Find entries by tag

Posted by Sarah Brown on 30 Nov '23

Let's make sure we are part of the solution, not the problem

The UK economy is not growing, and UK tax income needs to rise enough to provide the money required to support everything we need, such as the NHS, social care, housing, education, and addressing inequality.

It is easy to blame the government, but that makes me feel powerless and increases negativity.

Instead, I think it is more beneficial to use our power to help the UK become a better place, to feel better, and achieve more.

We all have power:

  • Individuals can help the UK grow and make it a better place to live
  • Owners and managers can increase the engagement of staff, which will increase productivity and grow their organisations

Help the UK grow and make it a better place

As individuals, we can do a range of things, though it is not straightforward to decide what to do. I have focused on three:

  • Saving the environment
  • Supporting the local economy
  • Building your own and others' skills

Saving the environment

One of the most urgent and impactful actions that individuals can take is to help avert the climate crisis, which threatens the well-being of people and the planet. According to WWF, some simple ways that individuals can help reduce their environmental impact are:

  • Using their voice to demand action from leaders, being informed about the facts and the solutions, being political and voting for representatives who prioritise the environment
  • Travelling responsibly and avoiding unnecessary flights and car journeys by using buses, trains or walking or cycling. Trainline make it easy for any business to manage train travel for staff with their free business travel platform for companies on the move
  • Living a less consumerist lifestyle, buying eco-friendly products, and shopping locally
  • Eating a primarily plant-based diet and reducing food waste.

These actions can also benefit the economy by saving money, creating jobs, and fostering innovation in green sectors. Also, buying locally reduces food miles, as does buying seasonal products; I need help to purchase avocados even though I like them. The environmental impact of buying avocados and other fruits and vegetables in the UK and out of season is a complex and multifaceted issue. Several factors contribute to the environmental footprint of these products, such as:

  • Carbon emissions: Transporting avocados and other fruits and vegetables from distant countries to the UK generates a lot of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. According to one study, the UK imported 1.6 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables in 2018, which resulted in 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. Avocados are particularly carbon-intensive, often shipped by air to meet the demand for ripe and fresh produce.
  • Water use: Growing avocados and other fruits and vegetables requires a lot of water, especially in regions that are water-scarce or prone to droughts. One avocado can need up to 320 litres of water to grow, equivalent to 16 bathtubs of water. This can deplete the water resources available for local communities and ecosystems and increase the risk of water conflicts and pollution.
  • Deforestation: The high demand for avocados and other fruits and vegetables has led to the expansion of agricultural land, often at the expense of natural forests and habitats. This can result in biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and reduced carbon sequestration. For example, illegal deforestation has been reported to make way for more avocado plantations in Mexico, the world's largest producer of avocados.
  • Fertiliser and pesticide use: Applying fertilisers and pesticides to avocados and other fruits and vegetables can increase crop yield and quality but also have negative environmental and health impacts. These chemicals can contaminate the soil and water, affect the natural balance of nutrients and organisms, and cause respiratory and digestive illnesses in humans and animals.

These are some of the main environmental impacts of buying avocados and other fruits and vegetables in the UK and out of season. However, there are also some potential benefits, such as:

  • Nutritional value: Avocados and other fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre, supporting a healthy and balanced diet. They can also provide essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, which can improve cardiovascular and brain health.
  • Economic and social value: Buying avocados and other fruits and vegetables can support the livelihoods and incomes of farmers and workers in developing countries and create jobs and trade opportunities in the UK. They can also enhance the cultural and culinary diversity of the UK and offer consumers more choice and convenience.

As I said, it is a complex question. It depends on many factors, such as the origin, production, transport, and consumption of these products and the alternatives available. To reduce the environmental impact, you can consider the following actions:

  • Buy local and seasonal: Buying fruit and vegetables grown locally and in season can reduce the carbon emissions and water use associated with transport and irrigation and support the local economy and environment.
  • Buy organic and fair trade: Buying fruit and vegetables that are certified organic and fair trade can ensure that they are grown without harmful chemicals and with respect for the social and environmental standards of the producers and workers(source).
  • Buy less and waste less: Buying only the amount of fruit and vegetables that are needed and using them before they go bad can reduce food waste and the associated environmental impact. Composting the food scraps can also help to recycle the nutrients and organic matter back into the soil.(source)
  • Buy alternatives: Buying other products that can replace or complement avocados and other fruits and vegetables can diversify the diet and reduce the demand and pressure on these products. For example, some chefs use peas, courgettes, pistachios, or fava beans to make guacamole-like dips.

Supporting the local economy

Another way that individuals can make the UK a better place to live and help the economy grow is to support local communities and businesses, especially those struggling due to the pandemic, Brexit, or other challenges. Individuals can shop locally, volunteer for local causes, donate to local charities, or join local groups and networks. These actions can help strengthen social ties, improve well-being, and boost the local economy.

The multiplier effect of buying locally is the additional economic benefit generated when money is spent in the local economy rather than elsewhere. According to LM3Online, a tool that can calculate the local economic impact and sustainability of spending, every £1 spent with a local supplier is worth £1.76 to the local economy, and only 36 pence if it is spent out of the local area. That makes £1 spent locally worth almost 400% more to the local economy. This is because local businesses tend to recirculate more of their income within the local area, creating more income, jobs, and tax revenue for the community. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, local independent businesses recirculate 48% of each purchase back into the local economy, compared to only 14% for chain stores.

