Our Thoughts

Check out our latest views and thoughts

Handling increased demand as people return to the skies

Foreign holidays are calling out to many. As more countries are added to the Government’s green list, demand for flights will increase. For airports that have struggled throughout the pandemic, this is a welcome development. However, plans must be in place to cope with the return of holidaymakers.

By following these top tips, airports can ensure they’re ready for takeoff:

1. Prepare to contend with constant change

Aviation has become an unpredictable industry, with the Government’s traffic light system leading to changes at short notice. With restrictions continually altering, effective capacity management is more important than ever.

Scenario planning is an essential part of this, ensuring each traffic light colour has its own dedicated processes to minimise delays and improve safety. Areas to consider include airport security and passport control, where the likelihood of long queues is greater.

2. Keep staffing levels agile

With passenger footfall and revenues down throughout the pandemic, airports have had to make use of the furlough scheme, and in some cases, make staff redundant.

However, now that passenger numbers are rising again, airports need to consider how to keep staffing levels agile. This may require flexible contracts or outsourcing temporary staff, until consistency returns.

3. Incorporate Covid processes

Testing, Covid passports (if introduced) and the continuation of the traffic light system all have the potential to trigger delays. These will need to be incorporated into daily operations to avoid long-term issues.

Although social distancing is set to be removed from 19th July, airports should still factor this into the layout of the airport, should this date be pushed back or social distancing reintroduced.

4. Ensure passengers are in the loop

Passengers should also be provided with information regarding any forms or tests that must be completed prior to their flight. Effective communication will be vital, so platforms such as the airport’s website, social media channels and SMS messages should be used to keep passengers informed.

A return to foreign travel is positive news for airports, but they must prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead. By keeping operations flexible, and ensuring plans are in place for every scenario, airports can make the most of the long-awaited holiday season.

To learn more, contact us here.

Bringing working innovations to the not-for-profit sector

COVID-19 has forced many not-for-profit organisations to prepare for a more remote future. By following these five top tips, charities can ensure their vital work is able to continue effectively in any climate.

1. Review people, processes and systems

Having adopted new working practices during the pandemic, charities must now look at how these have affected their people, processes and systems.

This could involve looking at how the workforce is coping with the shift and providing adequate support. For example, any new tools and technologies that have been brought in could require the charity to upskill its workforce. Regardless of the change, it’s always important to implement it at a sustainable pace.

2. Embrace the digital world

It’s important to fully embrace technological solutions. Although many not-for-profit organisations are already making use of technologies such as cloud-based services and video conferencing, exploring the latest innovations can enable them to benefit from improved efficiency and find new ways to reach people.

3. Seek external support

If a gap in the charity’s internal skillset is identified, seeking external support could be the solution. Through collaboration with third party experts, charities can also provide valuable development opportunities to existing employees.

4. Measure success

It’s important to understand that people are affected differently by change. Charities will need to ensure that individuals – and therefore the organisation – are supported to adopt and maintain change; this will include raising awareness, knowledge-building and upskilling, so charities must bear this in mind.

Charities have already had to undergo a transformation in recent months, but when not managed effectively, changes are unsuccessful, often at a financial or reputational cost. This can also take a toll on employees. By supporting their people through changes, and building on new systems introduced, charities can ensure that their operations are able to face any future challenges.

For more information contact us here.

Why personal development matters

Personal development is, by its definition, personal. We came to that revelation after a recent period spent reflecting on our own development journeys. Our inspiration was Sofia’s recent personal journey and we wanted to use this to inspire others across the team. In essence, we wanted to bottle this energy and apply it across the business.

It was clear to us that personal development is something that’s very specific to an individual. We all have different interests, circumstances and inspiration. So we decided to do a pulse check across the company.

This exercise would give us the opportunity to really understand how we’re all growing as individuals. Similarly, it could provide Entec Si with a roadmap that would enable the right kind of structures and space to nurture continual personal development.

Developing during a pandemic

The backdrop to this has, of course, been the COVID-19 pandemic. The disruption caused by the event has meant that more traditional forms of learning have been sidelined. Alongside this, we’ve been acutely aware that many members of our team have had very different experiences throughout this episode. For example, some have been fully utilised for five days a week, whilst others have been on furlough. This range of experiences very much informed our approach to personal development.

About our process

After working up a set of key questions, we agreed that video calls were the best method to gather our information. We hoped that this medium would facilitate more open, natural discussion with our colleagues.

It was always our intention to gather a 360 degree view of the topic. Therefore this led us to approach a broad cross-section of the team. Whether new starters, long-serving staff, junior employees or senior leaders, we were interested in their perspective. We asked the group three specific questions:

  • What does personal development mean to you?
  • How will you achieve a personal development goal over the next month?
  • Tell us your top tip for personal development?

What did the team learn?

