Lidergraf, Portugal: Training and development
Lidergraf, located in the industrial park of Vila do Conde in northern Portugal, is involved in the production and selling of graphic arts products. Established in 1994, Lidergraf is equipped to handle all paper-based communication needs of customers. The range of products encompasses advertising brochures, posters, catalogues, magazines and business forms, among other products. In 1998, Lidergraf changed its legal form and became a corporation.
In 2001, due to an increase in orders, the fulfilment of customers’ needs and the demand for increased flexibility with a greater production capacity, the company moved to a larger facility and acquired a commercial offset press. The company also increased its number of personnel during this time by almost 30%.
Today, Lidergraf employs more than 100 workers, just 9% of whom are women. The age profile of the company’s workforce is relatively young at an average age of 34 years. Almost 60% of the workers are younger than 30 years, while only 7% are older than 50 years. About 40% of Lidergraf’s workforce is made up of low-skilled workers; around 50% are either skilled or highly-skilled employees, while the remaining 10% are trainees.
The company considers its main resources as being the technological equipment it has installed, the quality of the management and the competencies of its employees. To keep all staff up-to-date in the latest skills, Lidergraf provides employees with continuous training, especially in new technologies. At less than 1%, the low turnover of employees is a possible indicator of their level of job satisfaction.
Trade unions are not represented in the company. Nevertheless, the cooperation between management and employees is deemed favourable, while social dialogue is characterised by a culture of mutual trust.
Good practice today
Although the proportion of older employees at Lidergraf is low, the company values in particular the experience, skills and know-how of older workers. The low proportion of older employees is not due to the company’s recruitment policy, as Lidergraf does not have a preferred age profile. Rather, it is more related to the fact that 90% of the applicants are younger than 30 years.
The small number of older employees who work at Lidergraf are all in leading positions and have been promoted in recent years. Besides the general manager, who is 63 years old, the company employs, for instance, a 60-year old commercial manager, a 55-year old division manager and two highly-qualified specialised operators aged 64 and 70 years respectively. The 70-year old operator was recruited five years ago. As the company is extremely satisfied with the performance of its older employees, it would like to recruit more workers in this age group; however, it receives hardly any applications from people in this target group.
Lidergraf has not encountered any problems with older employees being reluctant to engage in further training or being unwilling to develop their competencies. On the contrary, older workers are vigilant about ensuring that their technological skills are up-to-date, visiting fairs or participating in training courses and programmes, for example when new machines are acquired.
The company believes that older employees are at least as productive as younger workers – if not more so. In Lidergraf’s view, older workers possess higher mechanical skills and experience, a better knowledge about machines and the ability to maintain the production process despite malfunctions.
To maximise the benefits of this experienced-based knowledge for the company, Lidergraf supports the cooperation between younger and older employees, including the intergenerational transfer of knowledge, by organising mixed-age working teams. This allows for knowledge to be transferred during the work process.
Lidergraf places great trust in the abilities of its older employees and supports their promotion. This can be illustrated by the case of the commercial manager who has been working in the company since its foundation. Because of his relatively low qualifications, the manager started in the area of production. However, due to the development of his competencies and his good performance, he was promoted to a more responsible and demanding job. Although he initially did not want to change his job, the employee in question is now very satisfied with the new challenges offered by this position.
The high regard which Lidergraf has for its older employees’ performance should also show younger employees that the company is interested in retaining its employees for as long as possible. For this reason, the company invests in both its younger and older workers and supports their cooperation and mutual learning, for instance through mixed-age teams. Moreover, the company pays a salary that is above the collectively agreed wage, as well as providing employees with favourable working conditions and social incentives. It is the company’s aim to be a life-time employer.
Contact: Liliana Simoes, Human Resources Manager, email: Liliana.firstname.lastname@example.org