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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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US tax chief resigns amid scandal

Category : World News

President Barack Obama announces the head of the US tax agency has quit, after it emerged his staff singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

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Be flexible – and boost your efficiency

Category : Business

The work-life balance of small business owners is out of kilter, research shows. Time to tweak how your SME operates

Against the backdrop of a tough economic climate, many small business owners are feeling the strain and working harder than ever. We conducted some research to find out the real pressures that Britain’s small businesses are currently facing. Turns out, it’s pretty tough out there.

The results revealed that nearly half of small business workers now forgo a work-life balance. Business admin in particular is eating up too much time, with many forced to get jobs done outside of working hours. Worse still, almost a third feel stressed and under pressure and one in five admit that, as a result, customer service, as well as their personal relationships, are suffering.

Small businesses may be the engine of the economy but there’s no doubt it’s an extremely challenging time to own, run or work in a small and growing organisation. I believe that big businesses have a responsibility to lend better support by listening to the challenges, understanding the issues and offering practical services to give small businesses back some of that valuable time. No one has all of the answers – but there are some simple things your small business can do to regain a sense of balance.

Adopt a remote working culture

The adoption of mobile and the rise of connected devices mean we can stay connected, anytime and anywhere. Consumer devices are infiltrating the four walls of the workplace and, as a result, traditional “business” devices are no longer necessarily seen as an attractive option – employees want one device, one point of contact, and the latest technology.

At O2, we launched a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme in December 2011, which is now used by almost 2,000 employees – 60% of our Slough HQ workforce. This number continues to grow.

Employees are empowered by the ability to access the network via their personal devices. This is helping to improve their productivity, but most importantly work-life balance, by allowing them to shape their own ways of working on the devices they like best. Plus, it saves us money as a business.

The advantages of BYOD initiatives can be hugely favourable for businesses as employees feel supported to work in the way that fits their work style best, which can result in improved business agility, cost savings and enhanced productivity. If we can do it as a big business, think what a difference it’ll make to a small growing company – removing the pressure of managing multiple devices and giving staff some flexibility.

If you are considering implementing a BYOD policy, security is a key area to be clear on, so make sure that employees have passwords on their devices. You could also put in place software so that you can remotely wipe anything that is business-related should you need to protect it.

Enlist specialist help

Outsourcing to specialist businesses for help with web design, accounting or recruiting new staff means you can spend more time focusing on the critical needs of your business and what it requires to grow.

To make sure you get the right fit first time, it’s important to consider working with other companies of a like-minded culture. When deciding which operations you should outsource, think about the areas that are core to your business and those that aren’t.

Another option is to outsource complicated paperwork and contracts, such as health and safety management and employment law, to a specialist HR company. The benefit of this is not only more time, but also peace of mind that you have somewhere to seek advice if you need it.

Ultimately, outsourcing is a great way to reclaim some time, providing you select partners in the right way.

Flexible working practices will only become more prevalent as 2013 progresses as more employees use their own devices for work, so it’s worthwhile putting in place systems to help staff get better connected now. Alongside bringing in specialist help, you will be well on your way towards recovering time to concentrate on what you do best: running your business.

Paul Lawton is head of the small business division at O2

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Firms to get army reservist cash

Category : Business, World News

Small firms are to get cash incentives to release staff for service in the military reserves, says defence secretary Philip Hammond.

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BP withdraws some staff from Libya

Category : Business, World News

Oil giant BP withdraws some non-essential staff from operations in Libya following UK government advice about uncertainty in the country.

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Crown Post Office staff go on strike

Category : Business

Staff at some of the UK’s largest post offices are taking industrial action in a growing dispute over closures, franchising, jobs and pay.

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Luxury yacht firm lays off 234 staff

Category : World News

The administrators appointed at a Worcestershire luxury boat company issue redundancy notices to 234 staff.

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Pret A Manger creates 500 UK jobs after profits rise

Category : Business

Sandwich chain to extend school-leavers’ programme nationwide after stacking up healthy profits in lean times

Pret A Manger, the food chain known for its fresh lunchtime baguettes, sandwiches and wraps, is set to create 1,000 jobs worldwide, including 500 positions in the UK after a bumper boost in profits.

However, the company is likely to come under pressure to ensure most of the jobs go to British workers having faced criticism in the past that it was favouring foreign staff.

In the past year bosses have attempted to tackle the calls from Boris Johnson, the London mayor, and Chris Grayling, former employment minister, to increase British staffing levels, revealing 20% of workers are from the UK, compared with 17% a year earlier.

A school-leavers’ programme has been launched and will be extended across the country, with the aim of information being sent to every pupil leaving school this year.

Pret’s chief executive, Clive Schlee, recently said: “We are pleased that we have seen some encouraging signs and that the number of British workers at Pret has increased. But this is not a Pret issue, this is an industry-wide issue and there is no quick fix.

“We are expanding our school-leavers programme this coming year and will continue to do all that we can to attract more British applicants. We will always employ the very best people at Pret and we celebrate the rich diversity of our workforce and the atmosphere that brings to our shops.”

However, the school-leavers’ programme will not be extended until September, and until then the 500 positions are expected to be open to all nationalities entitled to work and are subject to an intensive 12-week training period. The 500 staff employed last year were hired on the same criteria.

A plan to get the homeless back to work has also seen 84 apprentices given jobs with around 50 having worked for Pret for more than six months.

It comes as the company, which has 320 stores and plans to open another 50, saw sales increase 17% to £443m last year with underlying profits also up 17% to £61.1m.

The business has undergone a major expansion, taking advantage of the high street decline by negotiating lower rents.

Management have said in the past that the rate of expansion – 36 opened last year, bringing the total to 323 – has only been possible due to landlords keen to fill empty spaces.

The company, which was bought by private equity firm Bridgepoint in 2008 for £345m – netting the founders Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham £50m each – has expanded worldwide, with stores in Hong Kong, Paris and the US.

In France, the new Parisian shops have been so successful that average weekly sales at the stores take more money than any other Pret worldwide, the company said.

A major refurbishment plan is already underway, with bosses keen to encourage more customers to eat in, rather than be seen as just a takeaway operation.

They also revealed that its tuna baguette has overtaken the super club sandwich as its best selling UK sandwich.

Other projects include donating unsold sandwiches to the homeless, with employees giving away 2.5m in the past year while it also gave £1m to homeless charities.

• This article was amended on 22 April to correct the company’s annual profits

Post Office staff set to strike

Category : Business, World News

Thousands of staff plan to walk out of some of the UK’s biggest post offices later in a dispute over shop closures, jobs and pay.

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Next staff to share boss’s bonus

Category : Business, World News

Staff at retailer Next are to get a cash bonus after the company’s boss asked for a £2.4m share windfall to be distributed among employees.

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New Jersey Dentist Will Host Dentistry From the Heart — Providing a Free Day of Dental Care

Category : World News

Dr. Harry Harcsztark and Staff Have Partnered With DFTH to Volunteer Dental Services to Patients for a Day on a First Come First Serve Basis

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