This week is Mental Health Awareness week. The initiative spearheaded by...
Businesses working entirely remotely have been met with a new threat to the mental wellbeing of their staff. With IT teams being so heavily relied upon to facilitate home working they are facing additional pressures. Last year, BIMA published an insights report that revealed tech professionals were experiencing greater Mental Health strain than the nation’s average, for precisely these kinds of reasons. Stress, pressure, and tight deadlines were all thought to contribute to the revelation that tech workers were at least 5 times more depressed than the UK average.
There has been little new data published on the topic this year, as many outlets are focussing their data collection on the Coronavirus. Yet it is hard to imagine that the Coronavirus and lockdown have done much to help the Mental Health of tech professionals.
Of the 3000 tech professionals surveyed by BIMA, 66% reported feeling stressed, with 13% saying the felt this way continually. 52% described experiencing anxiety or depression at some point, with incidences appearing much higher in the neurodivergent (84%) compared to the neurotypical (49%) and more likely to affect women (21%) than men (16%). This problem is not exclusive to the UK either, a 2018 US report by Blind (a workplace app) showed that the employees of Silicon Valley’s tech companies were experiencing a far higher than usual rate of burnout. As many as 73% of employees felt they had experienced burnout at some point.
Nadya Powell, chair of the BIMA Diversity and Inclusion council, said: "The findings of the BIMA Tech Inclusion & Diversity Report compel us to action - it provides a clear sign-post on what to do next. Within the tech sector we have a mental health crisis and discrimination is rife; we must act before more lives are affected.” The BIMA report highlights mental wellbeing as a possible barrier to true diversity in the tech industry, as the neurodivergent, women and BAME people all experienced higher levels of mental health challenges.
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is kindness. A natural choice perhaps for a world fighting in pandemic, but it is not a theme that can resolve the industry specific challenges we know to exist. Interestingly, during lockdown technology has been hailed as a saviour for wellbeing, from video calls to keep us connected and wellbeing or mindfulness apps to help us cut through the noise.
There has even been a rise in start ups aimed at the problem with global investment in mental health start-ups surging to £500m earlier this year. A new report from Octopus Ventures, one of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, found that over the last six years global funding in this area has rapidly increased from £120m in 2014 to £580m in 2019. The bulk of this investment has been in the US, with Europe’s wellbeing start-up market being slower off the mark, but it is thought to be catching up with new businesses like UnWind, the workplace mental health platform and Flow, the depression headset & app developers.
There is no doubt a natural marriage between these two worlds; new tech solutions to the wellbeing issues in start-up culture, particularly now when we need solutions that can be enacted remotely.
There are also some simple strategies to be mindful of when leading tech teams, that can help to alleviate the common stressors such teams face.
How do I promote mental wellbeing in my tech team?
Many tech teams are accustomed to flexible working and even working remotely so it can be tempting to just leave your team to their devices. Remember that these are unusual times and so more face time may well be of value, if not for increased productivity then for support and wellbeing.
Everything can feel urgent in a crisis, and inhouse IT teams in particular may be pulled in a number of different directions by internal customers with competing priorities. Your role as leadership is to establish what is actually a priority and communicate that to the rest of the business too.
With so many people working from home full time and not being able to go out for social activities, home has become not just the centre, but the extent of our world. Encourage your team members to draw a hard line between personal time and work time. It might be useful to have access to them at all hours, but it will only lead to burnout.
Going back to the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week, kindness goes a long way. Kindness from leadership is all the more impactful. Whether it is an impromptu ‘how are you?’ call or encouraging them to take time off when they need it, if your employees feel they can come to you when things are hard, your team will be stronger for it.
Whilst we find ourselves in unprecedented times, video interviews are not...
While we have years of experience preparing candidates for video interviews over Skype, Zoom and even mobile video call (not recommended), we know that many are having to quickly adapt to this new way of working and interviewing. Many of your tried and tested in person interview tactics will still work, but there are also some new facets you should consider.
