On Friday, as I watched Sky News for the impending news on the energy cap, it hit home to me how difficult a time we have ahead of us in the UK.
And I mean, REALLY hit home. As in slapped me in the face and said, “Paul, this is happening”.
I began my career in recruitment in 2008, which was the height of the “The Great Recession”. Having spent a few months on the dole before getting into the industry, I had no money anyway, so perhaps the significance of what was happening was lost on me.
Looking back, I definitely realise how lucky I was to remain employed through that year. I didn’t show any particular aptitude for recruitment early on and around half of the business was let go in my first year.
Members of staff would be called into rooms and would never return. The rest of us would keep our heads down and bash the phones, hoping we weren’t called out next.
We survived, came out of that difficult period, and my career grew as the market did.
The next downturn of significance for me was, of course, not that long ago – April 2020. I was in a very different position, working as the Managing Director of a leading recruitment business that had just had their best quarter in ten years and was expecting our best year EVER.
Then a pandemic called Covid hits us, and suddenly I am the one having to call people into rooms (virtual rooms this time) and talk to them about furloughs and everything else. A very dark period indeed, but one that taught me a lot about management, business, my values, and how I want to operate as a leader in the future.
And, of course, we came out of that, the market became buoyant, and we were then discussing the upcoming “roaring twenties” – a new period of spending and affluence.
And yet, here we are on the 29th of August, 2022. The energy price caps spearhead another pandemic – a cost of living pandemic.
Back in April, energy prices rose 54%. In October, they will increase by 80%. In January, they will rise again. In April, they will rise again.
That, along with inflation not matching wage growth, means that the country suddenly has less money.
A lot less.
And again, I find myself in a very different position. I am the Co-Founder of what is currently a two-person business.
We have no employees. We have no significant overheads. In a short period, we have managed to build a client base that should keep us relatively secure, and we are optimistic we can add to it.
And whilst I am an entrepreneur in his first year of business and I am worried about my family’s finances and personal situation, I also know that I am working in a more reliable sector than most which means I am more protected than most. I am also at a point in my career where I know that I can survive any belt-tightening that needs to happen personally.
But I am terrified.
I am terrified for the country.
Financial stress is ALREADY the cause of so much poor mental health, and now we are hitting so many people so hard that some quite simply may not survive.
Many people will need to make choices around food or energy and often go without both.
People will lose jobs.
Businesses may go under.
I am angry that this has been allowed to happen and fearful of the repercussions.
We must help each other. If we are in a position where we can help others, we must. We must look after ourselves first, of course, but then we must turn to those who need support.
Limit our waste. Donate to food banks. Donate to charities—check in on friends and family members who may not be in as fortunate a position as we are.
I am sure as the country gets its head around the situation it is in, more ways and opportunities to help others will become clear.
And if I put on my professional, optimistic hat, there is an opportunity here.
There is an opportunity for businesses to look after their people, help them through these tough times and not only do a damn good thing but also cement authentic relationships with them, which will lead to high retention and general good vibes all around.
On Friday, I posted this – https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6968831141814382592/
Just some very top line ideas.
But I would love to hear what other businesses are doing to help their people.
What innovations have you come up with to protect the people who work in your company?
What basics are you getting right?
What will your business be remembered for when people look back and talk about how you handled this crisis?
PLEASE…share these ideas with me. And I will use this platform and any others to share them back to the community so others can be inspired and take action.
We must stick together, share ideas and do our best to look after ourselves and our people.
In other news…
I made sure I took more than a few snaps when I visited the venue of our very first Talent & Growth event and this is one of my favourites – the Iron Throne. As a huge Game of Thrones fan, I couldn’t resist.
We have four AMAZING speakers lined up – and I will be announcing them in the coming weeks.
We will also be raising money for Mind with this event – all funds will go towards this incredible charity.
If you would like to register your interest in attending the event, please do so here – https://12ry7qhrk1u.typeform.com/to/ZzKigWXf