How Human Resources Can Help Employees Return to Work After COVID-19
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

By late May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had led to millions of jobless claims and a very gloomy jobs forecast for the upcoming summer months. The staggering situation was unprecedented and with good reason. The artificial expulsion of workers from their workplaces was always meant to be a temporary solution, designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world.

While the effects of government policies will be judged by history, in the here and now employers and HR representatives are faced with the difficult task of resuming operations while maintaining the “new normal.” If you’re facing this unpleasant prospect, below are several suggestions to help you stay focused and on track as you help to shepherd your workforce back into an office space that is as safe and secure as possible.


lockdown lifting


Be the Blueprint

Human Resource managers play an essential role in the functionality of an office. They serve as a crossroads of executive objectives, employee safety, and legal expectations. As such, it falls to HR reps to step up and guide an office through its re-entry to normal work. As a leading figure in this process, it’s important that HR managers to provide a blueprint for how office activity should look as it resumes.

For instance, legally you should be very familiar with the reopening plans — and possible adjustments over time — associated with your particular region. You should also consider safety precautions such as bathroom sterilization, social distancing rules, and maximum occupancy as operations resume.

In addition, bring up the tough questions like who should come back first, who should follow later, and who might be able to stay in a remote work situation indefinitely. Ensure that your office has clear rules regarding what employees are to do if they’re sick, how long they should avoid the physical office if that is the case, and how they should report their condition.

The point is, as the HR rep, it’s important that you place yourself at the centre of the action where management, employees, and the law meet. This should be done with an eye towards overseeing the process of resuming business both safely and effectively.


Supporting Wellbeing, Not Just Health

As you consider the safety and wellbeing of your staff, it’s important to remember to approach this in a holistic manner. For instance, just because an employee is physically okay doesn’t mean they’re mentally healthy or emotionally sound.

With so much stress, fear, and general paranoia circulating, it’s important to ensure that your employees — whether on-site or remote —  have ample access to information and resources. Do they have a clear understanding of new social distancing rules? Do they understand how their health care policies work in the event that they fall ill?

If they’re struggling internally, do they have mental and emotional health resources to help them in times of stress? Hundreds of thousands of workers regularly suffer from depression whether there’s an ongoing pandemic or not. With so much trepidation in the air, it’s vital that you provide a lifeline for those employees that are in genuine need.

As you flesh these things out, it’s wise to also encourage employees themselves to buy-in to new practices and policies for their own well-being. This will help to combat an atmosphere of fear and replace it with one of solidarity.


Consider Your Environment

As you reopen, safety and functionality will doubtlessly be at the front of your mind. However, you should also give a little attention to things like the emotional impact of your office environment.

Workplaces affect mental health through things such as lighting, temperature, noise, and even your desk and chair. These seemingly minor environmental factors can significantly impact your overall stress and distraction levels  — and, consequentially, your productivity as well.

Look for ways to increase the peacefulness and mindfulness of your workspace, from opening blinds to adjusting the temperature or even utilizing some essential oils.


Unlearning Remote Work Habits

Finally, make sure to approach employees with an understanding mindset as they unlearn any unhealthy remote work habits they may have picked up in the last few months.

Employees may have gotten used to unsafe remote desktop protocol measures. They may be utilizing unsecured network connections or working with unapproved company software. This is an understandable problem to occur as staff members shift to working on the fly from a home office. However, these concerns must be addressed and corrected once everyone is back in the office for the long-term.

Coworkers also may have struggled with maintaining work-life balance — either in a lazy sense or in a workaholic sense. In either case, HR should be there to help them readjust to typical expectations while working in the office.


Shepherding Your Office Through Major Transitions

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime event. However, the responsibility that it lays on HR reps is nothing new.

Human Resources is always meant to be a source of information. They are a diplomatic voice of reason and a guiding light through tough times. As an HR rep, it’s important that you embrace this responsibility with boldness and fervour. Support your coworkers and help to guide their actions. Ensure that everyone is on the same page as you all navigate this strange new world together.


Wellness and Mental Health

Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. When he isn't writing you can find him travelling, hiking, or gaming.

The benefits of video technology for recruitment (and how to make the most of them)
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

The advance of technology has created major changes for the world of recruitment, making it easier than ever for employers to search for and connect with potential candidates and prospects around the world.

The growing use of video technology has been one of the biggest developments, giving companies a fresh new channel to communicate their brand values and conduct interviews with talent more conveniently than ever before, regardless of geography.



At a time when the world is facing major disruptions to travel and business norms, innovations like this are proving indispensable to organisations looking for the best ways to carry on regardless.

However, the benefits of video technology shouldn’t be taken for granted; as with any new technique, businesses will need to learn and get used to the specific quirks and requirements of using video for recruitment in order to get the most out of it.

Some companies have been using video interviewing methods and recruitment techniques for years, and they have proven its worth many times over, both in periods of disruption and in our day-to-day activities.

Here, we will share some of what we have learned about getting the best out of video technology in order to help you unlock all of the benefits available.


What are the advantages of video technology for recruitment?


As online video content has become increasingly common, the advantages it provides have become very clear. Video offers a flexible, immediate and highly accessible medium for corporate communication, providing much greater scope for engagement and intimacy than emails or static written content.

Recruiters are currently finding all sorts of uses for video, including:

  • First-stage interviews
  • Video job advertisements
  • Preparation and training videos
  • Candidate success stories and video case studies
  • Candidate promotional videos

Of these, the ability to carry out interviews remotely has arguably had the greatest impact, providing hiring managers with a way of meeting and getting to know applicants that’s more versatile and convenient than ever before. Instead of needing to block out time to organise a face-to-face meeting, all of the parties involved can simply dial into a video conference call as soon as it’s convenient, and get straight into the process of getting to know each other.

