies and embellishments on a CV can be challenging to account for in an interview, an experienced hiring manager and a thorough process should be able to identify most of these. It’s important to ask the right questions, thoroughly test skills and perform meticulous reference checking. Employers would benefit from reviewing their hiring policies to ensure they strike the right balance between efficiency and rigour,” concluded Weston.

 

 

When it comes to delegation, some of us are better at letting go than others.

However, when done well, it not only frees up your time to spend on other things but empowers your team to take more responsibility.

If it still feels a little foreign, here are a few suggestions to make it easier:

 

1. Choose carefully

Yes, it’s very tempting to delegate that task you’ve always hated (as in “it’s a s*%t job but I had to do it” – how motivating does that sound?) But it may be inappropriate to delegate it, wholly or in part. If you’re unsure what to delegate, you can try different approaches to decide what’s yours and what’s theirs. You can look back over the past two weeks or so at what you’ve actually done (Beware: what you actually did is not always the same as what was in your calendar! So refer to your timesheets or notebook for a reality check). Which of the tasks that you’ve done in the past few weeks are most commensurate with your pay or charge-out rate? Anything that’s worth less than you cost should be delegated.

Tip: if in doubt, create a prioritised list for discussion with your manager.

 

2. Prepare why, what, when

Don’t try to delegate on the fly – a dead giveaway is, “Could you just…?” or, “Can you have a think about…?” The recipient of this waffle could be forgiven for thinking it’s a) optional and b) not important. You may know why the task is important and where it fits in the bigger scheme of things, but don’t assume the person you’re about to delegate to will. Clarify this before you brief someone. What’s actually needed and how will it be used? When is the work needed and what interim deadlines will there be (such as when you review progress)?

Tip: gather examples wherever possible that you can both refer to throughout the process.

 

3. Delegate first

Don’t hang onto the tasks that you’re going to delegate until you’ve ticked off your to-do list for the day. Why? 1. You’ll be holding the rest of the team up. 2. You’ll get a reputation as someone who dumps things on people just as they want to head home. 3. You’ll probably have to re-run the delegation process the very next morning, wasting everyone’s time.

Tip: block out time for one-to-ones with the people you’ll delegate to.

 

4. Provide support

We all go through stages of mastering a skill, and an essential stage is what’s known as ‘conscious incompetence’. In other words, we struggle at first. If you’re holding off delegating a task to someone because you don’t think they have the skills, either teach them yourself or take action to get the individual trained in the skills they need.

Tip: don’t assume someone has all the requisite skills; ask people about their experience of doing something similar.

 

5. Remember that learners take longer

After ‘conscious incompetence’ comes ‘conscious competence’, meaning the skill is now being used, but it’s not yet fully in the muscle. This is like the new driver who can still hear the instructor’s voice saying “mirror, signal manoeuvre”. Rather than teach at this stage, you’ll both be better off if you switch from ‘tell’ mode to ‘ask’ – which means coaching. See ‘Ask or tell: which works best?’ That way you’ll transfer responsibility for taking action to your colleague as your skilful questions encourage them to think for themselves.

Tip: broaden your repertoire of coaching questions to encourage people to step up.

 

6. Monitor without meddling

If you’ve delegated a task effectively, you’ll have agreed upfront when and how you’ll be involved. For example, you may have agreed a time when you’ll review a first draft presentation. That’s when you can monitor progress and provide encouragement to keep the work on track. Resist (no matter how hard it may be) the temptation to look over others’ shoulders as they’re working.

Tip: if you’re prone to micro-managing, encourage team members to create a checklist or process map so that essential steps are agreed – then back off.

 

7. Reflect and review

When the task is complete, take a few minutes to discuss with your colleague how it went. What worked well? What didn’t work so well? What have they learned? What (if anything) will they do differently next time? What suggestions do they have for improving the task or process? If they’re unsure, offer options for discussion rather than spoon-feed them your way of doing things.

Tip: Encourage people to note their answers to reflect/review questions, the better to remember them later.

 

 

About the author

Dawn SillettDawn Sillett has been designing and delivering training workshops and executive coaching for over 15 years.

