For Top Em­ployer AVBOB, it’s all in the fam­ily

‘We find the right per­son for the right po­si­tion and the right cul­tural fit’

Mail & Guardian - - Top Employers -

Frik Rade­man, AVBOB’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, says: “The spirit of an or­gan­i­sa­tion is in its work­force: they are the am­bas­sadors, the pas­sion and the driv­ers that steer the ship to ul­ti­mate suc­cess. At AVBOB we en­sure that our em­ploy­ees are taken care of, as we are a fam­ily, and fam­ily comes first.”

He adds: “AVBOB wants to en­sure that our work­force is ap­pre­ci­ated and this is an ob­jec­tive we have truly achieved.”

“There is hardly an em­ployee who is not a brand am­bas­sador,” says Nthabiseng Nx­u­malo, hu­man cap­i­tal lead for AVBOB. One ex­am­ple of this can be found in AVBOB’s se­cu­rity guards, who know reg­u­lar vis­i­tors by name and walk them to re­cep­tion.

A fac­tor that de­fines and com­bines AVBOB em­ploy­ees is the re­cent an­nounce­ment that AVBOB is now for­mally ac­cred­ited as a Top Em­ployer, a rare dis­tinc­tion awarded to or­gan­i­sa­tions that meet a host of strin­gent stan­dards.

The Top Em­ploy­ers In­sti­tute has been there for more than 25 years and AVBOB has been there for al­most 100. Why now?

“The time is right,” says Nx­u­malo. “We are a very strong brand, we are on the eve of our cen­te­nary and we are not only build­ing, but al­ready reap­ing the re­wards of a num­ber of unique hu­man cap­i­tal strate­gies. Of course, we also want to bench­mark our­selves against other com­pa­nies.”

With the over­ar­ch­ing theme and vi­sion of in­spir­ing em­ployee loy­alty, AVBOB has set it­self a num­ber of key ob­jec­tives. Cen­tral to this is the clear align­ment of busi­ness, cus­tomer and em­ployee needs, as well as the op­ti­mi­sa­tion of knowl­edge, skills and at­ti­tude sets.

Equally im­por­tant is the qual­ity of AVBOB’s lead­er­ship pro­grammes, with most of the at­ten­dees be­ing pro­moted within a short space of time. A new fo­cus is on peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. Says Nx­u­malo, “We are putting our money where our mouth is; we in­vest heav­ily in the de­vel­op­ment of our peo­ple.”

Un­der­pin­ning these obli­ga­tions is the group’s non-ne­go­tiable and un­flinch­ing com­mit­ment to not only the no­tion, but the day-to-day re­al­ity of fam­ily. “Our core is about his­tory, about fam­ily. We are fair, em­pa­thetic and, above all, com­pas­sion­ate, and it’s all based on our his­tory and cul­ture.”

While some com­pa­nies merely talk about the im­por­tance of their peo­ple, AVBOB puts its words into ac­tion. One of the rea­sons, Nx­u­malo ex­plains, is that in the fu­neral in­dus­try cus­tomer-cen­tric­ity takes on an ad­di­tional di­men­sion. “Our em­ploy­ees have to deal with peo­ple at their most vul­ner­a­ble. Our cur­rency, if you will, is emo­tion, and our staff have to be equipped for that. To do that, we have to find the right per­son for the right po­si­tion and the right cul­tural fit.”

AVBOB’s gen­eral man­ager: Hu­man Re­sources, Gra­ham Edwards, agrees. “Our chal­lenge is to at­tract the right kind of per­son with the right kind of val­ues. We are in a tough mar­ket. Given the na­ture of the in­dus­try and the cul­tural di­ver­sity of our coun­try, an un­der­taker has to be able to meet a wide va­ri­ety of emo­tional and cul­tural needs. There can be no bias to any­one cross­ing our thresh­old; we have to re­main in­fin­itely sen­si­tive, which is why we pro­vide train­ing, rang­ing from be­reave­ment coun­selling to cul­tural di­ver­sity.”

Across the spec­trum of ca­reers and oc­cu­pa­tions the group also has ad­vanced re­mu­ner­a­tion strate­gies. Says Edwards: “These days ag­gres­sive salaries are not enough to at­tract or re­tain good peo­ple.” This echoes a grow­ing trend pointed out by the Top Em­ploy­ers In­sti­tute, namely that job seek­ers are more aware and com­mit­ted to higher eth­i­cal stan­dards and seek em­ploy­ment in align­ment with this.

“In the con­text of the mar­ket and coun­try in which we op­er­ate, I be­lieve we have a num­ber of key fac­tors and unique strate­gies in our favour, from hu­man cap­i­tal to re­mu­ner­a­tion,” con­cludes Nx­u­malo. “All of this adds to AVBOB be­ing a group where any­one can make a dif­fer­ence, as long as we never lose our com­pas­sion.”

Rade­man con­cludes: “Treat­ing em­ploy­ees with re­spect has to be at the core of every or­gan­i­sa­tion. At AVBOB we work as a team and we demon­strate mu­tual re­spect, loy­alty and ex­cel­lence. The se­cret be­hind [be­ing] a Top Em­ployer is a win­ning team.”

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