A well-organised video interview can deliver the following benefits:

  • Businesses can organise interviews with candidates working on busy schedules, including those who have existing professional commitments. This is particularly beneficial for companies looking to access top-level talent who already have jobs within their chosen market
  • Recruiters and candidates can avoid the need to travel and book time away from other projects to attend the interview, creating productivity and cost saving benefits
  • Employers can meet a higher number of candidates in a shorter amount of time, helping to accelerate the overall recruitment process
  • Having a formalised video interview process creates a more consistent interviewing experience for candidates, putting applicants on a level playing field and helping the recruiter make decisions in close calls
  • When compared to a phone interview, video-based options are a much better option, as they enable you to see a candidate’s body language, facial expressions and overall appearance. This helps you piece together a picture of how they would fit into your business

In our experience, most candidates go straight into a final interview after a successful initial video interview, highlighting the effectiveness and proven benefits of this process in the world of corporate recruitment.


What are the potential pitfalls of video interviewing?


As with any kind of technology, video interviewing comes with its own potential issues, and getting video interviewing right requires companies to be aware of these. Of course, technical hiccups can’t always be avoided, but there are certainly steps that can be taken to avoid the most common pitfalls.

For the employer or recruiter, poor planning can lead to a video interview feeling disorganised or chaotic. This may be because efforts weren’t made to create a presentable professional space to host the interview, or because your network connection cannot cope with the demands of the live video stream, resulting in a glitchy or laggy conversation. This can be disastrous for the interview, resulting in both parties being unable to hear each other, so it is vital to make sure the connection has been properly stress-tested in advance.

Meanwhile, candidates also need to be properly prepared for the specific conditions created by the video interview. Some will naturally feel nervous about looking into a camera or seeing themselves on screen, meaning they do not perform at their best, while others will find their home internet connection is not up to the task. As such, ensuring that applicants are mentally ready for the video chat – and have the equipment they need to make it happen – should be a top priority for recruiters.


How should participants prepare for a video interview?


Getting the most out of a video interview means that applicants and employers alike need to take the right steps to get ready, bearing the unique requirements of the video technology in mind.

This means:

  • Making sure both parties have a strong internet connection, which may require relocation to an area with the best possible signal. This should include encouraging other people on the same network to avoid taking up too much bandwidth with other streaming programs and services during the call
  • Both the candidate and the interviewers should set up an appropriate space for the meeting, with a plain, clear background, good lighting conditions, a lack of glare and shadows, and low background noise
  • Any devices used during the video interview should be properly charged, or plugged in where possible, to avoid a low battery interrupting the conversation
  • Participants should come up with a backup plan for any problems that arise. This may mean having a secondary device or software program on hand, just in case

In most other ways, preparing for a video interview should be basically the same as getting ready for any kind of interview, as the conversation itself won’t be too different from an in-person meeting. After all, the goal of the process – to find out about the skills, values and personality of the candidate – remains the same, so the topics of their questioning are unlikely to change.

Similarly, most of the tips offered to applicants ahead of a face-to-face interview will apply equally to a video call. No matter whether the interviewer is there in person or appearing on a screen from another country, it remains just as important for candidates to maintain eye contact, plan out structured answers, ask the right questions and provide a good sense of their natural abilities.

Essentially, video technology ultimately doesn’t change what’s most important about the interview process: namely, its value as a tool for employers and talented professionals to get to know each other. However, by properly harnessing the advantages that streaming technology can provide, you can ensure your recruitment processes are as flexible and convenient as they need to be to handle all the challenges 21st century life throws at you.

Written by Carlo Miller, Recruitment Partner at The People Pod, for Smart Recruit Online.


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

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Carlo Miller

Carlo Miller is a Recruitment Partner at The People Pod.

How To Prepare Your Business To Recruit Service Leavers
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Between 12,000 and 20,000 veterans leave the armed services each year and venture into the civilian workforce. Yet a large percentage of them are struggling to find their perfect job role. Thanks to 31% of recruiters being reluctant to hire ex-military personnel, according to reports by SSAFA. The number one reason? Many of them worry about being adequately prepared to provide the right support for veterans. However, employing ex-military personnel can benefit your organisation in so many ways, like adding all-important diversity to your workplace, a great work ethic and providing your business with highly skilled employees.


Educate Your Recruitment Team To See Past The Differences On A Veteran CV

One of the barriers stopping the recruitment of ex-armed forces employees is the recruitment process. They don’t always take into account the unique skill set that ex-military candidates may possess. Many of them do apply for jobs and end up never getting past the first stage of selection. Simply because their CV does not look like that of a standard traditionally trained professional. Yet, the skills they can bring to the job can be easily transferable and extremely useful. To combat this, focus on training your recruitment team to identify and understand the transferable skills that an armed forces CV can offer.

Research by SAAS showed that some of the positive skills possessed by service leavers include being a strong team player, resilience and being good problem solvers. However, there remains a gap between recognising these qualities and employment practices, according to Jessica Rose at Business in the Community. You can also run regular workshops in your business covering topics such as CV preparation and assessment of employability skills.


Build A Support Package Specifically With Ex-Military Employees In Mind

Offering personalised benefits can attract the right talent, including military personnel. To do this, you must first understand the needs of your workforce. If you are going to be adding ex-military personnel to your workforce, it may be a good idea to do research on the key benefits that matter to them. For example, recent research has shown that levels of PTSD are on the increase for veterans. This indicates the need to prioritise mental health benefits, including psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and family therapy.

