Clare Sikkink (08020952)
Could improvements to the Induction process lead to increased employee engagement?
10th May 2013
Management research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and Development
Newcastle Business School
At the University of Northumbria at Newcastle
Acknowledgements Thank you to my family for putting up with me while I did this; to everyone at work who participated in the research; to my sister for showing me how to use Survey Monkey and to Philip Wilding and Jannine Williams for their support.
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Executive Summary This paper critically evaluates the theoretical background to the induction and orientation process for new employees. A critical review was undertaken of the body of literature relating to traditional induction programmes and comparing this to New Employee Orientation models (Acevedo and Yancey, 2011; Klein and Weaver 2000) and the Japanese model (Mestre et al. 1997). This threw up wider questions about employee engagement, so literature related to engagement was also evaluated. These principles and theories are examined in the context of the induction programme and employee engagement levels of a Customer Services call centre employing fifty people, which is part of a small division of a very large multinational organisation. The call centre has gone through periods of significant change recently, including contraction and then rapid expansion due to the loss and gain of key contracts, and has experienced high attrition rates for new employees and perceived low levels of engagement. Organisational research was carried out in the form of an anonymous employee questionnaire which was circulated to all employees in the call centre, to evaluate the induction programme in light of the findings of the literature, and a wider evaluation of engagement levels generally. The research findings were critically evaluated using the theories and models identified in the literature review, to evaluate the extent to which the findings supported the theories and generalisations suggested in the literature. The findings indicated that the induction programme was effective in delivering jobspecific training, but suggested areas for improvement especially in the recruitment and selection process to promote better Person-Organisation fit (Kristoff-Brown et al. 2005) and reducing new employee anxiety by providing better social and organisational orientation (Fan and Wanous 2008;, Hacker 2004). The research also uncovered evidence of organisational silence and barriers to communication which may be stifling innovation, discretionary effort and organisational citizenship behaviours (Rafferty et al. 2005). However the research also suggested that employee satisfaction engagement levels were higher than first thought, but stress levels are higher than desired due to specific operational issues. Further independent research would be useful to validate these findings. The report makes a number of recommendations and suggests areas that merit further research, and concludes that a top level review into the communication within the organisation would be beneficial, to clarify the mission statement and cultural identity of the organisation and promote the vision and strategy, as this may not have been communicated effectively to all employees either during the induction period or afterwards.
Table of Contents Cover Page.............................................................................................................. 1 Acknowledgements.................................................................................................. 2 Declarations............................................................................................................. 3 Executive Summary................................................................................................. 4 Table of Contents..................................................................................................... 5 Glossary................................................................................................................... 7 Chapter 1 – Introduction.......................................................................................... 8 1.1 Introduction and significance of subject ............................................................ 8 1.2 Research Rationale and Issue.......................................................................... 8 1.3 Research Aim and Objectives........................................................................... 8 1.3.1 Research Aims..................................................................................... 9 1.3.2 Key Objectives..................................................................................... 9 1.4 Management Research Report Structure ......................................................... 9 1.41 Chapter 2 – Literature review............................................................... 9 1.42 Chapter 3 – Methodology...................................................................... 9 1.43 Chapter 4 – Findings, Analysis and Discussion.................................... 10 1.44 Chapter 5 –Conclusions....................................................................... 10 1.45 Chapter 6 – Recommendations and Implementation Plan................... 10 Chapter 2 - Literature review.................................................................................. 2.1 Introduction to the literature review .................................................................. 2.2 Induction........................................................................................................... 2.2.1 Traditional Induction programmes...................................................... 2.2.2 New Employee Orientation programmes........................................... 2.2.3 The Japanese model.......................................................................... 2.3 Engagement.................................................................................................... 2.3.1 Context and definitions of engagement.............................................. 2.3.2 Models of engagement....................................................................... 2.3.3 Why is engagement important? .............................. 2.3.4 What are the key drivers affecting employee engagement............... 2.4 Conclusion - Old wine in new bottles?.............................................................
11 11 11 11 12 13 13 13 14 15 16 16
Chapter 3 - Methodology......................................................................................... 20 3.1Introduction......................................................................................................... 20 3.2 Research definition........................................................................................... 20 3.3 Research methodology and strategy................................................................ 20 3.4 Research methods............................................................................................ 21 3.4.1. Qualitative or quantitative research................................................. 21 3.4.2 Data collection by questionnaire and semi-structured interview........ 21 3.4.3 Data Analysis by questionnaire and semi-structured interview........... 22 3.6 Research Ethics, Data Protection and Confidentiality....................................... 23 3.6 Limitations to Research Methodology............................................................... 23 3.7 Summary........................................................................................................... 23
Chapter 4 - Findings, Analysis and Discussion....................................................... 24 4.1 Introduction........................................................................................................ 24 4.2 Induction does not meet new employee needs.................................................. 24 4.3 Person-Organisation Fit..................................................................................... 27 4.4 A low percentage of employees are engaged................................................... 27 4.5 Effect of demographics on responses................................................................ 30 4.6 Engaged employees are less likely to leave..................................................... 32 4.7 Engaged employees feel able to speak up and be listened to.......................... 32 4.8 Engaged employees feel valued and have confidence in senior management 33 4.9 Summary of Findings........................................................................................ 35 Chapter 5 Conclusions………….………………………………………….……… …. 36 5.1 Introduction..………………………………………………………..……………….. 36 5.1.1 Recruitment, selection and induction…………………………………… 36 5.1.2 Culture, communication and engagement……………………………….37 5.2 Evaluating the results against the research objectives………………………….. 37 Chapter 6 - Recommendations and Implementation Plan ..................................... 6.1 Introduction …………………………..…………………………………………….. 6.2 High Priority Recommendations...................................................................... 6.3 Lower Priority Recommendations ............................................................…… 6.4 Limitations and conclusion ..............................................................................
39 39 39 40 40
References ............................................................................................................ 41 Bibliography .......................................................................................................... 43 Appendices Appendix i: Organisational Structure.................................. ................................. 44 Appendix ii: Project timetable............................................................................... 45 Appendix iii: Student Ethical Issues form ............................................................. 46 Appendix iv: Organisational Consent form ............................................................ 48 Appendix v: Individual Informed Consent Form.................................................... 49 Appendix vi: Questionnaire – Pilot......................................................................... 50 Appendix vii: Questionnaire – Final Draft ............................................................... 53 Appendix viii: Semi-structured interview questions................................................. 54 Appendix vii: Transcribed Interviews...................................................................... 58 Interview a............................................................................................... 59 Interview b............................................................................................... 67 Interview c................................................................................................ 72 Interview d............................................................................................... 81 Appendix x: Request for volunteers for interview................................................... 92 Appendix xi: Exit interview template....................................................................... 93 Appendix xii: Summary of questionnaire responses................................................ 95
Glossary Abbreviations used in the text: EI FRA HRD HR KPI RJP NEO OCB PJ Fit PO fit Conc iGo
Emotional Intelligence Fire Risk Assessment Human Resource Development Human Resources Key Performance Indicator Realistic Job Preview New Employee Orientation Organisational Citizenship Behaviours Person/Job fit Person/Organisation fit Abbreviation used by employees for an oxygen concentrator device Transportable oxygen concentrator
Chapter 1 - Introduction 1.1 Introduction and significance of subject The organisation inside which the research is being carried out is a multinational gas producer which has many divisions in over 80 countries worldwide and produces many different types of gas. The division of the organisation being studied is the UK arm of the business supplying oxygen to individual users in their own homes. (Please see Appendix i for an illustration of the organisational structure). The UK is split into eleven geographical regions; the contract for a specific region will be tendered for every three to five years and awarded to a particular supplier for a five year period. This means that every five years there may be a major upheaval and reorganisation of the business. Loss of contracts can have a major impact on the supplier and result in redundancies. In 2011 and 2012 the organisation went through the process of tendering for contracts; existing regions were lost and new regions gained. This study is focusing on the call centre, where oxygen users ring to place their orders or ring for assistance if they have any queries or problems.
1.2 Research Rationale and Issue During the recent re-tendering process we experienced a high attrition rate among new starters; in some groups we lost 100%. This pattern was seen previously in 2009 which was the last time there was a major recruitment exercise. In addition there is a perceived long-standing issue with morale and engagement among experienced staff. The aim of the research is to explore the theoretical and practical aspects of these two key issues and seek possible solutions.
1.3 Research Aims and Objectives 1.3.1 Research Aims The first aim of the research is to identify whether the current induction programme is fit for purpose. The second aim of the research is to evaluate engagement levels in new and existing employees, and develop recommendations for ways to improve the induction process and increase engagement levels in the call centre. 1.3.2 Key Objectives a).Critically review relevant academic literature to identify the key theories and models used to develop induction programmes and measure employee engagement. b). Identify suitable methods of data collection to evaluate the employee experience of the current induction programme and measure employee engagement. d). Evaluate employee engagement in the call centre generally and identify areas for improvement. 8
e). Use the conclusions of the literature review and the outcomes of the data collection exercise to produce recommendations for improving the current induction process and engagement in the call centre . 1.3.3 Business objectives The research being carried out will be limited to the call centre, as this is the primary focus of the researcherâ€™s remit and interest at work. The organisation has a number of departments with very different functions in different geographical locations and there are a number of general and department-specific issues. A study that had to take into account all these variables may have made the results less useful for implementation in the call centre. 1.4 Structure of report 1.4.1.Chapter 2 - Literature Review This chapter will analyse the body of academic literature relating to the chosen topics of induction and engagement to identify relevant trends, themes and models. The conclusions of the literature review will be used to inform the direction of the research. 1.4.2 Chapter 3 - Methodology This chapter will cover the strategy, aims and format of the research, and the rationale and strategies employed to collect and analyse data. It will also cover issues such as how data protection and confidentiality were addressed, and the limitations of the research.
1.4.3 Chapter 4 - Findings, Analysis and Discussion This chapter will analyse the questionnaire responses and interview transcripts and compare these with the responses predicted by the literature review. 1.4.4 Chapter 5 â€“ Conclusions This chapter will draw together the findings of the research and the outcomes of the literature review and provide a brief definition of the main issues that have been identified as requiring further action. 1.4.5 Chapter 6 â€“ Recommendations and Implementation Plan This chapter will take the main issues identified in Chapter 5 and produce a series of recommendations for how to address these issues, identify any barriers to success and make suggestions for further research.
