Three years ago when Richard Aitken started managing Viridian Glass Nelson, he was quite shocked at how few people seemed to be coming to the glass industry looking for work let alone considering it as a vocation and yet those inside the industry know it’s such a great trade.
“So we set about displaying what we were doing as a business and that’s why we established what we call our Wall of Fame,” explains Richard. “It showcases Viridian as being part of Nelson’s work community and our sports community.”
As NZ General Manager for Viridian, Richard believes this had some fairly quick and positive spin-offs as people coming into the showroom to purchase glass are drawn to the stories and pictures on the wall and pass on a key message to friends and family looking for work ‘why don’t you try Viridian? It looks like a great place to work’.
Richard also says, “It’s such a good position to be in - when people come to your company asking to work there rather than you having to recruit.”
Both Richard and Jacqui Clayton, Installation Manager, agree that creating a positive company culture is the key to a motivating work environment, which helps them retain staff. So how do they create a great company culture so employees look forward to coming to work every day and want to stay? Jacqui and Richard seem to have found some key ingredients. Having a diversity of jobs, a mix of people to learn from and valuing staff seem to be at the top of the list.
Jacqui says, “Our guys like that they are multi-functional and can do different aspects of glazing. The apprentices, especially like the variety of work.”
Richard adds, "It’s all about doing some things that are different and having a little bit of fun. We try to encourage fun ways of learning, even the toolbox talks. We are big believers in encouraging participation in company sports groups for fun.”
There certainly is a family mentality here where staff are friends outside of work as well as in the workplace. There is recognition for employees for both work and personal achievements. Jacqui says, "It’s a case of the little things often - it’s the small rewards like morning tea cakes, celebrating birthdays and saying thank you …. and more cake! Money isn’t everything – a quality work and life balance appeals to people.”
Richard thinks the recent economic conditions have actually created a great environment for training apprentices, he says, “We are past them making the coffee and pushing a broom for the first year. Now they are expected to do real work straight away. Ultimately, it is of more value to the apprentice and they are more beneficial to the company – we need more of them!”
Micro-credentials, or Managed Traineeships as BCITO refers to them, offer specialised recognition that reflects the increased segmentation of work in the industry.