Category Archives: Company News

Company updates, professional news

Corporate and Social Responsibility and COVID-19

Many companies have projects that they sponsor or charities that they donate to in the course of their business, benefiting a multitude of good causes. But, what about one cause, slowly unfolding before us and on an inevitable growth curve over the next few months.

Effects of Covid-19 on Youth Unemployment

COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of sadness and disruption to thousands personally, but economically worse is yet to come.

According to the Resolution Foundation (The Guardian 7th October, 2020, Richard Partington Covid generation: UK youth unemployment ‘set to triple to 80s levels’”) from October to the end of this year we could be facing an increase in youth unemployment (those aged 16-24 and not in education)  from 5.5% to 17%. This would match 1984 level under the Thatcher Government, at a time of great economic disruption, most notably a year dominated by the miners’ strike.

Lasting Damage of Early Unemployment

This grim forecast is due to the COVID second wave and the fact the youngest and oldest of the workforce are overrepresented by job losses in the Leisure, Hospitality and Retail sectors. However, surveys show that it will be the younger age group that will suffer most from the lasting damage from unemployment early in their career, and the danger of subsequent mental health issues. The RF reported the proportion of adults experiencing poor mental health in 2020 had increased by 80% among 18- to 29-year-olds compared to a 2019, the biggest increase of any age group.

Government’s Kickstart Scheme

The Government’s Kickstart initiative announced in the summer is something we can all as businesses get involved in and help stem this threat of long term youth unemployment. It is something we can all easily add on to our Corporate and Social Responsibilities. Offering businesses funding to cover minimum wages for 25 hours a week on 6 month placements plus a £1500 grant for each placement, the Government is hoping that 16-24 year olds currently on Universal Credit and facing long term unemployment will gain vital work experience, professional development and, most of all, hope.

How Smaller Companies Can Apply

If the stipulation of a minimum of 30 roles per application is prohibitive for smaller companies, they are able to pool together with other companies or seek out a Gateway company who will coordinate applications. The Government is also offering £300 to the applicant (whether the company or the Gateway company) for each role started to cover application administration costs. So, unless you want to top the job up to full time or increase the wages, it really is an initiative that costs the company nothing except the time to fill in an application form and to write a job description for each role.

Finding a Kickstart Gateway

Atwood Tate are acting as a Gateway and we have had a wonderful response from SME client companies who want to get involved. If you would like further details about this scheme you can find FAQs on our website at www.atwoodtate.co.uk/kickstart or email us at kickstart@atwoodtate.co.uk.

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Are you Able to ‘Kickstart’ a Young Person’s Career?

The government is calling on ‘every employer, big and small, national or local’ to hire as many ‘Kickstarters’ as possible, through their newly launched Kickstart Scheme.

These newly created job placements should help the ‘Kickstarters’ develop skills and experience that will help them with their future career prospects.

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

Kickstart is a Uk Government Scheme which provides funding to employers to create thousands of job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit.

The Government will fund 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions, for 6 months. £1,500 is also available per placement for support and training.

Who can apply for funding?

All UK companies are eligible to apply for funding but if they have less than 30 placements to offer they must apply through a representative organistation/gateway. The only criteria is that the job placements created with Kickstart funding must be new jobs and cannot:

  • replace existing or planned vacancies
  • cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment

The roles you are applying for must be:

  • a minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months
  • paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group
  • should not require people to undertake extensive training before they begin the job placement

Each application should include how you will help the participants to develop their skills and experience, including:

  • support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
  • support with CV and interview preparations
  • supporting the participant with basic skills, such as communication, problem solving and teamwork

How can Atwood Tate help?

As a passionate advocate of the scheme, Atwood Tate are delighted to get involved by acting as an intermediary organisation/gateway to facilitate our clients’ access to the scheme.  It is a fantastic opportunity for us all to give hope to the hundreds of young people that are getting in touch with us, concerned about their futures.

There has been some criticism and concern that many smaller businesses may be disadvantaged by the scheme in relation to their larger counterparts because companies taking on fewer than 30 new young workers are prevented from applying directly for funds. To address this problem, we are delighted to be working with our clients to pool your job vacancies and apply for funding on your behalf.

When Does the Kickstart Scheme Start?

The scheme is open for applications now and the DWP expect to be able to confirm funding within 4 weeks of the application.

How to Apply?

You can apply through our gateway as a completely free service, or you can take advantage of our large network, skills and experience to provide you with a more comprehensive package. Details of all our packages can be found on our website www.atwoodtate.co.uk

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Ideas to Keep Your Team Motivated

It has been a difficult six months on many levels – the uncertainty of the economy, the isolation of working at home, the challenge to keep focussed and motivated. All this on top of keeping both ourselves, and our loved ones, safe from the pandemic. I thought I would share how the Atwood Tate team have been coping and why we now find ourselves ready for the winter with renewed energy and confidence.