The outputs from the exercise made for fascinating viewing. What was really interesting was how each team member had all independently been assessing their own personal development. It seems that we were merely tapping into a process that was already taking place. Although every person’s journey is unique, there were some strikingly common responses to each question.

There was definitely a recognition that personal development is a softer skill, something that is different to professional development. The team saw personal development as a process that can be developed outside of the work environment. It very much serves a dual purpose that enriches the individual, but also benefits the business.

Planning (as you’d expect in a consultancy firm!) was very much a theme, and was evident in two ways. Short-term planning, simply looking ahead and planning in time during a week, was popular. On the other hand, we saw a strand of thinking that recognised that personal development is a lifelong journey that needs to factored in.

We also saw an understanding that personal development is not something that’s limited to work time. Learning new skills can happen anywhere, anytime, and this should be understood as being vital. Similarly the team was careful to point out that personal growth doesn’t just happen in front of a computer. As individuals we can use life experiences and other resources as tools for developing ourselves.

Personal interest was also a recurring theme. The team was clear that personal development works best when it’s driven by a person’s passion or inquisitiveness. This is very much at odds with a ‘one size fits all’, top down approach.

How can this help the business?

One of Entec Si’s core values is care, and this is especially true when it comes to our staff. This has been clear in the different initiatives we’ve provided over the years, from our Academy Practice to our Mental Wealth Working Group. Similarly, our recent personal development work has also had real, tangible impacts.

Within our recent operating model, we’ve put in place a support and learning function. The purpose of this is to look at our company-wide skill set and really drive forward personal development. In this way we’re embedding a positive cultural recognition of the need to continue growing our team’s knowledge and skills.

We’re also seeing the impacts of personal development on day-to-day basis. For example, junior consultant Ben Brown recently successfully managed a web project for a client. Key to this success was Ben’s knowledge of website accessibility, which he had gathered by reading around the topic in his own time. This knowledge ultimately led to us winning more work from this client.

What advice would we give other organisations?

As personal development is unique to each individual, then it’s also unique to each organisation. This means they need to try different approaches to find what suits. That said, there are some basic guidelines that we think are useful to other organisations looking to embed personal development:

  • Understand that your people are your greatest asset and invest in them
  • Actively engage with staff to find out what they are interested in
  • Provide the structure and space to encourage individual growth
  • Avoid a dictatorial approach to knowledge transfer
  • Recognise that skills come in all shapes and sizes, not just formal qualifications

The takeaway

We’ve both found this exercise immensely rewarding. It’s been truly inspirational to engage with colleagues and their excitement and energy has been infectious. We’re thrilled to see that we’re not only galvanising each other, but are having a positive impact on the organisation’s investment in personal development.

The job market has been changing in recent years, and the pandemic has only accelerated this. Organisations and employees are far more fluid in their approach to work now. This is evident not only in working patterns, but also in the way that individuals understand their careers. The days of working for one company are long gone.

This means that organisations must do more to not only attract talent, but also to retain it. Fundamental to this is the space for employees to grow their personal development. Organisations that recognise this and put it front and centre will be the ones that flourish and grow.

Luke and Sofia

Personal development – a team perspective

Investing in people is a critical element of any successful organisation. Encouraging the workforce to undertake a journey of personal development will nurture a range of ‘soft’ skills. Not only will staff thrive as individuals, the business will also reap a range of benefits. This ultimately leads to a stronger, happier and more productive team.

Similarly, COVID-19 has caused a radical disruption to the way people now work. Flexible hours and remote working mean it’s even more important that we build in time for our own personal development and support opportunities for people to explore new interests and passions.

Nurturing our team

At Entec Si we firmly understand the value of this approach. We’ve consistently provided a range of opportunities designed to nurture personal development. These have included our new people focused operating model, Mental Wealth Working Group and Academy Practice. So we asked some of our team what they thought about personal development and their goals for individual growth. 

What does personal development mean to you?

“I think of personal development as being not only how you are in the workplace but also how you have resilience, how you adapt change, how you manage your own wellbeing as well.”

Sue

“For me personal development isn’t just for work, it’s for outside of work too. You might not know exactly where you want to be or what you want to be, but under that huge overarching goal there are baby step goals that you keep picking your way through. That’s how I view personal development, as a continuous self improvement set by yourself and driven by yourself.”

Charlotte

“Generally it can mean becoming a better version of yourself. For me personally, I’m trying to figure out at the moment what is it that gives me that drive and what routes I want to go down. I think you can be the best at anything but if you don’t have that drive it is a loss cause.”

Eilis

“For me the journey of personal development is a process of constant learning. Personal development is part of your journey in whatever role you do.” 

Julie

“Personal development to me means being able to develop myself, my skills and knowledge for me. Personal development is learning and gaining experience of skills that I need to have effectively to be able to move forward with my career.”

Ben

“For me personal development all relates to skills, quality and behaviours. I believe everybody has a set of skills, a set of qualities and behaviours. And I believe that everybody would like to improve themselves in a certain way.”

