Momentum Still Strong For Construction

Data from the construction industry is showing that the sector is still in growth, despite the global conditions.

The ONS reported that monthly construction output increased by 1.7% in volume terms in March 2022; this is the fifth consecutive monthly growth and a record high in monthly level terms (£14,994 million) since monthly records began in January 2010. Output in March 2022 registered 3.7% (£539 million) above the February 2020 pre-coronavirus pandemic level.

Increases in repair and maintenance and new work led the growth seeing 3% and 1% growth respectively.

At the sector level, private housing repair and maintenance (5.8%) and private commercial new work (4.0%) were the main contributors to the monthly increase.

Quarterly growth

Looking at the past quarter, construction has also shown registered growth, with construction output rising 3.8% in Quarter 1 from January to March 2022; outside of the coronavirus pandemic period, this is the strongest quarterly growth since 2017.

While new orders showed a decrease compared with Quarter 4 of 2021, all sectors are still registering higher than their pre-coronavirus levels, showing how resilient the construction sector is.

With the levelling up agenda and push for new housing across the UK, contracts are plentiful and opportunities for a wide range of businesses are available.

Figures from Tracker show that the public sector is investing in a variety of sectors, with drives in procurement to improve Social Value and environmental goals providing many opportunities for smaller, local businesses and innovative solutions.

Prices increase

The annual rate of construction output price growth was 7.3% in the 12 months to March 2022; this was the strongest annual rate since records began in 2014.

However, due to global conditions, prices in the construction industry have increased by 7.3% in the 12-month period to March 2022. This was the strongest annual rate of construction output price growth since records began in January 2014.

Higher pricing of raw materials such as steel, concrete, timber and glass has contributed to the overall rise in material costs throughout Quarter 1 2022.

Gareth Belsham, director of the national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths, commented: “So far, so good. After February’s wobble, construction output snapped back into growth territory in March, to hit £15bn for the month – its highest ever level.

“In March it had the honour of being the only major sector of the economy to be expanding, and total output is now comfortably above its pre-pandemic level.

“But such rapid growth in the face of widespread supply problems is extracting a high inflationary price. With the prices of building materials, labour and transport costs all soaring, the annual rate of output price inflation hit 7.3%in March, its highest level since records began.”

“Most building firms remain extremely busy right now, and their order books for the coming months are reassuringly full.

“Nevertheless the war in Ukraine has disrupted the supply of key building materials including steel and timber, bringing the unwelcome return of shortages and triggering a new wave of cost inflation.

“Yet sentiment remains largely positive and the market is more free-flowing than it was. Having showed incredible resilience in the way it dealt with the pandemic and then the post-pandemic supply problems, construction is adapting well to this latest challenge.”

How Tracker can help

With the largest public sector tenders and awards database in Europe – seeing some 120,000 tenders and awards published monthly from around the world (including >4,000+ low-value tenders not included in the OJEU) – Tracker helps you find relevant opportunities, faster.

 

Our unrivalled Business & Market Intelligence helps you to engage earlier, sell more effectively and be more competitive.

 

Click here for your trial

The perfect solution to businesses fearing a lack of growth

According to a survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses, almost half of small British companies have warned that the rising costs of doing business in the UK will stall growth this year.

Operating costs have risen for almost nine in ten businesses year-on-year, with rising fuel and utility costs the most commonly quoted issues.

For businesses, operating without a profit after two years of uncertainty and instability at the hands of the pandemic is certainly a worrying thought. Business owners and key decision makers invest much of their time conjuring up ways of growing their business, so much so Google search terms related to the phrase “grow business” generate an average of 8,350 searches a month.

So, if you’re a business owner in 2022, where do you begin when it comes to growing your business in an already complex world? Well, we’re fairly confident you’ll know that there exists a plethora of opportunities within the public sector marketplace, selling your products or services to the government, but did you know that landing a position on a public sector framework could provide your business with some of the most lucrative contracts available?

In this article, we delve into the wealth in frameworks and why they should be considered a solution to limited business growth.

The importance of business growth

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that growth is crucial to the long-term survival of any business. It can allow companies to seize new opportunities with a different audience or within a different territory, it can assist in the recruitment of staff which in turn generates increased profitability, and it can allow a business to expand its range of products and services.

That said, what makes or encourages businesses to grow?

Well, lower costs, the thought of market domination, the ability to reduce the impact of competition or the ability to attract the best and most skilled talent within the market are all pretty good places to start!

