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What does building back better really look like for Greater Manchester? 

 Where are we really going with the roadmap to reopening? More than just a step by step easing of restrictions, our local government is leading the discussion about what the new normal might look like, exploring the standards we should be setting for the future of employment, and how we can make our city region fairer and more accessible for all its residents. The Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter and Greater Manchester Combined Authority have mapped out a sort of ‘10 commandments’ (well, 7 to be correct) to encourage the community to start talking about in the hope of making turning these goals into a reality in the near future. 

The Charter highlights recruitment, secure and flexible work, real living wages, employee voice and people management, health and wellbeing as the main pillars for employers across Greater Manchester to commit to improving to ensure that we truly can live out the hashtag of our dreams to #BuildBackBetter. 


A deeper look at the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter 

Having released the first episode of the Good Employment Chatter podcast, the series begins with an overview of the Charter from Mayor Andy Burnham and an imagining of the effects that the Charter might have on the lives of Mancunians 

The Charter is about setting standards and raising expectations, highlighting some of the difficulties that less privileged employees might experience in their career and what combatting those issues might look like in a workplace settingFor example, most employers seek candidates with existing skills and experience during recruitment phasesbut in order to get that experience, many young people trying to break into their industry of choice are expected to work for free via internships and the like, which in turn is something that only the privileged can afford to do, and begs the question – if we work to earn, then why do so many of us settle to work for free?  

It’s conundrums like this that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority seeks to challenge via the Charter, to open the discussion about the aspects of employment that make work inequitable, unsustainable, or unsatisfactory, and to find solutions to work towards as a community.  

It is important for employers to also consider the next generation and how best to connect with them in a workplace setting. Young people are particularly conscious of selecting workplaces that treat people fairly and equally, so in order to attract top talent from the next generation, businesses must develop a positive people environment. 

In the first episode of the Charter podcastAndy Burnham says, the nature of people’s work affects their health”, which is a particularly poignant realisation made clearer by the pandemic. While some people are able to work from home and whose jobs have been relatively unaffected by the struggle, others are out of work suffering from rising levels of mental health concernsor at work and in greater risk of exposure to the virus.  

The Charter seeks to change the discussion around what is fair, right and expected from work, and emphasises the point that employees who feel safe, valued and happy are more likely to want to give back to the employer, promoting higher levels of productivity, morale and business operations in general.  

The plans for the future of our city go beyond work and extend to re-evaluating the symbiotic relationship between socialenvironmental and employment issues, and with the spirit of innovation, industry, entrepreneurship and leadership that the Greater Manchester region carries, we have high hopes for the future. 


Top 3 key skills to help you build back better 

Leadership and Management  

Strong teams need stronger leaders; someone to embrace opportunities and empower others. We’re going to need creative and confident leaders to help guide businesses back to the point of security and sustainability, and beyond that, to help shape businesses for the future. Whether you’re an SME owner looking to fine tune your leadership skills or promote your employees through leadership training, leadership and management skills should be a key priority for 2021. 

Human Resource Management 

The responsibility of managing recruitment, internal communications, engaging and elevating employee voice and implementing health and wellbeing strategy falls to human resources, and if humans are the greatest tool your business is equipped with then managing people effectively should be at the forefront of your business plan. With a particular emphasis this year on health and wellbeing, we recommend exploring training for mental health and wellbeing champions as a first step. 

Digital and Technological 

Robots, computers, artificial intelligence – this isn’t a sci-fi, this is now. We are living the digital revolution whether we’re aware of it or not and the emphasis over the last year on remote working has elevated the need for digital and tech skills even higher. Machines are our friends – they can help make work safer, faster, and more efficient, but only if we have the right skills to use these incredible tools! Train your team in the basics or narrow down on industry-specific tools to futureproof your employees’ knowledge in existing and emerging technology.  


We can’t just throw the jargon around about building back better without putting substance behind it. Here, with this pandemic, we’ve been presented with an exceptionally rare opportunity – the opportunity to reset, re-evaluate and raise the bar on our expectations for work and living conditions. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, if you’ve been furloughed, made redundant or if you’ve been out of work, we all have an opportunity to make a difference for our futures and we can do that by joining in the discussion about good work. 


If you’re interested to in becoming a supporter of the Greater Manchester Good Employment charter, you can read more information or fill out a supporter registration form here.  

For SMEs and their employees looking to bolster productivity and work towards a brighter future through workforce development, call our team now on 0161 237 4444 or email 


Other resources 

Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter Podcast 

Skills for Growth – SME Support overview brochure 

Skills for Growth – SME Support Apprenticeship Specialist flyer 

Skills for Growth – SME Support Business Change Specialist flyer 

Skills for Growth – SME Support Wellbeing Specialist flyer 

Transport for Greater Manchester Bee Network 

GM Moving 

Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy 2021 


The Growth Company is an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives. We provide individuals and businesses with a wide range of services that improve employment, skills, investment and enterprise for the benefit of all, and have been working in the Greater Manchester city region for more than 30 years. 

This project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.  

The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.  

Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit 

About the author

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support is a fully funded, tailored service to help upskill your employees and improve business productivity.