Sofia

What are your personal development goals for this year?

  • Identify my leadership style and working on leadership skills with Jude Jennison
  • Write an article about a piece of client work for social media

Charlotte

  • Build my LinkedIn space to be personal to me and what I represent
  • I would like to complete the internal project that I took onboard at the start of lockdown three and be available for other internal opportunities

Eilis

  • Gain more experience at communicating with clients
  • Pass my apprenticeship exam
  • Learn more about resource management

Sofia

  • Further development of multi-tasking abilities
  • Proactive approach to work and home-life management – finding a better middle ground between home and work-life while working from home

Ben

  • Develop an oxygen mask approach to wellbeing, with personal wellbeing as a priority, to fuel my personal resilience to support those around me
  • Keep checking both my personal and our team priorities regularly – are we on track, what adjustments do we need to stay or track or improve?
  • Have fun and help the team have fun!

Sue

  • The focus I have at the moment is around developing my leadership brand, by producing articles, linking with people through social media and developing the strengths of the Entec brand alongside the Tim brand

Tim

  • Enhance my leadership skills to start to think more strategically
  • Move away from day-to-day management and working with the leadership team to develop the company moving forward

Julie

Start your own journey

We hope that you’ve found our team’s experiences of personal development inspirational. As Julie suggests, personal development is a journey, so explore whatever interests you and enjoy where it takes you.

Moving forward with change in the public sector

For the public sector, change is often viewed as something to fear, with failed transformation projects leading to a negative organisational culture and even reputational damage. However, by gaining an understanding of the key drivers for change, the public sector can overcome the barriers it once faced.

Proof change can be positive

Over the last year, the public sector has been forced to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. Innovation has been pushed to the fore, with new technology solutions having to be introduced quickly in order to maintain service continuity while working remotely.

This necessary transformation has shown that change can be carried out successfully, as long as the organisation has the right tools in place.

Shifting perceptions

The move towards a more modern operating model has helped to alter people’s perceptions of change within local authorities. However, to ensure organisations continue to view transformation as positive, a people-focused approach is needed going forward.

Promoting the long-term benefits of change and addressing past failings can lead to successful transformation projects in future.

Creating a robust strategy

Reduced expenditure, inadequate resources and understaffing have all contributed towards past failings. These factors are unlikely to disappear overnight, so must be considered in project strategies. Potential complications should be identified early on, allowing realistic timelines and goals to be set.

Preventing misunderstandings

There is a misconception amongst the public sector that change always leads to job losses. By keeping a clear line of communication open with employees, and laying out the project’s aims from the start, people are more likely to support the transformation.

Involving employees at all stages of the project can also improve organisational culture. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as regular consultations or internal surveys.

Transformation shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix. Continuous improvement is vital to a successful change project, making employee support essential. A shift has already happened in the public sector. Now is the time to build on the positive changes that have been made, by embracing new technology and placing people at the centre of organisations.

For more information, contact Julie Smith.

Building back better: What culture lessons can NHS trusts learn from 2020?

Even before COVID-19, NHS trusts had been facing several cultural challenges. These include a lack of frontline workers, structural inflexibility and rigid working practices. Solving these issues is no easy feat, so where should trusts start?

Looking into staffing arrangements

Addressing workforce shortages, and inflexibility within staffing arrangements, should be a top priority for the sector.

By adopting an agile approach to developing solutions to cultural challenges and testing out what works, trusts can become more resilient. However, this may involve the need for employees to take on additional responsibilities to fill in any knowledge gaps. If so, this process should be handled considerately and with adequate support and training.

Focus on working together

Trusts must understand the needs of different employees, especially those working on the front line. Taking these into account at every stage of the change process will help to strengthen teams and optimise the success of the project.

Consider mental health and wellbeing

The mental health impacts of the battle against COVID-19 are becoming increasingly clear. Providing tailored support to people will help to bring employees together and build individual resilience, which will enable people to better handle stressful periods.

Prioritise effective line management

Exceptional line management is a cornerstone of excellent patient care and employee wellbeing. Training up managers to spot signs of poor mental health and be compassionate is a vital part of supporting frontline staff.

Communicative effectively

Through open communication with employees, trusts can foster a more joined-up and resilient workforce and a more cohesive culture. 

Consider opportunities to collaborate

Collaboration with the local community can help trusts to reduce pressure on their workforce during times of crisis. For example, this could involve creating local wellbeing initiatives and support groups.

Plan for the long term

With the possibility of further healthcare crises ahead, trusts need to take steps to improve their resilience where possible. By thoroughly reviewing long-term plans and considering future staffing constraints, trusts can better plan for tomorrow by building on the culture lessons from the past year.

For more information, contact Sue Johnson Gregory or Tim Powlson here.

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Contact us at info@entecsi.com