Chapter 2 – Literature Review 2.1 Introduction to the literature review The first objective of the literature review is to critically evaluate literature relating to Induction and New Employee Orientation (NEO) programmes, explain why they are used and explain how NEO’s differ from the traditional Induction programmes adopted by many organisations in the UK. I will discuss the key themes and theories identified in the literature I have read on this topic. The second objective of this literature review is to identify what evidence there is to support the theory that NEO’s are effective in aligning employee attitudes with organisational objectives, and that NEO’s deliver both short and longer term benefits to employees and organisations. The third objective is to critically evaluate review literature relating to employee engagement, and consider the potential impact the induction process may have on employee engagement both during the induction period and in the longer term. The fourth objective of the literature review is to look for common ground between best practice for induction and employee engagement programmes. 2.2 Induction 2.2.1 Traditional induction programmes Recruitment and selection is an expensive activity and a poor fit between employee capability and attitude and the requirements of the role can be an expensive mistake, both in financial terms and wasted time and effort by all involved. The CIPD’s 2009 annual survey estimates that in the UK “around a fifth of new starters leave the organisation within the first six months” (p.5). Reasons for leaving are largely due to employee disappointment with a role which has not matched their expectations. The CIPD’s Employee Turnover factsheet suggests that “poor recruitment and selection decisions, both on the part of the employee and employer, are usually to blame, along with poorly designed or non-existent induction programmes”. A certain amount of staff turnover is healthy for an organisation to prevent stagnation, however the loss of a very new employee can only ever be seen as a failure both for the individual and for the organisation and is a clear indication of significant weakness in one or more aspects of the recruitment, induction or training process.
Management of employee expectations and engagement is therefore an important factor in the early days of employment. Researchers such as Torrington et al. (2011) discuss the benefits of a Realistic Job Preview (RJP) prior to acceptance of the job offer; Hacker (2004) suggests a range of methods at the pre-hire stage, such as a personalised welcome card sent to the new starter’s home to promote onboarding and good communication with the employee prior to starting work. The initial period of an employee’s working life shapes their attitudes to their role and the organisation. “The psychological contract, consisting of the preconceptions and 10
expectations created during recruitment and selection, is realised or not realised when the employee starts work” (Pilbeam and Corbridge, 2010, p.213). The accumulation of a number of unaddressed concerns can build up over the induction period and if there is no effective mechanism in place to identify and resolve such issues the employee may feel the only option is to resign. “Survival curve analysis frequently identifies an induction crisis where new employees leave within a few weeks or months of joining the organisation” (Lashley and Best 2002, p6). Induction is something that is generally not done well in the West, where employers focus on the practical aspects of induction, such as completion of any required forms and showing employees where the fire exits are, and much training is designed to provide new employees with the knowledge to become productive as quickly as possible. “In most cases, the induction programme is short lived and focuses on job role and administrative procedures (Lashley and Best 2002, p.6). The resulting process can be rather hurried, and can miss out the important socialisation aspects of the employee’s transition from new starter to productive team member. Torrington at al. 2011 (p. 216) refer to Rankin (2006), which “demonstrates that employers in the UK rarely evaluate their induction programmes”. Torrington et al. (2011) p.352 conclude that as a result the programmes “reflect what managers think new employees need in their first few weeks of work and not what employees need”. 2.2.2 New Employee Orientation Programmes
Wanous and Reichers (2000); Fan & Wanous J.(2008) explore the ROPES concept, or Realistic Orientation Programs for New Employee Stress “coined by Wanous (1992), because newcomers need to learn the ropes” (p.442). They argue that new employees are under immense stress in the first days of employment. They suggest that frameworks for coping with stress, shaping employee attitude and Realistic Job Preview (RJP) should be used to design NEO programmes. They also state that NEO and organisational socialisation are “both concerned with the entry period” (Wanous and Reichers (2000), p. 437. Acevedo and Yancey (2011) cite Wanous and Reichers (2000) and argue that NEO’s start off the socialisation process. They go on to describe the importance of Person-Job (PJ) fit and Person-Organisation (PO) fit Acevedo and Yancey (2011), p.350;.Kristoff-Brown et al., (2005). These factors undoubtedly influence employee attitude once they have started the job. Further research is needed to determine whether PJ/PO Fit are aspects of the recruitment and selection process which are already in place before the employee starts work. If an employee’s underlying personality and attitude does not fit the job or organisation, it is unlikely that this can be dramatically changed no matter how good the subsequent NEO programme is. Also the definition of what constitutes the Employee Orientation phase is unclear; Wanous (2000) refers to this period as the first week of employment, whereas others such as Torrington et. al (2011) refer to a number of weeks. Fan and Wanous (2000) see stress caused by unrealistic expectations as a major cause of new employee dissatisfaction, “newcomers’ inflated pre-entry expectations— once disconfirmed after organizational entry—are likely to lead to poor adjustment, such as dissatisfaction, intention to quit, and actual turnover” (p.1391). They recommend strategies to identify and address the major stressors in
the workplace and help employees to cope with them, and provide realistic information to lower new starter expectations.
2.2.3 The Japanese Model A consistent theme throughout the literature relating to induction is the importance of informal, personal communication and effective socialisation, for example provision of a “buddy”. Chiabura & Marinova,(2005) p.42 indicated that “peer support was related to both pre-training motivation and skill transfer, with a stronger relationship to the latter. Somewhat surprisingly, supervisor support was not related to either motivation to learn or to skill transfer”. (Mestre et al. (1997). Acevedo & Yancey (2011) describe the differences in Japan, where a generic induction often takes place for large groups annually. The process takes 3-6 months (Mestre) or even six months to three years (Acevedo & Yancey) and the actual job is assigned at the end of the period, rather than an individual recruitment to a specific role. This means the induction and orientation is more geared towards organisational integration rather than job-specific training. “Japan seems to be the living evidence that operational success through employee orientation has become more significant and lasting in its effects than most observers might have expected” (Mestre et al. 1997, p. 455). 2.3 Employee Engagement 2.3.1 Context and definitions of engagement Interest in engagement began to increase from 2000 onwards, developing out of previous theories relating to employee commitment (Meyer and Allen,1990) and organizational citizenship behaviour (Rafferty et al. 2005), altruistic impulses to act for the good of the organisation and colleagues . Allen and Meyer (1990) talk about three types of organisational commitment which informs an employee’s decision whether to remain or leave the organisation. Continuance commitment is related to awareness of the costs of leaving the organisation, where a decision to remain may be based mainly on the financial and other benefits provided. Normative commitment is where an employee feels obliged to remain with the organisation. Affective commitment is where employees feel strong loyalty and emotional attachment to the organisation and is the most closely associated with engagement. Rafferty et.al. (2005) describe Organisational Citizenship Behaviours (OBC), positive discretionary behaviours that go above and beyond the scope of the job itself, and cannot be mandated or enforced. These behaviours are the precursor to the willingness to go the extra mile as described by researchers such as Purcell( 2003) and Lanphear (2004) that seem to be a key feature of the many definitions of employee engagement. Schaufeli and Bakker (2004) define engagement as “positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption” (p.295). Although there is a great deal of interest in engagement and a widespread belief that engagement is important and beneficial for organisations, “there is no one agreed definition of engagement” (Macleod report (2008), p.9. It has been suggested by some researchers that this is because research into engagement has not kept pace 12
with practitioner interest; “Academic research has lagged significantly behind the wealth of interest shown by practitioners”( CIPD 2010). The CIPD survey (2010) “Creating an Engaged Workforce” describes a lack of clear definitions of engagement and confusion, as much of the literature refers to engagement in terms of something that is done to employees, to improve outcomes for the business and improve productivity. Some researchers such as Macey and Schneider (2008) p.4 question “whether engagement is a unique concept or merely a repackaging of other constructs”. 2.3.2 Models of engagement ‘Robinson et al (2004)’s model of engagement describes a list of hygiene and other factors that, if present, will lead to the employee feeling valued and involved, and will therefore be engaged. Schmidt (2004) describes engagement as a factor that will occur if other elements are in place, such as effective recruitment and retention of the right people and policies to promote employee wellbeing, with the purpose of advancing the public good. Moorcroft (2006) focuses on the importance of communication; enabling employees to have a voice and understand the strategy and goals of the organisation will promote desirable behaviours and engagement. Schaufeli and Bakker (2004) describe engagement as "the antipode of burnout” (p.293), with burnout being described as “mental weariness” (p. 294). Evidence for validity of all these models can be found in surveys such as Macleod (2008); CIPD (2010) however while it is clear that engagement can be measured and does have a significant effect, the creation of a consistent and effective model for creating employee engagement, starting from the Induction phase onwards, is far from straight forward. “The concept would be more useful were it to be framed as a model that simultaneously embraces the psychological state and the behavior it implies”, Macey and Schneider (2004), p4.
