Why You Should Support Local Businesses

Monday the 11th August 2020 marked the start of the UK government’s Shop Local Week. As part of their Enjoy Summer Safely campaign they have launched this incentive to give the high street a much needed boost.

Often it is far easier for us to pop to our nearest supermarket or order online than it is to visit an independent retailer. Yet now more than ever local businesses are relying on our support.

Promisingly, a recent survey by YouGov found that 38% of Brits have started to shop locally during the COVID-19 pandemic and 70% expect to continue once lockdown eases. In case you need some convincing here are a few reasons you should support your local independent retailers.

  1. It supports your local economy
    Shopping locally is an excellent way to directly support your economy. Research from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies found that for every £1 spent at a local business 63p ends up back in the local economy compared to the only 5p spent at a larger retailer.
  2. It is more sustainable
    Your local butcher or greengrocer is far are more likely to have locally sourced, in-season produce. This will not only mean higher quality food but also reduces the carbon footprint of your shopping list as there are less travel and packaging involved.
  3. You can find unique items
    Independent retailers usually offer a diversity of products you wouldn’t be able to find at a large chain retailer. People are often surprised by the range of items available at local shops but if you’re unsure it’s always worth checking their website or giving them a call to ask a few questions beforehand.
  4. It bolsters the local job market
    The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that SMEs account for 60% of employment in the UK. Supporting local businesses also enables them to hire more local staff which then helps your surrounding community to grow.
  5. Personalized experience
    Smaller shops frequently have the time and freedom to provide higher levels of customer service. Staff are also knowledgeable, it is far more likely that the staff in your local butchers will be able to give expert advice you wouldn’t be able to find in a supermarket aisle. Some places even create loyalty schemes for returning customers, something to remember the next time you want a takeout coffee.

Remember, if you’re pressed for time check to see if any of your local businesses offer online delivery or click and collect options. And if you do shop locally consider tagging them on social media or leaving them a review. Helping to boost their online presence can often be as beneficial as the purchase itself.

5 Tips To a COVID-19 Career Change

The unprecedented global impact of COVID-19 has left many people wondering what the long term impact on the job market may be. Switching careers may seem daunting in the current climate, however, many companies are still hiring and the technology sector is predicted to be one of the strongest industries post-covid.

If you are considering a career change and wondering how to appropriately adjust your job search to the current situation keep reading.

  1. Define your needs
    While the current job market may seem overwhelming the application and interview process is easier from the comfort of your own home. The job market slowing down also makes this a great time to reflect on your career and reassess your long term goals. Where do you want to be in five years? What type of organization would you like to work for? Identify what you are most passionate about and use this as an opportunity to make a long term plan for the future.
  2. Networking
    Be proactive! One of the best tips is to grow your online network. Try to reach out to figures in relevant industries, or check-in with old bosses and colleagues who may have potential leads for you. Find relevant online groups and professional networks, not only will you find industry-specific advice but often there are jobs and events advertised. Better yet, optimize your online profile, make sure that all your information is up to date, and actively participate in the groups. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and helps you become more visible to recruiters.
  3. Diversify your skillset
    If you have found yourself with extra time on your hands try to develop your skills. There are plenty of online platforms and resources out there to improve or learn new skills, take advantage of them. Identify if there are any industry-specific requirements that may have changed due to the pandemic.
  4. Do your research
    In this changing job market research is vital! Investigate where the opportunities may be. Are there any industries actively hiring or looking for remote workers? Taking part in virtual events or following companies you admire on social media is also an excellent way to gain updated industry information and insight. Structure your job search and seek out specialist recruitment agencies that can assist you and help to navigate these emerging issues.
  5. Focus on yourself
    It is easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for a job and the pandemic has only exasperated feelings of anxiety. Make sure you are taking the time to focus on your mental well-being, don’t set yourself unachievable targets, and focus on the quality rather than the quantity of your applications. Prioritizing yourself will help you stay motivated during this period and help the process run smoothly. No one knows how long this uncertainty will last so try to focus on the things you can control when trying to reach your long-term goals.

Summer Is Over, It’s Time To Get Back To Work.

The past couple of months have given us lighter evenings, warmer days, and an all-important dose of vitamin D. 

However, September is here with a bang, and the nights are starting to draw in. Our next respite may not be until Christmas but it seems awfully early to be thinking about December already. September gives us a great opportunity to think about your team’s wellbeing and to ensure they are all managing their stress levels so that they are working effectively; able to cope with the demanding hours; meet tight deadlines, heavy workloads and ultimately achieve the results required.

A study conducted by the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA), found that 66% of those working within the technology community were ‘stressed by their work’; and ‘52% have suffered from anxiety or depression at some point’. Alarmingly, those working within the technology sector are ‘five times more depressed than the UK general population’.

Mental health problems cost the UK a staggering £70 billion with 91 million workdays lost each year, (Forbes). 

The technology industry has a culture of long hours. Gone is the traditional nine to five working pattern, clients expect their technology consultants to always be online regardless of location or time of day. This can make it increasingly hard for employees to switch off from work.

So, if you think your team is feeling the post-summer slump, the most important thing you can do is to get the conversation started. Barclays launched a ‘This Is Me’ campaign which is designed to ‘break the cultural silence that surrounds the subject of mental health’. Employees who have suffered from mental health issues share their stories and these are housed on an online platform. The portal has received over 60K visits since its launch. 

In addition, the Shaw Mind Foundation has set out some simple low-cost ways to reduce the impact of mental health in the workplace:

  • Limit working hours and out-of-hours email access.
  • If a person works from home, ensure regular check-ins with them to reduce prolonged isolated working.
  • Set attainable deadlines and spread the workload across team members.
  • Provide support services and staff members who are trained to deal with stress.
  • Promote healthy eating and regular exercise. Offer employees an opportunity to get some exercise during the working day.

Whilst it may not be possible to achieve all of the above immediately, they are a great starting point. Consultants need to set expectations with clients, set out the hours they will be available and the deadlines they are working to. Once more organizations start to adopt these steps, clients will begin to accept this as the new normal. 

At Barlow Search we are big advocates of promoting a healthy work-life balance often taking part in challenges (either individually or as a team), Claire completed the London Marathon this year and as a team we supported her training with lunchtime runs, we even swapped the office biscuits for healthier options! Our next team challenge is to take part in the St Rocco’s Colour run at the end of September, we are making this one a family affair and will be bringing the kids along too!