Lord Sugar’s The Apprentice may have been going strong since 2005. But for the budding business leaders of tomorrow, the journey is just getting started. And that’s where National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) comes in.
Since 2007, this event has brought together businesses and apprentices all across the country. It aims to highlight the positive impact that apprenticeships can have on individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole, encouraging the next generation to achieve their full potential. . This year’s NAW runs this week (from 6th to the 12th of February) and focuses on the theme, “skills for life”.
An apprenticeship (not to be confused with an internship) is a paid job that involves both on- and off-the-job training . It’s a combination which allows the employee to learn while gaining valuable work experience. Once they’ve completed the apprenticeship, they’ll also receive a qualification in their chosen sector (up to degree level).
During their time with you as an apprentice, you would provide:
- Paid employment with an entitlement to holiday leave and sick pay
- Hands-on experience in a role of interest
At least 20 percent of the total contracted hours allotted for completing off-the-job training with a college, university, or training provider & a formal assessment that leads to a nationally-recognised qualification
Apprenticeships have a long history in the UK and have been a rich source of upcoming talent since the 12th century. Most often, these apprenticeships involved skilled craftsmen such as blacksmiths and carpenters training young boys to work with them.
Of course, things have changed a lot since then! These days, there are over 600 different apprenticeships to choose from. And no matter what field someone is interested in – from data analysis to development – there’s likely an apprenticeship for them.
Despite all this, there are many stereotypes surrounding the concept of apprenticeships. Most people assume that apprentices work primarily in the construction sector. While there’s a lot of interest in construction apprenticeships, some of the most popular UK apprenticeships relate to business, law, healthcare, and engineering.
UK apprenticeships are open to everyone over the age of 16 living in the UK and have no upper age limit. England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all have their own specific apprenticeship websites and processes. They can take anywhere from one year to six years to complete. Because of this time commitment, they work best for those who are serious about a career change.
Requirements for apprenticeships vary depending on the level and sector, but many do require previous qualifications, such as a GCSE in maths or English.
Although they demand a serious commitment from both sides, apprenticeships offer many benefits for employees and employers alike.
For Apprentices they’re an exciting option for anyone wanting to gain experience, up-skill, or change careers. And as paid employment, they offer apprentices the chance to earn a wage while working in their chosen role.
Taking on an apprentice can provide a great boost to your business in terms of encouraging employee motivation, closing skills gaps. And all at an affordable price. Many take advantage of government funding through the Government’s apprenticeship levy scheme which encourages businesses to take on apprentices by providing funding. If you’re a levy-paying employer, you can use the funds in your account to cover the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment. And for non-levy paying employers, you can share the cost of apprenticeship training with the government.
You’ll also find that coaching and mentoring apprentices will bring out the best in your existing team. The result will be a high-calibre workforce with a true culture of unity.
Offering an apprenticeship within your organisation provides a fantastic incentive to potential job applicants which will enable you to choose from the best and brightest new talent out there in the job market. What’s more, as apprenticeships really aren’t an easy ride for applicants (having to work 80 percent of a full-time role while studying takes a lot of dedication and hard work!) you’ll be there to provide support from the start.
Whether your company already has an apprenticeship scheme in place or you’re considering bringing apprentices into the fold, National Apprentice Week provides lots of great ways to connect with new apprentices.
Wondering how hiring apprentices could benefit your company? If so, we have the support, insight, and tools you’ll need for every step of your employee journey. Get in touch with us here at The HR Hub today to find out more about how we can help you create employee magic within your organisation!
Say firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0203 627 7048
Talking about mental health can be hard. But conversations on mental health have the power to change and even save lives. This is why the organisations Mind and Rethink Mental Illness are encouraging everyone to make time in their day on Thursday 2nd of February 2023 for a conversation about mental health.
First launched in 2014, Time to Talk Day aims to bring people and groups together to talk about mental health. And since it falls on a workday, Time to Talk Day provides us all with the perfect opportunity to discuss mental health and raise awareness in the workplace.
But why is mental health awareness so important? And how can you join the conversation this Time to Talk Day? Keep reading to learn more. …
The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
In the UK, 30 percent of the population suffers from at least one mental health condition. Common conditions include anxiety disorders and depression — around 8 in 100 people experience symptoms of depression and mixed anxiety in any given week.
What’s more, post-pandemic stress has led almost 1 million Brits to seek a medical referral for anxiety and depression over the last couple of years.