Fig. 1 Framework for understanding the elements of employee engagement, Macey and Schneider (2008), p.6. The framework described in Fig. 1 offers a more holistic approach to engagement and suggests some of the factors that have been omitted from some research into engagement. Macey and Schneider (2008) suggest that more research needs to be done, combining the psychological aspects of employee engagement with external and internal organizational factors and the drivers of engagement identified in the surveys to further define engagement and develop more effective models. 2.3.3 Why is employee engagement important? The Macleod report 2008 (p. 11-12) cites large engagement surveys carried out by organisations such as Gallup (2006), Tower Perrins-ISR (2006) and CIPD (2006 and 2010) , which found very strong evidence linking employee engagement and the profitability, success and innovation of organizations. These surveys indicate that engaged employees demonstrate a wide range of desirable behaviours and attitudes; for example they take less sick time, are more productive and innovative and are less likely to leave. Attrition costs are reduced; “engaged employees are 87 per cent less likely to leave the organisation than the disengaged”, (Macleod 2008, p.14). The cost of turnover of disengaged employees can be considerable ( Macleod 2008 p. 14). Gallup’s Q12 meta-analysis (2012) researched nine elements critical to organisational success, “customer loyalty/engagement, profitability, productivity, turnover, safety incidents, shrinkage, absenteeism, safety incidents, and quality”
(Gallup 2012 p.1) across a wide range of organizations and found a substantial link between engagement and performance and innovation. Surveys such as Gallup (2012) identify engaged employees, and demonstrate that engagement delivers significant benefits to organizations, but it is less clear what engagement actually is, and what strategies organizations should adopt to promote it. The surveys also indicate that although there is no standard method of evaluating engagement, and engagement levels are affected by a range of factors varying across different countries sectors and demographic groups, they are generally quite low; CIPD (Gatenby et al 2009) is limited to UK workers but similar global surveys such as Towers Perrin (2006) survey indicates that this trend is reflected worldwide. 2.3.4. What are they key drivers affecting employee engagement? “Employee engagement is only meaningful if there is a more genuine sharing of responsibility between management and employees over issues of substance”, (Purcell et al 2003, p.53. The CIPD survey (2010) “Creating an Engaged Workforce” concludes that person-job fit is important (p.2) but that “two factors are more important than any others in driving up levels of engagement for all groups: meaningfulness of work and employee voice” (p. 55). The Towers Perrin – ISR survey (2006) indicates that of seventy five possible drivers of engagement that were considered, the one that was rated as the most important was the extent to which employees felt that senior management had a genuine interest in their wellbeing. Unfortunately the same survey also indicates that a low percentage of employees believe this to be the case. Morrison and Milliken (2000) cite organisational silence or lack of employee voice as the key barrier to success. Robinson et al. (2004) see feeling valued and involved as the key driver for engagement. The CIPD report (2006) p.3 ‘How engaged are British employees?’ describes the key drivers for engagement as “having opportunities to feed your views upwards, feeling well informed about what is happening in the organisation, thinking that your manager is committed to your organisation”. The Black Box studies (Purcell et al.2003) indicate that simply having a package of high performance HR measures in place may not be enough; these measures must also be supported by line managers and senior management to be effective. 2.4. Conclusion; old wine in new bottles? The literature I have read seems to indicate that more research is needed to clearly define the ideal timescale and components of an Induction or NEO programme which will be effective in encouraging feelings of loyalty and engagement in new employees. It is unclear when it should begin, and whether or not such programmes should be universal or tailored to the seniority and tenure of the post. Some literature (Wanous & Reichers,(2000); Torrington et al. 2011) refers to NEO’s occurring after the employee has started work; others such as Hacker (2004) promote much earlier engagement with the employee, arguing that actually the NEO should commence at job design stage, before recruitment has even commenced. Researchers agree that the benefits of NEO’s are under-researched and difficult to quantify (Klein and Weaver (2000); Lashley and Best (2002), due in part to difficulties in collecting good data from leavers. In order for the NEO to be effective in informing and shaping realistic employee expectations, it must commence before the 15
job offer is accepted. The Japanese model is undoubtedly successful in Japan; however to fully implement this would require a radical reshaping of UK work culture and organizational structure and it is unclear whether this would be practical. Where employees do not expect a job for life and attrition is expected, employees and employers are far less willing to invest in a 6-12 month orientation programme. “Putting everyone, regardless of rank or experience, through an extensive, identical, centrally controlled induction programme can well be counter-productive, whatever its intentions, as it will inevitably be inappropriate for some participants (Taylor, 2002, p. 117).) There is some evidence that NEO’s are effective in increasing employee engagement; (Klein and Weaver, (2000), p. 47). However a key feature of employee engagement is that it is a discretionary, emotional connection that cannot be bought or forced. If employees do not feel the employer is genuinely committed to them engagement strategies are unlikely to succeed, because they are “focusing too heavily on benefits to organizations…full engagement which includes employee well-being, is a better basis for building sustainable benefits” (Robertson and Cooper (2009), p.324). It seems clear that although employee needs are complex and varied certain themes are constant through the employee lifecycle, from induction onwards. Is this just old wine in new bottles? Employees simply want to be treated reasonably and their needs are not hard to fathom; they want interesting, meaningful work, good career prospects for those who want them, job security, reasonable pay, a voice and some influence within the organisation and an employer who values them and considers their welfare and emotional and social needs. However “long-term strategic planning and employee needs might not cohere” (Lemmergard 2008, p.187); many employers are focused on business goals such as profit and efficiency. This highlights the central conflict between a unitarist and pluralist view, as most organizations have a topdown management style and employers are often reluctant to introduce strategies which are intended to improve employee welfare due to the cost and the fact that the benefits to the organisation may not be immediately apparent; employers, and are less likely to invest in non-essential activities especially when economic conditions are difficult. “There will almost certainly be those who equate well-being with providing free massages and doing yoga in the workplace, rather than seeing it as a tangible and value-adding process” (Robertson and Cooper (2009) p.330). The needs of employees, such as a desire to have more influence over decision-making, may be seen as undesirable, unrealistic or impractical by business leaders, who are reluctant to let go of authority and do not trust their employees. Critics of the normative or “soft” model of HR question whether flexible HRM policies which are designed to deliver “hard” organisational goals, such as high productivity and profit, “can also provide a climate of trust and cooperation between workers and managers” (Beardwell and Claydon (2010) p. 4. Is it really possible to create a learning culture which empowers employees, as this premised on a unitarist approach which is difficult to achieve if organisational goals and employee needs are not the same? “A growing number of analyses (Legge, 1999; Guest, 2002 in Lemmergaard, 2008) challenge the underlying assumption that what is good for the organization is also good for the employee, and call for a need for a more peoplecentred focus. Top down models of management, where employee is assumed to be inherently lazy and in need of constant supervision and performance measurement do not sit comfortably with the employee voice, delegation of authority and flatter, 16
less hierarchical structures which seem to be a key driver for engagement. “At the root of organisational silence is a set of beliefs...that employees are self-interested and untrustworthy,,..effort averse and cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of the organisation without some form of incentive or sanction” (Morrison and Milliken (2000) p.708-709). In today’s global market, where human capital is increasingly valuable, it is hard to see how innovation will flourish without fundamental changes to the way organisations view their employees. The language used to describe the Japanese orientation model, with its universal induction and focus on engendering organizational and social integration, as well as loyalty and commitment, rather than just delivering task-specific training, echoes the language used to describe employee engagement; “to produce valuable as well as valued employees” (Mestre et al. 1997, p.443). However the Tower Perrin global engagement survey (2006) does not indicate that Japanese workers are more engaged than workers elsewhere. The surveys do show that engagement levels vary considerably between countries and sectors, and are affected by many factors such as sex, age, length of service, job security, type of work, seniority, employee voice and quality of leadership. Pilbeam and Corbridge (2010) describe the use of “best fit” models, as “what is right for one organisation may not be right for another” (p.48); A one size fits all model that will create employee engagement seems elusive.
Fig 2 The road to full engagement, Robertson and Cooper 2009, p. 333 To be effective, engagement strategies must be carefully tailored to reflect the needs of a particular group of employees, and used in combination with genuine strategies 17
to promote wellbeing. “High levels of psychological well-being and employee engagement play a central role in delivering some of the important outcomes that are associated with successful, high performing organisations” (Robertson and Cooper, 2009, p. 324) as per the model described in Fig 2 above. Social media has been suggested as a way to increase employee voice; “there is little organisations can do to stem the rise of social media. Organisations should be designing their future in employee voice, before it designs them” (Silverman et al. 2013 p.21) but many organisations fear and resist social media, due to the inability of senior management to control it (Silverman et al. 2013 p.16). For example in the researcher’s organisation firewalls prevent the use of all forms of social media, but every nearly member of staff owns a mobile phone and is able to access social media while at work. The Macleod report (2008) describes “compelling examples of organisations which have radically improved their performance through employee engagement approaches…because they believe employee engagement to be fundamental to their future success (Macleod 2008, p.17). A great deal will need to change to create the right environment for a truly engaged workforce; “for most organizations that promote employees as THE source of competitive advantage this remains a utopian aspiration rather than a realistic achievement (Legge 2005, p. 23).
Chapter 3 - Research Methodology 3.1 Introduction to the Methodology The literature I have reviewed relating to my chosen topics of induction and engagement has highlighted some common assumptions that are to be tested in the research to see if they are true within the organisation. 3.2 Research Definition The literature review indicated that there is a lack of clarity around definitions and best practice of both induction (Torrington et al. 2011; Acevedo and Yancey (2011), and engagement (Macleod 2008) which makes it difficult to design an objective data collection tool. The findings of surveys such as Gallup are to be tested in the questionnaire to see if the responses gathered in larger surveys can accurately predict call centre employee responses. These surveys produce quantitative data, because statistics can be gathered and analysed. However because the answers are largely subjective based on feelings and experiences, the questionnaire research approach is quantitative but cannot be scientifically validated, or positivist. The research approach can be defined as phenomenological or interpretative, because the research accepts that there are multiple valid answers and the interest lies is interpreting the differences. However it could be argued that completely objective research is problematic, as research and statistics can be manipulated and no researcher can be entirely free of bias (Coates and Sloan, 2008 p. 93). 3.3 Research Methodology and Strategy In order to explore whether employee attitudes mirror those predicted by the employee engagement surveys it was desirable to replicate the approach used in those surveys, so a questionnaire seemed a very apt research tool. The employees to be surveyed are call centre staff who have little control over the timing of their workload. Therefore it was important to select a data collection method that was quick to complete and could be easily stopped and restarted if a call was presented. The questionnaire therefore had 22 closed questions and although there was a comments section at the end nobody completed it, which would seem to validate this choice. There are only 50 employees in the department, so to obtain a valid response rate (Horn 2009) it was important for a high proportion of employees to complete the questionnaire. Due to concerns about the sample size the researcher had obtained permission to distribute the questionnaire to another similar department within the organisation as a back-up plan; fortunately the response rate was good (32 responses) and this was not necessary. As the questionnaire had to be brief and used mostly closed questions additional research was needed to provide more depth and detail. A focus group may have been a better way to elicit interesting responses; however the researcher was unable to justify taking a group of staff offline to participate in a focus group due to the impact on performance. Interview was selected as a more practical strategy. 19
3.4 Research Methods 3.4.1. Qualitative or Quantitative Research There are two main types of information used to inform research projects, namely quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative research relies on numbers and figures to count and measure specified aspects of the chosen area of research, and recommendations produced are based on analysis of the statistical evidence gathered (Horn 2009). Mixed methods were used to give both a broad quantitative but subjective overview of employee attitudes generally using a questionnaire, and a qualitative in depth understanding of the attitudes of a small number of interviewees. The credibility of quantitative data can be affected by sample size (Horn 2009); this research project was applied to a small team of fifty people, which will limit the generalisability of quantitative data gathered. If the questionnaire had been distributed to the whole organisation (350 people) the findings may have been more credible, but less useful in meeting the research aims for the call centre. Qualitative data is expressed in terms of words, ideas, feelings and opinions and can therefore be far more descriptive and subjective. It is important to choose one or the other, or a combination of both, appropriately according to the question being researched and the type and scope of the outcomes being sought. Primary research is original research based on raw data that has been gathered by the researcher. Studies based on the original data and research of others is called secondary research. (Coates and Sloan, 2008). To best capture information from within my own organisation I had to carry out primary research as relevant secondary data did not exist. The researcher made a request to our HR department for any existing data relating to attrition rates and feedback from exit interviews, in particular reasons for leaving, and was advised that we do not collate and analyse this type of data. Exit interview forms do contain some relevant information (see Appendix xi) but completed forms are simply placed in the leaverâ€™s HR file. The researcher was surprised that the data is gathered but then not analysed or used, and therefore a recommendation had been included in Chapter 6 that this secondary organisational data could be analysed and used more effectively. 3.4.2 Data collection by questionnaire and semi-structured Interview The questionnaire was devised using the Survey Monkey tool and sent electronically to the participants. This meant that the survey was anonymous to encourage honesty and improve the usefulness of the results. It was quick and easy for participants to complete, which was important due to the need to have a high response rate. Four employees were selected on a voluntary basis to participate in a more in depth semi-structured interview. An email was sent out (see Appendix x) which received eight responses. Volunteers consisted of three team leaders, one leaver and four front line employees. The manager was selected as the literature review indicated generalised differences between managerial and non managerial responses. Having a leaver available was quite fortuitous so she was selected. The other two 20
participants were selected randomly. It was hoped that this approach would provide as balanced a view as possible in the circumstances, as time pressures did not allow multiple interviews to be conducted. The questionnaire was piloted on three Team Leaders and another Manager and had four drafts before being finalised. The first version is included in Appendix vi and the final version is included in Appendix vii. The changes were largely due to feedback that some of the questions seemed to repeat previous questions and did not add value. A question about whether the respondent was recruited directly or via agency was removed as it was pointed out that very few employees were recruited directly, and this question could identify them. Additional questions were added relating to employee voice and â€˜going the extra mileâ€™ as when careful consideration was given to the data analysis method it became apparent that there was not enough information about engagement to provide a meaningful comparison with the Gallup (2006) and Macleod (2008) surveys. 3.4.3 Data analysis by questionnaire and semi-structured interview The key assumptions to be tested from the literature review were framed as questions in the research, to measure whether employee responses reflected those found in the literature. (Please refer to section 4.1 for details). The questionnaire was sent out 2 weeks before the interviews so the interviewees were aware of the contents of the questionnaire. The researcher did not ask whether they had responded to maintain confidentiality. The interviewees were given a copy of the raw anonymised survey results and the interview questions, which were based loosely around the questionnaire, prior to the interview to allow them to prepare some responses. The decision to use Survey Monkey was made as the researcher does not possess strong statistical analysis skills so a tool that would make the quantitative data analysis straightforward was required. The questionnaire responses were analysed to see whether they reflected the assumptions above, and the interviews were analysed against the same criteria to provide more in depth analysis of a particular area. 3.5 Research Ethics, Data Protection and Confidentiality 3.5.1 Research Ethics Organisational consent was obtained prior to starting the research (see Appendix iv). The research was carried out using non-vulnerable adult subjects all of whom participated voluntarily. The interviews were selected from volunteers all of whom completed an Individual Informed Consent form (see Appendix v). Selection for interviewees was made as fairly as possible as per section 3.4.3. The interviewees were made fully aware of the purpose and aims of the research.
