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You’ve heard of the phrase ‘You have to speculate to accumulate’, which is definitely true in business. When running a business, there are some areas in particular in which you should invest to help you take it to the next level. Below, we take a look at some of these areas and the importance of putting your cash into them for the business. 

Important areas of business you should invest in

Although it’s essential to keep your costs down so you can make a decent profit when running your business, there are some key areas that it makes sense not to skimp on. Here are some important parts of your business to invest in:

Marketing

Marketing is one of those areas it’s tempting to neglect if your business is already successful, but it’s indispensable to invest a healthy amount in your marketing. You should be publishing a blog, active on social media and conducting SEO work on your website. 

Marketing is essential because it gets the word out about your business. People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you’re out there. Your marketing, thanks to the income-generating asset that is your business website, can also help you earn money while you sleep. 

In the form of your content marketing, you’ll be building your brand and strengthening your authority. You stand more of a chance of making a sale if a potential customer is already familiar with who you are and what you do.

Training and coaching for employees

Your employees are the cornerstone of your business and need to feel valued if you want them to perform at peak efficiency. Investing in training and coaching for them places them on the road to success in their own careers, which, in turn, generates success for the company as a whole. 

Helping employees develop new skills can reduce turnover because, rather than hiring new employees, you can equip your existing ones with extra skills. This not only builds their confidence in their ability to perform their role but can increase their loyalty as they see that the business appreciates them.

Yourself

If you’re the business owner, you can become so focused on investing in the different aspects of your business that you forget to invest in another important aspect: yourself. Your company is an extension of yourself, your goals and your community and is your livelihood. You can’t afford to stay static, so take some time to study trends, do some courses and build new skills. All of this will enable you to steer the ship even more effectively than you already have been so far. 

Cybersecurity

A firm investment in cybersecurity, such as Perimeter 81 SASE solution for businesses, is critical. Failing to do so can come at a high cost. Depending on the size of your company, the losses can run into the millions and the embarrassment can be huge, whereas making this necessary investment can turn out to be the cheaper option.

Importantly, solid cybersecurity creates trust in your brand. A reliable cybersecurity system is a major selling point. You can’t put a price on being able to guarantee the security of the client’s data and your investment will generate a buzz. Clients will reward you with good reviews via word of mouth, doing the sales and marketing for you, and making additional purchases or investments in your business or offering.

Customer support

The support team is the customer’s first point of contact when they have an issue, so it’s important to have a responsive team that will solve problems as soon as they emerge. If you don’t solve problems quickly, this could do serious damage to your credibility as you could receive bad reviews online. 

Investing in some good artificial intelligence could help to ease the burden when it comes to dealing with customer enquiries. Doing so will save you time and also save face, making the investment worth it. 

Human resources

When operating a business, you need people who have experience in growing businesses, so you’ll need a solid human resource (HR) team who have the knowledge and skills to hire the right candidates. A good HR team will keep the hiring process fair, take the burden of the hiring process off you and weed out any employees who aren’t right for the business. They may also take care of any dismissals necessary, an unpleasant hazard of management but one which HR professionals will have the experience to do if the manager isn’t up to the task.

Research and development

A research and development department is one last team you should invest in. If you want to break into a new market or even make a general business breakthrough, these are going to be the people to help you do it. These are solution finders for your business. 

Naturally, when running a business, you’ll want to keep your costs low, but some areas are worth the extra investment. That investment may seem a lot at the time, but further down the line, it will pay dividends. 

One area that is often overlooked is procurement. Procurement can be a complex process, but you can optimise it for your business with the right tools and strategies in place. Here's how you can do just that.

Research And Understand Procurement Terms

The first step to optimising your business's procurement process is researching and understanding the different terms associated with it. This will help you identify the right tools and strategies for your company. For example, if you're not familiar with the term procurement spend analysis, you won't be able to manage your company's spending properly.

You should also learn to differentiate some simpler terms and comparisons like invoice vs. purchase order. Invoices are what you receive from vendors after making a purchase. On the other hand, a purchase order is an agreement between your company and a vendor that outlines the terms of a sale. By understanding these terms, you'll be able to manage your company's procurement process more effectively.

Create A Procurement Policy

Once you understand the basics of procurement, you can create a procurement policy for your company. This policy should outline how your company will approach and handle procuring goods and services. Some factors to consider when creating your procurement policy include:

By having a procurement policy in place, you can ensure that your company is getting the best possible products and services at the best possible price.

