Is it always wrong to pay less than the Living Wage?

Last night I was reminded of the controversy over the Church of England and the Living Wage.

I went to the AGM of my local Church.  One of the matters reported was the remuneration of people working in a community centre run by the Church.  I learnt :

  • It employs a few full-time staff and a lot of volunteers.
  • Between these two groups there are some who work there part-time on the minimum wage.  Some of these also work as volunteers on other days.
  • I believe this is a situation you could find in many charities and similar bodies.
  • If everyone there was paid a Living Wage, it would be uneconomic to provide the community with most of the services it does.
  • The people on the Minimum Wage would like to volunteer but need some remuneration to supplement their pensions, or in some cases income from other employment.  They do not look at this activity as something they do to earn a living but as their way of giving something to the community.  They do not feel exploited.

If it is wrong to employ such people on less than the living wage, it follows that it must be wrong to use them as volunteers.  Should volunteering be banned?

This seems to me to be totally different from employers carrying out purely commercial activities and paying their workers less than a Living Wage.

Those who shouted “hypocrite” at the Archbishop of Canterbury when he condemned unscrupulous employers were shooting at the wrong target.


Do risk management consultants get paid for stating the obvious?

I have heard it said in various ways that risk management is only common sense dressed up, and that all we consultants do is state the obvious and get paid for it.

Some of us wish we got paid, more, more often, on time, or at all.

However, as to the real question, there are two answers.

Firstly not all solutions are obvious.  Some are the very opposite.  Counterintuitive even!

I have written about the classic example of this concerning convoys in the First World War.  Read about it in my book

“Be Victorious! Lessons from World War I for Business and Everyday Life”.

            Go to:       


The other answer to this question is that often the obvious needs pointing out.  When we are closely involved in a situation we can be too close to it to see something that someone from the outside can see more clearly.

So do not dismiss consultants too quickly.  Sometimes we really are useful.

In how many of these seven ways could your sales force put your business at risk?

You might think that most of the risks in your business come from the production side.  Surely, the only thing that could go wrong on the sales side is that they fail to meet their targets?  Here are some of the other ways your sales force could land you in serious trouble.

  • Damage to your reputation.  This could be caused by overenthusiasm or by a lack of respect for the potential customer.
  • Compliance issues.  Misselling is the obvious one, but data protection is another.  In some industries there are still more.
  • Overpromising.  Usually about availability or delivery.  Possibly about quality or performance.
  • Giving away money!  Allowing too many discounts or making special offers without proper approval.
  • Lone working.  Salespeople often work from home or are out on the road a lot.  This makes supervision difficult and may leave them vulnerable to all kinds of risks which would not apply to workers in an office or a factory.
  • Stress.  Pressure to achieve targets, especially when coupled with working alone, can lead to stress-related health problems.
  • The “grey fleet” risk.  If salespeople are on the road a lot, even using their own vehicles, there are elements of the motor risk that can fall on the employer.  These include vicarious liability for third party accidents and the risk of their having inadequate or inappropriate motor insurance themselves.

I will be writing about ways of controlling these risks in future.

Meanwhile, perhaps you need to review how you manage them in your business.

Feel free to give me a call or send me an e-mail.

01925 445215




What do you do with your old computers?

A lot of people do not think about this until they have to.  When they do, they are more concerned about buying their new computer than about disposing of the old one.  Some are kept lying around somewhere in the house or office for ages.  Some are thrown in a skip or wheelie-bin.  Some are taken to the tip.

Many of them probably do not need to be taken out of use.  They can be cleaned up and given a new lease of life at a reasonable cost.  The thing that slows them down and makes them seem “past it” is the amount of unwanted and unused software and out-of-date data we all allow to build up on our computers.  A good purge can work wonders!

The thing to be concerned about is the security of your data.  Hackers can usually recover data from discarded computers.  Even ones you thought were not working.

One option is to physically destroy the machine, for instance by smashing it up with a hammer.

Another way is to find a trustworthy expert to wipe the data and recycle the machine.  I know one or two who are properly approved and licenced.  They sell the newly secure and reconstituted computers.  I was surprised to learn there is a market for them.  That way your data is safe and you are contributing to the environment by recycling.  Not bad!

What can we learn about Risk Management from Richard III?

  • Richard is usually remembered as the king who murdered the two young princes in the Tower.
  • The evidence for this is far from conclusive.
  • His reputation was damaged by Thomas Moore, politician and writer, in the days of Henry VIII.
  • It was destroyed in the play Richard III by William Shakespeare written in the reign of Elizabeth I.
  • Henry Tudor defeated Richard in battle and so became Henry VII, father of Henry VIII and grandfather of Elizabeth.
  • You might think Moore and Shakespeare were biased, in favour of not being charged with treason.
  • Richard’s reputation is only now being reassessed.

So what?

  • What could damage your reputation?
  • Would it matter?
  • How could you recover it?
  • How do you manage that risk?

I will be blogging soon on managing the reputational risk.

What are the lessons we can learn from the Titanic?

I was reminded recently of the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and I thought about the lessons people learnt and the ones they did not.

As a result of that catastrophe there were a lot of improvements to maritime safety.  Some immediate, others in due course.

So have all the lessons been learnt by now?

Possibly.  Except one.

We still wait for a disaster to happen before we do anything to stop it happening again, even when it was foreseeable – and foreseen!

Remember the Herald of Free Enterprise?

The King’s Cross fire?

The Iraq War?

And how long did it take to make seat-belts compulsory in cars?

Or run-under bars at the back of lorries?

NOW is the time to take whatever steps are needed to prevent something you can foresee going wrong in your business.  Or elsewhere.

Please feel free to mention this to the next politician who comes looking for your vote.

P.S. Since I drafted this post there has been another disaster in the Mediterranean.  An accident waiting to happen according to many.  What more need I say?


Eleven steps to reducing the stress in your business.

As uncertainty is a major stress-inducer, getting your risks under control is a great way to reducing your stress.  Here are the eleven basic steps to managing risks effectively.

  1. Identify the risks in your business you are most anxious about.
  2. Identify the risks in your business you are not so anxious about.
  3. List them and place each one on a scale of say 1 to 5 or whatever scale you prefer according to how likely you think it is that it will happen.
  4. Place them all on a scale of 1 to 5 according to how serious it would be if it did happen.
  5. Multiply the two values for each risk together to give it an overall value.
  6. List the measures in place to control each risk.  Starting with the highest-valued ones.
  7. List additional measures you might introduce to control them better.
  8. For the lower-valued ones, ask yourself whether the control measures are justified.
  9. Set out measures to take in the event of each risk materialising: i.e. Draw up a plan B.
  10. Make a decision for each risk and implement it.
  11. Record your decisions and how they were arrived at.

You will be surprised how much your stress reduces just from doing this exercise.

I cannot guarantee that this will reduce your stress level to zero, so do not think you need necessarily give up meditation, prayer, hypnosis, exercise, massage, or any other things you do to help you cope with the stress in your life.  It is probably best to attack it from several angles at once.

Remember: when things go wrong and your stress level goes up you are not in the best state of mind for making decisions, so if you can make as many as possible when you are relatively calm you are likely to do better.

You might also like to look at another article I have written on a related subject: