With so many employees now working remotely, over two-thirds of small business owners have noticed a digital skills gap in their workforce. The need for expertise in these skills has been growing as more elements of a business, such as marketing and data analysis, have moved to digital mode. Most companies believe that this lack of skills will hamper their growth, and reskilling will be essential for most workers in order to meet requirements. As a recruiter, whether you’re aiming to recruit in-house or look further afield, proactively seeking out applicants who possess less conspicuous digital expertise, or who have the potential to upskill, could help you find the right employees to fill the digital skills gap.
The first quarter of the year is often a busy time for recruitment in the transport & logistics industry, but this year the UK market is experiencing new challenges and seeing new trends. There are many factors contributing to this change, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s recent exit from the European single market sitting at the forefront.
Terminology in the world of recruitment can be confusing and this often leads to poor decision-making.
A selection of articles that I read while researching this subject, all seemed to seamlessly flit between terminology, such as talent acquisition, recruitment strategy, talent attraction strategy, recruitment management and talent sourcing as if they all mean the same thing.
No wonder people get confused.
Over the years, automation has become one of those business buzzwords you hear tossed around at almost every meeting. And yes, it can be just a buzzword if you don’t implement it into your organisation, but it can also be a solution that transforms every department and every process in your company. Automation encompasses a myriad of software and hardware solutions that aim to cut extraneous business costs, elevate efficiency and productivity, improve compliance and security, and bring numerous other benefits to the table.
At no other time in recent years has the importance of the supply chain been more obvious. The Financial Times reports that developments in digital technology are having a transformative effect on the industry, and with employee priorities changing rapidly too, the roles available in logistics are adjusting to require new skills and abilities. For those looking for a career change or a new role in logistics, what are the areas to focus on to access a fresh and challenging occupation? (more…)
The way we talk to one another is influenced by our surroundings. It is entirely normal for a person to speak more informally with close family members and friends, for example than with a work colleague.
But in a quasi-evolutionary sense, language as a whole can adapt to the pressures of its environment. You might already be familiar with terms such as journalese, legalese, academese and even professionalese. The suffix ‘-lese’ is rare. There are only 52 words in the entire language that end with it. Generally, it exists to highlight the exclusiveness of the prefix to itself.
For example, ‘journalese’ refers to the type of language exclusive to journalism, and mainly the tabloid press. Because the duty of journalists is to convey information quickly and unambiguously, and in as fewer words as possible (to fit in headlines and short word counts), the use of English within journalistic circles took on a life of its own. The same is true for the technical and formal language of legal documents (legalese), scientific papers, and on a still formal — but less technical — front, as business English.
Business English is the type of English that is most often used in business. Including international trade, finance, insurance, banking, in office settings, and so on.
Whereas journalese is criticised for depreciating the English language, and to many academese is unreadable for anyone unfamiliar with the jargon, business English is designed to be as clear as possible. Leaving no room for interpretation.
This is because if you aren’t super clear with your business writing, you are likely wasting your reader’s time (and worse, putting yourself at the risk of losing money).
Unlike journalese, business English avoids clichés at all costs, cultural idioms, and phrasal verbs. Business English is supposed to be engaging, but never does it try to overcompensate for what it actually is. This is also especially important when dealing with international trade. After all, if your customers are not English speakers by mother tongue, then unnecessary idioms will only serve to undermine the clarity of your writing. Journalese, on the other hand, is often criticised for flavouring language in order to make a mundane story seem more interesting.
Due to centuries of European and British expansionism, English is now one of the most common first-languages in the world. With hundreds of millions of speakers in North America, Europe and Oceania. But the number of first-language speakers pales in comparison to the number of people who are learning English as a secondary language — which is estimated at around a billion.
Because the United States is the current culturally dominant and major economic power, it is beneficial for opportunistic enterprises in non-English speaking countries to learn the language, so that they can engage with the English-speaking business world. The result is that specific courses in Business English are taught all over the world to international students.
And because there are so many different aspects to business, some have argued that there are different splinter-factions of business English, including: “networking English”, “presentational English”, and so on. Where the degrees of formality, clarity and politeness are all tweaked.
Even in different roles, the language of business English can be expected to change. For example, in the field of project management, one can expect to absorb an entire thesaurus of words that are largely confined to that area of expertise. Words such as “authorisation”, “deliverable”, “completed product” and “majority opinion” are all common enough in project management. But less so outside of that area.
Business English not only dictates how you speak, but it also to a lesser extent dictates how you should behave. The way we speak is a manifestation of how we should behave: professionally, polite, and courteously. This means that if there is a disagreement at work, then the only really acceptable way to respond is with diplomacy and maturity. Bluntness and tactlessness are also frowned upon in the business English-speaking world.
