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Working to your retirement - together towards sustainable employability

2016-01-28

To the benefit of both employer and employees, Hilding Anders Netherlands has put sustainable employability on their agenda. This means the company invests in health, education and involvement.

The labour market is constantly changing: the need to stay flexible, new technologies and globalization require employers and employees to adapt quickly. In a demanding world, sustainable employability is crucial for the continuity and growth of an organisation – and it also provides job satisfaction, low absenteeism and high productivity.

Sustainable employability means that both employer and employee invest in health, education and involvement.

So, how has Hilding Anders Netherlands approached the three dimensions?

Health

Healthy employees are less sick. Simple as that. From an employer’s perspective, it is of course important to raise health awareness. For example, to encourage sports activities, a healthy lifestyle and help employees quit smoking. Executives often serve as examples for their employees, so why not let them take the lead?

In 2015, Hilding Anders Netherlands started with workplace examinations and an employee questionnaire focusing on health, work and employability. They both showed that employees on a general level experienced a heavy physical workload, high Body Mass Index (BMI) and consumed a lot of alcohol.

To address the high physical stress, workplace training courses were organized, focusing on how to lift, move and adapt the workplace. Each team discussed ways to stay fit that would enable them to work comfortably until retirement.

BMI levels can be lowered by a healthier lifestyle. At the site in Vroomshoop, Hilding Anders organized a running clinic and gave employees an opportunity to suggest health products they’d like to be able to buy from the canteen. The feedback resulted in a canteen plan, which will take effect in February, 2016. One example from the plan is providing facts about healthy food or sport activities on a digital information sign. Not only does this promote health and trigger people to be active, it also has influence on the involvement of employees.

Education

As the market changes constantly, it is imperative for organisations to be able to react and interact. For this reason, it is important to provide employees with opportunities to develop themselves. Such development may happen via a promotion, but not all employees can achieve this. It can also happen in small steps. In collaboration with the trade association, the Vroomshoop site offers free online course packages for the employees. After the completion of these courses, employees are expected to see an increase in their computer skills.

Involvement

People who are committed to – and feel involved in – their work perform better and have fewer sick days, and people generally like to have their ideas and thoughts listened to. Hilding Anders Netherlands strives to give employees insight into what their daily efforts mean to the organisation: how their contribution plays an important role to the continuity of the business. Independent thinking, taking pride in your work and initiatives are encouraged.

Is sustainable employability particularly important in the Netherlands?

If an employee becomes ill, a Dutch employer is obliged to continue to pay wages for two years. The first year full wages are paid, including pension and holiday pay. During the second year the employee receives 70% of his wages. The employer is also responsible for the rehabilitation. If the employee is deemed disabled after 2 years and thereby entitled to financial benefits, the employer have to pay a higher social security contribution for the entire company wage bill for 10 more years.
Illness often equals personal tragedy. And can also be very costly. That’s why Hilding Anders invest a lot in reducing absenteeism in the Netherlands.

The results – so far

The sustainable employability initiative has resulted in decreased absenteeism, more job rotation, more knowledge on the work floor and an increased number of private initiatives. Absenteeism has gone down with almost 2%. People are healthier – and financially, this means a saving of at least € 80.000,- annually for Hilding Anders Netherlands.