In addition to prioritising mental health benefits, you will want to focus on other benefits, such as disability and health insurance. A large percentage of the military population retire or leave the armed forces with an injury or disability that may affect their job performance. Securing cover means they feel better having a safety net, and your business is also covered for the possibility.

Most online compensation calculators offer disability and veteran considerations to help you accurately estimate veteran impairment ratings and compensation categories. Another suggestion is to offer direct links to organisations focused on supporting veterans with PTSD and their families. The more uniques support you can provide, the better you will look in their eyes.


mental health



Publicise Your Dedication To Supporting Veterans

The United Kingdom is littered with employers all doing their best to support ex-armed forces. They do this by either offering veteran recruitment programs, retraining or other recruitment initiatives. The one thing they all seem to have in common? They publicise their efforts and willingness to employ military personnel.

Whether it is creating a dedicated careers section for military applicants, offering a veterans employment program, or announcing your vacancies on the social networks of military support organisations, this can ensure your business is noticed by the right people – the veterans.

As a business and employer, this is a responsibility to secure the best talent you can for your organisation. This usually means striking the right mix and balance of differently skilled employees and should include service leavers.

However, you must be prepared to adequately support ex-military personnel, just as you would for any other class of employees. Whether you are just launching your veteran recruitment program or are already an employer of service leavers, it is certainly worthwhile taking the time to design your HR function with them in mind.


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that will streamline and revolutionise your recruitment strategy.

We offer a customisable software platform integrated with multiple selection and screening tools, enabling you to make well-informed recruitment decisions. 

To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

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Lucy Wyndham

Lucy Wyndham is a freelance writer and editor.

Enabling people to be their best by naming the stress
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

A guide to managing workplace stress by Felicia Jones.

Have you ever felt stressed, I mean really, really stressed? But then, something funny happens; you see a child dancing or hear someone on the radio and somehow the former feeling seems to have disappeared? The question is, were you ever really stressed before, or was it something else?

Most people would attest to feeling stressed at times. It could be because of something that’s touching them personally or maybe it’s the stories you hear in the media. It could also be something that’s affecting a family member or friend. But here’s the thing. Stress is not homogenous in nature or even uniform as a term.

When we use or relate to stress in a homogenised way, we can confuse, or devalue its meaning. By doing this we can unknowingly, actually cause even more ‘stress’. What I’m hoping to do here, is to untangle, in brief, the treads that bind the term stress to intangibles and unknowns. It’s important that we do this and do away with umbrella terms. This enables us to more accurately pinpoint and verbalise what we and others are truly experiencing. In so doing, we have a much better chance of being able to deal with the real issue, properly.


What is Stress?

The word stress has become an umbrella term, synonymous with words which actually much better, fit what we’re truly feeling. This may be; overwhelmed, anxious, tired, fatigued, bored, scared, dreading, fearful, grief or sadness and much much more. If we could more accurately name what we’re experiencing, then we’d be more likely to be able to ‘claim it’, ‘see it’ and ‘do something with and about it’. One area that this is really important in, is the area of work.


Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK


According to the HSE, 28.2 million days (2018/19) are lost every year due to work-related ill- health and a staggering £9.8billion lost to employers in costs. In years gone by, we’ve been used to hearing ‘work-related ill-health’ and maybe thinking of accidents or injuries. But what we’re actually talking about here, is stress-related illness. In fact, workplace injury only accounted for 4.7 million days lost.

The HSE also pinpoint stress-inducing situations, like those that we may be familiar with, ie, those of overstimulation. Here an individual finds it hard to cope with increased demands or expectations. However, The World Health Organisation (WHO) the leading authority on world health and wellbeing, suggests that there are varying areas which induce work-related stress and some may actually relate to under-stimulation. There are three areas of importance to consider:



Here an individual may find it difficult to cope with monotony, lack of variety, under-stimulation or what they perceive as ‘meaningless’ tasks. Or they may feel that they are unable to contribute to decision-making processes. These situations may be particularly relevant to graduates, who are eager to make their mark in their first or second job but struggle to navigate the change from highly singular academic to team orientation. Or, for the returnee parent who was managing a household but finds that these skills do not necessarily translate in the same way within the workplace. What is important is to recognise, not only that these situations may induce ‘stress’, but more importantly the terminology the employee uses to describe the stress as this is something that can actually be actioned.



Here individuals may feel uncertain of where they fit into the organisation. Or some may be struggling with home-work-life balance but feel unable to express it. Contrarily, achieving a much sought after promotion can actually be stress-inducing. This is not due to the additional responsibility, but rather the transition and adjustment and the impact it has on existing relationships. Having a safe space, if not with the line manager, then with HR to voice may be particularly useful.



What is interesting, is the area of respect and acknowledgement. It is an innate desire which most humans crave and is actually the fourth tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Its sits way above the need for salary, food and shelter. A 2007 presentation by Semmer, on recognition and respect, suggests that; ‘(people) go to great pains to defend their personal esteem and social self-esteem’. Furthermore, research by Tessema et al (2013) linked recognition as an important facet of job satisfaction. They stated that ‘people who feel appreciated are more positive about themselves and their ability to contribute’. It is important to note that there may be cultural variations to this and that financial compensation is also a contributory factor. However, recognition may be an under-utilised tool in boosting employee self-esteem and combating experiences that an employee may consider stressful.

workplace culture


Stress in and of itself is merely a biochemical reaction induced by internal or external stimuli. The body is wired to maintain a steady-state of homeostasis. Here ph levels, temperature, tissue viscosity and repair, metabolism, maintenance of commensal bacteria and emotional and physical stresses amongst other factors, are all kept in a healthy range. Anything beyond this state creates not only a stressor for the body but also a potential danger.

