It goes without saying that 2020 wasn’t the easiest year for many people and while there have certainly been some positives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, I think most people have been impacted in some shape or form.
At the start of 2020 we were already feeling like some critical changes were necessary in the business and if I’m honest, the pandemic spurred us on to make those changes more decisively.
Having worked our way through a recession in 2008 we learned one of the keys to survival is to act quickly and remove unnecessary costs which is exactly what we did. It took a lot of hard work and some very tough decisions but I’m pleased to say that currently we have saved almost 50% of our costs compared to the previous year to date.
We restructured the company and streamlined our assets in March so that we could start the new financial year in the best possible shape, with more control and agility. I was sad to lose some staff last year, especially one who passed away, and this was hard for the team to manage remotely. I also lost my long serving finance manager after 10 years of service, but I am so proud of the amazing handover she did with her successor which has really given her a great start in the company.
We started the year with a frantic finance department trying to cope with the impact of a new software system and various loss of functionality. At the start of the pandemic, we took a big decision to outsource our payroll which has been the catalyst to a calmer working environment for both our front and back offices, which are now working in perfect harmony.
All about teamwork
We are working much more closely as a team now, with company targets rather than branch and sector targets, and everyone has much more appreciation for the respective parts we each play for the business to succeed. Our sales are up on budget for the year and while sales are not what they have been in previous years, I am confident we will finish the year in a much stronger position than we started.
The tech we have invested in over the last couple of years has been painful and costly, but we do recognise how important this was and how we could not have survived the COVID-19 pandemic without these changes. Sometimes in life and business there are painful and necessary steps to take, and this was certainly one of them.
Another key change has been the promotion of my longest serving member of staff, of 11 years, to his rightful position of Operations Director, following his successes working in all our branches throughout the years. His knowledge of our internal processes and systems as well as the client base has been invaluable. I know that staff highly rate his management style, and he certainly does get the best from the team.
We have won some big contracts this year which have been phenomenally helpful, and I was honoured to work alongside my colleagues for one of these clients earlier this year packaging food boxes for the NHS. We also supported another new key client this year who provides swabs for the NHS, and it has given the whole team a real boost to know we have played a small role in helping to fight the pandemic.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the company performance and our staff have done a sterling job under difficult circumstances, adapting to homeworking for a period of time and their teamwork has been truly impressive.
We welcome 2021
We are looking forward to what the new year will bring and have some more changes to make in our finance department to improve efficiencies. Keeping a close eye on costs will remain a key focus.
There are some other important legislative changes on the horizon, such as IR35 and the end of the EU transition period, which will bring about significant changes to the labour market, but we are prepared for these and look forward the new opportunities these changes will create.
Our entire team are embarking on REC training which I am exrtremly proud of and there is additional training for the management team in the pipeline too – continuing to invest to our staff development is important to me and drives professionalism throughout the business.
I have explained the significance of our role in the local economy to our team as recruiters to help the many people who now find themselves out of work because of the pandemic. Our job is to help them, as well as our clients, some of whom who are also fighting for survival with the supply of temporary workers to complement their workflow.
My personal goals for the new year drive my professional goals and I am happy to share a few of them with you which helps hold me to account too. I tend to use a framework of headings for this to ensure I am thinking about all the different areas of my life and encourage as many of you as possible to do this too.
I have worked very hard over the last year on my fitness and lost 25 kgs as well as given up alcohol for over a year which has been transformational to be honest. I want to maintain this weight loss throughout 2021 and have no desire to drink alcohol, having experienced the numerous benefits of being alcohol free, which include increased energy and focus, improved sleep, weight loss and more time available for things I want to do.
Visit one new country, hopefully Malta. We planned this trip last year to try out some new diving sites, but this was cancelled, so I am hopeful we can go this year instead. I also had a cycling training trip to Spain cancelled so would like to do this with some friends this year too, if it is possible!
Continue supporting my youngest son through his university course which has been challenging for him throughout 2021 as well as my daughter who started senior school last year and there are still a few areas to settle into due to the disruption last year. I’m also looking forward to supporting my eldest son into his first home!
I have planned a weekend away with my wife, as well as a weekend with my parents to ensure these special relationships get the quality time they deserve. I would also like to climb a mountain with family and friends, which we have done before and is always a highlight of my year.
I am looking forward to supporting my colleagues to achieve the best possible results for the business and their personal learning journeys this year, as well as completing a digital leaders course with the rest of my management team. I will continue to develop my photography skills and enjoy shooting family portraits as well as honing my skills with landscape photography for my personal gratification too.
This year I am looking forward to developing a sheltered outdoor seating area at the side of my house, which has partly been inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic but also my love of the great outdoors and woodwork. I hope we can make use of this space to socialise with family and friends, which I’ve really missed during the last year.
Thank you for all your support as a client, candidate, supplier, colleague or friend over the last year and I wish you all the very best for 2021.