Employers starting to practice ‘paternalism’ of Victorian social reform, says GPE major projects boss

Great Portland Estates

Employers are starting to ape the “paternalistic” practices of Victorian social reforming firms like Cadbury with a bigger emphasis on employees’ welfare, according to Great Portland Estates’ major projects boss James Pellatt.

In a video interview published on Building.co.uk ahead of this magazine’s Building Live conference next month, at which Pellatt (pictured) will be speaking, he said a greater focus on worker welfare amounted to
a “quiet revolution”.

He said: “The biggest shifts in occupier demand over the last two years have definitely been towards the welfare of the workforce.

“In some respects we’re almost going back to Victorian paternalistic times - like Cadbury at Bournville [the chocolate-maker’s estate near Birmingham]. They want to look after their workforce but also their work-life balance as well.”

Cadbury – controversially bought by US food giant Kraft six years ago – built a reputation in Victorian times for looking after its workers.

Pellatt also said office developers were having to provide more flexible schemes to cater for more part-time working and a wider age range in the workplace.

Commenting on the widening age range, he said: “We’re at an interesting point in the market where people are going to be working into their 70s, but also you’re trying to cope for people in their 20s as well - so that’s a challenge.”