3.5.2 Data Protection and Confidentiality The questionnaire was created and circulated using Survey Monkey, so the results were anonymous and the researcher is unable to identify respondents. The call centre is large enough with a mix of ages and sexes so that nobody can be identified simply by their gender and age. There is no identifiable data to protect or store because no identifiable data was produced by the questionnaire data collection. The interviews were digitally recorded on a dictation device, and the voice recordings were stored on my work computer and password protected. The computer is in the researcherâ€™s office, which is inside a safe haven area accessible only by keypad entry. The interviews were transcribed and all identifiable information was removed using xxxx, giving due consideration to the circumstances. For example we have over 200 technicians so references to the word technician were not removed. Other teams are much smaller, some containing only 2 people, so references to those teams have been removed. The interviewees were sent an electronic copy of the transcript via personal company email for checking and asked to make any amendments or deletions they felt appropriate. Once this was completed they returned the document by company email, along with a signed copy of the informed consent form which was stored in a locked filing cabinet in the researcherâ€™s office. The voice recordings will be deleted along with the working papers as soon as the management report has been marked and found to be acceptable. 3.6 Limitations to the research methodology Due to the lack of exit interview data responses were only gathered from those who chose to stay with the organisation. The data gathered would be more credible and interesting if it could have been gathered from leavers as well especially those who only stayed a short time. The questionnaire was anonymous but the interviews were not, and the fact that the researcher is the departmental manager may influence the responses to both as employees may have been less likely to be honest than if the researcher had been external. Engagement levels from the questionnaire were higher than expected which surprised the researcher and the interviewees. The organisation has just gone through a major upheaval and there have been some operational difficulties which may have negatively affected morale and engagement. The sample size was quite small; the research results would have had more credibility if the whole organisation had been surveyed rather than one department however geography and time constraints made this difficult. 3.7 Summary A timetable for the research is included in Appendix ii, and a list of interview questions derived from the literature review and is included as Appendix viii. However, the interviews were semi-structured to allow the conversation to flow in interesting directions and these questions were not adhered to rigidly which is why the interview transcripts are quite different.
Chapter 4 - Findings, analysis and discussion 4. 1 Introduction A number of key assumptions derived from the findings of the literature review were to be tested by the questionnaire and explored more in the interviews, namely; • • • • • • • • • •
Many induction programmes do not meet the emotional needs of new starters, who did not feel supported or welcomed by the process (Hacker 2004) Low engagement levels may be influenced by poor PO fit (CIPD 2010) There are variations but all surveys agree that a worryingly low percentage of employees are engaged (CIPD 2006, 2010) Women are more engaged than men (CIPD 2006; Macleod 2008) Older workers are more engaged than younger workers (CIPD 2006; Macleod 2008) Managers are more engaged than non-managers (CIPD 2006) Engaged employees are less likely to leave (Macleod 2008) Feeling valued and listened to is a key driver of engagement (Morrison and Milliken (2000); CIPD (2010) Trust in senior management and a feeling that the organisation genuinely cares for employee wellbeing is a key driver for engagement (Purcell et al.2003) Supportive line management is crucial if engagement measures are to succeed (Purcell et al. 2003).
4.2 Induction does not meet employee needs The first key assumption to be tested was that induction programmes do not meet the emotional needs of new starters. The literature indicates that new employees are vulnerable and more likely to leave than experienced employees. This may be due to inappropriate pre-employment expectation (Hacker 2004), poor socialisation or poor person-job fit (Kristoff-Brown et al. 2005).
The majority of staff who responded to the questionnaire seemed reasonably satisfied with the induction programme (see Fig. 4 below).
Fig. 4 They felt that it prepared them well for the role, and gave a good overview of organisational aims and objectives; the interviews indicate that there are a lot of gaps in this knowledge.
The response from the interviewees was quite different, possibly because the distinction between training and orientation was made more specific. Interviewee 2 said the induction was comprehensive but there was too much information given at once, which is a common criticism of traditional induction programmes found in the literature review (Hacker 2004; Fan and Wanous, 2008). Interviewee 2 said “Not a lot of it made sense to me because I was really new, and I didn’t understand what people were talking about most of the time, there was too much information all at once” (Appendix ix, section b). Interviewee 4 said “There wasn’t an induction process in place there, so obviously it was a learning curve for everyone I think, because it was just so crazy” (Appendix ix, d). Interviewee 3 demonstrated absolutely no understanding of the company structure and how the UK operation fits together despite working for the organisation for nearly a year (Appendix 1x, c). Interviewee 4 commented after her interview was finished that she was unaware of the KPI targets. The researcher was surprised at the significant gap in organisational knowledge among front line staff. In retrospect it may have been better to have made questions about the success of the induction process more specific, to ensure respondents understood that the researcher was trying to establish the distinction between taskspecific training, which most people seem fairly happy with, and an orientation which would promote onboarding and engagement (Hacker 2004). Interviewee 2 describes an induction crisis (Lashley and Best 2002), “what feedback I was given wasn’t delivered in a very good way. So I didn’t enjoy it very much for the first few months and I wanted to leave, and I almost did” (Appendix vii, section b) which seems to have been triggered by clumsily delivered feedback about errors made and lack of awareness that a new starter may require additional support. Interviewee 2 also mentions lack of social integration; she was recruited individually rather than as part of a group, and found this quite difficult at first; “it sounds silly but like lunchtimes, who do they go for lunch with, where do they go because they might not know the area, often you just see them sitting in their car because they don’t know what else to do”. (Appendix ix, section b).Interviewee 4 also mentioned lunchtime as an issue for new starters (Appendix ix, d). Interviewee 1 describes his experience in Holland during his induction, where all staff including the managing director sit down and eat lunch together. Perhaps lunchtime is mentioned so much as it is usually seen as personal time and therefore unstructured during the induction period, however it is also a defined social time which can be difficult for anyone who has not built social relationships. One of the recommendations will be to give more consideration to the lunchtime period for new starters, especially those not recruited as part of a group. Interviewee 2 also commented that the attrition rate is higher for an individual new starter than it is for those recruited in a group (Appendix ix, section b); this may be because the group provides the social support and feeling of belonging that would be provided as part of an orientation programme (Chiaburo and Marinova, 2005).
4.3 Person-Organisation Fit It is clear from questionnaire that there is a small core of individuals who are very dissatisfied, and seem to be impossible to motivate; the interview findings support this view. “I think some people you can chivvy along and cheer up and some people, well I’m just determined to be miserable because I’m at work and I don’t want to be at work” (Appendix ix, Interviewee 4 p. ).This may be due to poor personorganisation fit (Kristoff-Brown et al. 2005); Interviewee 2 indicates there are some people who “just don’t fit at all... they don’t fit in with our way of doing things”. All interviewees highlighted the impact of having discontented people sitting around you, especially the front line staff (Interviewees 3 and 4) who both indicated that even though they are both relatively satisfied, if they sit near to someone who complains a lot, this affects their own level of motivation and by the end of the day it has had quite an impact on their mood and motivation levels. It seems that the right PO fit is important not just for the individual but also for the wider team; the researcher is a manager who sits alone in an office and perhaps underestimated the impact of negative attitudes among poorly integrated individuals on other members of staff. A reassessment of the recruitment process to improve PO fit will be included in the recommendations of this report.
4.4 A low percentage of employees are engaged Engagement levels are difficult to quantify exactly as there is no standard measure, however all the research suggests that it is quite a low percentage, with some studies suggesting only three out of ten employees are engaged (CIPD 2006).
Fig.6 The questionnaire responses indicate that the majority of employees are satisfied with their role (see Fig.6). Although the interviews indicate that employee perception is that there is a lot of negativity in the call centre, one of the key indicators of 26
engagement is willingness to put in discretionary effort, or â€œgo the extra mileâ€? (Purcell 2003; Lanphear 2004) and answers to this question were very positive (Fig 7), almost 80% of staff said they were very likely to put in extra discretionary effort. This may be due in part to the fact that almost 90% of employees, even some of those who are dissatisfied, feel they are carrying out a useful and valuable function and making an important contribution to the success of the organisation (fig. 8). Feeling that the work is important and worthwhile is indicated as a key driver for engagement (CIPD 2010). Overall most employees did seem to be surprisingly well engaged.
4.5 Effect of demographics on responses. The literature suggests that while engagement varies widely depending on a wide range of factors, demographics can have a significant bearing. Women are generally more engaged than men (Macleod 2008; CIPD 2010) and this is reflected in the questionnaire responses (see Fig. 9).
Fig. 9 Older workers are generally more engaged than younger workers (Macleod 2008; CIPD 2010) however this does not seem to be reflected in the questionnaire results (Fig.10). Engagement seems to be fairly well spread across the age groups and the most engaged seem to be the youngest. Further investigation is required to
understand why this is as the interviews did not highlight anything to explain this.
Fig.10 The literature indicates that managers are generally more engaged than nonmanagers, however the questionnaire results indicate that the reverse is true in the call centre.
