Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 30, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Graham Group was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2023):
- Graham Group is 100 per cent employee-owned and supports an ownership mentality through a share purchase plan, available to all employees -- and helps employees build long-term savings through a defined contribution pension plan
- Graham Group features a health and wellness hub on its intranet with resources on nutrition, sleep, and mental health, and offers coverage for mental health practitioners (up to $1,000 annually) -- the company also moved to a flexible benefits plan to provide coverage for individual needs and priorities
- Graham Group encourages employees to keep their skills up to date through its extensive in-house Builders Framework program and manages a three year graduate program as a platform to develop future talent
At Graham, employees build off the same page
When Pauline Leclaire made a list of companies she wanted to work for, she included Graham Group, for several reasons.
A contracting company founded in 1926, with offices in 23 locations throughout Canada and the U.S., Graham operates in an industry that aligned with her ethical principles. With more than 2,200 employees, it was still much smaller than the multinational railway behemoth that laid her off after 15 years.
It also offered her an opportunity to contribute and make a difference. But most of all, she says, “Graham truly values people. It’s who we are.”
The organization has nurtured a culture that values respect, says Leclaire, now the company’s human resources director, talent management, even as it encourages individuals to live up to their capabilities. “There’s never a day when I haven’t felt that the company puts people first.”
One of Leclaire’s first assignments in 2015 was participating in the design of a program called the Builders’ Framework. A construction-focused project management initiative, the program consists of 27 courses, from pre-construction to project completion, including scheduling, planning and contracts.
“It teaches people to build the Graham way,” she says.
As a former teacher, Leclaire worked on technical writing and designing the courses, while the content was provided by experts in the field.
Participants receive Gold Seal credits from the Canadian Construction Association and professional development units from the Project Management Institute.
After working on leadership development and other programs, ensuring that the company “promotes engineers not just because they’re good engineers but because they also have sound management skills,” Leclaire and the team turned their attention to designing a program for new employees at Graham.
With an emphasis on long-term career planning and growth, the Graduate Program provides participants with fundamental industry knowledge, career development and technical training as well as diversified on-the-job experience, mentorship and networking opportunities.
With three instructors, including James Dawson-Edwards, who also leads the Builders’ Framework program, students in the Graduate Program alternate between a week in the classroom and six months on the job over two years.
“Dawson-Edwards and the other instructors are involved in the industry,” says Austin Braun, a project coordinator in Edmonton. “It’s not like listening to a 70- year-old university professor talking about how he did it in the ‘80s.”
Braun joined Graham in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. In his most recent classroom session, participants learned how to run an automated estimating program used by contractors to bid on specific projects. “We have to know how it works,” he says. “We have to collect and enter the information in the estimation phase and follow it through during project execution.”
After finishing the session and returning to work, says Braun, “I started using the program right away.”
By bringing junior employees like Braun together from the company’s many locations and encouraging them not just to work but also to socialize together, Graham is reinforcing its culture and encouraging a sense of camaraderie among newer employees. “It’s great getting to know people in the company,” says Braun.
After one year with Graham, all full-time staff have the opportunity to buy shares in the company.
“I noticed after I started to invest, I was happier to do the hard work,” says Braun. “It’s a benefit for me and a benefit for my peers. The better I do, the better the company does.”