The way we both behave and speak in the business English world is manifest in how we present ourselves at job interviews. The goal, after all, is to convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the role. So your bodily mannerisms need to back up the way you speak. With maturity and diplomacy.
A neat example of this is the so-called “Sandwich Rule”. Where if a person is required to give feedback — and that feedback is negative — they have to start gently with positive feedback, before going then on into the negatives.
Business English also requires different mindsets for different situations. A more academic attitude during presentations and public speaking, for example, and a more direct communication mindset during conversations with bosses and colleagues. This often means downplaying regional accents and focusing more on pronunciation and phraseology.
Nothing has been left untouched by social media over the last decade. All its problems aside, social media has brought some degree of everyday genuineness into business English. Particularly in how it has captured the kind of spoken-word that is more informally used amongst friends and family. This is almost certainly because more and more businesses are advertising on social media platforms, and so have to capture the tone in order to fit in.
It is now more common than ever for sales copy and for professionals to use emojis, informal words, and even memes and GIFs to reach out to the customer base. The impact has even slightly made its way into tangible, real office spaces. For example, with the growth of digital marketing companies equipped with recreation rooms (and even office “pubs”), relaxed uniform requirements, and so on.
But the tenants of core business English have still not gone away. Informalities or not, everyone is still expected to communicate clearly. And to be pleasant, courteous, polite, and still very formal when it is necessary.
We can expect the very core of business English to endure for the foreseeable future, even as the boundaries of formality/informality begin to fuzz. Even with the increased culture of working from home, businessmen and women are still expected to suit up for important Zoom and Skype meetings, if only from the waist up.
About the Author
Lewis Dartnell is a senior transcriber at McGowan Transcriptions, a company that specialises in transcribing and translating a variety of documents, audio formats, group discussions, interviews, and more.
The population of the private business sector increased by 3.5% between 2018 and 2019 – that translates to 200,000 more businesses in the UK during that period alone. No matter what niche your company operates in, there will always be competition, and that makes every decision you make a critical one. If you’re aiming to grow and expand your business, one key decision relates to the employees you hire: will you be recruiting in-house staff, or will you be relying on contractors? The jobseeker market is booming at the moment, so it’s a good time for hunting down talent. If you’re looking towards expansion, now’s the time to consider how you will be filling the roles.
Polls show that 58% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now working more with freelancers. There are advantages to doing so, but there is no solid evidence that it is better than hiring employees. Choosing the most sensible and cost-effective model for your business simply means investigating the pros and cons of hiring different types of workers according to the role you need to fill.
The first step in doing this is to ensure you have a solid understanding of the key differences between contractors and employees. Work with a contractor involves entering a short or long-term agreement that an individual will do a particular task for a set fee. They are responsible for their own taxes and will have freedom over when and where they work. An employee, on other hand, will require your business to cover their expenses and equipment and will work within the rules and systems of your business. They will be on your payroll and will be covered by your insurance policies.
Freelancers are specialists within their niche, and if you are looking for someone to complete one-off projects or tasks not within your employees’ usual remit, they are a good option. If you need a logo or graphics, for example, hiring a freelance designer will fulfill an immediate need without having to add someone to your long-term payroll. This can save you money in the long run, helping you achieve your goals for expansion. As the business owner, you can control how much work you outsource to a contractor, allowing you to purchase their services on a pay-as-you-go basis.
A Forbes report shows that the ability to work remotely is a powerful motivator for many freelancers, and 90% of them do at least part of their work from home. If you’re looking to expand, working with freelancers is a valuable way to do this without moving premises to accommodate a growing team. This also saves your business money on equipment.
There are over 2 million freelance workers in the UK, and finding an experienced and reliable one who fits your budget can take a lot of research. Once you do find one, it may be necessary to book them several months in advance, as they’re likely to be in high demand. This requires you to think one step ahead, and may not be the best choice if you have regular deadlines that need to be met.
When you hire employees, a contract is put in place before an individual joins your company. However, with a contractor, they manage their own time, and you have no legal position if they quit partway through the work. If that work then needs to be updated, unless you can work with the same contractor, it may not be easy to get the work done time (or cost) efficiently. Additionally, while a contractor may be an expert in their field, you will need to take time to show them the specific workings of your business: hiring an employee may ultimately be more cost-effective if you want ongoing work completed.
There is no cut-and-dry answer to whether hiring freelancers or employees will be best for your expanding business. Each role will need to be considered carefully, and you’ll need to assess your needs for each position. However, as a rule of thumb, it is probably still advisable to employ full-time employees for ongoing work and keep them trained in the specifics of your business; for one-off jobs that fall outside of your employees’ usual remit, hiring freelancers could be a sensible move.