Face value

first_imgHR has a crucial role to play in making an organisation morecustomer-facing.Roisin Woolnough finds out how three companies are putting this into practiceLook after your staff and they will look after your customers. That is theopinion of Linda Holbeche, director of research at management institute RoffeyPark. “There is a very clear link between giving customers what they wantand employee satisfaction,” she says. “Good people practices do makea difference to employee results and stuff around work-life balance isincreasingly important.” A recent government-sponsored survey into work-life balance found thatflexible working hours are more important than money for nearly a third ofpeople looking for a new job. HR is pivotal to the implementation and successof employee-friendly practices such as flexible working. With good peoplepolicies, employee motivation, productivity and loyalty increase and they findit easier to believe in the values and strategies companies espouse. “Dissatisfied and overworked employees lack people skills and empathywith customers,” says Max McKeown, corporate activist. “People do nottreat customers well in this situation. The most important thing you can do tocustomers is to listen, but people will only listen if they are listenedto.” Employee satisfaction also makes a significant difference to recruitment andretention levels, making it easier for companies to hold onto key staff. Bybeing able to retain a significant number of your workforce for long periods oftime, customer satisfaction is almost always improved because they are dealingwith people who know the company and the product and have the knowledge andexperience to sort out any queries. At the end of the day, any initiatives that empower employees to do theirjob more efficiently, and in a way that suits them, is going to have a positiveeffect on a company’s bottom line. Personnel Today has interviewed threecompanies who feel that their people policies have had a direct impact on theproductivity and profitability of their organisations. Alliance & LeicesterA few years ago, Alliance & Leicester had a poor customer servicerecord. Since overhauling its strategy and processes in 2000, it has won aWhich? award for being one of the best service providers among the high streetbanks. The company introduced a company-wide training programme called ValuingIndividual People, including a two-day course called Delivering ServiceExcellence. “We talked about the company’s strategy, what it meant andpractical tools in how to support customers,” says Paul Wildes, head of HRservice delivery. “That training cost us about £4.3m.” Several schemes were specifically introduced to improve customer focus.”The first is Customer Service Champions, when people nominate colleagueswho are constantly providing an excellent service,” continues Wildes. Eachquarter, four employees are sent to Disneyland Paris or Walt Disney World inFlorida for a week, where they receive training in customer service skills.”It gives people a different perspective and a reward,” says Wildes. The company also runs more widespread, small-scale awards called Gems –Going the Extra Mile. The award might take the form of a bottle of champagne,for example. “It’s about giving people recognition,” says Wildes.”It is low cost, but it encourages people to adopt the right behaviour,and that recognition of the manager saying thank you is very powerful.” Recently, the company has extended its bonus scheme so that it is not onlylinked to sales, but also to customer service as well. In order to reallyhammer home the concept of customer service, Alliance & Leicester asksemployees to take note of how people in other organisations and professionsoperate. They are encouraged to approach anyone they think is providingexcellent customer service – it could be someone who works in a hotel or in ashop, for example – and invite them to join Alliance & Leicester. It iscalled the Talent Spotting Scheme. “We have given staff introduction cards to pass on to people who areexcellent at service. It makes people think about what differentiates in termsof excellence. It also saves us recruitment costs and because there is apayment of up to £750 for the introducer, it gives employees extra money,”says Wildes. In 2002, 350 new recruits joined the company through this scheme. The HR department runs regular staff opinion surveys and, according toWildes, they show that all these schemes are paying off. “One of thequestions we ask is: ‘The way I work is driven by customer needs’. Last time,there was 82 per cent positive agreement from staff to that statement. In 2002,it was 75 per cent.” The company has also introduced a raft of employee-friendly policies.”There are a range of flexible benefits, such as offering all staff theopportunity to buy and sell holidays. In 2002, 20 per cent of employees choseto do this. We have introduced things such as childcare vouchers as well,”adds Wildes. Wildes believes that by creating a happier workforce, attrition rates and,therefore, customer service rates, are improved. “There is the traditionalmeasurable – staff turnover,” he says. “Our attrition rates arerunning at just below 10 per cent, which is a decline from 14.5 per cent in 2000.That has true bottom line impact.” Key points– Rolled out a £4.3m training package across the wholeworkforce, including a programme called Delivering Service Excellence CustomerService Champions – an award and extra training for customer-focused employees– Gems – smaller awards for employees providing good customerservices– Talent Spotting Scheme – employees are encouraged to look forexternal examples of good customer service and invite those people to joinAlliance & LeicesterAbout the companyNumber of employees: 6,262 full-time and 3,039 part-timeOperating income: £1.34bnAttrition rates: just below 10 per centwww.alliance-leicester.co.ukFirst DirectThe vast majority of First Direct employees think they treat customers verywell. According to the Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for survey,First Direct ranks fourth in the category of ‘Best for treating customerswell’, with 93 per cent of employees saying the company has a strong customer-focusedattitude. Fiona Sweeting, head of organisational development at First Direct, says thecompany’s excellent customer service records are largely to do with the way thecompany treats its own staff. “Our whole approach is to treat people as individuals, not as aheadcount, and the way we do that directly translates into the way ourrepresentatives treat customers as