Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Graham Group was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and Alberta's Top Employers (2016):
- Graham Group encourages employees to keep their skills up-to-date through a variety of training initiatives, from apprenticeships and internship programs to in-house training and tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions (with no tuition limit for courses directly related to their position)
- Graham Group lets everyone share in the company's success through profit-sharing, year-end bonuses and a share purchase plan -- the firm also helps employees save for the longer term through a defined contribution pension plan
- Graham Group is a leader in the construction industry, offering its new moms maternity leave top-up payments (to 100% of salary for up to 12 weeks) as well as flexible work hour options when they are ready to return
Graham builds success on employee ownership
Established in 1926, Calgary-based Graham has grown to become one of Canada's largest providers of general contracting and construction management services, numbering more than 1,400 employees and over $2 billion in annual revenue. And much of its success is built on employee ownership.
Graham is 100-per-cent employee owned. Between 15 and 20 per cent of profits are returned every year to unitholders, depending on the performance of the company.
"The employee-ownership program has always been a big motivator for people to do their best," says Justin Churko, a Design Build Deputy Project Director in Graham's Saskatoon office and a University of Saskatchewan civil engineering grad. "When people are literally invested in the company with their own money, it helps drive their performance and holds everyone accountable."
Jeff Schippmann, Senior Vice-President, Human Resources, and Chief People Officer, says Graham's corporate culture still reflects the values of its founder, Phillip Wigglesworth Graham, and are summed up in three words: commitment, integrity and reliability.
But a sense of teamwork has always been a constant - even during tough economic times, he adds. "The whole employee-owned aspect of the company creates this 'Hey, we're all in this together' spirit," he observes. "It's quite different from other places I've worked, and contributes to entrepreneurship and accountability."
As Graham grows larger, strengthening that spirit of collaboration becomes increasingly important, adds Schippmann. In fact, its future success depends on it. "The whole emphasis is on being better together, working together to achieve our common goals," he notes. "It's having that message represented in just about everything we do."
"Better together" also means supporting employees through top-notch training, industry-leading benefits, and opportunities for advancement.
Graham's in-house development opportunities include a three-staged leadership training program and a newly developed series of courses for builders called Builders' Framework. Graham also provides internship opportunities, and offers tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions.
The company's benefits are among the best in the industry, says Churko. New moms receive top-up payments that bring their salaries to 100 per cent for up to 12 weeks, and have the option of working flexible hours when they return. The firm also helps employees save for the longer term through a defined contribution pension plan.
To promote wellness, nurses periodically visit the workplace to administer flu shots. And, through a partnership with a private health clinic, employees can receive confidential, biometric health screenings and an overall snapshot of their health. Staff members also receive three extra vacation days around the holiday season, and annual vacation time is based on total work experience, not just an individual's tenure at Graham.
For Churko, though, one of the biggest benefits is the ability to develop as a professional. Thanks to the company's growth, employees have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area, and can move more easily between Graham's various divisions, including infrastructure, buildings and industrial.
"You're not constrained in what you do," he notes. "It's really determined by your own motivation. I've never felt pigeon-holed or stuck in a role."