Recruiting the right people is a big issue – and so is keeping hold of them. Here, we speak to director Marion Forbes about her company’s highly regarded Mactaggart & Mickel & YOU initiative, which neatly combines the many ways the housebuilder looks after its valued workforce.
“The initiative was launched in November 2017,” says Marion, “but it is really just bringing together under one name all the things we’d been doing for years. It’s aimed at every member of staff. We consider ourselves an ‘employer of choice’ and it’s important we care for them all as people as well as employees.”
Mactaggart & Mickel has a long-standing heritage, with the founders’ roots in the Victorian era, with the Group formed in 1925. In more recent times, the company has expanded from building its own homes into other additional divisions in timber frame production, strategic land, commercial property and providing expert services to other housebuilders.
The scope of the initiative is group-wide. “Safety on site and the overall health of our teams are really important and we have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to both,” says Marion. “For example, we provide everyone with regular medicals to test for diabetes and cholesterol along with numerous other health checks, and the nurses can then spot a potential problem and help deal with it.”
Overall, the company sees a very low level of absence through illness. “We are a caring employer and our approach is to care for each individual as a whole”, adds Marion.
Mactaggart & Mickel & YOU also encompasses a generous rewards scheme, with financial bonuses alongside pensions, healthcare provision and a range of staff initiatives. There is also a gradual wind-down scheme in place for those approaching retirement.
The company was recently awarded an Investors in People Platinum rating, the highest available, becoming the first housebuilder in Scotland to receive that accolade and one of only 2% of IIP-accredited companies to reach this level.
Caring for their people plays a significant part in the company winning various national awards. “We believe that our approach with employees drives the team to deliver excellence, resulting in a high-quality service and product,” says Marion.
High employee retention is one of the outcomes of the Group’s approach to staff care through Mactaggart & Mickel & YOU and it makes economic sense to make them want to stay. “Staff turnover is just 3.8% annually, with many long-serving staff across the Group. This is something we celebrate annually at our Group away day which all employees attend from apprentice to director.”
The company recognises that recruiting individuals who fit the culture and have the right ethos and values is fundamental. When an individual joins the team they have a four-week ‘onboarding’ process, a critical part of which is learning the MacMic culture and values. “However, we recognise it takes eight to 12 months for someone to really understand their role. We also know that there needs to be continuing career development for everyone. We have taken a lead in that, offering staff the opportunity to study for qualifications.”
“Another part of our ethos is to promote internally where we can and we have numerous examples of individuals who have progressed within the organisation. For example, our Building Leaders programme allows us to progress trade operatives to become assistant site managers. This take around two years and has proven to be very successful.”
The company’s ambitions are providing more career opportunities off and on site. “We have multiple roles coming up, and we’re aiming to get that message across to job seekers,” says Marion. “There is a continuing search for trade skills; for example, there’s a serious shortage of bricklayers in Scotland right now.”
Tackling the skills crisis is vital to the industry, she adds. “There’s a definite need for us all to work more at grassroots level with young people, to showcase the rewards and range of careers that we can offer. We need to see more apprenticeships – not just trade – and, importantly, we need to do much more to educate career advisors and teachers about what the construction industry offers as a career choice.”