October 1, 2023

Local employer, world class reputation

As we grow and develop Eumar Technology, we will naturally be focusing on our manufacturing processes, quality of output and our market. Underpinning all of that is the adoption of ISO14001 and broader sustainable practices. But none of that is possible without an empowered and engaged workforce.

Having recently looked at employment and recruitment trends I found the British Chambers of Commerce 2022 report* assessing recruitment in the UK. It was a sobering reminder of the challenges we face in manufacturing. The report’s findings detail 82% of manufacturing companies in the research reported challenges with recruitment. A picture worsened by similarities in the construction and hospitality sectors.

It is a picture that resonates in conversations with other peer organisations and it is a reminder that we must never take our workforce for granted. It is especially important for an organisation like EUMAR TECHNOLOGY LIMITED, as we rely on our local and regional community for our recruitment and operational support, including contractors, assessors and proessional services.That means not only ensuring we value our colleagues but also value the communities they live in.

If you ask any senior manager, they will naturally tell you they care and listen to their own workforce but how many of us do it effectively? Industry statistics around mental wellbeing in the workplace show as a nation, we don’t quite have it right in the workplace. So while researching recruitment trends, I also naturally reflected on our own practice in Hereford.

We certainly don’t get it right all the time, as I am sure our teams will attest to, but we do try to improve. Despite manufacturing for nearly 40 years, we are constantly learning. On that journey I am proud to say that we have learnt a lot of what works from our own employees. I hope in sharing what we have learned, it might inform others to strengthen their employee investment.

Being there when needed

Many communities and individuals are struggling in the current economic climate and while we are limited in what we can do to support, we feel it is important to help where we can. By helping improve the lives of our employees in little ways, we can both support those we rely on and hopefully reduce absenteeism and presenteeism – both major contributors to challenges in the UK’s economy.

We continue to put in place structures to help support online training and car sharing wherever possible to reduce travelling costs for employees. We have a programme of free hot lunches and throughout the organaisation we are changing our working hours to meet the requests of our employees, whilst meeting the business need. We have robust modern-slavery practices and procedures, which we try to communicate and audit across our supply chain. We also run set piece events throughout the year for staff and community engagement.

Proactivity comes from employees

Working through ISO14001, our employees have been the driving force to make changes to our practices, increasing our sustainability. In many cases, our employees were ahead of the senior management team in taking action.  When working through the certification we found manufacturing teams had adapted to decrease waste and improve efficiency naturally. In some instances, our employees were already setting up informal multi-discipline teams to overcome challenges.

As part of the senior management, we also feel the passion for change from teams across the organisation. R&D and innovation are fundamental elements of our business, it is how we survive as an SME. Ideas for new products, manufacturing techniques and improvements are the domain of those on the production line as much as our dedicated R&D teams – a fact recognised by many of our clients. We are lucky to have such an engaged workforce.

Open doors to ideas

Having an engaged workforce is one thing but ensuring those channels exist to garner those ideas and innovations is another. In an SME, you can assume because you are small everyone is naturally engaged.

We have definitely had to work hard on ensuring our colleagues are heard and their ideas recognised. Again, we don’t always get it right but we now have forums and regular channels for communication to feed insight both ways. Those ideas also extend to recommendations to target impact in our communities and not just in the workplace.

Investing in the workforce outside the business

We are a local employer and therefore have a local responsibility. All of us live within the communities of Herefordshire and surrounding areas so it is in our own interests to invest in those environments. It is the right thing to do and that is important to everyone at Eumar Technology.

At first it was ad-hoc, with ideas coming forward from colleagues that we could implement relatively easily and those ideas grew in number and impact. The risk with community investment being ad-hoc is that it can drop away or get lost in the pressures of business.

Speaking to peers, the pandemic naturally meant they only had headspace for their organisation’s survival.  For that reason, we have now embedded community investment into our operational process and strategy. Charitable events and fundraising, environmental sustainability such as wild planting, reduced waste going to landfill and supporting local emergency planning are all built into our thinking from the factory floor to the boardroom.

We have definitely not got it 100% right and still have more to learn. If you have innovative ideas, please do share them because we are always looking to improve and share knowledge with others. We are all facing challenges in manufacturing and if we can develop new ways to look after the lifeblood of our production lines, our employees, then we will all benefit.