Fig.11 This may be due in part to the small sample size, however the interviews with managers (Appendix ix, sections a & b) indicate a level of disappointment due to perceived changes in culture recently, and lack of involvement and career progression, which may be a contributing factor. Both managers indicated that career progression was very limited outside head office, and Interviewee 2 was actually leaving because of this; â€œthe main driver for me leaving is the thought that 30
now that we’re reaching a period of stability not only is there no potential for progression there’s no potential for personal development either, there’s nothing new for me to learn” (Appendix ix, section b). Both expressed great disappointment at under-utilisation of their skills and experience; “individuals’ skills are being underutilised at work – a significant source of disengagement for the individuals affected” (Macleod 2008, p.16). In order to explore this further the questionnaire would need to be circulated to all managers, to identify whether managers are generally disengaged, or whether the disengagement of managers is strongly associated with location and/or under-utilisation. 4.6 Engaged employees are less likely to leave This prediction is hard to test as data was only collected from one leaver. However that leaver did indicate that the primary reason for leaving was lack of opportunity (see section 4.4 and Appendix ix section b). Pay was a significant factor as her new job is considerably better paid. Interviewee 4 also indicated that pay was a factor; she enjoys her job and intends to stay, but says that better pay would be the only reason she would leave Appendix ix, section d). CIPD (2010) indicates that “half of employees are unhappy with job satisfaction and/or pay whether engaged or not”. It could be concluded from this that HR measures designed to promote engagement, even if they are effective, may still not prevent attrition if they are not supported by an appropriate reward strategy. 4.7 Engaged employees feel able to speak up and be listened to Morrison and Milliken (2000) cite organisational silence as a barrier to success, and the CIPD survey (2010) indicate that employee voice is one the most important drivers for engagement; their research concludes that the main reasons employees feel unable to speak up about issues in their organisation are that they “feared there would be negative consequences for speaking up, and they didn’t feel that speaking up would make a difference” (Morrison and Milliken (2000) p.707). This mirrors almost exactly the comments from interviewee 3 (Appendix ix, section c) who said; Interviewee: “So I think it’s a mixture between can I speak up, can I speak to people and can I bring this forward without being reprimanded ...or not reprimanded that’s a bad word to use, but”…(pauses) Interviewer: “Thought badly of?” Interviewee: “Yeah, or should I bring this up will anything be done about it”. Interviewee 1 (Appendix ix, section a) describes poor communication and feels that organisational silence is an issue, like the Emperor’s New Clothes scenario described by Morrison and Milliken (2000). He feels “there is a lot of pressure not to rock the boat, you just can’t criticise certain things or people even if you can see there’s a problem, so people just keep quiet”. Fig. 12 below indicates that the questionnaire responses relating to employee voice and the ability to give and receive constructive feedback is mixed. The interviews with front line call centre staff seem to indicate that although they feel comfortable talking to local managers, they do not feel at all comfortable talking to senior managers (Appendix ix, sections c & d) and believe that many of their colleagues in the call centre do feel able or do not want to speak up. Interviewee 1 suggested an 31
six monthly visit to each site by members of the senior management team to talk to the staff; he recalls this was done in the past and felt it worked very well. If the organisational culture means that it suppresses employee voice, it can also suppress Organisational Citizenship behaviour (Rafferty et al. 2005; Rafferty and Restubog 2011). “I think I’d describe it as a back-covering culture. Everyone’s more concerned about covering their own back...than they are about the long term success of the organisation”. (Appendix ix, section b). None of the participants felt that social media would be a useful tool in capturing employee voice; however the evidence in the literature (Silverman et al. 2013) does indicate that this may also be a useful area to explore especially as group communication within the call centre is so difficult due to the requirement to handle calls within KPI and the fact that the call centre is staffed 24/7 which makes arranging staff meetings very difficult. This is also something that would be interesting to investigate further.
Fig. 12 4.8 Engaged employees feel valued and have confidence in senior management One of the key drivers for engagement cited in the literature is the quality of management, whether there is mutual trust and respect between employer and the extent to which employees believe senior management is genuinely interested in their wellbeing (Purcell et al. 2003; CIPD 2006; CIPD 2010;Macleid 2008; TowersPerrin 2006). The questionnaire results indicate that 70% of employees feel that that supervisory management team is trustworthy and committed to the success of the organisation (Fig.13). However the interviews revealed that some employees had interpreted this 32
as referring to the local management only; “this is our little work family, I’m more than happy to come up to the managers here because I trust these 100%, whereas these …bigwigs if you want, maybe not so much” (Appendix ix, section c). Comments from front line staff were very positive although this may due to the researcher’s position. However comments from the interviews about the senior management team were less positive.
Fig. 13 The main criticisms of senior management were around lack of communication and interaction with staff outside head office, and a lack of appreciation for the contribution people make. Q. Do you think the senior management team know what junior and middle management do? A. No. I don’t feel they have any real respect for middle management, or any awareness of the amount of fire fighting they do...If they are aware there’s no recognition of it, there’s no indication that they appreciate it, there’s a lot of blame that gets bandied around but no praise that I can see” (Appendix vii, section b). There is evidence that employees do not feel senior management are approachable, and may have a lack of awareness of employee welfare. Interviewee 3 said “it would be nice to see them implementing things that seem like they’re even trying to benefit us” (Appendix ix, section c). Interviewee 4 suggested a weekly bulletin to keep staff informed, commenting that that the focus of communication to front line staff is not 33
employee focused and may be better received if it included topics of interest to them, such as holiday availability. The front line staff identified a perceived lack of support with dealing with difficult calls and complaints; they both felt more should be done to support and protect them, and that difficult calls should be dealt with at a more senior level or different department (Appendix ix, sections c & d).
4.9 Summary of findings The organisational research carried out indicate that while the induction programme is effective in providing information about how to actually do the job, a number of gaps have been identified in the process. A review of the process from the request to recruit stage right through to completion of the induction cycle would be beneficial, with the aim of improving the PO fit, socialisation and organisational integration and timescale of the process. The goal would be an improvement in the experience for employees, increased employee engagement and a reduction in new starter attrition. A lack of understanding of the vision and strategy of the organisation is apparent in the front line staff interviews and they seemed to lack basic information about the structure of the business. Interviewee 2 said “As far as I know the business doesn’t even have a strategy, if it does it’s not explicit” (Appendix ix, section b). There are references to silo thinking , compartmentalisation and lack of communication and cooperation between senior managers and their respective departments which needs to be addressed. Overall many of the call centre staff seem reasonably content with the local management and the working environment, describing it in terms of being cosy, like a family, being close knit and supporting each other, but there are areas for improvement, especially in areas such as communication from senior management in relation to the vision and strategy of the organisation and employee wellbeing, if engagement levels are to rise.
Chapter 5 - Conclusions 5.1 Introduction There are enough indications in the interviews and questionnaire responses to suggest that improvements can be made to the induction process. Overall the outcome of the research was quite encouraging; the call centre staff are on the whole reasonably well engaged and satisfied with their working environment with some notable exceptions. However the research did identify some specific areas for improvement. 5.1.1.Recruitment, selection and induction The importance of good PO fit (Kristoff-Brown et al. 2005) has been highlighted in the interviews, with poor PO fit being a possible reason for high attrition rates among new starters and dissatisfaction among existing employees. An improved selection process which would identify desirable attitudes and traits to increase the likelihood of good organisational fit may be more useful than then selecting for skills and experience. Hacker (2004) makes some very practical suggestions about strategies to do this, such as earlier engagement with employee before starting work and RJP (Torrington et al. 2011) before starting the job to lower employee expectations. Interviewees may understandably act as an advocate for the organisation to potential recruits (Hacker 2004) which can give a less than accurate picture of the job. A greater focus on the social integration as part of the induction process may also help to reduce new starter anxiety, especially when recruiting one individual rather than a group (as per Appendix ix, section b). Researchers such as Ku and Kleiner (2000) and Fan and Wanous (2008) suggest that induction that is delivered in one short burst very soon after joining the organisation is perhaps not effective; too much information is imparted in too short a space of time and the employee is unable to make sense of it. Delaying some parts of induction training until a new starter has a better understanding of the organisation may produce better results. Anecdotal support for this can also be found in Appendix xi section b. Consideration should be given to a longer organisational orientation phase that is distinct from task-specific training. 5.1.2 Culture, communication and engagement The research has identified a perceived “blame culture” and “back-covering” culture (Appendix ix) causing some staff to feel that there are significant barriers to communication and success; these are factors known to affect engagement levels (Morrison and Milliken, 2000). It is reasonable to assume that other areas of the business are similarly affected, although that it outside the scope of this research paper. Q .Do you think that culture is affecting engagement levels among the staff? A. Yes, they see a lot of it, and because they see a lot of it they start to demonstrate that behaviour themselves. (Appendix ix, section b). There is also an apparent lack understanding of vision and strategy of company leading some employees such as Interviewee 2 to believe that there isn’t one, which undermines confidence in the leadership. Clear communication of a mission
statement and distinct organisational culture can help employees to feel part of something (Macleod 2008). 5.2 Evaluating the results against the research objectives ; In this section the research findings will be evaluated against four key objectives as defined in Chapter 1 to evaluate whether or not the intended objectives were met. Objective 1 - Critically review relevant academic literature to identify the key theories and models used to develop Induction programmes and measure employee engagement. A literature review was undertaken and a number of books and journals identified and analysed. When undertaking the literature review it became apparent that there is a lot of material on both topics, and that possibly one topic area would have been more appropriate as the report has a word limit of 10,000 words. Engagement was in danger of eclipsing the induction section and the literature review is more robust on this topic. If this report was to be started again it may have focused solely on engagement, however on the whole this objective was met. Objective 2 - Identify suitable methods of data collection to evaluate the employee experience of the current Induction programme and measure employee engagement. The rationale and process for collection of data are covered in detail in Chapter 3. Although there were several iterations of the questionnaire it became apparent when analysing the data that some of the questions could have been phrased differently to give more useful outcomes. Some concepts were grouped together to make the questionnaire shorter and simpler to answer. However in retrospect it would have been better to split some of the questions down further to increase the usefulness of the data gathered. For example the questions around the effectiveness of induction could have been split to make clear the difference between task specific training, which was generally delivered quite well, and social integration, onboarding and organisational integration. As this was not made clear the respondents assumed that the question referred to task-specific training and it was only when questioned more carefully in the interviews did it become apparent that there was a lot of room for improvement. The responses to questions about quality of management would have been more useful if they had been split into local and senior management. Overall the questionnaire approach gives a broad overview and a much larger sample size; it is not as useful as the interviews, which yielded a great deal of interesting and useful information. However the interviews were very time consuming to conduct and transcribe, so it would not have been practical to conduct multiple interviews. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the methodology selected met the objectives but if this approach was used again more iterations and more specific questions would be employed in the design of the questionnaire, and as many interviews as practical in the timescale available would be conducted. Objective 3 - Evaluate employee engagement in the call centre generally, and identify areas for improvement.
The questionnaire responses were surprisingly positive and indicated quite good levels of engagement; it would be very interesting to see if a similar survey conducted by an external party would yield different results. The interviews provided many interesting insights and areas for further investigation and overall the research objectives were met. However the main finding of the interviews was that a known internal operational issue is a major source of stress for front line call centre employees, who identified this as the primary cause of employee dissatisfaction. Objective 4 - Use the conclusions of the literature review and the outcomes of the data collection exercise to produce recommendations for improving the current Induction process and engagement in the call centre The recommendations derived from the literature review, questionnaire and the interviews have been included in Chapter 6.
Chapter 6 - Recommendations and Implementation Plan 6.1 Introduction This chapter sets out the main recommendations of the report and suggested priorities for implementation. 6.2 High priority recommendations • •
Carry out an urgent end to end review of operational issues causing so much stress for front line employees. Although this issue is outside the scope of the research it too significant to leave it out of the recommendations Carry out a top level review of the way information cascaded down from the senior management team to the rest of the organisation, to critically evaluate perceived blame culture and organisational silence that may be suppressing organisational citizenship behaviours and damaging performance.