With teams all working remotely under lockdown employers are looking for people that are not only capable but can be self-starters, those who will get the job done just as effectively from home as they would the office. Demostrate this by taking the video interview every bit as seriously as you would an in-person one. Dress smartly and make the same effort to ensure your environment is well presented too. Use the right equipment such as a desktop or laptop computer with a good camera, set to a good height.
Sit at a desk in a well-lit room, with a high back chair. This will help you to sit upright and have open body language, as you would in an in-person interview. Body language is crucial in video interviews. Try to remain conscious of how you carry yourself, be mindful about your facial expressions and gestures.
If your cat jumps onto your lap mid-interview it’s likely the interviewer will remember that, more than you. It might sound obvious, but in this time of entire households working from home it can be a challenge to find a quiet corner and to go uninterrupted for an hour. Let your spouse/family/flat mates know the time of your interview so they can avoid interrupting you. If possible sit facing the door so that you can resolve any interruptions without disrupting your interview.
Of course, you’ll want to ensure you research the organisation and have questions prepared to ask at the end. Video interview also gives you to the opportunity to keep more of your notes on hand and even print a copy of your key examples to refer to. Don’t look down at your keyboard the whole time, but a quick glance at some well-placed prompts could help you to give the best possible account of yourself in the interview.
In the case of video interviewing being adequately prepared also means having tried and tested the technology involved. Whether it's video or in-person being late because you could make your way to the desgnated meeting will not go down well.
It is a deeply uncertain time in the UK and across the world as concerns...
It is a deeply uncertain time in the UK and across the world as concerns about Covid 19 are changing the way we work and for many, putting their livelihoods at risk.
We at Sentinel are following the government’s guidelines around social distancing and hygiene in order to keep our teams healthy and our recruitment processes in motion for our candidates and clients. We know our customers rely on us to keep their careers on track, and their teams at full capability, even in such uncertain times.
We are also implementing remote working for at risk groups in our own teams and for those with family members showing symptoms. We are monitoring official guidance closely and will continue to adapt as this evolves.
Whilst this is a health crisis, it is fast becoming an economic one too and many of us will be affected. That said, we are confident in the stability of our business and in this spirit we want to reach out to any recruitment consultants who may find themselves in need of a new agency home during this time.
The underrepresentation of women in the technology industry is well documented. With the number of women employed in the digital workforce estimated to be just 17% [i]of Europe’s IT workforce estimated to be female as of 20XX.
Increasingly, it is acknowledged that the issue is twofold (at least). First, there are not enough women currently working or qualified in IT professions for any tech team to achieve the coveted 50:50 gender balance. Secondly, having been a male dominated industry for decades, technology is not always the most welcoming environment.
The former is rooted largely in the “technology is for boys” attitudes that were still pervasive when the youngest of the working population were making choices about what to study. With only around 8% female STEM graduates in 2018 according to education campaign WISE. In fact, the same sentiments are still evident in toy stores: see the boys’ video games, robots etc and the girls’ aisle filled with pink dolls and kitchen sets).
Sometimes, when we are lucky, out of marginalisation comes a sense of community among the marginalised. International Women’s day brings forth countless opportunities for the few women in technology to commune. These events range from panel discussions on navigating the boys club and breaking through people’s expectations to networking events with other like-minded female professionals or, most refreshingly, spaces to look ahead to the future of what really unites you; technology.
The gender imbalance in the tech industry is well established, but this...
Charlotte Gray has recently celebrated her 20 year anniversary with Sentinel, marking a 23 year career in the IT industry. Charlotte has been one of the most influential specialist data consultants for years and last year stepped further into leadership as she became Managing Director of our Tunbridge Wells office and UK Division.
With so much experience in the industry Charlotte's knowledge about the way the tech industry has evolved is boundless. We felt she was the perfect person to help us take a look at the gender imbalance not only in the IT industry, but in the IT recruitment market.
