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Our people

At the heart of the Company’s approach to people management is the provision of a safe and environmentally sound workplace where everyone can fulfil their potential. Having further invested in the HR team, 2018 saw progress with the continuing development of people practices to build on the Company’s history and which will help shape its future.

2018 Employee Initiatives

  • Second Employee Survey
  • Enhanced Maternity Policy
  • Enhanced Occupational Health Service
  • Inclusion and Respect at Work Policy

The Company undertook its second employee survey during 2018 with the aim of enabling employees to express their views on a confidential basis and identify areas for improvement. The survey was enlarged to include both UK and Dutch employees, and a much improved response rate of 73% (2017: 53%) presented a broader and more in-depth insight into the views of an increased number of employees across all departments. Pleasingly, while capturing an enlarged representation of opinion, the overall engagement score of 75% stayed broadly in-line with the previous year’s score of 77% and provides a positive foundation to continue developing a positive workplace. The next survey will take place during 2020, with the Company’s Swiss employees participating and the Company’s French business continuing to operate a survey specific to them.

Throughout 2018, senior managers of the Company’s businesses continued to work with the champions from their different departments to discuss ideas and concerns specific to their businesses as well as the Company as a whole, and undertake actions as a result.

To increase employee involvement further and ensure that employees have a greater opportunity to communicate their views, the Company is launching an Employee Forum in 2019 which will be comprised of elected employees from across the Company’s businesses in the UK and Continental Europe. The Forum, to be held quarterly, will be chaired by the Company’s Chief Executive and act as a communication platform, enabling employees to voice their ideas, opinions and concerns and allow them to participate more actively in the future direction of the Company.

During 2018, three events were held for the senior managers of the Company’s businesses to discuss the financial and operational performance of the collective group as well as engage with them on the delivery of the Company’s vision, strategy and initiatives to deliver improved performance. These events will continue throughout 2019.

In order to continue creating a positive working environment and culture, a number of policies and working practices were reviewed and additionally launched during 2018, including:

  • Maternity Policy – An enhanced maternity policy was introduced aimed at providing greater support for families and encouraging women to continue their career after motherhood. During 2018 10 women benefitted from the enhanced policy;
  • Drugs and Alcohol – To further support the policies and processes in place to ensure a safe workplace for all, ‘For cause’ drugs and alcohol testing was introduced; and
  • Inclusion and Respect at Work – The launch of this policy, accompanied by training for all managers, reflects the Company’s commitment to providing equality of opportunity for all in an environment which is free from discrimination, victimisation and harassment, and in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Following its introduction in November 2017, the Employee Assistance Programme (‘EAP’) ran for its first full year in 2018. The EAP, delivered via an independent company called LifeWorks, is a confidential telephone, internet, app-based service available to all employees and their immediate families providing advice, information and support on issues spanning work, health, life, family and money. During 2018, 26 people benefitted from individual support provided.

During 2018 an enhanced Occupational Health service was introduced via an independent company called MediGold Health to further support employee wellbeing. The service assists the HR team in supporting employees with complex medical conditions via early intervention and their appropriate return to work.

The Company actively recruited in all departments throughout 2018 and the total number of employees grew year-on-year to 2,612 as at 31 December 2018 (2017: 2,427). The focus on supporting and encouraging internal moves resulted in 30 vacancies being filled by internal candidates. The Company’s commitment to retaining talent and experience is additionally reflected in the tenure of its employees, with 31% of UK employees having been with the Company over 10 years as at 31 December 2018 and 132 people since operations began in 1992.

The Company actively encourages all its employees to participate in the training opportunities available to them. In 2018, and in addition to the training outlined within the Health & Safety and Environment sections of the Strategic Report:

35 newly appointed managers attended a ‘Step into Management’ course designed to equip first-time managers with the skills needed to lead people; and

51 sales representatives attended the Sales Induction Programme which is designed to induct them in all aspects of the role.

The Company has begun in 2019 to utilise its apprenticeship levy to fund apprenticeship training schemes.

The cost of living award is designed to benefit employees through helping offset the effect of inflation and the rising cost of living. For 2018, the Company elected to award a cost of living increase of 2% to base salary for all UK employees with the exception of the Board and Senior Management Team who elected not to receive it. For 2019 the Company has awarded an increase of 2% to all UK employees. For the Company’s employees in Continental Europe, local market practice was followed in 2018 and for 2019.