6.3 Lower priority recommendations •
Revisit the call centre recruitment and selection process making use of the recommendations in the literature (Hacker, 2004; Fan and Wanous, 2008) and suggestions from the interviews (Appendix vii, section b) such as an attitude survey or personality as part of the short listing process to increase the chances of better PO fit. Consider specific training in management of stress and handling difficult calls. Include social aspects of induction training as well as just the practical aspects and skills transfer (Chiabura and Marinova 2005). Consider allocation of a mentor for all new employees and a lunch buddy for those not recruited as part of a group. Recruit in groups where possible; as per the Japanese model (Mestre et al. 1997). Consider a staggered formal induction programme for all new starters overseen by HR lasting for a few months separate from job-specific training to orient new staff. Consider use of conference calls, teleconferencing and webex to bring together new starters from different departments and geographical locations if physical meetings are not practical to promote crossfunctional understanding and better inter-departmental support networks Critically evaluate the current exit interview process; consider revising the exit interview form to gather additional data about why staff are leaving and include questions designed to measure key drivers such as engagement, perceptions of employee voice and trust in senior management. Consider using HR to carry out interviews, rather than the line manager, and/or posting out a more detailed leaver questionnaire to capture feedback from leavers who are reluctant to speak up (Morrison and Milliken, 2000). Develop an analysis method to evaluate the findings and consider when developing HR policies and strategies. Review of the communications strategy for the business; email is over-used and employees are faced with information overload, but currently there are few alternatives. There is evidence that poorly delivered feedback may be is being delivered by which may causing anxiety for front line staff. Consider 38
training for all supervisors and managers with an emphasis on respect for proper reporting lines; feedback should only be delivered by the line manager. Evaluate whether the use of social media could promote better communication and employee voice (Silverman et al. 2013). Consider an employee forum moderated by HR on the company Intranet where senior managers can communicate vision and strategy directly to employees and gather direct feedback from those on the front line staff, so senior managers understand what is really happening in the organisation and what it’s really like for employees. Currently communication is being filtered through layers of management and not getting through, or they are being filtered out by organisational silence (Morrison and Milliken 2000). Consider reinstatement of “state of the nation” visits (Appendix ix section a) by senior management to increase senior management visibility and approachability Carry out a further investigation into manager disengagement to see whether this is a local or organisation-wide issue. Consider development of succession planning strategies, perhaps carrying out an analysis of completed appraisal forms as a starting point. Ensure all vacancies are advertised internally and give consideration to providing internal candidates; skills can be taught but full engagement (Robertson and Cooper 2009) can not.
6.4 Limitations and conclusion Organisations are complex and issues are interlinked so any research will inevitably throw up more questions than it answers and this is no exception. There are a number of concepts and issues that have been touched on but not fully explored due to the limitations of the research evidence.
References Acevedo,J. & Yancey, G. (2011) “Assessing new employee orientation programmes”, Journal of Workplace Learning, 23:5, pp.349-354. http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file52215.pdf (Accessed 6th April 2013) Chao, G., O’Leary A., Wolf S., Klein H. Gardner,P. (1994), “Organisational Socialisation: Its Contents and Consequences”, Journal of Applied Psychology, 79:5, 730-743 Chiabura, D.& Marinova, S;(2005) “What predicts skill transfer? An exploratory study of goal orientation, training self-efficacy and organizational supports”, International Journal of Training and Development, Vol.9 pp. 110-123. Fan,J. & Wanous, J. (2008); “Organisational and Cultural Entry; A New Type of Orientation Programme for Multiple Boundary Crossings”, Journal of Applied Psychology, 93:6, 1390 – 1400. Hacker, C. (2004);“New employee orientation; make it pay dividends for years to come”, Information Systems Management, 21:1 89-92. Harter, J., Schmitdt, F.L. and Hayes, T.L. (2002), “Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement and business outcomes: A meta-analysis” Journal of Applied Psychology, 87.2, pp268-279. http://www.gallup.com/strategicconsulting/126806/Q12-Meta-Analysis.aspx http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/research/creating-engaged-workforce.aspx2010, (Accessed 17th October 2012)
http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/employee-turnover retention.aspx#link_2, (Accessed 16th October 2012) http://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/recruitment_retention_turnover_annual_survey_2009. pdf (Accessed 17th October 2012) http://www.gallup.com/consulting/52/employee-engagement.aspx. (Accessed 2nd March 2013). http://www.cipd.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/3574F0BF-BA92-44C6-86F7 7145E4DECFBB/0/SampleAdvancedLevelWorksession.pdf accessed 2nd March 2013 Kahn, W, A. (1990) Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work. Academy of Management Journal; Dec 1990; 33, 4;
Ku, B, & Kleiner, B. (2000) ‘How to orient employees into new positions successfully’, Management Research News 23:7/8 Kristoff-Brown, A. Zimmerman, R. Johnson, E. (2005), “Consequences of individual’s fit at work: a meta-analysis of Person-Job , person-organisation,person-group and person-supervisor fit”, Personnel Psychology 58, pp.281-342. Lashley, C. and Best, W. (2002), “Employee Inductions in licenced retail organisations”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 14:1, pp.6-13 Lemmergaard J. (2008) “From administrative expert to strategic partner”, Employee Relations 31:2 pp. 182-196 Macey, W and Schneider, B (2008) ‘The meaning of employee engagement’, Industrial and Organisational Psychology, 3 (30), pp. 3-30. Meyer, J. P., Allen, N. J., & Gellatly, I. R. (1990). “Affective and continuance commitment to the organization: Evaluation of measures and analysis of concurrent and time-lagged relations”, Journal of Applied Psychology, 75, 710–720. Mestre,M., Stainer, A., Stainer, L (1997), “Employee Orientation – the Japanese approach”, Employee Relations, 19:5, pp. 443-456. Morrison, Elizabeth Wolfe &. Milliken, Frances J. (2000) ‘Organizational Silence: A Barrier to Change And Development in a Pluralistic World’, Academy of Management Review Vol.25 (4) pp 706-725. Rafferty, A.; Restubog, S. (2011), “The Influence of Abusive Supervisors on Followers’ Organisational Citizenship Behaviours: The Hidden Cost of Abusive Supervision”, British Journal of Management, Vol. 22, 270–285 Robertson, I. T & Cooper, C. L (2009) “Full engagement: the integration of employee engagement and psychological well-being”, Leadership and organization development Journal, 31 (4) pp324-336 Schaufeli,W. And Bakker, A. (2004), ‘Job demands, job resources, and their relationship with burnout and engagement: a multi-sample study’, Jounal of Organizational Behaviour, 25, 293-315 Soltis, B. and Lanphear, S. 2004. “Are Your Employees Highly Engaged?” Credit Union Executive Newsletter, 19, pp. 1-2. Stainer A. (1995) “Productivity Management: the Japanese experience”, Management Decision, Vol.33 No.8 pp.4-12. Silverman, M; Bakhshalian, E.; Hillman, (2013) ‘Social Media and Employee Voice; The current landscape;’ CIPD. Towers Perrin-ISR (2006) The ISR Employee Engagement Report.
Wanous, J. & Reichers, A. (2000), “New employee orientation programs”, Human Resource Management Review, 10, 435 – 451). Bibliography Arnold, J. & Randall, R et. Al, (2010), “Work Psychology Understanding Human Behaviour in the Workplace”, Pearson Education Ltd. Beardwell J & Claydon T, (2010), ‘Human Resource Management a Contemporary Approach’, Sixth Edition Pearson Education Ltd. Coates, N. & Sloan, D. (2008), “Newcastle Business School Masters Dissertation”, Magraw-Hill Horn, R.(2009), ‘Researching and Writing Dissertations; A complete guide for business and management students’, CIPD Legge K, (2005), ‘Human Resource Management: Rhetorics and Realities’, Palgrave. Pears, R. & Shields, G. (2008) “Cite Them Right”, Pear Tree Books. Pilbeam S, Corbridge (2010) ‘People Resourcing and Talent Planning’, Fourth edition, Pearson Education Ltd. Purcell, J; Kinnie, N.; Hutchinson, S. (2003),”Understanding the people and performance link; unlocking the black box”, CIPD. Taylor, S. (2002), “People Resourcing”, Cromwell Press. Torrington, D; Hall, L. Taylor, S. & Atkinson, C; (2011) “Human Resource Management”, Pearson Education. .
Appendix i: Organisational Structure HQ - Paris
Managing Director - UK
Senior Financial Controller
Primary Operations Manager
Secondary Operations Manager
Customer Services Manager
Regional Operations Managers
Customer Services Team Leaders
Customer Services Coordinators
Appendix ii - Project timetable 8 - Project Timeframe Task
Calendar / schedule
Proposal 1.1 Define proposal topic area and conduct initial literature search
Refine literature search, identify themes and select material relevent to the topic
Write literature review
Complete Ethical Issues and Organisational Consent
1.3 Final checking, amendments & referencing 1.4 Submit proposal & accompanying documentation Literature Review 2.1 Expand on proposal and complete research 2.2 Finalise selection of literature to be included 2.3 Finalise literature review Conduct Organisational Research
Hiatus due to Maternity
1.2 Construct main body of proposal
3.1 Construct and pilot questionnaire and interview questions 3.2 Carry out data collection exercise 3.3
Research internally into Induction programmes used elsewhere in the organisation; define organisational culture
3.4 Analyse data from research and compare with literature 3.5 Complete Methodology Finalise Report 4.1 Complete Recommendations and Conclusion 4.2 Final checking, amendments and referencing 4.3 Complete Reflective Report 10 and finalise CPPD log 4.4 Bind and hand in all completed documents
Appendix iii Student Ethical Issues Form Student Name:
Title of Research Project:
Could improvements to the Induction process lead to increased employee engagement?
Start Date of Research Project:
September 2011 Comments
Brief description of the proposed research methods including, in particular, whether human subjects will be involved and how.
Human subjects will participate in an anonymous questionnaire and semi-structured interviews.
Ethical issues that may arise (if none, state â€œNoneâ€? and give reasons)
The data provided by the participants may be of a commercially sensitive nature or may contain criticisms of the organisatin or individuals within the organisation; therefore the raw data must not get into the public domain. The research does not involve children or vulnerable adults.
How will the ethical issues be addressed? (if none state n/a)
Organizational consent forms detailing the nature of the research, approximate time commitments for the employees have been obtained from a senior manager who is authorised to provide consent to allow the interviews and questionnaires to be conducted within the business. A copy of the organizational consent form has been provided for their own records. All individual research participants were given an informed consent form to sign. This details the exact nature of the research, their expected time commitment, data storage etc. A copy of this will be given to each individual for their own records. All data obtained from the interviews will be anonymised with names of participants removed and marked with xxxx. Organizations and people named during the data collection process will also be omitted where necessary to maintain anonymity. Electronic forms of the raw data will be password protected and securely stored on a computer in an office which is inside a safe haven area accessible by authorised individuals via a keypad system.
As part of the data analysis process, hard copies of the questionnaire summary results will be made available to the interview participants however this data will be anonymised by the survey tool Survey Monkey..
