Murray & Roberts Cementation reports promising results from the first formal assessment of the impact of its 1st Choice programme, implemented in 2010 as an intervention to boost safety levels and establish the company as a 1st Choice employer and service provider in the mining industry.

Theunis Mienie, HR director at Murray & Roberts Cementation, says the March 2011 assessment was initiated to evaluate the penetration of the programme from project to project, as well as at head office. Assessments will take place every six months from now onwards.

1st Choice encourages employees to participate in changing the culture of the company by contributing their ideas and issues. The objective is to create the ideal working environment where behaviours employees favour are respected and rewarded, and those they find objectionable are eliminated.

“While there is still much room for improvement, the March assessment provided convincing evidence of an across the board upturn in the way our personnel behave on the job and during interactions with their colleagues and clients,” he says. “The biggest improvement, from project to project, is a reduction in abusive behaviour.”

Armed with these results, the HR team is currently giving feedback to senior management, as well as to personnel on each project and to the two labour unions participating in the programme — the National Union of Mineworkers and Solidarity. Personnel at all levels will be included in discussions determining interventions to address the remaining negative behaviours.

“These behaviours mean different things to different people,” say Mienie. “But what we’re seeking to achieve is personal commitment to a behavioural framework that relates in a very relevant way to the place where each person lives and works every day.”

Mienie and his team are determined to see 1st Choice become a key enabler of the Murray & Roberts Cementation business culture. The programme has been given such strategic importance that it is incorporated into all formal company activities, including executive committee, board and project meetings.

“We believe that over time, as our workplace transforms, our employees will also begin to impact life beyond the workplace — transforming their households, communities and ultimately, the society they live in. We acknowledge that this kind of behaviour shift takes time, but the results we’re already seeing give us confidence in the ultimate success of the programme,” he concludes.

Murray & Roberts Cementation is a member of the mining cluster called ‘The Cementation Group’ which is owned by the Murray & Roberts Group. Murray & Roberts Cementation provides capabilities and services which encompass the full spectrum of the mining value chain, including mine engineering, mine development, contract mining and other sought-after mining services.