You’ve probably heard quite a lot about the city that I live and work in recently! Salisbury, and the unfortunate events involving a former Russian spy and his daughter have been international news for several weeks now. While the world looks in on us via the numerous news crews that have descended upon us from around the world, we and the Salisbury community have been trying to get on and do business as usual. That has been very difficult for many of the small businesses in the city, especially the retailers, as many people have stopped coming into the city. Free parking has been introduced, which has helped, and as I write this blog, news of a meeting this evening at the city hall – getting the city “back to normal” – has been announced.
As part of the business community, members of the local chamber of commerce, as well as the Salisbury Improvement District – Salisbury BID – (one of our Directors Keith is on the BID Board) we have been very aware of the problems and issues facing the local business community and the plans to try and get the city back to the bustling and vibrant city that it was.
A #LoveSalisbury campaign has been launched which we have been supporting, and we have made a conscious effort to buy local as often as possible. For example, this year’s staff Easter presents were purchased at a small, independent craft shop that at the height of the incident took just £20 on one day’s trading. Normally they are a busy little shop, full of passing tourists and locals heading up the high street toward the wonderful Salisbury Cathedral.
Incidents like this shouldn’t be the reason you start thinking about your local community. We should all be thinking about supporting the community we work in and the people that live there, and realise the benefits that ‘supporting local’ can have on the success of our own businesses. Small businesses make a big contribution to the economic growth of our towns and cities. According to research last year by npower Business and Capital Economics, SMEs have driven more than 70% of private sector employment growth since 2011, and employ 15.7 million people nationally – almost 50% of working population in the UK.
As a recruiter, it makes business sense to support these local SMEs, and we have always supported small businesses within our community, both with their recruitment and HR but with “other stuff” that makes a real difference to them and us!
I’m a Volunteer Enterprise Advisor for the Careers and Enterprise Network, which means I work with local schools and colleges to connect them to the businesses community to support with career-based projects. That could be providing work experience, supporting a careers event or just going into a school to talk about how they set up their own business or what it’s like to work there. You don’t necessarily have to become an EA, but why not contact your local college to find out the types of jobs these future workers will be looking for. Can you partner with them to introduce them to someone in the business community who can help? These types of opportunities help you showcase your business, connect you with other business owners and create networking opportunities. Longer term, you all get access to a potential pipeline of new talent with the skills to help grow your businesses – and what a great opportunity to be able to inspire future business people and entrepreneurs!
Offer Up Your Skills
As an expert in your industry, your skills will almost always be of value to others. Consider speaking to new start-ups, young entrepreneurs or struggling businesses about how you made your business a success and sharing your top tips and advice. You will not only be helping another business to grow but will you will get so much satisfaction from supporting others. If you have the capacity, how about giving your staff paid time off to volunteer at a local charity of their choice? Many employees say they would love the opportunity to support their local community and those businesses who allow volunteering see increased morale as well as a boost in productivity.
We all know that Social Media, if done in the right way, is an essential part of a business’s marketing strategy and can provide measurable increases to your bottom line, but do you get properly social when using it? Do you interact and share posts from other local businesses? Do you support them to help widen their audience and grow their followers? Simple #FridayFollow posts on Twitter or sharing a photograph of you picking up your morning coffee from the independent café next door to your office on Facebook not only supports local business and generates goodwill between business owners but makes your own posts interesting and more engaging – they show your audience that you are a real part of the community.
Keep It Local
I’m in the business of finding people jobs, and small businesses create local jobs. I want to make sure that people in our community can live and work in our city rather than be forced to commute to find work. Can you pick up your lunch from a local café or shop at the independent retailers rather than the big supermarkets? Many small businesses have launch events or open days, so try and support these when you can.
Work With Others
On Wednesday, I presented to a local networking group about the benefits and “job perks” candidates consider a key consideration when deciding on whether to accept a job offer. The practical ones, of course, were at the top of the list as you might expect but quite a few perks based on health and wellbeing made it into the top ten! The networking group is called Women on Wednesdays, and its members are a broad mix of local businesses women, many who work alone, and across all industries. After my presentation, the discussion turned to how we could all work together to support larger employers with health and wellbeing initiatives within the workplace. As a recruiter, I have connections with these larger organisations, and as therapists, life coaches, fitness experts, financial gurus and interior decorators the group has a massive collection of skills and experience that could enable us to work in collaboration on a project to change how businesses approach well-being in the workplace. Increasing happiness, motivation and ultimately the productivity of their staff.
Take On A Challenge
In April next year, I will be trekking the Great Wall of China to support The Salisbury Hospitals Stars Appeal Charity. I’ve several reasons for doing that, but the main one is to raise funds for the local hospital that cares for my community. I’m currently organising our first event with my colleague Julie, a Quiz Evening that will bring local people together to have fun, socialise, test their brainpower and support a local cause. Could you put together an event that supports a charity that makes a difference in your local community?
So, my message is to support your local community whenever you can. Mother Teresa once said – “Never worry about numbers – help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you”
Lynne is Managing Director of Personnel Placements and has been recruiting in Salisbury and the surrounding area for over 15 years. PP as it is affectionately known within the local business community is a generalist Agency that has been supporting local companies with their recruitment and HR for over 30 years. They are also an active member of TEAM – The Employment Agents Movement – which enables them to source candidates from all over the UK.