Over half of British employees don’t think they get enough recognition at work

94% consider employee recognition to be key in retaining talent

The highly competitive landscape has forced companies to regard recognition as a vital part of employee retention. Money, treats such as gift card or voucher or simply public acknowledgment is sometimes more efficient in keeping workers happy and engaged. So does this mean that employee recognition is critical to retain talent? 

In the past, the most common form of recognition would be given privately during performance reviews, however, Millennials have shaken up the way companies reward their employees. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have traditionally struggled more to find and retain talent against larger corporations. We conducted a survey amongst SME employees to understand how they feel about recognition and how can it impacts their engagement with the company.

Highlights of the study:

  • 78% of respondents said they would work harder if they had more recognition 
  • 56% don’t think they get enough recognition from their companies 
  • 50% believed that employee recognition is a priority in their company 
  • 34% have at least received a verbal thank you for a job well done at work as recognition
  • When received recognition, the two ways more used are one-on-one with a manager (36%) and informally within teams (29%)

Recognition, a strong motivator for Millennials

78% of respondents said that employee recognition is a strong motivator for them, with another 22% stating it doesn’t make a difference for them. Out of those that responded yes, 41% were aged between 25-34. 36% of those who responded no were aged 35-44.

According to a report from Robert Walters, 32% of Millennials considered recognition of individual achievements at work keeps them engaged.

In addition, half of British respondents in our survey stated that recognition is a priority in their company. 78% mentioned they would work harder if they had more recognition at work, and out of those, 41% are aged between 25-34.

This could mean that older generations are not so worried about getting recognition at work in order to motivate themselves to work harder, whilst younger ones seem to have a ‘need for this in order to keep motivated at work. 

This is not surprising if we think that, Millennials are going to make up most of the workforce in 5 years, so companies should start implementing strong recognition practices now.

The type of recognition matters

When asked about the type of recognition that employees have received at work, a third (34%) stated a verbal thank you for a job well done. The two most common ones following this are treats given to staff (15%) in the form of vouchers and gift cards and monetary ones (13%) such as bonuses.

Nevertheless, over half of respondents (57%) don’t think they get enough recognition from the company, with 16% being recognised once a month and a further 10% once a week. When asked what type of recognition they would like to get, the three most popular ones are a verbal thank you (22%), treats (18%) such as vouchers and gift cards and monetary (16%) as bonuses. A personal note (11%) and a handshake (11%) are also mentioned by respondents as preferred ones.

When asked about how would they like to receive recognition over a third (36%) prefer it to be done in a one-on-one with their manager, whilst 29% of them don’t mind it being done informally within teams. When looking at the way recognition is communicated to the team, a third prefer it to be done in private (33%). 

If you want to keep your employees, it’s critical you recognise them: A staggering 94% said that employee recognition is key in retaining talent. The results also reveal that employees are more interested in personal recognition than monetary ones such as treats and bonuses.

We wanted to know what software are companies using to provide recognition. Respondents cited Slack, Microsoft Office or Sage 200cloud as some of the ones that companies are using to recognise employees either in a written or a verbal way, however, 82% of companies are not using specific software for this at present.

Employee recognition software is linked to HR software and Talent management software, and can help collaboration, as well as promoting peer-to-peer recognition, increasing the satisfaction of employees as well as their engagement and motivation in the company. A win-win situation for all. 

Methodology of the study

To collect the data for this report, we conducted an online survey. The answers come from a sample of the target market UK.  Over 300 participants qualified to participate in the survey through screening questions out in December 2019. Qualified participants are employed (full-time, part-time or self-employed) and work in a small to medium sized enterprise (1-250 employees).

Get resources under control with the cost and resource planning Excel template

How many employees do I need to complete the project on time? Am I on budget with procurement? What are the unplanned costs of my project? In order to be able to answer these and other questions, a cost management plan is carried out in projects to determine the best actions. 

First, let’s start with a definition of the term ‘resource’. The resource is a generic term that can refer to either employees, material or financial resources within a project. And exactly these resources need to be planned as efficiently and effectively as possible in the interest of project success. 

In order to help your company, we have created a free cost and resource planning Excel template for you. 

What has to be considered when planning costs and resources?

Before planning costs and resources, a work breakdown structure needs to be created for the Gantt chart and bring the individual processes into a sequence. It’s important, however, to estimate the processing effort for each process. 

As soon as the effort has been estimated, the resources and/or team members can be assigned to the individual processes. This is best carried out by the project manager together with the team. Once this is done for the next planning stage (e.g. milestone or sprint), you should take a closer look at each resource’s exposure profile. 

Is a machine accidentally used in parallel or has a team member been over- or under-scheduled? If this is the case, they will need to adjust your planning or reconsider your resource allocation. 

Capacity here is the keyword – the availability of a resource, including the available volume. For example, if an employee is scheduled for more than 100% of his or her capacity, this is referred to as overload. If this overload occurs because the person is dispatched for two competing or parallel operations, it is a resource conflict.

Resource conflicts can also arise across project boundaries. Is the employee still needed for tasks or do other projects in the company want to access the same resource at the same time? Another frequently used term in this context of project resource planning is the bottleneck resource. This is a resource that is only available in certain cases due to limited capacity or multiple loads. 

The use of cost and resource planning tools

In practice, the project manager uses a tool for cost and resource planning. Project management software or Excel templates offer the possibility of carrying out work packages including resource management electronically. 

