Views from our MD Ed Hutchinson: Modern policies for a modern workplace

People are at the heart of our business, and we are proud to offer all HBD colleagues flexible working and policies that protect their wellbeing.

This week, in the context of both National Careers Week and International Women’s Day, we think it’s more important than ever to demonstrate just how support is offered to colleagues at all levels – and in this blog, our MD Ed Hutchinson talks about policies we have in place to ensure our people can get the best out of their HBD careers.

Last year, we invested in research to help us understand what attracts people to forge careers in the property and construction sector.

While there were some encouraging results, the research did suggest that 57% of women and girls are put off from pursuing careers in the industry because they perceive it is male-dominated – something that’s still a shame to see, especially as we celebrate International Women’s Day.

For me, the research reinforced just how much our sector needs to shout louder to appeal to everyone. As a sector we need to nurture welcoming and open cultures, with open attitudes and workplace values that are underpinned by working policies that support everyone – no matter their experience, age or gender.

Supporting colleagues at all stages of their career

At HBD, we have worked to ensure that anyone in our business is adequately supported – whether they’re a young person navigating National Careers Week and looking for a place that will grow and nurture them, or someone who is perhaps looking for support with life’s challenges.

We have a number of strategies that we have embedded into our working practices, firstly we invest in people, offering all colleagues training throughout the year, helping them to continually develop no matter what stage of their career they’re at.

We have also nurtured a culture based on mutual trust, meaning that hybrid working is the norm and whilst we continue to encourage our people to recognise the value of being ‘office present’ we prefer to adopt a ‘carrot’ rather than a ‘stick’ approach and allow colleagues across the business to have ownership over planning out their working week.

Going above and beyond

We want to transcend what should be basic expectations of any 21st Century business, as we bolster our offering with additional policies.

International Women’s Day helps put a spotlight on the unique challenges faced by female colleagues, and that is why we have rolled out initiatives like our Menopause Policy. Menopause is a natural stage in life and yet it remains a taboo subject in the workplace so this policy, launched last year by our parent company Henry Boot Group, is to support all colleagues – not only those experiencing menopause but those indirectly affected by it.

We also have a Pregnancy Loss Policy, which supports anyone experiencing pregnancy loss, regardless of their length of service. The policy includes support of all colleagues – whether it is themselves suffering a pregnancy loss, or if it is their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother. It ultimately supports all of those affected by pregnancy loss in all its forms by offering colleagues two week’s paid leave for everyone affected. We also offer paid leave for medical appointments, and flexible working options such as a phased return to work.

HBD is also a business that advocates shared parental leave benefiting from a Henry Boot Group policy that supports anyone who is becoming a parent, enabling the parent to take their Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave and pay at a future date, therefore sharing the untaken balance of leave and pay as Shared Parental Leave and pay, with their partner. The policy also allows early returns to work from Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave and opt in to Shared Parental Leave and pay at a later date.

It’s policies like these that help attract and establish a more diverse team and ultimately help us to grow as a business. But it’s not enough.  We plan to continue to update our approach, consulting with colleagues across the business to ensure that all of our working policies meet their needs, protecting their wellbeing, and giving them the support they need to do their best work each day. That also includes training and investing in people to give them the new skills they need.

It’s something we’ll continue to do this year and beyond and I look forward to hearing our colleagues’ feedback as we shape HBD as a fully inclusive and great place to forge a property career.