Thungela’s Top Employer recognition demonstrates the benefits of investing in a people-centric strategy

IN 2021, the Top Employers Institute released research reflecting the turbulence of a working world reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, 2022 World of Work Trends Report 2022 reveals how these challenges have evolved and the emergence of new trends for the future.

The latest data shows the three most significant ways in which the need for change at scale and pace took shape for organisations and how employers needed to make themselves highly attractive for the top talent required to implement rapid change. As a newly listed entity, this focus on culture was central to how Thungela defined their business model and people strategy, right from the start. Lesego Mataboge, Executive head of Human Resources at Thungela Resources, says “At the start of our journey to build a standalone entity, we defined our purpose as responsibly creating value together for a shared future. We identified that our most important stakeholder is our employees, realising that they work for a company with a strong vision and the ability to build a sustainable and people-first work environment.”

Thungela Resources, a leading South African coal exporter, has been certified by the Top Employers Institute for the second consecutive year as a Top Employer in the country.

Creating a culture that supports employees’ aspirations and professional goals

This Top Employer Certification reaffirms that Thungela is living up to its values and continues to uplift and improve people’s lives; creating value for a shared future.

That’s because Thungela understands that its business is built by its people for its people. Therefore, the company is passionate about providing a work environment that enriches, energises, embraces, empowers, engages, and cares for its employees.

Thungela’s values of safety, care and respect, accountability, excellence, agility, and entrepreneurship reflect the organisation’s commitment to its employees. Thungela’s values are entrenched in the company’s culture, which supports employees’ aspirations and professional goals.

For example, Thungela offers individual development planning and opportunities to stretch and develop employees’ skills, providing them with the tools to fulfil their potential.

This people-centric approach to business drives Thungela’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The organisation believes in embracing the differences that make its people and business unique, which fosters a sense of belonging where employees can bring their whole selves to work.

Thungela’s success as a Top Employer is also a testament to its focus on creating a high-performance culture that engages employees and supports their personal and professional growth. The organisation’s transformation strategy has attracted, retained, and developed a diverse group of 4,500 permanent employees and 1,983 contractors whose unique and divergent backgrounds add value to the business. “We live by the mantra that we want our people to be able to bring their whole selves to work and feel valued for who they are and what they bring to the table,” says Mataboge “When developing Thungela’s new brand, we intentionally created a modern identity with the most progressive people practices. As a result, and in a short time, we earned the buy-in of a workforce moving away from a global organisation with a more than 100-year history to establish a new, significantly smaller South African business. Within our first year of existence, we fostered pride, built loyalty, and firmly established Thungela as a place where all employees can thrive.”

Transforming the way employees work through digital HR

In 2022, Thungela introduced two digital solutions to optimise learning and talent management. The first is a tailor-made learner experience platform (LXP) that provides a wide range of courses employees can select to further their individual and professional development. The second is a custom-built digital talent management platform that gives managers, human resources professionals and individual employees visibility of their career profiles and development plans.

Inclusivity and diversity

True diversity involves bringing out the best in people for the good of the organisation, its partners, and its host communities.

While Thungela is exceptionally proud of its progress in creating a transformed business, the company is even more proud of a remarkable team that knows what value it offers.

Inclusion and diversity for Thungela are about everyone. From how the company recruits employees to the suppliers and vendors it partners with to the members of the board that steer the organisation. Thungela believes that nurturing diversity, respect, and inclusivity can create a culture where anything is possible.

“Our Top Employer status is integral to our ambition to be an employer of choice and our reputation as a responsible mining company that cares for its people,”

Through its range of transformation strategies and employee empowerment programmes, the organisation has, in several instances, exceeded the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) targets for historically disadvantaged persons and has seen a year-on-year improvement in most levels.

“We’ve empowered our female employees to work at all levels and disciplines, from the boardroom to the coal face. The company also has teams of male underground miners led by women, and women miners, scientists, and engineers who are all making their mark,” says Mataboge.

Thungela’s progress is driven by the continued attraction and development of female employees, with one such initiative being its ‘Women in Leadership’ programme in 2022. Female employees now account for 28% of Thungela’s workforce and exceed the DMRE target across top management, senior management, middle management, and junior management.

The coal exporter says that’s why, although it’s a newcomer to the sector, its roots continue to run deep into the community it operates and ignites employees’ careers by helping them realise their aspirations for success.