The cost and resource planning Excel template can be used for small projects. As the project grows or it becomes more complex with many work packages, it’s advised to switch to project management or project planning software

The great advantage of software programs is that they automatically detect conflicts related to resourcing and help resolve them using data analysis. In addition, the software automatically generates a Gantt chart including all dependencies. 

How does the cost and resource planning Excel template work? 

The cost and resource planning Excel template is a simple form to give you a quick overview of the costs incurred in your project. The template contains three tabs, the first tab Basic Data is used to enter your project-specific framework data. Here you can enter the general project data and the cost types (from internal and external personnel costs to material and license costs). Then you can assign the appropriate types, units and costs to project members, services and materials in the Resources area. 

Under Types, you can differentiate between internal and external costs, whether the units are hourly rates (for persons) or lump sums. While the hourly rates are fixed for the duration of the project, the flat rates differentiate between planned costs and change costs.

In the second tab Overview plan you can enter all the work packages of your work breakdown structure. Name the corresponding work package, assign it to the corresponding WBS element, and assign the corresponding resource. However, you can only select resources that you have stored in the basic data. After, you will be able to enter the forecast quantity in the green area called ‘Planned costs’ and the corresponding price will be calculated automatically. If you need to make any modifications to the costs due to changes, then note their quantity in the red area ‘unplanned costs’. The field ‘Release on’ only affects the unplanned costs.

With cost and resource planning, we end our series of downloadable Excel templates to provide your company with a free alternative for planning small projects.

You can find our other free templates here:

The Gantt-Chart Excel Template for easy project planning

The Burn Down Diagram – Efficient Tool for Agile Teams


The benefits of apprenticeships for employers

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week, which will take place next month, between February 3rd and 7th, is now just a matter of days away. Across some 1,250 separate events spread over the week, the event acts as a celebration of apprenticeships and the great work being done by schools, colleges universities and businesses to promote apprenticeship programmes.  

benefits of apprenticeships for employers

Talent is in short supply

The week also provides a timely reminder of the benefits of apprenticeships for employers – not least when it comes to the promise of apprenticeship schemes to help solve one of the biggest challenges facing UK businesses: the skills crisis. 

Apprenticeships play a big part in addressing the skills shortage within the tech sector. The shortage of talent is hindering companies growth as it’s hard to scale teams at a pace to match the current growth of the tech sector.  

Carlene Jackson, CEO of Cloud9 Insight


This challenge must be addressed urgently. The scarcity of skilled workers in the UK is a potential timebomb, and businesses warn that the skills shortages could harm the UK’s global competitiveness. It’s thought that the lack of digital skills is already costing the UK economy  £63 billion a year.

Addressing the skills shortage

Recognising the scale of the challenge, government, the education sector and business have started to act. Since 2010, secondary school age students have been able to attend University Technical Colleges (UTCs), which aim to provide 14-19 years olds with a technical education linked to a curriculum that reflects the needs of today’s businesses. From there, students can either continue their education at university, take up an apprenticeship or both. UTCs work because they connect people with the skills they need for their regional workplaces and local businesses with the skilled talent they need to meet their growth ambitions. 

Over the past few years, the government has also started to offer more direct support to SMEs to help them bridge their skills gaps. So, for example, 95% of a SMEs’ training and assessment costs for the lifetime of an apprenticeship is now paid for by the government. The government also pays a grant of £1,000 for every 16-18-year-old apprentice taken on by an SME. 

Seeking out new blood

For their part, companies have begun to realise that younger workers, although untrained and requiring investment, represent a largely untapped talent pool that could prove valuable. SMEs are engaging with their local UTCs to help guide the curricula and provide work opportunities for graduating students. Many are working through other third-party initiatives that seek to build links between schools and industry. The Design and Technology Association, for example, runs a programme where industrial businesses help train teachers by explaining the skills they need and the apprenticeship opportunities available to students.  

Looking to hire an apprentice? Check the benefits of apprenticeships to SMEs

The initiatives above may come from different angles, but they all recognise that apprenticeship schemes will play an important role in helping ensure SMEs have access to the skilled talent they need. This is good news, because apprenticeships bring with them a number of important benefits that can help SMEs thrive. We have created a checklist below with the main areas that 

These include:

Tailoring your workforce: by taking on young apprentices and training them your way, you can ensure that the skills most important to your business are prioritised. In essence, with many young apprentices, and pre-existing technical training aside, you are working with a blank canvass. There are fewer bad habits to iron out and you can ensure they are working from your template, using your processes, from day one. Once the upfront training is complete, apprenticeships can, therefore, make for more efficient and effective workers. 

They can help you grow: if, as is the case with many SMEs, yours is a high-growth business, it can be difficult to meet staffing requirements in the short-term. You might need help over a short period of time to help with a specific task, or you may need to promote a junior employee to a more senior role, leaving you shorthanded. Having an apprenticeship programme can help by giving you access to a flexible pool of workers that can be switched between task and roles with relative ease. Of course, apprenticeships shouldn’t only be seen as a means of fixing immediate skills gaps. You have a duty to train fully the apprentices you take on, and you never know – that investment today may produce the future leaders of your business.

Apprenticeship schemes are cheap: as mentioned above, the government shoulders all but 5% of the training costs for your apprentices. However, if you pay more than £3 million in salary costs over the course of a year the rules are different and you’ll receive funds to spend on training and assessing your apprentices. Either way, the support available to SMEs is generous and makes running an apprenticeship programme something of a no brainer. 