In maintaining homeostasis, the body utilises many different systems (or pathways). There are a few pathways for stress, but a critical factor is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). In short, when someone experiences a stressor, the brain signals to the adrenal glands that action is required to combat the stress. In reaction, the body then releases the most appropriate chemicals to induce action and eventually return the body to homeostasis.


Fight or Flight

Most people are now aware of the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ state. Particularly in the former, the body needs rapid glucose for brain processing and simultaneously to activate muscle tissue contraction. However, for someone who is chronically bored or feeling devalued at work, the emotions of frustration and internal anger may similarly induce a fight or flight state. This is another reason why it’s really important to use language accurately because differing pathways often cross or interact. They may start with a similar initial root, however, produce differing feelings that can be confused, such as depression and anxiety or physical pain with elation or cold and fear.

Even if only sitting at the desk, the body will utilise the same mechanisms required to address a fire or a verbal onslaught. It will initially release adrenaline and glucose and insulin and overtime cortisol as the perception is of a ‘real’ danger to the body’s survival. But ultimately, for an individual sitting at a desk, ruminating rather than speaking out or acting, they risk having stress chemicals accumulate in the body. This then creates the body to continually signal action requests in order to navigate out of the situation. This is where people begin to get sick with tension headaches, gut problems, sleep problems and fear-based anxiety. Simply being able to accurately say what the actual problem is, can help to turn things around.


Some useful tips

Access the right words. A simple thing which teachers and parents use and may sound condescending to adults, but may actually help, is to say (in the nicest way); ‘use your words’. In line with this, it’s very useful to have an emotional vocabulary sheet to help people access what they are actually feeling.

Identify the stressor. This may be as simple as ‘I struggle going into a meeting’ or  ‘I feel that saying ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’ will be seen as a weakness and marked against me.’ Or for some, it may be something at home, or sometimes going into a similar situation in which someone has failed before. By accurately identifying the stressor, mechanisms can be put in place to address it.

Good nutrition. A healthy brain and gut (where serotonin the ‘feel-good chemical’ develops) creates healthy, active individuals. Most workplaces have cakes and biscuits available all of the time But simply having a variety of fruit, water and some healthy nut bars, can help people to sustain their energy. This not only prevents people from getting into energy peaks and troughs which actually induce internal stress for the body but also makes them more alert.

Encourage breaks. Energy is created by oxygenating the body. Simply encouraging staff to get some fresh air actually creates a greater level of energy in the body and can help to reduce feelings of stress. It is challenging when running a business to spend time with each employee, but by encouraging staff to talk to each other and by fostering community and allowing open and honest communication, respect and self-esteem can be further developed.


For a long time, the emphasis on making improvements in the workplace has been on increasing opportunity and making physical adjustments. These are important. However, simple measures such as helping staff to accurately pinpoint what their actual issues are can be a way of reducing work-place stress and creating a more productive workforce.



Semmer, N K., 2007. ‘Psychology of Work and Organizations, Recognition and Respect (or lack thereof) as predictors of occupational health and well-being. [online] Available at: Accessed: 20th February 2020

Tessema, M., Ready K J., and Embaye A, 2013. ‘The Effects of Employee Recognition, Pay, and Benefits on Job Satisfaction: Cross Country Evidence, Journal of Business and Economics. [online] Available at:


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

Book a demo

Felicia Jones

Felicia Jones is a (BSc) qualified Nutritionist, Stress Management Trainer (Dip), Nutritional Supervisor, Speaker and the owner of Stress Less Living ( a nutrition and stress management practice. Felicia works with people on a 1-1 basis, in groups and also provides educational workshops and talks. Her ethos is primarily of meeting people wherever they are on their health journey, without judgement. Then working with them collaboratively to; reduce stress, integrate better nutrition and enable the restoration of full health.

How Payroll Cards Are Changing The Company Culture
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Hiring experts constantly look for ways to build and preserve company culture and ensure that each and every employee feels cherished and respected in their work environment. Sometimes, the potential to enhance employee retention comes from your company benefits and team-building efforts. The perks you offer to each employee, and access to vacation days will contribute to making them feel more valued. At other times, however, that same potential hides in the least likely of places. This includes your payroll department and procedures – which includes so much more than simply their salary or their bonuses.

It encompasses everything from the way in which you handle taxes, ensure timely payments, utilise compensation for incentivising better performance and rewarding successful employees, all the way to how transparent you are with your payroll in general. Here are a few ways in which you can expect payroll to grow and empower company culture when used properly.

workplace culture

Inspiring confidence and trust

Nobody likes to wait. You don’t want your employees to feel the disquiet of anticipating their salary and then receive it a week later. If anything, you should aim to exceed your employees’ expectations. This is another segment of your business where you can show them how reputable and trustworthy your company is. 

Your employees’ salary is one of the main symbols of success, but also of financial security, and if your business fails to live up to those security standards, chances are you’ll drive your employees away, into the arms of an employer who pays them in time, and in full – every time, no excuses. 

Preserving your company’s reputation

A vital segment of building your company culture includes how your business is perceived based on your financial track record. Are you famous for always working with reputable vendors? Paying your taxes in full? Even using some of your profits to contribute to certain causes?

Managing your finances like a business is a multifaceted process. It allows your employees, but also the public, get a sense of what your brand stands for – and it should stand for integrity above all else. When you protect your reputation in such a way, you’re bound to inspire your employees to be your brand ambassadors. They are much more likely to stay loyal and recommend your business when you stick to your promises.

