The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Brexit: Memoirs of a Frustrated Interloper - Part Two

The second in a series of blogs on the EU Referendum - By Alex Davies, Research Analyst at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
In the coming blogs I will break down some of the statistics and arguments most commonly used in the debate. I aim to clear up any common misconceptions, prove that numbers can be made to show almost anything based on the underlying assumptions made, and to show how the lines from both sides on the very same issues often contradict one another. If I seem to give more time to one side than the other, it is because their numbers or assumptions are riper for scrutiny, or reveal something more complicated.

A commonly cited figure is the 3 or 4 million jobs that are “linked to trade with the rest of the EU”. These essentially are any jobs in exporting industries or those linked to the wages arising from such industries. It’s certainly a nice figure to bandy about but what does it actually mean? Within the context it usually appears in it seems to mean: “If we leave the EU 3,000,000 people will lose their jobs”, or maybe: “3,000,000 jobs have been created as a result of being in the EU”, or the slightly less apocalyptic: “If we leave the EU 3,000,000 jobs may be at risk”. In reality the figure is pretty much meaningless in relation to the debate. These figures are not calculated with the intention of reflecting the impact of the UK leaving the EU, as they are linked to our exports rather than our membership status. The researchers at South Bank University who originally reported figures in this ballpark stress that “we do not seek to test this counterfactual hypothesis”; a similar paper from the National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR) warned that: “there is no a priori reason to suppose that many of these [jobs], if any, would be permanently lost if Britain were to leave the EU.” Would the demand that creates these jobs really just disappear if we leave?  Retaining access to the single market will undoubtedly be a priority if we do, and article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty ensures we would have at least two years to conclude an agreement. Even so, if we were able to set our own trade regulations how much would we realistically be able to or want to deviate from current standards? “EU” regulations are far from the only ones affecting us, and most essentially bundle together and enforce a whole bunch of wider international agreements, standards and protocols. We would still need to adhere to such standards and accept global convention in order for us to remain an attractive country to trade with. Even if we strive to achieve more bargaining power in such negotiations, we would unquestionably do everything to avoid risking jobs in export industries.

There are many misconceptions surrounding article 50. The idea that the UK will “not be in the room” during any exit negotiations is false: Clause 2 states that an agreement will be negotiated and agreed upon with the withdrawing country, clause 3 states that the two year negotiation period will be extended until a unanimous agreement is made and clause 4 states that the withdrawing country will remain a full part of EU institutions during negotiations. Another often heard line is that the referendum puts our free movement status at risk. This is also not necessarily true. The referendum concerns our membership of the EU, whereas the free movement of people, goods and services results from us being a part of the European Economic Area (EEA). We should have no qualms about retaining our status within the EEA – if we so wish - if we vote to leave. This would be part of what is often referred to as “the Norwegian option” - just one of multiple exit strategies that will be discussed in later editions of this blog.

If your company trades with the rest of the EU please let us know your take on the issue. How does our trade relationship with the EU affect your business? What reforms should we be fighting for? What are your concerns about the result of the referendum?
More numbers in the next post.


alex.davies@gmchamber.co.uk

Brexit: Memoirs of a Frustrated Interloper

In the first in a series of blogs on the EU Referendum, Alex Davies, Research Analyst at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, looks at some of the problems facing voters.


For most, the EU referendum debate is understandably obtuse and confusing. This is a real problem in such an important issue, because it limits our ability to make a truly free and informed decision. In this series of informal blog posts, I am going to dissect the nature of the debate itself and the various In/Out campaigns. This is as much to reveal misconceptions as it is to provide clarity, and in doing so I will do my absolute best to be equally as critical of arguments from both sides. The purpose of these blogs will be purely to stimulate thinking, raise questions and hopefully enable productive debate.

