THE ULTIMATE EVIDENCE OF GOOD AGE MANAGEMENT: “I WANT TO RETIRE IN THIS COMPANY”
Many organisations develop actions to manage an ageing workforce: campaigns to tackle MSDs, health programs to improve well-being or addressing psychosocial risks. But just a handful consider these actions a major strategic/holistic approach, connecting the top-brass commitment with workers' engagement and participation. Atlas Copco is one of these companies and that's why its staff dream of retiring in the company.
Article by David Mairal - Aragon Valley, EU-OSHA media partner
Weeks ago, I had de opportunity to visit the Atlas Copco factory in Zaragoza. There, I met Jorge Ortiz, the on-site Safety Health Environment and Quality Coordinator.
The premises, I must say, are impressive from the very beginning what concerns order, tidiness and work organisation. Well, this was right, but what I was looking for were real good practices related to EU-OSHA's campaign topic: age management. And yes, I found them in Atlas Copco in the shape of brilliant measures and programmes. But I found much more than that…
When Jorge launched his presentation, the first motto that appeared close to the company's logo was referred to as “sustainable-responsible production”, and the very first message was straight: Our median age is 39 years. These two details reveal much more than the figures themselves: the company could have chosen lots of desired excellence-related messages to be identified with, such as quality, global-scope brand or a leading performance. But no, they prefer to be recognised for its sustainable and responsible values. More than the curious figure itself - 39 years is the workforce's mean age - resides in the fact that staff ageing is considered a core issue in the company's policies. Do you know any company that introduces itself like this? “Hi, this is Atlas Copco and we are 39 years old”.
Behind this well-planned first impression showing the commitment and awareness at managerial level, Atlas Copco has of course implemented several measures, campaigns and programmes that belong to the typical technical dimension of occupational health, with a direct influence on worker's well-being.
Among these good practices, you can find:
- clauses in suppliers' procurement contracts and purchase orders establishing the delivery of any manual-handled material in packages of a maximum weigh of 15 Kg, and the obligation to dispatch the packages according to its further manipulation in the Atlas Copco premises;
- activities, courses and briefings on healthy habits, including the funding of several amateur sport clubs;
- a plan to back up the business according to which, in case of an interruption of the activity and threat to the immediate business run due to any unexpected major event, the company may be back in business in less than two months and fully operational in one year, whatever the threat or event causing the interruption;
- the so-called “Sustainable Lifestyle Programme”. This programme comes from the commitment towards Atlas Copco employees and is written in the Safety, Health and Environment policy: “Atlas Copco is committed to preventing pollution and providing a safe and healthy working environment for all employees”.
Thanks to this program an absenteeism reduction of more than 40% and some other benefits have been achieved. For further information regarding this programme you can follow this link: http://insht.es/InshtWeb/Contenidos/Documentacion/ACT%20FORMA%20Y%20ACT/...
Some of these measures become evident when you walk through the Atlas Copco plant, especially the elegant trolleys filled with fresh fruit at free-disposal of the workers in every rest area (see photo). But what was really impressive during the tour, was to have informal conversations with different workers of the company and listen them to say randomly: “I want to retire in this company”. The workers' engagement and participation is the keystone that closes the loop and the ultimate evidence of successful age management at Atlas Copco.