By Tony Russell, Chief Growth Officer at Proteus
UK factory orders growth slowed sharply in October, hitting a six month low, according to the October CBI industrial trends survey, and with so many supply chain issues still unresolved, the road ahead for many UK businesses appears to be far from smooth.
Having barely recovered from the difficult months of the pandemic, where successive lockdowns saw profits slump, UK businesses have embraced a new normal only for old issues to resurface in the face of growing consumer demand: skills shortages causing supply chain issues, an oil and gas crisis, and now rising inflation. Businesses need to rethink their whole approach to retaining employees and encourage the recruitment of new workers, meet sector demands and stifle soaring inflation.
It’s a daunting prospect but, UK businesses have proven their ability to be hugely resourceful during the pandemic, and this capacity for innovation needs to be harnessed if businesses are to meet today’s challenges and changes head on.
Despite numerous economic challenges, sector-wide innovation can be seen everywhere as businesses work to overcome these issues. For example, the HGV industry has addressed driver shortages caused by long hours, low wages, mass retirement in the sector, and expensive training by providing apprenticeship schemes that can address the ongoing driver shortage while building up their own work force, as companies such as Hermes have done. Furthermore, many large supermarket chains, such as Tesco and Asda, have offered substantial signing bonuses of £1000 in a bid to entice new talent.
In addition, firms are finding that they must go above and beyond in order to attract and retain talent and improve on old processes. Yoga studios, gin bars, PlayStations, and “cosy” furnishings are among the amenities that are being provided by some businesses. Also, as more businesses adopt a hybrid working policy, many companies have invested in office equipment for employees whilst they work from home. However, not every business can shift to remote working, particularly in manual sectors, and these businesses must be ahead of the curve and implement innovation before they face constraints caused by situations beyond their control.
It is vital that businesses develop a more malleable approach to change rather than continuing in the old modus operandi. Change is an essential part of everyday life, and it should never be regarded as a taboo, particularly by businesses. Change can be both proactive and prompted; however, all businesses will encounter both at some point, and those that embrace a change-oriented mindset will thrive. For example, supply chain issues such as driver shortages have been ongoing for some time and are not new to the industry, as they predate the pandemic. With such a threat to a business model, it would have been prudent for any company to plan ahead of time to overcome such obstacles. Changing business practises to include better working conditions, pay, and easier conditions to obtain an HGV licence would not have prevented workers from being furloughed during a pandemic, but it would have built loyalty and made them want to stay once things opened back up again.
As a result, data-driven insight provides a powerful alternative to opinion-based solutions, which currently drive the majority of change programs. By using data-driven insight coupled with relevant leadership training, businesses can identify any gaps in their model and make the necessary changes. Understanding how to improve projects and businesses as well as making informed trade off’s is a huge advantage for any organisation. For example, through the Proteus learning Hub, businesses can not only predict the likely hood of project success, but they can also measure their current status against good practice and receive best practice for resolution. https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/uk-factory-orders-growth-falls-100734742.html  https://www.parcelandpostaltechnologyinternational.com/news/freight/hermes-launches-apprenticeship-program-to-address-lgv-driver-shortages.html  https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-9845157/amp/Job-roles-UK-Thousands-roles-offering-bonuses-join.html  Yoga and gin bars: Offices revamped to lure back hybrid workers (inews.co.uk)