Get off to a good start in 2022

Get off to a good start in 2022

This article was originally written by Jane Braithwaite Independent Practitioner Today. 

As we head into 2022 and a promising new year, we have an opportunity to take stock and reset. This includes reviewing our more strategic plans and objectives and checking that the basics are well managed. Jane Braithwaite shows how to give your business a fresh start. From a strategic perspective, I take time to review and plan every quarter. I make the most of the ‘back to school’ feeling in September and at the start of the new year, which is an obvious time to reflect on everything in life including business. April and July are the two other times during the year when I pause to review progress and make plans for the coming quarter.

Over the last two years, with the changing environment caused by the impact of Covid, my strategic planning has become less proactive, and my focus has been on managing the ups and downs caused by the Covid crisis. But performing in ‘crisis’ mode for such a long time is not healthy for us in either our personal lives or for the success of our businesses. So the start of 2022 is a more significant opportunity than it might normally have been for all of us to take stock and set our agenda for the coming year. My strategic planning will involve reviewing my previous plans and assessing what has been successful, what we have achieved and identifying the areas where we made less progress than hoped.

Purposely parked
To be honest, due to the challenges of the last two years, there are a few objectives that I set for my business that was purposely parked and I am sure I am not alone. Due to a lack of time to focus on the more proactive side of growing the business and to allow time for the day-to-day management of the effects of Covid some activities needed to be taken off the agenda in the short term.

The start of 2022 will provide a great opportunity to decide whether the time is right to reset those objectives and restart progress. I am also addicted to business plans and notebooks, and I have used most of the widely known business plans/journals.

Currently, my favourite is the Clever Fox Planner Pro, which I highly recommend for anyone like me who enjoys structure and handwriting out plans. Clever Fox allows you to set your strategic plan and then manage it on a day-to-day basis.

The new year is also a good time to check that business basics are being managed well. No business, clinic or practice can succeed and grow if the basics are not well organised.

Good processes
Most importantly, good processes and systems ensure that the business runs smoothly and that patients, clients and employees are happy.

Conversely, poor processes lead to a drain on management time with time spent addressing issues and firefighting reducing time available for patient care and more strategic activity.

Over the last two years, it is possible that many of us have taken less time to review the basic operations of our businesses and this is a good time to check and act if needed.

In my experience, there are a number of areas that may have been overlooked in private medical practice and I have highlighted some of these below in an attempt to help.

Patient experience
Are you capturing and reviewing feedback from your patients? This is an activity that may have been lost in recent months and it is worth re-establishing good processes; firstly, asking your patients for feedback and regularly reviewing matters with your team.

Over the last few months, patient expectations may have changed and it is important to ensure that your practice delivers against its current requirements to maintain an excellent reputation.

Employee satisfaction
The challenge of surviving the Covid pandemic has affected everyone to a greater or lesser extent and, in private healthcare, employees have been under increased pressure to deal with changes in their working environment.

Now is a good time to assess how your employees are feeling and to ensure that their well-being is being prioritised by you as an employer. An employee survey is a good way to gain feedback in an anonymous way to allow you to get a realistic picture of the challenges your team is facing.

The information gathered can be used by you and your senior team to develop an action plan to address any issues and ensure that your team know their well-being is a top priority for you.

Pricing
Most businesses review their pricing on an annual basis to ensure they are competitive but also in line with inflation and the cost of running their business.

In private healthcare, the insurance companies restrict the ability to make significant changes, but it is important to review self-pay pricing and also review the costs of delivering the services you offer.

If the insurance rates have remained unchanged but costs of equipment or medical supplies have increased, then it is important to make efforts to try to reduce costs in some way to ensure profitability.

Marketing
Is your marketing in line with your objectives and how well is it delivering against your objectives? Now would be a good time to re-assess your marketing activities and ensure they are delivering the results you are aiming for.

Are all of your marketing and communication materials consistent in their look and feel?

Is your website working well from a technical perspective and is it compliant in terms of cookie policies and privacy? Are you communicating regularly with your patients and referrers via a newsletter and/or via social media?

Regulatory matters
Working in private healthcare requires adherence to numerous legal and regulatory regimes including the GMC and the Care Quality Commission. The new year is a good time to check that everything is updated, and you are adhering to the latest requirements.

