Post-Pandemic Recovery Phase and Beyond

The pandemic may be done for, but the threat of variants remains. Omicron has delivered its baggage. According to Fortune, IMF predicted global growth in 2022 to be at nearly five per cent, but with Omicron, these speculations didn’t look so rosy. For Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest US investment banks, Omicron presented a fall in the growth of the US economy from 4.2 to 3.8 per cent, making West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin say no to Biden’s Build Back Better recovery plan.

In December 2021, crude oil, crypto, equity stocks, and treasuries took a serious hit globally. Inflation in the US in October 2021 was at a record high, a phenomenon appearing pervasive globally, with food prices seeing the biggest hikes due to supply chain disruptions. BofA Securities’ global economist Ethan S. Harris posited that these supply chain disruptions will most likely expand by spring this year as the spread of Omicron will increase in Asian countries directly involved in global supply chains.

With the subsiding of the variant, things seem to have improved economically, and optimism runs high. Is it practical, however, to stay optimistic about the rest of the year? While positivity doesn’t hurt, uncertainty persists around things going back to pre-pandemic levels. The Economist’s Global Normalcy Index was created to look at the changes in three main categories and points out that remote work will continue as a major way of doing things.

Also, the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report suggests that global growth will drop to 4.1 per cent in 2022 from 5.5 per cent in 2021 and 3.2 per cent in 2023, triggered by the lack of financial support from governments worldwide. While 2023 would signal the year when advanced economies will have reached their pre-pandemic output levels, for developing economies, output levels will be 4 per cent lesser than the pre-pandemic levels, thereby increasing the inequality prevalent in the world.

Labour shortages are also becoming glaringly visible in many parts of the world, especially in the US, where the Great Resignation — now combined with Omicron — will cause skilled worker shortages. This will, in turn, affect unemployment levels, which will be slower to recover. CEO of staffing agency Randstad North America, Karen Fichuk, believes that attracting workers will require better health and safety initiatives, benefits and pay structures, training, and advancement opportunities.

Kearney experts predict that lower interest rates in the years 2021 to 2023 will increase debt at the corporate level and lead to more mergers and acquisitions. They further suggest that the climate crisis must be addressed through corporate sustainability programs to offset rising food prices from affected agricultural outputs.

Overall, recovery in the year 2022 will be off to a slow start in the second quarter, affected by increased supply chain, inflationary pressures, and the efforts of businesses to fill in vacant positions. Nonetheless, by 2023, things may reach the “normal” levels from the pre-pandemic times for many advanced nations, while developing nations might still struggle to catch up.

Arslan Ahmed | Staff Writer

Best CMS Platforms

By 1995, the internet was well on its way to being in most suburban homes in North America. Those in the early days of AOL still amuse old friends with stories of dial-up tones and long upload times, but nobody back then had been unimpressed with the potential of the technology.

Building a website back then was akin to constructing a house from scratch. Blogging, the term first being coined in 1999, was a few years away. If you truly wanted a platform to voice your opinion, sell a product, or promote your brand, you needed a little technical savvy.

Today, CMS (content management system) platforms have made it easier to get the word out about your product, business, or yourself without the need for complicated code. It’s no longer entirely necessary to learn HTML, JavaScript, or the other programming languages in which websites are written.

There are plenty of options out there but finding out which one is best might depend on a number of factors such as cost, support, and data portability.

For comparison, here are three of the best CMS platforms out there.

HubSpot CMS Hub

HubSpot is the perfect platform for those in marketing and business as it’s specifically designed for such purposes. It makes it easy to run your business smoothly, relying on a great deal of marketing automation, operations tools, and customer service.

With its simple drag-and-drop editor, it’s a terrific platform for those just getting started. Most importantly, to maintain the ever-crucial security aspect, the software ensures round-the-clock support and regular virus scans to keep hackers at bay.

WordPress.org

To be clear, we are referring to WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the platform responsible for powering nearly 42 per cent of all the internet’s websites.  