From a researcher’s point of view, tasked with summarising some of the main arguments from both sides, the most prominent feeling is sheer frustration. The usual course of action is to provide statistics to show both sides of the argument, but in the case of EU In/Out campaigns, the numbers mostly crumble under scrutiny. It seems that both sides are more interested in pandering to their supporters than engaging in any sort of detailed debate about the very real implications of the final result. It is because of this that most people’s positions are currently based upon a few issues which they have strong personal feelings towards- immigration being the most obvious and timely example. This kind of talk is effective in stirring emotions precisely because the actual details are so complicated and so easy to be uninterested in. The assumptions people have however, are generally unfounded or altogether too easy to pick apart. At this point it is a stretch to say that leaving will have this effect on this thing, or that staying in will have that effect on that thing. What we do have at this point, is options; many options, many unknowns and a state of analysis paralysis. For example, several detailed exit strategies have been and continue to be developed, but go uncovered by the big campaigns. Instead we are subject to contradictory statements and arguments tailored to a particular audience without a thought for impartiality. It is so important to criticise this kind of work at this point because the intellectual argument is going completely unheard. I do not profess to be an expert - I am far from it, but I am going to try and navigate this thing from an impartial and critical standpoint as much as I can muster. It is the nature of the beast that these blogs may ultimately leave you with more questions than answers, but hopefully you will be asking yourself questions that you weren’t before, and will be better prepared to discuss them if they come up in the pub.

Some housekeeping, first of all. I will be using the handy term Brexit for the most part to refer to the prospect of Britain exiting the EU and the debate in general. This does not mean I am taking a stance for or against Brexit itself. In fact, I will go on record as saying that I genuinely do not know which way I will vote at this point in time.

A note on the campaigns themselves. At the time of writing campaigns on the “Out” side outweigh those on the “In” side - we have Vote Leave, Leave.EU, Leave HQ, Better Off Out, Business for Britain and Get Britain Out. On the other side are Britain Stronger in Europe and British Influence. There may be others I have missed and might be more in the future.

It has been said many times that this referendum will largely be decided by the business community. In this regard, the Chamber would love to hear feedback from any of our members who have something to say about these issues. I am not a businessman, and anything you may have to say about the referendum will help us here at the Chamber to steer our own coverage of the topic, so please get in touch and voice your opinions.

In the next blog, I will start to break down some of these statistics and show how each campaign can spin the numbers to their advantage.

alex.davies@gmchamber.co.uk

Member Blog: 5 Steps to Sound Sleep

By Helena Grzesk, Spa Director at the award winning Spa at The Midland

Did you know that six in ten people do not get enough sleep? We can be considered deprived of sleep by missing just thirty minutes of shut eye! As well as slowing down your metabolism, a bad night’s sleep can have a severe effect on your mood. In fact, the feeling of depression is increased by 14% for every hour you miss.

Sleep is an incredibly important process the body must go through, and the perfect amount of sleep for most people varies between six to nine hours.

Many exterior factors such as stress and anxiety can take their toll on your sleep, making you irritable, restless and have an overall feeling of fatigue. Here are my tops tips on how to catch those zzzzs and have a restful and fulfilling sleep:

1. A Lavender Essential Oil Bath: Lavender is a powerful essential oil that induces relaxation. It has long been used as part of spa treatment menus to relax the mind and the body. Adding a relaxing bath into your bedtime ritual will immediately help you to unwind and give you some well-deserved me-time.

2. Consistent Routine: As humans we are programmed to follow a lifestyle routine. Sticking to a consistent time you wake up and go to sleep every day will set your body’s internal body clock. Once our body clocks are set you will see an immediate improvement in the quality of your sleep

3. Smart Snacking: Don’t ditch your midnight snacks. Snacking on foods that are rich in an amino acid called Tryptophan is known to promote restful sleep. Tryptophan can be found in foods such as bananas and granola.

4. Digital Detox: Avoid watching TV and working on your laptop or phone within two hours of your bedtime. The bright screens of our electronic gadgets disrupts our body’s rhythm which reduces our quality of sleep. Try reading a book before you sleep. If your digital gadgets can’t be avoided then turn down the brightness of the screen.

5. Become a Yogi: Yoga has long been used as a method to relax the mind and body and promote an overall feeling of wellness. Incorporating yoga stretches such as the child’s pose or downward facing dog into your pre-bedtime routine will immediately slow the heart and rebalance the mind before your head hits the pillow.