One good example is the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), which has made some changes and launched a new website recently. All doctors need to ensure they have completed their profile on the new PHIN site.

Invoicing and credit control
In my experience, invoicing and credit control is the most overlooked aspect of running a successful private healthcare practice.

It is not unusual for me to meet a doctor who has recently discovered that invoices have not been sent to patients or their insurance companies. It is even more common to hear that a significant amount of aged debt has accumulated as a result of a non-existent credit control function.

I always suggest a monthly check of invoices raised and of aged debt to make sure your credit control processes are working and if this hasn’t been done for a while, then this is a good process to establish for the new year.

If you need any assistance with your fresh start in 2022, please feel free to get in touch. But, for now, I wish you a Happy New Year.

How can your Employer Value Proposition help to create a healthy workplace culture?

How can your Employer Value Proposition help to create a healthy workplace culture?

What is an Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) and what does it mean? How does it differ from the Employer Brand (or EB) and why is it so important for companies to define and promote their EVP?

One way of defining the difference between the EB and EVP is to imagine the EB as an outward-facing marketing proposition and the EVP as an internal exercise that outlines the offerings provided by the company in return for the skills, experiences and capabilities an employee brings to the business.

The EVP is a strategic statement that defines how your business wishes to be perceived and outlines the company’s vision, mission and values. These are supported by the company’s offerings in terms of learning and development, career progression, benefits and remuneration thus shaping, supporting and giving credence to the EB.

The EVP and EB go hand-in-hand so that the experience matches the promise. Any mismatch between the two would undermine employee trust and engagement and no doubt lead to poor reviews on review sites such as Glassdoor.

A well-defined EVP can give employers a competitive advantage in the war for talent as candidates become more selective and discerning in their choice of employer. This is especially helpful if the business doesn’t have the budget to compete with the remuneration offered by its larger competitors. The EVP can promote other unique qualities that differentiate the business from its competitors, thus attracting the right talent.

An EVP should provide incentives that reward hard work and create a supportive, inclusive working environment.

According to research from Gartner, “Organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%”

So how do we go about developing an EVP?

This should not be a top-down exercise dictated by senior management since leadership teams will see things differently from employees. Developing an EVP should be an inclusive activity involving HR, management and employees to ensure that strategy, vision and working philosophy tie in with reality.

Use works councils where they exist or create focus groups that represent a fair and diverse cross-selection of all employees. Ensuring inclusion across different levels, functions and disciplines, will help to make sure that any subsequent messaging resonates within each target group.

Start by identifying all the benefits of working at your company and the unique strengths of the organisation versus its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, career progression, learning and development and culture.

This could be done as a focus group exercise and/or through the use of a simple questionnaire. Alternatively, consider using the results of the questionnaire as a basis for your focus group discussions.

When considering remuneration, it’s worth bearing in mind that a generous remuneration package does not always compensate for a poor working environment and a lower-than-average remuneration package will need to rely on other unique selling points to attract key talent. A pleasant and welcoming working environment is as important as remuneration. A comfortable workplace with good facilities, bright open spaces, breakout zones and stylish furniture can be a very attractive feature. Supplying free healthy foods and snacks is also a welcome offering.

Covid has changed the face of the working environment and more companies are adopting a hybrid working solution. Where this is not possible (i.e., in customer-facing roles such as leisure, fitness and hospitality), businesses are providing more flexible working solutions such as job sharing and condensed hours to attract target audiences who value flexibility and a healthier work-life balance.

Opportunities for career progression is also an attractive proposition for high potential individuals who are looking for challenge and growth. Many employers like to showcase success stories of people who have risen in the ranks and who have been encouraged and supported throughout their career journey from entry-level positions to senior-level roles.

Examining the company’s policies on training, performance development and promotions will give clarity on the company’s attitude towards career progression and growth and how the company supports this by providing opportunities for learning and development and supporting good performance management and development practices.

The culture reflects everything from human, social and even political issues. Identifying with the corporate culture can help candidates determine whether or not their values and beliefs are aligned with those of the company. If candidates share the same beliefs, attitudes and behaviours as those identified by the company, this gives them some reassurance of a harmonious working environment which could lead to a longer-term working relationship.