individuals. Hence, our customersatisfaction rates and customer recommendation levels are among the highest ofany bank, and have been for the past 10 years.” A customer satisfaction 2002-2003 poll of the financial services sectorconducted by Mori put First Direct substantially higher than its competitors. The company came in at number 36 on the Sunday Times survey, with almostfour in five employees saying they feel they make a valuable contribution toits success, that they are proud to work for the company, and that the managerstrust their judgement. The company has done a lot of work in the last 12 months to improve attritionlevels in its call centre. “In August 2000, our overall business attritionwas 20 per cent, which is more than acceptable by call centre standards, but wewere concerned that the trend had been rising,” says Sweeting. “So weput in place a range of people policies to address this. These proved sosuccessful, that by the end of 2002, our overall attrition was 12.5 percent.” These policies included bringing recruitment back in-house and producing avideo to demonstrate the core customer representative role. Another tier wasintroduced to pay scales to reward and keep hold of key staff. “We introduced premier pay rates to retain high-performing longservers, and introduced total pay statements to demonstrate total value ofpackage,” says Sweeting. But one of the most important drivers, according to Sweeting, has been theemphasis on treating staff as individuals. “We are running an Employer ofChoice scheme at the moment,” she says. “We asked people what theywould like to see improved in the company, which brought about the introductionof an onsite concierge service and aromatherapist. As a result of feedback, wehave also introduced better long service awards.” Flexible working is encouraged, where possible. A lot of people work afour-day week and many start work at 9.30am to allow time for dropping childrenoff at school. “There are lots of local, individual, flexible working patterns, whichgives staff the feeling that they can be in control of their work-lifebalance,” Sweeting says. “For example, I work four days a week bychoice, one day of which is at home. It is an informal arrangement with mymanager.” Sweeting feels this flexible working emphasis is key to the company’ssuccess. “If we treat people as individuals, we get better staff satisfaction,which translates into better customer satisfaction,” she says. Key points– Fourth in category ‘Best for treating customers well’ in theSunday Times 100 best companies to work for survey– Improved call centre retention by introducing pay reward packagesfor high-performing staff– Introduced a concierge service and aromatherapist on feedbackfrom staff– Encourages flexible workingAbout the companyAn internet and telephone banking company, First Direct is asubdivision of HSBCNumber of staff: 3,700Annual sales: £235mAttrition rates: 12.5 per centwww.firstdirect.comAsdaThe supermarket chain Asda was singled out in the Sunday Times 100 bestcompanies to work for as the number one company in terms of flexible working. Ithas always been in the survey’s top 10, although it has slipped from the numberone position last year to number seven this year. David Smith, people director at Asda, says the company’s motto is ‘Just sayyes to flexibility’. “Most of our flexible working ideas have come fromstaff and they are motivated by having some control over theirworkplace.”He says the schemes have resulted in increased loyalty fromstaff, better attendance and attrition levels and a happier workforce, all ofwhich translate into better customer service. In the AC Nielsen Homescan Attitudes to Retailers 2002 survey, Asda camefirst for the second year running, with top ratings for customer service. Smith says flexible working schemes and family-friendly policies are crucialto this success, which is reflected by the fact that 81 per cent of Asdaemployees say they love their place of work. All staff can jobshare and 62 per cent work part-time. And as many aremothers – 85 per cent of the workforce is female – several initiatives havebeen introduced to improve work-life balance. A popular scheme is the informal in-store shift scheme, whereby teams sharetelephone numbers and can arrange to swap shifts independent of their managers.If someone’s child falls sick, for instance, and they need to care for themat home, they can ring colleagues to see who could swap shifts rather thancalling in sick. Smith says this breeds greater loyalty in staff and greatly improvescustomer services satisfaction because it keeps absence levels down. “Itprovides a service to the customer because the overall team is there. Thatinformal policy, when people sort it out themselves, has become a strong partof our culture.” Another scheme is First Day, Half Day, whereby mums can take half of the firstday of school off (unpaid) so that they can take their children in. Asda takes a lot of pride in its family-friendly policies and, inparticular, its attitudes towards older workers. The largest employer ofover-50s in the UK, the company launched a big drive last year to increase thenumber of staff aged over 50 from 16 per cent to 20 per cent. According to Smith, achieving that target has resulted in lower attritionrates (reduced by 0.5 per cent), lower sickness rates and improved customersatisfaction. Workers over 50 are often employed as greeters in the store. Many of themhave brought families up themselves, and Smith says this makes them well placedto help customers with their needs. Grandparents can take up to a week’s leave on the birth of a new grandchild,plus there is also carers leave, when they can take up to three-months unpaidleave. In addition, there is Benidorm leave, when over-50s can take threemonths off to simply go on holiday. Smith says these initiatives encourage continuity of service and loyalty andthat in an industry where most staff are dealing directly with customers allday, that has a big impact upon the experience customers have in the stores. Key points– Largest employer of over-50s in the UK – 20 per cent– Number one for flexible working in Sunday Times 100 bestcompanies to work for survey– Informal shift-swapping system– Family-friendly policies, such as grandparent leave– Top for customer service in AC Nielsen Homescan Attitude toRetailers 2002surveyAbout the companyNumber of staff: 180,000Walmart International (of which Asda is a part) annual sales:£25.8bn ($40.7bn)Attrition rates: 29 per centwww.asda.co.uk Face valueOn 15 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

