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Why giving to charity is important

Posted on: 05 Sep 2018, admin

Although it may appear that there is an international day for ‘everything’ now, today is in fact International Day of Charity – and I think it’s an important one to blog about.  It was set up by the  United Nations and aims to address global issues and humanitarian problems throughout the world.  They chose today as it marks the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s passing. I think it’s really important for local businesses to support charities when they can and I’m pleased that Ascendant Recruitment is now in a position to be able to give back, especially to the local community.  If you look on the Ascendant Facebook page, you’ll see that lots of the team have taken part in various fun runs and marathons and I’m always pleased to lend support.  And following a very serious accident for one of the team, they received a lot of support from Spinal Injuries Association – so this is another brilliant charity I want to be able to support. Giving to charity is a very personal thing – there’s lots of different causes you can support from animal welfare to overseas aid and disaster relief. Interestingly, medical research was the most popular cause in 2017. According to Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) 26% of donors gave to this cause. So how can you help? There’s loads of ways that small and large businesses can support a charity. Whether it’s a bake sale or a sponsored walk (or run!), it only takes a small team of dedicated and determined employees to organise an event that could truly make a difference. Consider charities that are local to your business. There are some truly inspiring projects and organisations that do great work right on your doorstep. Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite local charities that continue to inspire us with their incredible efforts to improve lives. #1, MK   This initiative gives young people the opportunity to talk with industry professionals in a relaxed informal setting. This is a cause that Ascendant Recruitment are pleased to be a part of and I recently visited Lord Grey school in Bletchley to meet some pupils and discuss the realities of working life. When I was at school, the careers service was incredibly poor, but this initiative gives young people access to what’s out there. It’s incredibly valuable and they do some great work. #2 Keech Hospice Care, Luton and south Bedfordshire Providing free, specialist care for adults and children who have terminal illness, this charity provides outstanding services (including respite care for family and friends) that are invaluable to a lot of families in Luton, south Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes. #3 Growing People (Urb Farm), MK If you’re green-fingered and looking to support a local enterprise that combines training, education and horticulture then this could be the charity for you! Growing People, an initiative based round the corner from our offices in Wolverton Mill, cultivates produce using environmentally-friendly techniques. Why not sign up to the delicious veg box scheme today? #4 The Bus Shelter, MK Shockingly, many of us are just three pay slips away from losing our homes and ending up on the streets. In their own words: ‘A homeless shelter on wheels to reduce rough sleeping in Milton Keynes... with your help we can provide over 5800 safe, warm nights for people forced to sleep on the streets.’ We hope this post has inspired you to roll up your sleeves (or dig deep into your pockets!) and get involved. It’s important to remember to give what you can, whether that’s monetary donations or volunteering your time, there are so many ways you can make a difference.  


5 ways to support your children after GCSE results day

Posted on: 24 Aug 2018, admin

Following GCSE results day, I wanted to post a piece in solidarity to all parents and families who are on the receiving end of exam stress and anxiety. We’re publishing a number of GCSE-related blogs, and hope to encourage parents and children to discuss their career options. As a dad of three, I’ve had first-hand experience of the extreme highs and lows that our children face once they receive their results. For the lucky few, it’s outstanding grades in every subject, a first-class degree and a multitude of career successes (perhaps). But for many, exam results and examinations can be extremely stressful and debilitating; not all of us can handle pressure, controlled conditions, and tight deadlines! At Ascendant Recruitment, we thought we’d provide 5 top tips on ways to support your children throughout this challenging time. 1: Discuss career options (and maintain an open-minded approach) There are a number of ways to approach this topic. It’s important parents don’t force their children to pursue a path that they failed to pursue themselves. Equally, children shouldn’t be forced to go down the university route if it’s not of interest. Consider apprenticeships, work placements and enrolling in a course at college, as opposed to the more conventional route of sixth form and university. 2: Work experience (to boost self-confidence and gain desirable skills) The employment rate in Milton Keynes still remains incredibly high, which is why it’s important young people are not be discouraged by the job market. Parents: why not use your contacts? Perhaps your son or daughter is interested in construction work, engineering, or setting up their own business. Utilise your contacts and arrange some work experience. 3: Get part-time job or volunteer! A part-time job, whether it’s retail, hospitality or an office-based role, offers a great opportunity for young people to develop skills. For example, time management; customer service and dealing with customers and colleagues in a professional manner. Volunteering is also strongly encouraged from a recruitment perspective. Candidates with volunteering experience are often very proactive, forthcoming and hardworking by nature. It also looks impressive on a personal statement (for university) and CV, too. 4:  Take the pressure off Not all pupils perform well in exams. Some get incredibly anxious, which can affect their memory and ability to excel. But what are their options? For those who didn’t achieve their desired results, there’s always retakes. Invest time in learning how to do exams well. There are a number of practical tips that can help with retaining information and staying calm. Try and help alleviate any pressure or anxiety by encouraging exercise, activities or simply going out for a walk for some fresh air. Explain that a disappointing result isn’t a reflection of your child’s own self-worth. Accept failure. We all fail. It’s through failing that we grow stronger and more resilient as individuals. 5:  Communication is key Over the years, I’ve found communication is essential when it comes to understanding my children’s likes, dislikes and the subjects that they’re especially interested in. But when it comes to the subjects they don’t enjoy, I find ways to make the subject and work more desirable. I’ve applied skills to real-life situations to provide context and meaning. Trigonometry, for example, may be tedious, but it can be essential brain training for other career decisions. And finally, the advice I offer my children always remains the same. Be the best you can be and only compete with yourself.


