Page 4: The importance of people
The relationship between BUPA and its people is set out in its People’s Charter. A charter is the way in which a company sets out its commitment to its employees, as well as what it expects in return.
The involvement of people in BUPA’s electronic working environment is crucially important in exceeding the expectations of its customers. BUPA centres are different from those in other industries. Callers may be ill or anxious about their own welfare or that of family members who are about to go into hospital. Special personal qualities are required to deal with these calls and it is important that every detail within the call is understood, which may require significant time and patience.
For the people working within the customer service centre this type of work can be draining and stressful. To meet these difficult needs, BUPA has to recruit, train and retain the best people.
The purpose of recruitment is to buy-in and keep the best people to work for the organisation. BUPA matches all job applications to a clear person specification. This describes the requirements of the job holder. The assessment process of prospective employees is built around the personal and functional abilities staff are required to have to deliver excellent service for customers. As people in call centres spend a lot of time on the telephone, a screening interview is carried out on the telephone.
The next stage in the recruitment process is for line managers to run an assessment centre which involves a competency-based interview and a letter writing exercise. Before accepting a position with BUPA, successful candidates are asked to visit a call centre and sit with other BUPA people while they deal with live calls. They also talk to existing BUPA people and have an insight into the working environment.
BUPA invests heavily in staff training. Training develops the skills and knowledge of employees so that they are properly equipped to undertake their work role and take on more demanding jobs in the future. BUPA’s training is both technical and behavioural.
Technical training enables people to support the major computer system changes to deliver services for customers. Behavioural training helps to empower people to meet and exceed customer requirements. Business objectives are used to determine priorities for each individual employee, with specific activities to reflect these priorities. Each individual has a job description which clarifies their role within BUPA. This is a written statement setting out how an employee fits into an organisation and what is expected of them in their role.
Within BUPA a variety of appraisal and motivational techniques are used. Appraisal helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual’s performance. It also enables people to give feedback upwards from individual line managers to the board of directors. Action plans are also agreed to ensure that any issues raised can be resolved. People are encouraged to become involved in a participation scheme, which enables them to share in the financial success of the organisation.
Regular briefings, staff newspapers, videos and information bulletins also help to keep them informed of developments and new initiatives within the organisation. The workplace BUPA has established customer call centres in Staines and Manchester. It has developed a working environment in which people feel both motivated and empowered. Other companies’ call centres around the country were visited and specialists were consulted to determine how best to provide customer and people satisfaction.