 

Author of: The Feedback Book

THE FEEDBACK BOOKMaintaining performance today is no longer simply about having an annual appraisal and telling employees “you must try harder”. Research demonstrates that regular discussions about performance and providing feedback to the people you manage is a more effective way to motivate them and keep them on track.Distilled into this single, handy-sized volume are 50 tips, advice and techniques to help any manager become quickly skilled at regularly discussing performance, setting goals and objectives and providing the necessary feedback to ensure individuals and teams thrive in the company. Structured into five key parts, each of the 50 concise chapters also contains a practical exercise to help the reader understand and implement the concepts and ideas of this book.

 

While acquiring new customers is a priority for many businesses, it’s certainly not cheap.

 

In fact, it can cost five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, according to Invesp.

Despite this, only 18% of businesses prioritise customer retention over customer acquisition.

Trying to grow purely through the acquisition of new customers without considering the customers you already have is like trying to get water from a well with a bucket full of holes: you’ll lose just as much as you’ll gain.

The obvious solution is to fix the holes first, but so many businesses are afraid of losing their perceived momentum that they put off doing this for as long as possible, not realising that it’s stunting their growth in the long term.

Investing in a ‘Customer for Life’ strategy is an effective way to reduce expenditure and boost profits. Research conducted by Bain & Company revealed that a 5% increase in customer retention rates can boost profits by between 25% and 95%.

 

“Return customers tend to buy more from a company over time. As they do, your operating costs to serve them decline. What’s more, return customers refer others to your company. And they’ll often pay a premium to continue to do business with you rather than switch to a competitor with whom they’re neither familiar nor comfortable,” said Fred Reichheld, founder of Bain & Company’s Loyalty Practice.

 

The bottom line is this: customer retention is good for your business and it’s more vital than ever in helping you succeed.

So, how do you go about turning those one-off window shoppers into brand ambassadors?

 

Measure customer retention

Peter Drucker, often hailed as the “father of modern management”, once said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

It’s a quote that has fast become the mantra of many a marketing director and it’s especially relevant when it comes to customer retention. If you’re not currently measuring how customers are interacting with your site over multiple visits or transactions, it will be impossible to see whether the changes you make have any effect.

So, the first hurdle you need to overcome is how to measure customer retention.

 

Track both new and returning customers

If you’re familiar with using analytics tools, you should use them to track two basic metrics: new and returning customers.

As a basic rule of thumb, you want both of these numbers to increase over time, but – since returning customers are more profitable – returning customer data is the one you’ll want to keep your eye on.

Set a benchmark based on the previous data, such as the number of returning customers you had last quarter, to measure against your current performance. That way, you can measure the impact of any new initiatives you might want to try.

If you haven’t used analytic tools before, there are a number of free options you can get started with, including Google Analytics and Open Web Analytics.

 

Identify points of difficulty in your customer journey

If it’s difficult to interact with your business, it doesn’t matter how good your products are: customers won’t buy them. You have to ensure that the entire journey, from browsing to buying, has as few hurdles as possible.

Take a look at the pages of your site where customers typically drop off the most; maybe it’s the page where customers are asked for their personal details. Then take a look at why customers might be leaving this page. Are there too many mandatory fields? Is it unclear what customers are meant to do once they’ve filled in their details? Is there a clear call to action?

You can use A/B testing tools like Optimizely and Unbounce to see whether the changes you make based off your observations help customers get to the next page.

 

Assess customer spend and transactions

Identify not only what your customers spend on an average purchase, but how much the average customer spends over the course of a year, or how many transactions they make.

You can use this data to establish your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – once acquired, how much does a customer spend with your company? Measuring CLV will give you a much better idea into how much a customer is worth to you and how much you need to invest in improving customer experiences.

 

Invest in experience

When Uber took the taxi world by storm, it did so by giving users an easier way to get a ride than had ever been available before. Millions of app downloads later, it’s a lesson in how making customers’ lives easier can lead to massive business growth.

Improving customer experience can ensure your customers transact with you again and again, even if it might be cheaper to go elsewhere: research from Oracle shows that 86% of users will pay more for a better customer experience.

That said, here are a few easy ways you can invest in customer experience.

