The announcement earlier this week that the National Association of Jewellers had furloughed its chief executive officer with immediate effect was met with mixed reviews, with some members expressing concern over the CEO not being at the helm during a world-wide crisis.
However, the Association’s president and chairman have confirmed in an interview to Professional Jeweller that NAJ members have no need to be concerned by this move, and here’s why.
Firstly, this is only a temporary measure and will be reviewed, like all furloughed workers, every three weeks.
Secondly, as many business owners will appreciate in current times, the decision was made with the aim of ensuring that all of the NAJ’s financial resources are targeted in the right direction now to support its members in the best possible way.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the middle management team are still in place and working very hard to deliver the services the industry requires at this time. Chairman, Harriet Kelsall and president, David Doyle, are in regular contact with the middle management team – routinely several times each day.
Kelsall explains: “Like every other business, we’re having to take steps to make sure we survive and thrive. Our members are currently relying upon our services more than ever, but we can’t currently rely on certain income streams at the moment that we would normally have. So we’ve got to be very prudent and channel every available resource and every pound that we have in the right direction for the benefit of our members.”
“Working closely with the British Allied Trades Federation, within whose membership the NAJ sits, we firstly furloughed a few of the more junior staff and then the decision was subsequently made to furlough others too as it has become clearer that lockdown will be carrying on for longer than perhaps we all originally envisaged. This makes best sense currently in our informed opinion because it is actually the middle management team who are needed in the current pandemic crisis to deliver the day to day member needs right now. Much of our CEO’s usual roles such as organizing and running events and visiting members and attending industry trade shows and functions etc etc are not currently applicable as they are all postponed or cancelled. Hence significant aspects of the role of the CEO have disappeared for the moment because of this worldwide pandemic.
“It is actually the middle management team who are needed in the current pandemic crisis to deliver the day to day member needs right now.”
“Economically we have had to review what we have to deliver to our members and how best to deliver it,” adds NAJ president, David Doyle. “We have an obligation in these times of hardship for many to look at the most cost effective way to do it. On review it made economic sense for us to furlough the CEO, who is on the highest wage, rather than several of the middle management team who everyday are actually delivering the nuts and bolts tools and services our members need right now. The situation will probably be very different in three weeks time and that is when this decision will be re-visited and reviewed.”
He continues: “Temporarily then a layer of management has been removed to allay some financial pressure and so allow financial resource to be channeled in the right directions. We are no different to any other business in this regard.”
Those extra services the NAJ are providing include weekly webinars and educational offerings, both of which have been extremely well received by the trade. Behind-the-scenes help to encourage the industry manufacturers and key service providers to serve the trade so that the industry can remain open is also ongoing, whilst putting the safety of staff first.
There is a massive amount of other work also going on every hour of every day, including work being done by a large team of volunteers – many of which have stepped up and increased the amount of time spent working with the NAJ, in order to help the UK jewellery trade weather this storm and prepare for a bright future after lockdown.
The NAJ understands that this is difficult time for its members and continues to do its best to meet the trade’s varied needs.
“At heart, we are here for our members, and that hasn’t changed,” Kelsall affirms.