WordPress.org is 100 per cent free and open-sourced. The key distinction between the two is that WordPress.com takes care of hosting for you. With WordPress.org, finding a web hosting provider becomes your responsibility, though it provides several recommendations. 

A hosting charge, however, is a small price to pay for the benefits that you otherwise are given completely free of charge. With thousands of plug-ins and add-ons, WordPress is one of the easiest-to-use platforms available. It’s exceptionally well-designed for SEO, has a great support staff, and is probably the cheapest way to launch a website, depending on which hosting provider you choose.

BigCommerce

Choosing WordPress is what businesses often do, but one of the best features is how well it interacts with other CMS platforms. It’s often ideal to mix and match.

On its own, BigCommerce is already an all-in-one platform, handling security, backups, and setting up easy payment options for customers with Apple Pay, PayPal, or Amazon as well as debit and credit. That’s more options than the much-touted Shopify.

Combining BigCommerce with WordPress can give you quite the advantage in business, which basically means combining the best-looking blog on the net with one of the most optimal e-commerce platforms.

Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer

How to Embrace Digital Transformation in Your Organization

We’re long past the point of having to explain to business owners that the internet is an essential tool. Digitally transforming your business to better serve your customers has been the talking point of many a panel, convention, lecture, or keynote address for the last two decades, and it’s fair to assume most people understand that it’s an imperative now. 

However, how to do it and make it work properly is another matter entirely. You don’t have to look far online to find examples of poorly run or managed business sites. The world has changed too drastically for anyone to be left behind. 

Here are some tips to better understand and embrace going digital.

Know What Technological Advancement Means for Your Market

One of the main reasons digital transformation is so broad is because technology is rapidly evolving by the day. Artificial intelligence and chatbots have already been used to make customer service more user-friendly, and there are surely more innovations on the way. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve only become more prevalent. 

When these innovations come about, industries react differently. It’s key that, for every innovation, your business should adapt accordingly. 

Staying on top of current trends in digitization is also important. As of now, some of the major trends include:

– AI and Machine learning;

– Adapting and utilizing the cloud; and

– Restructuring the IT outsourcing industry. 

Always Remain Cautious About Security  

There have already been enough cyberattacks in 2021 for the internet to start making top ten lists about it. Knowing how to deal with the risks and threats of the internet is vital to any business’s survival. 

Upgrading malware and other software are always important, but businesses often need to hire a data protection company to further defend themselves.

Keep Your Staff Trained 

Technology moves quickly, and your employees won’t be of much use if they don’t know how to utilize it. Even Amazon offers some excellent in-house training courses that both help employees rise through the ranks and keep them informed of the latest innovations. 

Always Seek Advice

Digitization can be a complex process, particularly for those who might be resistant. Doing it effectively means having the right people and infrastructure assembled from the beginning. If you don’t know who to turn to, contacting a third-party is always an option. 

It’s always important to create a risk management program with the company you select. Once you feel secure, a third party can help create a long-term plan and business strategy for innovation. They’ll also offer creative and technical support. 

Any sort of transformation for a business is hard, but it’s never been more necessary. As more and more people realize the benefits of working from home and their shopping habits too have shifted to the computer rather than the mall, there’s simply no other way to meet consumer demands.

Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer

Applicant Tracking Systems and What You Need to Know

At first blush, it’s easy to understand why the term Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and its definition would sound Kafkaesque — it is. There’s no other way to describe software that automatically collects, and sorts resumes with an obscure algorithm.

There’s even the possibility that your resume may never even reach human eyes as the all-knowing computer may decide that yours should remain at the bottom of the pile. It doesn’t seem fair, but in this fast-paced, high-tech economy, it’s something we should have seen coming.

It’s important to realize that ATS is everywhere now, with 98 per cent of Fortune 500 firms, 66 per cent of big business, and even 35 per cent of small businesses using them to prioritize resumes. It’s also not just one ATS you have to understand — different companies use different software of varying quality. Even Indeed has its own.

