Sixty-five-year-old John Negus from The Better Health Generation talks to workingwise.co.uk about how a supportive environment and flexible part-time work means he is not thinking of retiring any time soon.
The Better Health Generation develops and delivers bespoke health services to help people back to work and boost their resilience. Fittingly, given the news focus of late on economic inactivity rates among over 50s, a quarter of its employees are in this age group. Some of its members of staff had taken early retirement and it has managed to entice them back.
The organisation models the kind of supportive culture that makes for greater inclusion. It has a lot of flexible options, including part-time and flexible work for working parents and grandparents, among others, and has hired a number of people who have worked in the NHS in the past, such as occupational therapists and nurses.
One such person is John Negus who has fully embraced the flexible working TBHG offers. He is 65 and started working at TBHG in early October. His wife Alexandra – a nurse – had worked for TBHG for two years, knew they were a good employer and suggested he apply as his contract at the NHS was coming to an end.
John, from Cornwall, is an engineer by trade, but he says there have not been many openings for engineers where he lives since the mines closed. For the last 30 years he has been working in administrative roles. John says the TBHG role is a good match for his skills and for his personal aspirations. He likes the fact that they are very welcoming and supportive and that there is good and regular communication with employees and a sense that it is about making a difference rather than just about the pay cheque.
John [pictured far right being interviewed by workingwise.co.uk] works from home two and a half days a week, which suits his other commitments – he is also doing a silversmith course. It’s something he has always wanted to do, but never had the time. He says: “In the past I’ve worked in really intensive positions with huge demands on my time. At the end of the working week I had no energy left for anything else so this flexibility is very important to me. Working part time means that I finally have the time to indulge in an interest I have had for a long time. It’s time for some me time and TBHG offers me that opportunity and I am happy to commit 120% to them as a result. Working part time also means that when I retire it won’t be such a huge shock.”
Working from home is also a boon in semi-rural Penzance where transport can be difficult. John has had horrible commutes in the past and now it takes him around four minutes to ‘commute’ to his desk. That leaves him with extra energy and means he can just get straight down to work in the morning. His wife also works from home, but they are on two separate floors. TBHG does a lot of video meetings on Teams and John jokes that he sometimes finds it easier to get hold of his team leader, who is in South London, than his wife upstairs.
John’s job involves acting as an intermediary between TBHG’s client referrals and clinicians and setting up appointments. He is clients’ first point of contact and, as such, he needs to have good people skills. He also has to support clinicians with administrative issues, freeing them up to focus on patient care. “Every call is different and has to be dealt with with respect and in confidence. Being older means I have lots of experience in being adaptable to different circumstances and I don’t get phased easily,” he says. “Undoubtedly there have been times when I have been able to empathise with people who are in positions I have been in in the past and it means I can better understand their needs.”
John adds that the TBHG team is very supportive. He says: “You see it in the group chats. If someone is having a hard time everyone chips in to ask how they can help. It is a very supportive and professional organisation, which is rare. John has no plans to retire because the job suits him so well. “I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me,” he says.