2022’s mini budget update & what it means for you

2022’s mini budget update & what it means for you

Customer Journey

Here at Designated, we aim to help our clients succeed and to support this we are committed to sharing our expertise and experience. This week our team of accountants are available to help you make sense of last week’s budget and how it may affect you and your business 

If you’d like to have a more in-depth discussion with our finance team, get in touch with Vicky at: Vicky.garbett@designatedgroup.com 

Here is a quick budget overview from Vicky: 

The mini budget has come as a surprise to some, and a real shock to others. Reading all the newspaper coverage can cloud the raw details of the Government’s announcement, so here they are, with no fluff and straight to the point!

  • AIA will remain at £1,000,000
  • IR35 rules will be reformed, and tax codes will be reviewed
  • Income tax rate of 45% to be abolished next year, and income tax (lower threshold) to be 19p in the £1 from April 2023.
  • End of the 45p tax rate, paid by those earning more than £150,000, from April 2023.
  • 1p cut to the basic rate of income tax brought forward by a year to April 2023
  • No stamp duty to be paid on property purchases up to £250,000 and up to £425,000 for first-time buyers
  • Scrapping of the bankers’ bonus cap in a bid to boost the city
  • Reintroduction of VAT-free shopping for overseas tourists
  • Businesses based in 38 new ‘investment zones’ will have taxes slashed and will benefit from the scrapping of planning rules
  • Alcohol duty frozen from next year (estimated to be worth 7p on a pint of beer and 38p on a bottle of wine)
  • National Insurance contributions increase of 1.2% to be cancelled from 6th November 22
  • Cancellation of next year’s planned rise in Corporation Tax, will now remain at 19%

Designated are always here to support you, across all our services. Get in touch with the team to start your conversation. 

Phone: 020 7952 1460 Email: info@designatedgroup.com

 

How can a strategic business review help your practice excel?

How can a strategic business review help your practice excel?

360 BUSINESS REVIEW

When you are running your own business, how do you take a step back? To stop, evaluate, listen and learn from your customers and team?

Are the values and vision you hold dear, understood, and communicated to all your stakeholders and customers?

This is hard to do within your own business. Taking time away from the demands and stresses of “business as usual”, to pause and evaluate whether you are offering the best experience to your customers and your team, is important but also challenging. So how do you achieve this?

This is where a strategic business review comes into its own. Undertaking such a review will immediately help you to identify the strengths of your business, and pinpoint the weaknesses, creating an opportunity to highlight and rectify any problems before they become ingrained.

Most businesses conduct annual employee performance 360 reviews and find them extremely helpful with staff development and management, however, much greater value is to be had from running a whole business review, covering both your client’s and employees’ experience of working with your company. The process of looking at every aspect of your company, by reviewing each part of the structure from the top down, will reveal exactly how your business is perceived and identify any gap with your own view of how you want to be perceived.

What is a business review?

A business review evaluates key aspects within your business that are pillars of its success, through an in-depth audit and interviews with key stakeholders. The process is usually managed by an external partner, covering areas such as:

  • Business objectives
  • Vision, Mission and Values
  • Service offering
  • Key sectors
  • New business strategy
  • Marketplace perception
  • Your people – staff engagement
  • Client experience

The output of the review is a comprehensive report, providing evaluations and recommendations that engage your team, identify your ideal clients and ensures your brand messaging and values are woven throughout all of your company communications.

One of the benefits gained by a business review is the feeling of inclusion amongst your employees, while contributing to creating a more positive workplace.

The report

From the answers obtained in the interviews, the review of supporting documentation, clarifications and from research, an extensive report is produced, which addresses all the areas above and summarises your successes and challenges in each area and provides recommendations to improve, including, but not limited to:

  • Competitor analysis
  • A review of your brand messaging and story and suggestions on your messaging going forward
  • A full website audit
  • A review of all your communications, social media, marketing collateral, pitch/presentation documents
  • Development of user persona’s for your target audience
  • A ‘secret shop’ to experience your customer journey
  • Results from a staff engagement survey to inform Values and identify any areas for improvement

The report concludes with recommendations for all the key areas: – Business strategy, customer experience, your people, brand messaging and marketing strategy and activity. It will also provide a 3-month marketing plan that incorporates your Brand Strategy, which can be implemented at your own pace.

Tough read

Any review you undertake can be a difficult read, as it will enable you to uncover issues you were completely unaware of. The process and findings can feel quite personal as your business is your passion. The key is to thoroughly evaluate the results and make changes where necessary.