Wherever you may be applying, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to deal with an ATS judging your resume’s worth before a real person even gets a chance. Here’s what you need to know:

How ATS Sorts Data

ATS collects all resumes into a database that recruiters and hiring managers can access. Your resume can sit in that database for years before ever being considered, but employers search the database using several different methods.

Of course, some employers are old-fashioned and prefer to see every application that passes through the system, but you can’t count on that. Instead, they often rely on keyword searches. If an employer is looking for a market researcher, that term would likely be the first one searched. Searches can also contain multiple terms to help an employer be as specific as they desire.

If you can predict the keywords for which they’ll likely be searching, you stand a better chance of at least being noticed. Some ATS, however, have a feature that automatically recommends certain selected resumes based on how closely they match the job description.

Format Matters

Whatever you know about current resume formats, it’d be wise to employ it now. What you learned in school probably isn’t applicable anymore. A lot of applicant tracking systems don’t even look at your resume. Instead, they turn the file into a digital document and sort out the information, so it’s easily searchable.

If it’s not formatted correctly, keywords can get lost or distorted, and other details might just be ignored. Some ATS have gotten more intelligent about doing this, but it’s still a major problem.

How to Beat the System

You’ve probably already been given a few ideas above that can help you tailor your resume to beat ATS, but there’s much more you need to do:

  • Change your resume to suit each specific job application.
  • Guess some of the keywords they’ll be searching. Use the job description for ideas.
  • Stick to a chronological format.
  • Avoid columns and tables — they’ll only confuse the ATS.
  • Keep to standard headings. It’s not the time to get creative and call the “Work Experience” section “Jobs I Had.” For the most part, reserve your personality for the interview.

ATS systems seem to benefit the employer more than the job seeker, but there are ways to turn it in your favour.

Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer

Entry, Mid, Senior: Identifying Your Title

We all have aspirations in our professional lives, no matter how unrealistically or realistically grounded they may be. The first step in understanding how far you’re capable of progress — as well as the level of experience and education required, before they’ll even see you as a viable candidate — is knowing what those much-coveted positions mean. 

When applying for a new position, how do you know you have what they’re looking for? Having ambition beyond your expertise may be noble but applying for jobs you don’t have the qualifications for can lead to that carefully tailored CV being tossed directly into the trash.

Here’s what you need to know about job position titles, what they entail, and how best to advance.

Senior

In this case, it helps to start furthest from where you’d likely first apply — every office or company structures around a pyramid of power with senior positions being the highest level. Several factors determine seniority levels, including length of time spent with the company, experience, and education.

Those in senior-level positions are those with the highest loyalty, experience, and education. Their responsibility is to offer guidance to those at lower levels. The seniors also make decisions affecting other workers, including financial compensation, layoffs, and benefits.

Often, to advance further, employees are required to take exams. Jobs that fall under the senior title include:

  • Executive Director
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Vice President
  • HR Director
  • Head of Advertising
  • Senior Architect

Mid

After gaining experience and time with the company, employees will have a chance to advance to mid-level positions such as:

  • Team Lead
  • Accounting Officer
  • Accounts Manager
  • Regional Manager
  • Project Superintendent 
  • IT Supervisor

Obtaining a mid-level position means being responsible for managing the entry-level employees, while at the same time reporting to and following the instructions of the seniors. Further advancements will lead to mid-senior level positions.

Entry

When first starting with a company, without some extraordinary circumstances, the assumption is you will be starting in an entry-level position like:

  • Junior Marketing Associate
  • Research Assistant
  • Sales Coordinator
  • Cashier
  • Banking Trainee
  • Human Resources Intern

Entry-level positions are likely the first you’ll get after graduating from post-secondary school or even during it.  


Your main goal at entry level is to gain as much experience and education as possible to advance more quickly to jobs with higher salaries. At the same time, you’ll want to prove yourself a loyal and responsible employee who should clearly advance further within the company. 