Ensuring simplicity and convenience

Your employees already experience plenty of stress in their daily lives, and you don’t want to add to it. If anything, you want to make sure that their compensation is a source of joy in every possible sense. This includes the way in which they are able to collect, use, and rely on their salary. In recent years, more companies are transitioning to modernised payroll systems that utilise automation as well as personalization.

For example, one of the benefits of the payroll card is that your employees can now avoid long waiting times and additional fees when they need access to their salary. It is a simple, yet effective way to make this process all the more convenient. This single decision shows that your business puts your employee first when choosing the most efficient, cost-effective solutions for their payroll processes. Taking out all the hassle from this process allows your employees to build stronger bonds with your brand.

Making employees feel appreciated

If working for your brand means being valued and appreciated, you can rest assured that more employees will be eager to stay with your business for longer, and oftentimes recommend your brand as an employer to people they know and trust. Your payroll is the key ingredient in providing this sense of value and appreciation to your employees. When they always receive their salaries on time, and they always get the bonuses they worked so hard for, they will indeed know that their work is noticed and rewarded.

Ensuring optimal, if not competitive compensation, delivering it efficiently, and respecting your employees’ needs in the process all contribute to your team’s desire to stay true to your business. Keep in mind that such high levels of fairness enable companies to build a culture where people thrive and gladly put their best foot forward for each task. 

Payroll may seem like yet another monotonous process that boils down to numbers and stamps. However, when found in the hands of the right HR expert, payroll becomes another empowering tool for your entire company structure, a way to build your reputation, and a key to employee satisfaction. Use it to help your company culture evolve and let it mimic all the values that your business stands for – it will inspire people to stay true to your business and bring other valuable assets to your doorstep. 

Written by Lauren N. Wiseman.


Smart Recruit Online offers a low cost multi-award winning online recruitment service with a 98% independent customer satisfaction rating and the highest direct-hire fill rate in the UK.

To book a demo with us and learn more about how our technology can transform your recruiting process, click here.

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Lauren N Wiseman

Lauren is a regular SRO Blog and Bizzmark Blog author that has many articles published with the main focus on clients who want their brands to grow in the fast-changing and demanding market. Her personal favorites are successes of small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. She goes through life with one strong moto - Kindness, always.

4 strategies to get the best talent for your small business
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Did you know that unemployment rates in the UK are now at their lowest since the 1970s? This is obviously great news for the economy but presents a big challenge when it comes to hiring the best talent for your company. With the job market now being candidate-driven, finding the right people for your organisation can be harder than ever before.

We all know how important it is to have the best people working for you. With a talented and motivated team on board, your business stands the best chance of being successful. In that sense, employees are your most valuable asset, and care must be taken to recruit and retain them just as much as generating sales or managing finances.

So, are you doing all of the following?


Review your HR approach

A new recruitment drive is all very well but before you start thinking about hiring new employees, are you sure you’re doing everything you can for your internal staff retention and development? There’s little point hiring new people if they won’t stay with the business long enough for you to reap the benefits.

Business Coach and Online Educator Rob da Costa suggests the following talent retention incentives in one of his recent blog posts:

  • A focus on education
  • Salary increases based on merit
  • Flexible working conditions
  • Attractive benefits package
  • Pointing out future possibilities
  • Promoting from within
  • Investing in quality managers

Take a look at your team and ask yourself how happy and engaged your workforce is. Are you training them, promoting them, rewarding them appropriately? Do you have a positive company culture? In a job seekers’ market, it’s not just job seekers who are being harder to please. Your existing staff may consider changing jobs if they feel more valued elsewhere.


Invest in your company culture

Company culture is a big and growing topic that you cannot afford to neglect. It’s a magic formula that goes like this: Get your business model and your internal culture right and you’ll be surprised just how quickly word gets around that your company is the place to be.

When your candidates, employees, customers and the public interact with your business, what’s their experience? The way your company is perceived hinges on its internal culture and how this is managed. Everything follows from here – from team engagement and productivity to employee happiness, staff retention, and business success.

Identifying and developing your company’s brand doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be done. Here are four things you should be doing:

  • Build authentic and meaningful recognition and reward into your company culture to meet your employees’ needs to be recognised for their efforts and achievements, and drive performance, staff retention and employee engagement.
  • Build strong teams that collaborate eagerly, communicate openly, trust each other’s views and are motivated to engage in best performance. Team building shouldn’t be a one-off activity, day-to-day reinforcement may be needed to create a collaborative work culture.
  • Build a flexible work environment, allowing and trusting your staff to choose when, where and how they work. This freedom coupled with personal accountability strengthens your work culture by encouraging happier, higher-performing teams.
  • Create a caring culture that genuinely looks after its employees and goes beyond the norm. X, Y, Z generations want to know that you will look after their best interests and care for them, especially in their hour of need. Employees now prefer healthy food and access to help and advice over a beer fridge or pool table.


Company culture


Recruit with precision and focus

If there are no internal candidates you can promote to the vacancy, outside recruitment is going to be your next step. Start with a clear job description and be focused on what exactly you are looking for in the right candidate, and what you are going to offer.

The customary ‘spray and pray’ efforts of yesteryear will no longer cut it in a job market where candidates can afford to be choosy. With so many other companies competing for the highest calibre candidates, your job advert needs to stand out for all the right reasons.

In order to reach the right people, you need to know where to find them. Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, are an excellent place to start engaging with potential candidates. There are plenty of specialist organisations and software tools to help you with this. You could also partner with a recruitment consultant who will have the time and resources to dig deep into the job market on your behalf.


