EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

No-Nail Boxes, Luxembourg: Recruitment


Case study name: 
Ageing workforce
Organisation Size: 
Construction and woodworking
Target Groups: 
Skilled ManualUnskilled Manual
Initiative Types: 


Organisational background


In order to achieve a well-balanced age structure in the enterprise, No-Nail Boxes is increasingly hiring older workers for jobs in production. This measure is geared to older people with little formal education.

Founded in 1961, the company was taken over by the current management in 1996. The plywood and steel folding boxes that are produced by the company are distributed in Europe and are mainly used for export. In addition, the packaging companies Allpack Services (Luxembourg) and WaluPack Services (Belgium), as well as the company CODIPRO which produces safety hoist rings, form part of the consortium.

The administration department, which undertakes tasks for the other businesses in Luxembourg, consists of 11 staff members. 32 employees, of which only 6% are female, work on the shop floor of No-Nail Boxes. This reflects the overall rather low employment rate of women in production in the country. The average age of the company's employees is 32 years. The workforce is characterised by a high degree of diversity in terms of ethnicity and nationality.

In the past few years, No-Nail Boxes has experienced considerable growth and this has promoted recruitment of new staff. In January 2006, the company relocated from Ettelbrück to Wiltz in order to expand the production line. Due to the small size of the enterprise, the HR management was outsourced to an external company in January 2007.

In compliance with the statutory provisions, the worker delegation is elected by staff members.

Good practice today

At the time of the takeover of No-Nail Boxes, the company had a relatively high share of older workers. As a consequence, more younger workers were hired in the first few years in order to establish a balanced age structure. Due to an increased number of retirements in the past years, the staff was rejuvenated. Therefore, in the past two years the management of the company decided to balance the age structure once more by recruiting older employees. All in all, five older workers, two of whom were placed by the Administration de l’emploi (ADEM), were hired within the scope of this recruitment measure.

In the recruitment process, age was not the only criterion used. Particular attention was also paid to the skills and resources of the applicants. In this respect, formal qualifications were not the determining factor, but rather individual aptitudes such as practical skills, receptiveness, experience and knowledge from other areas of life. This resulted in staff members all having different educational and life backgrounds. Given this fact and to facilitate the vocational adjustment of new employees, company training is carried out by staff members with a longer job tenure. The vocational adjustment is implemented in the form of on-the-job-training by employees who are responsible for the respective field of activities.

The management of No-Nail Boxes is of the opinion that a diversified workforce fosters a positive working atmosphere and that different competencies and experiences in the work situation have a positive influence on the development of personnel. All in all, the company sets great store in a balanced age structure.

Management regards older workers as being very reliable and motivated. Experience has shown that they are more likely to develop an awareness of the company's concerns due to their longer work biographies and are correspondingly more likely to adapt themselves flexibly to the exigencies of the work process. For example, in the case of older workers, a higher readiness was observed to work on weekends if the order situation and a high production volume required this. Furthermore, the life phase of older workers involves less family obligations than those of their younger colleagues and this increases flexibility, according to management. With regard to sickness figures too, experience shows that older employees fall ill less frequently than younger ones. Older employees may possibly be absent for longer periods for medical reasons, but after returning to work, they are very motivated again.

The management attributes the dedication of older workers to the company to the fact that, given the labour market situation for older employees, they value their jobs as safe and thus find it easier to identify with the enterprise.

The measure of recruiting older workers was initiated by management and coordinated with the executives and skilled employees. In the beginning, employees in executive positions especially had reservations about the policy, but due to the positive experiences with older employees in everyday work situations within the scope of this measure, these reservations were dispelled at an early stage. The original approach — namely, to make a point of deploying older employees as team leaders, thus capitalising on their experience of life — was abandoned in the course of the measure. It emerged that individual skills are of greater importance for the development of leadership qualities than the age of employees.

In the future, it is planned to use recruitment measures to maintain a balanced age structure among the staff members of No-Nail Boxes. At the same time, management will continue to strive to preserve the diversity of the workforce, so that the different resources and skills can give impetus to the work process.

Due to the small size of the enterprise, the HR management was outsourced to an external company in January 2007. The reason for this was that because of the growing number of workers in production, the administration department could not spare additional resources for employee development — career as well as continuing education and further training. Management, however, expects that the outsourcing measure will bring a supplementary external perspective to the enterprise, which will aid in analysing and, if need be, improving processes and structures. In addition, the experiences of the external employee development are to be incorporated into the further development of the workforce. All employees, irrespective of age, can avail of the measures of career planning, as well as of external further education and advanced training offerings. The company supports further education measures by means of supplemental payments or leaves of absence, depending on the requirements and the work context of the respective employee.

As regards working-time flexibilisation, the main production times were adapted to the needs of the workers. In consultation with their managers and co-workers, the employees can choose between three different working-time modules. Despite shift operation, the company thus provides employees with the opportunity of coordinating their working time with their respective life phases and of adapting it to individual requirements. Moreover, the size of the company also allows for short-term arrangements to be made for leaves of absence with the direct manager and team, depending on the order situation.

To prevent health problems developing in the production department, job rotation was introduced in those areas that require hard physical labour. This measure benefits older workers since the physical strains are reduced over the whole course of the working life. Even in the case of already existing health impairments, employability can thus be maintained for a longer period.

Further information

Contact: Michèle Detaille, Managing Director




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