Our people are the enabler of the Group’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives. Given the highly competitive service-oriented industry we operate in, our people’s motivation and competence to perform and provide a memorable guest experience are key determinants of the Group’s ongoing success and sustainability.
Focus for 2015
As we enter into a new era for Sun International it is imperative that we have the necessary local and international competencies to achieve our strategic objectives and that we provide an environment for all employees to thrive in their personal capacities. To achieve this we need to have an appropriately experienced, highly competent and engaged workforce that takes accountability for its actions and creates a high-performance culture throughout the Group. Without this we have little chance of creating sustainable and meaningful growth for all stakeholders.
In the past year we have largely addressed the critical skills shortage and as mentioned previously have embarked on a section 189 restructure process to address outdated management structures and to rightsize our operations. This process has been an enormously challenging time for all employees and we are mindful of the negative impact the process has had on employee morale and culture within the Group.
Now that the section 189 process is almost complete, we are placing significant focus on developing new shared values and an organisational culture to reintegrate and reinvigorate our people to support our strategy and ambitions. Talent management, succession planning, transformation and learning and development will underpin the desired Group culture and values. We have made significant progress in these areas but there is still a lot to be done; in the year ahead we expect to make further progress in all areas of human capital management.
We are making good progress in improving the Group culture. This includes promoting regular and improved communication at all levels such as regular conference calls to the Group’s senior managers (some 250 people) to update them on strategy and progress. We have also improved frequent and informative email written communication to all employees – in particular explaining the progress on the restructure and other strategic initiatives that have been announced. Simultaneously with any SENS announcement to the JSE, we release an internal explanation so that employees hear the news from us first. We have also included general managers of our larger properties on the Group executive management team to ensure Group and unit initiatives and strategic direction are aligned.
More responsibility and accountability has been placed on senior head office and unit general managers through setting appropriate levels of authority and empowering managers to make and take responsibility for decisions. While it has not been measured directly, we can see levels of improved accountability and cooperation.
The organisational development and change management competency established last year has been crucial in supporting (and where required, driving) Group initiatives. Change management workshops have been building the capability of leaders to manage change and support their teams.
A new performance management methodology was introduced to cultivate and enhance performance as a key building block for the future of the Group. The performance requirements of employees are now directly linked to business objectives through key performance indicators (KPIs). The performance scorecard includes areas on managing and developing our people and transformation, demonstrating the importance and strategic value we place on these vital areas of the business.
As part of the section 189 process, individual performance contracts will include minimum requirements and standards per role. Employees will be expected to perform against these standards, to improve the performance and productivity of the business, as well as to realise the benefits of the restructure. This is key to managing effective and efficient operations and improving guest experience.
We have linked performance more directly to reward, at a Group, team and, importantly, an individual level. To support this, the performance feedback discussions include reviews and undertakings on development needs, talent and career management discussions.
It signals a shift in culture and approach, driven by robust discussions and direct rewards for good individual performance. Conversely, performance that does not meet required standards will also be covered in these conversations. We are dealing decisively with under-performers through the KPI process. This commenced at executive level, where around half of the executive team has been replaced over the past 18 months.
The shift in our strategic focus has made it imperative to review capabilities at a senior level through a structured talent management framework. The internal talent pipeline has been reviewed against strategic business objectives, with all Group executives and employees forming part of the business unit executive operations committee evaluated. Career and development discussions have been completed across this layer.
We identified senior employees for further accelerated development, redeployment and performance coaching. As part of that process, we also identified employees for exiting.
To grow talent from within the Group, a SIML talent review confirmation session will be held after the restructure is completed to assess the talent pool and talent decisions that were made during the previous review. During the year ahead, the talent management process will be introduced at a unit level to develop leadership talent across the Group, and support early identification of internal talent for leadership roles in future. Acknowledging internal high performers and achievers not only keeps our leadership pipeline strong, but promotes a culture of performance and builds on our employee value proposition of offering opportunities to grow within Sun International.
The restructuring of Group Learning and Development and the resourcing of the function to deliver against the agreed mandate was a key priority for the year. A new learning design methodology was introduced to ensure a standardised approach to programme design and delivery.
To build capability after the restructure, the team will continue with the programme to strengthen casino, hospitality and functional skills and competencies across the units. We are particularly focusing on leadership at all management levels in the Group. We believe that this is a key skill that is lacking in our business and through strengthening our leadership we will create an empowered organisation with an engaged workforce.
In our application for the relocation of the Morula casino licence we committed, if successful, to establish a gaming and hospitality training academy at the Morula premises. The intention is to partner with other learning institutions to establish accredited courses for not only our employees but also for anyone aspiring to enter the gaming and hospitality industries in South Africa.
We have made good progress with our transformation targets over the past few years. Our approach to transformation moving forward will not be a short-term solution but will be to achieve meaningful transformation over the medium term through the setting of realistic and achievable transformation targets that will be aligned to our strategic objectives. We will closely align our initiatives and strategies to address transformation to our agreed targets and these will be included in management’s performance contracts and will from part of our consolidated employment equity (EE) plan.
We will be submitting a comprehensive three year EE plan shortly that will consider all transformation strategies across talent management, succession planning, talent attraction, career progression, retention and importantly the Group’s strategic objectives. Our plan will also take into account the demographics of the provinces in which we operate.
Management is also assessing the impact of the revised BEE codes on the Group and has reconstituted the broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) committee which reports to the social and ethics committee. The B-BBEE committee has accountability for ensuring that the Group successfully achieves its targets. This has brought discipline to the way we approach transformation, and being composed of members of the senior and executive team, it is demonstrating our commitment to the spirit of transformation.
In broadening the management team, we are pleased that our EE profile has improved at management level. Through our efforts in succession planning, we have identified a diverse pool of potential future executives and will continue to support and develop their progress to executive level.
As the Group continues to expand internationally while simultaneously striving to meet and maintain international benchmarks for best practice, it is inevitable that we will employ international expertise. We welcome this input to the way we do business and our South African employee base will benefit and learn from it.