‘Toxic childhoods’ blamed for 22,000 self-harm cases

first_imgThe figures showed that in the past year, NHS hospitals treated 18,037 girls and 4,623 boys aged between 10 and 19 after they had deliberately harmed themselves — a rise of 11 per cent. During the same period, cases involving children between 10 and 14 rose from 4,008 to 5,192 — an increase of 30 per cent. Experts warned that cyberbullying on social networking websites had heaped misery on thousands of families, creating childhoods characterised by anxiety and loneliness. Lucie Russell, the director of campaigns at the Young Minds charity, said children were living in an “unprecedentedly toxic climate”, with a 24/7 online culture that they could not switch off. “Cyberbullying and ‘sexting’, bleak employment prospects and a society obsessed with body image are creating a negative environment around children and young people,” she added. The Telegraph 1 October 2013 More than 22,000 children and teenagers were treated in hospital for  self-harming last year, according to official figures which experts said showed the “toxic” effects of social media and a society obsessed with body image.Charities said the statistics, which showed a 30 per cent rise in self-harming among 10 to 14-year-olds, were a “deeply worrying” reflection of the pressures on young people. Young people turned to self-harm as a coping mechanism to manage emotional distress and were too often dismissed as attention seekers, said experts.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10348593/Toxic-childhoods-blamed-for-22000-self-harm-cases.htmllast_img read more