Long-term survival is undeniably important as American actor, Sam Waterston once noted, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling back” and in the dog-eat-dog post-pandemic world we live in, businesses cannot afford to be standing still.

What is a public sector framework?

These agreements are sometimes known as framework agreements or procurement frameworks and effectively they are arrangements in which buyers choose suppliers in advance and call upon them when necessary to deliver a certain specification.

A procurement framework: “allows buyers to place orders for services without having to go through the time process of a full tender application.”

Interestingly, suppliers can enter onto a framework up to four years before being selected, if they’re ever selected at all. We’re sure at this stage you’re probably thinking, ‘how can acquiring a place on one of these so-called frameworks actually benefit my business if it means waiting four years?’ Well, despite the fact generating business directly through the frameworks can prove to be a lengthy process and there is no actual guarantee of winning work, being awarded a place on a public sector framework acts as a signpost of credibility towards your business, highlighting to other buyers in both the public and the private sector, that you’re a key player in your industry, trusted by government and their rigorous vetting processes.

Key benefits of winning a place on a framework

There are numerous benefits of frameworks for both buyers and suppliers however for this exercise we’re going to focus solely on those meaningful to you as a business.

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest benefits to suppliers is the capture and sharing of knowledge and best practice with other experienced suppliers.

Take for example, you’re a business working within the construction sector. Entering into a framework could give you the opportunity to work with huge corporations with vast experience such as Balfour Beatty and Sir Robert McAlpine. Partnering with businesses of this calibre grant you the opportunity to access procurement expertise and construction excellence – tricks of the trade if you will.

Proving your capabilities within a framework can also ensure long term prosperity, as buyers impressed by suppliers often tend to continue their relationship for years to come. There is also the opportunity to discover potential opportunities within the private sector, through businesses similarly working on the frameworks – further enhancing the chance of growth.

 

Overall, we know that the future inevitably holds a significant amount of opportunity when it comes to the public sector – but businesses can afford to save themselves time and effort, while generating increased knowledge and opportunity through entering into a public sector framework.

If you’re interested in finding out more about public sector frameworks and how you can win a place on one, book a free trial today.

Where are the World’s Smartest Cities?

Tracker recently investigated whether or not smart cities could be the answer to the UK’s problem when it comes to achieving net-zero. We delved into what defines a smart city, what smart cities have got to do with the UK’s sustainability goals, and what smart cities can successfully offer, analysing the introductions to metropolises such as Dublin, Oslo, and Toronto.

In this article, we will explore the globe for the cities that are considered the smartest. Looking at what changes they’ve made in order to get to such a position, and what they’re GDP – one true measure of innovation- currently looks like.

In order to give an accurate picture of how smart a city is, we’ve analysed data from the IMD Smart City Index from the past three years.

Singapore

It should come as little surprise that the city-state of Singapore, the first nation to earn the title of “smart nation”, has cemented its place as the world’s smartest city three years in a row.

For a considerable amount of time, Singapore has been recognised worldwide as one of the top three smart cities. Measuring some 721 kilometres squared, the South-East Asian state has been labelled as a laboratory of innovation; a place where all cars are expected to be self-driving by 2025, and 80 per cent of residents will be less than 10-minutes walking distance away from a subway station by 2030.Investment in sustainable infrastructure is constant.

Singapore is actively becoming a hub for technological genius, with futuristic projects of aerial drones delivering packages and big data projects controlling road safety, just two examples of planned government investment.

Singapore’s GDP in 2020: 57,797 US$

Zurich

In the Smart City Index, Zurich has consistently ranked within the top three over the past three years, with the Swiss city receiving particularly high scores when it comes to recycling, public safety, and medical services – much like Singapore, and Oslo, which ranked third, Zurich’s impressive performance is due to their outstanding transport system. “A prerequisite of a smart city is a smart administration that allows good ideas to emerge and innovative projects to be implemented. Smart City Zürich supports innovation within the administration with the intrapreneurship program with seed money for pilot projects and with innovation fellowships that bring external expertise into the administration‘s work.” StadtBox

LoRaWAN (The Long Range Wide Area Network) collects data throughout the city and runs projects that tackle the challenges faced by Zurich in terms of air quality, water management, and parking.

Zurich GDP in 2020: 95,620 US$

Oslo

As you can see from the table above, Oslo’s position on the Smart City Index has certainly fluctuated over the course of the past three years but it has remained a stalwart within the top five, securing its position as the world’s third smartest in the most recent rankings.

