Over the next few weeks it is likely people will experience higher levels of stress due to the pressure of working from home, worries about cashflow or simply the current situation. Our Internal Talent & Wellbeing Manager Simon Briffa looks at what you can do to help manage stress and remain healthy and motivated throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic. Everyone experiences some form of stress in their lives. Be that stress at home or work, we all struggle from time-to-time. But stress isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, stress can be a benefit just as much as it can be a hinder – if you know how to manage it and use it to your advantage. When thinking about the benefits of stress it is important to view it as anything that alters our homeostasis (the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems). Good stress therefore is vital for a healthy life, but bad stress can have a hugely detrimental impact on our wellbeing and ability to remain motivated and productive. In order to counteract the negative consequences of stress we need to be able to recognise it, manage it and change our surroundings to help deal with it. To mark Stress Awareness Month, I wanted to draw upon author Stephen Covey’s four dimensions of Human Needs and offer some tips on what you can do to help your own wellbeing. Stephen Covey’s four dimensions of Human Needs Steven Covey states that we need four things to “maintain and improve the implement that is you”, and in turn stay motivated and productive. He breaks these down into four dimensions: physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional. Although not directly related to stress management, I do believe that we can greatly reduce stress in our day-to-day lives by working on these four dimensions. At Sellick Partnership, we truly believe this and will be focusing on one of these areas each Wednesday in our new ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ initiative. Here are some of the things we will be doing to help our staff manage their own stress, and raise awareness of keeping healthy physically and mentally at work and at home. Physical/Body – keeping fit, eat well avoid bad things This one is simple. If we look after our physical selves, our mental health will be in much better shape. It is therefore important to keep active and eat healthily. This is especially important now, as more of us are working from home and self-isolating. Even getting out for a small walk or getting some fresh air will greatly help reduce stress. That is why we are actively encouraging all our employees to take their full lunch each day. We are also giving everyone one extended lunch per week and are holding regular incentives designed around getting people out and about. Getting away from the desk and switching off for a period of time each day is hugely important and will help keep your mind fresh and ensure you stay motivated at home. Mind – nourish your brain Engaging your mind and doing something that helps you use all parts of your brain is hugely important in reducing stress. If you are constantly working, remain on the go and only using your brain for work then you will burn out very quickly. Using your mind for other activities will help you relax and destress. Taking yourself away and doing something you enjoy is important here. You might want to read a good book, listen to your favourite podcast or music or simply catch up on your favourite TV show. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you. Heart/Social/emotional – surround yourself by good people, take good advice, be kind listen to others This may be the hardest task while many of us are self-isolating at home. Human contact and interaction is one of the best ways for us to de-stress. I am sure a lot of you will use socialising with friends at the weekend as a way to relax after a hectic week. This has recently become more difficult, but not impossible! If you usually go out on a Friday night, why not set up a video conference instead. Apps like House Party and Zoom make socialising virtually easier than ever. We see the benefit of this and are ensuring our teams are in regular contact throughout the day. We have set up a companywide WhatsApp Group, have given everyone access to video conferencing software and are holding regular companywide incentives to keep morale yup. We are also hosting a number of virtual social events so people can ‘get together’. This is hugely important for us. We are one big family at Sellick Partnership, and not staying in touch would greatly impact our culture. Staying in touch helps us ensure our staff’s mental and physical wellbeing are catered for, and in turn reduces stress, and increases morale and productivity across the business. Giving back is also a great way of reducing stress. Getting involved with volunteering, supporting charities and general CSR initiatives are proven to lift moods, so get involved and help others where possible. Spiritual – who you are, your values and behaviours Looking after your mental wellbeing, and reducing stress relies on you being happy with who you are, and in these unprecedented times, happy in your own company. Not everyone relates to spirituality, but everyone can take a few minutes just to be with themselves and relax, and that is what this is all about. To reduce stress in your day-to-day it is important to get in touch with your personal values and your mission which will be unique to you – so do this in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. Meditation, yoga and prayer are all great ways of doing this. There are lots of companies hosting free virtual sessions that you can get involved in. You might also feel like taking yourself into a room and read a book or listen to music. Do whatever helps you to relax and get in touch with yourself, and spend some time de-stressing away from what is going on in the world currently. This is even more important now that many of us are working and living at home. Doing something you enjoy away from your home workspace will help you de-stress and will be beneficial to your wellbeing overall. You might also want to read motivational books or listen to podcasts that will help you stay motivated. That is what we have done. We asked our Board of Directors to give us one thing they have read or listened to that has helped them recently and we have given our staff access to these materials. Some of these things can even be done while working. Having something inspirational playing in the background during the day helps so many people deal with stress. Those are just four areas we think are imperative to dealing with stress both at work and at home. There will be loads of other tips, so if these do not work for you then don’t worry. Visit the Stress Management website for lots of additional tools to help you deal with stress your way.
The housing & property services sector is vast, and most of us will have needed, worked with or be associated with someone that works in in. For that reason, we will all likely have some thoughts and have an opinion on it. But what is the general perception of the sector as a whole? This is something the team at Sellick Partnership are extremely passionate about. As a recruiter working in the sector we often hear strong views of what people think about everything from earning potential and career opportunities to discrimination and the diverse makeup of the sector. These views range from people to people, and sector to sector, and I am always very interested in hearing what people think about the opportunities within trades specifically, but also what people think about the sector as a whole. But what do people really think? To find out we have recently launched a national survey asking trades people, housing employees and the general public to offer their thoughts on the sector and what opportunities it offers. The survey is aimed at anyone, and we hope it will give us an interesting insight into what people think about how bustling housing & property services sector. Full results of the survey will be released in a range of content later in the year. If you would like to take part in our survey and be in with a chance of winning a £50 Amazon voucher, please follow the link. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/S57JCT6
Coronavirus panic has gripped the nation and whether this be from the news or social media, you will be acutely aware that every other post is about the virus and its spread across the world. Although the fear of the global pandemic – which we know very little about – should be taken seriously, the influx of anxiety and stress can have a negative impact on all our mental health. Many businesses have also been forced to ask employees to work from home which has added another level of stress to the situation for many people, and we need to be aware of how we can handle this and support people where possible. Working from home definitely has its perks, but it also requires a few adjustments and can take some getting used to if you have never done it before. Generally, the legal sector lends itself well to remote working, but it can be quite a solitary job to do. It is therefore hugely important that lawyers – and everyone else that find themselves currently working from home to find ways to keep themselves motivated, focused and productive; particularly with children, TV, partners and even seeing jobs that need doing around the house! But don’t worry, take a look at my top tips below: Maintain a structured routine Keep your routine as normal as you can, this will help you stay in control during times of uncertainty. It is important to go to bed and wake up as usual, plus taking the time to do things which you enjoy. Why not use the time you would use commuting to go out for an early morning walk/run? I would strongly advise doing this, especially now we have hit the spring mornings and it acts as a psychological boost and keeps your positive energy up for the day. Set clear boundaries between work and play When you are working from home it can be difficult to divide when you are working, and you are out of hours. It is important to set realistic work-life boundaries. TIP – Stick to your daily schedule! Get up, get dressed, eat and drink plenty of water, and most importantly take breaks. You might be tempted to lounge around on the couch or stay in bed with your laptop to work, but this is something you must avoid! Make sure that you build a routine and have a dedicated place where you can work. This will also help you mentally, as it will separate work from your personal life. Take turns to look after your children – and give someone a break Inevitably, you are going to get distracted. If you and your partner are working from home whilst your kids are off school, it can be like a second job trying to entertain them. It is important to take turns on who is on ‘look out’. If you don’t have a partner, is there anybody else who can help with caring for your children whilst you are working? Check in regularly During this time, be mindful of your communication – remember and remind others that we are all in this together! Make time to check in with your family, friends and colleagues via video / phone call. This will help to maintain your daily routines and will avoid you feeling really isolated. Maximise productivity With employees being forced to work from home, it is essential that you try and carry on your work as usual. Pay attention to the time that you would usually be commuting to and from the office, it is thought that this is the time you are most efficient. Identify your most productive times of the day and use these times to tackle the important tasks. For many legal professionals, the work involves drafting of documents and occasional telephone calls, therefore take advantage of the quiet time to concentrate and analyse! It has been highlighted that some courts across the country are postponing hearings, therefore it is important to promote remote court appearances/conference calls instead, where possible. The pandemic has led a lot of questions, but it is important to remember that we cannot control the circumstances of life, but we can change how we choose to see them. Most businesses remain functioning as ‘business as usual’ with only a few limitations to what they can do. Remember to stay in touch with the people you usually speak to throughout the week and stick to a daily routine to keep your mind active and to remain motivated. If you are stuck at home and struggling to stay motivated, give me a call. I would be more than happy to have a chat with you. Alternatively, utilise your time wisely. Check out our latest jobs or have a look at our blogs for the latest goings on in the legal sector.