 

Make it as easy as possible to buy from you

Basket abandon can be a big issue for businesses, so take a look at the analytics data of your   checkout journey to see how you can improve this experience for your customers. Are you asking customers for too much information? Is it unclear what they need to fill in and what they can skip?

 

Solve problems quickly

Customers will always have the odd problem that they need help with. It’s up to you to ensure that when they need help, they get it from you readily.

Add on-site live chat facilities across the site so that users can ask for help while they’re still thinking about purchasing from you. You should also include a help link in order confirmation emails so that if a customer has any questions about their order, they can talk to you about it straight away.

 

Spoil your customers

O2 users get priority tickets to gigs all around the UK. Amazon Prime users get free next-day delivery and instant access to thousands of films and TV shows. Nandos give their customers a free whole chicken on every tenth visit.

The reason these companies invest in rewards is because they work. Spoil your customers by offering them gifts, exclusive discounts or unique experiences and it’ll be difficult for a competitor to win them over on price alone.

 

Embrace complaints

If there’s one group of people who know what you could improve, it’s your customers.

Customer complaints often highlight key issues within the customer journey. David Ingram, Managing Director of Bring Digital, says that customer feedback is vital for retention and growth.

“It’s important to know as early as possible where you’re creating friction with your customers because this compounds over time. Find a way to get regular, honest feedback from your customers and use that to your advantage.”

Here’s how to get more customer feedback and start making the changes that matter most.

 

Be proactive

Don’t just wait for customers to leave you feedback – ask for it at every opportunity.

You can encourage more feedback with email surveys on the back of a customer’s first order and links to a preferred independent reviews website. Show customers that their feedback is valued by incentivising them; perhaps they could be entered into a prize draw or get a discount on their next purchase.

 

Say thanks

Once a customer has left their feedback – whether positive or negative – thank them for doing so. A great way to do so is by publicly thanking a customer on social media, or even sending them a personalised email.

 

Tell customers when you’ve made the changes they asked for

Don’t let the conversation end at ‘thanks’; you need to show customers that you’ve listened to them.

The only way to do that is with tangible action.

If you make a change to one of your products based on customer feedback, let them know. Get in touch via email or social media and highlight the original complaint and what you did to resolve it. Customers that see you making changes on their behalf will feel more valued and connected to your business, increasing the likelihood that they’ll come back to shop with you again – even if their last experience wasn’t positive. This positive interaction can also lead to customer referrals – helping you to save on new customer acquisition costs.

 

Make your customers the life of your business

Even in 2018, when technology appears to dictate everything we do, companies who make their customers feel valued are the ones that succeed.

So make it your year for measuring success, treating your customers better than your competitors and engaging with customer feedback and you’ll enjoy genuine long-term customer satisfaction that boosts your profits and puts you ahead of the rest.

 

About the author

Phil ForsterPhil Foster is Managing Director of Love Energy Savings, one of the UK’s leading energy comparison sites.

 

 

 

Organisations are set to be inundated with requests for personal information from UK consumers.

This is according to new findings from a study by Veritas Technologies. The multi-cloud data management company found that two in five (40%) are already planning to take advantage of their data privacy rights within six months of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Under the new GDPR, European Union residents will have greater control over their personal data.

Currently, EU residents already have the right to ask a company what personal data is held on them (e.g., gender, age, location, sexual preference, religious beliefs, passport/ driver’s licence information, etc.).

From May 25, 2018, they will also have enhanced rights to ask to have their data deleted – the ‘right to be forgotten’. Businesses will be required to sufficiently respond to these requests within one month of receiving the request.

The study, commissioned by Veritas and conducted by 3GEM, surveyed 3,000 adults, including 1,000 in the UK. It revealed that consumers are most likely to target the following industries with personal data requests:

 

  • Financial services companies, including banks and insurance companies (56%)
  • Social media companies (48%)
  • Retailers (46%)
  • Former, current or potential employers (24%)
  • Healthcare providers (21%)

 

“In light of recent events surrounding the use of personal data by social media and other companies, consumers are taking much more of an interest in how their data is used and stored by businesses across many industry sectors,” said Mike Palmer, executive vice president and chief product officer, Veritas.

“With a flood of personal data requests coming their way in the months ahead, businesses must retain the trust of consumers by demonstrating they have comprehensive data governance strategies in place to achieve regulatory compliance.”

