Liz McAreavey: Investing in workforce benefits companies and society

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's Liz McAreavey. Picture: contributed

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's Liz McAreavey. Picture: contributed

0
Have your say

EDINBURGH is the second most prosperous city in the UK and according to the latest Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) accounts for five of the top ten richest communities. Yet, you do not have to travel far to find poverty.

EDINBURGH is the second most prosperous city in the UK and according to the latest Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) accounts for five of the top ten richest communities. Yet, you do not have to travel far to find poverty.

One in five children live below the poverty line and one in five people in poverty is in work.

We are seeing more instances of local and national businesses being ‘named and shamed’ for not paying the minimum wage, but in reality many businesses struggle. Without a commitment to work towards this target, through a responsible business approach and a greater focus on the wellbeing of our workforce, poverty within the city will continue.

Scotland is witnessing major changes in its social and economic framework. Following the Scotland Act 2016, we are seeing the introduction of new fiscal policies and powers, while we grapple with the challenges of continuing to trade in a single market and retaining key talent and labour.

Adding another layer are the City Deals. Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness have made announcements and Edinburgh is pulling together its plans for the ‘vision’ of the city region.

Edinburgh’s deal is not one of regeneration but of building on success and innovation and creating inclusive economic success, addressing the gap between the prosperous and the poor.

A lot of research shows a more equal society produces greater economic prosperity through increased jobs and salaries, leading to greater wealth distribution and generation. It also creates a sense of purpose and increased health benefits, with reduced demand on health, social care and welfare.

Employees are a business’ most important stakeholder – its biggest voice and largest expense and investing in their wellbeing will have a considerable impact on team morale, office culture, attendance levels and productivity.

In fact, an average firm with 250 employees is estimated to lose around £250,000 due to sickness absenteeism, while an engaged workforce can reduce staff turnover by nearly 90%.

Productivity in UK businesses is the lowest of all the G8 countries. Investing in our workforce through training and development builds greater efficiency and commitment, in turn this creates greater output and wealth not only for the business but for society.

Edinburgh’s success as a capital city, thriving business community and leading financial centre means there is huge potential for economic growth, in turn reducing poverty levels and the impacts this has on our community.

By working with government and investing in employees, paying living wage and improving wellbeing, business leaders can and should play a role in protecting the future of our city.

Liz McAreavey is acting chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce