Shares in an apple tree
JSE-listed OneLogix Group is a niche logistics provider with operations in key centres throughout South Africa and neighbouring countries, with logistics capability extending to Namibia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
While the staff headcount includes admin, logistical support, fleet controllers and management, by far the largest proportion of the 3 000 staff members are truck drivers, entrusted with cargoes sometimes worth tens of millions of rands. The success of the company rests on the drivers’ ability to safely transport these payloads and serve as effective brand ambassadors at the points of collection and delivery.
“We value our drivers, and we make sure they know this. Even through industry challenges, our employees remain committed to the OneLogix business objectives. We are constantly inundated with applications from drivers wanting to work for us, but there are seldom openings because our staff turnover is in the order of 1.5%. Basically, our drivers only leave us if they retire,” says group human resources manager Hein Swart.
He attributes this low staff turnover to a number of factors, not least the fact that OneLogix’s employee value proposition is substantially better than those of its competitors. Its employee wellness programme, ongoing training and benefits such as a bursary scheme for employees’ children demonstrate the company’s appreciation of its workforce.
Swart says OneLogix executive management understands and appreciates the strategic value of the human resources discipline, and the entire business has a unique “OneLogix culture”, by which it manages to run a resilient business based on innovative and forward thinking approaches. “We always benchmark ourselves against international standards, and Group HR incorporates the 13 national HR standards,” says Swart.
Another critical factor in keeping OneLogix staff loyal and committed is the company’s approach to sharing the benefits of the business’s success. “Every single employee is a shareholder in the company. On top of that, we bend over backwards to ensure they understand business principles, the company’s strategy, and their role and impact on that strategy,” says Swart.
“In some of our business training, we liken the company to an apple tree owned by everyone, and from which everyone can benefit in the long term. Often, when we ask drivers how they’re doing, they will respond with ‘growing the apple tree’, indicating they have a clear understanding of our business principles. In our annual employee engagement surveys, around 90% of staff indicate that they clearly understand the company strategy and their role.”
Getting the right people
for the job
On the back of decades of experience in the transport and logistics sector, OneLogix has built the profile of an ideal driver, a blueprint it employs when recruiting and identifying ideal candidates for driver training.
“It is not just about IQ or academic aptitude. There are certain character traits that make a person an ideal driver and company ambassador, and we strive to recruit people who have these traits. We also have a culture of lifelong learning, to ensure that any shortcomings and potential for improvement are addressed through ongoing in-house training.”
Individualised career progression planning and development programmes are in place for every OneLogix employee, with a company e-learning system in place to provide around 900 courses to boost employee skills and knowledge.
“We have competency profiles for each employee, and HR and line managers support their growth and identify the necessary training needed to help them achieve the perfect profile for their role.
“We have taken the classroom out of training and implemented an online training portal, with training stations at every depot, so staff can log on and improve their skills in line with their personal development plan. This is particularly effective for drivers, because online training is typically faster than classroom-based training, and we cannot pull drivers off the road for lengthy courses in classrooms,” says Swart.
OneLogix also offers specialised professional driver training and learnerships, typically training between 40 and 50 new drivers each year. Existing staff and unemployed learners are offered the opportunity to undergo the year-long course, during which they achieve a Code 14 licence and professional driver’s certification; learners simultaneously earn a stipend and gain experience. At the end of each year, a limited number of course participants are absorbed into the group. With effect from 2017, OneLogix will bring its professional driver training course fully in-house and offer the training service to would-be drivers, offering accredited training by OneLogix’s own trainers, assessors and moderators.
Swart believes OneLogix employees benefit from an open, transparent environment and flat corporate structure, which makes them feel they are part of a family.
“Any driver can walk into my office or even the chief executive’s office to discuss an issue,” he says. “We have very effective communications throughout the company, and HR managers and our chief executive attend these forums regularly. In the ‘OneLogix Family Tree’ training course, we illustrate how the business works and the benefits of keeping it running optimally, so every employee understands they have a vested interest in the company’s success.”
In addition, management demonstrates its appreciation of the value of the drivers by making proactive driver wellness programmes a top priority, incentivising productivity and rewarding good performance. “In fact, our unique remuneration system is the envy of our competitors,” says Swart.
Ensuring that people development is aligned with business goals, HR is a strategic contributor to the overall business strategy.
“We protect our human capital and strive to be different. In fact, we often get asked what the secret of our success is.”