Social - our people
Health and safety
Health and safety is the backbone of our business and culture. COVID-19 highlighted that more than ever. A strong reputation for excellent health and safety is a significant competitive advantage for us. In addition, an ever-changing regulatory focus on safety and more stringent requirements for all operators continues to assist our growth. It is more efficient to outsource responsibility for equipment safety to us than for customers to manage it themselves. This has been one important factor in the shift to rental that has underpinned our growth in North America and which has reinforced our position in the UK.
Our extensive health and safety programmes monitor, develop and maintain safe working practices while reminding our employees of the need to be safe at all times and look after their own health. Our continued improvement is accomplished through a combination of proactive safety and leadership training, enhanced safety programmes and timely incident response and investigation. This continuous improvement includes a focus on the importance of mental health in the overall wellbeing of our people. We also help our customers ensure the safety of their own employees including providing safety training as required. In addition, we make a considerable annual investment in ensuring our rental equipment meets or exceeds the latest safety standards, as well as providing health and safety advice and materials along with each rental.
How we monitor performance
We monitor health and safety by the number of reported incidents that occur during our work. We track and analyse all incidents and ‘near misses’ to enable us to identify recurrent issues and implement preventative improvements. The importance of health and safety is reflected in the fact that the number of reportable accidents is one of our group-wide KPIs.
We continue to develop and improve our incident management system which enables us to manage incidents while allowing us to investigate, analyse root causes and track corrective/preventative actions. The tracking and reporting of ‘near misses’ is an area we are looking to improve as the lessons learnt are as instructive or often more so, than from actual incidents.
COVID-19 tested our excellent health and safety reputation and reinforced it massively. Operationally, we changed the way we work to ensure our team members remained protected, while continuing to work across our store network, ensuring we met the needs of our customers and communities. What remains relevant in a post-pandemic environment, we will continue to do.
We recognise that everyone must take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others. In North America we continue to develop our Engage for Life programme which is built on three pillars: culture, community, and commitment. We are focused on building a culture that eliminates serious injuries or fatalities (SIFs), aligns our best practices, and ensures we all have the right skills to complete work safely.
Working with our customers and suppliers
Being a responsible business means sharing and promoting our safety culture with our customers and suppliers whenever possible. For example, we have dedicated mobile elevated work platform, forklift and earth moving operator trainers who train customers and we offer customised training programmes to fill their needs. We work with customers’ safety teams to develop customised training courses, sometimes for a specific jobsite and participate in training days for major customers, demonstrating safe use of equipment and running training seminars. This is in addition to the routine safety briefings that accompany equipment rental. We now offer dedicated full-time safety trainers for our customers in 75 markets across North America and have 18 accredited training centres in the UK.
We know that a skilled and committed workforce is fundamental to our success. Our labour management policies are designed to ensure we take the very best care of our people. As we grow, we add employees both through direct recruitment and acquisition. When we acquire companies, we also acquire their knowledgeable and dedicated staff who have often built up a successful business. To maintain that success, we adopt a circumspect approach when it comes to integrating new staff into the Group to ensure new team members are engaged with the business and the Group benefits from their experience and dedication.
Career development and training
Training and development continues throughout the careers of our employees and we have many programmes in place to ensure they achieve their ambitions, reach their potential and remain safe. Employees’ welfare and job satisfaction are enormously important and we invest significant money and time in facilitating career development and evolving training to reflect the changing needs of our workforce.
Reward and benefits
We use a combination of competitive fixed pay and attractive incentive programmes to reward and motivate staff and these drive our profits and return on investment. All eligible Sunbelt UK employees are paid the Living Wage (as recommended by The Living Wage Foundation) and Sunbelt UK is an accredited Living Wage Employer. In North America we adopted a Leading Wage to ensure all employees are paid an hourly rate in excess of the state and federal recommended rates.
We provide a comprehensive package of benefits ensuring they represent affordable and smart choices for employees. Each benefit offering has been designed to work with another, providing a financial safety net that serves those employees in need, as well as providing us all with a proper sense of security.
Our sales force is incentivised through our commission plans which are based on sales, both volume and price achieved, and a broad measure of return on investment determined by reference to equipment type and discount level. We flex our incentive plans to reflect the stage of the cycle in which we operate and the drivers of performance for the business, which we believe is an important element in retaining the confidence of our workforce through the economic cycle.
In addition to their core benefits, including pension and life assurance arrangements, we have an employee assistance helpline which offers free confidential support and advice to those in need. We also have other benefits to promote good health amongst our employees.
We are committed to ensuring that our workforce reflects the communities in which we live and work, and providing equal opportunities for all our staff is a priority. Our recruitment comes predominantly from the areas immediately around our facilities thereby providing opportunities for local people and a positive impact on their community. We make every reasonable effort to give disabled applicants and existing employees who become disabled, opportunities for work, training and career development in keeping with their aptitudes and abilities. We do not discriminate against any individual on the basis of a protected status, such as sex, colour, race, religion, native origin, or age.
We believe in treating our staff well and rewarding them for the effort they put in on our behalf. It is crucial that our workforce is a healthy one, both physically and mentally, and we work hard to look after our people and help them look after themselves. When our staff are on top form, they provide the best service to our customers. We are also there to help when they find themselves in difficulties.