Inserting Long-Term Value into an Ageing Workforce

A manufacturing case study in the North West of England

Hybrid Search owners Dave and Dan were attending a chemicals sector event when an existing client introduced us to an EU HR Director of an American owned speciality chemicals manufacturer. They had been growing their European footprint through acquisitions and could foresee a need for a long term hiring strategy. The challenge they were facing at their site in the North West of England is one that hits home with many businesses within the sector; an ageing workforce sitting in critical roles without a healthy succession plan to counteract their impending retirements. The speciality chemical manufacturer indicated that their Technical Services Laboratory Manager, the go-to expert for technical queries, was due to retire after a 40-year tenure with the business, leaving big shoes to fill.

The main difficulty was not only to find someone that had the specific testing experience that was vital to the business, but someone also had the skills and abilities required to liaise with customers and the commercial team regularly. Although there was a nucleus of relevant companies in the area, these requirements significantly narrowed our talent mapping focus. The solution was to open up the search to companies that sat in different areas of the supply chain but would have transferable knowledge to match our client’s products and experience running the same tests. This provided a marginal increase in the number of potential candidates and made all of the difference in a search with such a level of specificity.

Through engagement and in-depth assessments, Hybrid Search established a shortlist of 3 candidates would provide the needed value to the business. Following client-led interviews, a successor was selected that offered the essential skills, abilities and experience with some room for future development in the company. This role was a step-up for her and provided a natural progression in her career after hitting a 'glass ceiling" in the company she had spent 8 years.

Although following the footsteps of the retiring Technical Services Lab Manager role would provide a challenge, she had a positive attitude and motivation to learn and grow with the company, creating the opportunity to offer increasing long term value.