Apprenticeships: finding a scheme that works for you

Posted on: 14 Aug 2018, admin

It’s August, which only means one thing for thousands of young hopeful, worried and nervous teens all across the UK: GCSE results. This nail-biting, palm-sweating and hand-trembling time will either be cause for concern or cause for celebration (hopefully the latter). But fear not – it’s important to remember the numerous career paths and options open to students, regardless of ones ability and skill-set. Here at Ascendant Recruitment we’ve used our extensive knowledge and created a blog series to help advise and encourage students and parents who may be experiencing post-GCSE anxiety. Each blog will target a specific area of employment for young people, so whether it’s work experience placements or remote learning and badged courses, there are plenty of opportunities for young people who seek alternative routes to university and college. This week, we’re focusing specifically on apprenticeships and why they can be an effective career path for students. To begin, let’s take a look at some key statistics. In 2016 and 2017 alone, there were 491,300 apprenticeship starts in the UK. This may sound like an impressive figure, however, numbers have fallen by 18,100 when compared with the previous year. It’s likely this is partially due to funding changes and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in May 2017. Recently, The Open University Business Barometer, which observes the skills landscape of the UK, revealed a major shortage in skills (within the UK labour market) and a significant deficiency this past year alone. Corporate Director of the OU, David Willett, explains that skills shortages are costing UK businesses £6.3 billion. This large figure highlights the need for more skills-based courses and schemes, such as apprenticeships. Training is key here. Employers should provide employees with adequate training to support their growth as individuals. This incentivises loyalty and progression within the business, too. Studies have shown that most apprenticeships are in the service sectors. This includes Public Health Services and Care; Business; Administration and Law; Retail and Commercial Enterprise; and Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies. The number of apprenticeship starts by women has risen significantly over the last few years. In 2016/17, 54% of apprenticeship starts were by women. So what are apprenticeships and the main benefits of practical, skills-based training? Apprenticeships are available to those who have reached the legal school-leaving age, which varies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They both encourage and promote the development of practical (applied) skills in the workplace. Apprenticeships provide an alternative route for those who are less-academically minded and allow trainees to earn as they learn. There are three categories or levels of apprenticeship available, which reflect the trainees’ skill set and qualifications. These are: Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2); Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3); and Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4 and above). Once completed, trainees will gain a nationally-recognised qualification which are now available up to degree level and above. But what about the trainees that have graduated? What happens after the training has been completed? In our experience, recruiters are far more likely to hire an apprentice who has successfully completed their training to a high standard, as opposed to a student who has two poor A-levels under their belt. If this is something that interests you, we recommend researching apprenticeship schemes, real-life case studies or speaking to a current or past apprentice about their own experience as a trainee. Finally, although AS and A-levels may seem like natural progression from GCSE’s, it’s important to think carefully about your own strengths, personal interests and whether you’d be better suited to a practical training course. Although it might be tempting to take the conventional route in academia, there are a number of exceptional and well-paid apprenticeship schemes and placements in a number of sectors, that can truly kick-start your career. For more information, visit Gov.Uk or The Apprenticeship Guide for useful resources including current vacancies. If you’re a university graduate and looking for guidance on graduate schemes, then see our recent Q&A for expert advice.  


