Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Graham Group was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Alberta's Top Employers (2018):
- Graham Group cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan and profit-sharing -- and helps employees prepare for the future with a defined contribution pension plan and retirement planning assistance
- Graham Group encourages employees to keep their skills up-to-date through a variety of training initiatives, from apprenticeships and trades programs to extensive leadership training -- employees can also take advantage of no-limit tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions
- In addition to 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance, Graham Group helps employees achieve better work-life balance with flexible hours and a telecommuting option (for some employees)
With custom programs, Graham nurtures future leaders
When Ryan Simpson joined Graham 13 years ago, he knew that he wanted to work in construction, and he didn't want a desk job. Other than that, he says, "I was green as grass."
At the time, Graham was still small enough that Simpson could readily identify the skills he'd need to advance and the people who could help him to do it. With a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, he started as a project coordinator and quickly learned the ins and outs of his job from his supervisors and managers as he moved from one site to another.
Within a year, Simpson had transferred to Edmonton, where he took on more responsibilities on more complex projects. But Graham was expanding rapidly and would soon outgrow its informal approach to career development.
"We're now a seven-level organization," says Mark Frezell, Graham's Vice-President of Human Resources in Calgary. "We're a $2.5-billion company, with more than 1,000 employees, and we have aspirations to become even bigger."
Initially, Graham relied on third-party providers for training and development programs. But in 2014, company leaders decided to develop an in-house suite of programs to identify, mentor and train individuals for more senior positions.
With this in mind, the company recruited employees from all areas of its operations, including Ryan Simpson, to develop the programs.
"I took a two-and-a-half-year hiatus from operations to work in HR with a group of leaders from across the company," says Simpson, now a Construction Manager for Graham in Edmonton. "We developed content and curriculum in a collaborative effort to create the Builders' Framework program, which is a structured mentoring and training program that we could use as the company grew."
The program now includes 28 accredited courses in construction and estimating that employees can apply toward their Project Management certification.
The Builders' Framework is just one of several custom career development programs that Graham has created to assist employees as they work toward leadership positions in the company. Another suite of programs, called Leadership Transitions, focuses on developing leadership skills, teamwork and customer partnerships.
Graham also offers employees a custom mentorship program and individual career development plans, as well as access through Graham's e-Learning Portal to hundreds of learning assets covering such subjects as business skills development, software applications and leadership skills development.
Through an internal website, similar to LinkedIn, called Building Leaders, individual employees post details about their work and educational experience, previous positions and skills as well as a talent profile of their particular interests, goals and personal aspirations.
"Senior managers use it when we're looking for candidates," says Frezell.
Custom career development programs not only help Graham and its employees to meet their goals, they also attract high-quality job applicants. "Our recruiting team actively markets these programs," Frezell says. "People join Graham not just for the immediate job but for their next job as well. We want them to grow, build their careers and advance as far as they want to go." Senior leaders actively participate in succession planning to identify internal high-potential employees.
To Simpson, Graham has allowed him to follow a "non-linear career path. I like to change things up after I get comfortable," he says.
As for the time he spent on the Builders' Framework, Simpson not only "gained an appreciation for the collaborative effort required to roll out a training program," he says, "I also met more than 600 people in the organization. Now, if I have an issue, I think through my mental Rolodex and pick up the phone. In our company, people are glad to help you out."