Construction giant has managed to retain the personal touch

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

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

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 draw-card 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 R25-million 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.