 

The rise in data privacy requests

The forthcoming GDPR will impact any organisation that gathers, processes or stores the personal data of individuals in the EU. The research shows UK consumers welcome their enhanced privileges. Of those that intend to exercise their rights, two-thirds (65%) plan to request access to the personal data a company holds on them, while the majority (71%) intend to exercise their right to be forgotten under the new regulations.

The key drivers for exercising their data privacy rights are:

 

  • Increased control over personal data: over half (56%)of respondents don’t feel comfortable having personal data sit on systems that they have no control over.
  • A clearer understanding of what data companies hold on them: over half (56%) want to understand exactly what personal information companies hold on them.
  • Data breaches increase the likelihood of receiving requests for personal data: nearly half (47%) of respondents will exercise their rights to request personal data and/or have that data deleted, if a company that holds their personal information suffers a data breach.
  • Businesses are not trusted to protect personal data: over a third (37%) intend to exercise their data privacy rights because they do not trust companies to effectively protect their personal data.
  • Consumers want to put companies to the test: over a quarter (27%) want to test businesses to understand how much their consumer rights are valued before deciding whether to continue doing business with them.
  • Consumers want to get revenge:  As many as 8% will exercise their data privacy rights simply to irritate a company that they feel has mistreated them.

 

Meeting data privacy requests

Under the new GDPR, this influx of personal data requests will need to be answered by organisations within a one month time limit. But meeting this timeframe may be difficult as many organisations have limited visibility into what data they have and where it is located.

Most consumers do not expect organisations to be capable of fulfilling their requests under the new regulation. The majority (79%) believe that organisations won’t be able to find and/or delete all of the personal data that is held on them, and a fifth (20%) believe that businesses will only be able to deliver up to 50% of the personal data they hold.

“It’s imperative that businesses embrace technology that can help them respond to these requests quickly, with a high degree of accuracy. This means having the ability to see, protect and access all of the personal data they hold regardless of where it sits within their organisation. Businesses that fail to recognise the importance of responding effectively and efficiently to personal data requests will be putting their brand loyalty and reputation at stake,” added Palmer.

 

 

About Veritas Technologies

Veritas Technologies empowers businesses of all sizes to discover the truth in information—their most important digital asset. Using the Veritas platform, customers can accelerate their digital transformation and solve pressing IT and business challenges including multi-cloud data management, data protection, storage optimization, compliance readiness and workload portability—with no cloud vendor lock-in. Eighty-six percent of Fortune 500 companies rely on. Learn more at www.veritas.com or follow us on Twitter at @veritastechllc.

 

 

If you have a ‘hang-up’ about speaking in public I can empathise.

Up until recently, I blamed my dry mouth and other symptoms on my shyness. Certainly, all my school reports reinforced this assessment: ‘She should speak up in class’, ‘She would benefit from taking a more active part in group discussions’.

However, I now know that what I thought was ‘shyness’ for all those years was actually a predisposition to ‘introversion’.

Contrary to popular belief, shyness and introversion are not synonymous. Introversion refers to a particular way we energise ourselves. Whereas extroverts are energised by being around people, introverts can also enjoy the company of others, but this uses up their energy, so at some point they will need to take themselves away to recharge.

 

Introverted public speaking

A very experienced and accomplished public speaker taught me that authenticity is a key skill for all successful orators. So, rather than thinking of my introversion as an impediment, I started to actively look for ways to turn this trait into an asset.

Encouragingly, when I started practising public speaking in a safe and supportive environment, I discovered there were lots of ways to help channel my introverted behaviour and bolster my confidence. I have been developing my own ‘introverted public speaking’ toolkit ever since.

Here are six toolkit tips that I hope will be helpful to other introverts out there!

 

1. Preparation is Key

Take your time to prepare a structured and well-crafted speech, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Research your intended audience and make sure you structure the speech for their benefit rather than yours. This preparatory process is excellent for calming the nerves of an introvert, as it provides the infrastructure for a speech that acts like a virtual ‘comfort blanket’ for when you are both rehearsing and delivering your talk.

