HMG supplies paints and powder coatings to businesses in the commercial transport, automotive, general industrial and marine sectors, as well as to other paint manufacturers. Headquartered in Manchester, the company has wholly- and part-owned manufacturing and distributing companies in other parts of England, Ireland and America. There are 170 employees at the Manchester site, with a further 70 employees in other HMG businesses.
John Falder, Managing Director of HMG Paints in Manchester, describes the company as being an “old fashioned family business, owned and run, with lots of families—often comprising several generations—from the local community also working within the business”.
Three core values underpin everything that is done at HMG Paints:
- safety (of paramount importance);
- quality (of the products); and
HMG’s CSR activities focus on initiatives in education, the environment and the community. These initiatives are seen as intrinsic to the way the company does business, not add-ons. Almost weekly, requests for paint donations from the local community are fulfilled and the company has developed and maintains the Rose Wood Gardens for the enjoyment of local residents.
This case study focuses on HMG’s approach to stakeholder engagement, in particular tools for connecting with company employees.
Since it was founded in 1930, HMG has taken great care to build and maintain a company culture which values and respects staff as individuals, giving everyone a sense of involvement in the process. Passionate and enthusiastic employees are seen to be a critical part of the company’s competitive advantage. Employees who take pride in their work and their workplace help HMG provide a better service and higher quality product to their customers. This, in turn, enhances relationships with external stakeholders.
Conscious of how easily a company’s culture can be destroyed by inaction, HMG continually strives to improve current practices and implement new initiatives. It’s all about “a bunch of decent people doing the right thing”, comments John Falder.
Tools for employee engagement within HMG are utilised at every stage and level of an employee’s career.
Recruitment: HMG rarely advertises vacancies as they are primarily filled by networking or word of mouth. Prospective employees attend long, informal interviews and meet the team they would be recruited to. On completing the process, the aim is that they fully understand what it would be like working at HMG.
Induction: The first day on the job—no matter what kind of job it is—involves a full day informal induction. The MD introduces new recruits to the company and its culture and seeks to understand what would bring them personal fulfilment in their new job role. John has had induction discussions and one-to-ones with 200 of the 250 employees in the past 15 years.
Continuous dialogue: HMG’s senior managers operate an open door policy. Everyone within the company understands what the business is about and employees often approach senior managers for mentoring or advice on job and on personal matters.
Flexible working: HMG also operates a flexible working policy, whereby the company endeavours to tailor working hours and conditions to meet individual needs. Approximately 20-30 of the 170 Manchester-based staff are on some form of part-time or flexi-working arrangement.
Recently, a series of brainstorming sessions identified innovative ways of enabling employees approaching retirement to continue working. On reaching 65, one chemist, for example, will continue to work 100 man days per annum, with seasonal flexibility built in.
Social initiatives: HMG gives employees a day off on their birthdays with double pay and supports company sports teams, including football and lawn bowls. Employees vote for their ‘employee of the year’ each Christmas. Winners are recognised for their team spirit, achievement on a project, etc and receive a prize, such as a holiday. Also at Christmas, a free raffle is drawn—by the youngest member of staff—to distribute gifts to all employees.
Youth placements: Building on the close ties it has with the local community, HMG offers youth job placements for 14 to 16 year olds. Feedback has been extremely positive, with participants commenting on the variety of experiences provided by the placement and describing it as ‘fantastic’ to their schools.
Challenges: Inevitably, challenges have had to be faced. The most extreme challenge occurred in 2004 when the company lost a major account and the first ever redundancies had to be made. As a tribute to the organisation’s culture, nine of the 17 people who were made redundant have since returned to work for the company.
The business benefits
In HMG’s view, engaging with employees in such an open and transparent manner maintains employee retention at high levels. The average worker stays with the company for a lifetime. High retention rates and filling vacancies through company networks saves on recruitment costs.
The company also attributes its excellent health and safety record – only one unsuccessful claim for industrial injury in the history of the company – to the culture of trust and the team spirit at all levels of the business.
Why is it CSR?
The company demonstrates genuine commitment to its employees through a range of engagement strategies which are embedded into the day-to-day running of the business. Developing internal stakeholder relationships and creating a good workplace environment—through, for example, flexible working hours—is a core element of CSR.
HMG says “it’s business as usual” for them. The company intends to continue taking a consistent approach to employee engagement, upholding the deep-seated value sets which are so much part of the company culture.
For more information on HMG, please email John Falder on email@example.com or view www.hmgpaint.com.
© Article 13 and CBI – CSR Case Study Series, June 2008
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