Apprentices bring fresh ideas: every new generation has different ways of thinking and different reference points. This is hugely beneficial for businesses. SMEs that can mix the varying outlooks, perspectives and ideas of Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennial and Generation Y workers will find they can leverage a diversity of thought that can fuel innovation and drive competitive edge. 

Apprenticeship programmes drive productivity: three in four SMEs say they saw an increase in productivity after hiring an apprentice. 72% say apprentices have helped improve a product or service. The increase in productivity largely comes about because of the investment in specific, high-impact skills by employers. 

Of course, getting an apprenticeship programme up and running comes with its own set of challenges. You must find and acquire the best talent available, and then manage their journeys through their time at your business. This includes ensuring that their performance is measured, reviewed and rewarded appropriately and that they are trained efficiently and effectively in all the required areas. 

Having an apprentice will give you the potential to do some of the little things that could make a big difference to improving your customers experience that often we may be too busy to do.  Of course the best benefit of all is you are developing talent for your future growth molded to your own culture and ways of doing things. 

Carlene Jackson, CEO of Cloud9 Insight


These are tasks that can be solved by the right Talent Management Software. But which is the best fit for your business? Take a look at the Capterra directory; here we’ve listed the options available to you and provided user reviews to help you make your choice. With the right tools in place it’s never too soon to start enjoying the benefits on offer through apprenticeship programmes. 


What is IR35 and is your business ready for it?

what is IR35
In April 2020, the rules governing who counts as an employee (IR35) are changing. Find out what is IR35, what it means for UK businesses, as well as their contractors and freelancers.

what is IR35

What is IR35?

The original IR35 legislation came into force in 2000 and was aimed at reducing tax avoidance – specifically “disguised employment”. This refers to individuals working full-time for organisations, but billing the company as an independent contractor, rather than being paid through payroll. Taking their “salary” as dividends from a limited company means they pay no National Insurance and a reduced rate of income tax compared to pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) employees. It also means the client company pays less National Insurance.

Naturally, this scenario is beneficial for the businesses and contractors, but HMRC misses out on significant tax revenues, particularly as the contractors that often use this arrangement are in the well-paid finance, consulting, technology, and media sectors.

How is IR35 changing?

IR35 (the name comes from the original Inland Revenue press release in 2000) has been reformed several times. In April 2020 the regulations governing when off-payroll working rules (the “official” name for IR35) apply are getting tougher.

Prior to 6 April 2020, it has been the responsibility of the party providing a service to determine the status of a worker’s employment for each contract. In practical terms, this usually means that contractors, working through a limited company with one director, decide in their own favour. Now, the company hiring the worker must decide.

Who do the new rules affect?

Public sector organisations must already decide whether a contractor should really be working for them as an on-payroll employee. From 6th April this year, many private companies – including charities – will have to do the same. The changes apply if an organisation meets two or more of the following three criteria:

  • an annual turnover of more than £10.2 million
  • a balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million
  • more than 50 employees

Current contractors must also take note of the changes, as they may affect their employment and tax arrangements. Some contractors work through third-party intermediaries, such as employment agencies, in which case the intermediaries must also be aware.

You can find more detailed information about which companies fall under the new legislation on the Gov.uk website.

What companies need to know

For every contract with a worker – including through an agency – affected companies will need to decide on that person’s employment status for tax. HMRC provides a useful online tool to help determine this. You must bear in mind:

  • The worker’s responsibilities
  • The degree of autonomy they have in the work they do, as well as where, how, and when they do it
  • The worker’s payment arrangements
  • Whether the engagement includes any corporate benefits or reimbursement for expenses

After you’ve made a decision, you’ll need to inform the worker (and, if required, the intermediary agency) and keep a record of the decision and the evidence you used to make it. You’ll also need to have in place procedures to handle disputes about employment status. If a worker does dispute your decision, you must respond within 45 days. Failure to do so will result in that worker’s tax and National Employment contributions becoming your responsibility.

How to manage new employees

If the reform has its intended effect, some freelance contractors will become employees. This means you may be adding new workers to your workforce, increasing your National Insurance contributions and bringing challenges for your human resources and finance teams who will have to incorporate new people into your company’s systems and structures. You may also face tough negotiations from existing contractors who will seek higher rates under PAYE to make up for the increased tax they’ll be paying on their income.

One way to ease the transition is with payroll software, which automates salaries, wages, bonuses and deductions. Organisations use it as a cost-effective alternative to outsourcing their payroll function. Payroll products can also integrate with popular accounting, HR, and business management software, too.

You can find more than 300 payroll software packages on our website, with thousands of ratings and reviews from other businesses, as well as links to download and buy.

Use the ‘7Ps of customer-centricity’ to motivate your team and engage with customers

In recent years, the term customer centric in marketing, service and product development has often meant the integration of tools and methods such as data collection, design thinking and testing. All these factors play a key role in customer-centricity. But for me, is one thing above all else: leadership. Working on people. And with people. It’s the way companies and their employees work together to shape the relationship with their customers. Or not.

customer centric marketing

It’s important to understand that a focus on the customer also contributes to employee motivation. Dutch bank ING has already established customer-centricity as an integral part of its employee goals – and thus motivated all employees to bring products and services with agile iterative processes closer and closer to the measured customer needs. With impressive results: since 2014, the number of primary customers has increased by 25%. So the question is, how can this enthusiasm be used strategically for a company? The system I would like to introduce here is called “The 7 Ps of customer-centricity”, providing a solid framework leadership and cooperation in the age of the customer.