Evaluate Your Vendors

It's important to periodically evaluate your vendors to ensure that they still meet your company's needs. When evaluating your vendors, some considerations include:

By evaluating your vendors, you can ensure that your company gets the best possible products and services at the best possible price.

Train And Educate Your Workforce

Your employees play a vital role in the procurement process. They are the ones who will be using the products and services that your company purchases, so it's essential that they are properly trained and educated on how to use them. By ensuring that your employees are knowledgeable about the products and services they will be using, you can help to optimise your company's procurement process.

Up Your Negotiation Game

To optimise your company's procurement process, you need to ensure that you are getting the best possible prices for the products and services you are procuring. This means you need to brush up on your negotiation skills when you're entering new procurement negotiations. There are a few key things to keep in mind when you're negotiating with suppliers:

Optimising the procurement process can be challenging and time-consuming, but it's worthwhile to ensure that your company is getting the best possible deals on the products and services it needs. By following the tips above, you can be sure that you're getting the best value for your money.

 

Beyond any throwaway lines, the indisputable truth is that data is now critical to the way most organisations operate. How it is collected, stored, analysed, understood, and actioned is fundamental to the delivery of a vast array of products and services. The finance industry is no exception; in fact, it is perhaps more reliant on large quantities of data than many other sectors. But there is a problem – one that many financial services companies will be acutely aware of. Finding employees with the requisite skills and experience to work in specialist data roles, or at least handle data within their wider remit, is extremely difficult.

A government report from last year sought to uncover the extent of the problem across the UK. It spoke to 1,045 businesses, finding nearly half (48%) were trying to recruit for data roles, and a similar number (46%) were struggling to find candidates. The study estimates that there are currently around 250,000 jobs that require hard data skills.

Focusing on the finance world, the UK’s Financial Services Skills Commission recently found that 92% of its member firms had hard-to-fill vacancies in 2021. Moreover, data and analytics roles were the main priority for finance companies in terms of their hiring plans this year.

Top 5 skills clusters affected by gaps

Data skills must be omnipresent

We should not be surprised to see data and analytics ranked as the priority skills gap that financial services firms want to address. After all, there are two converging trends at play here: on the one hand, the volume of data that businesses are either gathering themselves or able to access from third parties is exploding; on the other hand, data is now becoming interwoven into all business departments.

Unlike a web developer or software engineer, data skills are far more likely to be required among, say, someone working in marketing, customer insight, product development or risk analysis. In fact, almost every decision-making function within a company is reliant on crunching high volumes of data.

Data scientists, data analysts and data engineers are all in high demand. But so too is a customer experience manager who is able to improve the way complaints are handled by analysing the way previous incidents were managed, or a digital marketing executive able to monitor the key performance indicators of a new pay-per-click campaign.

Data cannot be siloed; finance companies are looking for data-savvy professionals to work across many functions. And that is what makes the data skills gap such a pertinent issue.

Addressing the gap

Indeed, the data skills gap forms part of a much wider issue: the digital skills gap. As the pace of technological change has accelerated, it is increasingly difficult for education systems to keep up. There is a huge lead time for schools and universities to update curriculum content; as a result, there is a gap between what students are being taught in traditional education systems and the skills that employers need.

However, while an understandable problem, it nevertheless must be addressed, and fast. As outlined above, failing to hire staff with the requisite skills to make sense of data will have numerous ramifications, from increased risk of data breaches to losing ground to competitor firms that are able to offer superior services, products, or advice to customers through data-driven insights.

Broadly speaking, there are two options when looking to plug the gap: upskilling and reskilling existing staff to provide them with better data skills; or hiring external talent. Crucially, both options require talent pathways – means of training current or prospective employees to ensure they have the highly sought-after skills.

Specialist data courses do exist. Unfortunately, though, these can be prohibitively expensive for either the individual or the employer looking to enrol one of their employees and do nothing to widen access to these lucrative careers. More equitable solutions are needed.

Digital skills bootcamps are a great example of one initiative that is making real progress in this area. For example, with a £7 million grant, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has piloted over 30 digital bootcamps and trained around 2,000 adults with essential tech skills. Now, £21 million has been made available from the Adult Education Budget to fund the new bootcamps over the next three years, with a target of supporting more than 4,000 people

Free for the participants and providing clear pathways for companies to either upskill or hire new talent, the bootcamps are led by experienced industry specialists and play a vital role in equipping the workforce – particularly young people – with the hands-on data training

Generation is proud to be one of the specialist skills trainers working with the WMCA to deliver the bootcamps, which include pioneering Data Engineering and Data Analytics programmes that have been purpose designed over the past two years, orientated around industry needs. After the Data Engineering programme was successfully launched in the West Midlands in 2020, it has now expanded and is running in multiple locations across the UK.