A review can broaden your view of your company, clients, workplace and employees and steer you away from assumptions. It allows you to identify the improvement opportunities within the business and create a strategy to implement them.

The idea of any review can seem daunting and the results can be brutal and difficult to accept, but it can be a very useful way of identifying issues and weaknesses before they become a real problem affecting business performance. When managed properly, the results can lead to changes that ingrain best practices within every layer of the business and ensure that your employees and clients feel listened to and valued. The most important part of any business is the employees and ensuring they are all on board with the values and ethos of the business allows the company to develop and flourish in its given field.

 

If you would like to find out more about our Designated Business Review, please do get in touch:

Michelle Wheeler, Marketing Director, michelle@designatedgroup.com 020 7952 1460

Why is it important to understand your customer journey?

Why is it important to understand your customer journey?

Customer Journey
In today’s world, consumers are more informed than ever before. They have a range of tools to help them with decision-making when it comes to buying a product or service, which is why it’s important to understand how your company (brand) is perceived and the reasons why.

Company perception is driven by a range of different things for consumers and they will see and experience different things depending on where they are in their purchase or research journey.

For example;

  • How easy is it to find you on the internet or social media?
  • Do you look credible and trustworthy?
  • Can they find your contact details?
  • Do you answer the phone or emails?
  • How do you correspond with clients
  • What do others think about you?
  • If you’ve used them before have they remembered you?

So, customer experience is key to business success, because if you give the customer a positive experience then they will remember you and become an advocate for your business. A loyal customer is a more profitable one because they will promote your business free of charge and return to you in the future! If they have a poor experience, then they will tell everyone and anyone who will listen which can be very damaging, especially when it’s broadcast across social media.

That is why understanding the customer journey is so important. Knowing that all the customer touchpoints for your business are on brand and up to date and that your internal processes are set up to truly deliver a positive customer experience.

A typical customer will research and evaluate your company and your competitors before deciding whether to purchase a product or service. By understanding this journey, and the influencing factors that help with their decision-making, you can better position your product or service to meet their needs as well as deliver a positive experience throughout the process.

 

Typically, consumers go through 3 different stages before making a decision.

1. Awareness stage – a consumer is looking to solve a problem
During this stage, a consumer will be researching and looking for educational information about the problem they want to solve or the need that they have.
At this stage, consumers will be looking at these channels; Google searches so SEO is important at this stage, website, Google My Business, social media and any advertising.

2. Consideration stage – a consumer is considering options to solve the problem
During this stage, consumers will be reading what you offer on your website and competitor websites to see who offers what. They may also be reading articles and case studies. Most importantly consumers will be looking to understand what other people think of you so they will be influenced by testimonials either on your website or on trusted customer satisfaction websites e.g. Trustpilot etc.

3. Decision stage – the consumer evaluates and decides on the business that will help them solve the problem
At this stage, they will make contact with the company, either by email, telephone or through the contact form on your website. This is the stage where internal processes are key to ensure the consumer experiences a good customer experience and finds out any specific information they require. They are kept up to date and informed about the service or product they are interested in and feel valued.

Just as important as the 3 stages above, is the post-purchase/service experience, which is when you can really make a customer feel valued and turn them into a loyal customer. This is the time to ensure you have all the relevant contact details and GDPR compliance to make sure you can keep in touch with the customer in the future either through newsletters or emails.

Capturing customer satisfaction through surveys or testimonials is also important for your business. If they’ve had a positive experience then they will become an advocate and give you a good customer satisfaction rating or testimonial which money can’t buy!

What to do now?
So now is the time to review all the customer touchpoints for your business, and make sure that all your customer-facing marketing channels are up to date and relevant. Review your internal processes so that you understand what happens when someone gets in contact with you and how is it managed internally to ensure they receive a positive customer experience.

This is the customer journey and by understanding all of the elements that contribute to this, you will be able to successfully grow your business and ensure it is better than your competitors and deliver a positively memorable customer experience.

If you would like to find out more about how Designated can help with understanding your customer journey, please do get in touch:

Michelle Wheeler, Marketing Director, michelle@designatedgroup.com 020 7952 1460

Recruitment: Applicant Tracking Systems – pros and cons

Recruitment: Applicant Tracking Systems – pros and cons

Diversity and Inclusion

An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a software application that helps manage your recruitment workflows.

