An essential part of payroll and project management, timesheets can be a thorn in the side of many businesses. While there are a range of options available, failing to secure the fundamentals can leave you open to long-term issues or result in unnecessary complications that can cause significant problems for even the most organised of businesses.

So, what actions do your employees need to undertake when submitting their timesheets and what are the potential penalties if your business fails to comply?

Is approval required?

While it is advised, there is no legal obligation that states an employee is required to sign their timesheets before submission. Though this is normally enforced internally with a range of controls, there is no ‘default’ that requires them to sign their sheets before tendering them to your system.

In order to avoid this, best practice should involve asking employees to fully review their materials before submission. This can help spot errors and discrepancies and minimise the likelihood of ‘missed hours’ on timesheets.

If an employee fails to sign their sheet, it is strongly advised that you do not withhold their pay as the law dictates that it is primarily the employer’s right to observe and report on any hours worked.

And while approval is not explicitly required, the failure to manage timekeeping and validation is very real indeed.

What happens if they don’t sign?

In the short-term this can result in unnecessary resource expenditure as members of your team work to resolve the issue and ensure that your key figures tally.

In the long-term, this can result in disputes over pay, with culpability likely to be laid at the employer’s feet. This can produce issues over pay and problems managing relationships with key members of staff. If escalated, this can even result in legal action and the reputational damage that can accompany the negative publicity that surrounds such an event.

If employees fail to provide a signature, it is recommended to contact them and pursue the information. If no response is forthcoming, it is advised to estimate the hours worked and reimburse the individual based on the validated information available to you. If the payment is queried, you can then take timely action to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.

How can I resolve issues in the future?

In addition to businesses sharing the brunt of responsibility for timesheet management, the European Court of Justice recently made a ruling that businesses are required to have systems in place to help the management of timesheets – specifically asking employers to record every hour that their employees work.

This means that failing to keep and manage timesheets can not only result in fines but also the potential for a criminal conviction. And while individuals may think that Brexit may free them from blame, the fact that the ruling was made before Brexit means that it will likely remain a legally binding decision.

This makes it essential to not only track staff working hours but to ensure that record keeping captures when breaks are taken, all instances of overtime, and remain legally compliant at every possible turn.

If you are struggling with managing employee timesheets, deploying a digital timekeeping system is one sure-fire way to help deal with specific issues or address long standing problems affecting your business.

Deploying a reliable system enables you to streamline key administrative tasks and track actions taken with any timesheets. This allows for easy upload for employees and contractors and provide oversight on the position timesheets are in your processing workflows.

This also allows for the harvesting of ‘big data’ to help guide your work and ensure full control through dashboards and reporting – helping you to keep a grip on your timesheet management when it truly matters most.

What next?

If you want to learn more about timesheet approval or optimising your approach, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience delivering digital solutions for a range of clients, we work with you to understand your unique processes and deliver a solution that fits.

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With 2020 defined by a disrupted market and displaced professionals with exceptional expertise scattered across the marketplace, being able to contact and recruit the right employee for the right business is essential.

However, with so many options available, it can be difficult to understand the tools at your disposal and what options are right for your business.

So, what are the choices available to individuals seeking to recruit and which methodology is right your business?

What options are available?

When it comes to securing the right professional for your organisation or client, there are certain challenges to overcome. Cutting through the noise of social media and the ‘always on’ culture to secure the right hire can be difficult; but is far from impossible.

Here are some of our favourite options to use as part of your outreach, starting with-

Direct Advertising: This involves the placement of dedicated advertising on known job and recruitment sites. While this lacks finesse and is generally perceived to be a ‘shotgun’ approach, this can cost-effectively maximise your reach and quickly boost the number of applicants that will contact your business.

Contacting the right recruitment specialist team can help make your material more attractive to the right candidate. Specifically naming your business can also help market your brand and increase familiarity with what you are doing. Your chosen recruitment team should also aim to be as inclusive as possible and open your doors to engaging candidates who may otherwise be harder to attract in the sector.

However, remember that it is vital to properly target your advertising as taking a slapdash approach can result in being flooded with the wrong type of candidate. Weeding through these individuals can take significant time and energy and often make your approach more trouble than it was worth. As direct advertising can be expensive, it is crucial to make sure that you follow any guidance necessary to ensure you ‘get it right’ first time.

Existing Databases: Or ‘pools’ can be accessed for a subscription from many providers. This can help save days of employee time sifting through old details or trawling the web for relevant providers.

Despite their effectiveness, this only allows you to access individuals that the provider knows of or have made them aware of their availability. This can lock you out from attracting candidates with special expertise or ones that may be an ideal fit for the role. This makes them best used alongside more targeted approaches or optimising your engagement through automation.

It is also vitally important to keep your own internal contact databases updated. Building relationships with attractive employees can ensure they are ready to ‘make the jump’ when their current tenure expires.

SEO and Targeted Advertising: Moving up a step, any significant engagement should ideally involve an element of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. These allow you to fine tune the specific kind of candidates you would like to attract by geographic area, experience, interests, and more.

These can also be combined with the deployment of ongoing campaigns to help ensure that you’re tapping the right candidates on the shoulder and pointing them toward your business or your client’s website. If deployed correctly, these can be incredibly powerful and refined engagement tools – allowing you to work with speed and efficiency. However, it is important to remember that many campaigns can take time to gain momentum and engaging with a quality provider will almost always come with a premium price tag.

Gathering this information can allow you to crunch the data about your work, track the number of candidates you attract, and ensure that your approach is working. And if it isn’t, it’s time to get back to the lab with hard evidence to help make the changes that you require.

Social Media: It may seem strange to some here that social media engagement is ‘an oldie but a goodie’, and contacting potential employees directly is one of the most reliable forms of modern engagement. Almost every modern professional has a Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Insta account that they can use to market their work. With close to 90% of modern, young professionals using a range of socials, it can be a low-effort reservoir of talent.

social media

Despite this, it is important to remember that not everything that you see online is true to life. Many individuals will exaggerate their expertise and aptitude. And when brought into interview, can take time away from candidates who may have otherwise been perfect for the role.

Using social media can involve taking an inventive approach and using alternate social accounts to build a picture of a potential candidate. Just remember to be professional and respectful when approaching individuals in an unorthodox manner and provide credentials to back up your identity.

Legacy Candidates: Though it may be hard to believe, there are candidates out there that don’t have a massive online presence or aren’t advertising themselves. And in many cases, these are the types of hires that businesses dream about.

Whether their skills allow them to work part time, or they have niche ability that makes hiring a breeze, these individuals can be perfect to fit niche or valued roles. Choosing a seasoned employee can help transfer some hard-earned skills to younger employees and administrate and manage projects with greater ease. They may even currently be in an undervalued position and reaching out at the right time can secure a hire that requires minimal babysitting and can easily upskill.

Despite this, it is important to check that the professional has full aptitude in their sector and has refreshed their skillset over the period. While they may be able to ‘get up to speed’ quickly and bring their experience to bear, keeping up with their professional development and understanding of changes in your sector is vital.

Software Platforms: While there are a wealth of ways to engage with candidates online, carrying out a sustained recruitment drive will be significantly difficult without a dedicated software platform. This can help you create your own centralised spreadsheet of clients and maintain records on all the individuals you are interested in and your history of engagement with them.

Doing so allows your business to scale more effectively, cherry-pick the right candidate for the job through specific queries, and ensure that your data is easily searchable when a hire needs to be made with urgency.

writing

While the systems are powerful and highly effective, it is vitally important to ensure that the system you use is not only fit-for-purpose but adaptable to meet future change. Taking some time to review your internal requirements can help you select a system that is right for you. This can help manage and report on your internal stable of potential employees and ensure that data entry errors and issues around information management are kept to an absolute minimum.

Which one is right for me?

The truth is – it depends.

One of the strengths of modern recruitment is the ability to take advantage of digital solutions, physical fixes, or a combination of both to address issues facing your work. Whether you are a dedicated provider or a client looking to make the most out of the opportunities available to them – taking time to review your specific problems can let you unlock a solution that suits your needs.

Taking an agile approach allows you to quickly road test a solution and quickly refine the output. This lets you create and test a hypothesis – allowing you to assemble a marketing and engagement plan to target your approach.

No matter your choice, working with an advisor with access to the right tools can act as a valuable force multiplier. This can quickly extend the reach of the smallest business, allow you to formulate a pitch that captures a dream-hire’s attention, and acquire the professional edge you need today.

What next?

If you want to learn more about the options and innovations available to improve your recruitment process, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience, our expert team work with your in-house systems to optimise your approach and tackle the unique issues facing your business.

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A vital part of building a business, the recruitment process can be resource hungry and time consuming. Much more than posting an advert on a job site, taking a little extra care and attention can make all the difference when securing a long-term hire and capturing a passionate employee who helps take your business to the next level.

So, what exactly makes recruitment such an essential process and what tools are available to help optimise your approach?

What is recruitment?

Including a balance of tact, skill, analysis, and planning; finding the right employer in the modern marketplace can be extremely involved and challenging.

While the process may differ from business to business, there are several common steps that need to be followed in order to enjoy a manageable, replicable, and productive process. These include-

Internal Review: Time is spent on reviewing the role that is being recruited for, contextualised against the events that led to a need for hiring. This can be picking up a new employee with the necessary skillset, expanding a team in order to complete a project, as part of an ongoing growth strategy and more. Once the specifics have been identified, the relevant parties work on-

Crafting the Materials: This involves creating the package that will be circulated to attract a professional to take up the role. This requires the creation of – at a minimum – the job spec, the plan for making the vacancy known, the internal process to vet and interview the client, and any external providers you will work with once you have drawn up the package. Once complete, then it is time to take part in-

Outreach and Engagement: This executes your plan and, ideally, places the materials in the hands of your applicants or the third-party that will complete the task on your behalf. Once the materials have gone live, there will be a window of time during which applications will be tendered. After the first applications start hitting your inbox, it is time for-

Review: Getting ahead of this process is vitally important and allows you to start screening out unsuitable applicants or earmarking individuals for interview. This can involve preliminary rounds of phone interviews and conversations to sound out a candidate and get a sense of their personality, soft skills and ensuring that their credentials are correct. This can proceed over several rounds and involve in person interviews, aptitude tests, and reviews. But once you have narrowed the application pool down, it’s time for-

Due Diligence: It is time to carry out a full background check and review, with previous validation ideally carried out during the interview process. If there are irregularities with their records or issues emerge, it is important to pick them up with the potential hire as quickly as possible. Once the checks are passed, it is time to make a formal offer to the applicant

Hiring: A formal offer is made to the client who can accept or reject the tender. If accepted, the individual and your in-house team carry out the onboarding process, add them to the payroll, and set them up internally with their key responsibilities – starting a long-running review process to ensure they are embedding correctly and managing to carry out their essential tasks.

All in all, the process is not only exhaustive and time/resource intensive, but there is colossal room for error. And many a company has completed the key steps under their own steam only to pick up a new hire that lacks the skills or ability to carry out their roles and proves to be expensive or time-consuming to replace.

Why is it so important to get right?

While it may seem like recruitment involves a conveyor belt of applicants, the truth is far more complex. More art than science, recruiting correctly requires an understanding of the internal configuration of your company and an awareness of the professionals operating within your sector.

Failing to master your recruitment process can often invite more problems than it solves. Large volumes of applicants can make your hiring actions difficult, resulting in additional resource expenditure and ongoing problems. This can also stymie long-standing plans within the business when it comes to scaling, strategic decisions, or even finishing out key projects.

Failing to nail down an approach results in a lack of consistency, making each recruitment drive a fresh problem rather than building on previous lessons learnt. And taking a ramshackle approach can result in bad PR for your business. Don’t forget that applicants talk and being pushed around, poorly communicated with, or waiting weeks for a decision can lead to your business being badmouthed online – creating another issue that must be tackled.

It is also worth remembering that, even with the most organised and professional team, recruitment is extremely difficult. Some commonly occurring problems include-

Finding Qualified Individuals: Any individual that has undertaken staffing drives knows that a good hire these days is hard to find. The most qualified or successful hires are quickly snapped up by larger companies, with businesses often being restricted by budgetary requirements, geographic location, technical configurations and more. Locating, courting, and onboarding the right individual is immensely difficult and – all too often – recruiting involves an element of compromise.

Speed and Efficiency: Taking the time to review and correctly vet each client can be close to impossible. This makes taking additional care at the start of the process to correctly tailor the position to fit a specific type of professional or take constant steps to refine your pool. This can often result in a ballooning budget or drawing out recruitment to match your internal capacity – often resulting in the most qualified individuals getting cold feet and going with a faster moving competitor.

Legal Action: While every business may be different, it’s important to ensure that you are making the right hire and following the letter of the law when it comes to seeing out the process. The hiring process is subject to significant legal scrutiny and – if an applicant feels they have been poorly treated or discriminated against – they have strong ground to pursue legal action.

How can technology help?

While there is no substitute for working alongside a professional advisor or securing a seasoned professional to lead the recruitment drive, using a software platform can add significant value to the process. Whether you are carrying out a one-off search or a continued drive, some key benefits include, but are not limited to-

Oversight: Choosing a recruitment system can help you retain full visibility over your process. This can be through functionality such as dedicated dashboards and detailed documentation covering the process and retaining notes on interviewees. This allows for the crunching of data for end to end analysis and improvement or ensuring that no client is overlooked.

