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How to onboard new staff remotely

With many companies choosing to hire remotely in this current climate, we thought it would be a good time to look at how businesses can onboard new employees remotely. There is no doubt that fully remote working adds additional challenges to the onboarding process, so we’ve put together five recommendations on how you can make the process as smooth and effective as possible. Pre-boarding There is nothing worse than digital silence for a new remote hire so make sure you set clear expectations even before their first day. Enboarder reported that 53% of best-in-class businesses are more likely to begin their onboarding before a new employee's official start date. As a business you want your new hire to be effective as quickly as possible. This means sharing key documents, company values, culture, working hours, their exact role description or project expectations. If your business has regularly scheduled meetings, send a calendar over as this can help them feel immediately part of the team and prepared for day one. Setting them up Thanks to tools such as DocuSign or HelloSign, delivering contracts and employment documents is easy and secure. It’s important that this process goes quickly and smoothly to make the right impression on your new hire. Ensure that their IT peripherals show up early, as a late delivery means a delayed start for any new remote employee. Coordinate with your IT team to ensure they know exactly what your new staff member needs to be effective and make sure calls have booked in to support equipment set up where needed. Put together a care package of company-branded items, pens, post-its, tote bags etc. All things that show them that even though they may not be working at an office location they are very much part of your team. Introductions It’s always best to go big before you go small with introduction meetings so arrange for a team video conference on a platform like Zoom, Jitsi or Microsoft Teams before you move on to one-on-one meetings. A new hire is a big event for any team so it’s important to make sure everyone is involved. This will give them a feeling of how people interact and put some faces to names they might have come across already. Encourage managers to organise regular one-to-one meetings with your new employee to set specific goals and expectations. A survey but Enboarder confirmed that 72% of employees felt that the most important aspect of the onboarding process was one-to-one time with their direct manager. Assigning a mentor Research has shown that providing the new hire with a mentor who they can contact for advice or ask for support through their first few months at the company is invaluable. An onboarding mentor can improve productively, employee satisfaction and provide context where needed. There are a plethora of digital collaboration tools out there to aid mentor system implementation such as Slack, Basecamp, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams. Staying connected Out of sight should not mean out of mind so making an effort to keep your remote employees feeling connected and part of the team is vital. Organise regular check-ins to offer them a chance for them to express any concerns or for them to ask for further support. Forge a community within your teams to help all the members work together as one. This goes beyond work-related discussions and it can be very helpful for teams to organise virtual coffee breaks or provide them with an arena for day-to-day office chatter. There are many digital tools and techniques available for a business to craft a remote onboarding process that works with their brand and company culture. If you’d like to discuss remote onboarding further please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Recruiting remotely

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted every business sector to some extent – from simply embracing remote working as part of social distancing, through to the abrupt closure of hundreds of small businesses in the hospitality and leisure industries. We are also seeing unprecedented, rapid pivoting, as retailers focus on e-commerce over physical locations or restaurants become delivery specialists to deal with the majority of us staying at home. There are significant implications for every employer in every sector and every one of us working, and these in turn are naturally affecting the recruitment process. While some companies have understandably put a freeze on hiring until the outlook is clearer, many are continuing with their plans in an attempt to prevent a business slowdown, and as such are getting creative with their recruitment processes. At the time of writing, none of our clients have closed their doors completely, but have increased their existing remote working capabilities to ensure business continuity. Those who hadn’t rolled this out across the board are now seeing the immediate benefits of remote working and have brought forward plans that may have been pencilled in much further down the line. In the wake of the Government’s announcement this week of £350bn in support for businesses, we are seeing an optimism around continuity being the main focus, rather than survival. The finance function has a crucial role in times like these: modelling the economic impact to a business and ensuring continuity of payroll, for example, and technology means this can continue while they work remotely. Tech is also the solution when it comes to continuing with recruitment plans, with a number of organisations this week announcing a total move to online interviewing, led by tech giants Google, Amazon and Facebook. The adoption of video conferencing apps, including WeChat Work, Zoom and Slack, has risen nearly fivefold since the start of the year, and we are seeing first hand an increased use of Skype, Microsoft Teams, Hinterview and HireVue, most of which are a relatively minor cost to a business to ensure a seamless transition to a new form of communication. Some commentators are speculating that this trend for online interviewing, which was already underway, may have been escalated by two or three years to become the new norm even after the coronavirus issue. Online interviewing is additionally streamlining many companies’ recruitment processes by limiting the number of people involved and minimising the need for a mutually convenient diary window. Candidates aren’t forced to only speak out of office hours or find an excuse to be able to interview, and employers are finding this efficiency is reducing the average time to hire. For organisations who are continuing with their growth plans to retain a competitive edge, we are seeing a lot of risk and reward as employers lock down the talent now, without waiting for a face-to-face meeting. One key client of ours is starting their year-end process remotely at the same time as going through a merger, so their need for temporary and permanent finance professionals is greater than ever, and they have readily adapted to 1st stage phone interviews and 2nd stage video interviews, with positive results. As a genuine consultancy, we’re currently contacting all of our clients to offer advice and support on how they can continue to make hires remotely and discussing with them the benefits of implementing this way of hiring long term. We’re also in frequent contact with our candidates, coaching them on interview techniques that differ when performed over video, and reassuring them about keeping their career aspirations on track. If you would like any help on recruiting remotely, contact us today.