Statistics like these show the prevalence of mental health conditions. They also highlight the fact that we’re all likely to have a colleague, friend, or family member who is struggling. We aren’t immune either and could just as easily be struggling with mental health concerns ourselves.
But unless we start to open up lines of communication about mental health, it’s all too easy to think that mental illness is something that happens to other people. Or to believe the common myth that it’s a sign of weakness or failure.
As people come to realise that they’re far from alone in facing mental health conditions, this helps raise awareness. And, as with workplace conversations on menopause or grief, we can help to destigmatise the issue and encourage the kind of supportive work environment that I’m a huge advocate for.
How Talking About Mental Illness Helps
Research carried out for Mind in 2022 found that 63 percent of people agree that it’s getting easier to talk about mental health. It’s also encouraging to learn that, of those who have talked about their mental health, 73 percent reported at least one positive conversation during which they felt supported and listened to.
But, while mental health discussions are getting easier for some, others still need encouragement to talk about their struggles. That same Mind research found that 25 percent of adults who experienced a decline in their mental health for the first time during the pandemic are still yet to talk about it to anyone about it.
This is why nationwide events and campaigns such as Time to Talk Day are so vital. Sharing experiences of mental illness may provide the push someone needs to finally open up to others or seek professional help. While talking to friends and colleagues can be beneficial, it cannot compete with the effectiveness of the range of talking therapies recommended by NICE and the NHS.
Joining the Mental Health Conversation
Whether your workplace has a mental health support plan in place or not, Time to Talk Day is a great opportunity to be proactive about mental health. Not least because it serves to encourage new conversations surrounding these increasingly common issues.
If you’re unsure of how to approach Time to Talk Day, I recommend downloading this pack. It includes posters for the office, social media images, and conversation starters to try with your team. Using these resources to promote Time to Talk Day will show your commitment to joining the mental health conversation.
With these kinds of events, I find it best to invite my team to join me for tea and cakes in our virtual ‘meeting room’. That way, we can enjoy a sweet treat while chatting in a more informal way.
My aim for this year’s Time to Talk Day is to touch on themes such as mental health myths, symptoms, and how to support colleagues who may be struggling. But if someone in my team has a different preference, I’ll go with it. From sharing a personal experience to talking about novels covering mental health themes, there is no right or wrong when it comes to opening up a dialogue about this topic.
Of course, not everyone will feel comfortable discussing mental health, especially in a group setting. But it doesn’t have to be awkward or personal. Activities such as watching a video, taking a mental health quiz, or playing the games in the pack are great for getting everyone talking, both during the gathering and after.
With this in mind, make sure to prepare line managers and team leaders with helpful resources should employees wish to continue the Time to Talk Day conversation in private. This mental health support guide by Mind is full of invaluable advice for managers. And this information on seeking mental health services is ideal for passing on to any team members who come looking for guidance.
Raising Mental Health Awareness on Time to Talk Day
Now you know why mental health awareness is so important and how Time to Talk Day can help reduce the stigma around mental illness, we hope you’ll be marking the 2nd of February on your workplace calendar. **
That said, talking about mental health shouldn’t be limited to one day of the year. Time to Talk Day is great for starting the conversation but ongoing open communication about mental health — amongst other topics — is key for cultivating a true culture of unity in the workplace.
For more tips on creating a safe and supportive workplace for all, make sure to check out the rest of our blog! Or, if you want to get in touch with us here at The HR Hub, drop us a line via email@example.com, give us a call on 0203 6277048, or schedule a diary meeting here.
** For details on other calendar events to promote inclusivity this year, we’ve done the heavy lifting and created a calendar already – please feel free to copy this link therefore to add to your own calendar to see many events across the year
It’s about this time in January when we realise that the month has almost gone and that maybe we need to start picking up the pace a teensy bit more with our intentions and possibly with our team in the coming weeks… Everything’s all okay, but maybe things haven’t been moving quite as quickly as you’d hoped this month.
And it’s understandable. There’s a lot to get done and only a certain amount of hours in the day. The targets might be stretching but hopefully all the right foundations are there – you just need to inject a little bit more pizzazz to help things along….
If you’re in this camp right now, then here are a few tips for turning up the dial (in a way that doesn’t frighten the team!):
- Remind the team that they matter aka. your vision. You know the one I mean. ‘Why’ you are all here in the first place. ‘Why’ it’s important to them that you hit those goals. ‘Why’ the company is in existence. Without this connection to the purpose, they could be working for anyone….
- Spend time giving a little feedback: it’s one of the best (and cheapest) ways to help someone grow. Raise their self awareness by praising the things they have done a great job on.