Ensure a positive candidate experience

Once you have shortlisted your best candidates for an interview, follow through with a carefully prepared and organised meeting. It’s amazing how many companies invest time and effort into recruiting candidates, yet blow their chances on the day. A good candidate will know if they’re being fobbed off with an ad hoc interview.

A negative candidate experience is unlikely to lead to the result you are seeking. Worse still, a disappointed candidate may share his experience on online platforms. Poor feedback may discourage others from joining your company and negatively impact on your brand.

According to recent figures, a positive experience will make the job candidate about 1/3 more likely to accept your job offer. You are selling your company, so you should put your best people in front of the candidates that you want to impress. Confident, ambitious job seekers will have plenty of other opportunities on the table, so do your best to woo them.


Written By Annie Button


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.


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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

Top 10 biggest recruitment trends in 2020
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Recruitment Trends in 2020

LinkedIn’s 2020 predictions for the world really got us thinking.

How will the macro trends, determined by such a rich data set (their entire 2019 content) play out in the world of recruitment?

The last decade has been the most transformative the recruitment industry has experienced. From the tools we now use, the processes we apply to even the language we speak – it has all changed.

A so-called RecTech revolution has impacted the way we attract, acquire, onboard, understand, manage & even reward talent. The cumulative impact has been a technology network effect. That is, not investing or engaging online is simply no longer an option.

Given that each company, department, and job can require its own unique approach, the need to enable more people with these technologies and tools has never been so apparent.

However, when you contrast all of the influencing forces impacting the job market economy against the vast range of solutions providers out there – it’s frankly mind-blowing! And depending who you talk too – better or worse than ever.


Has RecTech wrecked us or just rewired us?

Keeping up with this pace of change and interpreting it so that you can hire or get hired in the most effective & efficient way possible – seems impossible.

However, the attraction, development and retention of the best talent are still listed as a massive concern for the vast majority of CEOs. As Mark Benioff, Founder and CEO of SalesForce, explained;

“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was – and still is – the most important thing we do”.

The emergence of “employer”, “personal” and now “career” branding further demonstrates a radical shift in the world of recruitment.

So that’s my prelude, now let’s make sense of what I believe are the top 10 most significant trends.




1. Evidence based recruitment to become the new standard

There are many stages within the recruitment lifecycle where better decisions could be made. Unless you are on the OJ Simpson trial, the best choices are based on real evidence. In the world of business that proof is in the form of extensive data sets, aka “Big Data”.

The evidence-based recruitment trend will mostly be delivered by technology. AI, Big Data, Machine Learning, Predictive Algorithms & other cognitive technologies are going to enable this shift.

Thinking more intelligently about how we do what we do, based on facts, without slowing us down – will only make us better.


2. The top perk that professionals will want.

Several significant 2019 surveys confirmed that the perk that professionals appreciate and desire most – is time.

Expect the following “time perks” to continue and expand:

  • Flexible hours
  • Burnout breaks
  • Remote working
  • Coworking spaces

With cloud computing the norm and collaboration tools like Asana and Slack, the time sink of commuting every-day is being addressed. There is no more unequivocal evidence to support this than the adoption of Microsoft 365.

Even the company most synonymous with the desktop & office has its head firmly in the cloud.


3. What prospective employees value most.

Anyone born pre 1980 will remember a corporate world of reputable and trusted brands to work for and the concept that a “job for life” being desirable.

However, between 2000-2010, Gen X and Y shifted employee mindsets towards a “cool culture” as the most influential factor when looking for a job. Initially, this manifested itself in the form of egg-shaped chairs, casual Fridays, ping pong and a beer fridge.

Over the last 10-years, we have seen cultural trends evolve even further. This reflects the influence of the millennials, many of whom – now in their thirties – are calling the shots. And it’s more likely to be double expresso over tequila shots.


This generation has shifted corporate culture from “cool” to “caring”

The beer fridge has been switched out to a smoothie machine and healthy eating options. Company happy hours? How about discounted or subsidised health club memberships and access to a range of wellness and mental health-related initiatives.

The newer generation genuinely cares about the environment and want to work for companies that take environmental issues and corporate responsibility seriously.

They also have no time for management speak, waffle words and lip service. Any divergence in the public image and the company culture will be exposed by employees anonymously via social media and platforms like Glassdoor.

Even a whiff of “David Brentitus” will be remedied with a level of ridicule that Ricky Gervais would be proud of. In an era where the Clickarazzi can make even the smallest infection go viral, keeping it real is the only way to win.

An authentic & caring culture might seem like a “nice to have” to many leaders, but the trend towards “must-have” is in full effect. If you want the minds of the next wave of bright young talent, you must first understand their hearts.

We have effectively moved from a ‘Cool’ to ‘Caring’ culture. The working environment has replaced the ‘family’ in terms of ‘who will look after me’.


4. Brexit

At the point of writing this article, we are just a couple of days away from the 31st Jan deadline.

Markets do not like uncertainty, and the employment market is no different. I think 2018 took the brunt of the Brexit negativity with companies investing more in talent acquisition in 2019. However, this bad break up is not over.

Brexit is the single most potent force that could affect the stability of the British economy over the next 12months. Continued whispers of an economic recession refuse to go away. And subsequent caution and procrastination may resume when it comes to spending money on talent acquisition.

I am, however, relatively optimistic that we will grind out an acceptable deal with Europe and secure a good trade agreement with the US & other international partners. Hopefully, in 12 months, uncertainty will be replaced with optimism and Boris saying, “I told you so”.


