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  • The Benefits Of Studying Finance For Non-Financial Managers Feb 5, 2019

    For many people, becoming a senior executive in a modern, successful corporation is a dream come true. The ability to make key decisions, play a role in the direction of a large company and the often generous remuneration and benefits packages offered by such roles makes them hugely competitive, often being fought over by highly talented and experienced individuals nationwide.

    But many senior execs are increasingly reporting that the growing pressure to deliver value to key stakeholders is becoming difficult to manage, particularly amongst those with no background, education or experience in corporate finance.

    Given the stress placed on decision-makers without a financial background, it seems increasingly pertinent that non-financial managers are afforded to opportunity to study finance, either during their working hours or in their own time. Not only does this allow executives throughout the company to take informed decisions, but it provides a significant competitive advantage for those who implement rigorous training protocols across the organisation.

    Of course, there is understandable trepidation amongst non-financial managers, many of whom assume that learning finance is a long and extremely difficult task. However, with an increasing number of specialised finance for non-financial managers courses available, arming managers with a strong knowledge of finance isn't as difficult as many would think.

    While not every exec-level employee may benefit from such training, courses are particularly valuable for those who need to understand the financial implications of their every-day decisions, and those who are tasked with increasing profitability and performance in key areas of the business (or in the business as a whole).
  • Improve Your Time Management By Learning to Say No Feb 5, 2019

    Regardless of whether you're a CEO or an entry-level employee, time management is an increasingly important skill for all of us to master. For many people, however, it's a very tough skill to get to grips with, particularly if your job role involves a fluid and often packed schedule.

    Whether you find yourself constantly late for meetings and appointments, or having trouble dealing with ever-increasing workloads, being able to efficiently and effectively manage your time could make all the difference.

    But how can you get started with improving your time management? For many people, it might be as simple as learning to say 'no' more often. A sign of an organised, assertive and confident employee, an ability to say 'no' can dramatically impact your ability to manage your time. Research has discovered a strong correlation between those with poor time management skills and those who say 'yes' to everything asked of them, often resulting in an inability to complete jobs on time and successfully.

    According to a new infographic from STL, there are some simple steps to learning to say 'no' more often:

    • Understand the implications of saying 'yes' to a task
    • Listen carefully to what's being asked of you, and don't be afraid to ask questions
    • If you say no, be sure to give strong, logical reasons
    • Avoid an instant answer. Instead, give yourself some time to properly consider the reuqest
    Often, you can find saying 'no' easier if you offer alternative solutions to someone's problem. For example, turning down a request to attend a meeting because you're busy, but suggesting someone else who may be able to help.
  • How Might Brexit Impact UK Businesses? Jan 18, 2019

    While the United Kingdom attempts to deliver on the Brexit referendum by March this year - whether that's with May's deal, no deal or even no Brexit at all - many businesses are growing increasingly frustrated with the ongoing uncertainty. From manufacturing to services, finance to construction, it seems business leaders across the UK are growing more and more worried about what Brexit will mean for them.

    But how might Brexit impact UK businesses? There are, of course, a plethora of different implications of the UK's exit from the European Union, some of which will be almost impossible to predict. But a fair assumption would be that it will affect those who export to European markets. In 2015, the UK exported £133 billion worth of goods to the EU - about half of global goods exports. According to some predictions, a no-deal Brexit will result in the loss of £4.5 billion per year in exports, highlighting why so many business leaders are keen to avoid crashing out without a deal. While many suggest the UK could thrive under a WTO trading agreement, Oxford Economics suggest that the long-term cost implication to the UK economy would be between 1.5% and 3.9% of GDP by 2030, under WTO rules.

    It's not just export businesses that could suffer, however. UK job site Indeed has suggested that the UK's unemployment rate would increase to 6.5% after Brexit (due to recession), as well as noting a severe shortage of skilled and unskilled workers in the UK. This would be down to many of the 2.1 million European immigrants working in the UK potentially looking for jobs within the European Union.

    When you also factor in the possible reduction in foreign investment, manufacturers having to deal with the loss of European-wide standardisation (for example the CE mark) and businesses moving their operations out of the UK, it's clear to see why many are concerned about the future of British businesses.
  • Ford Mobility Team Release 'Smart' Cycling Jacket with Built-in Handsfree and SatNav Jun 15, 2018

    As one of the world's biggest car manufacturers, Ford has one of the biggest innovation and technology departments in the automotive industry. While you'd probably expect this from a giant of the motoring industry, what might surprise you is that they're developing a new 'smart' jacket aimed at road cyclists.