REC Membership for Recruiters

Posted on: 26 Jul 2018, admin

Standing out from the crowd can be difficult in the recruitment industry, but I think we do it well at Ascendant Recruitment. We pride ourselves on providing a professional, friendly and reliable service to our candidates and clients. Our ethos as a business is to be deliberately different and we believe our passion to serve is what enables us to grow and expand our own client base and, in turn, continually increase the volume of excellent opportunities for the people who rely on us to find them temporary, contract or permanent work. But how do businesses credibly show their differences? How can they demonstrate the professionalism and quality of service that they offer? Recently, we were awarded recognition from The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for recruitment. REC are the spearheads for recruitment. As industry experts, they offer sound advice on a number of areas including tax, and most recently, GDPR. They provide tools, business resources, events and workshops to members to help their business grow and thrive. Increasingly clients demand more and more from their service providers. On a basic level we are here to provide our clients with talent for their organisation. But we want to do more. We want to fulfil the gap that often exists between a Recruitment Agency and a client: the all-important consultancy. Being a member of the REC adds another string to our bow by allowing us to provide up-to-date legal guidance whilst adhering to a strict Code of Professional Practice that demands of its members even more than the statute book! One example of this in practice, is that prior to its removal on 8th May 2016, Regulation 17(1)(b)(ii) of the Conduct Regulations, required a Recruitment Agency to state whether any refund or rebates were applicable in respect of their charges. Though Regulation 17 no longer applies, the REC Code of Professional Practice requires employment agencies to continue to agree terms in writing. REC represents more than 3,500 recruitment businesses and we’re proud to be among these, and therefore, classed as one the best in the industry. This recognition is great for business, too, as our clients can trust that we are committed to best practice. Membership also comes with certain entitlements and benefits that can further support your business practice. This includes legal guidance, commercial risk assurance, training and qualifications and extensive research. In the run-up to the 25th May 2018, we used REC’s guide on data protection rights and GDPR. This resource provided information for jobseekers on their rights as candidates including areas such as marketing, rights to object and rights to withdraw consent. The REC was invaluable whilst we coped with GDPR. We wanted to make sure that our candidates and clients were as well-informed as possible, because everyone was being inundated with requests for consents, yet few companies were able to explain what was going on! Thanks to the fantastic support from the REC, we were able to guide not only our candidates and clients through the minefield, but ourselves too. Our business environment has never been more competitive, both in terms of the volume of work we need to complete, and the volume of value add we want to offer our clients. The REC’s extensive and timely legal advice allows us to operate best practice both internally and externally, without the need to spend 4-hours-a week in a solicitor’s office! These are just some examples that demonstrate how and why REC membership is a valuable resource and asset to any recruitment business. Find out more about your rights around data with the REC's handy guide Know-your-rights-Jobseekers - REC document


Graduate Schemes: are they really worth it?