- Listen to what the team has got to say: they may seem tired, grumpy, lazy (or any other of the seven dwarves…), but you can bet they’ll be feeling motivated after some time spent with their leader and given the opportunity to have their say. Do they have any suggestions of how to do things differently or better that can help? Often with time for reflection, people come up with some great ideas.
- Hold a 30-day Check-in: meet with all the team, communicate what progress has been made and what a difference this has made.
- Go easy on the micromanagement: it’s tempting when things aren’t going as we like to jump in and start holding meetings every day to see how you’ve progressed, but If you set out clearly what you are looking for your team to deliver, give them support to do so, then allow them some breathing space to do just that, without their diaries being clogged up by meetings and their autonomy jeopardised.
- Add a little extra incentive: we’ve all read that the evidence for complex bonus structures and remuneration packages driving motivation is not present ( even decreasing it in certain areas..) however incentives which are offered for a simple and easy to understand and achievable task are a different kettle of fish altogether. So offer a meal out, front row tickets to the Donmar or whatever floats the particular boat of your team to get them focused on a short term competition.
- Hold a 60-day Check-In: reward any progress which has been made (publicly and privately) to reinforce the behaviour you want to see
- Show off your clients : have one of your customers/ clients come in to talk to the team about what a difference your product/ service has made to their business. It gets straight to the point of ‘Why’ they’re here and helps instil a sense of pride.
- Cut yourself some slack whilst you’re at it: With all this focus on other’s it’s easy to forgo the progress you have made, so re-visit where you were this time last year and give yourself a pat on the back.
Many of us are becoming much happier talking about health and wellbeing, even in the workplace. We’re starting to realise that opening up about our problems gives others the opportunity to offer help and support.
This has probably been accelerated by the pandemic, but it’s far wider than that. When we tell our managers that we’re experiencing backache, we can be given chairs with better lumbar support. Talking about our experiences isn’t “complaining” — it helps us to do our jobs.
Menopause used to be considered profoundly private. Women struggled through as best they could and waited to feel better. As we start to talk about “The Change” more openly, it’s becoming clear that it’s something that impacts our working lives, not just our personal lives.
Women make up more than half of the population and 85% of us experience menopause symptoms. That’s a lot of people.
It’s not just that it’s such a common experience, it can have a big impact on our ability to work. 59% of women have taken time off work as a result of menopause. A quarter of women consider leaving their job as a result of their menopause symptoms, and one in ten actually do.
Let’s look at how the situation is improving and what we can do to help.
Awareness is growing
Women are becoming much more comfortable talking about their menopause symptoms, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s taken a long time for it to be normal to discuss any women’s problems, but younger women have led the charge on normalising conversations about periods.
Now we’re seeing the same process taking place for menopause and perimenopause.
Menopause awareness is growing faster than many of us could have anticipated. A big part of this is due to the “Davina Effect”. Davina McCall’s 2021 documentary “The Menopause Brain Drain” really helped to bring these discussions out into the open.
This, along with other educators such as Dr Nighat Arif, has put a spotlight on menopause for the first time. Importantly, it highlighted that this isn’t just a “women’s issue”. It’s a health issue. It’s a social issue. It’s a business issue. It’s a human issue.
I’m playing my part by making space for the people around me to talk about their experiences. Sometimes, this will mean dealing with my own and others’ discomfort.
As a woman and an employer, I want to know that I’m doing everything I can to make life easier for any employees experiencing menopause symptoms. I want them to feel safe and comfortable at work, and I definitely don’t want to lose my fantastic staff.
Here are the things I’m looking at to make sure that my company is doing its part.
What can you do to support employees during menopause?
Awareness and training
Awareness is improving already, but we still have a part to play. We have years of misinformation and misunderstandings to overcome.
The first step is to make sure that our employees have accurate information about what menopause is, and what it can mean. Look for authoritative resources, such as the CIPD to ensure your staff are fully informed.
This isn’t always a comfortable topic of conversation, so we need to think carefully about how to destigmatise the issue. It’s important that people feel comfortable and not pressured. Offer a safe space for people to talk about their symptoms.
Don’t underestimate how uncomfortable these conversations can make some male members of staff (especially older ones) too, but don’t allow their discomfort to shut down the discussion. Providing online information and training can help them to acclimatise to a more open culture in the workplace.
Prioritise open communication
We don’t always know what is going to help our employees to feel most comfortable. I might feel confident talking in front of a large group, but my staff might prefer to approach me in private.