Watch our video to see what role Gender has played in Charlotte's career, what she thinks of the so called 'boys club' and how we can lead the way on gender parity by encouraging more women into IT recruitment.
How do I prepare for the updates to IR35 in the private sector?
Work out the size of the challenge. Audit your contractor population to find out how many personal service company (PSC) contractors you will have running past April 6th, 2020. Remember that PSC contractors supplied under staff augmentation engagements with consulting suppliers could also be in scope.
Carefully consider your approach to PSC contractors. Some organisations have embraced the new paradigm and have started making IR35 status determinations for individual contractors, others are prohibiting the use of PSCs. Before banning PSCs outright, consider the cost impact of rate increase demands now and in the future. Have a plan in place to identify key contractors and respond to rate increase demands. If you plan to ban PSCs, you don’t need to read any further. You may want to think about your hiring strategy and how you’ll attract the necessary niche skill sets to newly defined permanent or umbrella company roles. Book a consultation and let us help you navigate this change.
Go it alone or get some help? So, you’ve decided to make status determinations. Now you need to decide whether you will do this in-house, or whether you would like external help. You can find support from consulting and technology solution providers, and insurers. Either way training is essential.
Sentinel are offering free IR35 training sessions to help you deepen your understanding so you can make status determinations with confidence. Book a meeting today.
Pick a tool. The key in handling the changes to off payroll working is to show reasonable care in making status determinations for contractors who will be engaged past April. One way to do this is to use HMRC’s CEST Tool or a third-party tool to help you evaluate whether a role falls inside or outside of IR35. Consider using an assessment tool provider who offers insurance to cover the tax liability where HMRC successfully challenges your status determination.
Communicate your status determinations to contractors and suppliers. Stay close to them, especially key contractors whose status will change.
From the earlier planning stage, you will have prepared contingency plans for loss of talent through change in status. Expect to lose some of your existing contractor work force or to increase rates, managing these changes will be crucial to continuity for your teams.
Define a process for disagreements. Contractors have the right to challenge your status determinations, and you need to respond within 45-days, or you’ll retain the tax liability. Again, this is where reasonable care plays a part, as you’ll be able to show how and why you made the determinations you did. Expect there to be some challenges to status determinations, whether they have merit or not, having a process for managing them defined ahead of April 6th is key.
Review your contracts. Have a different version for inside-IR35 and outside-IR35 contractors. The clauses will need to reflect the working practices that led you to the status determination for the role.
Review your suppliers for financial stability. As the changes transfer responsibility for status determinations to clients, so too your suppliers take on a more significant role. You’ll need to work with partners that are financially stable, trusted and are sufficiently aware of their new role. Where your supply chain fails to satisfy any tax liability or fails to properly inform other members of the chain about your determination, the liability or debt can be transferred to you.
Education is essential. IR35 status questions are difficult to answer without contextual understanding. You could also create risk for your business if you fail to ‘manage’ contractors in line with your status determinations or stick to the working practices outlined.
Sentinel can help. We have a team of IR35 SMEs, and we have assessed all the major providers of consulting services, status determination tools, and insurance. We are taking our part in the supply chain seriously and are eager to support clients in taking charge of this new responsibility.
What is IR35? What is changing on April 6th? What do I need to know and...
IR35 would have dominated our news cycles for the past year were it not for a certain ‘exit’ and a certain ‘virus’ that have understandably overshadowed the legislation somewhat. Yet, for those of us in the private sector little else has captured our attention so much as IR35. Many of us have been glued to updates on the subject from the new Prime Minister, or the even newer Chancellor. Still, April 6th draws ever nearer, and while hopes of the Government doing an about-turn persist, they are dwindling.
Preparation then is the task at hand. What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming changes to off payroll working regulations? In an ideal world your organisation will have already set their IR35 strategy and provided some direction on the part you’ll play. In reality, IR35 is a challenging piece of legislation. The burden of ‘reasonable care’ by which all determinations will be judged, means that if you want to retain access to flexible talent resource, you need to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the changes and ensure determinations are made on a case by case basis.