If the posting is unclear on which job level is being offered, words such as “associate” and “assistant” will usually apply to the entry level. If standard descriptions for job offers don’t apply, your best option would be to research the company or call the HR department.

However, occasions will arise where you honestly may not know the appropriate job level to apply for. Often, people have the experience or education, but may be missing another key factor. If you find yourself on the cusp between two levels, it’s recommended to be bold and apply for the higher position, though you may want to mention that a lower position would be satisfactory.

Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer

Ways to Promote Kindness at Work

The best thing about kindness is that it spreads. This is why kindness is foundational in creating a workplace environment that welcomes people and invites joy. For the majority of us, the standard 40-hour work week is a lot to contend with. The last thing anyone needs is the added dread, stress, and anxiety of an unhappy workplace. In fact, The Muse reports that happy employees are 12 per cent more productive than unhappy employees. Clearly, there’s profit in treating your employees and co-workers right—and it starts with a just a little bit of kindness. Here are some ways to promote kindness at work.

Greet Each Other With Intention

It’s easy to dive right into the work and get lost in your to-do list. That’s why you’re there, of course. But taking a moment to greet the people on your team or in your office fosters connection and makes people feel valued. The key, however, is to do it with intention. Look the other person in the eye, smile warmly at them and offer a greeting that is genuine and fully present. 

Have Meaningful Conversations

Having meaningful conversations with someone is a great way to make them feel seen, heard, and valued. After all, every workplace is really a collective of people with individual lives and stories—stories that don’t often get a chance to be told. Meaningful conversations open up emotional and intellectual channels of communication that help us truly see each other. The more people get to know each other, the more people begin to feel like a team.

Celebrate One Another

Everyone deserves to be recognized for their work. Celebrating wins, both big and small, makes people feel good about themselves and the work they’re doing. Not only that, celebrating each other’s achievements and efforts helps combat the jealousy, disdain, and resentment that often pervade super competitive workplace environments. 

Practise Gratitude

The truth is that nobody at the workplace accomplishes anything all on their own. The way that gears and cogs in a machine work in tandem to keep things running is the same way lots of individuals in a company work together toward the same goals. Gratitude, which is apparent in small favours such as offering to take the burden of tasks off of someone else in the team, shows that you are appreciative of the people around you. Kindness has a contagious effect—your kind acts might inspire the receiver of your kindness to be kind to someone else—and it could all circle back to you.

Engage in Small Acts Of Kindness

Kind words may be a basic solution, but words are powerful tools. A compliment, a cute message on a post-it, a kindness board—all examples of breathing kindness into the workplace—are small actions that can go the longest way. Not only are words memorable, they can also inspire people to believe in the work they’re doing. Spreading messages of kindness is a great way to make people feel good about themselves and the workplace they’re in.

Jericho Tadeo | Contributing Writer

Millennials 101: How to Keep Them in the Workplace

According to Pew Research Center, the millennial generation encompasses anyone born between 1981 and 1996. From an analysis of UN population data, ManpowerGroup predicted that millennials would have made up a third of the global workforce in 2020. Employers cannot ignore the demands and requirements for millennials in the workplace.

Falsely portrayed as entitled, lazy, uncommitted, and disloyal, millennials are, in truth, highly committed workers who happen to be picky about the work that gives them true fulfillment and finding ideal workplace culture and environments. 

Stats show that 43 per cent of millennials would leave their present job in a period of two years, and 28 per cent would not consider staying at their present job for more than five years. Here are some recommendations to keep them in the workplace.

Competitive Pay and Comprehensive Benefits Structure

For sure, pay matters to everyone, and living without benefits means making hefty cuts on your take-home salaries when any medical needs or emergencies come up. Millennials are mostly content if their salary is comparable to market averages and if the benefit structure is fairly comprehensive. Pay is not enough to keep them in a job; it must be coupled with the following measures.