Diversity is key

Another benefit of these programmes, and the funding provision being made available by the government, is a pathway to diversify the talent pool. The shortage of people with data skills is unlikely to be addressed without a concerted, collective effort to ensure as many people as possible – regardless of ethnicity, gender or affluence – are able to access the necessary training and employment opportunities.

As noted, many courses are prohibitively expensive, while a lack of action to help the unemployed and underemployed means there are millions of potential future data professionals going overlooked.

Given the fierce competition for talent and demand for data-centric roles within the workforce, now is the time for employers and training providers to collaborate on creating new pathways for people to develop and then exercise data skills. Only by diversifying the talent pool and creating more industry-led, employment-focused solutions will the skills gap be closed; there is not a moment to be wasted.

About the author: Michael Houlihan is the CEO of Generation UK, a non-profit that transforms education to employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible. Michael joined Generation in July 2018 to lead the launch and growth of programmes in the UK & Ireland.

Prior to Generation, he was COO and Director of the Board at two award-winning, VC-backed technology start-ups, helping both Reevoo and Quill develop their proposition and scale. Prior to that, Michael worked as a Strategy Consultant with OC&C. Michael holds a BA in Economics & Mathematics from Edinburgh University, and an MA in Economics from New York University.

According to reports, a company with an inclusive workplace is six times more likely to be innovative than a non-inclusive workplace. Here's how innovative leadership can lead to better inclusion in the workplace.

1. Leading In Brand Values

Inclusion is about everyone in the workplace. It refers to the type of environment which strives for equity and respect regardless of origin, race, gender, background, age, and experience. Diversity is about respecting and recognising the unique experiences, qualities, and perspectives that every individual brings to the organisation. One way leadership can lead to better inclusion is to lead in brand values. 

Values-based leadership is the type of leadership based on honesty, trust, respect, and dignity. It's the type of leadership that regards every individual in the company as a valued individual. Values-based leaders instil a standard set of values in all their employees, which improve their cohesiveness and willingness to work together as a team. Recognising that a manager or leader has similar beliefs often motivates employees to follow what the leader says, which increases the chances of success for every organisation. 

If done right, a values-based leadership enhances engagement and improves performance and retention - all these could foster growth and profitability for the company. Leaders who lead in values have specific traits and qualities that make them good at leading people.

2. Inclusion In Decision Making

In today's work environment, employees who experience a high level of inclusion at the management or organisational level enjoy favourable outcomes. These include better engagement, improved physical and psychological well-being, and increased performance and intentions to stay in the organisation. Innovative leaders who want to foster inclusivity at the workplace should promote inclusive decision making.

Studies show that inclusive teams can make better decisions. Teams that adhere to an inclusive decision-making process are two times more productive than teams that don't. In fact, inclusiveness and employee engagement are connected. Engaged employees are more likely to say that their company recognise diverse ideas and do what is right. 

To encourage inclusive decision-making, managers should communicate to their teams that every team member should look at the whole picture regardless of their role. They should put true inclusion into practice in all aspects of their jobs, and managers should express this to the team. They should encourage everyone to seek alternatives and different perspectives when making decisions and solving issues at work.

Employees should feel safe when voicing out different opinions. This is important when establishing trust among members of the organisation. Leaders who foster an environment where employees are encouraged to speak up create psychological safety for employees who may not have been heard in the past. If team members listen and recognise each other's perspectives, they help build an inclusive workplace.

3. More Inclusive Recruitment

Inclusive recruitment is the process of recruitment that involves recruiting diverse individuals by recognising and valuing different sets of opinions and backgrounds. The hiring process should be intersectional and consider more than just race or gender. An inclusive recruiting environment recognises how differing ideas, experiences, and values can achieve a common goal. By coming up with a diverse workforce team, your teams will be forced to think outside the box when making decisions and addressing issues in the workplace.

In most cases, coming up with a diverse team can be difficult. Sometimes, recruiters could choose candidates that they connect with personally or those that have the same qualities of employees that they already have in the company. 

The first step into having a more inclusive recruitment program is to educate your team on what these biases tend to look like. Most of the biases in recruitment include religion, race, or gender. While it's essential to be aware of these biases, other biases also exist, which prevents a recruiting team from finding the most suitable candidates. Employers should provide proper training and education to recruitment teams to minimise biases when recruiting. But this learning opportunity should go beyond just recruitment. It’s worth bringing in specialists within the industry. For example, you may need payroll recruitment support to bring in an expert that can get you the diverse coverage you need whilst still using values-driven recruiting. The other teams and departments should also be aware of the importance of having an inclusive environment.