My first talk took eight weeks to construct, it now takes about four. Even though subject material can vary widely, I have identified certain themes and structures that work well for me, such as starting with an open question for the audience or including a call to action at the end of a speech.

 

2. Speak from the Heart

The world is full of great introverted public speakers, but their introversion is rarely noticed. Barack Obama is just one of many high-profile introverted orators who overcame public speaking anxiety by focusing on a central theme, cause or mission that had greater importance than his own nerves.

When you talk passionately about a subject, not only is the content easier to remember, but it helps you feel more confident too.

 

3. Practice Makes Perfect

Become familiar with the content, the pace and style of your speech, by practicing frequently. Include practice in front of a mirror, onto a mobile device and in front of a couple of carefully chosen friendly faces. This enables an introvert to convert their speech into a performance, allowing them to develop a suitable persona that gives them the necessary inner-confidence to step into the limelight.

I like to think of my public speaking persona as my more confident (and slightly extrovert) virtual twin – still recognisably me, but with a few less introverted characteristics. It wasn’t until I started recording my rehearsal speeches that I noticed crutch and filler words such as ‘err’ and ‘so’ and a rather subtle but annoying gentle smacking of the lips as I pondered my next points. I’m now working on reducing these.

 

4. Play ‘Let’s Pretend’

You can control the negative and catastrophising elements of your brain, by literally visualising helpful cues and positive images to create a more conducive environment in which to carry out your performance. This helps combat the natural tendency of introverts to want to escape from a position of vulnerability and exposure.

For one of my early talks, a more experienced public speaker shared a popular visualisation technique, to turn the heads of an audience into cabbages, but I found this too distracting. However, for me, I found turning them into friendly emojis made all the difference!

 

5. Keep Learning

Treat your public speaking engagements as ongoing learning opportunities. For me, public speaking is rather like trying to master a traditional craft that requires continual practicing, nurturing and refinement. This longer-term approach suits introverts well, as they have a tendency to be over-critical of themselves and can easily undermine their confidence at an early stage.

I have found it really useful to occasionally have a friend in the audience, tucked away from my direct line of sight, who can help me review my speech afterwards in a constructive way over a cup of coffee.

 

6. Remember to Re-energise

Both extroverts and introverts will experience a surge of adrenalin and be rewarded with dopamine when completing a successful speech. However, it is really important that, as an introvert, you recognise the drain this will have on your energy levels, so you must also build in quality time that allows you to re-energise afterwards, preferably away from others, so that you can recharge.

I re-energise with a good book curled up in a favourite armchair, but one of my introverted friends chooses to go on a long solitary walk, preferably in the countryside. A quiet hotel corridor works well too.

And, finally …

Recognise that introverts can give excellent speeches and presentations. By honing technique and taking every opportunity to practice introverts can do as well as their extrovert colleagues!

 

About the author

Kay HealdIntrovert Kay Heald is from Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org

 

 

 

Today’s workplace has evolved from people sitting in allocated desks to a much more fluid and flexible environment.

Many companies are now adopting an agile approach to how their workforce operates.

Through the evolution of technology and cloud adoption, professionals have the ability to work anytime anywhere.

This National Work From Home Day, we review how to ask for flexible working to improve your chance of having the ability to work anywhere at any time:

 

1. Propose a business case for yourself

When asking for flexible working make sure you build a case around the benefits it can provide your team and your work. This means explaining the advantage gained from allowing you to work remotely. For instance, talk about how flexibility at work could enhance your productivity.

 

2. Know what you want to achieve

In your request for flexible working, it is important to cover the specifics of your job. Outline the problem you are trying to solve and explain what you want to achieve. For instance, if you have a two-hour commute to work because you are travelling a long distance at rush hour, this can impact your productivity and overall energy levels. Outline the difference the benefits of flexible working will have on the overall success of your role and job satisfaction.

 

3. Build a good relationship with your employer

Often managers can be concerned that you may not be as focused on your work when you aren’t in the office and that your lack of visibility may be detrimental to the team. Having a strong working relationship with your manager and the rest of your team will help to alleviate any concerns.  When asking for flexible working, you have a higher chance of receiving a ‘yes’ if you are known to be a reliable, dependable worker who is productive and put in 100 per cent day after day.

