More than 100 years of service to the mining industry has established Murray & Roberts Cementation as the undisputed leader as first-choice underground mining contractor in Africa, predominant in shaft-sinking, contract-mining, raisedrilling and shaft-boring technology and services.

Expert teams in four core divisions – mine engineering, mine development, contract mining and mine services – offer unparalleled industry knowledge, skills and experience in mine project delivery, from concept to commissioning.

“We consciously built on our reputation as the first choice,” Allan Widlake, business development executive of Murray & Roberts Cementation, says. “A comprehensive range of capabilities and services covering the full spectrum of the mining value chain for underground mine development and contracting services is available. Backed by an emphasis on safety, quality and outstanding customer service, solutions can be provided proactively for any conceivable mining-related need guaranteeing timely delivery of quality projects.

“The ‘first choice’-concept has been extended internally, as Murray & Roberts Cementation reaffirms its position as employer of choice and this led to the development of its ‘1st choice’ programme. The first step in becoming first choice for existing and aspiring employees is to maximise opportunities for open communication. An interesting aspect of the campaign is to improve employee engagement and create smooth communications channels is that safety awareness and adherence as well as productivity have benefited,” Widlake says.

Employees were encouraged to participate, contributing to create their ideal working environment where behaviours they favour are respected and rewarded, and those they frown on eliminated.

“The most important factor is that this behaviour code is not something imposed from external sources, but has grown from within,” Widlake says. The initiative has been greeted warmly by both NUM and Solidarity, giving it their full support.

Employees used gut feeling to fill in questionnaires to highlight behaviours they wanted as well as those they wanted eradicated. The process hinges on reinforcing and multiplying positive behaviours and eliminating negative behaviours.

The first step produced a wide range of comments, which, in a second step, were categorised under common issues with some 40 ‘above-the-line’ behaviours (enablers) and a similar number of ‘below-the-line’ behaviours (disablers) selected. A third and fourth step brought this number down to 20 enablers and 20 disablers, and ten above and ten below-the-line behaviours. These formed the broad framework for the new behaviour code.

The final step is the comprehensive process of communicating this code throughout the organisation and institutionalising it. “We all want to have an in-depth grasp of exactly what these behaviours mean practically within their own personal environment,” Widlake says. “Over time, each individual will assimilate them in the course of working so they become a natural and spontaneous way of operating.”

The behaviour code will be represented symbolically using pictures and artwork because of the high illiteracy levels, which will facilitate getting the message across.

The ‘1st choice’ campaign is incorporated within Murray & Roberts Cementation’s safety approach and its existing ‘stop. think’ safety programme, an integral part of Murray & Roberts companies.

“‘1st choice’ will form part of the induction programme and we will use the behaviour code, where necessary, to assess people for jobs where these characteristic values and behaviours are a factor,” Widlake adds. To ensure sustainability, measurements will be taken four times a year in terms of compliance and adherence to the code, right down to team level.

“Our ‘1st choice’ campaign will enable us to create an exceptional working environment that engages, empowers, enables, encourages and motivates people. They will realise they too are our first choice and this will establish us as the best choice.”