Employers should widen their candidate search when it comes to inclusive recruitment. If your pool of candidates consists of individuals with similar backgrounds, education, and level of experience, your search might be too narrow. Besides, similar individuals use similar channels when applying for jobs. Therefore, think of more creative ways when advertising your job openings to widen your pool of candidates.

4. Leaders Training Managers

Not only is leadership training beneficial to managers, but it's also beneficial for the company as a whole. If you promote leadership roles, you recognise their abilities, professional drive, and work ethics to succeed.

Managers who lack the necessary skill sets and training can be risky to promote, potentially leading to their downfall and, perhaps, the company. Leadership and management training courses are crucial to the long-term success of every organisation, especially if you want to promote inclusivity in the workplace. When building a high-performing team, leaders should be able to optimise the expertise of their employees and prepare the next generation of influential leaders. By teaching managers practical leadership skills, leaders can increase workplace productivity. One of the essential roles of managers is to provide direction to staff and ensure they perform at their best. During training, they will learn how to manage their teams better, assess problems, and make informed decisions.

Leadership training creates an opportunity for employees to achieve new heights in their careers. As a result, employee performance will be enhanced since they will further develop their skills through invested training. In addition, if you give employees a role that can help shape your company's future, they will respond with loyalty. Developing existing employees is also more cost-effective than bringing in new talents, as it will not require you to spend money on advertising, recruitment, and onboarding costs.

Implementing technological solutions to your business is one of the best and smartest ways for you to save money. The world is filled with companies trying to sell you the latest and most innovative methods for you to use their technology within your operations, so it is difficult to decide what is best for your business. The following are five ways technology can save your business money.

Fleet Safety Programme

If you are running a logistics operation, the safety of your fleet and keeping down costs will be some of your largest concerns. Building a video-based fleet safety programme is a way to reduce costly accidents, avoid false claims and save money. Real-time footage can be used to provide drivers with effective training and address any bad habits they may have. Potential legal costs are also a worry for any fleet, and with this system, you will mitigate all risks as you have easily accessible evidence should any legal problems arise. You can review a guide online that will answer all your questions and show you how to implement a video-based fleet safety programme.

AI

The use of artificial intelligence is one of the smartest ways to reduce your business costs. Machines are now able to do many of the menial, repetitive tasks that were often given to low skilled workers. Using AI will save you on the costs of employing workers whose tasks can easily be done by computers. You can use that money to invest elsewhere in your business and employ people who are highly skilled and bring value to your company.

Marketing

If you want the best marketing solutions, you are going to have to invest in technology. Beware of some of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make if you do not research properly. Despite this initial investment, in the long term, your business will reap the rewards of having a more effective marketing strategy. There is software available that can help you with the analytical side of marketing. This is especially useful for social media marketing where analytics are a crucial aspect. You will be saving money on employees while also increasing your profits by having more effective marketing campaigns. 

Remote Working

Remote working has come to the forefront of working practices. In the current, pandemic influenced world, businesses have had to find ways to allow their employees to work effectively from home. Remote working has been the solution and it has the added benefit of reducing overall costs. Office space can be reduced as it may no longer be needed and workers are more productive when working from home. Assess whether you really need certain employees in your physical office, if not, remote working is the answer.

Training

Technology provides an abundance of training opportunities. Video conferencing allows you to connect to anywhere in the world which reduces the costs of having to pay to bring an expert to your business. There are vast amounts of resources available, too. Some training videos are available for free, and learning resources are easily available for certain skills such as new languages. Using these training resources will save you money and reduce your operating costs so use them to their full potential.

Business is an ever-changing landscape. In 2020, businesses had to rethink their working practices and adapt to remote working methods. As we move into the post-pandemic era, many business owners are rethinking their business goals, strategies and employees. Inclusion and diversity should be at the heart of every business’s values and recruitment processes.

In more recent times, we have seen the value in employing those living with a disability – for example, being able to use British Sign Language. In the UK, over 7.7 million people are living with a disability or health condition. Consider curating a workplace that reflects your diverse customer base and local community if you are currently hiring.

Here is how you can make your workplace more friendly for employing those with disabilities.

Train your employees

Communication is the key to fostering a positive and equal workplace. Consider educating your current employees about disability and how it can impact an individual’s experience in the workplace. When hiring individuals with disabilities, it’s important to encourage open communication within the office.