Oslo calls upon a host of information and communications technologies alongside Internet of Things solutions to successfully develop key areas and districts throughout the city. Investment has been geared towards “city governance, citizens’ services, energy management, waste management, urban mobility, education, industry development, welfare and health care, and other community services.”

Across the city, “sensors collect data needed to automatically control lighting, heating and cooling”, helping to improve the energy efficiency of buildings dramatically.

Oslo has become renowned as an ‘excellent test lab for smart, green transport solutions’ with the greater Oslo region detailing that all its mode of transports will be emission free by 2028. [is this the same link? Just need once]

Oslo GDP in 2020: 87,011 US$

Other standouts

In Helsinki, Finland, most recently ranking 6th overall, a ‘Whim’ titled application involves the connectivity of public transport to bikes, cars, and taxis to ensure a more efficient method of trip planning – not only can this limit emissions, but it can also successfully enhance speed.

Copenhagen, meanwhile, is rightfully earning its place at the top table thanks to its smart capabilities when it comes to the smart city start up scene. The Danish capital has become known as a breeding ground for smart city start-ups and claims that it is Europe’s easiest place to do business thanks to “flexible labour market regulation, highly qualified talent, favourable taxation, fast establishment procedures, and virtually no corruption.”

It’s clear to see that smart cities will play an important role in the future of the global city. As we’ve mentioned before, urban populations are growing at rapid rates and an effective solution to limit the negative impacts is required. Considering the average world GDP per capita in 2020 was $10,926, and the average of our top three ‘smart cities’ was $80,809, there’s a strong case to investing in smart could certainly be the solution that we’ve all been looking for if we’re thinking about tangible benefits.

What’s The Point in My Business Going Green?

Business sustainability has an average of 2,400 monthly searches in the UK while the keyword phrase ‘green business’ receives an average monthly search total of 1,900, up 19% year-on-year.

In this article, we take a look at the number of benefits to going green for your business.

What do the experts say about going green?

There’s no denying, in the net zero fuelled Britain we live in, going green has never been more important for businesses.

Doing so has a number of benefits – as Sage notes ‘going green will not just help your business to drive revenue and solidify its reputation, it will also help the planet.’

Entrepreneur Jacqueline Novograte said: “many big business leaders are seeing the relationship between long term success and sustainability and that’s very heartening.”

While former CEO of Unilever, Niall Fitzgerald, added : “corporate social responsibility is a hard-edged business decision not because it is a nice thing to do or because people are forcing us to do it…because it is good for us business.”

Money saving

Although you might assume that going green is going to cost your business, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that it can actually result in significant savings.

Going paperless

This is one of the easiest implementations to your business when it comes to protecting the environment.

Cutting paper from your operations can enhance security, protect resource time, and significantly reduce business costs.

A report by recordnations.com detailed the costs that could be avoided through a paperless office space.

Their research highlights costs associated with a 100-employee business on an average wage of £12 per hour housing 24 filing cabinets.

They predict that the annual cost of paper for the business is approximately £6,498 while the filing cabinets used to store the paper are estimated to cost £6,854.

What does this mean for your business? Well, if you were to rid your business of environment damaging paper, you’d be saving yourself a small fortune on an annual basis…

Green energy

A retrospective analysis of green energy probably doesn’t paint the most appealing picture for businesses thinking about cutting costs; it was often considered to carry a hefty price tag that aligned with a ‘nice-to-do’ approach, rather than one of benefit or necessity.

There exist a number of ways in which your business can benefit from a green energy supplier when it comes to monetary advantages:

  • Reduced energy bills through the many different types of renewable energy
  • Energy price protecting through the supply of your own power
  • Selling back to the grid – if you’re making more energy than you can use, you can start selling energy that will offset the initial costs associated with the setup of renewable energy
  • Green energy incentives – there exist an extensive range of green energy incentives that are easily available to your business

Improved company reputation

Some of the most successful businesses in the 21st century are those who’ve successfully brought their consumers closer.

Loyalty, now, is achieved through a meaningful connection, it’s about “paying attention to customers and supporting the kind of causes they are interested in,” notes Shan Schutte, from Real Business.

According to an international survey by Engine Group: “more than 80 per cent of people respect companies and brands that adopt eco-friendly practices.” Forbes add, ‘virtually all consumers are worried about at least one environmental issue with more than half willing to boycott companies with unsustainable practices or products.’

This also lends itself to companies who’re vying to win business in the public sector too.

Social value has become somewhat of a pre-requisite for success when competing for government contracts, so improved company reputation through a green outlook will inevitably stand you in good stead when it comes to tendering.