Cannabis gummy bears could be banned under law reform

first_imgNewsHub 9 May 2019Family First Comment: Far more to worry about than just gummi bears.This shows just how naïve OR misleading the Greens are being around the real risks of cannabis products. #saynopetodopeGreen MP Chlöe Swarbrick has brushed off National’s concerns around cannabis-infused edibles, suggesting most types will likely be banned.National’s drug law reform spokesperson Paula Bennett said cannabis-infused edibles could be “dressed up so they’re appealing to young people and accidental use is of real concern”.Swarbrick wouldn’t confirm cannabis-infused gummy bears would definitely be banned, but said there was consensus among the Greens, Labour and New Zealand First that protecting children and displacing the black market were top priorities.“In line with all of those things, it’s pretty evident that we will be following what other jurisdictions have done in terms of banning or ensuring that we won’t have gummy bears.”Swarbrick said there’s no way with the Government’s “health-based approach” to drug reform that “we would be enabling products that could be argued as targeted towards children”.She said there will be “nothing to glorify the consumption of cannabis” – and actually, “quite the opposite because there will be public education campaigns about the harms”.Swarbrick wouldn’t confirm cannabis-infused gummy bears would definitely be banned, but said there was consensus among the Greens, Labour and New Zealand First that protecting children and displacing the black market were top priorities.“In line with all of those things, it’s pretty evident that we will be following what other jurisdictions have done in terms of banning or ensuring that we won’t have gummy bears.”Swarbrick said there’s no way with the Government’s “health-based approach” to drug reform that “we would be enabling products that could be argued as targeted towards children”.She said there will be “nothing to glorify the consumption of cannabis” – and actually, “quite the opposite because there will be public education campaigns about the harms”.Comparing cannabis-infused lollies to alcohol-soaked lollies, Bennett said: “You’re not going to get absolutely drunk off a couple of vodka-soaked lollies, but you can get absolutely wasted on a few concentrated marijuana [edibles].”READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/05/cannabis-gummy-bears-could-be-banned-under-law-reform.htmllast_img read more

NBA free agency rumors: JR Smith, Bucks meet

first_imgIt appears the Bucks are looking to add some outside shooting.They are meeting Thursday with former Cavaliers guard JR Smith, according to The Athletic, which cited unidentified league sources. Raptors’ Kyle Lowry had procedure to repair tendon injury in thumb, report says JR Smith will have a free-agent meeting with the Bucks today in Milwaukee, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Bucks are searching for a wing shooter and both sides will have opportunity to sit down.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 18, 2019Smith, 33, was waived by Cleveland earlier this week after spending almost five seasons with the team. He appeared in only 11 games in 2018-19 after agreeing to leave the team in November to await a trade or his release.Milwaukee could have plenty of use for Smith if the two sides can reach an agreement though. Hall of Fame NBA coach Jerry Sloan’s health reportedly in steep decline: ‘He is dying’center_img Related News The Bucks retained 3-and-D wing Khris Middleton by giving him a five-year, $178 million deal this offseason. But they also sent a 50-40-90 shooter in Malcolm Brogdon to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade. Only the Rockets attempted more 3-pointers per game than the Bucks last season, so a 37.3% career 3-point shooter like Smith could help fill the void left by Brogdon’s departure.The Bucks had a league-best 60-22 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before being eliminated by the Raptors in six games. But star Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard is out of the picture now, as he joined the Clippers in the Western Conference in July.Milwaukee has the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 2019 Coach of the Year in Mike Budenholzer — who transformed the organization’s offense in his first season leading the team. Role-players like Smith and Wesley Matthews could help the Bucks get over the hump and return to the Finals for the first time since 1974.last_img read more