Derek Smalls - Thursday 08.10.15, 07:02am
Commenting on Tesco’s decision to move to standard payment terms across its supply chain, John Allan, National Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“We are pleased to see Tesco has listened to our arguments, and made improvements to its payment practices towards its smaller suppliers. The new standardised and clearly defined payment terms should provide a far more reasonable payment framework for small firms. It will allow them to have more confidence when doing business, giving them the ability to plan ahead more effectively.
“Recent FSB research shows that late payment has resulted in a third of its members (32%) paying its own suppliers late with three in 10 saying it has affected their ability to grow. We hope today’s announcement will go some way to easing the pressure on the supply chain and that other big companies will make similar changes to their payment terms.”
Derek Smalls - Monday 05.10.15, 09:07am
National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour will impact small businesses
Following the announcement of a new National Living Wage for the over 25s, a survey of employers has found significant numbers of small businesses concerned about the impact the new wage rate will have on their businesses. Many are planning to slow job creation, raise prices or postpone or cancel planned investments to compensate for the higher statutory rate.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) research found well over a third (38%) of small employers expect the new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour to negatively impact their business when it comes into force in April 2016. When asked to consider the projected rise in the National Living Wage to at least £9 an hour by 2020, over half (54%) said it will have a negative impact. Just six percent of businesses thought the policy would have a positive impact on their business when it is implemented next April.
Businesses in the wholesale and retail sector, and those working in accommodation and food services, are most likely to say the National Living Wage will have a negative impact. In addition, businesses in Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Wales and the South West are among the most likely to cite a negative impact.
Today the FSB has also published its latest Cost of Employment Index. The Cost of Employment Index is a comprehensive model of wage and non-wage costs for small businesses across a range of sectors. The model estimates that for a small retail business with six full time staff aged 25 or over and earning the current adult minimum wage, the National Living Wage will cost an extra £5,900 a year from April 2016.
Annual labour costs for this business stand at approximately £127,700. Even after claiming the higher Employment Allowance (which is set to rise to £3,000 next year), these costs are set to rise to £133,600 in April 2016 due to the National Living Wage. In other words, the £3,000 of potential savings to employers from lower national insurance contributions will reduce the £8,900 higher wage costs incurred in this case, but will still require this employer to find nearly £6,000 to cover the additional costs. This takes place just six months after employers have already increased wages due to the increase in the minimum wage on 1st October 2015.
Edwin Huxley - Monday 28.09.15, 11:32am
The way people think about work is beginning to change. As employers, we must also adapt to changes in our environment, or we risk extinction. Think for a moment about how you reward your employees. Is it likely to result in long-lasting loyalty and high staff retention rates?
If the answer was “no”, you might want to think about adopting an approach similar to the one used by Reuben Singh in his alldayPA call centre business. Based in Salford, alldayPA is primarily a phone answering service that enables business to stay in touch with the customers around the clock. It’s a giant leap forward in customer service compared to low quality solutions such as voice mail.
If you know anything about call centres, you’ll probably know already that in general they have a terrible reputation as bad employers. Where alldayPA stands out from the pack is that Singh has put in place a system that provides genuine performance incentives, and which properly respects staff as team members rather than mere serfs.
The most important innovation in the approach to Human Resources Management at alldayPA has been to adopt a more inclusive attitude to determining how staff will be compensated. This means involving them in the decision process, and making use of the democratic system to ensure that everyone is satisfied that the outcome is fair. The brilliance of this strategy is obvious—nobody can complain about conditions that they have negotiated for themselves. Free from the need to grumble and complain, employees can focus on work instead, which must result in increased productivity.
But the more important reward to the employer is that staff will actually feel better about their jobs.
This means you should expect increased loyalty and less likelihood that staff are seeking out other opportunities. This is important because replacing competent staff is always expensive. It is much better to encourage employee loyalty in any job where some level of skill is required to perform the core tasks.
Apart from the costs related to recruiting and training new employees, it is usually the case that it takes a while for the newly hired employee to “find their feet” in the job, so long-term employees are valuable assets because they are typically more productive and need less assistance.
The best part of Singh’s strategy is that it doesn’t really cost more. Rewards are aligned with performance, so more productivity results in greater profits for both the business and the employee (a win-win situation), and the employee feels valued.
Employers should always strive to cultivate a positive attitude from staff, and this begins from showing respect to those who work for you. Without them, your business could not survive, so it is important to let them know that they matter to you.
Of course not every employee can be expected to be retained. Staff do leave for a variety of reasons, some of which are beyond our control. But one thing is certain—and alldayPA is an excellent role model to emulate for this—creating a positive work environment where staff feel valued will return much greater value to you as an employer in the form of better productivity and higher staff retention rates.
Derek Smalls - Saturday 12.09.15, 10:03am
An innovative IT project between two North East companies – Technology Services Group (TSG) and Home Group – has prompted a fact finding visit from the Australian office of Nintex, the global standard in workflow automation, who created the workflow and forms technology on which the project is based.
IT specialists TSG configured a system for housing provider Home Group’s customer services centre to deal with in-bound calls from its 120,000 customers efficiently. To enable immediate use the system was initially deployed as a cloud based solution on Microsoft Office 365 before being migrated across to Microsoft SharePoint to fit in line with Home Group’s preferred on-premise IT strategy.
The assembled system is integrated with advanced workflow and forms developed on the Nintex platform. These will help Home Group gain and interact with all of the necessary information required to act appropriately on each call and effectively service every customer.
“Home Group is using Nintex workflows and forms with SharePoint to increase the productivity of its Customer Service Team and better serve its customer base,” said Nintex’s VP of Partner Strategy & Programs Josh Waldo. “The Home Group team is also using Nintex forms as a step-by-step discussion guide when speaking to customers which is a great new use case for the technology.”
The creative use of Nintex workflows and forms prompted recognition for both Home Group and TSG. Home Group were recently crowned “Team of the Year” at the National Contact Centre awards while TSG have been nominated for the “Solution Innovation Award” at Nintex’s 2015 Annual Partner Awards.
Donna Middleton, Home Group’s Director of Customer Experience said: “The knowledge management solution is proving hugely beneficial saving Home Group a lot of money and time in training up the call handlers. Our ability to get an issue resolved first time has improved massively which in turn reduces the costs of having to revisit properties.
“Previously if a plumbing related problem came through the solution offered to the customer could have been different depending on the level of experience of the call operator. The new solution now empowers our call centre staff with the confidence they can deal with any call that comes in regardless of their level experience or what the problem is.”
The possibility of empowering customers is also being explored by making the forms available on Home Group’s website so they can self-serve with any issues to reach a solution.
Edwin Huxley - Tuesday 28.07.15, 12:33pm
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