Monthly archives: April 2014

That’s Why I Do It!

Ed's Up LogoThe last few weeks sum up exactly why I set up Enact Solutions. Great people. Great clients. Great work that leaves me buzzing!

Here’s just a couple of examples.

‘Life changing’ is easily said, but I reckon our Ed’s Up show is just that. It’s small scale, very intimate, working close up with young people who have lost their way within formal learning. It connects. It really does. The youth workers at one of our recent workshops for Suffolk County Council told us about one young man. They hadn’t managed to get him to stay in the room for more than 10 minutes, not for anything. Ed’s Up, the actors, the plain speaking, the interaction, they all held him for 2 hours! Awesome. Will it change lives? Well, there are many factors at work, but we are very, very sure that this workshop reaches disaffected young people in ways that other approaches don’t. It gets its positive and hopeful messages across, along with very practical help and support. If that makes a difference to just one or two young lives, well that’s more than enough!

Seemingly in another world entirely (a galaxy far, far away), we’ve been working with a leading light in the F1 motor sport industry (one that prefers to remain nameless) on their new recruitment process. They want to do everything they can to ensure that when they expend time and money on finding new employees they get the right person, first time. In a couple of one-day workshops, we helped them introduce their new standardised approach to all of their managers, including getting very busy developing their Interviewing Skills with our professional actors in a range of realistic scenarios. It went very, very well. The client was delighted. We were chuffed!

That’s just two of the things we’ve been up to at Enact. Maybe they seem like chalk and cheese. Certainly it’s hard to see any obvious similarity between training managers in a corporate setting and our work with disillusioned young people in Suffolk. But there is one, as this Interviewing Skills delegate ably illustrates:

“I did my first training course in 1991 and have done hundreds in the interim… I can honestly say this is the best format of training I have ever attended. Most trainers have to drag information from a reluctant audience. By using actors and asking for observations, Enact ran a very interactive and valuable session.”

See what I mean? Using a drama-based approach gets through to people. It’s out of the ordinary and it works because it engages people like nothing else. Disaffected young people, busy employees, most everybody, it doesn’t matter. It gets people thinking, and feeling, and that makes it that bit more likely that it’s going to make a positive difference.

And that’s why I do it. I want Enact to make a real difference!!

Mouths to Feed

Baby TwinsHaving just come back to work after maternity, I’ve found myself assessing the benefits of working… at all!

Dramatic, I know! It may seem like a straightforward decision; to work or not to work. But the associated issues around returning to work are a challenge for me, and for my employer.

From my point of view, my considerations include things like…

‘I like my job. It makes me feel valued and challenges me.’

‘It’s good for me to have a break from the twins, and vice versa!’

‘We need the money with childcare costs and extra mouths to feed.’ (Very topical at the moment, I know!)

On the other hand…

‘Is it a bad thing to be a full-time mum?’

‘Will the pressures on my family be less if I am at home with the boys?’

‘I’ll save lots of money by not sending them to nursery.’

Questions, questions!

However, what about the other side of the situation? The employer.  (Oh yeah! That’s a point isn’t it!)

‘How does the employer feel about my coming back?’

‘How will my colleagues react to my return, especially as I have gone from working full-time to part-time?’

Luckily for me, Enact is a great company, that’s supportive, and my colleagues are fantastic, too. But for many parents being a member of the part-time labour force can mean missing out on promotions. Part-time workers in general account for a minority of top level jobs; around 6.6 per cent of chief executives and senior officials. Other career opportunities, training activities and even invites to the Friday-night-social can also have a tendency to pass part-time workers by.

There are 6.7m part-time workers in the UK. So how can employers ensure that these workers are treated with equality and made to feel included? How do companies ensure unconscious bias does not get in the way when making decisions about them? With the majority of part time workers still being women, there is also the consideration of gender discrimination. Also, it’s not an easy thing ensuring staff are supported fully when returning to work and that achieving ‘work-life balance’ is a practice in the organisation rather than just a catchphrase.

With flexible working and part-time hours becoming an increasingly popular choice for employers managing tight budgets, as well as for employees looking for work to fit around home life, I guess these are issues and challenges that face lots of people and organisations.