It is explicit in the organizational consent forms and the individual consent forms for the entrepreneur and the employee that data obtained in this research will be reproduced and published as case studies in a variety of forms and for a variety of audiences.
Has informed consent of research participants been considered? If appropriate, has an informed consent form been completed? Has organisational consent been considered? If appropriate, has an organisational consent form been completed?
Informed consent has been considered and will be implemented with all research participants. Individual informed consent forms will be completed upon negotiation with the individuals concerned. Organisational consent has been considered and will be implemented with the participating organisations. Organizational consent forms will be completed upon negotiation of access with the organisation.
Please tick to confirm acceptance that it is your responsibility to store and destroy the data appropriately.
Student Signature (indicating that the research will be conducted in conformity with the above and agreeing that any significant change in the research project will be notified and a further “Ethical Issues Form” submitted). Date: ………………………………Student Signature:…………………………………………….
Supervisor: I confirm that I have read this form and I believe the proposed research will not breach University policies. Date:………………………………
Please Note: The appropriate completion of this form is a critical component of the University Policy on Ethical Issues in Research and Consultancy. If further advice is required, please contact the School Ethics Sub Committee through the Academic Support Office in the first instance.
Appendix iv - Organisational Consent Form
Appendix v - Informed Consent Form for research participants
Newcastle Business School Title of Study
Could improvements to the Induction process lead to increased employee engagement?
Person(s) conducting the research
Programme of study
PG Dip Human Resource Management and Development (Part Time)
Address of the researcher for correspondence
4 Foxcover Linton Colliery Northumberland NE62 5SR 07870986479
Description of the broad nature of the research
The research is intended to 1). determine whether or not the induction process is fit for purpose 2).measure employee engagement levels 3). Look for areas to improve. The participants will be asked questions about the Induction programme they undertook when joining the company and how satisfied and engaged are they in their current role. The interview will be semi-structured on a one to one basis with the researcher and should take no more than n 1.5 hours.
Description of the involvement expected of participants including the broad nature of questions to be answered or events to be observed or activities to be undertaken, and the expected time commitment
Information obtained in this study, including this consent form, will be kept strictly confidential (i.e. will not be passed to others) and anonymous (i.e. individuals and organisations will not be identified unless this is expressly excluded in the details given above). Data obtained through this research may be reproduced and published in a variety of forms and for a variety of audiences related to the broad nature of the research detailed above. It will not be used for purposes other than those outlined above without your permission. Participation is entirely voluntary and participants may withdraw at any time. By signing this consent form, you are indicating that you fully understand the above information and agree to participate in this study on the basis of the above information. Participantâ€™s signature
Please keep one copy of this form for your own records
Appendix v: Questionnaire - Pilot Sex: (a) M (b) F Age: (a) <24 (b) 25 – 34 (c) 35-44 (d) 45 – 54 (e) >55 Position: (a) Patient facing/ Front Line (b) Team Leader/Supervisor (c) Manager (d) Senior Manager (e) Other Length of service: (a) <6 months (b) 6 months – under 1 year (c) 1 year-less than 2 years (d) 2 years to less than 3 years (e) more than 3 years How were you recruited? (a) Direct (b) Agency What factors made you decide to apply for/accept the position? Please rank in order of importance (with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important) ( ( ( ( (
) convenient location ) pay & working conditions ) hours of work ) type of work ) career prospects
What was your overall impression of the induction and training you received when you first started? Very good Good Average Below Average Poor How well do you feel the Induction prepared you for the role? 49
Very well Well Average Not very well Poorly Did the Induction provide you with a good understanding of the overall company structure, purpose and aims? Yes very well Yes Not sure Donâ€™t think so No this was not covered What aspect of the Induction training was the most beneficial? Pace of training Classroom-based sessions Practical/hands on sessions Mentoring & support Literature and handouts provided What aspect of the training was least beneficial? Pace of training Classroom-based sessions Practical/hands on sessions Mentoring & support Literature and handouts provided When your training was complete and you moved into the role itself, did you feel well supported in the event of any questions or problems? Yes very well Well OK Not very well No I felt unsupported How well did the job match your expectations from interview and Induction? Was it what you expected? Much better than expected Better than expected As expected Not as good as expected Much worse than expected Which aspects of the role did you most like when you first started? Please rank in order of importance (with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important) ; ( (
) Location ) pay/ working conditions/ hours of work 50
( ( (
) atmosphere and relationships with colleagues ) type of work ) career prospects
Which aspects of the role did you least like when you first started? Please rank in order of importance (with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important) ; ( ( ( ( (
) Location ) pay/ working conditions/ hours of work ) atmosphere and relationships with colleagues ) type of work ) career prospects
How would you rate your overall satisfaction with your role now? Extremely satisfied Very satisfied Satisfied Dissatisfied Very dissatisfied Do you feel xxxx is a good place to work? Very good Good Average Poor Very poor Would you recommend Xxxx as an employer to other people? Yes definitely Probably Maybe Probably not Definitely not Do you feel you are performing a valuable and worthwhile function? Yes definitely Probably Maybe Probably not Definitely not Comments: ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... .......................................................................................................................................
Appendix vii: Questionnaire – Final version This questionnaire is part of a research project being carried out by Clare Sikkink, Customer Services Manager at xxxx Ltd. as part of an MA in Human Resource and Management and Development at the University of Northumbria. The purpose of the research is to explore the link between the experience at Induction and subsequent employee engagement. Any questions about this survey should be directed to email@example.com. Participation is entirely voluntary. All data collected during this survey will be anonymised through SurveyMonkey, stored securely to maintain your confidentiality and destroyed once the research project is complete. This survey should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. 1. Sex: (a) M (b) F 2. Age: (a) <24 (b) 25 – 34 (c) 35-44 (d) 45 – 54 (e) >55 3. Position: (a) Patient Facing/ Front Line (b) Supervisory/Management 4. Length of service: (a) less than 6 months (b) 6 months – under 1 year (c) 1 year-less than 2 years (d) 2 years to less than 3 years (e) more than 3 years 5. What factors made you decide to apply for and accept the position? Please rank in order of importance (with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important ( ) Location ( ) pay, working conditions and hours of work ( ) atmosphere and friendliness of the staff ( ) type of work ( ) career prospects 6. What was your overall impression of the induction and training you received when you first started? (a) Very good 52
Good Average below Average poor 7. How well do you feel the Induction prepared you for your role? Very well Well Average Not very well Poorly 8. Did the Induction provide you with a good understanding of the overall company structure, purpose and aims? Yes it was very comprehensive Yes it was OK Not sure I donâ€™t think so No, this was not covered 9. What aspect of the Induction training was the most beneficial to you? Please rank the following in order of importance (where 1 is the most useful and 5 the least useful) ( ) Pace of training ( ) Classroom-based sessions ( ) Practical/hands on sessions ( ) Mentoring & support from colleagues/supervisors ( ) Literature and handouts provided
10. When your training was complete and you moved into the role itself, did you feel well prepared and were you well supported and helped with any problems or questions you came across? I felt very well prepared and someone was always available to help when I needed support I felt well prepared and supported I felt reasonably well prepared and supported most of the time I felt unprepared for the role and received little support I felt very unprepared and received no help or support 11. How well did the job match your expectations from interview and Induction? Was it what you expected? Much better than expected Better than expected (b) As expected 53
(c) Not as good as expected Much worse than expected
12. Which aspects of the role did you most like now? Please rank in order of importance (with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important) ( ( ( ( (
) Location ) pay, working conditions and hours of work ) atmosphere and relationships with colleagues ) type of work ) career prospects
13. How would you rate your overall satisfaction with your role now? Extremely satisfied Very satisfied Satisfied Dissatisfied Extremely dissatisfied 14. Do you feel you are provided with the tools (such as IT systems, equipment, policies, procedures and information) you need to carry out your job effectively? Yes I have everything I need to do my job well The tools are quite good on the whole but some things could be improved The tools are adequate but there are areas that need to be improved The tools are not adequate which makes my job more difficult than it needs to be The tools are very inadequate and it is impossible for me to do my job properly 15. Would you recommend xxxx as an employer to family and friends? Do you feel it is a good place to work? Yes, I feel xxxx is a very good employer Yes, it’s a good employer Probably, it is OK here Probably not, I don’t think it’s a very good place to work. Definitely not, I feel xxxx is a very poor employer 16. Do you feel confident that the supervisory management team at xxxx Ltd. is trustworthy and is committed to the success of the organisation? Yes very confident Yes fairly confident Unsure Not very confident No I do not feel confident at all
17. Do you feel loyal to xxxx Ltd.? Yes definitely Probably Maybe Probably not Definitely not 18. Do you feel you are performing a valuable and worthwhile function and you are making an important contribution to the success of the organisation? Yes definitely Yes most of the time Sometimes Not really Definitely not 19. How likely are you to â€œgo the extra mileâ€? at work? Examples of this would be staying late to finish off work, volunteering to come in at short notice to assist with a problem or proactively identifying barriers to success and suggesting solutions. Very likely Fairly likely Possibly Quite unlikely Never 20. Do you feel well informed about what is happening in the organisation, and that your ideas and suggestions will be listened to? Yes definitely Yes most of the time Sometimes Not really Definitely not 21. Do you feel that employees are treated fairly in xxxx Ltd? Yes definitely Yes most of the time It is reasonably fair but could be improved Not really Definitely not
22. Do you receive constructive feedback about your performance?
Yes I regularly receive positive and helpful feedback that makes me feel valued and helps me to improve Yes I sometimes receive positive and helpful feedback that helps me to improve I sometimes receive helpful feedback I rarely receive feedback, or I receive feedback but it is usually negative I never receive positive or helpful feedback and I have no idea how I am performing Comments: Please feel free to include any points you feel might be interesting or useful for the research. ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................... ................................................................................. The survey is now complete. Thank you for your participation, a summary of the responses received will be available on request from Clare Sikkink in July 2013.