Posted on: 12 Jul 2018, admin

Results day is fast-approaching for hundreds of thousands of university students in the UK. It can be an incredibly stressful, nail-biting time for many, as more often than not, the final result will influence students’ employment options and whether they are accepted onto certain graduate schemes and internships. In 2017, there were an impressive 14 million graduates in the UK. It’s safe to say that there’s a huge amount of competition when it comes to job applications, and depending on the industry itself, it can be a challenge to even get a foot in the door. Graduate schemes and internships are a great way to learn the ropes of a business and develop desirable skills and competencies that are often transferable. This week we spoke with Ascendant Recruitment’s Sharan Lidder, who shared some thoughts and advice on graduate recruitment. Sharan manages Accounting and Finance roles (both permanent and temporary placements) and has been one of our Consultants since March 2017.   Q. What is your experience with graduate schemes? Sharan. I used to run the Finance Graduate scheme at my previous company, which was a really effective part of their recruitment strategy.  Finance-focused schemes can be ideal once the graduate has been to university and studied finance or a finance-related degree, such as Maths or Economics).  They offer a great opportunity to practically build upon your theoretical knowledge and we know that employers regard them as a breeding ground for their future leaders.   Q. In your opinion, can graduate schemes increase an individual’s employability? Sharan. As described above, they can be a ‘way in’ for most people and clients can use it to fast-track high calibre individuals onto a management programme. We used to run it as an assessment centre which allows you to really put the graduates to the test with various tasks and interviews; and often managers in the organisation would meet with them, too.   Q.What is your opinion on unpaid (or paid) internships? Sharan. I prefer paid internships as it motivates the individual to apply themselves and put effort into their chosen field. I think the employer will get more commitment, longevity and are likely to show the individual they value their work. However, my understanding on paid internships is that the pay is often insufficient and the work can be exploitative. I would suggest graduates do their research beforehand, try websites such as Glassdoor to gain further insight into the organisation and its culture.   Q. What qualities to your clients look for when taking on a graduate? Sharan. They consider the degree classification, A level results and general calibre of a candidate i.e. communication skills, ambition and integrity etc. They like graduates who can demonstrate skills associated with emotional intelligence such as confidence, empathy, great communication and presentation skills and specific degrees that relate to the role.    Q. Are there any specific companies that offer impressive graduate schemes and packages? Sharan. There are between 30–40 established accountancy firms that offer graduate schemes for those with a 2:1 or above in Finance, Maths or Economics. They offer competitive starting salaries with a study package where graduates can gain accountancy credentials ACCA or ACA, which are a worthy career investment. They also get invaluable training across the department allowing them to choose their final specialism, whether it be accounts, tax or auditing etc. The bigger names like VW, Network Rail and Home Retail Group tend to run their own graduate schemes and often do milkrounds at universities.   Q. Are you seeing any particular trends in terms of the type of role or industry that is popular among graduates? Sharan. We deal with many of Milton Keynes’ prestigious employers, such as BSI, Rightmove, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Dentons and the ICAEW. The main areas that are desirable among graduates are entry-level customer service roles, finance and analyst roles and specific roles that may deal with engineers and technical products, so an engineering degree here is ideal.  That said, a lot of graduates strive for the right company over the right position in the knowledge that great companies are likely to facilitate great learning experiences.   Q. Finally, do you have any tips for graduates when it comes to applying for their first role post-university? Sharan. Network, network, network! Connect with friends and family, and use business networking platforms, such as LinkedIn. Be proactive. All universities will have a catalogue of top companies that recruit graduates. Also sign up to recruiters, that way you’ll have industry experts (who already have the contacts) actively looking for you.   Finally, don’t be afraid to be assertive. I once had a graduate contact me directly with a ‘sales pitch’, he then sent his CV and was accepted onto the finance scheme. It can be hard to contact the bigger companies but with the SME’s that you have a particular interest in, get in touch and introduce yourself – it’s all great practice! We hope you’ve found this useful. If you’re looking for further advice, there are a number of great resources and tools that can help graduates find the job they’re looking for. Research is key in order to understand the application process and how to stand out in a crowd of hungry graduates. Look out for articles and publications where industry experts offer advice for graduate scheme applicants. In addition to this, find out the latest trends in recruitment and get an accurate view of what an assessment might entail. Remember: be patient and don’t give up! According to Office for National Statistics, we are still seeing graduates in higher-paid and highly-skilled roles. Interestingly, their annual earnings generally reach a peak at a later age, too. It’ll all pay off eventually. Finally, to all graduates awaiting their results this summer – good luck!