The Company encourages and supports the financial security of its employees and offers a number of benefits including opportunities for participation in the Company’s Pension Plan and the Government auto-enrolment National Employee Savings Trust, and also providing death in service benefits through the Headlam Group Life Assurance scheme.

Additionally, the Company operates a HM Revenue & Customs approved Save-As-You-Earn share option scheme (‘SAYE’), a monthly savings scheme facilitating the purchase of shares in Headlam at a discount by eligible employees. The SAYE not only provides employees with a tax-efficient savings plan but additionally promotes a sense of ownership of the Company. During 2018, 608 eligible employees participated in the Company’s SAYE schemes, equivalent to 33% of the UK workforce.

The Company recognises and values highly the benefits of diversity in the workplace, and maintains a policy of employing the best candidates available in every position, regardless of gender, ethnic group or background, and is committed to fair and equal treatment. Where existing employees become disabled, it is the Company’s policy, wherever practicable, to provide continuing employment under normal terms and conditions and to provide training, career development and promotion wherever appropriate. The Company gives full and fair consideration to applications for employment from disabled persons.

As at 31 December 2018, the Company had 2,612 employees of which 20% were female, a marked improvement on 2017 (2017: 18% female).

Employees Executive Directors Senior Management Managers Other Total
Male 2 1 286 1,793 2,082
Female 0 2 46 482 530
Number of employees as at 31 December 2018 2 3 332 2,275 2,612

As of the date of the report, the Board (including the Non-Executive Directors) and Senior Management Team, who attend all Board Meetings, comprised 5 females and 6 males, equivalent to a 45% female representation. This will increase to 50% upon Andrew Eastgate’s retirement from the Board on 31 May 2019. The Company is working to improve the male: female ratio across the whole Company which stood at 4:1 as at 31 December 2018. Actions and initiatives being launched include:  

  • Enhance Maternity Policy (as detailed above)
  • Paternity and Shared Paternity Leave policies (to be launched in 2019)
  • Flexible Working Policy and practices (to be launched in 2019)
  • Reward frameworks and policies (to be launched in 2020)

In-line with the UK Government’s regulations which introduced gender pay gap reporting, the Company has published its most recent report dated 5 April 2018 on the GOV.UK website and its own website. The report fully complies with the legislation and an abridged summary is given below which includes the Company’s two legal entities required to report (‘HFD’ and ‘MCD’) and additionally the ultimate holding company (‘PLC’) not required to report.

  • The Company’s overall median pay gap was lower than the UK national average at 10.1%
  • The proportion of men and women eligible to receive bonuses:
  • HFD - men 97%, women 98%
  • MCD - men 98%, women 98%
  • PLC - men 100%, women 100%

The Company is committed to improving its practices to combat slavery and human trafficking, and the Company’s Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement detailing its policies, processes and actions is available here.

It is the Company’s policy to conduct all business in an honest and ethical manner. The Company takes a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption and is committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all business dealings and relationships.

The policy, which is detailed on the Company’s website www.headlam.com, applies to all employees, directors, officers, agency workers, seconded workers, volunteers, interns, agents, contractors, external consultants, third-party representatives and business partners. Any individual who breaches the policy will face action, which in the case of employees could result in dismissal for gross misconduct.

New activity for 2019, in addition to the Employee Forum and policies detailed above, includes a development programme for senior managers and the launch and roll-out of apprenticeship schemes. The apprenticeship schemes have been launched to capitalise on the levy payable under the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy programme to fund new apprenticeships and increase investment in human capital. Since the beginning of the year the Company has piloted two cohorts in the area of sales, and will roll-out the schemes across other job functions as the year progresses.

To help provide ongoing support to the wider workforce, the Company will continue to offer guaranteed interviews to employees from local companies who face redundancy as a result of closures or job cuts and who have appropriate experience.

The Company is ensuring that it is fully compliant with the legal requirement to carry out checks with existing and prospective employees to ensure that they have the legal right to work in the UK. The Company has 134 identified EU and EEA nationals working in the UK and has commenced a communication plan which will provide ongoing support and guidance for employees applying for pre-settled or settled status to remain in the UK after it leaves the EU (‘Brexit’).