When you work for or run a company with national or international customers it can be easy to forget how your business influences your local community too. ‘Think globally, act locally’ is a mantra that comes out of the environmental movement, urging people to think about the health of the entire planet by taking action in their local communities. However, people in many different sectors have adopted it to mean that big changes can be achieved with smaller actions on a local scale.
From a business perspective I often interpret this to mean that as national or global business we need to ensure that we’re also investing in our local communities. If we all focused on the health and sustainability of our local economy, we can have positive impact globally too. It might also help to alleviate some of the problems other communities face – for example it encourages local people to stay in their hometowns rather than migrating to economic hubs like London and Manchester.
Many companies do this already because we employ local people who in turn invest in the local community by using local services and other business. But could we do more?
Here are a few examples how businesses like UKN Group influence our local communities:
Job opportunities and training
As mentioned above, although customers may be global our employees tend to be local. That’s true in companies like ours where we require employees to be either in our offices or on site with our customers. Logistically it makes sense to recruit people who are local to each site, but that can sometimes be a challenge when there’s a skills shortage in the local area.
For this reason training becomes very important; upskilling existing employees and offering opportunities for trainees and apprentices. I think companies should also be thinking about encouraging the next generation too by attending career fairs at local schools and colleges; and even visiting schools to talk about your sector and the job opportunities that are on students’ doorsteps.
There’s been a lot of work done to promote STEM subjects in schools to help address skills shortages. On a local level employers could also be raising awareness about career opportunities in their sector; and advising or helping students get the skills they need to pursue jobs in the local community.
Engaging with local suppliers
Another thing that influences local communities is when you use local suppliers and in the process help support their business ecosystem. They too have employees and suppliers who need our custom to make their jobs viable, and who then go on to spend earnings in the local area.
However, with digitalisation there appears to be no geographic barriers to using service providers in any part of the UK or even overseas for many business services. We’re a good example of this, much of what we do can be done remotely, and as we offer 24/7/365 cover we can also operate across different time zones.
Many companies engage IT service providers that operate offshore, they may offer larger cost savings than a provider based in the UK. However, there are disadvantages to this arrangement too. Service levels, and most importantly customer satisfaction levels, often suffer when an IT service provider is offshore. There may be language or cultural barriers, and the service provider may also struggle to really understand and embed themselves in your company. At the end of the day they tend to provide a more transactional service than a strategic partnership where the service provider is invested in helping your business grow and prosper.
While not all local suppliers and service providers deliver more than a transactional relationship, many do. That’s because they’re able to get a much better understanding of your company, challenges, objectives and specifically any local or regional factors that might come into play. Because they’re local they can visit, meet you and your team face-to-face, even place someone onsite if necessary.
We often offer a hybrid or onsite IT service to our local clients where a service desk analyst or IT consultant works within the business, as well as from our local offices.
While it’s not always possible to engage local suppliers to provide services or products, I think it’s a good practice to explore local options before you outsource to a company many miles away.
Supporting local causes
Over the years we’ve been proud to support many local charities and causes, chosen by our employees. Giving back to the local community is really important to us as a company, but even more so for the people who work for us. There are number of local organisations that have made a difference in some way to individuals within our business, and so we welcome the opportunity to help them give back by donating as a company or through fundraising initiatives.
Here at UKN Group we work with companies all around the world, but we still feel rooted in our local communities. We’ve set up regional offices to ensure that we can deliver a local service to our customers across much of the UK, employing local people and investing in the local community.
If you would like to find out more about our ethos and how we work, visit our ‘About us’ page to learn more.