Collaboration: With rare exception, recruitment drives will not be carried out by lone individuals. Cloud based collaboration software allows employees to communicate more effectively and share feedback on promising candidates. This is particularly handy for businesses with separate offices in different countries or time-zones, allowing for quality communication and ironing out mistakes.

Optimisation: Deploying a platform or CRM system can help ensure that your teams put their best foot forward when dealing with candidates. This can be as simple as responding to emails or questionnaires, templating email alerts, and streamlining the process of following up with candidates regarding their success.

Error Reduction: Working with a dedicated platform allows you to create and enforce a pipeline for engaging with candidates that reduces issues or errors when it matters most. This can be segmented or tiered as necessary, allowing employees high autonomy when dealing with the recruitment process while ensuring that every box is ticked. This also allows for database hygiene and allows you to keep records of previous interviewees that can potentially be used in future drives.

Targeted Care: If your recruitment processes are running into the same obstacles again and again, a tailored system can help refine your approach and ensure that key pain points are tackled. This can help eliminate unnecessary process steps, reinforce best practice, or incorporate key actions and functionality that you wish you had.

What next?

If you want to learn more about streamlining your recruitment process, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ professional experience, we understand the importance of providing that essential edge that helps your business secure the dream employees that you want…and the essential hires you never knew you needed.

You can check out the functionality of our dedicated software packages from here or learn more about how we work with our clients from here. Or if you have any questions about your unique business needs or how to tackle problems you keep encountering again and again, you can contact us today and let our in-house team know exactly what you need to get your processes totally fit-for-purpose.

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Whether you are struggling to manage remote working under the threat of Covid-19 or failing to get the most out of your employees; efficient, effective productivity is everything. Often seen as an intangible goal, improving your staff output without inducing burnout is a concrete process that can be applied to every business – with the ‘Rule of 3’ leading the pack when it comes to implementing improvements to businesses of any size.

So, how can the ‘Rule of 3’ improve productivity and what are some quick and clean ways to bring it in through your place of work?

What is productivity?

Put simply, productivity is the optimisation of output per units of input. In engineering, this can be keeping the level of electrical energy entering a machine consistent while increasing the amount of output. However, when it comes to dealing with human employees, things get a little more complex.

In the same way as every individual is different, there are several factors or elements that can affect an individual’s productivity. While some of these can be simple fixes like improving their access to equipment or correct training, understanding the unique reasons why teams or key employees are not hitting their potential can be challenging in the extreme.

accepting a job

Many businesses can not only find themselves struggling with employees that display low productivity, but also being unable to find out what ‘productivity’ truly is.  And without this insight, companies can find themselves missing out on opportunities that could have a profound impact on their work and daily practice.

Why is it so important?

Without a focus on productivity, your business will never reach its true, projected potential.

This means that for every employee you will be potentially wasting time, energy, and resources to complete a task. This quickly affects your margins, growth plans, and adds an element of uncertainty to the mix.

Without a real-world overview of your targets, approach, and deliverables, it is simply impossible to gauge the current level of productivity and take steps to adjust your practice and introduce incentives to help improve their efforts and the end-result of their graft.

Although improving individual productivity can help, advancements in technology make it easier than ever before to capture information about productivity. This can range from tracking deliverables that have been produced, client issues that have been resolved, and keeping an eye on key project management tasks. Finding the right system can let you view these statistics through a live dashboard, set up triggers and alerts to help you respond to high-priority incidents, or just help crunch your data to aid future projections.

Without a solid digital backbone, the amount of hands-on oversight will increase as your company scales. And, eventually, prove to be an obstacle that will require too much effort to cost-effectively unpick.

While it may be impossible to do an employee’s work for them, most of the responsibility for driving productivity rests at the feet of the employer. This means it is important for your business and line managers to understand the nature of how your teams work and put in place best practice approaches to make sure that your teams are up to the job.

What is the ‘Rule of 3’?

While taking a look at your overall productivity can be challenging – as there are a wealth of digitization platforms and approaches available – it is often the first step that is the most important.

For many businesses, this means implementing the ‘Rule of 3’ – a productivity approach that can yield significant results in the most disorganised or disciplined workplace.

Part of agile business practice, the rule asks employees to focus on accomplishing three concrete things each day, each week, each month, and each year.

And that’s it.

Simple and straightforward, this approach is useful for two key reasons-

Practical Approach: The three-step approach allows your teams and employees to start planning at the highest possible level. This allows for targets to be segmented and reporting to take place that is broken down effectively. Explainable in a minute, this minimises time spent on unnecessary planning work and makes conversations or meetings easier to hold.

Mindset Adjustment: Arguably the most useful aspect of the approach, following the rule allows employees to adopt a new view of approaching work. This allows them to ask the question if what they are currently working on is contributing to one of those goals or even actively preventing them from accomplishing what they are set out to do.

Office worker sat at computer

One of the biggest reasons why productivity fails is that, for many of us, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. We may assume a task can be accomplished with ease, get derailed in office conversations, or run into obstacles that we may feel compelled to finish but pull us away from achieving targets and goals.

How can I implement it? 

While the approach is relatively straightforward, implementing it within groups of different compositions can be challenging. In order to help the process ‘stick’ it can be helpful to talk through the process and ‘trial’ the approach with employees for a week. This helps them gather practical experience about what works (and what doesn’t) and apply future learning to what they’ve gathered first-hand. And as one of the biggest obstacles to learning is picking things up in the abstract, this can help make future sessions more accessible and relevant.

Once your teams have trialled the approach, it can be helpful to apply some additional lessons. These can include, but not be limited to-

Changing Your Approach: One key thing to realise with the rule is that…it’s just a rule. They are not important in and of themselves and failing to meet them should not be punished. The system helps test the water to see how teams are doing. If they are not hitting these targets regularly, it is worth taking a closer look and seeing what obstacles stand in their way and which ones can be removed.

Prioritization: The rules dictate the results that are to be achieved, not how they are meant to be accomplished. For example, if one task is to adjust data in an excel spreadsheet, in-house tools can be used to review the data. However, if a new external tool becomes available in half the time, use that instead! This allows teams to think constructively and not blindly carry out their tasks without optimisation.

Anchoring: Even the most professional of office environments are full of distractions. Unnecessary conversations, unexpected emails, overlong meetings, or high-priority client problems can quickly derail a workday and leave employees distracted. Before long, a ten-minute delay can spiral out of control and – in extreme cases – claim days of working time as they review the issue. Choosing to follow the rule of 3 means that employees are always able to look back to their list of three key items and check if it’s helping or hindering the accomplishment of their goals. And, if it isn’t, it’s potentially time to put it aside.

