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The Preferred Partners reconvened recently to discuss recruitment and development of staff across industry, and were joined by Andy Preston, the then-elected Mayor of Middlesbrough.

With so much change in the landscape in almost every industry in recent years, it’s not hard to understand why so many organisations face the same issue: recruiting and retaining key people.

Andy Preston presented his perspective on the changing face of People in businesses, and what we can do to find and keep great people – but as many have experienced, this is easier said than done. With great passion Andy implored companies to “please be ambitious” with aspirations for their own organisations, allowing them to thrive amidst the opportunities across our region and beyond. Creating ambitious businesses can attract strong candidates, and often retain those with ambitions of their own. Advocating for making workplaces more inclusive, relaxed and open the doors to encourage personalities to shine through, his advice is to flex to the culture needs of the people within our businesses.

Andy said, “Teesside’s been turned on its head. There is a boom, but there are still challenges.” He discussed his varied experiences and insight from his role as Mayor stating, “I can see what matters, and what matters is being fulfilled.” Identifying and successfully recruiting great people to our businesses is only half the battle – keeping them is the other. And as Mr Preston continued “Use your workplace to attract and retain staff. Fewer people leave.” Some suggestions here included relaxing a dress code and making physical workspaces more attractive.

As conversation shifted to the impact of new companies coming into the region and offering significantly higher salaries to acquire key people, the Partners agreed there is little or no opportunity to compete financially, but agreed on the need to draw those who had migrated from the region, nationally; as well as maintaining a strong local team too. Whilst the discussion tilted to improving the cultural infrastructure of the region to draw back those who have left for Manchester, London etc; the importance of securing existing key people with defined and engaged, bespoke management is also key.

There are significant challenges facing all organisations, and finding, recruiting and retaining key staff is at the forefront. And whilst every business is different, what all the Partners agreed upon was that the issues faced, are shared. As a group we are in a unique position – we are able to share openly about the challenges we face, we are able to safeguard each other in the knowledge that many of us have the same struggles in relation to our People. But also, we are able to help find solutions too.

Preferred Partners is a great opportunity for us to see trends, tackle them as a collective and move forward with strength. However, the subject of sourcing and securing key people in our businesses can be summed up by Andy’s phrase: “be ambitious”.

April’s event was kindly sponsored by FW Capital.

FW Capital is a fund manager based in the North of England.

“We make commercial investments into local businesses with strong growth potential. In the North East we manage a number of funds including NPIF FW Capital – Debt Finance. This fund provides growth capital investments from £100k to £750k to expanding businesses across Tees Valley giving them access to the capital they need to realise their expansion plans through investing in new equipment, premises, staff, systems, product lines and a wide variety of other uses.”