Feedback

Feedback in bi-annual performance evaluations is severely lacking for millennials, so management must provide more frequent and timely assessments of the millennial employees’ work. Task-based review and feedback are required to keep millennials engaged and confident that their work contributes to the bigger picture. Recognition of their achievements through compliments, or other rewards, is also a necessity.

Learning and Development-Oriented Culture

87 per cent of millennials attribute their professional development to their employers. Companies need to formalize their learning and development programs to fulfill their learning needs, providing frequent in-person or virtual training programs for on-the-job skills or access to virtual training. Furthermore, millennials also seek mentors at work who can guide them in their professional choices and conduct. Given that millennial employees wish to see chances for career progression, it is essential to offer them higher-level skills that can help them advance into managerial positions.

Approachability to the Management

Once a new hire arrives, make them aware that they can reach out to their manager, or even managers above their direct managers, without following a protocol. An open-door communication policy signals that any suggestions, complaints, or tips for improvement are welcome.

Inclusive Hiring and Social Responsibility Programs

This socially conscious generation wants affirmation that their employer respects inclusivity and diversity in its hiring practices, pays heed to giving back to the community, and stays protective of the environment. To attract and keep millennials, it is important to communicate the company’s community efforts and corporate social responsibility programs and its commitments to things like carbon footprint reduction.

Flexible Work Schedules and Arrangements

With the pandemic, millennials who have become accustomed to work-from-home arrangements now demand greater flexibility from their employers. So, if the kind of work allows for such flexibility, it is advisable to accommodate variable schedules and work arrangements to keep millennial employees motivated.

Arslan Ahmed | Staff Writer

The Top 10 Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts of Business Emails

For most of us, we are habitually in a rush to accomplish as much as possible while we are working. A strong work ethic is imperative. But do you use an equally thorough approach to reviewing your emails before clicking “send”? The following is a list of the top 10 do’s and don’ts of business emailing:

  1. Always proofread. Improper grammar and punctuation are not only unprofessional, but it can prove to be quite unappealing aesthetically. Be sure to review your email by being meticulous.
  1. Do not include humour in your email. Business emails are intended to be on-point and devoid of wit. The reader is most likely as busy as you are. Therefore, remaining on-topic is imperative.
  1. Do reply to your emails in an expeditious manner. If you find that you are engrossed in a project that requires your time and attention, you may opt to mark an email as “unread.” This will serve as a reminder to you that the content of the email has not yet been dealt with.
  1. Do not hit “reply all.”  Does the finance department really need to know that you have made a request for vacation time? Of course not. Take the time to make sure that you are responding to only the sender when appropriate.
  1. Do see to it that the documents that you wish to include have been attached. Neglecting to include attachments can cause extreme embarrassment. You may opt to attach them to your email before you begin to include your text.
  1. Do ensure that your email is consistent with your subject line. If there are a multitude of issues that must be addressed with a co-worker, create a thread for each one. This approach is much easier on the eyes and can help avoid the possibility of creating confusion for both of you.
  1. Do not include personal business in your email correspondence. It is best to stay focused and keep private information to yourself; alternatively, speaking with the other person during a lunch break is more advisable for informal conversations.
  1. Do not send an email when you feel emotional. If you are not in a position to make important decisions such as what to include in an email, you may decide to save a draft.  You can then return to the email when you have your thoughts in order.
  1. Do not use only capital letters. This is not professional as it assumes that there is an urgent matter that must be immediately resolved—or that you are angry. Use proper grammar at all times. 
  1. Do not send emails in the middle of the night. Your manager needs time to unwind from a busy day, just as you do. You may decide that sending emails within a range of time that includes one hour before the workday begins and one hour after the workday ends is a more considerate course of action.