Other benefits can also cover aspects such as financial strength and constant growth, unique products and services and a strong commercial footing, reassuring candidates in terms of security, stability and longevity.

In each stage of the EVP definition process, consider how the company fairs against its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, culture and career progression. This will help to establish the company’s USP against the competition and promote aspects that are more generous or attractive than its competitors.

These exercises will help analyse and define the company’s strengths which will form part of the EVP and give it more honesty and credence.

Where can you go from here?

For inspiration, take a look at EVP statements from corporations such as Nike, Airbnb and Starbucks who have invested time and effort in establishing strong EVP statements, testimonials, quotes and blogs providing a diverse and varied view of life at their organisation.

By giving detailed descriptions that support a few key points, you can present realistic and honest EVP statements that support the recruitment, retention and motivation of employees and unite current employees under a common manifesto.

How to complete a self-assessment tax return. Let’s talk taxes.

How to complete a self-assessment tax return. Let’s talk taxes.

Before we get into the seasonal swing of things, can we talk taxes? Although many of us are about to wind down for Christmas, now is actually a perfect time to get ahead for the new year and start gathering everything we will need to prepare for HMRC’s self-assessment tax return.

If you have been wondering whether you need to complete a tax return, the following guide should give you all of the basic information you need. For further details please head to https://www.gov.uk/check-if-you-need-tax-return.


Do I need to complete a self-assessment tax return?

Most people are taxed at the source and do not need to worry about submitting a self-assessment tax return, “however, if in the last tax year (6 April to 5 April ) you have worked as self-employed or as a partner and/or earned more than £1,000 (before taking off anything you can claim tax relief on)then you must register as self-employed with HMRC.

It’s also worth noting that any directors of limited companies that wish to receive dividends must also be registered as self-employed to ensure they are correctly taxed.”

You will not usually need to send a return if your only income is from your wages or pension. But you may need to send one if you have any other untaxed income, such as:

  • money from renting out a property
  • tips and commission
  • income from savings, investments and dividends
  • foreign income

HMRC may contact you with a tax return to complete if:

  • You have untaxed income from investment, land or property, or from overseas.
  • You make capital gains above the annual exempt amount (£12,300 for 2020-21 and 2021-22). you were required to fill in a tax return last year.
  • You’re a pensioner who gets a reduced age-related allowance, though you may be sent a special short version that requires fewer details.

It is however your responsibility to make sure that you declare all taxable income, on time. If you receive a tax return, you must return it, regardless of whether you owe tax or not.

How to register and submit a tax return

If you’re looking to submit a tax return for the first time, you’ll need to register for self-assessment first. The steps are below.

Register with HMRC: The process will vary depending on whether you’re self-employed, registering a partnership or not self-employed – you should click on the option that applies to you. You can register online via HMRC.

Get your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number: HMRC will send this to you in a letter after you register. The letter will give instructions on how to set up your Government Gateway account.

Use your activation code for your Government Gateway account: Once this is done, you’ll be sent another letter in the post containing your activation code. You’ll need this to complete the set-up of your account – you should do this promptly as the code will expire.

Complete your account setup: It’s only once your Government Gateway account is up and running that you’ll be able to log in and submit your tax return.

HMRC warns that the whole process could take up to 20 working days, so make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute.

Find out what you’ll need and how to fill in a self-assessment tax return.

What are the deadlines for completing a tax return

The deadline for completing a self-assessment tax returns are:

5 October 2021: Deadline to register for self-assessment for the first time

31 October 2021: paper tax return deadline 31 January 2022: online tax return deadline (HMRC says you can submit up to 28 February 2021 without getting an instant penalty)

31 January 2022: tax payment deadline for 2020-21 tax owed, plus any outstanding tax from 2019-20 if you took out a payment arrangement with HMRC. If you pay your tax by payments on account you may have already made payments towards this bill.

HMRC has the power to charge increasingly expensive penalties if you miss the tax return deadline, which starts with a £100 fine from the first day your return is late.

If you need help completing your tax return, our experienced and professional Accountancy team can carry out the leg work for you, ensuring a smooth, simple and stress-free process. Contact Vicky by telephone 0207 952 1460 or via email at info@designatedgroup.com

HR Management – are your company handbooks and employment contracts up to date?

