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How we should evolve as businesses to provide stable opportunities for young people not in education, employment or training through systemisation. To give back to the community and share a sense of purpose.

Young people not in education, employment or training between the age of 16-24 (NEET) made up a staggering 11.6% of the population between October and December 2020 according to the Office of National Statistics.

This is a shocking proportion of our population. Of the estimated 797,000 people NEET, 44.3% were actively searching for employment and therefore unemployed, and the remainder were classed as economically inactive. That’s approximately 353,071 available workers who could potentially be key people within our businesses.

More than this, if they don’t find employment, training or further education, The UCL Institute of Health Equity states that those NEET are more likely to suffer with mental and physical health issues, particularly if over a longer period of time.  They are also more likely to be involved in criminal activity and less likely to have a successful career. They are also statistically more likely to suffer with health problems later on in life.

If we’re looking at this from a human perspective, this all sounds incredibly negative, and it’s a problem that we can’t, as individuals and businesses, ignore. There are government schemes and local authority schemes working to tackle this problem of course, and we can get involved and make sure that our businesses are ready to foster a culture of inclusion and support for those who are NEET.

There are countless reasons why someone may find themselves NEET, however the statistics and information in the report for Public Health England by The UCL Institute of Health Equity states, ‘those who are relatively disadvantaged, from poor backgrounds, or who have had negative experiences at school are more likely to spend some time being NEET.’ If we also take into consideration that we are now looking at Generation Z in this age bracket, it’s clear that we can do much to show support for and attract these individuals in particular. 

Generation Z are social justice warriors; they care passionately about equality and our ability to show up as who we truly are to work. They want to give their time to businesses and organisations with strong ethics and green policies, so it’s more important to them than any generation previously that their values are reflected in the businesses they work. 

It’s clear that we need to provide a workplace that shows it has a purpose, and pass that feeling of purpose onto our teams. To be able to retain these workers, we also need to make sure that we can live up to and follow up on our promises so that we’re reassuring and reliable, a safe space that differs to what many NEETs may have grown up in. 

From a systemisation point of view, this is exactly what I believe we all need in every business. Starting my working life in McDonald’s, who are one of the biggest providers of first-time jobs in the UK taught me so much about how systemisations is key for a successful business. I know McDonald’s aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, however I know few business-people who disagree that their success is something to be learned from.

Many SMEs tend to evolve organically and then struggle when they reach a certain size or turnover, as the business owner is still juggling many roles, hiring in a hurry and training is ad-hoc. When a new hire joins a business like this, maybe attracted to the passion and purpose of the business, they’re often disappointed with the inconsistency, lack of progression plan, and stressful firefighting in their roles. 

Why can’t we have both? A successful, calm, systemised business with a compelling purpose that helps and attracts those NEET and where we can foster an environment of learning and growth?

Is your workplace one that has a sense of purpose, promotes equality and shows consistency? Are you consistent with your hiring, training, probation period and reviews?Let’s take a long hard look at our businesses, and figure out how to provide this so that the new workers who may be joining us through a local authority work experience or volunteer scheme combatting young unemployment can come back to us (or stay) and become valued key players in our teams. 

So let’s start by truly honing in on your business purpose, vision, mission and values. Why you’re doing what you’re doing and what your passion behind it is. Share this with your team and publish it on your website.

Once we have this foundation, we can create consistency throughout every part of your business. From the team point of view it’s your hiring and probation system, team training, communication and feedback systems. When these are systemised it means that each team member knows exactly what their role is, when their probation ends and what’s expected of them during this time, when their quarterly and annual reviews are and what their progression plan is, making for a very healthy working environment.

Looking towards creating volunteering and work experience opportunities for those NEET, create a ‘job role’ for the volunteers that would add value to your business and teach valuable skills. If no such thing exists, have them shadow a strong member of your team who would be willing to delegate certain tasks to them. 

Think how you would start any new hire and approach their work experience or volunteering role in this way so that they have a taste of how it feels to be hired, to share a sense of purpose, to be a part of your business and part of the team. 

Along the way, of course it’s important to give regular, honest positive and constructive feedback to help them to learn and to develop. Make sure they’re aware of the skills they are learning ready to go on their CV. 

If we can give a little back, share a sense of purpose and be reliable and consistent bosses, we can make such a positive impact on these young peoples’ futures.

    Marianne Page is an award-winning leader and developer of high performing teams; inspiring successful small business owners to build the systems to free them from the day to day of their operation; giving them back the time to enjoy a fulfilling life, confident that their business is running smoothly. Author of Simple Logical Repeatable, Mission: To Manage, The McFreedom Report, and Process to Profit.

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