Sir John Laing
The story of John Laing of Laing Construction. From the early days, John Laing was concerned for the well-being of his employees. Although he expected much from his staff, he also worked consistently to see an improvement in their conditions.
In 1920 he decided to make it possible for all employees to become shareholders in the Company. In his desire to encourage thrift, from 1928 his company contributed one shilling towards the cost of every National Savings Certificate purchased by its employees. It gave a clear lead to other companies in the industry.
He established a Laing Benevolent Fund, introduced paid holiday and guaranteed a minimum working week of 24 hours for regular employees. These were all ground breaking measures in the 1930s.
He practiced his religious and moral beliefs in business as well as privately and when the company hit financial straits in 1909, he made a pledge to God: for every pound he earned, a significant percentage would be given to charity. He was as good as his word and, when he died, had only a few hundred pounds to his name. Many church projects were carried out on a non-profit making basis and when the company rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, it donated the profits from the contract back to the Cathedral.
His church interests included such organizations as the British and Foreign Bible Society, Inter-Varsity Fellowship, the London Bible College, Scripture Gift Mission, and among youth movements the Crusaders' and the Covenanters' Unions.
The company still embraces John Laing’s investment in its people through initiatives such as its work with The Prince’s Trust. The Building Better Lives: Get into Construction scheme aims to recruit the next generation of construction workers by giving young people the chance to experience modern building first hand. Staff also support The Prince’s Trust through volunteering to help disadvantaged young people on the Trust’s Team Programme, which gives them work placement support and helps with CV and interview skills.
John Laing’s son, Maurice, stated that: “Employees are human beings and not just resources,” and must be treated “at all times with equity and fairness.”
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