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

How does writing your Employer Value Proposition helps to create a healthy workplace culture?

How does writing your Employer Value Proposition helps to create a healthy workplace culture?

EVP

What is an Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) and what does it mean? How does it differ from the Employer Brand (or EB) and why is it so important for companies to define and promote their EVP?

One way of defining the difference between the EB and EVP is to imagine the EB as an outward-facing marketing proposition and the EVP as an internal exercise that outlines the offerings provided by the company in return for the skills, experiences and capabilities an employee brings to the business.

The EVP is a strategic statement that defines how your business wishes to be perceived and outlines the company’s vision, mission and values. These are supported by the company’s offerings in terms of learning and development, career progression, benefits and remuneration thus shaping, supporting and giving credence to the EB.

The EVP and EB go hand-in-hand so that the experience matches the promise. Any mismatch between the two would undermine employee trust and engagement and no doubt lead to poor reviews on review sites such as Glassdoor.

A well-defined EVP can give employers a competitive advantage in the war for talent as candidates become more selective and discerning in their choice of employer. This is especially helpful if the business doesn’t have the budget to compete with the remuneration offered by its larger competitors. The EVP can promote other unique qualities that differentiate the business from its competitors, thus attracting the right talent.

An EVP should provide incentives that reward hard work and create a supportive, inclusive working environment.

According to research from Gartner, “Organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%”

So how do we go about developing an EVP?

This should not be a top-down exercise dictated by senior management since leadership teams will see things differently from employees. Developing an EVP should be an inclusive activity involving HR, management and employees to ensure that strategy, vision and working philosophy tie in with reality.

Use works councils where they exist or create focus groups that represent a fair and diverse cross-selection of all employees. Ensuring inclusion across different levels, functions and disciplines, will help to make sure that any subsequent messaging resonates within each target group.

Start by identifying all the benefits of working at your company and the unique strengths of the organisation versus its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, career progression, learning and development and culture.

This could be done as a focus group exercise and/or through the use of a simple questionnaire. Alternatively, consider using the results of the questionnaire as a basis for your focus group discussions.

When considering remuneration, it’s worth bearing in mind that a generous remuneration package does not always compensate for a poor working environment and a lower-than-average remuneration package will need to rely on other unique selling points to attract key talent. A pleasant and welcoming working environment is as important as remuneration. A comfortable workplace with good facilities, bright open spaces, breakout zones and stylish furniture can be a very attractive feature. Supplying free healthy foods and snacks is also a welcome offering.

Covid has changed the face of the working environment and more companies are adopting a hybrid working solution. Where this is not possible (i.e., in customer-facing roles such as leisure, fitness and hospitality), businesses are providing more flexible working solutions such as job sharing and condensed hours to attract target audiences who value flexibility and a healthier work-life balance.

Opportunities for career progression is also an attractive proposition for high potential individuals who are looking for challenge and growth. Many employers like to showcase success stories of people who have risen in the ranks and who have been encouraged and supported throughout their career journey from entry-level positions to senior-level roles.

Examining the company’s policies on training, performance development and promotions will give clarity on the company’s attitude towards career progression and growth and how the company supports this by providing opportunities for learning and development and supporting good performance management and development practices.

The culture reflects everything from human, social and even political issues. Identifying with the corporate culture can help candidates determine whether or not their values and beliefs are aligned with those of the company. If candidates share the same beliefs, attitudes and behaviours as those identified by the company, this gives them some reassurance of a harmonious working environment which could lead to a longer-term working relationship.

Other benefits can also cover aspects such as financial strength and constant growth, unique products and services and a strong commercial footing, reassuring candidates in terms of security, stability and longevity.

In each stage of the EVP definition process, consider how the company fairs against its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, culture and career progression. This will help to establish the company’s USP against the competition and promote aspects that are more generous or attractive than its competitors.

These exercises will help analyse and define the company’s strengths which will form part of the EVP and give it more honesty and credence.

Where can you go from here?

For inspiration, take a look at EVP statements from corporations such as Nike, Airbnb and Starbucks who have invested time and effort in establishing strong EVP statements, testimonials, quotes and blogs providing a diverse and varied view of life at their organisation.

By giving detailed descriptions that support a few key points, you can present realistic and honest EVP statements that support the recruitment, retention and motivation of employees and unite current employees under a common manifesto.

 

Why induction plays a key role in the recruitment process

Why induction plays a key role in the recruitment process

Recruitment

When does the recruitment process end? Is it considered done and dusted as soon as an offer of employment has been made and accepted, once the contract has been signed or when the new recruit arrives for their first day of work? 