Ori Michael Belmont | Contributing Writer

The Three Bs of Customer Service

We are all consumers of products or services offered by organizations. Whether shopping in-person or virtually, consumers account for the most important piece of any business. Without a clientele, organizations would not break even or earn a profit, and they would eventually cease to exist. In order to keep customers interested and returning, companies work tirelessly to generate innovative communications in hopes of achieving a sale and developing a business-client relationship. However, not all corporations stress good customer service. Here are some steps labelled the three Bs that entrepreneurs can take to ensure that their clients have a positive experience:

Be Attentive Without Being Overwhelming

All consumers likely remember a time when they were walking through a shopping center, minding their own business, when they suddenly found themselves hounded by a sales representative shoving a product into their face. The majority of us tend to not like this approach, and we end up ignoring the product and quickly walking away from the scene. While there is no harm in wanting to attract a potential customer to your product or service, do not come across as abrasive or forceful; you will likely end up pushing the potential client away from you. A simple “Can I help you?” or “Have you found everything you were looking for?” goes much further than “I know what you need without you even asking for it.”

Be Courteous and Listen

Organizations with empathetic and knowledgeable customer service representatives ultimately succeed in igniting and retaining relationships with clients. Not every customer that locates your website or comes across your store will be familiar with your product. Therefore, it is important to strive to fulfill and exceed customers’ expectations without being forceful about the sale. Customers want to be treated better than “just another customer” and having someone who politely approaches them, listens to what they have to say, and finds ways of resolving the situation are a few factors that can initiate or continue the business–client relationship.

Be Positive and Never Demean your Client

When consumers reflect on their former sales experiences, they tend to remember first impressions—whether they were positive or negative. We all likely remember a negative first impression, and it can be hard to earn our trust again. Although an organization’s representatives must be knowledgeable about their products, they must also be conscientious about how their clients will interpret and decode their message. While organizational representatives are probably more knowledgeable and experienced with the product than their customers are, they should never be arrogant or demeaning to their clients. Representatives who do this often come across as rude before being regarded as helpful. Instead, share your knowledge through your passion for the product, and take the time to help your customer feel as though they are valued.

Jerri Lyons | Contributing Writer

How to Stay Productive During COVID

In the troubling times that we’re in, there’s no surprise that people are finding it difficult to stay on track at work. Many are burnt out, stressed, and don’t see the point of focusing on a job that may not have any security. However, there are those that still have work they would like to do and want to get back to feeling like their old selves by taking some control of their lives. Here are some ways you can inch closer and closer to being productive at work during COVID.

Pick Your Spot

Having a dedicated workstation is a key move in getting yourself into the work mode. It should be a peaceful place that only you use frequently that inspires productivity. A desk, table, or countertop is suitable and it’s important that you’re not easily disturbed or distracted. This location can’t be too comfortable (beds are not ideal) and it should be a place that you can mentally log off from when you leave. Creating boundaries with work helps maintain balance. Consider some time off as if you were commuting to the office. This allows you to reset your focus.

Find a Routine

Since the pandemic, everyone all over the world has lost a sense of rhythm and is looking to get back into previously established habits. If you’re working from home or looking for work, it’s important to create a structured lifestyle that aids you in boosting productivity. Humans are creatures of habit, so having a clear path or project helps to keep things balanced and increases productivity.

The Right Clothes

Everyone works differently, both in and out of the office, so there are naturally different methods for different people. When it comes to dressing up, many took a break from the formal attire the office required (depending on the job) before the pandemic. For many, getting even slightly dressed up will help put them in the mood to get things done. There are clothes for every occasion and those clothes are designed to physically and mentally prepare you for the task ahead. So that might mean it’s time to start putting on pants again and not be too casual or too formal at home.  

Taking Breaks

Working all day around the clock isn’t healthy and working remotely doesn’t mean you have to overcompensate. Setting aside time for yourself at certain points of the day, whether it’s fifteen minutes of walking or napping, can get you the energy boost you need to finish the job. You can also call a friend or mentor to keep you motivated and on track in case you feel you need an extra boost.

Dontei Wynter | Staff Writer