Posted on: 05 Jul 2018, admin

We're very excited to welcome Sam Poole to the team at Ascendant Recruitment. Sam will be joining our temporary workers team and supporting me to bring a new service to Milton Keynes and Northampton.  It's no secret that in recruitment, we are all fighting in a 'war for talent' - there's a huge supply of jobs out there and clients who are desperate for high quality candidates, but we are constantly struggling to match that demand with the high quality candidates we want for our client's roles.  For a long time, I have felt that more could be done to support the huge number of people who want more flexible roles to work around other commitments and responsibilities in their lives - whether that's children, elderly parents or simply to create a better work-life balance.  So, Ascendant Recruitment are bravely pioneering an approach to bring more flexibility in to the local area so that we are able to consistently provide the high quality candidates that our clients need, allowing us to win the ‘war for talent’. Sam will work closely with me to find candidates with great skills but who haven't found the right opportunities that suit their other commitments.  Once we have a great pool of candidates, we will be speaking to employers and discussing a range of flexible working options with them.  I strongly believe that our role as recruitment consultants is to work closely with our clients and encourage them to view their recruitment strategies differently. I know that the London market is moving in this direction and I'm passionate about making sure Ascendant Recruitment does this for Milton Keynes and Northampton. So, why is Sam the perfect person for this role?  Although she has had experience in recruitment previously, Sam is the founder of the Mum to Mum Milton Keynes network - a group that she set up whilst on maternity leave to help parents to find out about activities and services in the local area. The group quickly grew and Sam saw an opportunity to turn it in to a business directory - it now boasts 175 local businesses and is visited by 13,000 people every month.  Within this network, I am sure that there are HUNDREDS of people out there who are looking for flexible jobs, want a change of career or want to get back in to the workplace.  Our plan is to put a programme in place to support people to meet their career goals and get them the job of their dreams! Sam says: "When I was setting up the Mum to Mum Milton Keynes network and turning it from a hobby in to a business, it became apparent that there was an army of people out there not working in the right jobs and that there were lots of employers out there missing out on highly skilled people.  I was looking to partner with a forward thinking agency who wanted to shake the recruitment market up a bit and was delighted when Rachel from Rachel Allen Marketing introduced me to Nick at Ascendant Recruitment.  I was offered a place on the team as a consultant to help them grow this area of their business and develop relationships with local businesses who want to support parents in Milton Keynes and Northampton. We have so many talented and hardworking parents in our community that deserve to have a fulfilling career and I’m excited to work with Ascendant on this project. The Mum to Mum Milton Keynes community is growing every week and I am pleased to be working with a company that is as passionate as I am about changing the world of work – where part-time and flexible working is far more widely available." We will be launching further details of the campaign for flexible working over the coming weeks, so sign up to the blog or follow us on Facebook  to find out more details.  I'll let Sam settle in during her first week and get to know the team and our clients before we get to work on our exciting plans. Sam is a mum of two boys as well, so will be working mainly school hours. This is something I'm really keen to offer and a number of my staff work flexibly as well - find out on our flexible working blog posts.  To get in touch with Sam directly, email or call the MK office on 01908 200270.  Or, take a look at her Linked In profile. Nick Peacock Managing Director of Ascendant Recruitment


How to celebrate The World Cup as a business (and not neglect your principles)

Posted on: 18 Jun 2018, admin

Tonight is the hugely anticipated kick-off between England and Tunisia #ENGTUN, and the team at Ascendant Recruitment couldn’t be more excited. It goes without saying that the World Cup is one of those events that truly unites a country. In a world that can sometimes feel divided, lonely and isolating, it’s global events such as these that can boost morale and create a real sense of community and togetherness. An impressive 3.2 billion people (almost half the world’s population) tuned in to watch the 2014 World Cup. We anticipate similar numbers this year with all eyes on Russia, the hosts for this iconic sporting event. But what does this mean for businesses who want to avoid disruption during the event? Is it possible for employees to celebrate the tournament whilst also retaining efficiency in the workplace? There are a number of ways businesses can celebrate the “world’s most widely viewed sporting event” with minimal disruption to productivity. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom; in fact, The World Cup provides an opportunity for employers to boost team spirit and camaraderie among its staff. Today we’re speaking to Operations Manager, David Forbes, on how events such as the World Cup can have a positive impact on business. We discuss ways to both actively encourage participation in the workplace, whilst maintaining the company ethos of clients and candidates first. David says: ‘There’s something so unique about getting behind a country and supporting a team. The World Cup provides a great excuse to rally together and celebrate this great sporting occasion.’ There are myriad ways a business may choose to operate during The World Cup. Whether that’s allowing more flexible working or introducing summer hours, with a clear agreement that they have to make the time up elsewhere. It’s essential that employers are hospitable during the season; staff are less likely to simulate sickness if companies are considerate during the period. Here at Ascendant Recruitment we want our employees to enjoy The World Cup whilst maintaining professionalism in the workplace. We’ve got a number of interactive and fun activities in place, such as a sweepstake, which is proving to be incredibly popular among staff. This is an effective team-building exercise and anyone can get involved. We also have regular updates in the office on live scores and results after the main tournaments. But with all this excitement, how do employers ensure that service isn’t compromised? Here at Ascendant Recruitment, we want our employees to enjoy the event and to celebrate the tournament together. However, we will continue to remain customer-focused and ensure that a high-quality service is delivered. ‘Business comes first,’ says David. ‘It’s paramount that the needs of our clients and candidates are met and not neglected during this time.’ So, our advice to other businesses would be the following: Be hospitable. Employees are less likely to ‘pull a sickie’ if you incorporate ways to enjoy the season together. Make sure any new policies, such as flexible working hours, are clearly communicated to avoid confusion. Be innovative. Relaxed, friendly and fun working environments can inspire creative thinking. Be fair. Not all employees will be excited about the footie season. Remain considerate and ensure the work environment isn’t disruptive as this will impact morale. Be YOU. For Ascendant Recruitment, our clients and candidates always come first. Don’t neglect your working practices and principles during this period. Maintain your company ethos and philosophy at all times. Enjoy it! We wish all the players the best of luck for tonight’s game.  