The reality is that the recruitment cycle continues well into the employee’s first 3-6 months of employment whilst they undergo a thorough onboarding process. During this time, they will undertake any necessary training and have regular conversations with their line manager to discuss and review their performance.  

The recruitment cycle concludes once the new recruit has successfully completed and passed their probationary period. Therefore, when establishing a stable, long-term working relationship, the first few months are critical. 

Embarking on a new career can be an exciting, albeit daunting experience for new joiners. They are motivated, enthusiastic and keen to learn and to perform well. 

Induction is the most important part of forming the employee relationship. Welcoming a new joiner and making them feel included, respected and valued reinforces their feeling of wellbeing and alleviates any anxieties or concerns they may have. 

In addition, as more organisations are working remotely because of Covid-19, it is especially important to tailor induction programmes so new joiners have a positive experience and additional support to connect with new colleagues. 

However, induction can often be overlooked and rushed, leaving the new employee feeling unproductive and demotivated. Statistics show that up to 40% of new recruits leave within the first 6 months of starting a new job and the cost of a replacement, including fees and loss of productivity, can be up to £30,000* per head. After all the time and effort spent sourcing the right candidate, it is disappointing, costly and damaging to the business to have to start the whole process again. 

Like the strong foundations of a new high-rise building providing a safe and solid base for construction, a robust, well-planned and thoroughly executed induction will form the basis of a fully engaged and motivated employee who performs well, is highly productive and shows long-term commitment. 

Therefore, it is important to take time to carefully plan the induction process, ensuring that all key aspects regarding the business, the office, the role, the teams, the systems and processes are covered, that training is provided and regular feedback, encouraged. 

By setting a good first impression, new joiners will feel confident in their choice of employer and in their new role. 

Start the induction before they come onboard by sending a welcome pack with some goodies such as a personalised company mug or t-shirt, creating a positive feeling in connection to your company. Provide an outline of what they can expect on their first day/week/month of employment, so there are no sudden surprises. Include any company literature or media that gives the employee an informative and engaging introduction to the company, the business and its people.  Avoid bombarding the employee with too much information and ensure that any information you do provide is relevant to the employee and their employment with the business. 

Any pre-employment matters such as right to work and starter forms should be dealt with before the start date.   

Prior to their arrival, ensure their work space is set up and fully equipped, with all the necessary resources they need to hit the ground running. Where applicable, ensure their PC is connected and working properly, their email is set-up and that all furniture and equipment are in good condition.  

Some new employees have been known to spend their first few days setting up their own workstations, chasing log ins and passwords and setting up accounts. This is timewasting and unproductive. It is also frustrating and demoralising for the new joiner. 

Depending on the nature and size of the company, induction can be conducted by HR and the line manager as well as other directors and team members. The induction can be delivered in many ways, via a combination of individual and/or group talks and presentations, social media and/or other media resources.  

Some companies prefer to address practical matters as a priority, such as on-site health and safety, workplace compliance, facilities and IT, company benefits and policies. Others prefer to focus on organisation information, culture and values, role specific information and learning and development in the first instance, as this is the more interesting and engaging part of induction. In any event, avoid treating induction as tick-box exercise and keep it as informal and engaging as possible. 

There are many tools available to facilitate the sharing of information and improving internal communications and interactivity. An intranet app such as Actimo can be uploaded onto smart phones and used as an effective social media and company communication tool, introducing new joiners, sharing knowledge, company news and information.  

Implementing a peer buddy system enables new joiners to integrate and settle in more quickly. Introducing new joiners to key employees will also help them to better understand the organisation’s structure and key responsibilities across all teams. Organising regular social events encourages newbies to meet their colleagues and make new friends in a relaxed and informal setting. Some companies like to arrange fun activities specifically aimed at encouraging new recruits to meet the teams, such as inviting them to distribute beers and drinks during Friday night socials. 

The induction process should be evaluated to determine whether it is meeting the needs of the new recruits and the organisation. Providing opportunities for feedback at the end of the induction process and inviting ideas and suggestions for improvement is always good practice. 

As well as gathering feedback from new employees, its important to identify key measures of success of the induction process and evaluate the process against these metrics. Information from turnover statistics or employee feedback can also be used, particularly from those who leave within the first 12 months of employment.  

The kind of start they get off to is crucial to shaping their attitude to the company and their job, so planning an induction will be more than worth the effort involved. 

 

*ACAS – Oxford Economics
* Work -force insights arm of credit-reporting agency Equifax 2013 

 

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