Attracting the best staff time after time

Did you know that the implementation of an impactful mission statement has been proven to improve recruitment, retention, and the morale of staff?

A study by Inc. found that companies who are considered to be green are likely to house staff that are more satisfied with their jobs.

It isn’t just the outlook of the company either – going green for a business can have physical impacts on staff.

Adding greenery to the office space, improving ventilation, and introducing energy saving LED lightbulbs have been found to have a positive impact on employee’s physical health.

How to begin the journey to green-greatness

Don’t panic if you’re not already doing the above – it won’t cost you millions of pounds and you can do it in increments.

The changes don’t have to be ground-breaking either.

Call upon the help of a waste management business, get smarter with your sourcing and your packaging, and work with your staff to recognise the benefits of zero waste – these won’t break the bank and you will, inevitably, see the positive results.

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the range of opportunities for businesses in the aforementioned public sector, book a free trial today.

Development Partner sought for UKs largest brownfield regeneration project

A development partner is being sought by Homes England and Network Rail for one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK.

York Central is a 45-hectare mixed-use scheme, which will see the creation of 2,500 homes and more than 800,000sq ft of commercial space adjacent to York Railway Station.

Once developed, the site will provide a new commercial and residential quarter in one of the UK’s most historic and desirable cities.

Transformational development

Real estate services specialist JLL will now begin the process of securing a developer to bring forward the transformational 45-hectare mixed-use scheme, which is expected to grow York’s economy by 20%.

The first phase of the project is expected to deliver a maximum of 650,000sq ft of commercial space and 700 residential units on the strategic development site – predominantly owned by Network Rail and Homes England.

JLL’s Development team will guide the public sector partners through the procurement process as they seek to transform the largely brownfield site into vibrant and distinctive residential neighbourhoods, cultural and commercial space.

New homes

Henry Burton, director of development at JLL, said: “York Central is one of a select number of projects across the UK which can be deemed to be truly transformational regeneration at scale. In the coming decade, it will bring sustainable growth to York’s £765m economy as the city continues to welcome more than eight million visitors a year. Critically though, it will also bring much-needed new homes across a diverse mix of tenures, with a clear focus on developing inclusive new neighbourhoods and communities to support the growth of the city and the wider region.”

Peter Freeman, Chair of Homes England, said: “Urban regeneration schemes like York Central have a huge part to play in delivering the government’s Levelling Up agenda by replacing underused brownfield sites with an inviting range of mixed-use buildings and well landscaped public open space. Partnerships between the public and private sector will be crucial to success. We want to hear from developers that share our ambitions to create thriving new quarters and are interested in playing a key role in the delivery of York Central. York Central is at an advanced stage with planning and land assembly in place and the major infrastructure contract placed.  It is a tremendous opportunity to bring forward a long-awaited project to the benefit of York’s community.”

An Outline Application for the mixed-use development was granted in 2019 and subsequently a Reserved Matters Application was approved in 2020 for a significant first phase of infrastructure being delivered by the Landowners.

How Tracker can help

With the largest public sector tenders and awards database in Europe – seeing some 120,000 tenders and awards published monthly from around the world (including >4,000+ low-value tenders not included in the OJEU) – Tracker helps you find relevant opportunities, faster.

Our unrivalled Business & Market Intelligence helps you to engage earlier, sell more effectively and be more competitive.

Start your free trial.

Why a digital presence is essential to winning more business?

A thriving business feeds on generating engagement,” wrote Goran Paun in his 2020 Forbes article, Build a Brand: Why A Digital Presence Matters.

There are few things more important in business that connecting with consumers and remaining relevant. The question is, how do you do that? Well, in the modern world we live in, mostly, it’s through the plethora of digital technologies and platforms on offer – it is on these that your audience spends the majority of their time, with the average Brit currently spending a whopping 386 minutes a day online.

What is your digital presence?

While your digital presence is, of course, referring to your business’ website, it also extends beyond that. We’re talking about the conversation which exists around your brand online, the content that you push out on social channels, what the media is saying about your brand, and reviews customers leave. Your digital presence involves your digital reputation and your digital footprint too.

Fostering a positive digital presence isn’t just a task for B2C businesses; the success of B2B and B2G organisations will also hinge on a well-rounded digital strategy. A report by Salesforce found that 85% of consumers research a product online before purchasing with 74% of research being conducted on a company’s website and 38% on social media.

With the marketplace becoming increasingly saturated and difficult to permeate, we want to use this blog to detail why you need to improve your digital presence (or establish one if you haven’t already) and how to do so.