5. Plugging the skills gap

Internal training, upskilling & reskilling programs combined with a far more proactive long term apprenticeship and graduate recruitment program that recruits from ground level up, seems to be the only reliable and sensible approach to plugging the skills gap.

Continuous increases in salary and the use of contract workers can not be the long term strategy. The competitiveness of organisations will continue to suffer if labour costs and price pressure are not rationalised with more proactive and forward-thinking workforce strategy.

In a rapidly changing, technology-driven world, it is very easy for individuals to get left behind. The government must anticipate this problem and policy must keep up with reality – even if it’s virtual.

New technology entrants focusing heavily on next-generation features, including social and video learning, microlearning and learner engagement have disrupted the traditional LMS (Learning Management System) market over the last few years.

Look for the emergence of Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) to see where this market is heading in the future.


6. The role of AI in recruitment (and recruitment tech)

AI continued to make a significant impact on the recruitment environment last year and is set to continue for years to come.

Just as robotics has shifted mechanical tasks away from human beings, AI has the potential to impact so-called knowledge workers. Reskilling programs that are run either within colleges or the workplace can help address these issues.

Any company that fails to see the overall and ongoing role that variants of AI will bring to the table will undoubtedly get left behind. Burning Glass has demonstrated that AI is no longer a buzz in this industry – it’s in play today.

2020 will “clearly see” more technology platforms embrace and incorporate AI. Also, watch out for a new variant of AI dripping into our consciousness as Quantum AI joins the conversation over the next few years.

“Quantum recruiting” – you heard it here first!


7. The new-look independent recruiter

Independent recruiters and HR professionals that deliver recruitment services directly to corporations will start to benefit from the lower costs of Talent Acquisition and HR Technology. While most already understand the benefits, they are put off by what the perceived investment would have on a “Me Ltd” business model.

The reward to the (early adopter) recruiters will be that more clients will that want to work with them. The independent recruiter model makes sense in the right situation. By adding a technology benefit (usually reserved for teams), it will make even more sense and therefore more money for the freelance professional.

The advantage to the client will be a deeper external recruitment partnership that can provide a more comprehensive range of recruitment & HR services.

Advanced recruitment platforms and tools such as Smart Recruit Online can become the cornerstone of the independent 2020 recruiter’s service offering.


8. Wellbeing, Mental Health, Diversity & Inclusion

High on the agenda for many companies are issues such as wellbeing, mental health, and diversity.

We believe that 2020 will trend away from a reactionary box-ticking approach to these critical issues – to a more proactive mindset.

Depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy more than $1 trillion in lost productivity every year, according to the World Health Organization.

As the millennial’s move from the management to the executive level of the corporate world – expect their values and concerns to permeate only further.



9. Highly configurable centralisation recruitment software

Most of us are aware of and probably already use an ATS or HRIS system for managing recruitment activity.

What you may or may not know is that ATS and HRIS systems don’t really do meaningful talent attraction. Or at least they do it poorly and in most cases are actually counter-productive to a direct hiring strategy. They also offer minimal configuration and customisations are usually very slow and very expensive.

Unwitting users are often stuck with a complicated, over-engineered one size fits all platform for several years. Modern recruitment platforms are cloud-based, plug & play, and acts like a configurable web application rather than a website. Think of a mobile device where each feature that you want to use is downloaded and activated like an app.

Next-generation software platforms are designed to be far more proactive and effective when it comes to talent attraction. They are simpler to use, provide a better candidate experience and cost a fraction of the price of an ATS or HRIS service. However, before you rush to throw away your ATS. First, look at whether the system you are considering can complement what you already have.


The recruitment ecosystem is fragmented. Centralisation systems are evolving to help users embrace and utilise the ever-changing best in class tools and services.

Despite the marketing hype, the idea that a single technology platform will be the “total” end to end solution – now and forever – will continue to trend towards nonsense.

A single dashboard that consolidates and generates management information from a dynamic technology stack should be the preferred end game.


10. Tech providers to deliver complementary services

I will paint the scene. You sign up for an expensive ATS or HRIS. Once the system is installed and you’re trained to use it, it’s as if the vendor no longer has any interest in you.

But now you’re signed up for the next 3 years. And that’s the SaaS model and good luck trying to get someone on the phone who can actually help.

Sound familiar?

Servicing models that take a proactive role in ensuring that users continue to get the most out of technology will be the trend as customer churn becomes the focus. Customer acquisition is only as powerful as customer retention when it comes to growth.

Beyond ‘services’, expect a commitment to performance becoming a vital feature of the current business models. This will, in turn, change the mentality of the vendor in terms of the ongoing development & support of their technology and customers.

Vendors becoming accountable for what their tech delivers is what the market wants.

Solutions providers understand that adapting and supporting an evidence-based approach to the processes that are applied will influence and optimise desired outcomes when using their systems. And we are back to prediction number 1 – Evidence based recruitment will become the norm.

Article was written by Mark Stephens and Simon Billsberry.


Smart Recruit Online offers a multi-award-winning talent acquisition software that will streamline and revolutionise your recruitment strategy.

We offer a customisable cloud-based platform integrated with multiple screening tools, enabling you to make well-informed recruitment decisions. 

To find out what we can do for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

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Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months. And currently holds the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

Insights into remote working in 2019
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Globally, the latest figures show that an estimated 70% of people now work remotely at least once per week. Another 53% are said to work location independent at least half of the week. With each year that passes, more individuals and businesses than ever before are transitioning to full-time remote work roles. When it comes to finding the best workers for a company, one of the top incentives to provide is a healthy work-life balance. Alongside this, the pay is still of top importance for nearly all job seekers. As both the number of remote positions and total wages continue to increase, there will be even greater competition for work-from-home roles. Explore what recruiters are now offering remote workers in terms of pay in 2019.