Make your office a safe place for employees to share their concerns and difficulties at work. It may be a case of switching up job roles or educating your team about disability. You could also invest in equipment, like wheelchair accessible vehicles, to make your office as inclusive as possible.

Get your name out there

Consider partnering with a charity or brand who work with, or sponsor, disabled individuals. These businesses can help open more opportunities for you to hire those with a disability. These organisations can also help you advertise your job advert in the right places and advise you on how to encourage equal opportunities within your business. Research how you can make your company a fair and ethical one.

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Promote being an equal opportunities business

People want to know what kind of company they are applying to work for. If you have taken steps to be an equal rights company, make sure you showcase that to prospective employees. You need to offer inclusive recruitment practices that work for you, your employees and the company.

Advertise your job advert in the right places

Post your job advert on disability-friendly sites and social media groups that may help you find potential candidates. Make sure the text is large enough to read, and do not exclude anyone in the job ad. For example, avoid making a statement like ‘must have a driving license’ unless it’s essential for the role.

If you find an applicant you want to interview, make sure to ask if they need any adjustments made to the interview process. You should evaluate whether your office premises are fully accessible and what changes you can make to make your space fully inclusive. For example, changing the room layout or lighting to fit the applicant’s requirements.

To improve performance, financial services firms must first assess their most successful salespeople to get a better understanding of what they do. Once employers have this reliable information from staff assessments, they can replicate these “winning behaviors” through training and support. Lars Pedersen, CEO of Questionmark, explains how this can be done and why it is vital for firms' continued growth.

What’s the issue?

Research shows that 50% of financial services salespeople expect to miss their targets. Yet, many salespeople believe that the targets they were set were reasonable.

While some salespeople may be performing well, many may be underperforming, despite the money that financial services firms often invest in training.

What’s the solution?

Often, the most successful salespeople have clear behaviors and activities that mean they sell more. They spend much of their time focusing on researching prospects, preparing proposals, and prioritising leads. Just under a third (32%) of a financial services salesperson’s time is spent on direct selling.

The factors that make a sales team successful will differ from employer to employer, but one factor is common: the majority of sales will come from a minority of high-performing salespeople. So, by assessing what these high performers do that others don’t through staff tests, employers can begin to understand what works and what doesn’t. They can then replicate good habits and successful strategies through training across all of their sales teams.

How can employers replicate winning behaviors? 

Staff tests are an effective way of measuring employees’ skills through tracking progress and performance. By measuring progress, employers can help improve it. So, employers can use online skills assessments and surveys of the top-performing salespeople to identify successful strategies and distill good habits.

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By using assessments in this way, financial services firms can see which crucial skills are missing from the rest of their sales teams. This can inform their decisions on training and how to support underperforming team members. Further tests can check that revised training programs are working.

As well as assessing their staff, financial services firms can conduct online tests across the entire sales operation, including channel partners. They can adapt the content of training programs to ensure that those representing their firm and product exhibit the skills and strategies that create success.

Meeting regulations

Assessments can also help employers discover whether salespeople know and follow relevant regulations.

By testing salespeople’s knowledge of and attitudes towards regulation, firms can build a culture of compliance, ensure their sales teams follow the rules, and avoid regulatory breaches.

Creating an impact

Crystalising the qualities of strong performers is important in industries that are struggling with a skills shortage, such as financial services. Firms must ensure teams have the skills to thrive. But 70% of financial services CEOs believe that the limited availability of skills is a threat to growth.

So, when the financial services industry is changing so rapidly, getting a clearer understanding of why some salespeople perform well, and others don’t, is crucial.

Gaining such understanding from staff tests could make a difference to individual, team, and firm performance.

eLearning has rapidly found its way towards becoming a significant part of many organisations. There are many individuals and organisations that are now delivering elearning content to their paying audience. This is where an authoring tool comes in the picture.

An authoring tool is a digital solution that helps you create digital content. The content here could be of any type, from text-based to graphics, from web content to videos. It is important for you to choose an authoring tool that aligns well with your organisational goals as it can dramatically impact the experience of the learners or your audience. 

The chances of an authoring tool being more problematic rather than being a solution are quite high. Thus, whether you are planning to replace your existing eLearning authoring tools or to invest in a new one for the first time ever, make sure you keep the following pointers in your mind. 

Usability

First and foremost comes the usability of the authoring tool. When your authoring tool is easy to use, it can turn out to be an extremely cost-effective investment. Not only in terms of money, but in terms of time as well. 