Showcasing your ability, products and services

For many businesses, what consumers see online is the shop window – is it enticing when someone walks past or is it bare, undescriptive, lacking attention to detail, and a far cry from competing with that of fellow businesses?

By establishing a well-developed, considerate online presence, you can successfully showcase all of your business’ best traits. Use it as an opportunity to point your audiences towards case studies, portfolios, additional research material, and value-added content that will, ultimately, assist your brand in standing out as a thought leader within its industry.

Make it easier for your business to be found

Just like an OS map would lead a customer straight to your front door, an effective digital strategy that focuses on presence will allow for them to find you at the click of a button. Your audience will, in most circumstances, opt for the business that regularly appears right before their eyes. By enhancing your presence online, you can reduce the time it takes people to find you, which, in turn, should increase your chance of success with new (and existing) customers.

An opportunity to market your brand

Consumers want to know more about your business and what makes it tick. While delivering this may seem complex, in fact, it can be achieved fairly simply through consistent messaging that is utilised across your digital space. The beauty about of most of the digital sphere, particularly when ‘getting started’, is that it’s free at least initially. Get your brand name out there, make small waves in the first instance, and then begin to generate more powerful traction through paid activity.

The consistency we mention above extends beyond tone, language, and style to include your actual online activity. Are you posting on social channels on a daily basis and engaging a community? Are you regularly updating your blog space with topical, relevant thought leadership style content?

So, now you know the importance of a digital presence, it’s worth gaining a better understanding of how to achieve one for your business.

Making your website more engaging

Were you aware that 56 per cent of internet users will not trust a business that doesn’t have a website? It really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – considering it is many people’s first port of call. That said, just because you’ve got a website doesn’t mean you’re automatically in control of an optimised digital presence. Your website needs to be user friendly, straightforward in content and messaging without lacking detail, and designed to deliver. Similarly, 54.4 per cent of all internet users are working from a mobile device so it’s important to ensure that your site is mobile friendly, otherwise you could be missing out on half your potential custom.

Develop your social channels

Social channels are the perfect place to establish and nurture a relationship with customers. Conduct research and competitor analysis to better understand the social media platforms likely to generate success for your brand. While you should not use the same content across all platforms, for example Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s important to remain consistent in your messaging, so users can easily recognise you.

Call upon the help of SEO

Without bogging ourselves down in detail, if you want to establish a strong digital presence, you’ll need to get your SEO in order. Ranking for terms relevant to your business’ offering online is essential if you want your business to be found. For example, if you’re working in the public sector and looking to appear for terms like ‘public sector tenders’, then you’ll need to ensure your website and individual pages are optimised towards said term. There are, however, several different facets to SEO, which include technical, onsite, offsite, and content. There a host of guides online that will teach you the basics, including Neil Patel, SEMRush, and HubSpot. Alternatively, you may wish to speak to an SEO specialist for further advice on next steps.

Turning on paid

SEO and paid activity will work in conjunction with one another, but PPC (pay-per-click) and additional paid advertising is essential for businesses that are trying a more aggressive approach to targeting a particular audience. Get an understanding of your search engine optimisation and then consider your next steps in regard to paid.

 

So, there you have it, why your digital presence is crucial, regardless of what your business does and what it’s looking to do.

Helping You Find Your Place in The Public Sector Supply Chain

£290bn opportunities in the public sector

Helping you find your place in the public sector supply chain

The public sector opportunity is vast for suppliers: an annual spend of some £290bn every year with the range of goods, works and services required varying wildly, from pencils to buildings.

This spending must be leveraged to play its part in the UK’s economic recovery. Procurement has a role to play in Government aims such as opening up public contracts to more small businesses and social enterprises, innovating in public service delivery, and meeting the net zero carbon target by 2050.

Active market

Data from our Tracker reports show us that the marketplace is very active with thousands of notices published every week, by a wide variety of public bodies. Health, local government, central government, and education authorities consistently publish high levels of notices, with just under half of these opportunities valued at less than £100,000 and ideally suited to SMEs.

With the publication of the ‘Levelling Up’ whitepaper, government has committed to billions of pounds worth of investment in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centre and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

Meanwhile, commitments to investment in growing the health and education estates, and the drive to improve the green credentials of public sector buildings and hit net zero targets, will ensure a healthy supply of public sector contract opportunities for years to come.

Changes to procurement

Over the past two years, public procurement has had to adapt and change throughout the coronavirus, bringing on board organisations that had never supplied the sector before and using new routes of procurement.

The pandemic has reinforced how important it is for the public sector to work with suppliers that are innovative, reliable, and trustworthy.

