The success of the Group is dependent on the contribution and commitment of its employees.

The Group’s decentralised structure, which is appropriately supported at Group level, gives colleagues the autonomy to maximise their experience, expertise and skills both for their own career development and for the success of the Group. The Group recognises that talent management and succession planning are critical for future growth and as a result an annual talent review is conducted and people risks are strategically managed.

Grafton is committed to high standards of employment practice across its businesses and aims to reward colleagues fairly by reference to skills, performance, peers and market conditions. Where appropriate, the Group provide incentives to employees through remuneration policies that promote commitment and reward achievement.

The Group has put in place an Equality and Diversity Policy which states that Grafton will not tolerate harassment and discriminatory practices based on age, ancestry, colour, marital status, medical condition, disability (both mental and physical), national origin, race, religion, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, or any other factor as established by law or best practice. The Group believes that monitoring the pay between men and women is an important step to ensuring all colleagues are fairly rewarded for their work and their contribution to the business. During 2017 gender pay information will be published on the websites of UK businesses that are within the scope of the UK gender pay gap reporting regulations.

Grafton is committed to offering equal opportunities to all individuals in their recruitment, training and career development having regard to their particular aptitudes and abilities. Training and development programmes are important to the business. Significant attention and resources are devoted to this area. Training programmes are organised internally by Group businesses
and also in conjunction with external bodies, including the Builders Merchant Federation in the UK. These programmes cover sales development, customer service, product training, health and safety and leadership skills. They help to ensure that the Group can develop, retain and attract the best talent at all levels in the business. The Group aims to support career progression by filling vacancies through internal promotions and to complement internal appointments with recruitment from outside of the organisation.

The Irish merchanting business redesigned its Management Development Programme during the year with a view to developing and retaining strong leadership talent. The programme comprises a 24-module “Development Road Map” based on key leadership competencies including emotional intelligence, decision making, conflict management, entrepreneurship and interpersonal skills. Successful participants are conferred with a City & Guilds Diploma.

Woodie’s operate a range of learning and development programmes including the externally accredited Seeds to Success Programme, Leadership Development Training and a Retail Degree Programme. The Isero business in the Netherlands operates an inhouse business academy to train apprentice customer service representatives. Buildbase and Plumbase offer a wide range of training courses through the ‘My Learning’ e-learning, an application which complements the Business Fundamentals, Core and Advanced Management Development Programmes used to develop talent in the business.

A number of Group businesses took part in employee engagement surveys during the year. The results of all surveys across the Group demonstrated ongoing improvements in both participation rates and employee engagement scores.

Employing companies in the UK will be in scope for the Apprenticeship Levy from April 2017 whereby a proportion of payroll costs will be withheld and used to pay for apprenticeship training and development of future talent. The Group is committed to the development of early careers and has over 40 apprentices on the existing apprenticeship scheme but this number is expected to increase in future.

The Group has invested in a cloud based HR solution which allows colleagues in Business Units in the UK and Ireland to access and update their employee records from a range of devices. In the UK, colleagues have access to “Reward Gateway”, an online benefits and communications web platform which provides access to company communications and information on discounts available from a range of high street retailers. Since launching the platform in 2013, employees have spent over £2.5m through the website. Selco operates a funded health plan for all employees which enables them to claim money back for basic health costs including dentistry and eye glasses.

The Group operates a Revenue-approved Save As You Earn Scheme (SAYE) that enables eligible UK colleagues to share in the success of the overall Group. A scheme launched in 2014 will mature in 2017. Participating employees have the option on maturity to purchase Grafton Units at a discount to the market price of the shares at the time the options were granted. Colleagues can benefit from any increase in the share price over the three year savings period.

“Speak-Up”, the group-wide confidential reporting service established during 2014, continued to provide an effective channel for employees to raise concerns to an independent third party regarding practices or conduct in their businesses including possible instances of fraud, theft, serious health and safety issues and other risks. All reports are logged by the third party and passed to the Group Internal Audit team for investigation. The individual making the report is kept appropriately informed of the progress of the investigation and its outcome through the reporting service. All concerns raised through this channel and the outcomes of investigations are reported to the Audit and Risk Committee. While Group policy encourages colleagues to raise any concerns with their manager in the first instance, this service provides an alternative reporting route if required.