Following the successful implementation of the ISO44001 management system in Highways England’s supply chain community, WJ Group and HW Martin are developing their relationship to generate further mutually beneficial outcomes. ISO44001 is an international standard for collaborative business relationships that provides a consistent framework which can be scaled and adapted to meet particular business needs. The aim of the standard is to ensure collaborative business relationships are effective and optimised, as organisations operating collaboratively can achieve greater levels of safety, delivery, innovation and efficiencies whilst working together to a common goal that could not be realised working independently.
Regarding the new partnership, Paul Aldridge, WJ Group Sustainability Director commented “We have been working closely together for a long time and share similar values, so using the form of ISO44001 helps deliver the essence of collaborative working through sharing best practice and building resilient communities that support one another to deliver greater outcomes.”
Indeed, during the COVID-19 pandemic the benefits for strong communities that combine to help each other has been more apparent than at any time since the war years. Communities have been coming together throughout the country to aid one another wherever possible, leading to some wonderful examples of what can happen through alliance, cooperation and partnership.
The Highways industry is no exception with businesses and clients working together to help deliver critical infrastructure maintenance, by adjusting working practices in line with Public Health England guidance and adopting ‘Site Procedures’ provided by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).
Collaborative working has ensured continued maintenance for a road network that is vital for the supply of food, life-saving medicines, fuel, and other essential goods while ensuring emergency, health and other key workers can travel to where they are needed, safely.
Yet the uniqueness of the COVID-19 challenge has made every decision for companies, governments, people and other organisations extremely difficult as there is little precedent for the current circumstances. Giovanni Pennacchia, HW Martin National Commercial Manager said “The partnership has been great during these troubling times as we’ve been able to easily share what both companies have been doing and quickly learn what is and isn’t working. Consequently we can adapt to ensure we’re delivering the highest levels of both physical and mental wellbeing for our workforce.”
In addition to facilitating the sharing of best practice throughout COVID-19, over the previous 6 months the two businesses have been setting up sub groups for different activities so ideas and innovations can be developed collaboratively across a broader scope. Most notably a focus was placed on mental health and sustainability, two key concerns within the industry.
In terms of mental health, HW Martin have shared their independent counsellor and the processes they set up for supporting employees that are struggling with their mental health. They outlined how the initiative led to a reduction in presenteeism whilst creating a culture where employees can be supported when they need it most.
WJ’s sustainability team shared the initiatives WJ have delivered, amongst these is an externally verified measurement of their operational and embedded material carbon footprints, demonstrating how carbon emissions can be significantly reduced through the adoption of bio-based materials.
Also, delivering value for the community is important to both companies and they have agreed to share best practice. They both have delivered social value with community projects and expect to utilise each other’s unique resources and experiences to deliver a wider range of projects to an even greater extent.
However, the benefits gained in utilising the ISO44001 management system go much beyond what it can do for these individual companies, as collaboration enables best value outcomes for delivery of schemes for all stakeholders. The have now identified opportunities for improvement through innovation, knowledge sharing, performance evaluation, regular communication and constant review.
This relationship has highlighted that the most effective solutions will come through increased collaboration at all levels, generating better outcomes than otherwise could be realised.