Investing in the Community
The Karsten Group firmly believes in the empowerment of its employees; not only by means of financial and land ownership, and senior management positions but also through promotion, wider responsibilities given to people on the lowest possible level and a sense of ownership for what you do in any position you might occupy.
The Karsten Group provides seasonal and permanent employment for a large community of people in South Africa’s poorest regions. All workers share in benefits such as training and development programmes which are offered in association with various institutions. Development programmes and projects are directed towards all workers and their families, including seasonal workers, irrespective of their worker status. Fringe benefits, apart from the provident fund scheme, apply equally to all workers, and people are paid according to their job grading and not their employment status.
Training and career planning are initiated for each permanent worker, ensuring that workers have a clear vision of their future and are able to plan their future in the company. Vacancies are always advertised internally and continuous training and development is done to ensure that workers are equipped with the basic skills for the next level for which they might qualify.
Social and other benefits are offered to the large community of people working within the group, including preschool care, bursary and study schemes for children of workers, health care and housing for both permanent staff and temporary workers.
Community involvement projects facilitated includes special gardening programmes at schools in the region; crèche facilities on all farms with pre-school children; women’s clubs; adult literacy classes; computer training; sports facilities; social skills training workshops to enhance family and social life; leadership training; low interest student loans to parents; housing for employees staying on farms; a comprehensive healthcare plan through clinics on the various farms; recreation facilities and transport that allows staff to attend sport and other social activities; and spiritual counselling.
The importance of balance between career and social development are continuously emphasises and strives to spend ample resources to facilitate and develop both.
Relationships with workers are built in order to create trust and security. This applies especially to seasonal workers and is executed in practice through new developments with different fruit, different regions and different seasons in order to ensure longer working periods for seasonal workers who are in need of prolonged contracts to supply them with a more stable source of income.
The importance on ensuring that the basic needs of the people who work for them are met, with specific focus on clean water, decent housing, medical services and bonuses for top performers.
The training department plays a major role in achieving productivity and sound human relations by ensuring that a full scale training programme takes place throughout the year.
Learnerships are an important part of the programme to aid workers in getting a formal national qualification combined with their practical skills.