The Spa at The Midland
0845 074 0064 | www.TheSpaatTheMidland.co.uk | @SpaattheMidland

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Member Blog: Why is franchising in the UK more popular than ever?

By Paul W Davies, Director- Brand Mark Franchising Ltd


The franchise industry was worth over £15bn to the UK economy in 2015 and it’s still growing- why the popularity?

I am a Franchise Consultant to the industry and I want to offer you my perspective on this captivating industry that has made millionaires of some its franchisees and franchisors, although occasionally of course, things can go wrong and investments are lost- but not too often. So, what is franchising?

Business format franchising is the granting of a licence by one person (the franchisor) to another (the franchisee), which entitles the franchisee to own and operate their own business under the brand, systems and proven business model of the franchisor.

So, why would I be interested in franchising?

Well, it’s got a pretty impressive record. Here are some stats you may not be aware of:
  • Throughout the worst of the global recession starting in 2007/8, franchising has remained remarkably resilient, only once recording less than 90% of franchise units in profit;
  • 70% of the very largest units (with a turnover of £500,000 or more) are quite or highly profitable – and none are loss making;
  • A franchised business appears larger than it is and offers other substantial benefits over non-franchised SMEs:

1. Appearing to be a larger business;
2. Quality expectation;
3. Having a standardised product/ service;
4. Limited financial liabilities;
5. Access to bulk buying discounts;

  • In 2015, a record 97% of franchisee-owned units reported profitability, with 56% saying they are ‘quite’ or ‘very’ profitable. 
  • Funding banks like good quality franchises;
Anyway, that is enough of statistics. There is also a fascinating, not to say profitable narrative that goes along with this.  Existing business owners are attracted to franchising for a number of reasons;   -It accommodates potential for more rapid expansion of a brand, -it is the franchisee that will pay for the upfront costs like equipment or fit-out, -owner operators normally out-perform managed outlets,
-owners also help the business grow by developing the number of franchises they buy over time, with agreement from the franchisor;  -franchisees as well as franchisor, have a vested interest in the success of the company, so will add a quality to the business that a manger can rarely achieve.

There is more, much more, that I will be reporting on in due course.

For more franchise revelations, see my blog at:

www.brandmarkfranchising.co.uk/blog/

Monday, 1 February 2016

Member Blog: Are Distributed Denial of Service attacks here to stay?

By Craig Robinson - Director, Cloud53 Ltd


Recently it seems that every week we hear of a major website being unavailable due to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, but what is it and why is it becoming so common?

A DDoS attack occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of a targeted system, usually one or more web servers. Such an attack is often the result of multiple compromised systems (for example a botnet) flooding the targeted system with traffic.

It seems that along with these attacks becoming more common that they are also becoming more serious in the sheer bandwidth that is being used. Speaking to a recent victim they saw over 80Gbps being used against their IPs, very few providers could sustain that. To put this into perspective in Q4 of 2013 the average DDoS attack was using an average of 2.14 Gbps.

In recent months major names have been attacked such as the BBC (reportedly over 600Gbps), Sony PlayStation network, TalkTalk, Carphone warehouse and many more but why?

It would seem that essentially the groups doing this wish to extort money from their victims, blackmailing them with the threat that if they do not pay the attacks will continue. However could you trust a blackmailer not to do it again after payment? This is why it is generally reported that companies do not pay, however it seems reasonable to assume that some companies do pay as these sort of attacks cost money to implement and so they must be worthwhile to the criminals?

The type of payment is the issue in these ransom situations as payment is always instructed to be made in bitcoins and so is totally untraceable (if you have many accounts). It is also thought that money gained in this way often finds its way to support illegal activity.

You don’t have to be a large company to suffer a DDoS attack but the attackers do go to where they believe ransom money is available however if you do become a victim of a DDoS attack and subsequent blackmail it is best to treat it as an exercise to bolster your security and potentially test your DR strategy, it is not advised to meet the demands of the cyber criminals.

If you become a victim of this or any other suspected cyber-crime and need advice please get in touch with Cloud53:

Visit Cloud53: www.cloud53.co.uk
Call Cloud53: 0845 557 8687
Follow Cloud53:  @cloud53ltd

10% discount for all Chamber members on Cloud53 services.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Member Blog: Health and Safety failings could soon top £10 million under the new guidance – are you compliant in Law?

