Communication key for Smiley Stars Nursery chief as figures show unemployment is on the rise

Published by Scott Challinor on October 13th 2020, 3:02pm

In an appearance on the Leaders Council podcast, the managing director of Glasgow’s Smiley Stars Nursery, Tamara Marashi, has emphasised the importance of clear and effective communication from top to bottom within businesses, organisations, communities and governments. Meanwhile, we cover some of the expert reaction as the Office for National Statistics indicated that unemployment has reached its highest level for more than three years.

Leadership in Focus

Tamara Marashi is an example of a leader who has been exposed to different forms of leadership across different industries. She began her career as a civil engineer before discovering her calling in the field of childcare, having initially gone on a childcare course to help her become a better mother for her own children.

After purchasing a for sale nursery and launching her own childcare provider, Smiley Stars in the Ibrox area of Glasgow, Marashi’s leadership saw the nursery earn a “Very Good” rating from the Care Inspectorate in 2018.

Sitting down with Leaders Council interviewer Matthew O’Neill, Marashi recalled: “I was a civil engineer in training before moving into childcare. I trained in childcare to become a better parent, understand children’s behaviour and how to do better for my children. The experience opened my eyes, I realised childcare was not just about babysitting and that childcare staff have a key role in developing children in their early years as they grow up into adults. Reading more into it, I wanted to become more involved in enriching the life of a child.

“The opportunity came when a nursery in Glasgow was for sale, so I took it on and bought it, turned it into Smiley Stars. We have since added another nursery and and we are doing well with our two premises. I would describe it as the best move that I have made in my life.”

When asked whether she had transferred any leadership skills or strategies from her former career into her current one, Marashi said: “The most important thing I can take from my civil engineer career into my current one is to listen: you must listen to your peers and the children, act on their concerns and change the environment to suit them and your staff. It is literally all about communication, it is a transferrable skill.”

Elaborating on her views about the qualities that effective leaders must have, Marashi explained: “A leader must be someone who can listen, understand the needs of their staff, bring people together from different backgrounds and encourage cohesion between them, get the maximum out of them, and make them want to come into work and achieve the ethos of the company.”

When asked how she set about keeping various members of staff focused and aligned with a particular ethos herself, Marashi reiterated that clear and regular communication was the key element, and should be considered a cornerstone of leadership in any context, be that within a business, organisation, community or public domain.

She said: “Keeping members of any workforce aligned with a particular ethos is done through regular meetings and strong communication in any walk of life. In my case, I make sure I am in my nursery often. I work with my staff and I listen to them. As the Covid-19 pandemic hit, this became even more important. I and my operation manager went onto the nursery floor to work in their ourselves, to immerse ourselves in the everyday goings on, and through that full experience we understood where the staff were coming from with some of their concerns and what changes we had to make for their wellbeing, so we listened to them and implemented the changes.

“Whatever it is that you are the leader of, your staff have to have a say in the ethos and you have to make sure you act on their concerns and ideas, and we have done that here.”

Leadership Today

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to hit the economy, it has emerged that the UK unemployment rate reached its highest level in over three years.

In the three months to August, unemployment rose to 4.5 per cent, up from 4.1 per cent seen in the previous quarter.

The Office for National Statistics [ONS] has also indicated that redundancies have reached the highest levels seen since 2009, when the job market was in the grip of the global financial crisis.

Between June and August, an estimated 1.5 million people were unemployed with total redundancies at around 227,000.

The ONS’ deputy national statistician for economic statistics, Jonathan Athow, said: "Overall employment is down about half a million since the pandemic began and there are particular groups who seem to be most affected, young people in particular. About 300,000 [of people affected] are aged 16-24, so about 60 per cent of the fall in employment... that's really disproportionate."

Athow added that the redundancies were largely concentrated around the hospitality, travel and recruitment industries, which found themselves hardest hit by the pandemic.

Elsewhere, the number of people claiming work-related benefits soared to 2.7 million in September, meaning it has gone up by 1.5 million since March.

Unemployment is expected to rise even further as the government’s furlough scheme is replaced by a new support package in November, and the new three-tiered local restrictions framework looks likely to force business to close, which could fuel further redundancies.

The BBC has reported that a Citibank projection forecasts that unemployment could rise to 8.5 per cent in the first half of next year.

The government’s new Job Support Scheme which will replace furlough will pay two thirds of employees’ wages for businesses which qualify, and the Trades Union Congress [TUC] has said that more support is needed.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that wage replacement “should be 80 per cent for businesses who have to shut” by law under the new restrictions system.

She added: "We need a more generous short-time working scheme for firms which aren't required to close but will be hit by stricter local restrictions. And self-employed people in local lockdown areas need help too."

Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has called for “fair funding” to local areas affected by harder restrictions, while chancellor Rishi Sunak reiterated his warning that he would not be able to save every job.

Sunak said: “These aren't just statistics; they are people's lives. That is why trying to protect as many jobs as possible and helping those who lose their job back into employment, is my absolute priority."

Some of the measures the chancellor has already put in place include new opportunities through traineeships and apprenticeships under the government’s Plan for Jobs, as well as the Kickstart scheme backed by £2 billion of investment.

Leadership in History

On October 13 in the year 54, Roman emperor Claudius died after being poisoned under mysterious circumstances. It is suspected that Agrippina was in some way involved in the assassination, with her son Nero then succeeding the deceased emperor.

In 1885, The Georgia Institute of Technology was founded in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the world of sport, October 13, 1903 saw the first modern World Series won by The Boston Americans [who later became The Boston Red Sox], after they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth game.

In 1923, the seat of power in Turkey was changed with Ankara named the country’s new capital.

On October 13, 1925, the future first female prime minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, was born.

In 1946 in France, a constitutional referendum was held which saw the country adopt the constitution of the Fourth Republic.*

On October 13, 2019, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei set a new world record for a woman runner, setting a time of two hours, 14 minutes, and four seconds at the Chicago Marathon.

*Source: Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p674 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7

Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash


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