    As part of their stated aim to increase 'harmonious integration between all forms of road users', the Ford Mobility Team have come up with an innovative smart jacket concept. From their base at the former Olympic Park in East London, the team have released some information on their new cycling technology, as well as some initial pictures. The jacket features built-in indicators via light-up sleeves, brake lights to alert vehicles when they're slowing down, and even satellite navigation via a wireless smartphone connection. Hook the jacket up to your phone's SatNav, and while you're riding either the left or right sleeve will vibrate to tell you which way to go - it will even help you to avoid particularly busy junctions and roads via Ford's own bike-friendly mobile app.

    On top of this, the jacket - which Ford says is developed by a team of passionate cyclists from their Innovation Office - will also have sound functionality, allowing riders to take calls while they're on the move.

    Tom Thompson from the Ford Smart Mobility Team said:

    "There is an immediate change in mindset once there is no longer a need to stop to consult navigation apps or worry if you're heading into a busy or dangerous road junction."

    I have sent a request to Ford to test the jacket, which was developed in collaboration with mobility experts Tome and cycling clothing manufacturer Lumo. As an avid road cyclist, I'm keen to trial the jacket on my daily commute, particularly if it offers a solid level of protection and visibility. I recently tried and reviewed the new Oakley Flight Jacket sunglasses for two weeks on my commute, and while they were superb in terms of visual clarity and comfort, I couldn't help thinking they would benefit from built-in SatNav and indicators!

    I'm hoping that any review will be of a later version of the jacket, as Ford have suggested that future features could include hand gestures, voice-commands and even bone-conduction headphones. Of course, the jacket is only a prototype at this stage, but if they secure the required patents, we could see this intriguing piece of cycling technology in full-scale development relatively soon.

    To find out more about how Ford is working to foster greater harmony between all road users, check out their recently launched Share The Road campaign.
  • Five HR Metrics You Should Be Tracking Jun 11, 2018

    Human Resources (HR) has been around for decades, but for many businesses the process of acquiring, retaining and dismissing talent hasn't changed a great deal over the years. Whereas other departments, such as accountancy and marketing, has evolved considerably with the advent of digital tools and the Internet, the implementation of technology, data and analytics within HR is a relatively recent development.

    Yet, HR is awash with data and potential insights, but most businesses aren't aware of how to take advantage of it. As companies of all sizes begin to try and track and analyse their HR data in order to improve their talent acquisition and management processes, many are wondering which metrics they should be tracking, and what exactly the data is telling them.

    If this describes you, here are five of the most important HR metrics you should be tracking:

    1. Turnover Rate

    Of all the available metrics HR can track, turnover rate is one of the most important - measuring the number of staff members who leave the company within a given period. Turnover can be a revealing statistic, with high turnover rates indicative of problems within the business culture, issues with morale or working conditions. It can also point to a failing in the talent acquisition process, potentially indicate that job descriptions or remuneration need to be improved, or that the business isn't choosing the best candidates.
    Not only this, but high turnover rates can be expensive, with the cost of replacing an entry-level employee being around 50% of their annual salary. For a high-level employee, this cost can be as high as 400%.

    2. Average Time to Fill

    This metric shows you how long it takes (on average) to fill a position, and can reveal a lot about the efficiency of your acquisition processes. You don't want your time to fill to be too high, as this can suggest you're acquisition team isn't doing the best job when it comes to listing and promoting positions, selecting candidates and conducting interviews. Before you judge your data, however, bear in mind that average time to fill will vary by industry. For example, ATTF for the financial services industry is around 46 days, whereas it's closer to 13 days for construction.

    3. HR to Employee Ratio

    This won't be a particularly significant stat for smaller companies, but it can tell you whether you're becoming over-specialised or under-utilising technology (high ratio), or indicate understaffing within your HR department (low ratio).

    4. Revenue Per Employee

    My personal favourite, this metric shows you how much company revenue each individual employee accounts for. It's an excellent metric for tracking overall efficiency and output, and it's a figure that should be increasing over time for a healthy business. In the US, the average is $0.47 million per employee, just to give you a benchmark.

    5. Career Path Ratio

    Traditionally, career path has always been a rather linear, upward trajectory (hence the term 'career ladder'), but this notion doesn't apply to modern companies in the same way. Many internal moves are now lateral or multi-directional, particularly within larger companies. This metric allows you to track how many employee moves are traditional upward promotions, versus lateral moves across organisational departments and specialties.