Initiative aims at ideas sharing and innovation

With UK unemployment figures breaking through the two million mark for the first time since September 1997, a campaign with the simple goal to keep Britain working is launched.

Keep Britain Working is a new campaign that focuses on helping keep as many people as possible in work.

“Job Number 1 is to Keep Britain Working,” commented James Reed, chairman of recruitment specialist Reed and founder of Keep Britain Working. “The goals are simple: to help preserve as many jobs as possible and to help create new ones. We will do this by encouraging companies to pool and share their best ideas on how to keep people working.”

With the spectre of more than three million people unemployed by the end of 2009, many companies are already coming up with practical ways to keep people working. provides a forum for harnessing ideas, sharing practical and positive solutions to help keep people in work.

The Keep Britain Working campaign is supported by all three main political parties. "The Keep Britain Working initiative is an important effort to prevent people becoming unemployed," said James Purnell, secretary of state for work and pensions.

Prior to the campaign’s launch, Reed's consultants spoke to over 1200 employers, inviting them to share their actions and suggestions to help keep Britain working. As a result, 400 ideas have already been posted onto the website and these are being supplemented by more suggestions, including those from the two million jobseekers registered on who are also being polled.

Among the practical suggestions already posted onto the site are:

  • subcontracting employees to a supplier or customer - PLF International, a medium- sized manufacturing firm, is subcontracting two engineers from a key supplier that is not currently utilising those staff. This helps PLF manage its own workload, while supporting an important supplier.
  • operational efficiencies, flexible working and job sharing - South London Business has improved its mobile IT solutions, allowing more flexible working and job sharing. This means their staff can spend more time helping their clients to safeguard and create local jobs.
  • reduced working hours - Berco, a manufacturing firm in the North East, has reduced working hours but kept production and warehouse staff on the same salary. It has enrolled employees on NVQ courses and made a skills pledge to have all employees reach NVQ level 2 at least. In association with a local volunteer group, Berco is sending employees to work on local community projects free of charge.

We can also learn from innovative business responses to past recessions:

  • offering additional leave in exchange for pay reductions - in 2001 Hewlett-Packard offered eight days leave in return for a 10% pay cut for four months - 96% of staff accepted.
  • training non-sales people to become sales 'assistants' - in 1981 welding firm Lincoln Electric instituted a 'Leopard Program', where 68 volunteer factory workers and administrative staff were trained as assistant sales people and generated over £7m in sales.

“Employers are already coming up with innovative ways to keep people working. More companies need to share their good ideas so that as many people as possible are aware of what can be done. is a place where people can submit and share practical or inspiring ideas to Keep Britain Working,” added James Reed.