Supporting Local Businesses – reasons to #LoveMK

Posted on: 01 Jun 2018, admin

We were planning to talk about Local Business Week, which ran from 18th–24th May, but what with the frenzied emails and general panic about GDPR, we thought we'd hold back and share our thoughts when everyone's inbox has calmed down a bit! Since opening our doors in 2003, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with some fantastic businesses; another reason (if you need one) to #LoveMK. As a local business, we use any opportunity to spread the word about business in Milton Keynes. It’s our mission to help local business thrive by supporting them with developing a robust recruitment strategy. There are a number of reasons Ascendant Recruitment decided to establish itself in Milton Keynes. Firstly, it’s a large town built with careful planning and solid infrastructure. The various districts are easily accessible making it commuter-friendly, and it’s in close proximity to Northampton and Oxford, where our many of our clients are based. A whole host of corporate brands have their head offices here as it’s financially feasible compared to sprawling cities such as London and Birmingham. It’s technologically advanced, and certainly appeals to a number of weary city-dwellers and young professionals who are looking to create a family of their own. Since we started out 15 years ago, we’ve seen a number of changes here in MK. The business landscape has changed dramatically, as we see independent coffee shops, start-ups and small businesses grow and flourish. Fortunately, the concept of ‘local’ has become extremely fashionable, which means there’s greater need for supply and demand. We are proud to work with a number of local dynamic companies who seek unique individuals to help their team and business succeed. Over 96% of our candidates remain in-post beyond their probationary period, which is testament to our team of passionate and conscientious recruiters. Our list of long-term clients includes the esteemed local business, Rightmove, the UK’s largest online property website. Here at Ascendant Recruitment we’re excited to see the landscape of Milton Keynes change shape as we continue to do what we do best: supply quality candidates to local businesses. We’d love to hear about your favourite local businesses and the reasons you #LoveMK. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and feel free to tweet, share and like this post. More soon!


Mental Health in the workplace – don’t suffer in silence!