This is because with the help of an easy-to-use authoring tool, the dependency of your subject matter experts on your tech-savvy developers will dramatically decrease. They won’t have to wait for the availability of developers any longer. This will reduce the time of content creation and gradually increase the number of courses that are being published by the experts. 

Scalability

The scaling up of the workforce is one of the major advantages of an authoring tool and, thus, scalability features are one thing that you should always check for in your software. This tool is specifically beneficial for the companies that are scattered across various locations. 

With an authoring tool that is scalable, you can easily create content on an urgent basis. Since this software is cloud-based, you can utilise the knowledge, skills and expertise of your subject matter experts that are situated in various locations across the globe.

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Design Flexibility

If we could give one tip for creating any eLearning course, it would be to make sure you are doing your branding right. After all, it is all about that one brand. Thus, when you are creating your course, you would want to take care of certain brand elements such as your logo placement, the colours that you will be using, the fonts that work well for your subject, and more. 

To make sure that you can streamline your branding, there are now authoring tools that allow you to work on a particular theme or template. With these templates, you can fix logo position, background colors, text blocks, etc. and lock them in place. This way, even if you have multiple people working on developing the course for you, you will always have a fixed standard that they will automatically follow, at least in terms of design.

Device Capability

One feature that you should look for in your authoring tool is its capability of working on different devices. When you offer content that can be written once and then executed on a variety of other devices such as tablets, mobile phones, and laptops, that creates value. This is because this shows that you are keeping the convenience and ease of your audience in mind. This will help increase your audience exponentially.

When learners don’t have any restrictions on devices or location and can execute their sessions as and when they feel like, it can be a real game changer. 

Conclusion

eLearning authoring tools are now becoming a huge part of corporates. Gone are the days when people preferred using off-the-shelf content. They now want to execute and receive content that has been tailored as per the relevance. It is best to look for certain features in your authoring tool before you make the purchase to ensure it proves to be effective. 

Steven Cox, chief evangelist at IRIS HR Consulting, offers Finance Monthly his advice on how financial services firms can improve their teams' skills during uncertain times.

One crisis seems to beget another. Regarding the recent drama from the pandemic, which has become a health, economic and social crisis in one rapid, unfortunate development, companies are feeling pressured to anticipate, if not respond to, sweeping change.

Nowhere more is this prevalent than in the financial sector, where harmony must be struck between long-term investment and sustainability and quicker short-term targets. Likewise, a nationwide economic recovery has been, for many, a growing point of focus and alarm.

Financial service firms must keep pace - not only at an organisational level, but also in how they upskill their people. The trouble is that these investments will not mature until long into the future, which does not resolve the urgency of short-term financial targets that ensures the routine running of many private firms.

Is upskilling and cross-pollinating timely skills the best immediate solution for private firms in the financial sector?

Skills need to be developed and shared. With swift economic changes afoot, the firms that are more capable of navigating the crisis seem to be those willing to embrace new skills, especially those that relate to digital technology. Only 17% of CEOs in the financial services sector believe their organisation has made significant progress in areas such as improving workers’ and leaders’ knowledge of technology, according to the PWC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey.

Traditionally, when an employer wants to upskill their workforce, they offer training as a means to reinforce existing skills, while introducing new ones. Rather than seeing the workforce as something fixed, firms are relearning how to flexibly embrace and nurture new skills when they need it most. New ideas about collaboration – such as academic partnerships – are less effective than instilling the required skills in your full-time workforce.

With swift economic changes afoot, the firms that are more capable of navigating the crisis seem to be those willing to embrace new skills, especially those that relate to digital technology.

Upskilling does not have to feel out of reach for many firms. A willingness to listen and learn about new strategies could be the difference between a firm that flourishes and one that flounders. Yet, with certain key tips, your firm could learn to cultivate a culture of success both in the office and beyond it.

1. Micro-learning for those who are time-poor.

Those eager to upskill will likely face the trouble of time, or lack thereof. Is your team already busy, making upskilling a riddle for a fully booked diary?

Micro-learning is a digestible way of intaking new skills without requiring the larger allocations of time. This form of learning enables your employees to pick-up new skills at their own pace. Training is delivered in smaller, manageable slots of time, so that employees can test and acquire new skills in-between the gaps of their diaries.

Encourage staff to make the most of their existing breaks, or gaps in the scheduling, and use this time to pick up and learn new skills that could shape the outcomes of your firm.

2. Empower mentorship to spread skills.

One of your most powerful means of spreading skills across the workforce is to evaluate and embrace the existing strengths of it. This is one of the easiest, most reliable, and cheaper forms of upskilling – and it embraces the resources you already have access to. Encouraging cross-pollination in the workplace can generate impressive results: it means passing on wisdom, key knowledge, and skills that help reach shared goals.