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Budget 2020: what can we expect?

The upcoming Budget statement on March 11 could be one of the most interesting in recent years, with a brand-new Chancellor under pressure from multiple sources to somehow increase spending without raising taxes – a feat the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said is not possible – as well as steer his first Budget towards the UK’s net zero carbon target. Rishi Sunak is working with the inherited fiscal aim of his predecessor to bring spending into balance by 2022, at the same time as his boss needs to forge ahead with significant spending, not only on the NHS, schools and social care in response to public demand, but also on infrastructure projects if they are to remain on track by the next election. The complicated elephant in the room is the Conservative election manifesto pledge of no increases in income tax, national insurance or VAT. These are the items on the Budget agenda that we think you’ll be particularly interested in: IR35 A subject we’ve blogged about before, IR35 is the controversial legislation coming into effect in April this year that requires companies to treat contractors working through a personal services company as employees. Despite widespread calls for a delay so that it can be rewritten, the Government has confirmed it is coming into force on time. It seems that the best its opponents can hope for in the upcoming Budget is leniency on its enforcement or possibly some amends to the finer small print to help either employers or contractors in some way. Digital tax: The previous Chancellor announced that there would be a new 2% turnover tax for tech companies with revenues of over £500 million coming in this April, but it remains to be seen whether the incumbent Chancellor will uphold this. Despite the prospective tax estimated to raise more than £400 million a year for the Treasury, the PM is wary that there is no international standard or comparable precedent in place, and furthermore the UK has yet to negotiate trade deals with the US, whose tech giants it will directly affect. Entrepreneurs’ relief: ER was introduced in 2008 to encourage entrepreneurialism in the UK by offering a capital gains tax break of 10% to business owners when they sell their shares, however it has only really benefitted the “staggeringly rich” large business owners, according to the PM. On top of that, its cost to the Treasury is £2.4 billion a year, opening a window for some serious savings. There’s an outside chance it could be abolished completely, though it is more likely it will be curtailed in this next Budget, possibly singling out industries such as tech and science to continue to benefit fully. Business rates: The Retail sector is hoping that the Government’s election manifesto pledge of reviewing rates is upheld in the Budget statement, with 130,000 small businesses that collectively pay £4.2 billion a year in taxes, writing to the new Chancellor to encourage reform. Business rates are a constant for any government, bringing in approximately £30 billion each year, but the long-running argument of them being paid by retail tenants rather than the landowners, might finally bring about a welcome change for retailers, particularly in light of the recent devastation of the UK’s high streets in general. Pension tax relief: Currently, tax relief on pension contributions matches the income tax brackets, but there is an option for the Government to make an extra £11 billion by making the relief less generous for those in higher tax brackets, potentially halving it from 40% to 20%. It would be a hugely divisive, controversial move, however, particularly unpopular among the Tory party’s typical supporters, so is perhaps unlikely to happen in the Budget. The knock-on effect, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, would be an increase in income tax for anyone earning over £50,000, something that the Government also wants to avoid. What are you hoping or expecting to see announced in the Budget? We’d love to hear from you.

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The Cost of Coronavirus on Retail & Hospitality

With the increasing number of confirmed diagnoses of Coronavirus spreading globally, it has become clear that it isn’t just impacting human health, but also the global economy and business community. This week, both the London and New York Stock Exchanges saw a significant drop in their indexes as a knock-on effect from the world’s second largest economy China and many other parts of Asia being the worst affected areas by the outbreak. It is now being forecasted by analysts that some of the worst affected industries in the UK will include hospitality chains and retailers. This will be largely due to a downturn in factory outputs in China, tighter controls on imports coming into the UK and quarantine efforts put in place to contain further spread of the virus. As a result, retailers will find that their supply chain will be negatively affected and struggle to meet demands, especially as additional areas outside Asia, including Europe and South America, are affected. The total number of countries with confirmed cases now stands at 30. Although the UK has only had a total of 15 confirmed cases so far, there are growing concerns in urban areas about hygiene, as well as the reduced levels of tourism due to existing and further potential travel restrictions which may reduce the number of consumers choosing to dine out or eat in public areas. However, as always in the era of 21st century business, organisations must continue to adapt to socioeconomic factors, and it will present positive opportunities for new suppliers and fluid businesses to continue trading with success.

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