Embedding: An essential strength of the rule of 3 is its ability to combine with existing lists or plans that you have. This allows you to ‘map’ between the two and attach key tasks to daily, weekly, or monthly criteria. And if a task cannot be ‘filed’ under one of your established rule of three headers, it may be worth abandoning it or redetermining its priority.

Refocusing: If there is one lesson to be taken away from the rule of 3 it’s that employees and their managers need to be aware of their key tasks but also their capacity to complete them. Working with clear targets in mind makes it much easier for employees to keep awareness of their workload and ring-fence actions that prevent them from completing their work.

Of course, following this approach is only the first step on the way to optimising your productivity. Once in place, embedding the right apps, software platforms, and collaborative tools can help your teams optimise their output and – most importantly – capture vital digital data that can then be reported on.

What next?

If you want to learn more about how improvements to your business can raise productivity, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience working with a  range of clients, we are more than happy to provide the help and practical support that you need.

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A problem for businesses of all sizes, improving your productivity can be as confounding as it is essential. Whether it’s digital distractions, resource issues, or any other number of tiny problems – optimising your productivity can lead to a happy workforce and greater returns without the risk of resource expenditure or burnout.

So, what ways can you easily improve or refine your approach to productivity when it truly matters most?

How can productivity be improved?

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing your productivity, there are a number of tools or approaches at your proposal that can truly make a difference. These include-

1. Recruiting people that work the right way: Depending on how your business is run, it will help to seek out individuals during the recruitment process that add valuable hard and soft skills to your company. This can be as simple as being au fait with project management practice and a track record of delivery or be able to add new elements to your company. Being able to collaborate well with others and be receptive to feedback is a massive help too.

2. Streamline Communication: One of the biggest delays facing professionals is needless chats and emails. Embedding a text chat or email system can help refine communication and ensure that there is a physical record of decisions and ideas that can be reviewed at a later date. This can be incredibly useful when dealing with clients and setting boundaries early on in a project can pay dividends further down the line. This can also allow for clear concise communication through all levels of your business, avoiding confusion, contradictions, and allowing you to get a clear view of the current state of play.

3. Manage mental health: One of the greatest unseen risks, individuals can often find themselves pressed to work with maximum efficiency or deal with a workload that is beyond them. This can quickly lead to personal issues and an overall reduction in their ability to clear work. Be sure to be open and considerate with your staff and, if mental health or personal issues are evident, that they will be accommodated with empathy and care.

4. Enable autonomy: Everyone will work differently and – while having a unified approach is essential – allowing individuals to work the way that they prefer to ‘get the job done’ can be a massive boost for your teams. This can be as simple as allowing them free reign to approach tasks, pursue their leads and ideas, all while validating their decisions with their manager. This can save time, resource, and open your work up to opportunities and approaches that would otherwise remain unseen.

5. Avoid Burnout: One of the biggest risks for many professionals is finding themselves approaching exhaustion with their workload. It is essential that projects are correctly budgeted for and, while clearing mountains of work may look good on paper, teams will reach breaking point and your train will derail pretty quickly. Even the knowledge that there is a safety net and company-wide understanding about professional care can make a massive difference when it comes to safely delivering projects.

6. Add incentives: While motivation is different for every individual, having concrete goals and rewards to work toward can massively help your approach to internal efficiency. This can range from simple bonuses, to potential raises, and stock options. Or it can include publicly thanking individuals and making their efforts known to others or entering them into competitions. Talking to employees on a one-to-one basis can allow you to better understand their career goals and offer rewards that map to their key motivators and encourage them to work with greater efficiency to hit key KPI’s and delivery dates.

7. Metricise and analyse: The only way to get a true handle on your productivity is to understand where your efforts are potentially falling short in the first place and what the barometer for ‘success’ is. This can be helped by using a software platform that allows you to aggregate information about project data, expenditure, and timeframes – allowing you to track progress over a long and short-term timeframes, empowering you to make the right decisions for your teams.

8. Facilitate remote work: When it comes to dealing with unavoidable issues or attracting skilled workers, allowing for remote roles can help reduce overheads and allow your team members the ability to pursue their roles exactly as they prefer to. This can involve the use of collaborative platforms such as Office 365 or other bespoke tools to optimise your approach and save valuable time.

9. Train and educate: When it comes to driving for efficiency, taking the time to improve the knowledge and practical skills of your teams can be incredibly helpful. This can include deploying timeboxing tactics, showing best practice approaches for professional communication, and common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to problem solving and procrastination.

10. Right tools for the job: If you’re truly looking to get the most out of your teams, being able to use the right range of digital apps and tools can help improve your team’s approach. This can include automating key tasks, setting reminders for delivery dates, or allowing your line managers to check in on projects and ensure that budgets are not being wasted and that key deadlines are not at risk of being breached.

What next?

If you want to learn more about improving your productivity, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience, our teams work with you to provide a solution that tackles your business needs and ensures you are fully equipped to handle the challenges that can face your business.

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Successfully managing your payroll records can help give insight to your professional approach and enable you to manage your liabilities effectively. With risks of fines, censure, and a wealth of other issues – it is vital to make sure that you remain compliant as we move into a new decade.

So, what payroll records need to be kept by your business and what can you do to improve your approach?

Which payroll records must be kept?

The law dictates that you are required to keep information about your employees’ tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions for three years from the end of the tax year they are attached to.

This is to allow HMRC to fully check and validate your internal records, ensuring that you are acting correctly and that there are no irregularities with your approach.

These are to be provided in a way that allows them to be quickly and efficiently checked for accuracy in order to enable HMRC to validate that you are paying the correct amount of tax. If not provided in a timely or appropriate manner, this can cause issues for the department and your business – with HMRC having a number of protocols in place to help them get hold of the information that they need.

With a significant number of powers at their disposal, HMRC can heavily impact your business – resulting in a number of complications that can range from the commitment of additional resources, preventing your ability to trade, to formal prosecution.

This makes it essential to get it right first time and to ensure that you are operating and reporting correctly is treated as a priority for every business.

How they should be stored?

When it comes to capturing information about your staff, there are a number of standard or hybridised options available to you that allow you to remain fully compliant. These include

Physical Records: Also know as ‘paper’ records, these involve holding the information you require on onsite storage, most commonly in a secured room in a filing cabinet or other secure storage solution. While fully compliant with the law, this can quickly become a highly inefficient process – with changes to records requiring regular updates and risking the potential of human error. This also raises questions of tracking who has access to the storage area, potentially leaving you open to action for data breaches.

Offline Digital Storage: The next step up for efficiency – but not security – this involves storing data on a series of spreadsheets on a system. This can be distributed by tools such as Google Docs or Microsoft cloud storage, but for day-to-day use, it becomes essential to ensure that data protection protocols are enforced and applied. Choosing a cloud solution can help ensure document unity and allow flexibility when it comes to editing content when needed.

