So I’ve been thinking…

Is it me or is the press this week all about the “Getting back to work”, Rules… guidelines… “what must be done” and how businesses “need to comply”. Just for one moment…. I’d like to look at this from a different perspective from the side of the business owner.

Following the latest announcements, a majority of my time this week has been spent talking to clients, helping them to understand and untangle what these regulations actually mean, agree what needs to be done and what the communication needs to be with employees. For those who are interested, here is what I’ve learnt…..

There’s waaay too much information

Who has the time right now, in all the continuing chaos and confusion, to read 13 separate pieces of info, (in 4 days) with each document being anything between 15- 50 pages in length?

It’s over complicated

HSE now’s your time to shine, small business needs you right now, step in and sort this out, simplify the forms, it’s time to get out of the habit of having 10 sheets for something, when really, 1 will suffice.

Its onerous

Most business owners already have sensible and practical steps in place, are we not at a time and place right now where we know how to wash our hands and, are we also not all old enough to take responsibility for looking after our own and our colleague’s personal health, do we really need to do a risk assessment…. and then tell them we’ve done it …… and then give them a piece of paper to show them we’ve done it? What happened to trust and confidence in one another?


None of this is helped by the press (and certain other institutions). Don’t get me wrong, I of all people agree that workspaces should be safe and people /employees deserve to be safe and well whilst at work, I also understand the need to feel safe amid so much uncertainty BUT let’s just take a minute to flip this over……..

Why are we putting extra pressure on small business at a time when we need them to be at their strongest? Many of these guys have been running businesses (very successfully I might add) for years and have been trying to keep going throughout the last few months, they are tired from just running their business’s right now and the last thing they need is more things to do and more paperwork to complete.

As a business owner myself, I’ve had the privilege of seeing some amazing demonstrations of pure grit, sheer determination and adaptability over the last 8 weeks and believe me, they want to do right for their business, their employees and the future for all involved. No one is out to get their employees, no one wants them to work in a place that’s unsafe, that, quite frankly, is a ludicrous idea.

So, whilst everyone is currently focused on the employee side of all of this, let’s just for one moment turn that over to the business owner. They too are feeling fear, a real and genuine fear of not getting through this. Uncertainty about what will happen in 6 months’ time, what will this be like next year, is this the new normal? And Yes, for most, there needs to be time for them to review their wellbeing.

Pre Covid, I was at an event where the wonderful Margaret Heffernan was key speaker, she started her session with a statement that resonates with me, and I’m sure other business owners right now, she said…

Leadership – “it’s like your head is on fire.. and you’re trying to put it out with a hammer”. Good Lord, how true.

So, here’s a few polite requests over the next few weeks.

For those employees returning over the next few weeks, remember no one’s out to get you, no ones out to force you to work in some “dark satanic mills of the past”, we’re here to provide jobs, security, and a future. In a world where you can be anything right now, be kind.

To the press and media, I urge you to temper your need for the ‘stories that sell’ to perhaps focus on interviews and reports around how we can help businesses transition back, not ones of unions and large organisation and aviation leaders needing bail outs.

And finally…..
To all those that are returning to their businesses, to all those that have worked tirelessly throughout the whole event – I salute and applaud you, you are doing an amazing job in an incredibly uncertain time.

Stay well All x


  • With over 20 years' experience in structuring and growing businesses and teams from inception, through periods of growth and change and finally structuring them ready for sale, Karen and her team have helped dozens of business owners and leaders manage growth and change within their business by concentrating on the human side of running and managing a business. An experienced Organisational Coach and HR Consultant, Karen has extensive experience in working with growth SMEs and a proven background in delivery and development of employees against business goals, her specialism is in working with small and medium size companies, delivering operational, people-based solutions that are commercially focused and enable growth of the business. Karen also works as a Non-Executive Director and Trustee and is a trained Predictive Index (PI) Analyst.

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