In mid-December 2020, as the end of the Transition period for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union drew nearer, the UK Government launched an online consultation on its Public Procurement Green Paper ‘Transforming Public Procurement’, which sought to overhaul the processes that lay at the heart of procurement.

Primarily focusing on contracting authorities in England, the Green Paper puts forward a series of proposals designed to simplify and speed up procurement, whilst also improving opportunities for SMEs and placing value for money at its core.

Government response to the Green Paper will see a new set of rules put in place that aim to simplify the process of bidding for public work and encourage more suppliers and SMEs into the sector.

Early Engagement is key

The public sector is always looking to improve its service delivery and identify new, innovative suppliers to ensure the public is getting the best procurement deal, one of the best tools for buyers to use is early engagement.

To develop innovation and best outcomes from contracts, ‘Early Engagement’ is seen as key; providing transparency of contracting authorities’ procurement pipelines and processes to suppliers and introducing buyer’s needs to get potential suppliers involved sooner.

‘Early Engagement’ benefits both buyers and suppliers; allowing buyers to take advantage of the latest innovations and technologies and having solutions ‘built in’ to their supply chain, while suppliers have better knowledge of requirements, can plan business activities and ultimately write better bids.

According to the Cabinet Office, it helps “promote forthcoming procurement opportunities and provide a forum to discuss delivery challenges and risks associated with the project”. ‘Early Engagement’ is in the UK Government’s best interests and they want to hear from innovative, reliable and trustworthy suppliers.

How Tracker can help

Our Tracker tool has over 20 years of contract notice history and the details of thousands of current and prior framework notices, buyer spend, market leads and sector-specific news, creating actionable insights for you to engage at the earliest opportunity.

If you are seeking to improve your tenders and find these new opportunities, business intelligence is key. Tracker can not only help provide you with tender opportunities and knowledge of future pipelines, but also help you engage with the buyers and position your company as a solution provider.

Mental Health and the Onus on Businesses to Do More: Mental Health Awareness Month

Across the UK, as central and devolved governments make decisions regarding the future of mask wearing, testing and so forth, millions of employees have returned to the office on a full-time basis but a large proportion of workers now find themselves working in a hybrid fashion.

According to a McKinsey survey, roughly one in three workers back in the workplace suggest the return to the office has negatively impacted their mental health. Furthermore, those who experienced a decline in mental health following a return to the office said they were five times more likely to reduce their amount of workplace responsibility, negatively impacting business operations.

Employers, evidently, play a major role in the mental health maintenance of their staff. Dr Eileen Anderson Fye, director of Education, Bioethics, and Medical Humanities at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine noted: “Thankfully we are seeing improvements in many workplaces in supporting people who deal with mental health challenges, but some are refusing to budge, holding onto an outdated, one size fits all model.”

Dr Anderson Fye added: “people with social anxiety tend to thrive in workplaces with flexible options such as remote or hybrid set-ups.”

With April being Mental Health Awareness Month, we take a look at the impact the current working environment is having, and what employers can do to support staff in the workplace of the future.

A hybrid working induced mental health pandemic

A BBC article in early January opened with “a part-remote, part office schedule has been hailed as the future of work. Yet in this hybrid set-up, some employees have never been so tired.”

A Tinypulse survey detailed that 80 per cent of people leaders reported that a hybrid set-up was exhausting for employees. Additionally, workers were reported to be more emotionally taxed when working partly at home, partly in the office than fully remote staff – and, perhaps, even more worryingly than full-time office based-workers.

Elora Voyles, industrial organisational psychologist at Tinypulse, suggested: “Disruption to employees’ daily routine – and the staccato nature of hybrid – is what workers finds so tiring.” In contrast, she went on to add: “a predictable, consistent routine can help with feelings of stress and uncertainty – especially during a pandemic.”

Did you know that 20% of UK workers reported difficulties switching off from work, noting that they always ‘feel on’?

More than 7 in 10 UK employees pushed through a mental health struggle to avoid taking time off in the three months since the turn of the year according to a report by BetterUp Labs.

Despite a lull in work-related stress searches online prior to Christmas, Google searches for terms relating to work-induced anxiety and stress boomed in the New Year period, with an average of 6,810 monthly searches in January and February (Google).

The keyword phrase ‘work-related stress’ alone averages 2,900 monthly searches in the UK, up 21% YoY. While there is no certainty as to what has caused this increase, it could be proposed that the introduction of the new hybrid working approach has played a part.