Dedicated HR Systems: Selecting a bespoke on-site system can be perfect for businesses dealing with high-turnover or long-term problems when it comes to your document management. Ensuring compliance, these can require significant effort to validate and install, but carry the bonus of making your work more efficient and correct through automation, reminders, and the deployment of dashboards and key metrics. These are commonly stored on internal servers or require on-site hardware and – if appropriate for your use case – can provide significant long-term benefits.

Cloud HR Systems: The next step up from a dedicated HR infrastructure, cloud based solutions are designed to be fully GDPR compliant and make document management straightforward. These are commonly accessed through dedicated apps or online portals and cut back on the physical needs for your business to manage your reporting – with the ability to auto gen reports, cut back on maintenance, and ensure full compliance with HMRC protocol.

No matter your choice, it is essential to review your existing practice, your HMRC requirements and find the most efficient way to manage your workload. This can involve reviewing with your internal IT and HR teams but should ideally involve guidance from experts or other providers to ensure that the right decision is made to cut back on additional time or resource expenditure.

How to know which payroll records to keep?

Thankfully, HMRC provide extensive information about the material you and your teams are required to provide and retain when it comes to regular reporting.

When it comes to the details you are required to keep, these include any information on-

1. Payments: Your information should contain details about what your employees are paid and the deductions that you make internally,

2. HMRC Content: Your data should also include copies of any and all reports made to HMRC along with any payments that you tendered.

3. Employee Data: This should also include information about employee absences across the period, including sick leave and other exceptional circumstances.

4. Tax Code Information: Any information tendered about changes to your tax code should be added to the system, in the form of a P6 document.

5. Expenses Details: All taxable expenses should be added to the list along with any benefits.

6. Payroll Scheme Details: The material should also include information about your Payroll Giving Scheme documentation, such as contracts, authorisation forms, or other material relevant to your business.

Along with keeping this information secure, accurate, and up to date, employees should be able to make a request to view the information that you store about them at any time.

This includes complying with requests to-

– View the information that you are storing and correct it if it is wrong.

– Request the deletion of data.

– Request that their information is not to be used for certain purposes.

They are then able to check in and, if these changes have not been made or adhered to, your business can potentially be left open to legal action.

What are the penalties for not keeping them?

One of the major reasons for ensuring compliance is the significant formal and informal costs that accompany a breach.

HMRC has extensive abilities to investigate and aggressively prosecute all those that are unintentionally or deliberately breaking the rules. The body enjoys significant civil and criminal powers to identify and conduct a criminal investigation. HMRC aims to provide a ‘strong deterrent message’ by prosecuting infractions to the fullest of their ability in order to set an example to other businesses. While HMRC will not make a decision about a criminal prosecution, they will gather information to provide the strongest possible criminal case before passing the information to the relevant prosecution service for the chosen jurisdiction.

While payroll will rarely lead to significant action, HMRC’s aggressive approach extends to their checks. If full and complete records are not provided, they have the ability to force you to pay a fine of up to £3000 and make an estimation based on the information they have available to them, which will likely to prove less than conservative. If your payroll records are not available – due to damage, theft, or loss – you must inform them immediately and detail values that are estimated or provisional.

If HMRC identifies what they believe to be a criminal obfuscation or data breach, they will likely take action to carry out a full investigation and use their influence to investigate you to their satisfaction.

In addition, the negative press that surrounds a lawsuit can cause other damage to your business. A loss of payroll data can be due to or result of a data breach, leaving your employees open to pursuing legal action against you for breach of their personal data. This can also be followed up with prosecution or fines levied through GDPR and potential partners taking action in the wake of an investigation that they can become implicated with.

Add in the soft power loss and negative publicity that follows reporting on fines and censure, you can quickly realise that taking the utmost care in your dealings with HMRC is essential.

How they should be disposed?

When records are required to be removed, they must be disposed of routinely and in line with relevant legislation. This requires the records to be deleted or shredded in a manner that is fully compliant with GDPR protocol.

These should be added as a regular part of daily responsibilities and should be easy to validate by any investigatory or regulatory body. This makes it vital to spend time creating and implementing a  plan that covers the disposal of physical and digital documentation in a fully compliant manner.

This involves considering:

Handling Physical destruction: Any business will provide physical documentation or come into materials that will need to be destroyed. It is essential that your teams understand the approach to take when it comes to disposing of documentation safely and securely and that you are fully aligned with GDPR best practice.

Physical Infrastructure: It is often easy to forget that much of the hardware deployed in your office can be used to retrieve data and infrastructure. Old laptops can contain sensitive documents that can be retrieved from a restore point, sensitive communications, or allow access to accounts through stored passwords. Make sure to have your IT teams fully wipe devices and take appropriate steps to put old units safely beyond use before recycling or repurposing them.  

Enforcing Best Practice: There is little point having protocols and steps in place without educating your staff about how to follow them. Instructions should be delivered to individuals throughout your teams and supported by hands-on training about best practice. This can range from poor document handling or simply copying sensitive files from a shared server to a pen drive that goes missing. Avoiding issues before they come to light can help head issues off at the pass and save significant time, stress, and resource expenditure,.

What should I ask my provider?

When it comes to making changes to your approach or optimising your existing infrastructure, it is vital to take the time to review your configuration with your in-house or external providers and find a solution that is right for you. This includes asking-

What elements are coming in the future? While GDPR has influenced, it is likely that the next ten years will see numerous changes as the world’s approach to data handling and understanding of the risks involved grows. Settling on an approach that is adaptable can help ensure that you are ready to meet this head on and respond to threats and opportunities with surety and speed.

What can help? A critical part of records management is understanding where you are currently falling down when it comes to storage and management and what you can do to improve your process. This can involve confirming key roles for members of staff, updating your infrastructure, or working to familiarise yourself with GDPR or HMRC requirements.

Going Digital? For many companies, implementing or improving digital infrastructure is a highly efficient way to improve your document storage protocol and ‘bake in’ compliance at all levels of your business. While finding the right system or additional tools can be difficult, consulting  a professional team can help reduce the effort involved and ensure that your business is ready to adapt to future change and capture payroll information that can be used to drive future decision making.

What next?

If you want to learn more about optimising your payroll practice, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience, we work with you to provide the level of care you need to remain compliant and make the payroll process as easy to complete as possible.

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Improving our productivity can be a daily challenge for all of us. Thankfully, there are a number of highly experienced professionals on hand to give you the expert insight you need to make positive changes at all levels within your company.

