Eden Brown, United Kingdom: A comprehensive approach
Eden Brown, set up in 1989, offers recruitment, training and consultancy services to employers across the United Kingdom (UK). The company’s headquarters are in London, but it also has regional offices in Ealing (west London), Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester.
The current chief executive and his co-founders established the business with the aim of providing a positive and rewarding working environment for staff and an high-quality service to clients. This has been a driving force that has enabled the company to win major awards as a good company to work for.
The company employs a total of 170 staff, with 78 male and 92 female employees. Most of the staff are employed at the main London office with about 10 staff in each regional branch. The organisation does not have a fixed retirement age for employees. At present, the oldest employee is 65 years old.
The company has a sales turnover of £55 million a year and it recorded pre-tax profits of £1.6 million in its last financial year.
The task of recruiting staff has never presented any major difficulties. The company has endeavoured to attract employees who will embrace the company ethos. This objective may limit the selection of people available to the company for recruitment. However, Eden Brown aims to ensure that employees are comfortable with its business approach. Management takes an ethical rather than a cost-driven approach to running the business.
The original initiative
The company does not impose specific initiatives designed to assist the employees aged over 45 years. However, it does have a strong equality and diversity policy that includes age. Campaigns are also run to educate clients of the value of older workers and the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Flexible working practices are already in place within the company, encompassing working times, work locations and the number of days the individual wishes to work each week. Working from home is an accepted practice. Women, more than men, avail of flexible working, but there are examples of men who work fewer hours to manage care responsibilities. In addition, the company provides health and well-being support.
In terms of the retirement policy, all employees have access to various forms of support, which include health and financial counselling.
The company’s pension policy does not discriminate on the grounds of age. Regardless of age, when an employee joins the company, he/she can avail of external pension arrangements to which the company will make contributory payments.
The comprehensive package of support for staff was introduced by the chief executive as the basis on which the company should grow and develop.
There have been no major changes in the company’s policies to date. Where developments have been made, these have generally been in place in advance of any legislative updates rather than as a result of their implementation.
The organisation has not undertaken any cost-benefit analysis of the ongoing initiatives. The emphasis is on actions that will benefit and support employees.
Good practice today
The policies currently in place within the company in relation to employees have generally been implemented ahead of legislative requirements. These policies are not aimed exclusively at supporting older workers, as it is the company’s approach to enforce policies that support the entire workforce, including all age groups, and to promote age diversity. This strategy is exemplified by core business activities. It has been the aim of the company to promote awareness among clients of the value of older employees and to educate them on pension issues. Clients are also advised on recruitment and other human resource management issues.
The company relaunched its promotion of age-related issues in 2005, by developing publications that raise awareness among staff and clients about age diversity. The introduction of age discrimination legislation in 2006 acted as a trigger to this promotional activity.
As a service to staff, the company provides health and well-being support including, for example, gym membership and visits from a masseuse. These measures are designed to counteract the physical impact and repetitive strain experienced through office-based and desk-based work. Eden Brown wants to promote a healthy workplace and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Staff are permitted to arrange their working time in order to access gym facilities, such as taking a long lunch ‘hour’.
The company is in the process of moving from its main offices. Staff have been included in discussions regarding a desirable working environment, and have also been encouraged to contribute to the planning process. For the company, this has involved the relaunch of a healthy offices campaign. The aim is to ensure that staff are provided with a comfortable and positive working environment, while the cost involved is a secondary consideration.
The organisation has a works council, which has been in existence for eight years. It has 14 elected members and meets regularly. Each of the regional branches is represented, as are all the different departments and teams. All issues and changes in policy that might affect the workforce are discussed in the works council meetings.
Another relaunched initiative concerns those staff who volunteer to do community work. Staff who engage in such work are rewarded by the company in the form of additional time off.
The company monitors any legislative developments – which may be prompted by the EU – in relation to the employment of temporary workers. Any developments in this field would have a direct impact on the company’s core activities.
As noted, no new human resource policies have been introduced specifically for older workers. The company has introduced a system of season ticket loans for staff, and has also made childcare vouchers available to staff.
Contact: Heather Salway, email: email@example.com