Con­struc­tion giant has man­aged to re­tain the per­sonal touch

The Basadi pro­gramme is open­ing new doors for women in this in­dus­try

Mail & Guardian - - Top Employers - Keale­boga Mokolo­bate

Group Five has proven it­self not only to be an ag­ile and in­no­va­tive com­pany in its cre­ations and im­ple­men­ta­tion projects through its di­verse project port­fo­lios; it has proven it­self to be con­scious of grow­ing its in­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment and ef­fect­ing change in the en­vi­ron­ment it sets its foot­prints upon. These guid­ing val­ues have en­sured its lead­ing po­si­tion in the in­dus­try (even in the wake of an un­sta­ble mar­ket), but also as a re­spon­si­ble cor­po­rate ci­ti­zen, en­sur­ing that no one is left be­hind in the growth of South Africa and the con­ti­nent at large. These val­ues have pro­duced loyal em­ploy­ees who aptly get pro­moted into se­nior leader lead­er­ship roles. We take a look at how a large com­pany en­sures that its em­ploy­ees re­ceive the per­sonal touch and have ac­cess to op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth.

With a chief ex­ec­u­tive who de­liv­ers monthly re­ports to em­ploy­ees, and a cor­po­rate and busi­ness strat­egy that is an­nounced to em­ploy­ees bi-an­nu­ally, Group Five op­er­ates with a fam­ily men­tal­ity. This large com­pany op­er­ates with one aim in mind: to be the best and most im­pact­ful in transforming the con­ti­nent.

With op­er­a­tions in South Africa, sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and Europe, how does this con­struc­tion giant en­sure there is full trans­parency and growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for its 8 000 em­ploy­ees?

The Top Em­ploy­ers In­sti­tute prides it­self on show­cas­ing the best com­pa­nies that un­der­stand that their em­ploy­ees are their as­sets. As one of the top con­struc­tion com­pa­nies and with wide reach across the con­ti­nent, how does this huge in­fra­struc­ture cre­ator keep the team con­nected and ori­ented in a growth di­rec­tion, not only for the com­pany but also for it em­ploy­ees? Over 68% of the lead­er­ship at Group Five was pro­moted in­ter­nally, speak­ing vol­umes of their re­ten­tion strate­gies and high work sat­is­fac­tion lev­els.

Last year, the news was filled with com­ments on how con­fi­dence in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try has been wan­ing. Con­fi­dence in the in­dus­try has only re­cently edged up; Group Five has man­aged to main­tain its edge in the in­dus­try. This may be di­rectly re­lated to its val­ues around per­for­mance and its strong con­sul­ta­tive and col­lab­o­ra­tive spirit.

A quick look at the Group Five web­site pro­vides a world of information about what makes the com­pany what it is to­day. Trans­parency is ev­i­dent in the freely avail­able fi­nan­cial re­ports, the goals and cur­rent sta­tus on per­ti­nent as­pects such as trans­for­ma­tion, sus­tain­abil­ity and safety. Fur­ther­more, an easy-to-nav­i­gate web­site en­sures that any­one vis­it­ing it can un­der­stand its value propo­si­tion and its wide reach in the mar­ket. It also speaks to as­pi­rant em­ploy­ees, en­sur­ing that they un­der­stand the vast op­por­tu­ni­ties as­so­ci­ated with be­ing a Group Five fam­ily mem­ber.

Group Five’s at­trac­tive re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­age is an ob­vi­ous draw­card for pos­si­ble em­ploy­ees look­ing for growth and re­wards for hard work. Travel ben­e­fits (where ap­pli­ca­ble), com­pre­hen­sive med­i­cal aid op­tions, in­cen­tive schemes and a com­pet­i­tive salary pack­age are just a few of the ben­e­fits avail­able to em­ploy­ees.

The com­pany’s four-tiered on­board­ing pro­gramme ac­cli­ma­tises new em­ploy­ees to the Group Five way of liv­ing, start­ing with a two-day over­view of the com­pany. Over the next three months, the em­ployee is ex­posed to as­pects re­lated to the re­spec­tive dis­ci­plines, busi­ness poli­cies, pro­cesses and projects. The em­ploy­ees over this time will be on-site to get a prac­ti­cal idea of how the levers move at Group Five. Un­der­stand­ing the sup­port struc­tures avail­able in the group is an im­por­tant as­pect to en­sure em­ploy­ees know where to go for ex­tra re­sources. These struc­tures in­clude Hu­man Re­sources, In­ter­nal Au­dit, Academy, Group Fi­nance and Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The fi­nal on­board­ing process en­tails the new em­ploy­ees get­ting an op­por­tu­nity to meet the chief ex­ec­u­tive and ex­ec­u­tive team, where they can learn about the over­all strat­egy go­ing for­ward for Group Five. The strong con­sul­ta­tive process con­ducted with new em­ploy­ees en­sures that the on­board­ing process is rel­e­vant and im­proves year on year.

Learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment are at the heart of the Group Five cul­ture, and play an in­te­gral role in driv­ing its per­for­mance-driven lead­er­ship val­ues. They en­sure that Group Five de­liv­ers timeously and keeps in­no­vat­ing in the ever-chang­ing con­struc­tion in­dus­try, and al­low the com­pany to stay co­he­sive when dark clouds loom over the in­dus­try — as has hap­pened be­fore.

A deep dive into the Group Five cul­ture pro­vides a sense that it is a fam­ily where no one is left be­hind, no mean feat for a com­pany with such widely dis­persed em­ploy­ees. The in­vest­ment in em­ploy­ees, build­ing skills and transforming the coun­try en­sures that the com­pany pro­duces the best re­sults.

The Group Five flair for in­no­va­tion and trans­for­ma­tion is ev­i­denced by their award-win­ning Basadi Pro­gramme, aimed at pro­mot­ing women in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try. As for­ward thinkers, as far back as 2011, a res­o­lu­tion was made to im­prove fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the com­pany and within the in­dus­try. The pro­gramme has now evolved into the Basadi Fo­rum, which is open­ing doors to po­si­tions not pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by women in con­struc­tion.

Group Five also has its fin­ger on the pulse with re­gards to un­der­stand­ing the trans­for­ma­tion agenda of South Africa. Their cur­rent Level 2 B-BBEE sta­tus re­veals a com­pany com­mit­ted to trans­for­ma­tion. Where many other com­pa­nies may pos­si­bly down­size the B-BBEE ini­tia­tives, Group Five pushes for­ward with its in­clu­sive val­ues by in­vest­ing in pro­grammes that foster in­clu­sive­ness and skills de­vel­op­ment. The in-house Con­struc­tion Skills Academy works with con­struc­tion sec­tor ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing au­thor­i­ties to build pro­grammes that de­velop skills in the in­dus­try. One pro­gramme has al­ready trained over 500 peo­ple from the Sal­danha lo­cal com­mu­nity on var­i­ous short cour­ses, in­clud­ing learn­er­ships in the built and civil engi­neer­ing en­vi­ron­ment. The Group Five “Peo­ple at the Gate” pro­gramme fo­cusses on ad­dress­ing lo­cal com­mu­nity skills short­ages; it has suc­cess­fully re­duced un­em­ploy­ment rates in the ar­eas where Group Five holds con­tracts. A review of their B-BBEE cer­tifi­cate shows that Group Five is ac­tu­ally ac­com­plish­ing black own­er­ship. Many com­pa­nies strug­gle to find and groom black tal­ent to be own­ers of large in­dus­tries and com­pa­nies. Group Five has an im­pres­sive 57.84% black own­er­ship and 22.79% black fe­male own­er­ship — a tremen­dous feat for a com­pany of its size. The black fe­male own­er­ship can only im­prove with ini­tia­tives such as the Basadi Fo­rum.

Group Five has in­vested R25mil­lion over five years in lead­er­ship and man­age­ment pro­grammes. This ex­plains why se­nior lead­er­ship is pro­moted from within and demon­strates the im­por­tance of en­sur­ing that the em­ploy­ees un­der­stand the core val­ues of the com­pany. Ap­prox­i­mately 300 man­agers have un­der­gone train­ing, rang­ing from ju­nior first-line man­age­ment to very se­nior lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ex­ec­u­tive de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes. These pro­grammes and the value propo­si­tion around learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment cre­ates am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for per­sonal and ca­reer de­vel­op­ment for em­ploy­ees.

With learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment and per­for­mance and lead­er­ship at the heart of Group Five’s ethics, this com­pany prom­ises to in­crease its dom­i­nance in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

Ju­dith Nz­i­mande: ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hu­man Re­sources at the in­no­va­tive con­struc­tion com­pany Group Five. Photo: Supplied

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