We have put together a Definitive Guide to IR35 to put all the information you need in one place. Sentinel’s guide to IR35 includes a comprehensive overview of the factors that should feed into your status determinations and how to manage the disagreement process. The guide is complete with a glossary of key IR35 terms, a break down of liability in your supply chain and our evaluation of the best status determination tools on the market. Download your guide to IR35 here.
We are also offering in person or phone IR35 consultations to cement your knowledge, help you to overcome common pitfalls, and advise you on the best way to mitigate your risk moving forward. Book here.
Managers have an integral role to play in making status determinations under new off payroll working rules applicable to the private sector as of April 6th, 2020.
As a team leader, supervisor or department head you will have a significant influence over the way your contractors work and are managed. It is likely that HR teams will call upon you to make status determinations, even before hiring for a new role begins.
Under the new rules, the ‘supervision, direction and control’ a client exerts over a contractor will be a factor in making determinations. And, if HMRC decide to take a closer look at a determination it will be the actual working practices that they will review, not just the contract or role description.
If you are a hiring manager, it is important that you take your role in IR35 seriously. Any determinations made without ‘reasonable care’ could expose your organisation to tax liability. This is also true where your working practices deviate from the answers you provided for status determinations.
We have put together a guide to help you understand your role in making determinations, how you can show reasonable care, and what you can be doing now, to prepare.
I joined Sentinel in 1999 because I thought surrounding myself with genuine and talented people would be an opportunity to grow and it would be an enjoyable place to spend a few years.
I was right.
Twenty years later, I’m still enjoying it and the business is still growing. As I write this, my first letter on our new website bearing our new branding, I’m mindful of how far-reaching our plans are for 2020, and the scale of the investment we’ve scheduled. This platform will allow us to better connect with and serve our customers, it will provide real-time opportunities to job-seekers and act as a knowledgebase thanks to the experts we partner with.
In the time Sentinel has been recruiting, the world around us has changed drastically, particularly in recruitment practice and the technology sector. To adapt, we have expanded our international presence, with our offices in Europe providing the perfect launchpad to supply talent further afield. This has extended our candidate networks and given us the capability to create local solutions for our international customers and improved our access to talent for clients around the world.
Looking back, at the past few years – a period of profound change– it’s remarkable to see how much we have achieved. Not only in terms of placements made, or fee income (which has increased by 40%), but in the way we have embraced this change. We have delivered so much value to our customers and, by extension, to their customers, through partnering with talent acquisition teams, recruitment outsourcers, statement-of-work providers and, of course, talented candidates.
Taking time this year to reflect on who we are as a business, what we stand for and what we care about, has been hugely rewarding. For twenty years we have focussed on delivering value for our customers and have succeeded by a simple approach that addresses what the people at the heart of this industry value most. Things like listening, empathising, and actively developing our technology and industry expertise. We are a tight-knit business, with many of our team boasting long tenures, and have a clarity of purpose defined by our mission statement:
To create positive change through talent, technology and opportunity.
Technology is changing the world around us, and we have never been more connected, more agile, or more reliant on talent to help our businesses succeed. Whether teams or individuals; driven, creative and talented people are making the impossible, possible. And we get to work with them every day.
Our commitment to putting people first, is one that starts here at home. We have built on the experience of twenty years and our clients’ innovations and have created a more flexible working environment for our teams. Having won the Recruiter Investing In Talent Award for the Most Effective Agile and Flexible Working Strategy in 2018, we have enshrined flexibility in our policies and in our culture. We offer flexible working across our offices and focus on managing outcomes rather than time invested.
Looking to the future, we will continue to invest in our leaders through professional development, empowerment, and decentralising our management approach so that our teams have the freedom and agility to innovate and deliver a truly exceptional service to all our customers.