This format of upskilling is especially helpful for new hires or arrivals into your business, where an employee can pick-up your brand through a cross-pollination of skills, knowledge, and wisdom much more easily through a mentorship programme.

A willingness to listen and learn about new strategies could be the difference between a firm that flourishes and one that flounders.

In fact, ideas of mentorship are a growing preference for many young professionals eager and willing to absorb new skills.

3. A collaborative culture is a productive one.

A resourceful business is one that understands the capacities, as much as the limits, of its own workforce and tools. Many professionals underscore collaboration as a critical ingredient in successful culture of work, but it represents a spirit that is not easy to capture, much less to harness.

A collaborative culture can ensure that skills pass around a team of any size with minimal regulation. Involve your HR team in this strategy, or consult a third-party HR consulting expert, and render information (company policies, for example) accessible through the local intranet, or shared storage, so that employees can thrive in an information-rich setting.

4. Listen to the experts.

Physical meetings where knowledge is gathered and shared, like public lectures, are all migrating online, and are now accessible through apps. The greatest benefit of this kind of exposure to new skills and ideas is how portable and accessible training has become. There is a wealth of expert platforms to draw skills from, depending on your desired learning outcomes.

Sometimes the expertise can come from within. Encourage staff to trade and exchange their skills locally and through sharing platforms – like its intranet. As with mentorship, encourage those with the desired skills to make them accessible to others across your business. Your HR team can facilitate this process by encouraging teams who do not normally contact one another to connect through new platforms and share their skills and ideas.

5. Develop one skill at a time.

Identify the strengths you would like your business to absorb and plan a roadmap to achieving this new skill expansion. A strategy is an effective vehicle for mobilising skill across larger workforces, where the likes of progress monitoring can ensure that skills are being absorbed and applied at the right pace.

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Upskilling should always be a focused effort, taking careful priority that skill retention is not sacrificed for expediated learning. Managing your skills expansion into digestible learning opportunities can ensure the effectiveness of each employee’s training.

For an expert way of managing this, trial objectives per employee that acknowledge new skills and give them opportunities to apply these new skills around the office (and within their own workflows).

Most people prefer online learning systems as they offer the best opportunity to learn from their comfort level. Education technology is not restricted only to academics and student-level courses.

Various business institutes have also started their studies on online platforms. There are many useful websites and a Microsoft learning portal that provide different types of business courses. These sites have a more straightforward process. The user has to first register over the website, select the course, study the material, give the exam, and the virtual authorized certificate is provided to the candidates.

The main benefits of using online learning courses for the corporate finance business are as follows:

Cost and Time Saving

Physical institutes offer full-time courses for young entrepreneurs, but not everyone can keep aside their office workings to excel in the skills. Plus, the institutes charge massive certificate course fees as the operating cost of the physical institutes are higher. That is why most applicants prefer to register for online courses. There is no restriction for the completion and timing of the course. One can complete the classes according to their schedules. Many of the online courses are free, and many websites offer hefty discounts on the completion of the course. It reduces the overall cost of the course completion.

Learn Operational Financing

No business organisation can perform well without an efficient system for operating its finances. It is a global business demand that businesspeople must learn financing skills. All public, private, and non-profit organisations require the management of finances.

Global companies like to collaborate with individuals who are certified with business courses. Useful online websites have a top-quality study material. The teaching standards and the learning curriculum are high as compared to physical institutes. The best faculties are hired to record the lectures. Review sections, FAQs, accessible definitions, word meanings, recap features, quizzes, test series, etc., offer the best online learning experience.

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Improves Business Performance

Poor business and financing skills can lead to losses to a business. The upgrading of business skills is important to sustain the businesses in the competition. This is why online learning courses are considered effective. The one-to-one experience increases the concentration power of the listener and reader. The peaceful online environment increases the learning speed. The facility to save the lectures on the offline mode help in saving listening time. People can enjoy listening to videos while traveling or during free-time.

Online learning is offering people a continuous learning facility. Whether you want to upgrade your business skills, financial skills, or just want to read about the latest trends in the market, online websites are the fastest means of communicating the latest information. As more and more activities have been shifted to the virtual world, it is time to move our learning systems on the internet. Online courses can be a motivation for the young workforce to upgrade their skills while working in the corporates. Different levels of courses are available for different types of people. Select the beginners, medium, and advanced classes accordingly to learn new skills.