HR Management – are your company handbooks and employment contracts up to date?

When was the last time you reviewed and updated your company handbook and employment contracts?

The events of the past 2 years have given rise to many factors that have affected the workplace landscape and now is a good time to incorporate any new policies and procedures that reflect the company’s stance on many of these issues into your handbooks and contracts.

Covid has affected all of us, not least in terms of mental health and well-being. We are experiencing an increase in levels of stress and anxiety both at home and in the workplace. Redundancies, furlough, risk of infection, sickness, bereavement, self-isolation, job security and significant changes in the workplace and to our job roles have impacted heavily on our well-being and mental health.

According to a report published by the Health & Safety Executive, one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point, the most common being anxiety and depression and this can sometimes be caused by work-related issues.

Employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees and take steps to reduce or remove any risks identified.

In the past, this would have been covered by the company’s policy on health and safety. However, given the increase in anxiety and stress leading to depression, mental health and employee well-being now warrant a stage of their own. Promoting a clear policy explaining what steps, resources and support the company will provide to help their people during difficult times, will reassure employees that the company has their best interests at heart.

Other policies that may also need to be readdressed post-Covid relate to the increase in requests for hybrid and /or flexible working and working from home. Where hybrid working is not an option, for instance in customer-facing roles in the hospitality and leisure industries, companies may need to rethink their flexible working policies in order to address the increasing number of people wanting flexible working options. In this scenario, businesses could consider providing more opportunities for job-sharing, part-time hours or condensed working hours. Flexible working is an attractive benefit that is also increasingly being sought by job hunters. Taking a positive stance on flexible working options would give businesses a competitive advantage when attracting new talent.

The hybrid working model is fast becoming the norm in many businesses and you may need additional policies that support, inform and protect both parties. For instance, who can and cannot adopt a hybrid working pattern, when and why. Consider whether your business will require employees to be available during certain core hours and how often the working arrangements should be reviewed.

Since more employees are now working from home, check that your risk assessment policy covers workstation risk assessments in the home. Poor workstations can lead to an increase in RSI and musculoskeletal problems which could eventually lead to long term health problems and lengthy and costly sickness absences.

Other policies that may need reviewing include sick leave and pay and time off for dependants, particularly in relation to Covid-enforced self-isolation following trips abroad or exposure to infection or caring for sick family members. Whilst many companies will follow government guidelines, some may wish to consider whether or not to provide enhance their policies in order to more fully support their employees.

For instance, if employees are unable to carry out their normal duties from home, what can they expect in terms of company sick leave and pay?

Also consider the company’s stance on vaccination and how it can support and protect vaccinated and unvaccinated employees as well as individuals who are considered high risk such as pregnant workers or employees with underlying health conditions. Other topical subjects that may also need re-addressing our Diversity & Inclusion and Sustainability.

Diversity and Inclusion should be at the heart of every business agenda, not just for moral reasons but also for the benefit of the business. Now more than ever, HR professionals need to demonstrate the ability to develop D&I strategies to attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Existing equal opportunity policies may need an overhaul to reflect the company’s stance on diversity and inclusion.

With the green movement in full swing, many companies are putting in place a Sustainability Policy to show how they are reducing waste and focusing on making the company greener.

Brexit has impacted on the employment of EU nationals and businesses need to be aware of the Right to Work requirements for EU workers with non-settlement status. These requirements can be covered in the employment contract and/or offer letter where appropriate.

Where changes have been made to company policies and procedures, check what impact, if any, these changes may have on the employment contract and make adjustments where necessary.

Keep ahead of any forthcoming legislative changes to ensure your contracts and handbooks remain up-to-date and relevant.

Ultimately, while you need to ensure that your contracts comply with the relevant legislation, you need to also ensure that they work for your business. Any changes to an employee’s contract must be agreed by both parties or in some circumstances with a trade union or other employee representative. Changes should be handled with caution and the correct process followed.

Always inform and consult employees or their representatives on any proposed changes and fully address any queries or concerns before implementation.

What is an Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) and what does it mean?

What is an Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) and what does it mean?