Posted on: 15 May 2018, admin

We wanted to focus this week’s blog on Mental Health Awareness Week – the theme for 2018 is something that can affect us all – stress! The week runs from 14-20 May and I’m sure you’ll find lots of information available on social media, but we wanted to add in some useful hints and tips related to job hunting and work in general.  Gemma Jones, the driving force behind our very busy Milton Keynes temporary division is hosting the blog and shares some of her thoughts about stress and mental health in the workplace and tells you about some of her top hints and tips to keep her stress levels at bay! “I’m really lucky that I really enjoy my job – I’ve got a really supportive team and we work well together. But, saying that, recruitment is one of THE most stressful industries; it’s very fast paced, especially when you’re recruiting temporary workers because the clients need staff and they need them NOW.  I really thrive on the buzz, but I do need to make sure I manage my stress levels as it’s so important for your overall wellbeing. I feel very strongly about employers understanding and recognising stress in the workplace.  In a 2016/17 survey by the Health & Safety Executive, it was reported that 12.5 million working days were lost due to stress, depression and anxiety.  Of this number, each person suffering took off an average of 23.8 days.  This is a huge number and I strongly believe that many of these days lost could be avoided if employers either don’t know how to help their staff or don’t want to.  There is a useful page on the Mental Health Foundation’s website that gives employers some hints and tips about how to manage work life balance to support positive mental health. For me, the most important thing to do is to have somewhere people can be signposted to for advice if they are struggling and a culture where people talk openly about mental health and stress in particular.  There is a lot being done to raise awareness of mental health issues and stress and it’s great that people are talking about it more openly, however there’s still a lot of people suffering and it’s resulting in loads of days off and an impact on people’s general health and wellbeing. No matter the stress you’re feeling, please take time out and try your best to put things in perspective. Secondly, seek support from someone within your company that can help remedy the things that are contributing to your work stress.  Check your contract of employment or employee handbook to find out who can help you, or speak to your HR team in confidence if you need some support. The charity MIND has a branch that works across Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Luton. They offer support and training for companies in the local area and I think that this is really encouraging. If you think you might need to train your staff and managers about how to spot the signs of stress in the workplace and put some measures in place to reduce this, then please check out their site here.  If you’re an individual and need some help with your mental health and wellbeing, please check out the services on offer for people here.  If you’re based in Northamptonshire, the branch that covers the area can be found here. The things that help me to de-stress are my cat Lola (pictured). You can find out more about the benefits of pets on mental health and wellbeing on this post.  I also really enjoy exercise, which is widely known to help reduce the stress levels – so you’ll often find me at a Spin class or boxing to take out the day’s frustrations.  This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I also like to tidy up and clear out things that I’m not using any more. Holding on to things I don’t need any more is a ‘clutter’ that I don’t need – both physically and mentally.  But my biggest piece of advice is to try different things – you might be surprised by what helps you to destress and unwind.” If you’re struggling with stress in the workplace, please don’t suffer in silence and try to get some help. If you want to discuss your career options, please give the Ascendant Recruitment team a call on 01908 200270 for our MK office or 01604 439380 for Northampton.


Making the impossible…possible

Posted on: 04 May 2018, admin

This is the last in this series of blog posts about flexible working, having previously shared Sharan and Sue’s stories.  We want to share some practical hints and tips so that if you’re in a position and hoping to alter your hours to work flexibly, you’ve got some resources to access to help you prepare. There’s some useful resources on the government’s flexible working web pages and that’s a great place to start. If you’ve been in a role for over 26 weeks, then you are entitled to put a request forward for your employer.  The website explains the steps you should take and what the employers’ responsibility is. There are lots of ways you can request flexible working, including: Job sharing Working from home Part time hours Compressed hours Use of flexi time Annualised hours – a certain number of hours spread over the year Different start and finish times to other employees Phased retirement If you prepare your case properly and do your research, your employer will need a solid business reason as to why they cannot uphold your request for flexible working.  If you take a look at this page on the government’s website, you’ll find out more about how you can make a request and how an employer should respond to it. Throughout this series of blog posts, we’ve featured some of our staff and this time, we’re sharing Anna’s story.  Anna is one of our consultants working in the permanent placements team.  Anna is mum to Zachary who’s 4 and Mia who is 3. “Nick really did make the impossible seem possible when he approached me about a role at Ascendant Recruitment.  I had my children quite close together and then spent over 2 years as a stay at home mum. Like many women, I found that life with children wasn’t all coffee shops and play dates, but isolating, not mentally stimulating and sometimes thankless!  I was also concerned about having too long a gap away from the workplace – it would have affected my employability and my confidence. Initially, it was difficult trying to learn the ropes in a new organisation, but the team are really supportive and understanding.  We communicate well and have great systems in place to make sure we can respond to clients and candidates. I often take my laptop home and screen CV’s and call candidates once the kids are in bed. From a candidate perspective, it’s better for them that I can speak to them when they aren’t at work – so flexible working can be a real benefit in recruitment. There are times when I must adjust my work to fit around my family, but I’m never made to feel guilty and the team know I put the hours in – just not always in core office hours.  I think a lot of employers should consider offering flexibility as they’re missing out on great people otherwise.” If you would like advice about how to approach your employer to discuss flexible working or want to find out more about the flexible roles that we have available through Ascendant Recruitment, please get in touch on