Your business has a duty to protect its employees’ mental health

The reasons your business should be supporting and safeguarding your employees’ mental health are countless.

Firstly, more employees than ever before are leaving their jobs for mental health reasons. 68 per cent of millennials and 81 per cent of Gen Zs have left roles, both voluntarily and involuntarily, for mental health reasons, in comparison to 50 per cent of overall respondents – a particularly alarming statistic for employers who are failing to support their staff, considering that 75 per cent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025.

Additionally, 91 per cent of people believe that a company’s culture should support mental health – up from 86 per cent in 2019.

As you can expect then, failing to introduce appropriate mental health measures will, inevitably, impact your business’ ability to recruit top tier talent.

Mental health absenteeism also has a major impact on employees and employers alike – more than £14bn is associated with lost productivity due to mental health each year.

How does your business ensure that it is creating an environment that supports mental health?

Firstly, is your business sending a clear message to your staff that mental health matters? Explain to employees that mental health will be treated in a similar fashion to physical health and approached with the utmost respect.

By establishing an open, supportive culture, staff should eventually feel more comfortable and confident discussing their concerns. This needs to be well signposted within the business, however, otherwise your attempts may be in vain.

Mind details things businesses can do in order to support their staff. These include:

  • Flexible hours
  • Alteration to workplace set-up
  • Creation of quiet spaces
  • On call support and regular catch-ups when working from home
  • Supportive return to work policies – including gradual build-up and a phased return

The mental health charity goes on to add that employers can also do the following:

  • Offer reallocation of tasks or amend job descriptions
  • Provide training and support that facilitates secondment
  • Introduce more positive and constructive feedback
  • Create mental health support groups
  • Provide self-help information and material

When tendering to the public sector, social value is becoming a staple of decision making and can massively impact your business’ chances of being successful. Within the social value model, a number of points refer to the improvement and maintenance of mental health, whether that be internally or in the community, highlighting just another reason why, in this Mental Health Awareness Month, the onus is on businesses to ensure they’re doing their best to support their staff.

Interested in finding out more about winning public sector contracts? Book a free trial today.

Why Sometimes You Need to Source Locally

The world of procurement is often tricky. It involves choosing one appropriate candidate, ultimately benefiting them, while rejecting and disadvantaging others.

That said, it isn’t just the businesses that are picked which will profit from winning the contracts, it’s also their supply chain, their local economy, fellow businesses, families, and so on.

The above is particularly true when we take into consideration just how lucrative and valuable some contracts can be. With this in mind, you can see why the role of the buyer in the process of procurement can be so complex.

One aspect of sourcing which received considerable attention during the pandemic was that of locality. The idea of ‘shop local’ was thrust into the limelight as businesses and consumers not only struggled to get deliveries from further afield but also chose to support businesses closer to home in a community spirit approach.

With responsible consumerism taking centre stage in the modern world, shop local is gaining even more traction. However, that is not to suggest that global sourcing doesn’t provide equal opportunity and benefit. In this article, we are going to consider the differences between local and global sourcing before going on to detail some occasions on which local should be the preferred option.

Global sourcing

It should come as little surprise that the process of global sourcing involves the procurement of goods and services from international markets which cross geographical and political borders. While there exist multiple reasons why businesses and organisations opt for global sourcing as opposed to procuring goods and services locally, the most common is lower cost skilled labour and cheap raw materials not being available in their home country.

The vast majority of well-known multinational corporations we interact with on a daily basis utilise the capabilities of international outsourcing, calling upon low-cost, skilled labour.

According to dragonsourcing.com: “the workforce in countries like China, India, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia are aware of the latest trends in production techniques and they also know how to implement these advanced manufacturing techniques in their operations, enabling them to manufacture products that conform to global quality standards.”

As well as bringing benefits to the purchasing organisation in regard to cost and increased production capacity,  global sourcing also offers support to the local economy of the area of production, providing employment opportunities in what are often poor areas.

Local sourcing

Did you know that 72 per cent of industrial and B2B buyers suggest that they “always or generally prefer to source locally” in contrast with the 10.8 per cent who note they “always or generally prefer to source globally”?

Quite the opposite to global sourcing, local sourcing is simply the procurement of goods and services from local suppliers within your home country.

In a similar way to global sourcing, where buyers can create employment opportunities within their international markets, local sourcing creates jobs and wealth within the domestic scene. Likewise, bringing employment to the local area will also exist as a great tool for PR, highlighting a business or organisation’s commitment to their own local community, much like shop local we mentioned above.