A look at the latest averages

Currently, about 35.4% of the world’s remote workers live in Europe (the highest of any continent). This should come as no surprise, as 51% of all companies that hire remote workers are located in European countries. With such a booming market for location independent positions, it is crucial to know how much remote job seekers are being offered in terms of salary. In early 2019, the global average across industries equates to approximately £15.57/hour (as reported by Remote-How). However, this average does not show much, since wages are so heavily dependent on geographical location and the type of work performed.


Company Culture


Exact figures vary significantly by field

Depending on the job role one seeks, and how many hours an individual wants to work, the pay can vary significantly. For example, stay-at-home mothers who want to work remotely can pick up part-time remote positions, such as being a virtual assistant, customer service representative, or a bookkeeper. These positions typically offer the highest level of flexibility (which is necessary for mums) and provide a wage around the previously stated global average. However, for those looking to work full-time in their chosen career field, remote workers can make a great deal of money. As another example, remote managers, writers, IT, and legal professionals can earn anywhere between £18 per hour all the way up to £50 per hour. The actual pay that recruiters are offering remote workers depends largely on the company’s budget, the experience level of the candidates, and the actual work that needs to be performed.


More companies are beginning to offer benefits

While many remote positions still do not include a benefits package, more companies are starting to offer their virtual workforce traditional job perks. Benefits such as paid time off, childcare, productivity tools, and health & wellness resources are now being extended to remote employees. As more and more organisations shift from standard offices to virtual workplaces, it will soon become essential for companies to offer all workers (remote and in-person) the benefits they most desire.

As 2019 starts to wrap up, one thing should be clear for all recruiters: Remote work opportunities are continuing to increase, and pay is also on the rise. In order to keep top-tier individuals working at an organisation, it will be increasingly important for businesses to evaluate how they pay their remote staff and make changes to keep up with the rest of the world.


Lucy Wyndham is a Freelance Writer and Editor.


Smart Recruit Online offers a low cost multi-award winning online recruitment service with a 98% independent customer satisfaction rating and the highest direct-hire fill rate in the UK.

To book a demo with us and learn more about how our technology can transform your recruiting process, click here.

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Lucy Wyndham

Lucy Wyndham is a freelance writer and editor.

Employer Branding Videos & Why They Work
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

In today’s candidate-driven market, a positive, definite employer brand is important for attracting and retaining top talent. With an employer profile, you have numerous opportunities to showcase your companies’ unique brand and culture. Including online videos in your profile is a brilliant way to communicate your employer brand to candidates due to the rise in video.

The rise in video is quickly increasing and radically shifting as the main source of how we consume our information compared to text-based and image-based content.

Research undertaken by Wyzowl found that where both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.

As of May 2016, YouTube reported more than 1 billion users; growth in viewing time is up at least 50% each of the past three years. For 2015, Cisco reported 55% of all mobile data traffic came from video, and predicts video will account for 82% of mobile data traffic by 2021.

How exactly can an employer branding video support a company in the recruiting process? Why does it work so well? Here are some top tips on how employer branding videos can support your hiring process.


To ensure a cultural fit

A video is a great way to showcase your employer branding to candidates. 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job (CareerArc).

They want to know what the company culture is like, will they fit in, will they love going to work every day, will they want to get involved in after work activities like tag rugby. Therefore, video is the best way to do this. Potential candidates will be to assess if working at your company is what they are looking for.


Company Culture


Get more applicants

Not only does video catch the attention of your potential job candidates, but it is also a brilliant way for convincing candidates to apply to your open job vacancies. CareerBuilder research has found that job postings with videos have a 34% greater application rate.

Basically, by including video in your job postings you can get a vast increase in the number of job applicants you can choose from.


Saves Time

Research undertaken by TheLadders showed that potential candidates are only reading jobs ads for about 50 seconds if they don’t feel the job is a good fit and around 75 seconds for ads that seemed to match their skills and interests.

Considering the time and effort that goes into writing up a good job description, they hardly seem a worthy investment. In contrast, studies have seen candidates spend over five minutes viewing job ads containing video.

This is an increase of almost 490% in time spent. A CV-Library poll of thousands of candidates also revealed that nearly 80% of job seekers would be more likely to apply for a job that contained a video in the job description. Thus, you will considerably shorten your whole hiring process and better your time to hire.


Attracting Millennials

The way millennials consume information is different from previous generations.

Millennials watch more videos online than anybody else. Therefore, searching for and finding young talent should incorporate video as part of the recruitment strategy. Otherwise, you will fall behind other companies.

In fact, research on Millennials shows that 54% visit YouTube every day. It is believed that by 2030, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. This, in turn, means that your recruitment should be focused on this generation. For this to transpire, the old traditional recruiting mechanisms need to be replaced with more modern alternatives such as the use of video.

Creating a compelling employer brand video that showcases your mission, your vision and your values will be easier if you’ve done your research and have a clearly defined employer brand.


Cathal Doorley is the Founder & CEO of with over 5 years in the online marketing and web development industry & over 3 years in the recruitment industry. Specialising in employer branding and recruitment marketing.


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that will streamline and revolutionise your recruitment strategy.

We also offer a customisable Careers Page that can mirror your company branding and be fully integrated into your website.

To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, including using video to promote your company culture, book a demo by clicking here.

Book a demo'
Cathal Doorley

Cathal Doorley is the Founder & CEO of with over 5 years in the online marketing and web development industry & over 3 years in the recruitment industry. Specialising in employer branding and recruitment marketing.

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