Benjamin Franklin said it best: "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” We all need goals and objectives. Some of these should be ambitious and fanciful. We all have our dream house or dream vacation — even if we know it may never truly come to pass.

But you need some real-world goals grounded in reality. Ultimately, these practical items are what should be populating your “bucket list.” Sure, always keep a few unlikely-to-achieve items in your back pocket. But you want to really focus on the ones that you know you can — and will — tick off.

And don’t procrastinate! Your bucket list is hopefully long and full of great experiences. There’s no time to waste letting them just sit there.

Yes, achieving some things will be more difficult for many people this year for a variety of reasons. But don’t use excuses and instead focus on the other goals that you still can attack. And if you need a little inspiration, set your sights on checking off the following three 2020 bucket list items.

1. Explore Professional Development

For every person, in every line of work, there is always some thing that you know will help you develop in your career. Maybe it’s learning a new skill, like becoming a spreadsheet or data wizard. Maybe it’s improving your communication ability, like mastering public speaking so you can get your ideas heard. Maybe it's finding a mentor who can help you see something that you keep missing. Or maybe it is sitting down and devising a new strategy or process to improve your company that will surely knock the socks off you boss and earn you that promotion. But no matter what it is, get started today.

2. Keep Your Mind on Your Money

We all need to improve our financial literacy, strategy, or discipline in one way or another. It’s time to stop hoping and start doing. Do you keep tapping into your savings for discretionary purchases? Are you failing to put away enough for retirement? Are you throwing away too much on interest payments? Or, God forbid, do you still not have a good budgeting tool that keeps you on task? Perhaps now more than ever, you need to work to get your financial life in order, and you should look at all the financial services tools out there to help you get it done.

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3. Splurge on Something for You

While being financially disciplined is great, that actually isn’t the problem for many people. Some are too stingy and fail to hit their bucket list items out of an overabundance of caution. If that’s you, maybe now is the time to splurge a little. Do so responsibly, but recognize that there are some great prices out there on toys and luxuries that you may have been eyeing for years. Maybe today is the perfect time to buy that RV you have always wanted and do some road trip traveling to dream locations. Along with good deals, you can also find fantastic credit financing options that offer perks and cash back rewards.

Rethinking Your 2020 Bucket List Goals

Achieving your lifelong goals is never easy. That goes double in a year like this. But there are always ways to look at your bucket list from a different angle and start checking off some key boxes no matter what.

It doesn’t have to be all skydiving and flights to Paris. There are other objectives you can pursue even today. Start exploring your professional development goals, work on hitting a key financial benchmark for you, and don’t forget to find creative ways to splurge on yourself — and even travel.

The world may be more complicated than ever — but it’s still your oyster. Even when everything is turned upside down, your life can still be whatever you make it.

However, it can be difficult to know the aspects that are best to invest in. Here are five things your business should put their profits into in order to be successful.

Marketing

One of the most important elements of your business is going to be marketing. This is how you sell your products and services. Do not wait until you have built up a good customer database. From the beginning, you have to be investing in marketing so that you can grow. In particular, internet marketing is vital in the digital age and will attract new people to your business. If you do not know a lot about this, it is imperative that you outsource or hire employees that do. Having a marketing team will be highly benefit for your success.

Training and Education

If you want to continue to grow as a business, you need to invest in your workforce. Your staff are going to be responsible for the daily running’s and tasks at your company. It is essential they know how to be efficient and productive. Therefore, regular training is going to be important so that new skills can be learned and updated, depending on the field you are working in. There should also be a general opportunity for education so that your employees can progress.

Outsourcing

As your business builds momentum, there are going to be simple yet time-consuming tasks that need to be done. This could be anything from accounting to sorting the payroll. A good way to invest in your company, but save money at the same time, is to outsource some of this work. This can be a good way to find experts with the relevant skills and experience and only pay them for the work completed. Take your time and find professionals that are going to help your business grow and do not rush into decisions. Always seek testimonials before hiring third parties.

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Yourself

While many businesses owners remember to invest in their premises and their employees, they often forget to invest in themselves. There are still a lot of skills you can learn, whether this is taking online courses or attending conferences. After all, you are in charge of everything when it comes to your business. You want to stay up-to-date with the latest discoveries and technology so that you can stay ahead of the competition.

Equipment

If your business is doing well, you may see no need to change the status quo. However, it is essential that you continue to invest in your technology and equipment. This is going to allow you to keep up with innovations and trends in your industry. While you do not have to change your setup completely, every year you should be looking for ways to boost your efficiency. If you are worried about money, you can always look into equipment financing online. This can give you access to credit options.

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