London Olympics: What remains is a drive for better business

Our Olympic medallists echoed each other. They spoke of their immense pride at representing their country at the highest level, their gratitude to family and friends who tirelessly supported them. Their speeches have been beautiful and inspiring to behold.

However, it’s their deep hope of supporting and encouraging the aspirations of younger generations and their gratitude for the home crowd upon whose cheers they often sweep to victory, which shows how much British business can learn from Team GB.

Younger generations are the bedrock upon which the future of our country lies. Only with an inspired youth who feel that if they work hard enough they can do anything, and achieve anything, can we truly look forward to a brighter tomorrow. The athletes say it all when they express how kids must believe they too can beat the world’s best.

This should be the attitude of business and government. We need to provide young people with the confidence, knowledge and skills to manage their tomorrow and to thrive within it. Our education system must be a world class facility, and if cuts must be made, and we all know they must, then education should be one of the last sectors to feel the knife.

Educators are the guardians of our national future and we must encourage the best and the brightest to enter the sector. We must pay them as we do corporate executives, we must hold them to standards and evaluations just the same. We must increase the breadth and depth of co-curricular activities, financial education key amongst them, as we know what many of them don’t yet fully realise: their road to financial security is precarious and unmapped.

It’s poignant that a year after the London riots ripped the heart out of the capital, we are feeling this giddy national pride created by members of that same generation. It shows that generations, all generations, have the potential of producing the best and the worst. We must create the culture and provide the environment to make the choice an easy one.

But how do we possibly draw a parallel between the banner waving and cheering in the stands and the business environment? Under most conditions, we can’t. And that’s precisely what must change. 

If a supportive and fully engaged crowd produces the environment for an athlete to achieve greatness, then surely a supportive and engaging workplace will create an environment which will inspire staff greatness? 

Engagement is the holy grail of enterprise. An engaged workforce is more dedicated and productive, and engaged workers have increased morale which leads to greater creativity and inspiration. Once again financial education can be part of the solution. 

As we have had a national drive to top the Olympic table, so we should find that extra push to top all tables – literacy, numeracy, employment and growth – because in the game of life how you play is important, but so is winning.

Vivi Friedgut is director of Blackbullion: Financial Education

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