This weekend, millions will take part in the annual celebration of love and commitment that is Valentine’s Day. Vows and promises will be made; hopes and dreams will be shared. There will be fine dining, expensive presents and special moments. Meanwhile, some of us will cower alone in our bedsits, recoiling from the grotesque displays of happiness on our news feeds. Displays of love, however, are not the sole preserve of romantically involved couples. It is often said that love is based on respect; showing respect can be something as simple as making time for a friend, complimenting a colleague on a job well done, or being kind to a stranger. Maintaining high standards of behaviour in our professional and social lives – showing a little love, if you will – is the cornerstone of a civilised society.
This is not merely an issue of social cohesion: there is a solid business case for companies to actively promote a culture of respect in their internal and external relationships. In recent years, the concept of corporate social responsibility has become increasingly prominent in many organisations, with substantial emphasis placed on health and safety, security, sustainability and equality in the formulation and implementation of procedures and processes. Awards and accreditations in these fields – along with the provision of various employee-focused schemes – have become the norm in the business world. Accordingly, developing your organisation in these areas is not merely about prestige: it is about maintaining a competitive edge. Public sector organisations have led the way in this respect; at Tenders Direct we see frequent procurements for services such as quality assurance and accreditation, employee assistance and counselling, employee engagement and corporate values, benefit schemes and teambuilding events. More than ever, public and private sector organisations are recognising the material and cultural advantages of an enlightened approach to organisational management and development.
Ensuring adequate pay and conditions remains a significant challenge for some companies, with the success of the voluntary Living Wage accreditation catalysing political debate in recent times. Many public sector buyers in the UK have been voluntarily strengthening local standards for private contractors for some time now. Indeed, there are indications that employee rights and remuneration will be the focus of further regulatory reform in coming years: the UK Government will increase the national minimum wage as of April 2016 (though it will still fall below the Living Wage), while the Scottish Government issued guidance late last year on its Living Wage requirement in public contracts. Both moves have served to highlight the remunerative inequalities that persist in certain sectors and strengthen the case for more stringent public procurement practices.
In a commercial enterprise, the need for direct and efficient communication sometimes needs to take precedence over the finer points of social interaction. Equally, many small to medium sized companies simply don’t have sufficient resources to invest in non-critical services for their staff. That said, it is in the interests of every private company and public body to maintain the highest possible standards in their organisational culture and processes. A workforce that feels respected – loved – will always be more productive than one that feels undervalued. The kind of organisation you choose to be can make all the difference to your competitiveness in any given market place, not least the public sector.
So, if you want a buyer to say love me tender instead of return to sender, remember that love is an open door.