Hodgson Sayers' Financial Director, Mike Wade, explains how this North East business is removing barriers which prevent older people from staying in the work place and how they have been part of the Fuller Working Lives partnership so far.
Can you introduce Hodgson Sayers’ story so far in the time it takes to make a cup of tea?
Billy Hodgson started the business in 1979 from his Mam’s house in Burnopfield, and nearly 40 years later we are still located within 3 miles of that start. Originally focussed locally on roofing works, over the years we have expanded the scope of operations to include building, maintenance, fencing and metal fabrication in response to the requirements of our client base.
How did you get involved with the Fuller Working Lives partnership?
In 2015 we were awarded the People Development Company of the year by the British Chambers of Commerce, and Small Business of the Year award from Constructing Excellence a month previously.
We understand that any business is reliant on the personnel within that organisation, and that sustainable success is best achieved by acquiring and then developing that talent. Our values are demonstrated by the number of former apprentices who hold senior management positions in the business, and signpost to all the career progression pathway open to all who can take this as far as they wish through the application of lifelong learning.
I was initially approached by the NELEP to speak at events, and have also represented Hodgson Sayers at a number of conferences and events from schools, careers and recruitment, to retirement and succession planning, truly an end to end experience!
What common themes have you dealt with in relation to retaining employees 50+?
The trade roles within construction have developed enormously over the last 30 years, particularly in the areas of developing and implementing safe working practices and the involvement of better trained Health & Safety representatives. As a result we find ourselves dealing with a runout of the legacy of the harsher physical environments experienced by those who are in the over 50 age bracket.
From your experience, what support measures have proven most valuable for retaining older workers?
As part of our internal management procedures we use outside professional health consultants to manage and implement an occupational health review and management programme to identify and address health issues across our workforce as soon as possible, and to mitigate any longer term effects.
We have always encouraged all employees to update and improve their skill sets to match not only the ever-changing requirements “on the tools”, but also to enable through internal training to pass their skills and experiences to the younger team members as exemplars, role models and mentors. It should be stressed that these roles are not suitable in all cases, and any planning should account for the individual’s skills and abilities.
What’s next for Hodgson Sayers in terms of retaining and supporting older workers?
As a member of the targeted age group, I am very aware of the pressures and effects of aging, and whilst we believe that we are well placed to assist when intervention is needed and to provide the overt support and recognition of the needs of those of our workforce of all ages, this does not mean that we are complacent. We constantly monitor and review our strategies in line with the ever-evolving best practice scenarios. It is important to stress that Fuller Working Lives starts at the commencement of a career, ensuring that lifelong learning is not a set of words but implemented and encouraged which will enable all workers to enjoy a longer and more rewarding working life.