Perspective change

Customer experience is a strategic change that takes time. Allow yourself and your team enough time and training for the new way of doing things. Likewise, encourage your team to exchange experiences between themselves on this. 

Always remind yourself and your team that customer experience does not only concern the marketing and communication of your company but the wider digital transformation of your company. If there is one thing you can learn from start-ups is that they are constantly radically improving access to their customers, employees and resources.

Also, working with Business Intelligence will ensure that data about your customers and competitors is always available as insights for decision-making. If internal data is not accessible for this purpose, it’s recommended to use “social listening” for initial information in order to gradually expand it. The better you understand your customers, the more targeted you can meet them.


Customer experience affects the entire company. A good way to engage employees is creating personas that represent your target audience and presenting them to the entire organisation, e.g. by having such profiles hung up in offices and discussed regularly. When business challenges are discussed, it helps to have these profiles as a reference point for the conversation.

Always ask yourself questions together as a team when making decisions:

  • What would the customer think?
  • What would the customer do?
  • What would the customer appreciate?
  • What can I do to improve the customer experience?
  • Would I do that with my mother?


Nominate “customer ambassadors” within your teams. This will help other employees see how to improve their social communications using the ambassadors as examples.


Actively look for possibilities to bridge silos in the interest of the customer and promote them! 

Encourage cross-departmental learning from each other. The better people understand what your work is about and that you are working for common goals and customers, the more your work makes sense.

Rely on excellent content. Externally and internally. Content that really helps your customers and employees. For example, when merging departments, it makes sense to have the specialist departments prepare relevant questions such as ‘Who can I contact regarding my move?’. Employees are also customers and greatly appreciate customer-focused measures that help them to meet challenges.


Clean up your CRM: Today it is more important than ever to have clean and clear which customers can be contacted and how. For a customer-centric approach and a sustainable business model like subscriptions, you need a stable CRM. 

Studies show that companies now spend up to 95% of their marketing budget to convince people who have not yet shown interest in their company. A long and arduous path. People who have already shown interest, on the other hand, appreciate a consciously appreciative approach.

Use a tidy CRM as a starting point for further thinking about your customer platforms from the customer’s perspective. Which service can you use to provide comprehensive digital support for your customers’ problem solutions, especially beyond the core service (need for information, interaction, …)?


Check the use of marketing, sales and communication and measure the results. Include customer satisfaction as a KPI for evaluating the work of your teams. If necessary, this may need to be weighted according to the situation in individual teams. However, if your overall corporate goal is to optimise customer contact, this must also become a success factor.


If you want enthusiastic customers, you need enthusiastic employees – and you see employees as customers. This makes conscious contact with employees and customers vital to achieve the right purpose.

Make sure that you really deliver on your service promises to your customers and continuously optimise them. A good customer satisfaction software can help you collect, organise and manage feedback.

customer centric marketing

About the author:

customer centric marketing

Johannes Ceh helps companies to align digitization with customers and employees. Customer centricity, new forms of collaboration and digital responsibility were already the focus of his work during his time at Springer & Jacoby, Jung von Matt, Ogilvy, Sport1, Sky, BMW and Daimler. Today Johannes Ceh passes on his experience as a consultant and author, among others for the market research company Gartner.

3 HR trends in 2019 to look out for in 2020

HR trends 2019

As we prepare for the New Year ahead it is worth looking at the new HR trends that are promising to shape 2020 – and possibly the next decade.

HR trends 2019

If you are wondering if robots will interview candidates instead of humans or how much will the workplace change with Millennials coming into the workforce, read on. In this article we will explore the main three HR trends next year, and how these can impact your SME. 

Trend #1: AI in HR

Not as scary as it may initially sound, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is finding its way to ‘almost’ all areas of daily life. Digitalisation and automation are expanding to all areas of the business, and HR is no exception. Despite having the most ‘human’ element in the whole company, HR departments are also adopting new technologies – such as AI and predictive analytics. These allow departments to improve their accuracy in finding the right candidates when looking for specific qualities. This, in turn, helps them to reduce staff turnover.

AI has started to be used more broadly in HR, mainly in the areas of recruitment. Gartner has identified talent acquisition, the voice of the employee and virtual assistants as three of the most common use cases in HR.

However, how much would people trust an AI assistant? A recent survey showed that over half of British SMEs think that AI could make a positive impact on HR. Despite this positive attitude towards it, the results also showed that people would trust an HR manager to decide on promotions and salary more than an AI assistant. 

But before we can get hired or promoted by a robot, there are still some more advances needed. AI in HR  is still in its infancy, however, AI software can be used in the company for task automation and data analysis, bringing the best of both worlds together.

Trend #2: Generational change

As baby boomers retire and younger workforce enters the company, recruiters will need to take these generational differences into consideration. More and more Millennials are coming into the workforce and changing the way they work and interact with companies. 

Did you know? Baby boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964 and Millennials  (also called Generation Y) are those born between 1981 and 1996.