So, here are ten of our favourite podcasts to check out that can help make a real difference to how you work. Starting with-  

1. Tim Ferris: A modern polymath, Tim Ferris’ motivational style has earned him the title of “the world’s best human guinea pig” with each episode ruminating on new topics and trends, while comparing notes with world class masters. Emphasising education and fun, Ferris is the guilty pleasure that we all need in our lives.

2. 5am Miracle: Aiming to ‘dominate your day before breakfast’ Jeff Sanders is a full-on advocate for gripping the day by the reins and making the most of every moment. A motivational speaker, Jeff Sanders offers his views on goal achievement, weight loss, and lifelong learning – being the pushy older brother that we all need from time to time.

3. The Accidental Creative: With a focus on improving your daily practice, AC offers interviews with leading professionals about how they climbed to the heights of their fields…while still fighting to find fulfilment. Broken into manageable chunks, this helps challenge and champion aspects of your life and holistically become a better employee.

4. The Great Work Podcast: With an affirmation in its name, you know that you’re going to be in for something special. Hosted by Michael Bungay Stanier, this fantastic series breaks down critical tasks into simple ‘how to’ guides, giving straightforward advice that you can implement in your daily life. Simple, clear, and respectful – it’s a must listen for fans of understanding the bigger picture.

5. Functioning Minimalist: Diving into the importance of mindfulness and self-growth, Sara hosts an amazing podcast about thriving at work while remaining aware of the importance of personal fulfilment. Whether it’s dealing with the doldrums of Mondays, fighting burnout, or honestly dealing with anger about being passed over for a promotion – FM is a great listen for veterans and newbies alike.

6. The Productivity Show: With a focus on balance, health, and family – TPS drills into how to optimise your daily approach without sacrificing the things that really matter the most. From working from home, bouncing back from a firing, and how to secure a time-sensitive side hustle; TPS is an incredible shout for the modern professional the world over.

7. Blinkist Podcast – Personal Development: Hosted by Ben Schuman-Stoler, this podcast aims to make ‘big ideas personal’ – getting at the million and one tasks that affect us as employees and impact the professional world around us. With a regular ‘checking in’ series, listeners get long term mentorship from professionals and gather insight and anecdotes that can help you make the right decisions when you’re up against it.

8. The Bottom Line: From the mind of Evan Davis and the top-class producers at the BBC, Bottom line is a business conversation show that gets into every topic imaginable – giving insight to all levels of professional development. From conflict resolution, letting staff go, and the importance of saving a foundering company; this show has it all and more.

9. Productivity Paradox: Hosted by Tonya Dalton, this fantastic bite-sized podcast focuses on actionable strategies that can help make a difference. Some may work, some may not – but the important thing is to try and move on to the next big task! With a focus on creativity, each lesson is applicable to every field. And when the chips are down, being able to harness that ingenuity can be truly transformative.

10. Getting Things Done: Ending on an absolute gem, GTD is arguably the gold standard of productivity podcasts. Created by the David Allen company, the show gives practical tips aimed all the way from beginners to experts that can help optimise your approach, from avoiding procrastination, securing fresh perspectives, and helping understand and segment the journey ahead of you.

What next?

If you want to learn more about how digital innovation or assistance can help improve productivity within your business, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years practical experience, we are here to work with you to find a light touch or end-to-end solution that addresses your issues.

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When it comes to managing projects large and small, one of the biggest obstacles businesses can find themselves facing is procrastination.

Occurring for a wealth of reasons, an astonishing 84 per cent of the population has issues with delaying their responsibilities or delaying their workload.

So, how do you deal with it and what can help when it comes to dealing with procrastination?

What is procrastination?

If there ever were a time to joke about putting off an explanation about procrastination, it would go here. Coming from the Latin ‘procrastinare’, the literal definition is ‘putting off today what can be done tomorrow’. This involves delaying work for any number of deliberate, subconscious, or inadvertent reasons. For individuals, this ‘thief of time’ can lead to frustrations and stress, resulting in any number of issues such as-

Stress: Operating in a closed loop, many procrastinators put off tasks in order to avoid them…resulting in yet more personal and professional stress. Before long, individuals can burn out due to the cumulative strain of producing inadequate work and creating more problems for themselves. The thought of work piling up can trigger feelings of stress and force the individual to work outside of hours without being paid – consolidating unstainable practice for your business and unequitable treatment for the employee.

Missed Deadlines: By definition, procrastination will result in missed deadlines. While personal deadlines can be frustrating and cause personal issues, procrastinating on professional work can have serious ramifications. If delivered at all, work will often be sub-par and not accurately reflect the individual’s capacity or that of your organisation. This can result in lost opportunities, reputational damage, and the passing of work to other employees to pick up the slack.

Snowballing: If deadlines are missed continuously, this can result in a logjam at multiple levels of your business. While this can be resolved with additional work effort, this can be crippling for departments that are interdependent on each other – with teams left sitting on completed work while another individual struggles to keep up. On an individual level, this can result in a caseload that becomes paralysing, eventually resulting in disciplinary action or even rethinking their place in the company.

Resource loss: No matter the scale of the issue, procrastination will require additional ‘resource’ of time, effort, or manpower to resolve the problem, often going beyond the budget allocated to the original project. This can be inconvenient for businesses and highly damaging for smaller companies operating on slender margins, with additional effort required to fix the issue often incurring expense that negates the value of the project in the first place.

This makes understanding and actively addressing procrastination essential. And once appreciated, putting in place key steps can help optimise your approach and prevent issues from occurring in the future.

Why does procrastination happen?

While there are a number of theories about the specificities of the habit, procrastination is first and foremost a stress avoidance strategy. By delaying work, the individual affected can put the event into the future and avoid addressing it here and now. This involves an element of ‘giving in’ and passively accepting the future rather than standing up and trying to take steps to course correct it.

Often, an oncoming deadline or tasks can appear intimidating and individuals prefer to undertake a short-term ‘pleasurable’ activity to avoid the task – such as opening YouTube, turning on their Play Station, or putting on the TV in order to forget about their worries.

Unfortunately, these issues are not going away any time soon.

Once the deadline draws near, the individual has diminished time to resolve their issues and the cycle repeats. And then does so again. And again. And again – to the point where the stress of the completing the activity is more than the emotional and professional pain of letting it slide entirely.

The process is a self-defeating, vicious cycle. And there are a number of ways people approach it.

What types of procrastinator are there?

While there are multiple theories about the origins of procrastination, there are four established types that most individuals conform to. These include-

1. Fearful: The most common type for many individuals, fearful procrastinators are primarily scared about the task they are expected to accomplish. Through being fearful, they are reluctant to take the first step on the road to failure and put off making a genuine start as long as possible. After all, the only way to never fail is to avoid trying in the first place.

In this way fearful procrastinators are self-comforting by avoiding the real or imagined stresses that accompany failure. Failure is often seen as the most effective path to growth and learning. This means by locking themselves off from completing a task, they prevent themselves from accomplishing personal growth and can stunt their emotional and professional development.