By Michelle Hay - Michelle Hay Training
From 1st February this year, we will start to see the effects of the latest and long overdue changes to the sentencing and penalties handed down to organisations for serious health and safety failings.

The Sentencing Council’s guidance will apply from 1st February regardless of the date of the offence and Judges now have a tiered penalties framework to guide them. The framework is based on the size of the organisation, its turnover, the level of harm risked and the culpability established.

Currently, fines for health and safety offences resulting in death should not normally exceed £100,000 and not less than £500,000 for corporate manslaughter. However, these figures seem like loose change compared to what’s about to start happening in the UK courts.

For the most serious health and safety offences (not just fatalities), we are likely to see fines of up to £10 million if the organisation’s turnover is greater than £50 million.  This sliding scale comes right down to micro-organisations (less than £2 million) being punished with fines of up to £450,000. For a large organisation convicted of corporate manslaughter, they may face a fine of up to £20 million.

In order to decide on the level of fine, the courts will also take into account other factors, such as past convictions and poor health and safety practices. Although co-operation, self-reporting and acceptance of responsibility may help the organisation, the fines for failures will still be light years away from where they are now.

One of the activities that sparks the most debate when I am training health and safety in the workplace is ‘how much were the fines’. Several example cases of past failings are presented to the groups and they have to guess what the actual amount of the fines given were. Out of eight cases, no group has ever got more than two fines correct.

What this demonstrates, is that the current judicial system is all over the place. Speculation as to what mood the Judge was in, how many other failings have happened and where you live have been put forward as to the reason for the lack of consistency.

If it can be proved that an organisation has received prior warning and was aware of certain hazards and then had ignored those warnings and as a result been negligent, then the courts will surely penalise those individuals and organisations responsible for their ignorance.

Culpability* is the key word here. If a company fails in its duty under the Health and Safety Act etc. 1974, and it is proven to have ignored near misses, warnings and/or advice from various sources, the court will not look too kindly on this and fine accordingly.

Many of the clients that I meet don’t readily grasp the consequences of not complying with health and safety legislation and indeed, don’t understand their duties in law. But the law considers this and states that organisations must enlist expert help in these matters.

The message here is loud and clear. If you could do more to safeguard the health, safety, welfare and the life of your employees, then you should. Do it now! Don’t fall foul of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, It could cost you dearly, even your whole business.

*Culpability generally implies that an act performed is wrong, but does not involve any evil intent. It has limited significance in Criminal Law, except in cases of reckless homicide in which a person acts negligently or demonstrates disregard for life, which results in a person’s death. In general, culpability is used to mean reprehensible rather than grossly negligent behaviour. Culpable conduct may be wrong but it is not necessarily criminal.

Michelle Hay Training Limited provides health and safety consultancy, support, advice and training to businesses throughout the north est area. She hosts a FREE monthly health and safety workshop for senior managers, specifically aimed at helping CEOs, MDs and H&S reps understand their duties in law. Get in touch online at michellehay.com or email michelle@michellehay.com

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Member Blog: Why giving to charity benefits everyone

By Kirsty MacDonald – Senior Tax Manager, DTE Business Advisers

There are far reaching benefits of donating money, assets and time to charitable causes.  Many people like to feel that they are doing what they can to help others.  Alternatively, some causes become close to people’s hearts and they get the bit between their teeth to help these charities to raise much needed funds.  There is also a growing trend for companies to build in Corporate Social Responsibility policies for their staff, which can often supplement or assist those who wish to use some of their time and efforts to raise money for or help charities.

Whether the funds raised support research, running costs or the purchase of equipment, there is no doubt that charities benefit massively from the support of regular donors.

But what about the donor?  Arguably, no one would wish to admit that they are making a donation to charity in order to seek a personal benefit.  However, the UK tax system lends itself to providing relief to those who are generous enough to give to charity in the first place.  How relief is obtained depends on the nature of the gift, as well as who is making the donation:

Gift Aid

The simplest of the reliefs available is Gift Aid.  Essentially this applies to all UK resident, individual (non corporate) taxpayers.  Where such individuals give money to charities registered within the Gift Aid scheme the donation is ‘grossed up’ for tax purposes.  This means that the charity will receive more cash and the donor will be entitled to income tax relief.