 

4. Be honest

Being honest in the workplace is a good approach and it’s important to be open with your manager. If you do want to request to work remotely it’s important to demonstrate to your employer that you are still ambitious, enthusiastic and keen to do well in your current job, rather than seeking an escape from the realities of office life, so take the time to explain your reasons.

 

5. Be willing to negotiate

When asking for flexible working, make sure you are open to suggestions from your manager. One important factor to asking for flexible working is coming to an agreement with your employer, for example if you ask for flexible working two days a week be prepared to settle for one day a week to begin with.

 

6. Know your legal rights

If you feel uncomfortable about how to ask for flexible working or whether you will be able to, know that you have the right to ask. The law changed to allow all employees the right to request flexible working, rather than only parents and carers, as long as they have worked for the same employer for a minimum of 26 weeks. Of course, employers are not obliged to accept these requests, but they must at least consider them in a reasonable manner. But the fact the law exists in the first place shows how the government considers flexible working worthwhile, and good for employees and businesses alike.

If you take the time to consider all the factors above and build a strong case for yourself then you will be in a better position on how to ask for flexible working and increase your chances of receiving a ‘yes’ from your employer.

 

About the author

Matt Weston is Managing Director at Robert Half UK. Robert Half is a specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, creative and administrative professionals. roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.

Everyone deserves to be happy at work.

That includes you.

If you need more persuading, note that companies also benefit from having happy employees, in terms of both morale and a better bottom line.

Stress at work is a common problem – whether in the form of a demanding client, office politics or intense deadline pressure – and you need to know how to deal with it.

In line with mental health awareness week, its the perfect time to tackle stress in the workplace.

Robert Half conducted a survey in collaboration with Happiness Works to find out the secrets of the happiest companies and employees.

Here are our seven top tips for dealing with stress at work:

 

1. Manage your morning

How you begin your day often sets the tone for the rest of it. So, don’t walk into work frazzled because you’re feeling rushed and frustrated from your morning commute. Sound impossible? Make one or more of these changes and take note of the positive impacts:

Wake up 15 minutes earlier — and leave the house 15 minutes earlier — if you’re perpetually stressed about beating the clock.

Take the time to eat breakfast at home or bring grab-and-go options that you eat on the way to work or when you arrive.

Don’t get slowed down or stressed out by your smartphone. If you must check personal email or social media before work, build in time to do so and limit yourself to a set time period. It may even help to set a timer.

Try to stay calm during your commute. If you’re driving, give yourself ample time, find some tunes or a podcast that boosts your spirits and don’t let traffic stress you out. If you take public transport, bring along something that relaxes you or gets you in a positive mindset for the day.

 

2. Take periodic breaks

Even if you work long hours, short breaks can offer big health benefits. If you find yourself tethered to your computer for hours at a time, even eating at your desk, try setting an alarm to force yourself to get up at regular intervals. Go on occasional head-clearing strolls, preferably outside. Stretch and do some light exercise. Refill your water bottle. Meet a colleague in the break room for a chat. And choose healthy snacks that will give you sustained energy. If you stay ramped up on caffeine and sugar, you’re bound to crash, which will only amplify your stress.

 

3. Don’t skip annual leave or check email on holiday

True breaks are needed to fully recharge and recalibrate your approach to the job. Having your feet in the sand but your fingers scrolling through your Outlook calendar is not “disconnecting.” And while you may feel like taking time off will just make your workplace stress even worse when you return, studies have shown that people are happier and more productive when they take time off. If you truly lack the resources to take an extended break, schedule a few long weekends throughout the year or even a mid-week day off here and there to relax and focus on yourself.

 

4. Never let conflicts fester

Given the amount of time you spend with your colleagues, you’re bound to bump heads from time to time. The problem comes in when the tension is never addressed effectively. Try to nip problems in the bud. Stewing leads to stress, and you risk damaging your own career if you lack the ability to be seen as a team player. Remember: The end goal of conflict management is to resolve the problem, not to win.

 

5. Set some boundaries

Don’t constantly bring work home. Let that be the exception not the rule. Strive to end your day when you leave the office. If you feel pressure from your employer to be available 24/7, be honest about how that impacts your stress levels. Let your manager know that work-life balance is important to you, not only to reduce stress at work, but also to increase your creativity and productivity. Be upfront about what needs to change if you’re on the road to burnout.