Local sourcing, however, can lead to considerably higher prices, thanks to material and labour costs generally being more expensive domestically.

When sourcing locally makes sense

There are a number of situations when sourcing locally is the most effective option – we’ve detailed some of them below…

To gain better control of your products

Closer relationships help ensure better control and enable faster problem solving – when concerns arise, being geographically closer to suppliers allows for face-to-face visits. Similarly, if the buying organisation encounters problems that will have knock-on effects for the supplier, the ability to arrange face-to-face meetings is obviously preferable when seeking a quick resolution.

Costs associated with co-ordination can be significantly reduced by better lines of communication.

When your local economy needs you

Spending on local businesses and industries, as we’ve previously noted, is of incredible value to the local economy.

Not only does this bring increased funding from taxation, but it also brings jobs and prosperity to the local area and region. More people in work leads to more local spending, creating a virtuous circle.

This can be a particularly powerful tool in the armoury especially for public sector organisations in local areas which have been experiencing economic downturn.

When you’re trying to improve your organisation’s carbon footprint

Reduced travel, reduced fuel, and less packaging all lead to reduced impact on the environment. By sourcing locally, organisations can successfully help protect the environment and contribute to the goal of achieving net zero.

All the above became appropriate solutions to sourcing problems during COVID-19 – with the pandemic existing as the perfect example of a time when buyers needed to have better control of their products, when they needed to support local businesses and, thanks to COP26, when they needed to demonstrate a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.

Social value

The factors mentioned above all fall under the concept of social value, which sits at the heart of the UK government’s proposed procurement reforms. Social value, as described by Social Value International is: “about understanding the relative importance of changes that people experience and using the insights we gain from this understanding to make better decisions.”

Similarly, e-procurement platform, Delta eSourcing, notes how social value “is not something which can be added on, rather central to an organisation’s entire way of doing procurement.”

As of January 2021, the UK government’s Social Value Model was mandatory in all central government contracts. But what it is the ‘Social Value Model?’. In effect, it sets out all of the government’s social value priorities for procurement, detailing a list of objectives which central government departments are strongly encouraged include in their procurement process. The objectives centre around five main themes:

  • COVID-19 recovery
  • Tackling economic inequality
  • Tackling climate change
  • Providing equal opportunity
  • Championing wellbeing

Ultimately, the model was designed to make it easier for buyers to assess and evaluate the social value detailed in tender responses and to incorporate it into procurement of all kinds.

While currently this is just a necessity for central government contracting, the model is being increasingly utilised within public sector contracts as a whole in England.

 

We anticipate the coming years will involve increased focus on social value which may, in turn, lead to a growth in local sourcing.

 

PIN published for £6bn ‘Construct’ Framework

A Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published for an upcoming £6bn public sector framework from Southern Construction Framework (SCF).

SCF is a leading construction procurement framework delivered by the public sector for the public sector in the South of England.

Kicking off with a supplier information event on 12th April, the latest PIN advises prospective contractors of upcoming market engagement and the subsequent tender process for the £6bn Framework. The current notice is the successor to the initial Southern Construction Framework and is designed to deliver public sector construction projects in education, health, sport & leisure, fire & police, build to rent and more across South-West England, South-East England and London.

The ‘Construct’ framework and its predecessors have delivered work for over 200 government bodies since 2007.

Previous work carried out under the framework includes:

  • Student Accommodation Scheme Arts University Bournemouth
  • The DIO’s £250m Salisbury Basing Programme
  • Multiple developments at Exeter Science Park
  • Police Investigation Centre (PIC), Basingstoke

SCF is the market leader in Two Stage Open Book tendering. This process supports ‘Early Contractor Involvement’, which brings together contractor, stakeholders and suppliers to deliver best quality and value for the client.

Kingsley Clarke, SCF Operations Lead (South West), said: “We are excited to launch our next generation of SCF Construct to build on our past success. The PIN provides information of how to attend our supplier day where we will outline our plans in more detail.”

Adam Sanford, SCF Operations Lead (South East), added: “This fifth-generation framework helps us to provide the best outcomes for our public sector clients. It demonstrates latest best practice and project governance processes, providing an intelligent, data-driven procurement process. This means predictability and resilience for our clients in an increasingly volatile market.”

SCF Construct can be used by all public and third sector organisations within its region, which broadly covers Greater London, the South-East and South-West of England. It can also be used by other client organisations where public money is being expended.

Tracker can help you to find these opportunities and engage early with prospective clients, making your tenders more successful.

Contact us now for a free trial and see what Tracker can do for your business prospects.

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