It streamlines the entire recruitment cycle from posting jobs onto numerous websites, to receiving, filtering and screening applications, sharing candidate details with multiple stakeholders, communicating with candidates, scheduling interviews and giving candidate feedback.

Some ATS can also integrate with other HRIS to generate new employee records, prepare employment letters and contracts, start online induction processes and add new starters to payroll, thus reducing the admin workload and ensuring that all the proper hiring steps are followed in a timely and accurate manner.

ATS have mostly been used for volume recruitment, but an increasing number of SME’s are now using them to facilitate their recruitment activities.

When all works well, an ATS can make life much easier for recruiters, saving time and reducing costs.

In recruitment, speed is of the essence, and a good ATS can help speed up the hiring process by reaching out to candidates more quickly, retaining their interest and motivation so you don’t lose out.

It can also produce a shortlist of candidates with screening tools that enable you  to set out skills, education and skills requirements, allowing you to focus on candidates who meet the necessary criteria.

However, be aware that this process can also run the risk of missing out on good candidates who have a different accreditation that is equally valid but may not be recognised by the system.

Other faults may be caused by applications being rejected if the scanner is unable to fully read CVs or fails to recognise the format.

If the system malfunctions or times out when the candidate is completing their application, is incompatible with certain browsers, is difficult to access from mobile devices or is tedious to navigate, candidates may become frustrated and give up altogether.

On the plus side, interviews can be scheduled easily and more promptly, follow up emails sent in batch and reminders set, reducing the number of hours spent in labour intensive and repetitive processes, freeing you up to focus on interviews.

If your hiring process involves multiple stakeholders, the ATS can facilitate communication and collaboration by allowing users to access candidate profiles, make notes, leave ratings or check where they’re at in the pipeline.

Crucially, an ATS allows to you to immediately contact those that have not been successful, helping you to follow best practice and promote your reputation as a good employer.

The metrics produced by the ATS can help you to measure and analyze your recruitment statistics such as time to hire, cost per hire, most successful job sites and acceptance rates. This will enable you to make continuous improvements in your search for talent.

It can act as a repository for storing all your recruitment-related information and retains candidate records for the future in the form of a talent database.

You can create a GDPR-compliant talent pool of good candidates who may have been unsuccessful first-time round, enabling you to reach out to them as soon as another suitable position becomes available.

However, be aware of your candidates’ rights in relation to their personal data and ensure that your team has the right processes in place to manage candidate requests effectively and in line with the GDPR requirements.

Under GDPR, recruiters need to respond to candidate requests, such as updating or erasing their details, within one month and be able to prove when or how they have actioned a request.

Provide candidates with your privacy notice explaining how you process personal data when collecting information. This also applies to all candidates, including those who apply indirectly via recruitment agencies or social media.

Under GDPR, candidates will have the following rights of access:

  • To obtain confirmation that their data is being processed
  • Access to their personal data
  • Access to any other information relating to their data.

Any requested information must be provided free of charge unless otherwise stipulated in the ICO guidance, and within one month of the request being submitted.

If a candidate asks you to correct or update their personal data, you must do so within one month. If you have shared the personal data with other parties, you must also inform them of the update.

Candidates can also request the deletion of their data although you can refuse the request in accordance with ICO guidance.

Transparency is the key principle of the GDPR and an ATS can build an audit trail of when candidate requests have been met, providing a clear history of all communications.

Storage limitation is another core principle of the GDPR, and proper steps must be taken to ensure you don’t retain your candidates’ data for any longer than is necessary. An ATS can set up an alert system warning you when a candidate is approaching their data retention limit. Their details can either be archived (if appropriate) or completely removed from the system.

Should you ever be audited or receive a candidate complaint, you need to be able to access the associated data quickly and simply and an ATS can make this process fast, simple and reliable.

The right ATS will also provide confidence in where and how your data is hosted, ensuring you do not breach any significant data storage requirements.

If this all sounds too complicated, remember that the pros can easily outweigh the cons, and a reputable ATS will provide you with the necessary tools to manage your recruitment processes effectively, professionally and ethically.

Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion is at the heart of every business agenda. Now more than ever, HR professionals need to demonstrate the ability to develop D&I strategies to attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

In addition to the moral importance of adopting an inclusion strategy, a study conducted by McKinsey and Company found that businesses with a diverse workforce performed 15 -35% better than the national industry median. In another study, they also found that companies with gender diversity at the executive level were 21% more profitable than their less diverse competitors.

