Polypipe Building Services celebrates combined 500 years of experience under one roof as staff retention helps combat labour market shortages
As an employment trends survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reveals, three-quarters of UK businesses are experiencing difficulties filling vacancies, Kent-based drainage system company Polypipe Building Services is celebrating strong staff retention figures with several workers holding 40-years of service – or more.
Among them is Keith Goodhew who began at Polypipe Building Services as an engineering apprentice 37 years ago and has worked in several parts of the business from production to technical as a CAD operator, before taking up his current post as an engineer and health and safety representative within fabrication.
“I’d wanted to become an engineer since I left school in the 80s and decided to do an apprenticeship scheme, and I’ve made a lot of friends.
“There are lots of people here I’ve known since I started so they’re like family to me, and we’ve always had social things going on and it’s things like that and the fact my role has kept changing which is why I really enjoy working here.”
Rashmihant Desai has just taken retirement having worked at Polypipe Building Services for 47 years where he was an assembly team leader. Originally from Tanzania, he joined after family members already working at the company alerted him to a vacancy.
“I came for interview, and they asked if he could start right away,” he says, “and I joined as a machine operator before going to work in mixing then in injection moulding where I worked as a cell leader overseeing seven machines.
“While I was there a manager asked if I could help in assembly, and they were so impressed by my work that when that manager left, I was asked to stay and run the whole department.
“I’m 67 now and I stayed because they treat people well here, like if your health isn’t good the team are 100% behind you and if people are treating you well then why would you leave? I also do a lot of charity work helping supply food to children in places like Thailand and India and the company always supported me with that.”
Clare Hawkes, Head of Human Resources at Polypipe Building Services, said more than 10 per cent of their workforce have been with the company for 10 years or more, and believes this high rate of retention is due to the investment in people’s continuous learning and development which allows staff to progress throughout the business, together with a workplace culture of teamwork embedded in a series of staff social events.
She said: “We work very hard to make sure people here feel valued and supported in their roles, and that there is a clear structure of development and training opportunities so people can develop into new roles if they want to.
“Our managers and leaders take time to develop relationships with their teams, and these elements combined with ensuring we have things like Mental Health First Aiders present in all areas of the business, charity days and family social events, all help to create a workplace where people want to work and to stay.”