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Where are all the good role models?


Gemma Middleton laments the loss of the traditional role model and argues that it's time that our leaders stepped up to the plate.

Politics really does remind me of the school playground; factions of kids grouped together for whatever allegiance, cussing and embarrassing members of rival groups at every opportunity.

If any business or organisation behaved in the same way as our political parties, with infighting, unclear direction, breakdown in teams, scandal and just a general negative attitude, we would be in an even worse state, which doesn’t bare thinking about. Personally, I think that this attitude has rubbed off on the public, which is why so many people have actually lost faith and become disillusioned with our political parties and one of the reasons why the concept of society has changed so much in recent times.
I read a recent article that stated Generation Y had been derailed by the recession as typically they are the first to be made redundant as well as being one of the largest groups struggling to gain employment; in fact one in five young people are now unemployed according to the latest government statistics. As my generation are struggling, so too are many other sections of the population; surely our most high profile Britains’, i.e., shouldn't our politicians be setting a good example?
One of the most positive news stories I read recently, regarding political stances, focused on Peter Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, where he stated training would remain high on Labour’s priority list; great and something I strongly believe in. Anyone within training and HR functions know the powerful impact that well designed and fully supported training can have on individuals, departments and organisations alike, and as times became tough it was pleasantly surprising at the number of organisations that continued to invest in their people; unfortunately a fair number cut their spending unnecessarily.
The recession has created quite a few power shifts; labour to conservatives, spending fanatics to cautious savers and employee power to employer dominance, and whilst some are thrilled with these changes we need to remember the concept of the swing; when it goes one way, it has to swing back!
Although studies have found that many employees are remaining in jobs, they want to leave but, because of the rate of unemployment and the perception of an unstable economic future, they decide to stay. This has led to employers gaining more power as they know staff turnover is going to remain relatively low. However, they need to remember the swing concept.
The economy has always had peaks and troughs and when there is a trough, inevitably a peak will follow. Before the recession, many organisations were building reputations as solid employers, to become employers of choice in order to attract the best candidates. This need has dwindled as people typically are happy just to be employed; however, creating a positive organisational appearance should still remain important and not just as a reaction to a smaller recruitment pool. Organisations that fail to continue with positive employment practices, such as training, flexible working, career progression opportunities, when the employment market recovers and fail to create a good environment to work in, will have an uphill battle to rectify any negative connotations when things do pick up.
This is why acting fairly and encouraging people to pull together all the time is incredibly important. We need to remain sensible and invest wisely, with our leaders setting examples and more importantly be seen to be part of the team.

Gemma Middleton is a regular columnist for and the marketing coordinator at Righttrack Consultancy. Read her other features: Bigger isn't always better, Generation Y hits the wall, Social media for learning?,Can discrimination ever be positive? and The British Resolve: Leading us to greater things.

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