Uno joining ‘Hour of Power’!

At the start of the lockdown, we were acutely aware of how tough it was going to be. As a small company with a team who were used to sharing ideas and encouraging each other in an already tough market, the idea of a weekly Zoom meeting didn’t fill any of us with much enthusiasm.

A couple of years ago I had qualified in teaching a fitness class called Hour of PowerTM. As a qualified personal trainer in my spare time, I was keen for a new challenge. I loved teaching the class, but I found that the competition for fitness classes in my area and the fact that it was an unknown class made it very difficult to cover my costs. I ended up finishing before Christmas 2019 and had no motivation or confidence to start it up again in January 2020.

Charlie joining ‘Hour of Power’!

Fast forward to March 2020 and I find myself in a Director’s Meeting saying I could always do a weekly fitness class on Zoom…perhaps? Well, it was received with far more enthusiasm than I thought it would! And so, on a Wednesday lunchtime in April the team appeared on the screen in front of me in Lycra, and we have not looked back!

I think we have only missed three sessions over the months – due to holiday or illness. We have exercised through the heatwave, with some of the team furloughed and some not, when there’s been little happening in the market, and when we’ve all probably felt it is the last thing we want to do. But, it has been a really positive experience for us all. Before and after the class we have a chat – rarely about just work. We have got to know each other much better, and the smiling faces and laughter after the class lift the spirits well into the afternoon. Physical activity is certainly a tonic and mood enhancer, whatever your fitness level (it may also have had something to do with my faithful sidekicks Charley the dog and Uno the conure bird, who always make their presence known!). Plus, keeping fit increases confidence. We have all tackled difficult tasks we may otherwise have kept delaying and we have also revelled in the achievement of regular exercise, as we have seen and felt a difference in ourselves. For me it has helped me regain my confidence and belief in the class as a means of building strength, stamina and confidence, which feed into other areas of our lives.

I think it has become a staple of the weekly routine for us all and we have no plans to stop, unless we all become too busy to fit it in. But, in that case it will have done its job, tiding us over a difficult period, keeping us motivated. Or we may just reschedule it to a different time!

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Top 20 Interview Tips

Interview Tips

Interviews can be nerve racking and with many interviews now being conducted remotely it can be more difficult to appear relaxed and be able to get your personality across.  Whatever structure your interview takes and whatever level of role you are being interviewed for, the one things that remains unchanged is that preparation is still the key. The more you prepare the better chance of success you have.

There is a huge amount of advice out there to help you nail your interview, but we have put together a reminder of our top 20 tips for a successful interview.

1              BE PREPARED

2              BE PUNTUAL AND IF USING TECHNOLOGY TEST IN ADVANCE

3              SMILE & BE FRIENDLY

4              DON’T PANIC

5              RE-READ YOUR APPLICATION LETTER AND CV

6              BE ENTHUSIASTIC

7              BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITY

8              TAKE TIME TO CONSIDER YOUR ANSWERS

9              DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE COMPANY AND ROLE

10           DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE COMPANY’S COMPETITORS

11           PREPARE ANSWERS TO COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

12           HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRENGTHS AND APPLY THEM TO THE JOB ROLE

13           FRAME ANY WEAKNESSES POSITIVELY

14           PREPARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK

15           CLEARLY DEFINE WHY YOU WANT THIS PARTICULAR ROLE

16           KEEP PROFESSIONAL THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW

17           DON’T WAFFLE OR GO OFF AT TANGENTS

18           DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADMIT IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING

19           ASK ABOUT NEXT STAGES AND TIMELINE

20           FOLLOW UP AND CONFIRM YOUR INTEREST

Good luck!

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Why a diverse workforce can pay dividends

Creating a more diverse workforce should not just be seen as something to improve a company’s reputation or just used as a box ticking exercise, it should be recognised for something that will give you a competitive advantage and therefore ultimately increase success and profits.

Creating a team with different backgrounds and characteristics will enable you to challenge your thoughts and look at things from different perspectives, which in turn increases your creativity.

Research by Josh Bersin shows that companies who are the most inclusive are, amongst other benefits, 1.8 times more likely to be ‘change-ready’ which in today’s market is certainly a crucial skill to harness.

It is well documented that Publishing is an industry that has struggled with diversity and its ability or willingness to publish books that can appeal to and reach multiple audiences and although obviously not the complete answer, rethinking hiring practices has to be a starting point. As the recent well publicised academic study on diversity in trade fiction and the publishing industry Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing suggests ‘hiring more people who belong to marginalised communities will benefit publishers strongly in terms of helping them tap into new audiences – but only if they are given the resources and freedom to do this work’.  It goes on to say ‘while it is tempting to hire the person who fits in with the ‘culture’ of a publishing house, hiring people who do not fit the typical mould might in fact reap the biggest rewards if they are given the freedom and space to express themselves’.