The Government has finally listened and delayed the roll out of their proposed change to IR35 in the Private Sector by 12 months, giving contractors and organisations that rely on temporary workers another year to prepare. This timeframe will also hopefully allow the Government to do a proper review into the reforms and make changes to ensure it has minimal impact on the UK contract sector. Steve Barclay, the chief secretary to the Treasury said: “I can also announce this evening, madam deputy speaker, that the government is postponing the reforms to the off-payroll working rules, IR35, from April 2020 to the 6th April 2021. “Government will therefore not move the original resolution tonight, but will shortly table an additional resolution confirming that we will reintroduce the off-payroll working rule provisions by amending the bill, with a commencement date of 6th April 2021.” “This is a deferral in response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 to help businesses and individuals. “This is a deferral, not a cancellation and the government remains committed to reintroducing this policy to ensure people working like employees but through their own limited company pay broadly the same tax as those employed directly.” This is great news, and something that we have been hoping for, but it doesn’t mean that we can all rest and forget about it until next year. Instead, we should use this time to continue preparing for the inevitable, and assist the government where we can in their review. Sellick Partnership Finance Director Mike Hoyle commended the government for making the right decision at such an uncertain and unprecedented time. He said “We are facing months of uncertainty as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak, and the worry around IR35 was one more thing we were all having to deal with, so now that is off the table we can breathe a slight sigh of relief. “I hope this news offers some comfort to contractors and clients, and will allow us all to work with some degree of normality. I would however advise everyone to keep the changes to IR35 in the Private Sector at the front of their mind. It is coming, and I think there will be much more stringent checks and enforcement when it is eventually implemented as a result of this extension. “For that reason all clients and candidates that are likely to be effected should keep in regular contact with their recruitment agency or continue to seek advice where necessary. That way we will be much better prepared and the roll out should have a minimal impact.” Director Ray Wareing who heads up our Finance & Accountancy recruitment team is delighted what the news will mean for UK contractors and our economy. He said “The postponement of IR35, the promise of £330 billion worth of business loans and the reduction of interest rates are all much needed and have been met with delight from organisations and contractors across the UK. It has allowed us all to breath a little easy for the next 12 months and make the year ahead easier to manage “Without this relief the UK economy would take an even bigger hit. Instead, the deferral, and government relief plans will allow contractors and businesses to continue with some degree or normality through this unprecedented time. “However, I would urge businesses and contractors to continue focussing on what IR35 will eventually mean for them. 12 months is not a long time – as we have already witnessed – and preparations will need to begin again soon if we are all going to be ready for the April 2021 deadline”. What does this delay mean for contractors? Contractors can carry on as normal, making their own IR35 assessment with very little impact until the new deadline of April 2021. Any preparations that have been made up until now will however still be relevant, so keep these in mind and continue to seek advice form specialist sources where appropriate. What does this delay mean for clients? Businesses can continue to rely on contract workers as they always have, and they have another year to prepare. Seek advice and discuss what implications IR35 might have, and ensure you plan for these in budgets and strategy for 2021. Our team are still on hand to answer any questions you might have regarding IR35, please feel free to get in touch.