For Top Employer AVBOB, it’s all in the family
‘We find the right person for the right position and the right cultural fit’
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.”