2. Perfectionist: The flip side of being fearful, perfectionism is putting off tasks or spending so much time noodling away at them that they never end up completed or are tweaked beyond recognition. Perfectionism will often come hand-in-hand with a need for control and if a project or task does not turn out ‘just right’ or as envisioned, it can result in repetition or delays until it is completed to – what can often be – unattainable standards.

However, each task does not need to be absolutely perfect. Spending two days working on a report that should have been completed in two hours does not add value to your work and can often accompany delaying other tasks that the individual is not comfortable with. And, if you can’t accomplish things as you like, it’s better to just stay in your comfort zone or do nothing at all.

3. Sapped: For many individuals, possessing a lack of energy can make completing a task seem daunting in the extreme. While the will may be strong, being overworked, overtired, or burnt out can make even the simplest task seem insurmountable – making the most and least self-conscious people push it into the future when they think they will feel more ready to tackle it.

Unfortunately, those struggling with their workload often have issues with their daily responsibilities and – all too often – the cycle will continue to repeat, leading to further tiredness and almost continuous delays. And when it comes to making positive change to your life, that can easily be put off too…

4. Unfocused: Put simply, this is when people feel it’s impossible to find the will to focus on a project. This can be due to the lack of detailed brief, a daunting topic, or any other number of issues. Your attention can drift, mind wander, and  – before long – the allotted time to complete the work has sailed by before you’ve even recognised it.

This can result in a project taking much longer to complete, straying from your original brief, or failing to close out the task successfully. And even with the will, desire, and need present – many can find themselves grappling with a task that could take other colleagues a fraction of the time.

How do I overcome procrastination?

While it is important to contextualise any support to an individual, the approaches for each of the four types include-

1. Puncturing fear: For those afraid of failure, it’s important to realise that fear is nothing to be scared of. Realising that many mistakes can be fixed is an essential part of building confidence and taking action to correct issues can be a massive part of building good personal habits.

A good rule of thumb is to think about the question “will this matter a year from now?” and attempt to recognise the source of your stress is the ‘desire’ to accomplish the task as you envision. Remember that failing to complete a task is infinitely worse that failing to start – as, even with an abject failure, you have material or personal learning to build on.

2. Understanding Perfectionism: When it comes to managing perfectionism, it is important to understand what you are doing and adjusting your sights. Working on something that needs to be ‘good enough’ does not require additional effort and work on your part. And if you are worried about receiving feedback – learning to take it onboard and build it into your practice is essential.

Ultimately, perfectionism can be the hardest approach to address as it involves a degree of communication and internalising what is expected of a person. While it may be possible for a boss to provide the scope of a project and outline a project, it is ultimately up to the individual to understand that there is no such thing as perfection. And that the process, rather then the end result, is often what truly matters.

3. Tackling tiredness: When it comes to managing your energy levels, it is essential to take a look at your own life and examine how healthy it is. Taking time to switch up elements of your day-to-day activities can help make a profound change, from getting more exercise, securing a good night’s sleep, or even just trying to get more variety in your diet.

If this persists, it is worth getting in touch with a doctor and seeing if you can secure a diagnosis or at least rule out any number of issues that could be affecting you. And don’t’ forget to take a detailed look at your work-life balance and see if there are any elements that can be amended.

4. Retaining focus: If you’re struggling to focus on completing your work, the key is setting clear, attainable goals. This can involve ‘chunking’ work down into smaller segments that require less time and energy to complete. and by engaging with the project, this can increase your understanding, engagement, and investment with it.

And, as with tiredness, it is worth taking every step possible to diagnose the solution. Taking some time to talk to your doctor can rule out physiological factors such as attention deficit disorder and help better understand your situation to find the care and guidance you need to get your life back on track.

How do you stop it dead?

While there are a number of ways to tackle the issues directly, there are also a number of supplementary approaches that can help your work. These include but are not limited to-

Open Communication: If an individual is struggling with completing a task, it is important o communicate with them and understand what is causing issues. Often this can be something as simple as a poor quality brief or even an incorrectly applied approach or unorthodox task that is derailing a project. Understanding employee issues can help them feel supported and ensure that your teams are able to enjoy the sustainable, long term care they need.

Budgeting Approach: When it comes to procrastination, it is important to set goals and workloads that are not only attainable but include gaps to allow for unavoidable delays. This can help ensure that delayed projects or deliverables do not cause issues for clients and that your team members have enough time to complete the task; while still checking in to make sure everything is still on track to be accomplished.

Digital Resources: Thankfully, modern technology can help take much of the effort out of completing a project successfully. Working with a properly managed task on a software platform can help you add automation to facilitate key steps, improve collaboration between individuals, provide insights that can help with scheduling, and a wealth of other targeted solutions that address problems unique to you and your teams.

What next?

If you want to learn more about fine-tuning your approach and incentivising your employees, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience, we work with you to understand your unique needs and provide a solution that resolves key issues that you need to address. You can view our full list of services here. Or, if you want to raise any specific questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let our team know exactly what you need to optimise your approach.

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Time management can be a challenge, even for the most devoted worker. This is true whether you are working in an office or working remotely from home.  

So, we have put together a list of our favourite time management games, which can be played as a team or alone, to help you both understand the importance of time management, and work out how to improve your process. While also having a little bit of fun… 

Best time management games

  1. How long is a minute?

This is a pretty self-explanatory game which really helps to improve your understanding of the passage of time. It can be played alone, or in a team. If alone, just set a stopwatch, and close your eyes. When you believe that 60 seconds has passed, open your eyes again and find out how close you were. If you opened your eyes significantly earlier or later than the 60 second mark, this could indicate issues with your understanding of time. 

  1. The Race of Spades

A team exercise that requires two decks of cards. The first deck is stacked in order, from aces to kings. The second deck is shuffled well, with some cards facing up, and some facing down. Pick two volunteers and give each of them a deck of cards, then instruct them to find the ace of spades – the person who finds it first, wins. This game should demonstrate the value of working in an organised manner, versus the challenge of working without order.

  1. Free Time

This game helps you to identify unused, or under-optimised periods of time within your day. Start by dividing a piece of paper into 24 blocks. Mark out eight blocks for sleeping, eight blocks for working, and two to three hours for eating. Then add in any other necessary or routine tasks (e.g. child care, socialising, exercising) and work out how many hours you have left. Even one extra hour represents a huge amount of time which could be spent on self-improvement or other tasks.