Millennials are keen and more open to trying new things at work. Results from our survey showed that almost half of the participants (47%) who have a junior position wouldn’t mind having AI involved in their hiring process. This should not come as a surprise, as they have been interacting with virtual voice assistants such as Siri and Amazon Alexa and are used to chatbots.

Millennial workers also value flexibility and remote working, as well as access to the latest technology.  This is particularly important since they feel comfortable around technology, they have grown up with it – therefore they will expect the workplace to be equipped with the latest technological advances. Being more flexible in terms of location and the use of collaboration tools at work is a good way to attract them to your company and keep them engaged.

Trend #3: All about the skills 

It has been estimated that 1 in 5 jobs will be likely done by a robot by 2030. Industries such as retail, warehouse and customer service have a greater chance to have job roles currently done by a human replaced by a robot. However, there is no need to panic. As technology advances and automises the more manual processes, there is a growing trend for soft skills to be highly sought after by companies.

UNESCO defines soft skills as a set of intangible personal qualities, traits, attributes, habits and attitudes that can be used in many different types of jobs.

The term has been around for a while, but due to the rapid advancements of technology and how is starting to be integrated into many processes within companies, these are becoming more important. And which ones are companies looking for? Skills such as emotional intelligence, problem-solving, creativity and teamwork will be the ones that HR professionals look for in candidates when looking to recruit new hires. Soft skills are seen as ‘time-proofed’ and stable, as opposed to technical skills, that change at the same pace as new developments appear in technology.

Applicant tracking systems allow companies to collect applicant information and then filter, grade and match candidates’ skills against job requirements.

A new decade for more significant changes in HR

This decade leaves us with great technological advancements, and we will be curious to see how these continue to evolve in the next year: the integration of AI into businesses and the development of human-AI interaction, a new generational workforce that will introduce significant changes to the way we work and the skills that will be critical for businesses. Stay tuned for more in 2020!

Keeping track of projects is easy with our free Gantt-Chart template

Gantt chart template

The temptation to carry out a project without planning is great, especially with the first, smaller projects. In the beginning, only a few people are involved, and the tasks, the timing and responsibilities seem to be clearly defined. Everything is easy!

Then, the project begins and expectation meets reality. Suddenly, something turns out to be considerably more complicated, someone is ill and some service provider does not deliver as expected. The customer calls, he reiterates that he actually needs the project as soon as possible. And then he asks the question: when will it be ready?

At one point, the project manager has to admit that he has lost the overview somewhere. Pending tasks get mixed up, important deadlines are not met – and then it becomes clear: planning has to be done!

A simple solution: The Gantt-Chart

If you are working on a project, you cannot avoid project planning. Planning is the definitive step for the successful implementation of projects. This applies equally to both small and large projects because even smaller projects have complex tasks, involve risks and have to coordinate several project participants.

Gantt diagrams have established themselves as a planning instrument in project management. Gantt charts have only 2 axes: one (vertical) shows the tasks in the project, the other (horizontal) shows the time period in which these tasks are to be completed.

gantt chart header image

At first, this seems very simple, but even this simple version of a Gantt chart has enormous advantages. You can see at a glance when what is supposed to happen. It is also easier to deal with dependencies between different tasks. For example, if task 4 cannot be completed until task 2 has been completed, the effects of delays in task 2 can be quickly assessed and scheduled. In addition, the Gantt chart is suitable for quick success control on the road. If task 1 on day 3 is not completed, it’s immediately clear that something is not going as it should, and we can consider the best way to deal with the situation.

Another advantage of Gantt charts is that they can be created quickly and easily and kept up to date. They are simply one of the most effective methods of displaying activities on a time-related basis. Gantt charts provide you with a simple tool for project planning that can make a big impact with little time invested. It’s no wonder that Gantt charts have established themselves as one of the most frequently used tools in project management.

To support your company in project management, we have created a Gantt chart Excel template. This template is a bit more complex than the illustration above, but you can also track who is responsible for which task and which task has already been completed to what percentage. But even if the complexity has increased a bit, the biggest advantage of the Gantt chart remains: you can simply see at a glance what is happening and when.

With our template, your company can try out the planning tool before investing in project management software. The Gantt chart Excel template contains explanations on how to fill in the individual fields, as well as formulas that generate your chart after data entry.

Download here our free Gantt-Chart Excel template                                                                                                                                                                                           

How our Excel template works 

To create a Gantt chart, you first need a detailed project plan. The basic idea behind Gantt charts is to first name tasks and subtasks and then determine the time needed for them. So a project plan consists of a series of related tasks that have to be completed in a certain order.

For example, if you want to paint a room, you can’t start before you have put all the furniture out of the room. However, you could start by mixing the colour while a friend removes all the furniture from the room in the meantime.

The first step on the way to a project plan is, therefore, the creation of a project structure plan – a technique for subdividing aspects of the project into individual tasks. For example, the tasks “provide colour” and “mix colour” belong to the partial aspect “colour”.

In addition to the individual tasks, the sequence in which the tasks must be completed must also be defined. For example, you must first provide the color before you mix it. Once entered, the Gantt chart immediately shows whether tasks run parallel or one after the other.

After you have noted down the duration and start date of the individual activities, our template creates bars in the Gantt chart. The duration determines the length of the bars in the calendar. In addition, the end date of the activities is calculated automatically.

