Hot Topic

OUT WITH THE OLD IN WITH NEW – (REALLY!!!)

It’s that time of year again where most of us are thinking about shaking off the past 12 months and setting ourselves up for a great one to follow.  I am most certainly guilty of an unashamed enthusiasm in January for any new regime and feeling positive that “this is going to be the year where I actually stick to the healthy eating and fitness regime, get more sleep, read more, do a digital detox etc. etc.” You know the drill.

So as the 1st of January came upon me, I sat down to write my goals in my new journal and started to think about what might make this a really different year for me.  Having unexpectedly lost someone very close to me at the end of last month I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to close the door on the year completely – or have it a little ajar to keep the memory of them alive for me.  That then got me thinking that perhaps the “new broom sweeps clean” mentality may not necessarily always be the best one.  Perhaps it is about holding on to what’s good from our pasts, letting go of what’s held us back and making space for learning how to improve what we need to, not what we feel we have to.

I started to think about a conversation I’d had with a friend at the weekend.  When I asked her whether she had any resolutions for 2018 she said “to drink less water” – I thought she was crazy until she added on “from plastic bottles”.  I immediately wanted to steal it.  I’m sure many of you have been watching David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II – as well as continuing to show us the beauty of the natural world it comes with an urgent message which we can no longer afford to ignore – the cost of global warming and pollution.  The programme raises a critical awareness of the immediate threats facing our oceans and underscores how much humans and the planet stand to lose if we fail to recognise and acknowledge the negative impact we are having on them.  It’s not a new message for us – but it’s such an important one.

Moving on to the plastic plague that is upon us, Greenpeace recently revealed that Coca-Cola unbelievably increased its production of throwaway plastic bottles last year by well over a billion. (As if you needed another good reason to stop buying fizzy drinks!).  Extreme environmentalists are urging companies to stop selling drinks in plastic bottles altogether whereas the more pragmatic are suggesting we make it easier for customers to use fewer plastic bottles.  A firm favourite of the Change Gear team is forward thinking Pret a Manger.  Pret have been fighting the “waste” battle for many years.  30 years ago, they started donating their unsold food to the homeless and today their initiatives include offering customers a 25p discount on hot drinks if they bring in a reusable cup. At the end of last year Pret introduced a trial in their three Veggie Pret shops selling reusable glass bottles alongside plastic bottles with filtered water stations enabling customers to refill their glass bottles.

Elsewhere, London’s Borough Market is to introduce free drinking water fountains as part of a new pledge to phase out sales of all single-use plastic bottles over the next six months. Selfridges stopped the sale of single-use plastic water bottles back in 2015.

The issue is gaining traction in the political sphere, with Defra Secretary Michael Gove confirming he will work with businesses to see how a drinks container deposit return scheme could work in England. Similar schemes have proved highly successful in Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, where recycling rates of containers are now above 90%.

My friend’s resolution was whirring round in my head.  When I got home I emptied my recycle bin to take a good hard look at what was in there – I was horrified by the amount of plastic bottles and food tubs I found.  I knew this was going to be my more important mantra for the year ahead – Use less plastic.  So how do you turn the mantra into action.  As usual making things a habit so that they stick (thank you Gretchen Rubin for your insights here) is a must.  Here are a few simple things I will be doing:

  • Carrying a reusable water bottle wherever I go
  • Taking my own coffee cup
  • Bringing reusable shopping bags to the supermarket
  • Carrying a fold up reusable shopping bag or two in my handbag at all times
  • Getting rid of all reusable cutlery and straws from my kitchen
  • Buying my fruit and veg from our local shop to avoid supermarket plastic trays

And of course, encouraging my friends and family to do the same.

I would love to hear from any of you out there reading this blog on your thoughts on the subject or to hear what you are personally doing to take action to help save our planet.  Let’s share this message urgently.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and renewable 2018.

Hot Topic – Are we doing enough to support young people joining the workplace?

Our new “Hot Topic” posts look at what is currently trending either nationally and/or globally, allowing us to share with you our unique Change Gear point of view. In our first “Hot Topic” Carrie shares her thoughts about how employers can do more to support young people entering the workplace – a very real hot topic for everyone waiting for their A-Level and GCSE results to be unveiled!

As a mother, whose son is about to get his long awaited A Level results today, this question is certainly one that has catapulted to the front of my mind recently. Having been very clear that university was the way forward for him, a sudden last minute change of heart (high expectations and the thought of being saddled with a huge debt from university fees) had him announce that he was going to get a job instead.  I’m all about encouraging my children to make good decisions and choices and do what makes them happy but knowing the employment arena as I do, this new revelation has made me a tiny bit anxious on his behalf.

Recent research is suggesting that as much as 80% of young people finishing education feel they are not being taught the right skills before they leave to help them successfully find work.  So it’s no surprise that today over 900,000 people aged between 16-24 are unemployed in the UK.  The ratio of youth unemployment is far higher than adult unemployment and this gap does not seem to be decreasing.

Yet in order for organisations to future proof themselves against a back drop of an ageing workforce where knowledge transfer is critical they are going to have to start actively promoting the recruitment of young talent into the workplace.  There are so many positive reasons for businesses to employ young people; it’s certainly more cost effective to invest in your own young talent rather than buy in more expensive, skilled people later.  It also adds to workplace diversity – young people bring with them different perspectives, fresher ways of looking at things and usually their technical and digital knowledge far outweighs that of older generations.  It’s also a fantastic way to boost the PR of your business.

So how can your business help transition young people from education to work?  Here are Change-Gear’s 5 top tips to help you on your way:

  • Start to form relationships with your local schools and colleges to bridge the gap between your business and education. Careers offices are always keen to meet employers.  Offer to run workshops or taster sessions for them giving young people information and advice about what a career in your industry would be like. Share your stories and expertise with them.

 

  • The Apprenticeship Levy has forced many employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million to think differently about hiring apprentices into their workforce. Faced with spending 0.5% of their total pay bill they are keen to make sure they use their £15,000 allowance each year by taking on apprentices into their businesses and providing on the job training and coaching using this allowance.  Whether the levy applies to your business or not, offering apprenticeship schemes is a great way of attracting young talent into your business.  Many bright students are opting for an apprenticeship programme as opposed to facing huge uni fees, so you are likely to get some great young recruits.

 

  • Provide high quality work experience opportunities giving young people the insight and skills they need to work in your industry. This can also be a great way to “try before you buy”.  Plan out the work experience so that the student really comes away with something useful and a good impression of your organisation.  Do remember you are as much on show as a business as they are!  Social media will make sure the message about how good or bad their experience was will spread wide and far!

 

  • Question whether you definitely need someone with previous “work experience”. We often make assumptions that taking on a young person straight from education will be a lot of hard work for us and time consuming “showing them the ropes”.  How many times have you hired someone who didn’t have enthusiasm and energy (even in their first few months) and you ended up spending far more time dealing with their lack of motivation and commitment?  Often young people are really keen to show what they can do and work exceptionally hard to prove themselves.

 

  • Consider whether the recruitment processes in your business actually are “youth friendly”. Think about your own interview questions and whether you adapt your interview style to bring out the best in them during the interview process.  This may well be a first interview for a first job – so make sure you are giving them the right environment to relax and be the best they can be.

 

So hopefully that’s given you some food for thought and if you’d like to learn more about how we help our clients with induction programmes for apprentices and graduates or some of the one to one work our coaches do with young people looking for work, please get in touch.  In the meantime, here’s wishing all the students getting their results tomorrow the best of luck.

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