 According to a white paper prepared by Robert Walters, 85% of employers said that increasing diversity in the workforce was a priority. Yet only 46% do not have programmes in place to attract diverse candidates.

When attracting and recruiting a diverse workforce, posting the company’s policy on D&I is simply not enough. Actions and results speak louder than words.

So, what can businesses do to ensure that they are not just paying lip service to D&I and taking positive action?

 

Recruitment tools, resources and techniques

When working with recruitment consultants, ask recruiters to provide a diverse network of candidates. Team up with consultants who have an awareness of current diversity and inclusion best practice and who can demonstrate a credible track record of building diverse candidate pools. Including diversity in your SLA with clear objectives and outcomes and highlighting the commercial implications if these are not achieved, is also a powerful lever in ensuring your diverse recruitment needs are met.

Job ads can be more carefully worded to ensure that the language targets a diverse background of candidates. Proofing tools such as Textio or Unitive can help ensure your job posts and recruitment material covers all social groups, by identifying words or phrases that may subconsciously put off professionals from certain backgrounds from applying.

Using social media as well as LinkedIn to promote your recruitment can also expose you to a wider and more diverse audience.

Other tools such as gamification can help identify skills that may not normally be assessed through traditional techniques. It can also attract skilled candidates who may otherwise be discouraged from applying.

Extending recruitment fairs to non-graduates will expose your company to a wider range of potential talent that may not have academic experience but can demonstrate the right skills, capabilities and behaviours to successfully fulfil the needs of the role.

Consider how accessible your business website is to disabled users. One way to do this would be to have it tested by a group of users with different disabilities such as visual or hearing impairments, motor and cognitive disabilities, then make any adjustments where necessary.

Referral schemes offer a good incentive for existing staff to refer new candidates to the business. However, whilst this is a cost-effective aid to recruitment, be aware that it could also add a risk of unconscious bias through the perpetuation of a particular candidate type or background.

Unconscious bias is an unquestioned or automatic assumption about an individual, usually based on positive or negative traits associated with a group they belong to. In recruitment, unconscious bias prevents the recruiter from treating candidates as individuals and making automatic assumptions about the suitability of the candidate based on factors that are non-role related such as age, gender or background.

Some techniques for overcoming unconscious bias during recruitment involve providing anti-bias training for recruiters and hiring managers. Helping recruiters and hiring managers to identify areas where they may have their own unconscious biases, will help them to approach recruitment in a more fair and objective manner.

Removing certain information from CVs that are not relevant to the role, such as the name and gender of the applicant or the name of the school, college or university, channels the recruiter’s attention to focus solely on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

Having CVs assessed by a wide range of stakeholders across the business, including staff at the same level of seniority as the candidate, provides a broader and more objective range of perspectives on the candidate’s suitability.

Avoid hiring decisions being made by one individual as this will allow unconscious bias to subtly filter out certain types of candidates who may be capable of performing the role. Include a range of stakeholders in the process to ensure fair and objective decision-making. Ensure any hiring decisions and rationale are clearly documented and transparent so that they can be easily reviewed, challenged or defended.

Finding diverse candidates for senior-level roles can be more challenging as the skills and experience required at that level is more specialised and the membership of certain professionals can be less diverse.

This creates a significant obstacle to achieving a diverse leadership team and there is a clear lack of diversity in business leadership as a whole. In order to create a more diverse workforce at senior levels, recruiters should be open to considering candidates from a variety of professional, industrial and national backgrounds who possess transferable skills, as well as considering candidates from overseas.

Mentoring can help junior employees from all backgrounds to develop into senior-level roles and encourages the nurturing of future talent from within the business. Providing training and development opportunities to all employees for future leadership roles is also an essential long-term solution.

Mentoring schemes that partner with other organisations can help improve diversity for senior management by allowing high potential staff from diverse backgrounds to connect with mentors who are also from diverse backgrounds and who can offer advice and support for their professional career development.

Onboarding can easily be overlooked as a key component to promoting D&I. Communicate your D&I goals to new employees and share any survey results, targets and action plan to demonstrate the company’s commitment.

Invite a diverse line-up to deliver the induction programme so that new joiners feel more welcomed and can see where they can succeed.

Finally, collating, preparing and analysing accurate and relevant metrics can help pinpoint any issues in recruitment and diversity. Hard facts will build support amongst stakeholders and assist in the implementation of any necessary changes in recruitment processes to ensure best practice measures.

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