'We need more people living in the city centre': New Cork Chamber president advocates for '15-minute city'

Newly elected Cork Chamber president Ronan Murray speaks to Amy Nolan about what employers should focus on to retain staff and how important the 15-minute city concept will be for Cork
'We need more people living in the city centre': New Cork Chamber president advocates for '15-minute city'

Ronan Murray, new president, Cork Chamber.

ATTRACTIVE conditions, fair pay and good communication with employees are some of the key elements for companies to entice and retain staff members, the newly elected President of Cork Chamber has said.

Ronan Murray, Partner M&A (Strategy and Transactions) at EY Ireland, said employers should take a rounded approach when it comes to drawing in new talent and retaining existing staff.

“We often think that the retention challenge is primarily monetary based — and obviously it’s a key component to it — but I think there’s been a shift in the last kind of 24 months around that.

“We’re always looking at how do we build and plan for the workplace of the future.

“It was always around the 9-5 but it’s kind of shifted a bit in the last two years where it’s as important now as what can you offer around I guess the 5-9?

“The lifestyle choice, what type of a role is it, is it a hybrid type of a role, can I work from home, are we required to be in the office? If not, what level of flexibility do I have?

“What packages do we have outside the basic pay? What are your paternity and maternity polices?

“I think in the round every organisation needs to look at their model in terms of reward that isn’t just the dollar or the euro, it’s the wider piece,” Mr Murray told The Echo.

“You want people to be respected, you want them to have an opportunity to develop, for them to see a progression path for them, that there’s equal opportunity as they move through an organisation, that there’s no potential barriers to achieving your potential.”

Frequent and open communication is also an important facet in terms of ensuring staff are happy in the workplace, Mr Murray said.

RETAINING STAFF

“Everybody needs to up their antennae in terms of retaining. If you’re not close to your colleagues, you could easily miss a trick in terms of an opportunity to retain them.

“Sometimes it’s just about getting to know them, getting to understand them better, what are their objectives and making sure the objectives of the firm align with their own personal objectives.”

Mr Murray was elected President of Cork Chamber at their 203rd AGM in the Imperial Hotel last month.

In his maiden speech as President, he spoke about opportunities to enhance the reputation of the city region as a place for business.

Lobbying to ensure that the “right ingredients” exist to continue to encourage companies to strategically invest and grow in the region, assisting stakeholders to entice people back into the city centre and working with the Chamber’s members to help them transition to more eco-friendly ways of operating, are some of his main priorities during his two-year term.

Speaking about the revitalisation of the city centre, Mr Murray said he believes developing amenities and improving transport links will play a key role.

Ronan Murray, new president, Cork Chamber.
Ronan Murray, new president, Cork Chamber.

“By my own makeup, I would be a town person originally from Tralee in Co Kerry.

CONNECTIVITY

“I couldn’t imagine working and living outside the city centre or town centre, but I think it’s important that the right amenities and structures are in place to bring more people back into the city centre. If we have the right level of connectivity from the likes of bus or light rail and other transport types, that will bring people back into the city centre,” he continued.

“We’re probably missing that piece at present but thankfully it’s planned.”

The internationally acclaimed 15-minute city concept Cork City Council is working to achieve will also be crucial in ensuring the city remains an attractive place to live, work and socialise in, he said.

15-MINUTE CITY

The 15-minute city concept is a concept in urban planning where people can access most daily necessities within a 15-minute walk or cycle.

“I think it’s trying to find ways of reimagining how you can get more people to live in the city centre.

“The likes of overhead accommodation or apartment living – I know there’s challenges probably in the housing sector and market…. but I think it’s important that the Government, the local authorities and representative bodies like the Chamber continue to work together to find the solution, to find more ways to bring people back into the city centre.

“I think the knock-on effect of having the likes of a 15-minute city will have huge benefits for the likes of retail, hospitality, leisure and all those industries which I suppose in a sense took a significant impact around the pandemic; but equally pre-pandemic you could argue that things were shifting in terms of the dynamic of city-centre locations.

“I think anything that can attract that level of focus back into the city centre would be really good,” he said.

Mr Murray also said he believes there is an opportunity within Cork and the city centre “to look at an opportunity to take a leadership role” in the transition to green.

Speaking in terms of the city’s economic recovery since the pandemic, Mr Murray said he believes there has been a “bounce back” but that the current inflationary levels present a new challenge.

He acknowledged support schemes introduced by the Government to help mitigate against the spiralling cost of living.

However, he said that further supports would be needed and that any cost of living initiatives introduced in October’s budget should be robust and “last for another year”.

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