 

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re working as hard as you can and still feel buried in projects, don’t suffer in silence. Your manager can’t help you if he or she is not aware of the problem. Before you set up a meeting, think of a few solutions you can suggest that would ease your pressure, such as offloading some of the work to a temporary or interim professional or adjusting deadlines. And it never hurts to try some different time management tactics or experiment with new ways to prioritize projects.

 

 

7. Enter your week with a positive attitude

Get the most out of your entire weekend so you can enter the workweek recharged and refocused. Before you leave work on Friday, straighten up your workspace, tend to any unanswered emails that threaten to nag you throughout the weekend and make a to-do list for Monday morning. Schedule time for activities and relaxation each day of the weekend. And don’t succumb to the Sunday night blues. If you find your stress levels rising Sunday afternoon, make fun plans for that evening to take your mind off your job. Otherwise, you risk not only jeopardising your personal time, but also waking up on Monday in a state of stress.

Stress at work is a career-long battle for many people, and it will inevitably ebb and flow throughout your life. For the sake of your health and happiness, it’s worth making the time and effort to keep it at bay.

 

 

About the author

Rachel Stockell is Senior Manager of OfficeTeam, Robert Half UK

 

 

 

Mental health is a subject which many employees still struggle to talk about in the workplace.

 

But it’s not an issue that can be swept aside and ignored.

Especially when you consider the figures found in an NHS report, which reveal that one in three sick notes handed out by GPs are due to mental health related problems.

Mental health is also considered a greater concern than physical illnesses for many UK companies, according to a recent Bupa study.

There has, however, been plenty of work done to raise awareness of this issue in the last few years, highlighting ways mental health can be tackled within the workplace. The Stevenson and Farmer Review, published last year, highlighted how Government and employers alike could better support employees struggling with mental health.

More recently, this conversation has attracted royal attention, with Prince William supporting the launch of a new workplace mental health initiative that provides online training tools, aimed at facilitating positive discussions between employers and employees.

With Mental Health Awareness week taking place between May 14-20, it seems like the perfect time for employers to review how they are managing mental health issues.

 

What steps can be taken?

If employees are unwilling to talk about mental health, it can be tough to identify when they are encountering difficulties and, therefore, offer the necessary support. Employers can pre-empt this by taking positive actions, however. They can demonstrate an understanding that some people may experience problems in the workplace and show they are prepared to offer support where possible. These steps might include:

 

1. Providing training

Some companies have been offering employee training programmes to increase knowledge about mental health amongst everyone in the workplace. WH Smith are one example of an organisation implementing a wellbeing strategy tackling this issue. They collaborated with Mental Health First Aid England to train their line managers as mental health first aiders.

With a programme such as this, employees can learn all about mental health and its effects. This will better equip employees to broach the subject with their colleagues. Those struggling with their mental health may also find it easier to talk to supportive staff members.

 

2. Spotting warning signs

Persistent absence or lateness may indicate an employee is struggling with the demands of work. It might be stress-related, induced by a heavy workload, or because problems at home are affecting performance.

Keeping a closer eye on attendance can be a first step to helping an employee. This data can flag up unusual trends and alert employers to problems that may otherwise be missed. Investing in technologies that can streamline analysis and provide automated early warning can help data work even harder. By being proactive and acting on this information, employers can give their staff an opportunity to talk about what problems they might be encountering. This would put the organisation in a better position to provide support if necessary.

 

3. Looking after wellbeing

If an employee is found to be struggling with their mental health, organisations could explore how their life can be made easier by reviewing existing working conditions. An employer could assess whether it would be possible to improve an employee’s work-life balance.

Would it be possible to adjust working hours or management structures to support the staff member, allowing them to make a meaningful contribution at work without jeopardising their wellbeing? Could flexible working options help reduce strain and allow the employee to gain access to external support when needed?

Proactively putting processes such as these in place will help employers to manage any potential issues when they occur. Hopefully, this will also reduce any stigma still surrounding mental health and encourage those who are facing difficulties to come forward and receive support.

 

About the author

Lisa Baggaley is HR Director at NGA Human Resources