If we take the example of a £1,000 cash donation to a registered charity by a higher rate (40%) taxpayer the relief and benefits can be broken down as follows:

Donation made £1,000
Amount charity receives £1,250
Tax relief for donor £250

In reality, this means that a £1,000 donation will only cost the donor £750, but the charity will receive £1,250, all thanks to the Gift Aid scheme.  

Companies

Companies will also pay less tax when they make donations to charity.  This is because the cost of making the donation will usually be tax deductible for the company.  Qualifying donations include:

Cash;
Equipment or trading stock (items it makes or sells);
Land, property or shares in another company (shares in your own company don’t qualify);
Employees (on secondment);
Sponsorship payments.

Employers and staff

These days, it’s also very easy to make donations to charity straight out of gross employment income. This can be extremely tax efficient, especially for higher earners.  As the donation is made before any tax is deducted at source, employees who give to charity in this way will automatically pay less tax on their earnings.  This means that they do not have to wait to claim the additional tax saving through their tax return.

The relief available depends on the rate of tax payable by the employee.  Every £100 donated will cost:

£80 for basic rate tax payers;
£60 for higher rate tax payers;
£55 for top rate taxpayers;

The difference represents the tax saving, meaning that a top rate taxpayer will save £45 for every £100 donated via payroll giving.

In summary

Donating to charity not only helps great causes (such as Breast Cancer Now) but it can be tax efficient for the donor;

Tax relief is available to individuals and businesses, irrespective of the type of gift made to charity.  Whether a donation is made up of cash, time or assets, tax relief will be available.

Employers can make savings by allowing their staff to do more for charity.  As well as fulfilling any corporate responsibility scheme you may have in place, by encouraging employees to contribute via payroll giving schemes, both the individuals and the company can achieve tax savings.  

The tax specialists at DTE provide advice to a wide range of clients, including companies, trusts, charities and individuals.

http://www.dtegroup.com/

Monday, 18 January 2016

Member Blog: Polish your business plan 2016

By David Wright - BSA Marketing
Along with Easter and the Summer, January is one of the three times each year when most people take some time off then come back to work inspired to take their business forward.

However, despite best intentions, it is very easy to find things quickly slipping back into the same old routines as day-to-day demands start to impinge.

Here are my Top Tips for progress and success in 2016:

1. Plan 2016

Regular readers will know that planning is one of my recurring themes, but planning is vital. If you don’t have a plan and just make things up as you go along, you are not in control of your business. I’m not saying you won’t succeed but if you do, it will be luck.

Plan 2016 doesn’t need to be complicated. There are lots of business planning tools online but here is my suggestion of key questions to ask yourself:

Where are we now?
Where do we want to get to?
How are we going to get there?

I’m thinking strategy here; should you be doing more of the same or are there changes that need to be made? What is the best way of using what you have to move your business and to make the changes?

2. Action 2016

Making plans and setting objectives is all very well but a bit of a waste of time if you don’t actually do something about it!

I suggest you take your planning ideas and then ask yourself what specific actions you can take towards achieving your objectives. This is about what are you going to do TODAY, TOMORROW, THIS WEEK, not what you might do over the next month or 2!

You already know that running a business requires discipline and drive. Having an action plan puts focus on actually doing stuff towards achieving your goals. It’s a cliché but you do need to find time to work ON your business rather than IN your business.

3. Focus on specifics

One problem with planning is that it can be easy to stay with a ‘big picture’ where objectives look great on paper but it can prove difficult to take realistic steps to achieve them. This is where having a meaningful action plan is so important so let’s have a look at some specific areas of your business where you can make a big impact:

Keeping in touch: Review everyone you have done business with / had enquiries from over the last year – are you still in contact?

Keeping in touch with contacts is my top tip. Email and social media make it easy and inexpensive (or free!) to keep in touch and building relationships with contacts who know you and can give you more work is the best way to grow business.