As an agency and partner in our client’s recruitment, we take this responsibility seriously and do everything possible to facilitate the broadest possible reach and range of potential talent to offer them. To help combat ‘unconscious bias’, we can offer more standardised CVs which can include:

  • Removing candidate’s names
  • Removing university names
  • Removing current or previous employer details

We work with our clients to continually challenge our perceptions and some clients are asking us to specifically include a certain range of candidates where at all possible ie at least 1 female candidate, at least 1 male candidate (for roles such as editorial that have traditionally attracted mostly females) and at least 1 BAME candidate.  Where this is not possible, we are able to show that we have been fully inclusive with our searching and advertising criteria.  More and more clients are also opening their selection criteria to candidates outside of publishing, where this is possible.

As an agency, we encourage transparency when advertising new opportunities, particularly with salaries, as keeping salaries secret can increase discrimination. A candidate could be chosen simply because they are able or willing to accept a lower salary. To attract the right candidates to a company we need to look not only at their relevant ‘hard skills’ but also whether they are aligned to the company’s values and priorities. Transparency at an early stage, both with salaries and company culture, not only builds trust but also wastes less time. Even if we are not able to advertise the salary, we only approach candidates that we think are in the right bracket and do not put any candidates forward without them being aware of what the salary and other benefits are likely to be. We do not only look at the candidate’s current salary to determine whether they are a fit for the role, we look at whether they are qualified for the role, regardless of their current salary.

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Now could be a great time to try freelancing

Are you thinking about freelancing?

Freelancing can offer great flexibility and a chance to ‘be your own boss’ and now may be a great time to give it a go.  Whether you are looking to build a long term freelancing career or find interim work whilst looking for the right permanent opportunity, a lot of the same challenges and rewards apply.

If looking for a permanent job, getting some freelance experience will be great for your CV and will offer you the chance of increasing your connections.

First you need to decide what skills and experience you have to offer ie experience in social media marketing/general online marketing, experience of designing book covers or experience of editing technical content. 

Whatever this is can be your main offering but being open to new skills and continued learning is essential if you want to sustain a full-time freelance career.  There is so much training available online that you can teach yourself almost anything to either get more advanced with a current skill or learn a new skill.  See our recent blog on upskilling yourself online.  The more skills you have to offer the more successful you can be.

Once you are clear what you can offer potential clients, you can go about finding these clients and letting them know about your service.  Start with your existing network of contacts and build from here.  Advertise on social media channels and consider memberships of appropriate societies where you can advertise yourself and learn from other members.  BookMachine are currently partnering with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading to offer CIEP free membership in August.

Whatever freelancing services you want to offer there are some key qualities that you will need and that publishers will be looking for:

  • Confidence in your ability
  • Accuracy
  • Self-motivation and discipline
  • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal)
  • An understanding of your target market
  • Value for money
  • Being organised and adhering to deadlines

Showcasing as many of these skills as possible when approaching potential clients will give you a greater chance of success.

Once you have had some experience, you can start asking for testimonials and referrals which is a great way of building your network further. Also hopefully you will start to get repeat business and regular assignments.

Good luck!

More resources:

Working as a freelancer and Tips for freelancers from The Publishing Training Centre

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Helping candidates get a ‘foot in the door’

We know that many people are currently worried about their job prospects and as an employment agency we are keen to help in any way we can.  We are particularly concerned for those trying to enter the job market for the first time and have invited our publisher clients to promote any graduate schemes, paid internships or work experience through us (free of any charge). 

Details of publishing internships / publishing work experience / publishing graduate schemes will be posted here on our blog, promoted on our social media and shared with our registered job seekers.

If you’re a publisher or company in the publishing industry or supply chain, please get in touch with Claire Law at clairelaw@atwoodtate.co.uk

If you’d like more info on getting into publishing, we’ve got a blog post with lots more info: Work Experience & Entry Level Resources


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Carry on Reading…

With bookshops now starting to reopen, we hope that this is going to be a much needed boost for us all. With evidence showing that reading books has surged in lockdown we are all hoping that this trend will continue and now that people are able to visit bookshops, translate into further increased sales.

According to Nielsen Book’s research, 41% of people said they were reading more books during this period and many have almost doubled the hours they have spent reading per week. There have been stories from parents that have been delighted to see their teenage children grow back in love with reading. Hopefully this trend will continue and those that have found a new love of books will keep on benefitting.

For those of us that are struggling to read during these unsettling times, it is worth persevering. Try reading something lighter than you would usually choose if you are finding it harder to concentrate. It is well documented that reading can have many health benefits including reducing stress levels, lowering our blood pressure and helping combat depression. It can also improve our memory and empathy and generally make us feel more positive. This is in addition to the more obvious benefits of increasing our knowledge and challenging our imagination. In these current times the opportunity to have a ready form of entertainment with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in escapism seems even more welcome and valuable.

So whether you are finding that you read more or less during lockdown – the message is clear – support your well-being and our industry by carrying on reading!

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How Leaders Can Give Hope and Inspiration, Even in These Uncertain Times

Leading in uncertain times…

Many people will be looking to leaders, for some hope and inspiration, to get them through these uncertain times ahead.

According to Gallop, what people primarily need in their leader, is a clear path forward.  If we have this, then as human beings we are amazingly resilient, known as the ‘rally effect’.  During extraordinary times like this pandemic, it becomes even more important for leaders to clearly communicate this path and then to inspire confidence in their workforce to get through this difficult period by working as a team. You do not need to be overly optimistic or unrealistic, but you do need to give hope and encouragement.

In times of panic, it is easy to micromanage. To show trust, give your staff more autonomy rather than less and encourage them to see the bigger picture. By showing faith in them, it will allow them to help you come up with the best solutions.  When times are tough, people are afraid of losing their jobs. This fear often prevents them from freely making suggestions and observations that might lead to improved outcomes, as they don’t want to rock the boat.  If you want to motivate your employees and get the best out of them, you need to make them feel safe rather than fearful.  It is crucial that leaders don’t show panic, as employees often model their behaviour, particularly in times of crisis.  It does not mean that leaders need to have all the answers – it just means that they need to provide hope that things will eventually improve and give practical suggestions on steps to take on the path to recovery.

None of us know how long this situation is going to last or what the long term effects will be but knowing that the leadership has a clear plan of action and that they care about their employee’s health and well-being, will go a long way towards them feeling confident and secure.  They need to know that their contributions are valued and integral to the future success of the business.  If we can learn and adapt together, there is a much greater chance of coming through this testing time, both stronger and more resilient.

In the meantime, do not forget to celebrate the wins, however small and praise your team for things they are doing well.  Positivity breeds positivity, even in times of crisis.

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What will life look like back in the office?

Returning to the workplace…

Recent government announcements suggest that anyone unable to work from home, should now where possible, start to return to their workplaces.  This is straight-forward advice for industries that cannot work from home but what about those of us that have a choice?  How can we decide the right time to do this and the best way to do this?  The most important thing is to start planning now, in order to do this safely and most effectively, when the time is right.

The last couple of months has turned everything we did and thought on its head, including our attitudes to home working. Working from home is no longer seen as just an employee benefit for the minority, instead it has and will continue to be a core part of business planning. We have now learnt that it is possible for many of us to work from home and whilst there are undoubtedly some negatives, there are lots of obvious positives that many people will be keen to continue benefitting from.  The future challenge for businesses will be how much they can and should continue to offer flexibility, once it is not forced upon them and what the trade-offs will be in doing so.

According to a survey by job board Totaljobs 49% of people are looking forward to returning to work so managing how we introduce our staff back into the office and arriving at solutions that are safe and sustainable is the immediate challenge.  Most experts think that this ‘management phase’ of the covid-19 crisis, is likely to last well into next year, so getting it right is crucial.  In order to decide who to bring back first, you will need to think about what roles you absolutely need to have in the office and plan accordingly.  For example facilities and IT may be among the first to bring back so that they can help plan and implement the rest. Technology infrastructure will play a key part as it will need to continue to support some level of home working for those that cannot come back into the office. The more agile and flexible your systems are, the more you will be able to react to future disruptions ie if we get a large second peak of infections.  It will also enable you to offer flexible working as a long-term benefit. 

The CIPD have published a guide to returning to the workplace and they encourage all businesses to ensure that they meet three keys tests before bringing people back into the office:

  • Is it essential?
  • Is it sufficiently safe?
  • Is it mutually agreed?

The guide includes lots of practical advice on areas such as risk management and the importance of communicating the new rules and procedures. It also has lots of information on how the government’s new extended, more flexible furlough scheme can help. There are links to other useful information including the government guidance for working safely in offices.

What is clear, is that in order to keep to the government’s social distancing guidelines, most of us will not be able to go back into our offices exactly as we left them.  Unless we are able to take extra space, we will need to reduce the number of employees at work at any one time.  This could be done in a variety of ways, from shift patterns to rotational days or weeks, but ultimately will probably require some mixture of home and office working.

Managing all these additional challenges, as well as trying to keep business going will require all of us to work together. Clear communication and thorough planning will be vital. Showing that you are putting the health and well-being of your employees at the heart of all the decisions so that they feel supported and valued will be even more important in these challenging uncertain times.

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