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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Food and drink recruitment, resilience and toilet rolls. This really was 2020

I’ve been writing about optimistic developments in the food and drink industry all year; it’s been amazing. From vertical farms to edible cutlery I’ve covered the very best stories. I guess that’s what’s kept me looking forward from March 2020.

We’ve been upended once so what might follow?

Personally, I believe that optimism has helped me cope with all that has been thrown at us this year. That thought prompted me to wonder just how important resilience is, both personally, and within a working scenario. After all, our lives have been totally upended in so many different ways and let’s face it, we are still not sure if there’s more profound upheaval to come as the work revolution accelerates.

Photo Curology

Resilience, what is it really?

Well, in terms of personal resilience I would say that the ability to manage when faced with extraordinary and pretty extreme events that can cause severe stress should not be underestimated. What’s probably even more significant is the ability to cope and also remain more or less unscathed. How do we manage to get through all that we’ve had to face without developing stress related symptoms? Could we recognise them even if we do appear to be coping on the surface?

I think I need to think carefully about that final phrase

I reckon very few of us can say that we haven’t experienced some stress-related symptoms. These can range from the inability to remember anything for more than a nano second or struggling to sleep to even over-eating or feeling like a rabbit in headlights. These are the low-level symptoms we sometimes fail to even recognise. Yes, they are trivial compared to anxiety disorders or other more severe stress symptoms, but what I am saying is that we should learn to recognise how we cope personally and even make tweaks were necessary.

Photo Gift Habeshaw

The constant barrage of bad news can cause acute stress

Working from home can sometimes feel like you are actually living at work with a bed in the corner of the makeshift office. Add a sprinkle of home schooling, self-isolation, lock down and finding space for the container lorry of toilet rolls, and there you have 2020. May I just say the latter was purely for dramatic effect! I still haven’t understood why consumers choose loo rolls and pasta over chocolate and gin! Can anyone shed light on this?

March was the time of initial shock

I suppose, until now I have never really given my capacity for resilience too much thought. However, just recently I have been considering how much personal control I have had over my interactions with other people. This led me to the realisation that some of my decisions have affected my coping mechanisms positively. I have to confess, like most people, at the beginning of lock down I was in shock. It was difficult to see a way ahead. I work in recruitment and immediately thought: ‘who’s going to want staff during a lockdown?’ That was my initial flight or fight thinking. How wrong can you be! Luckily, I made the decision from the very beginning that I was going to continue as normal, keep making the calls and maintain close contact with my network.

Photo Emiliana Hall

That might well be my most important resilience strategy ever

I have made and received hundreds of phone calls. I have been able to offer support, given ideas, listened and helped where I could. Instead of feeling isolated I have been able to communicate with others and feel a sense of solidarity. My aim was never to sell and guess what? Not one person has ever NOT received my calls with interest or complained that I had taken the time to phone them.

I guess I took a forward step to take control over my responses to people

This has helped shape the interactions and relationships I have had through an extremely trying period especially during the first few weeks of lockdown 1. Yes, I did have some self-awareness. This strategy was not a whim but me being determined, having a vision and understanding that I don’t work well without others.

Activity goes hand in hand with resilience

My relationships with all the people I work with, from colleagues and freelancers to more regular members of my extended team have been strengthened. Together we have problem solved and organised ourselves and I really do believe that trust in one another has increased. It would have been so easy to have said, ’Well the business model is dead, and I can do nothing about it.’ That would have been so wrong. I understood that my personal and professional resilience would come from being active, from increasing my marketing and getting out there even in a virtual sense.

Photo Annie Spratt

In 2020 the food and drink industry itself has coped with some profound changes.

These range from logistics to supply chain, from staff shortages to super charged R&D. Of course, Brexit is next, yay! Yet, in conclusion I would just like to say that it’s an amazing industry that is extraordinarily exciting to work within. I am very lucky, and honestly, I could never have predicted writing an article such as this when lockdown began. It goes to show just how powerful resilience can be. How do you cope?

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