Focus on Good Customers: Sort your customers in order of billed revenue – now sort in order of the effort you put in – Do they match? Should you be looking to lose some of your ‘hard work’ clients?

Recognising that not every customer is a good customer was a big lesson for me.

If you are confident in your processes to bring on new business, it can be easier to let some customers go if they don’t really fit your requirements.

Even if you aren’t so confident, losing one or two smaller clients who take up a disproportionate amount of your time can free up a surprising number of hours to focus on building more ‘good’ clients.

Build on your success: List your 3 big successes from 2015 – what can you learn and apply in 2016?

Sometimes, good things happen and you don’t even notice! Have a think about your high points from the past year. How did they happen? Was there something you can take into 2016 and repeat the success?

Learn from mistakes: Recognise your key disappointment from 2015 – what can you learn and apply in 2016

Hopefully this will be harder because you’ve had more success than disappointment, but sometimes you can learn more from a negative than a positive. By staying confident and recognising the lesson learnt you can avoid repeating the experience.

New ideas: Are there products or services that you could add to your business in 2016? Do customers ask you for things you don’t offer at the moment?

Good businesses constantly review and refresh their offering in line with market demands.

As well as coming up with your own ideas, or using suggestions from customers, check out what your competitors are up to. Market research can be a powerful ally.

4. And finally…

Running your own business can be challenging, but also very rewarding. Many SME business owners spend up to 70% of their waking hours focused on their business, so don’t forget to try to enjoy yourself!

Whatever you do, I hope you have a productive and prosperous year.

All the best, David

Monday, 11 January 2016

Member Blog: When will you love Mondays?

By Claudine Jacobs - Operations Support Manager, Reed Screening


With every New Year comes the seemingly obligatory New Year resolutions. Normally, these are a few quickly thought up personal mini objectives, which are then typically broken just two weeks into January. But what if one of your resolutions is to get a new job? Will this resolution be broken just as whimsically, or do you hate Mondays enough to stick with it?

On the first working day of 2016, one online job website alone reported 230,166 online applications and 11,975 new jobs being posted. That’s a staggering number of people who have made 2016 the year to make a change.

So if you were one of the 230,166 applicants, what are your top priorities for your new job?

Salary, location and benefits packages regularly top candidate opinion polls, but what about the bigger picture? Will the new company match your own personal values and ethos? Having spent valuable time and effort carefully matching your CV to their online job description, how can you be sure that your potential new employer will look after you and your new career with the same care and attention?

More and more press reports show that candidates like you are looking at the bigger picture when it comes to scoping out new jobs. Matching the values, vision, ethos, culture and even work environment of potential new employers to your own can be a very worthwhile activity.

Often, application and screening experiences are the first opportunities you have as a candidate to evaluate your potential employer, and with no emotional tie-in at that point, it can be a thin line as to whether the relationship is successful or not. Great starts often come with smooth, easy to follow application and screening experiences, in fact:

60% of job candidates reported that they started an application process but dropped out because it was too complicated or lengthy (Recruitment Buzz)

Employers are beginning to understand that to attract and retain the best candidates they need to have time sensitive, efficient, service oriented application and screening experiences which showcase their company. As a candidate, you want to know that you are a priority and that your application will be treated in a timely fashion with the utmost care.

So although you applied for the job on a New Year’s resolution whim, stick with it. Take the time to evaluate potential employers, looking at their values through to their application and screening experience to make sure it suits you.

With the majority of new roles beginning at the start of the week, you too can love Mondays.

https://www.reedglobal.com/en_GB/web/reedgb/employer/employment-screening




Friday, 8 January 2016

Member Blog - Staff Wellbeing: A preventative approach

By Hannah Osman - Founder, Nuba Health


It is well documented that our physical and mental performance is intricately linked to our diet, environment and lifestyle. What we eat, drink, and how we live our lives affects our health, energy levels, motivation, attitudes and even the decisions we make on a daily basis.

At work, we need to be energetic, focused, confident, happy and productive - functions that are all affected by diet.

Eating nutritious meals and snacks helps us to perform well mentally and physically, reduces the negative effects of work-related stress and leads to increased productivity. With the majority of our time being spent at work, most workers eat at least one, if not two meals during the working day, and so healthy eating at work should be actively encouraged. In fact, recently, Unum reported that two-thirds of employees believe that their employer is responsible for their wellbeing.

Energy levels are very dependent on the state of our blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels fall too low we can feel tired, dizzy or simply lack concentration. On the other hand, if glucose in the bloodstream is kept nice and steady, we feel energised, awake and alert.

The ugly truth is that when we most need to look after ourselves is when we are the least likely to do so. When we are stressed, our body uses the nutrients it is given to produce stress hormones in order to help the body withstand stress, instead of feeding our vital health systems. Stress causes a release of adrenaline, which releases sugar into the bloodstream. This impacts the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels, which leads to the cycle of cravings for sugar, stimulants, alcohol and cigarettes.

So how, as an employer, can you prevent the viscous cycle from arising?

You can:

1. Take a preventative approach to diet and stress
2. Optimise nutrition when the team are at their busiest.

Taking a preventative approach to diet and stress

As the economy in Manchester is on the up, employers are turning their attention to mindfulness and mental wellbeing in the bid to attract and keep the right staff.  In a recent Financial Directors’ report, encouraging health-related activities scored more highly in importance than other benefits like private healthcare and flexible working.

Being preventative does not have to be a big measure, it can become part of company culture by reinforcing messages and making the transition to a healthy lifestyle an easier one. You are almost certainly already on the right path with cycle to work schemes and activities such as running clubs.
However, changing diet is more easily said than done, as this requires education on what is and is not healthy, amongst the myriad of marketing messaging and processed options on the high street. Education is key to help people make informed choices when it comes to their diet and help them to help themselves.

For example, did you know that Sprouting seeds and pulses such as alfalfa and lentils multiply the nutrient content of a meal? This results in a mineral and fibre-rich seed packed with nutrients as well as protein and even essential fatty acids that are vital to support the adrenal (stress) glands.

Optimising nutrition when the team are at their busiest

According to Workforce Wellbeing, part of the Government’s ‘Fit for Work’ initiative, employees with poor nutrition are 15% less productive than those with better nutrition. That equates to around 16 days of lost time per employee per year.

Yet, rather than manage our diet, most of us look to stimulants such as caffeine and our favourite ‘comfort foods’ to see us through the hard times. Stimulants and processed foods high in sugar are dietary stressors and worsen our feeling of stress. When our body is using up essential nutrients to fight stress, we should be supplementing it with additional good nutrition to maintain strong and healthy bodies and minds.

None of us can control what staff eat outside work during these busy and potentially stressful times, so it is important to encourage staff to make sensible dietary choices. This can be done by limiting unhealthy options available, such as introducing healthy snacks in to vending machines or removing vending machines entirely. If people are your product and their time is money, then subsidising healthy meals or even providing free meals for staff can provide a huge incentive to eat well, improve staff job satisfaction and reduce their likelihood of opting for cheap, unhealthy foods and slipping into the negative cycle.

For example, did you know that carrots and walnuts are a great combination for sustained energy? Carrots are a natural energy source of carbohydrate, whilst walnuts, and walnut oil provide protein, minerals, and essential fats for optimal energy production and brain function.

Who are NUBA Health?

NUBA Health, founded by Hannah Osman, is a Manchester City Centre based healthy meal service, who work with individuals and businesses to optimise their nutrition by providing fresh healthy meals delivered daily to the workplace.

Focusing on ‘food for thought’, NUBA design and make meals tailored for specific goals, brain functions and bespoke dietary requirements.

Hannah says that “Working with organisations to build a happier, healthier and more productive workforce is incredibly topical and interesting work, as every organisation and individual within a team is different. For a business, it might be about reducing absenteeism from sickness, but for the staff it’s about enjoying their weekends, or getting home in time to see the kids.”

NUBA are offering lunchtime talks to Chamber members to cover the basics of eating for health. As part of this they also take a look at easy sugar swaps, what and how to eat when you are busy and also provide a Quick and Healthy e-recipe booklet for staff to help them eat well when they are busy.

Please send all enquiries to hannah.osman@nubahealth.co.uk

www.nubahealth.co.uk