Emma Bacon, HR Business Partner at ENGIE, a leading energy and services company, talks about how the company has engaged with the Fuller Working Lives programme to explore and expand on their employee offering to ensure they are reacting to their workforce's ever-evolving needs.
Can you introduce ENGIE’s story so far in the time it takes to make a cup of tea?
ENGIE is a leading energy and services company focused on three key activities: production and supply of energy; facilities management; and regeneration. We have over 17,000 employees who combine these capabilities for the benefit off individuals, businesses and communities throughout the UK and Ireland.
We enable customers to embrace a lower carbon, more efficient and increasingly digital world. ENGIE improves lives through better living and working environments. We help to balance performance with responsibility, enabling progress in a harmonious way.
How did you get involved with the Fuller Working Lives partnership?
After reviewing the age profile on the contract and being involved in the IPPR NORTH extending working lives conference it was an area of interest which we felt we needed to explore further.
What common themes have you dealt with in relation to retaining employees aged 50 and over?
There are varying degrees on interest in the Fuller Working Lives Programme. There are employees who do not want engage but from those who have engaged common themes are:
- Health & wellbeing
- People wanted to develop/take an interest in another career
What steps have you taken to develop an understanding of the age of the workforce and accommodating older workers’ needs?
We have attended at various events such as the IPPR NORTH extending working lives conference and the Recruit, Retrain, Retain session run by Education Development Trust and North East Local Enterprise Partnership.
As well as events, we have conducted some market research and a review of studies and reports, which show that people are living longer and working later in life. In order to understand the impact this has on our business, our employees and how we can support people in the later stages of their careers we conducted a pilot in late 2017. This pilot programme was very positive and we are now rolling out the programme across the full contract. The programme includes:
- One to one meeting
- Career review meeting with National Careers Service
- Health MOT with MOH (ENGIE occupational health provider)
- Ongoing reviews as agreed
Participation at each stage is optional/voluntary but we encourage employees to take part in as many stages as possible.
From your experience, what support measures have proven most valuable for retaining older workers?
At present it is difficult for us to be specific on this until we assess the success of the Fuller Working Lives Programme; but I think the key element is engagement with employees and the creation of to open and honest conversations with employees about their career aspirations. Whether it be to retire soon, a change in career or to continue to develop in their current role.
What’s next for ENGIE in terms of retaining and supporting older workers?
We plan to continue with the Fuller Working Lives Programme and ensure that all employees aged 50+ have the opportunity to participate. We also want to develop the programme further based on feedback from participants.