Gantt-Chart Software

In addition to our Gantt-Chart Excel Template, special Gantt chart software can also be used for project management. Companies can use the Excel template to gain insight into the planning instrument. Simply use the template for a while for your personal project planning to get to know the Gantt chart tool. However, special software solutions, unlike Excel, have some advantages. Specialised software is much easier to use and clearer in a presentation. You also save a lot of manual input and updates, especially if the software can easily transfer important data from other systems via interfaces.

Companies can also invest in complete project management software. In addition to planning instruments such as the Gantt chart, these also offer functions such as time recording, task management, project collaboration, etc.

Test different solutions to find out which one best suits your needs. But no matter which solution you ultimately choose, the Gantt chart will almost certainly become a central building block of your project management.

More free templates can be found here:

The burn-down diagram – Efficient tool for agile teams 

AI in HR could have a positive impact – 56% of British SMEs say

ai in hr

Artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to be present in many aspects of our lives and HR is not an exception. But what does it mean to have AI in HR? 

ai in hr

Technology companies are starting to develop AI and machine learning technologies to make it easier for employers to deal with administrative tasks related to HR. Big corporations and banks are starting to look at AI as a possible partner when looking to hire the right candidates. In Wall Street, some of the major banks are starting to use AI to help detect personality traits that wouldn’t normally come up on face-to-face interviews in the selection process for candidates to avoid high staff turnover.

Gartner has identified talent acquisition as one of the key areas where AI has the potential to grow. 

 “Recruiters, who most commonly use AI prior to hiring, start with labor market analysis, competency identification, skills matching, and bias detection in job descriptions and candidate ranking. HR recruiters use chatbots for scheduling appointments or answering common questions.”


We wanted to know what SMEs think of AI, and in particular, what is their opinion of AI in HR: how could it change the way candidates are recruited and also how AI could be incorporated into HR processes such as promotions and salary revisions.

Highlights of the study:

  • 56% of respondents think that AI could make a positive impact on HR
  • Almost half of respondents (42%) feel neutral about having an AI assistant involved in the hiring process
  • Over half (59%) would prefer a human manager to make a decision about a promotion

Hiring process 

Over half of respondents (56%) feel that AI could make a difference in the hiring process. When we asked companies how would they feel about having an AI assistant involved in their hiring process, almost half (42%) stated not being affected by it.

However, a third of them (29%) stated being concerned about having an AI assistant involved somehow in the hiring process. When asked for the reason why they would be concerned, respondents mentioned the lack of ability to perceive the more personal skills of a candidate, potential bias from the bot, lack of objectivity or simply not trusting the capacity of an AI assistant to make the correct decision.

It’s interesting to note that almost half of the participants (47%) who have a junior position answered don’t mind having AI involved in their hiring process. And 40% of the respondents in junior positions are aged between 25-34 years old.

Only 11% of respondents would prefer an AI assistant to be involved in the hiring process. When we asked them the reason why respondents stated accuracy, efficiency and objectivity as well as cheaper cost. Out of the respondents who answered this, 12% have an executive position, and of these, 45% are also aged 25-34 years old.

Younger people seem to be more comfortable with the idea of having an AI assistant involved in the hiring process. This should not come as a surprise, as a third of millennials understand AI and have most probably had any experience with it, for example with chatbots and voice-activated devices such as Siri and Amazon Alexa.

Did you know? Millennials (also called Generation Y) are those born between 1981 and 1996 and Generation Z includes those born after 1996 to the present day.

Respondents with manager (30%) and senior (38%) positions expressed having concerns about the involvement of AI in hiring. 33% of respondents who answered having a manager position and 36% that hold a senior position are aged 35 – 44years old.

Generational preferences and relationship with technology could have a lot to do in these answers. What is clear from these is that younger generations seem to be more open to adopting AI in recruitment whilst people in manager or senior roles have more concerns about how it could help and the wider implications for the company on this.

Liaising with AI for promotions and salary, a matter of trust

Respondents state trusting a human manager more than an AI assistant when assessing promotions (59%). Despite this, over a third would still trust an AI assistant in combination with a human manager (38%). 

When looking at a decision regarding salary review, over half (57%) would be comfortable with an AI assistant making a decision over salary only if it’s in combination with a human manager. Only 9% would be comfortable with it and 32% would prefer not having an AI assistant involved at all.

We wanted to know what is the perception around the impartiality of an AI assistant when looking at giving promotions and salary increases. We asked respondents if they consider that an AI assistant would be fairer than a human manager when looking at this. 

We found that 40% would not want an AI assistant involved in any decision regarding promotion or salary revision. In this case, it was the respondents who have a manager (47%) and senior (43%) positions who answered not wanting an AI involved at all in the revision process.

However, a third (30%) stated that AI would make the process fairer. Looking in more detail, out of the respondents who answered having a junior (32%) and executive (47%) positions were the two groups that had a bigger percentage in this question and would find it fairer to have an AI involved in this process.

When looking at how could AI help in creating a personalised training programme, we wanted to know if respondents prefer to have just an AI, a combination of human manager or just a human manager. Over half of respondents (54%) stated they would not mind having an AI helping create a training program but with the help of a human manager. A quarter (25%) would prefer just an AI assistant to create the programme and 20% would prefer not having AI involved in the creation of a training programme.

When looking more in detail by job title, a third of respondents (31%) in junior positions would be comfortable with an AI assistant creating a training programme for them. Respondents with a manager (57%) and executive (59%) positions would prefer a human manager to be involved in the process of creating the training programme. Finally, almost a quarter of respondents with senior job titles (25%) would prefer not having an AI assistant involved in the process at all.

