Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and Alberta's Top Employers (2018):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Graham Group was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and Alberta's Top Employers (2018):
- Graham Group encourages employees to keep their skills up to date through a variety of training initiatives, from apprenticeships and trades programs to leadership development -- employees can also take advantage of tuition subsidies for courses at external institutions (with no annual max)
- Graham Group employees enjoy work and play, with a number of company-organized social events throughout the year, including annual Christmas parties for employees and their children, annual employee hockey and golf tournaments, a Calgary Stampede party, summer barbecues and chili cook-offs, and tickets to local sporting events and concerts
- Graham Group cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan and profit-sharing -- and helps employees save for the future with a defined contribution pension plan
The Graham Group strives to maintain a family vibe
When you've grown into an employee-owned construction giant but still want to keep the small-town roots you started with, you have to be willing to go the extra mile. In the case of the Graham Group, that literally means senior leaders logging thousands of kilometres on a "Town Hall" circuit, visiting every office across Canada and the United States. It's a long haul, but this management marathon and other channels of communication help keep the company fit and employees engaged.
"Our CEO and a number of our executive leaders get in front of our people and give them the opportunity to ask difficult questions and to challenge and clarify," says Patrick Schmidtz, Vice President Labour. "It's meaningful communication. We deal with hard issues. People ask hard questions and it's part of what keeps us healthy."
From a small family business in Moose Jaw, Sask., Graham has grown into a leading, fully integrated North American construction solutions provider. Headquartered in Calgary, it has 14 North American offices, 1,445 full-time staff in Canada and annual revenues of more than $2 billion.
While progressive and sophisticated, Graham still maintains a more intimate, family-friendly culture, not only because its management goes the distance, but because it's an employee-owned company. "It's a core piece of our culture. It comes down to taking care of people and giving them a path to grow their skills and careers while behaving with that small-town feel," says Schmidtz.
"Our employee ownership is at the root of what sets us apart," he continues. "We're a group of people who really care about the work we do. We've got great people who have a stake in the business and I think our strategy is an effective way to remain competitive and give folks the opportunity for a great career."
Ownership offers Graham employees opportunities rare in the rest of the construction sector, including a share purchase plan, profit-sharing and the chance to invest in the company's Graham Income Trust. Employees also enjoy benefits like a defined contribution pension plan and three weeks' starting vacation allowance.
For Jennifer Scott, Director of Concessions in Graham's Vancouver office, the company's training and leadership programs are a key benefit. "Graham has a lot of different programs to support their employees and the skills training and tuition bonuses are meaningful and impactful," says Scott. "I've used a lot of them and they're all gold-seal certified."
Graham's award-winning suite of courses and programs covers all the elements of construction. Its industry-leading Builders' Framework offers a ladder of support that helps employees advance their careers from the field into supervisory and management roles. Rather than rely on outside consultants, the company's programs draw largely on the experience and expertise of Graham employees.
Social events also enhance the company's family feel. Employees are encouraged to take part in a wide variety of events, such as Christmas parties, summer barbecues and celebrations like the Calgary Stampede.
Participation in charitable events is also high. Graham contributed more than $1 million to causes across North America and supported more than 250 charities last year. From contributing to disaster relief overseas to volunteering at or donating to the local food bank, Graham employees treat the global village like their own small-town company.
Caring and sharing is also part of the culture in every Graham office. Scott says it makes the company stand out from other places she's worked at. "I think a huge part of what makes Graham a top employer is the community culture that they've created," she says. "The Graham team of people are all just really good people."