What is an Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) and what does it mean? How does it differ from the Employer Brand (or EB) and why is it so important for companies to define and promote their EVP?

One way of defining the difference between the EB and EVP is to imagine the EB as an outward-facing marketing proposition and the EVP as an internal exercise that outlines the offerings provided by the company in return for the skills, experiences and capabilities an employee brings to the business. 

The EVP is a strategic statement that defines how your business wishes to be perceived and outlines the company’s vision, mission and values. These are supported by the company’s offerings in terms of learning and development, career progression, benefits and remuneration thus shaping, supporting and giving credence to the EB. 

The EVP and EB go hand-in-hand so that the experience matches the promise. Any mismatch between the two would undermine employee trust and engagement and no doubt lead to poor reviews on review sites such as Glassdoor. 

A well-defined EVP can give employers a competitive advantage in the war for talent as candidates become more selective and discerning in their choice of employer. This is especially helpful if the business doesn’t have the budget to compete with the remuneration offered by its larger competitors. The EVP can promote other unique qualities that differentiate the business from its competitors, thus attracting the right talent. 

An EVP should provide incentives that reward hard work and create a supportive, inclusive working environment. According to research from Gartner, “Organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%” 

So how do we go about developing an EVP? 

This should not be a top-down exercise dictated by senior management since leadership teams will see things differently from employees. Developing an EVP should be an inclusive activity involving HR, management and employees to ensure that strategy, vision and working philosophy tie in with reality. Use works councils where they exist or create focus groups that represent a fair and diverse cross-selection of all employees. Ensuring inclusion across different levels, functions and disciplines, will help to make sure that any subsequent messaging resonates within each target group. 

Start by identifying all the benefits of working at your company and the unique strengths of the organisation versus its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, career progression, learning and development and culture. 

This could be done as a focus group exercise and/or through the use of a simple questionnaire. Alternatively, consider using the results of the questionnaire as a basis for your focus group discussions. 

When considering remuneration, it’s worth bearing in mind that a generous remuneration package does not always compensate for a poor working environment and a lower-than-average remuneration package will need to rely on other unique selling points to attract key talent. 

A pleasant and welcoming working environment is as important as remuneration. A comfortable workplace with good facilities, bright open spaces, breakout zones and stylish furniture can be a very attractive feature. Supplying free healthy foods and snacks is also a welcome offering. 

Covid has changed the face of the working environment and more companies are adopting a hybrid working solution. Where this is not possible (i.e., in customer-facing roles such as leisure, fitness and hospitality), businesses are providing more flexible working solutions such as job sharing and condensed hours to attract target audiences who value flexibility and a healthier work-life balance. 

Opportunities for career progression is also an attractive proposition for high potential individuals who are looking for challenge and growth. Many employers like to showcase success stories of people who have risen in the ranks and who have been encouraged and supported throughout their career journey from entry-level positions to senior-level roles. 

Examining the company’s policies on training, performance development and promotions will give clarity on the company’s attitude towards career progression and growth and how the company supports this by providing opportunities for learning and development and supporting good performance management and development practices. 

The culture reflects everything from human, social and even political issues. Identifying with the corporate culture can help candidates determine whether or not their values and beliefs are aligned with those of the company. If candidates share the same beliefs, attitudes and behaviours as those identified by the company, this gives them some reassurance of a harmonious working environment which could lead to a longer-term working relationship. 

Other benefits can also cover aspects such as financial strength and constant growth, unique products and services and a strong commercial footing, reassuring candidates in terms of security, stability and longevity. 

In each stage of the EVP definition process, consider how the company fairs against its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, culture and career progression. This will help to establish the company’s USP against the competition and promote aspects that are more generous or attractive than its competitors. 

These exercises will help analyse and define the company’s strengths which will form part of the EVP and give it more honesty and credence. 

Where can you go from here? 

For inspiration, take a look at EVP statements from corporations such as Nike, Airbnb and Starbucks who have invested time and effort in establishing strong EVP statements, testimonials, quotes and blogs providing a diverse and varied view of life at their organisation. 

By giving detailed descriptions that support a few key points, you can present realistic and honest EVP statements that support the recruitment, retention and motivation of employees and unite current employees under a common manifesto.

 

 

January Stay Connected

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