Is business delivering a sustainable legacy?

By Jeremy Galpin, Training and Talent at The Costain Group


As L&D and HR professionals we know that our people are more engaged when they believe in the strategy and purpose of the organisation and have a sense of shared identity and values. Different people are motivated by different things so our leadership strategy needs to address the diversity of the motivations of the people working in our business. 

There has been an interesting debate in the press about faith and values with David Cameron's decision to call Britain a 'Christian Country'. Whatever our views on this I think we would all agree (would you?) that the beliefs, religious or otherwise, that individuals have, are a significant source of motivation either for good, for example the Quaker Social Reformers who founded business such as Cadbury's, or for ill. 

So whose role is it to help our businesses listen and respond to the diverse beliefs of our people?  I believe as HR and L&D professionals we have an important role to challenge the strategy and leadership of our businesses and to ask the question 'Are we enabling people to align their deepest beliefs and values with our business?' 

For me I need to feel I am making a difference in the job I do. That is what gets me up and onto the train into London every morning (at least it's light now!), It's great to see someone who I have recruited develop rapidly, gain promotion and deliver real value for the business. It's rewarding to get a regular update on the latest person to successful secure Registered Project Professional status via our Costain project management academy. But for me there's an even deeper sense of satisfaction in my small role in putting in place a church funded youth worker who supports young people at the margins of society who are at risk of self-harm and even suicide.

So how does a business create a context in which I am motivated?  It's about leadership and creating the right opportunities and then fitting people to the roles for which they are best suited. I am really excited by the challenges I face in my current role as I develop our strategy and implementation plan for legacy on some of the biggest infrastructure projects in Europe.

Perhaps we should look at a definition of legacy 'something from past: something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time'. In the context of major infrastructure projects there is a very visible physical legacy of our project and the project itself addresses some significant national need such as an improvement in transportation; for example Cross rail, or improvements in our water infrastructure to reduce our impact on the environment such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel.  Increasingly both we and our customers are looking to deliver not only a physical legacy but a social legacy for the communities in which we live.

Our customers want us to deliver a legacy that makes the local community a better place to live.  To improve the environment, contribute to the local economy by developing local small and medium businesses and help local people by providing employment and addressing social issues such as homelessness.

Our investment needs to be measurable and provide real value to both our customers and society as a whole. On the projects I am working on the targets range from 1 person in every 50 on the project being an apprentice to using volunteering (look out for CIPD research on this #CIPDLiL) within social enterprise to pioneer interventions that improve health and reduce crime in the local community.  

I am proud of all those who contributed to the outcomes delivered by projects accredited by the National Skills Academy for Construction from November 2012 to November 2013.  The creation of over 900 jobs, new roles for 50 graduates, the roll out of over 700 pre-employment programmes, the awarding of almost 500 S/NVQ's, over 2800 project visits from schools, colleges and universities, over 500 work placements for students and over 240 construction apprenticeship starts. (For more details click here).

The question and the challenge for me is how do we take this delivery of legacy to the next level? 

For me one of the clues is in this TED lecture by Toby Eccles. What do you think? Click here to view.

So to what extent is the strategy of your business engaging your people at the level of their beliefs? Is legacy and sustainability embedded?   Would anyone or everyone describe working for your business as a calling?

And what legacy are you personally delivering in your role as an HR and L&D professional?

Jeremy is a Chartered Fellow with the Institute of Personnel and Development a Chartered Engineer and an Associate with the Association of Coaching. In his current role he is responsible for the development and implementation of legacy including L&D strategy on a number of major infrastructure projects in the UK. 

Jeremy has spent 25 years with Costain initially in engineering and project management and then into training and generalist HR and most recently in a Training and Talent role for the Group

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