  1. Free work time

Like the previous game, this exercise helps you to identify wasted or unused time during working hours. Split a page into eight boxes, with each box representing an hour spent at work. At the end of each hour, write down a rough representation of how you spent this time. For instance, 10 minutes making a cup of tea; 20 minutes replying to emails; 5 minutes chatting to colleagues; 15 minutes on a work call; and ten minutes writing up notes from the call. Be as honest as possible and at the end of the day you should have a great overview of how you actually spend your working time – and where you could optimise your time the next day.

  1. Mood chart

As before, split your working day into eight hours, and allocate a box for every hour. Then simply mark off each hour with a note detailing your overall mood – for instance, you may be feeling energetic, super-productive, sluggish, sleepy, positive or anxious. Do this every day for two weeks and you will start to notice patterns in your moods. Maybe you are more productive in the morning? If so, try to schedule your most difficult tasks before noon, when you can tackle them head-on.

  1. Priority shuffling

This is best carried out with a team. Give each person a piece of paper and a pen and give them one minute to list their work priorities from most important to least important. Repeat the task, but this time give them 30 seconds. The third time you repeat the task, give them 15 seconds. Then seven seconds, then three seconds. By the end of that third round, each person will have been forced to whittle down their priorities and identify their number one concern. This helps place your work priorities into perspective, so that you can focus on the things that really matter and stop worrying about the less important points.

  1. Reaction training

Quick reactions lead to increased confidence and the ability to better manage your workload in a speedy and effective manner. Reaction training can help to build confidence in your ability to react quickly to any given situation. There is a huge range of reaction training games both online and via the various app stores. They include games such as Diner Dash, Overcooked, Farm to Fork, and YouTubers Life. These games are fun, free and accessible and allow you to hone your time management and productivity skills in your own time, and in an enjoyable form.

  1. The pomodoro technique

The pomodoro technique is a well-known method for increasing productivity – and it can easily be gamified. It is based on the idea that you work as hard as possible for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. After you have done this four times, you can take a longer break – of 15-30 minutes. You can turn this into a game by using your five-minute breaks to do something creative like knitting, plant care, painting, food preparation, or meditation. By the time you have completed four pomodoro cycles, and you are ready for your longer break, you will be amazed at how much you have managed to achieve within just a couple of hours.

What next?

If you want to learn more about the time management solutions that we offer, our team at Practical Software is here to help. 

With a long track record of excellent results, and years of experience operating in the recruitment sector, we can work with you to understand your specific business needs and ensure you can deploy a solution that is truly fit-for-purpose. If you have any specific questions about how this software can be customised for your recruitment agency, please do not hesitate to contact us directly and let us know exactly what you need for an effective, efficient deployment. 

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A helpful tool for recruitment agencies and businesses alike, psychometric tests have grown in popularity over the last decade and are now commonplace in a number of high-demand jobs. But with so many variations currently in the marketplace, it can be difficult to understand what they are and what potentially makes them so useful. 

So, what exactly is a psychometric test and how can it potentially help when it comes to finding quality professionals to help your clients?

What is a psychometric test?

Also known as an aptitude test, psychometric tests are designed to help evaluate and understand a job candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. While certain tests like whiteboard programming or problem solving quizzes can help assess a client’s specific skills, taking a psychometric test allows employers to get a more rounded view of the client’s skillset. 

These can be geared toward a number of roles but primarily seek to assess-

Problem Solving Skills: Tests can ask takers to find solutions to problems, most often within a time limit. This allows organisers to assess the speed with which they resolve an issue, the number of clicks they use and more. 

Practical Knowledge: Tailored tests can be provided to assess job specific knowledge through open ended questions, closed questions, or practical problem solving. 

Relevant abilities: Many technical or soft skills are required outside of the standard scoring metrics. This can help assess an understanding of a taker’s professional responsibilities, their approach to work, or additional skills that are essential for the work. 

Behavioural Responses: These are perhaps the best-known version of aptitude tests and allow test creators to assess leadership abilities, capacity for reasoning, abstract calculation and more. 

What questions are asked?

While many tests can be customised to fit your userbase, they are often made up to specifically target a number of key employment criteria. These include but are no means limited to.

Error Resolution Questions: Common in almost all tests, these involve spotting mistakes in volumes of work. This can take the form of catching punctuation, grammatical, layout, and formatting issues across a range of potential sectors. 

Logical Questions: One of the most popular question types, these test abstract reasoning and logic. These range from pattern recognition, inductive and deductive reasoning, diagrammatic reason questions and more. 

Memory and Concentration Questions: Common in many tests, this checks an applicant’s ability to carry out and internalise tasks in quick succession – asking them to memorise and recall values with a high degree of accuracy or under distraction. 

Numerical Questions: These are deployed to test numeracy, dealing with equations, graphs, formulae, and other problems. 

Spatial questions: These require the management of 2D and 3D constructs to demonstrate your capacity to understand spatial ability – from folding and compressing objects to visual spatial awareness and mental visualisation. 

Technical Questions: These are deployed for skilled technical roles that require extensive vetting. These most often ask for the application of the foundational mechanical, computational, or logistical knowledge that underpins a job. Most often not tied to regulatory standards, these can be added where required. 

Verbal Questions: Most commonly represented by true/false propositions, these require the ability to parse and understand text, often asking takers to digest large amounts of information in a limited period of time. 

If required, other bespoke questions can be added to the test – with digital deployment methods allowing for a high degree of customisation, validation, and follow up analysis for takers. This can then be analysed to give employers a rounded picture of the employee’s personal and professional strengths – giving them additional insight into their capacity to carry out their job successfully. 

How are they used?

While psychometric tests can be applied in a range of environments, the rise of digital technologies allows takers to potentially fill out their tests in a number of locations. Doing so provides metricised data that can be used to better understand the potential that applicants represent.

Working with psychometric tests are a highly efficient and customisable way to assess a large number of applicants in quick succession. This can involve taking tests at home through tamper proof digital portals, on site in dedicated test centres, or as part of a job interview. This high degree of flexibility makes them a useful tool for adding extra detail to recruiting action without excessive time or resource expenditure. 

A good test also allows you to look at a range of variables and seek out additional information such as response time, error rates, and other essential interaction data. This can also be used to help guide decision making while being fed back into the system to improve form structure and clarity when it comes to wording or removing obstacles that prevent takers from successfully answering questions. 

However, while these tests are helpful, they are not an end in themselves. Any employer should use the tests as a guide to help view an employee’s skillset and should help validate a decision that is reached independently of taking a test. 

Ultimately, managing to deploy a psychometric test can allow you to access a range of options that allow you to save time, energy, and – most importantly – find the right individual for the job when it truly matters the most. 

What next?

If you want to learn more about how to improve your employee efficiency, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ professional experience, we work with you to understand your professional needs and provide a tailored software solution that works for you.You can view our full list of products and services from here. Or, if you have any specific questions or queries about our work, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let our teams know exactly what you need. 

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