Buying locally and saving food miles can also foster social ties and trust among consumers and producers, creating a sense of community and belonging. Buying locally can also support local causes and charities, as local businesses often donate more to local organisations than national chains.

Building your own and others' skills and confidence

As individuals, we can also make the UK a better place to live and help the economy grow by investing in our own growth through education and skills development and helping others do the same.

Sharing your knowledge and expertise with others, such as colleagues, friends, family, or students or through volunteering can help others achieve their potential, find meaningful work, and contribute to society.

You can volunteer in many ways to help children and adults develop their skills, such as reading, or help them get jobs. Depending on your interests, availability, and location, you can choose from various roles and organisations that suit your preferences. Here are some examples of the types of volunteering opportunities that you can find online:

  • Suppose you are passionate about reading and want to share your love of books with others. In that case, you can volunteer with a reading charity in Britain. Many reading charities, such as The Children's Literacy Charity, The Shannon Trust, and Beanstalk, offer volunteer opportunities. You can help children and adults improve their literacy skills by providing one-to-one tutoring, mentoring, or reading sessions. You can also help with book drives, giveaways, or events to promote reading in your community. You can find more information about how to volunteer with a reading charity in Britain here.
  • If you want to help people find meaningful work and improve their employability skills, you can volunteer with a career support organisation. Many organisations, such as The Prince's Trust, Scope, and Action for Children, provide career advice, guidance, and training to people looking for work. You can help people with CV writing, interview preparation, job searching, or mentoring. You can also help organise workshops, events, or campaigns to raise awareness and funds for career support services. You can find more information about how to volunteer with a career support organisation here.
  • Suppose you want to make a difference in your local community and support children and young people facing challenges. In that case, you can volunteer with a children's charity. Many children's charities, such as The Children's Society, Barnardo's, and NSPCC, work with vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people. You can help provide emotional, practical, or educational support, such as befriending, counselling, or tutoring. You can also help with fundraising, campaigning, or advocacy to improve the lives and rights of children and young people. You can find more information about how to volunteer with a children's charity here.

You can search for other opportunities that match your skills, interests, and goals on various websites, such as CharityJob, Indeed, I Want to Volunteer (NCVO), Royal Voluntary Service, or your local council.

These are just three examples. There are many other actions that individuals can take, depending on their interests, passions, and goals. The important thing is to be aware, proactive, and collaborative and to seek out opportunities to make an impact. As the last few years have shown, we can't rely on the government, and whatever happens at the next election, public funding will still be tight.

Increase the UK’s productivity

Increase the engagement of your staff

Whether you run a business, charity, or social enterprise, you will achieve more, produce more, and be more successful if your workforce is engaged and happy. Fundamental to this is having clear and consistent values that translate into behaviours and are ranked so everyone knows what makes them a hero and what makes them a villain.

Other factors influence employee engagement, such as leadership, communication, recognition, feedback, development, and work environment. Different strategies may work better for different employees, teams, and situations, so it is crucial to tailor your approach to your specific context and goals.

  • Be welcoming. Employees form perceptions of your workplace even before day one. It's up to everyone to jump-start employee engagement. While leaders have increased opportunities to take action that increases engagement, everyone should be held accountable. Leaders and employees alike should:
  1. Help new employees feel welcome
  2. Help employees get access to resources
  3. Communicate expectations clearly
  • Introduce new employees to other team members. It also doesn't hurt to plan a few fun activities for new hires. Consider organising a happy hour or starting a new hire club. If new hires work remotely, consider how you'll adjust, making them feel welcome and introducing them to their colleagues. A positive first impression will go a long way.
  • Be aware of individual needs. Some people like variety, so doing things differently, like scheduling walking meetings to re-energise and get some fresh air or having your next 1-on-1 meeting at their favourite restaurant or coffee shop. Allow employees the continued flexibility to work from home and/or remote. Some people like routine or may be neurodivergent with autism or other specific needs and would hate the idea of unplanned events or lots of socialising.
  • Celebrate people (not just their work). Employees are much more than their accomplishments at work. Take every opportunity to celebrate your employees and teammates and their achievements outside of work. Showcase community awards they receive or interesting hobbies. Your employees do not just have a life at work—recognising that will go a long way.
  • Do a strengths assessment. Help employees learn about themselves and grow with a strengths assessment. Understand who they are and what they're good at—and put that knowledge to good use! You'll be able to better engage and develop employees and maximise their potential. As an employee, try suggesting that everyone on your team takes a strengths assessment as a bonding activity and help everyone understand each other better.
  • Be a motivating and inspiring coach, not a managing boss. Ditch the boss mentality. Your employees don't want to be bossed around—they want to be advised, coached, and nurtured. Research shows that manager coaching can drastically impact employee engagement and performance. Studies show 85% of highly disengaged employees say they don't receive enough coaching from their manager. Organisations(source) with employees who receive frequent and effective coaching improve business results by 21 per cent.
  • Review your current engagement initiatives, identify areas for improvement, and implement targeted strategies to enhance employee engagement. Regularly gather feedback from employees and adapt your approaches accordingly. An engaged workforce will lead to higher productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall organisational success whether you are a charity or business.
  • Rethink traditional career pathways. Apply flexible employee development methodologies. Enable continuous workplace learning.

If you want to learn more about employee engagement and motivation, here are other resources:

If you want to read more blogs about creating a better work environment and values, you may find these interesting:

Are your company values working?

Why values are the key to a strong corporate culture

Values can make you more profitable

Share This Page:

Tags: values environment charity corporate culture