Despite this, SMEs are confident that AI could have a positive impact on HR

Over half of SMEs (56%) believe that AI could have a positive impact on HR.  It is worth noting that over a third (32%)  state not being sure about this, which could mean that they simply don’t have the information to make a decision. Most of the time, it is a lack of information that keeps companies away from trying and implementing new software as they don’t know what benefits could bring to their companies. 

ai in hr

Artificial intelligence software can bring many advantages to a business, starting with the automation of the more administrative and manual tasks, as well as the ability to create reports based on analytics that can provide insights to your business. It can also be used for sales and customer service in the form of chatbots. If you want to know more about what type of AI software could be suitable for your small business visit our listing to learn more.

Methodology of the study

To collect the data for this report, we conducted an online survey. The answers come from a sample of the target market UK.  Over 300 participants qualified to participate in the survey through screening questions out in November 2019. Qualified participants are employed (full-time, part-time or self-employed) and work in a small to medium sized enterprise (1-250 employees).

5 best appointment scheduling software for small businesses in 2020

best appointment scheduling software for small business

The New Year is on its way,  the perfect time to take stock of your business and think about what improvements you can make in the year ahead. As you set about this task, one area in particular might prove fertile ground for change – the processes and systems you use to schedule appointments. 

Whether arranging meetings and events with clients, patients, partners or suppliers, the best appointment scheduling software for small businesses can make the process simple, streamlined and professional. It may sound like a transactional investment, but in fact the right software solution can deliver significant benefits to your business, such as the elimination of double bookings, the automation of time-consuming and error-prone manual processes, or enabling real-time visibility into employees’ diaries.  

To help you weigh up the many software scheduling options on the market and make the best investment for your business in the year ahead, we’ve pulled together this top five list. These are the five most popular appointment scheduling solutions for small businesses in Capterra’s directory:

  • Rated 3+ stars by users on Capterra.co.uk
  • Most reviews on Capterra.co.uk
  • High search volume in the UK


Rating: 4.9/5

Ease of use: 4.9/5

Customer service: 4.9/5

Pricing: Free version available

Free trial: Yes

best appointment scheduling software for small business

Schedul is a booking platform for salons, spas or wellness businesses. The software provides scheduling capabilities, complete with payments features, for both online and point-of-sale bookings. Additional features include the ability to send automated appointment reminders to customers, relationship management capabilities and activity dashboards to keep track of daily scheduling activities. Through its in-built point-of-sale, Schedul can also help you manage sales, invoicing, receipts and taxes. 

Reviews on Capterra praise the software for its usability and clear interface. Users also appreciate that the software is continually updated with new features and capabilities. However, some reviewers noted a lack of certain tools, such as an interface to set up a merchant account, while others would like to see a little more room for customisation.

Our take: Schedul is ideal for salons and wellbeing businesses that need a comprehensive set of scheduling and payment options at no cost. 


Rating: 4.6/5

Ease of use: 4.7/5

Customer service: 4.5/5

Pricing: Free version available

Free trial: Yes

best appointment scheduling software for small business

Calendly offers small business a range of automated scheduling tools. These include the ability to connect with the calendars of employees and partners to check availability and to invite people to attend different types of meeting (e.g. one-to-ones, webinars or team meetings). The software also enables users to take control of their scheduling experience through brand customisation tools, notifications, alerts and automated availability detection features. The software can be integrated with a wide range of business tools including certain email, website, payments and CRM systems. 

Users on Capterra note the flexibility and control of Calendly, particularly when it comes to scheduling different types of events and managing the experience of all event attendees before and during the event. However, some users are disappointed by the lack of analytics on the software and others felt that the user experience could be improved.

Our take: The automation capabilities make this a good option for businesses that schedule a wide range of event types at a high frequency.


Rating: 3.9/5

Ease of use: 3.8/5

Customer service: 3.8/5

Pricing: Upon request

Free trial: No

Targeting businesses in the fitness, wellness and beauty spaces, MINDBODY’s entry-level product offers businesses tools to manage schedules, sell services and streamline everyday tasks. The scheduling feature enables users to set up and manage classes, appointments, workshops and events online and through mobile apps, and comes with a retail point-of-sale. 

User reviews highlight the strength of MINDBODY’s customer service teams and its annual software training sessions. On the other hand, some reviews noted glitches with the software and difficulties with the user interface. 

Our take: MINDBODY is well-suited to businesses with complex scheduling requirements and a need for a more premium product.  

Acuity Scheduling

Rating: 4.8/5

Ease of use: 4.6/5

Customer service: 4.7/5

Pricing: Upon request

Free trial: Yes

Acuity Scheduling offers online scheduling assistance that enables business’ clients to view real-time availability and self-book their own appointments. Additional features include online rescheduling tools and the ability for users’ clients to pay for services online. The software provides control over schedule management through tools that adjust for time zones as well as through client notifications. Through its premium services (starting at £12/month), businesses can control schedules for multiple locations and employees and ask clients to complete intake forms when scheduling.

Reviews on Capterra show an appreciation for the customisability of the software as well as its ability to integrate with tools such as Instagram and MailChimp. On the ‘cons’ side of things, reviewers are disappointed that customers can’t book multiple services at once through the platform and some have found the set up around calendars confusing.