This is where a corporate culture based on psychological safety and mutual respect can really pay dividends. When your employees know that they will be treated with courtesy and compassion, they’re more likely to open up.
Focus on building a culture of mutual trust. This makes it easier for your team members to come to you as soon as they need support. The sooner you know there’s a problem, the easier it is for you to step in, and the better your chances of retaining great workers.
Promote health & wellbeing in the office
There’s nothing unique about menopause. Incorporating your menopause management approach into your overall health and wellbeing strategy is a meaningful step you can take to help further normalise the issue.
Menopause has implications for both mental and physical health, so make sure you address the full range of symptoms your staff are experiencing.
Many of the steps that can help with menopause symptoms are universally good for us and sometimes far too easy to overlook. Advice on healthy eating, exercise, sleep and stress management can all be helpful.
This is a great opportunity to show real leadership and avoid mixed messages. Don’t just tell your staff to reduce their stress — take ownership of the issue by not replying to emails outside of office hours and expecting your employees to do the same.
Put a formal framework in place
Putting a formal framework in place to address how you will deal with issues related to menopause is one of the cornerstones in creating a supportive environment around the subject. Formalising a framework now allows you to be proactive and strategic, rather than reactive and rushed.
Having a policy already in place can reduce the anxiety for employees just starting menopause and provide comfort to those already experiencing symptoms. It offers tangible evidence that you take the issue seriously.
I’ve been lucky enough to mostly work in relatively small teams with a strong culture of trust and mutual respect. I’ve never had to deal with colleagues discriminating or belittling their female coworkers but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a policy in place for what I would do if that did happen.
Having a formal menopause policy isn’t just about valuing your older female workers. It’s yet another strand in a successful DEI strategy where all of your staff feel respected, safe and empowered to succeed.
Hopefully, this has given you a few ideas for supporting your employees through menopause. Check out the rest of our blogs for more tips and advice on creating a safe and supportive workplace for everyone!
So when you take a look back at how your business performed in 2021, are you satisfied with what was achieved? A little reflection is always useful, but now’s the time to start thinking about the future. You no doubt have big plans for the next 12 months. You’ve got targets to meet and goals to smash, and if you want to ensure that your plans become a reality, then you’re going to have to give some serious consideration to how you’ll make sure that you get the most out of your staff.
Sometimes though, this can be much easier said than done. Every business owner knows that improving performance could be key to overall growth, but you’ll need some solid strategies to make this happen.
You’ll be pleased to hear then that we can help. Let’s take a look at three ways to rocket your team’s performance for the year ahead
1. Provide Challenges That Are Stretching But Achievable
No one ever achieved great things by just coasting along without a challenge. Your staff should be stretched, but there’s a fine balance to strike. Give them too much to handle, and you’re not going to get the desired outcome. It might be time to assess your staff’s performance objectives, and consider whether they’re really fit for purpose.
Your managers will play a big part in making this a success. They’ll know their team members best, and so you need to make sure that they’re capable of helping them to set goals, and just as importantly, ensuring that they believe that they can achieve them.
2. Outline The Value Of The Work Outside The Context Of The Business
If you’ve done any reading or research into best practice when it comes to managing a team, then you’ll know that it makes sense to encourage everyone to realise how their work helps the business to grow and meet its objectives. In other words, your staff should understand how what they’re doing fits into the bigger picture.
You can take things a step further than this though. Are your staff aware of how their work makes a worthwhile contribution, profits and growth aside? Most businesses have some kind of social impact, and this can often be a great motivator for staff. Does your organisation make a positive contribution to the community? Are you changing the lives of your customers and clients?
3. Recognise Achievements As Part Of Day-To-Day Business
Most of us can take huge amounts of personal satisfaction away from simply knowing that we’ve done a good job. Often, this alone can encourage us to strive to be even better. But let’s be completely honest here. Most of us also enjoy being suitably rewarded for our efforts.
It’s easy to think that this is all about financial incentives, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s about rewards that are proportionate to the achievement. It’s about applying the same principles across the board. It’s about considering your reward processes as a whole, rather than just worrying about budget restraints. And ultimately, it’s about getting to the stage where ‘end-of-year performance reviews’ aren’t a one-off activity, but part of an ongoing dialogue.
Performance is important, and this is your chance to make sure that you’ve laid the right foundations for the year ahead. Are you ready, or are you lagging behind?
If you just want to make sure that you’re firing on all cylinders, drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0203 6277048.
Photo Credit: the gymnast from Team GB by julochka