Our take: a simple-to-use solution for businesses looking to get fully branded scheduling tools up and running quickly. 

Housecall Pro

Rating: 4.7/5

Ease of use: 4.7/5

Customer service: 4.8/5

Pricing: From £30/month

Free trial: Yes

Housecall Pro is a cloud-based scheduling tool aimed at home services businesses. The software allows businesses to automate scheduling, dispatching, estimates, and invoicing, and the company claims it can save businesses up to ten hours a week. In addition to automated scheduling and appointment reminders, Housecall Pro provides a number of additional features, such as text alerts to customers to let them know when a service engineer is on their way.

User reviews highlight the software’s seamless integration with related business tools, such as QuickBooks, as well as its ability to empower end customers to manage their own appointments online and leave reviews following visits. Negative comments highlight a poor web experience compared to the app interface, with difficulty navigating to key features.

Out take: this software is well-tailored to home service businesses and comes with a comprehensive set of features. 
Take a look at our directory today to find the best appointment scheduling software for small business.  

5 simple budget apps for better planning in 2020

simple budget apps

Keeping on top of finances is important for any business. However, for small companies the requirement is even more pressing. This is because cashflow is often more important for small enterprises – not least when payments from clients are late. Simple budget apps allow your employees to input expected projected expenses and revenues, with the software then automating the budget approval process.

simple budget app

Having complete transparency of expenditure and a good understanding of financial resources is central to being able to plan for the future and avoid unexpected bill shocks.

It is for these reasons that software automation is providing so many benefits to small businesses. What’s more, the budgeting software can take this data and forecast your growth and profitability trends so you can have a clear picture of where your business will be in the months ahead.

If you have not already put in place business budgeting software, 2020 should be the year you change this.

To help you get an understanding of the options available, we’ve compiled this top five list. These are the five most popular simple budget apps solutions for small businesses in Capterra’s directory chosen by:

  • Rated 3+ stars by users on Capterra.co.uk
  • Most reviews on Capterra.co.uk
  • High search volume in the UK


Rating: 3.9/5

Ease of use: 3.4/5

Customer service: 3.7/5

Pricing: Upon request

Free trial: Yes

simple budgeting app

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a complete, cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for business, which includes budgeting as one component of a wider solution set. Using advanced data analytics tools, the platform allows users to forecast with accuracy and enables businesses to model future ‘what if’ scenarios.

Reviewers on Capterra are positive about SAP S/4HANA Cloud’s data analysis capabilities, which they credit with having enabled better decision-making. The software is also praised for its security credentials. However, some users report challenges with cost, implementation time and the complexity of the system.

Our take: This is a powerful software option for businesses that expect to scale rapidly and need an enterprise-grade product.

Dynamics 365

Rating: 4.3/5

Ease of use: 4/5

Customer service: 4.1/5

Pricing: Upon request

Free trial: No

Microsoft’s integrated business management solution provides automation and intelligence capabilities across financial, customer relationship and supply chain processes. The software enables users to monitor performance in real time, predict future outcomes and make data-driven decisions.

Users praise the platform for its good range of ‘out-the-box’ tools and its price points. The software layout and interface also draws praise. Some users reported negative experiences with the support as well as glitches stemming from updates.

Our take: A feature rich tool for high-growth businesses that need granular insights and highly accurate planning.

Adaptive Insights

Rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.2/5

Customer service: 4.4/5

Pricing: Upon request

Free trial: Yes

Adaptive Insights is a full suite of business planning software inclusive of planning, modelling, budgeting, and forecasting. When it comes to budgeting, the software delivers financial planning, reporting, and analysis tools so companies can budget accurately and quickly.

Reviewers say that the software turns forecasting into a simple process and draw attention to the adaptability of the system. Other users admire its ability to integrate with SAP and Oracle as well as the overall levels of customer support. However, reviewers also say there’s a steep learning curve and the product can take time to get to grips with it.

Our take: This is a great system for businesses that have to manage large amounts of data in their budgeting processes.

Sage Intacct

Rating: 4.2/5

Ease of use: 4.1/5

Customer service: 4/5

Pricing: Upon request

Free trial: Yes

A complete accounting and financial management software, Sage Intacct offers core financials and advanced services. Its budgeting and planning applications are cloud-based and provides the option to run analysis and forecasting. The software enables simple collaboration and version control across business units.

Users say the software is highly flexible and feature-rich, with particular acclaim focused on its reporting capabilities.

Our take: This is a good option for businesses ready to take a step up and hire finance professionals to use this relatively advanced solution.

QuickBooks Online Advanced

Rating: 4.2/5

Ease of use: 4.1/5

Customer service: 3.9/5

Pricing: Upon request

Free trial: Yes

QuickBooks Online Advanced is an end-to-end business management software suite. Aimed at businesses looking to achieve scale, it provides accounting and budgeting tools. The latter comprise the full range of modern budgeting solutions including ‘what if’ scenarios, cash management, consolidation/roll-up and general ledger. The software also includes capabilities for businesses with multi-company or multi-department requirements.

Capterra reviews say the software is easy to use and priced well. They also appreciate that QuickBooks continues to be updated with new features to improve the service. There were some concerns that the platform is too rigid, however, and unable to flex to differing needs of businesses.

Our take: An all-round software package for small and medium-sized businesses with enough features to remain relevant as the company grows.
Take a look at our Business Budgeting Software directory today to find the best software for your business.