Appendix viii – Semi-structured interview questions Copy of email sent to volunteers to prepare for the interview. Hi xxxx In preparation for the interview please can you make a few notes about the following – this is entirely voluntary and anything you don’t feel comfortable discussing please just omit. - Your experience of Induction, what was good/bad, did you feel welcomed/ how can we improve it? - Did your induction give you a good understanding of how the whole of xxxx operates and where we fit in? - How would describe the culture; At xxxx At head office At xxxx the global organization - Was the job what you expected, and if not why? - Do you feel valued by local management/senior management, what can we do to improve this? - Do you feel listened to and how can we improve this? Do you speak up if you have an idea or suggestion? - How can we improve communication when the call volumes mean difficult to take staff off in groups? - Do you feel people are treated fairly and if not why? - Do you receive feedback, how useful is it and how could it be improved? - If people decide to leave what do you think are the main reasons? What are the good/bad points of the job? I will try to do your interviews this afternoon depending on call volumes Many thanks
Clare Sikkink Customer Service Manager
Appendix ix: Transcribed Interviews a). Interview 1 – Transcript Male manager, aged 45 -54, length of service more than 3 years Q. What made you apply for the job in the first place? What appealed to you about it? A. It was the opportunity to start with a new company and a new business, to set up an operation from scratch it was a chance to set things up how I wanted to set things up instead of inheriting somebody else’s and then trying to fix it, trying to make it work or trying to fit into somebody else’s routines, I thought it would be a good opportunity for development and also if you can make it work it will reflect well on me and give me opportunities. Q. So when you first started working for xxxx how would describe the company’s culture what kind of employer was it? A. It wasn’t xxxx when we first started in was xxxx, xxxx bought us after 2 years. r Q. OK maybe you can talk about xxxx then, what as it like when you were first taken over by them? A. We were a bit anxious at first, we didn’t know what was going to happen, but when we did finally get bought and them we started to interact with people from headquarters it was quite a good feeling because up until that point we’d been working on our own without any real support from our company because we were in the market to be sold so we weren’t allowed to integrate with the other xxxx businesses in the group around Europe so we were left to our own devices. Once we were bought by xxxx we were able to get backup and support from xxxx business units and also we started to integrate to a degree by having interaction with their global operations manager. He came over and we had a two day meeting and he’d been part of the team who came round during the purchasing process, so he’s already been to the site and I’d already met him briefly. When he came over for the two day meeting we had a long session about the way that xxxx works and the guidelines that they have, the documentation that they have, the specifications and other resources that were available, and he brought over a number of these documents for me to do a gap analysis of our operation with the group specification and we agreed that I would do that over the course of the next three months, then we would have another meeting and out together an action plan ...well sorry it wasn’t actually three months it was a month and a half, and we’d have an action plan out together as to how we were going to make our business compliant with the xxxx group specifications, find out what the holes were and what we were going to do to fill the holes. He gave me lots of information, lots of links to xxxx sites, it actually felt like we were part of a larger company rather than what we’d been doing for the last 18 months with xxxxx which was you had to stumble along on your own without any support or any backup. Q. So what were your impressions of xxxx then what kind of company did you think it was? Did you feel like it was a company that invested in its employees? A. At that time at that early stage it looked very promising, they talked about all sorts of things like the technical career ladder, they did invest in people and there was lots of crossover between the different entities and different countries, lots of transference of knowledge and getting to know each other and network, it looked like there was a lot of opportunities to gather knowledge for other people within the sector and be a part of it, transfer your knowledge and participate in what they called 58
working groups, whether it be just on a conference call or in person, and possibly open up opportunities within the business and within the group. You got the impression that if you did well at a particular aspect of the business, whether it be at a senior level or mid level or junior level that would be noticed and acknowledged and you would be then be given links to other outlets such as other people within the business and at the time it seemed very positive. It was looking like a company that did invest in its people and did place a lot of emphasis on retaining staff and developing staff, whether that be on internal or external courses but it looked like there would be a lot of internal courses for training so it looked quite promising. The other aspect which didn’t apply to me was that if you were a graduate then they have a big graduate scheme but that didn’t really apply to me because I wasn’t a graduate and I was ....um out of date (laughs). Q.So it sounds like the induction they gave you was quite thorough and gave you quite a good understanding of the company and made you feel quite welcomed and involved? A. It wasn’t so much an “induction induction” to xxxx it was a lets say more of an induction into xxxx within xxxx itself because xxxx is a business unit or a world business line within xxxx that’s one part of it, there are lots of other parts, they didn’t go into detail about the group’s development as such, it was more this is how the xxxx world business line works and how we try to expand people’s knowledge and abilities and we want to make xxxxx the sort of place whereby we have a set of specifications or group technical specifications which each entity now matter which country around the world has to work in line with, and the idea of that was so that whether you are a technician in the UK or a technician in Brazil if you’re installing oxygen into a home in the xxxx business you are doing it in almost exactly the same way so that if you really needed to you could go to work in a different country and you would be doing things almost exactly the same as the local person, except obviously the language barrier. Um ...each country has some slight differences but I personally got a good overview but I was a manager. I was the xxxx Manager. The staff below me however didn’t really get that type of integration into xxxx as I did, but a large part of that as because it as my responsibility to do the gap analysis to find out what we weren’t compliant with and what we were compliant with, and the make us compliant with the group specification and so that’s why my introduction as a lot more in depth than the technicians, but then there was a lot more pressure on me than there was on them, because as far as the other staff were concerned, let’s say the non-management staff were concerned the only thing that had changed for them was the logo on the uniforms and on their pay packets, we were still working in exactly the same way as we were before, their introduction to xxxx came at a much slower pace and over a much longer length of time, bit I think part of that was because of their roles and responsibilities, and their job didn’t really change all that much. They had to continue with the day to day work of making sure that xxxx got the equipment that they needed at the time when they needed it, whether that be the call centre or a technician out on the road or one of the production people and then there was the admin staff, so to all intents and purposes they had an induction but it was a slightly different one, a less pressurised one. Q. Do you think that other staff would have benefited more if they’d had an induction similar to yours, or not? A. I don’t think so, because my introduction, rather than induction, was more about getting the operation in line with the group operations standards, the rest of the staff, the majority of the rest of the staff were more interested in, um, will my terms and 59
conditions be affected, will my pay be affected, more personal things rather than business things. There were some that were more interested and that came out as we started doing the meetings and training sessions, what came out of the gap analysis was that there were a lot of documents that needed to be created from scratch, er, which resulted in having to roll out training sessions to bring people up to speed, and during those training sessions we would explain why we were doing what we were doing, and that actually this was part of us becoming part of a bigger business, and we were actually benefiting from their practices and also being able to day to them that the way we were working was very similar to the way xxxx was working, so take that as a sign that we were doing the job correctly and we were working safely, but again I can only speak from an operations perspective, because they were very heavily focused on the operation. Business admin or the administrative staff office staff really I don’t think they got much involvement at all, really they didn’t get a lot of induction, they didn’t get a lot of information about the changeover. I know that when we started the operation the induction for all of the staff as very intense, because I organised some of it, I set some of it up, and none of the staff had worked in xxxx before including myself, so we did have a very intense couple of weeks the month before the operation went live, and that was for all of the staff we had very good induction into xxxx and what the xxxx needs are, the types of xxxx we have, the equipment - we had a guy from group who was also French came over and he was very, very good, very knowledgeable, and he spent days going over training packages about the illnesses and things like that, and we had manufacturers training about all the equipment for all the staff not just the operations staff but every single member of staff who was employed, and each package was tailored to the requirements of the group, so the call centre staff didn’t get as heavily technical training as the staff who were going to be working with it, and the training for technicians who were going to be installing it wasn’t as heavily technical as the training for the staff who were going to be repairing and maintaining it and so on and so on, and everyone got this it was very very good. Q. So that was from xxxx? A. That was from xxxx, and that was a combination of the xxxx HR and also us managers that started from the beginning so that was very in depth from that sense. So then we tried to replicate that for new starters but it was really difficult to replicate that level of intensity, because you couldn’t really take people offline to go through it so they always got a cursory one that took a lot longer. So then the xxxx induction for the staff wasn’t anything like that it as more a case of, this is the differences between the companies rather than in any real depth, because people had more worries about am I going to lose my job and is it going to affect me personally. Q, So what do you think about the way we induct new staff now, do you think it’s improved, or.. A. No.No I don’t. But that’s unkind and unfair as a generalisation, each department inducts staff differently, I think some departments do it well, but I think that as a business I don’t believe we have a proper induction process for every new starter, induction is very much left down to individual departments and so induction is a bit disjointed, some departments induct their staff quite well, other departments don’t, I think if you get recruited in head office you get a better induction than if you get recruited out in the regions, depending at what level you’re at. If you are at a management level you get a better induction overall, so you get a better overall picture, but you might not get the detail. If you;re below supervisor level then your induction consists more about this is the desk where you’re going to sit, this is the 60
job you’re going to do, this is the system and screens you are going to use, and so on and so on. It’s very cursory I think the business has gone away from inducting the staff in general into what our business is and what we’re about, and therefore I think we suffer, because we have staff who don’t really understand the emphasis that’s placed on our service by the xxxx, so they don’t understand the ramifications, and I think we’re also very light on inducting ou staff in our contractual requirements with the NHS, so we have a gap because it’s not joined up, we don’t have in the business, or we don’t have a person or department who is responsible for making sure that all new staff get inducted to exactly the same standards with exactly the same information, and at the same time also we don’t do routine sessions where we do ...we used to have a “state of the nation “ whereby a couple of members of the senior management team, either the managing director and HR manager or their delegates, would come round every single dept and spend a day or two days at that depot so they could see as many people as possible who worked from there in groups in the morning and the evening just to see everybody also to tell them what’s going on ion the business and how the business is performing, what opportunities there are, what problems we could be having and also getting feedback from the ground level, whether they be supervisors or just the staff as in the shop floor workers. It was a chance for people to have, not a whinge but to ask questions and also pass on suggestions, it was only twice a year and we haven;’ had that for... well I can’t remember the last time we had one. I felt they were quite productive and it was a good way for senior management to get round the sites and get to know the staff, hear what’s going on for themselves instead f getting it second hand. And it also made the staff feel like they belonged and were recognised, the majority of staff would make sure they were able to attend or they were available for the sessions, that’s why depending on the size of the workforce at a depot and whether it was a one day or a two day session to give people the chance to attend .I’ve even known some people come in when they were on holiday to attend , no so they can have a whinge and a moan but so they can hear what’s going on. Q. So do you feel like the people who had a better induction and the people who were involved in these feedback sessions, do you think that helped them to be more engaged? A. Yes, because it’s all very well sending a memo out, or a newsletter out, but it’s a very impersonal thing and what tends to happen is it’s a one way stream, the business sends out a document whether that is a newsletter or a memo or an announcement, but that is just “the business” telling “the staff” how it is, rather than members of the senior management coming to each individual depot with a script or a presentation and letting people know about how our turnover was, how the business is doing, what are our prospects for the next 12/24/36/48 months, what problems we’ve had over the last 12 months, it just lets people know what’s going on and stops rumours spreading that are just rumours with no, no fact or foundation to them and it also allows people to speak directly to the senior management or managing director and get their thoughts over, whereas a newsletter doesn’t, because most of the time the newsletter will have on it if you’ve got suggestions or whatever and then there’s an email address for you to email, but most of the staff aren’t office based which means that they need to go home and email from home and by the time they get home they’ve switched off from that, it’d very much an “in the moment” type of thing and that’s where these meetings with the senior management coming around ... sometimes people just need to get something off their chest, they don’t require any resolution or any change or any actions they just 61
need to have a discussion, and they can see it from the other person’s perspective which helps in the long run and that’s what needed sometimes just that ability to talk and listen, they don’t need to have a result from it they just need to out an idea or a thought or a comment over. I think that they were very very worth while, and trying to manage people remotely by memo or newsletter makes people feel isolated or abandoned because you can’t be bothered to come and see them. That’s my opinion. Q. SO it sounds like initially you were quite engaged, how do you feel now? A. It varies. Er, (long pause), I don’t feel now that I am a part of the business like I did in the early days and I don’t feel now that...I feel like the management style now has changed significantly and it just doesn’t feel the same, it just doesn’t feel the same. I think there’s a lot...I feel there’s a lot less engagement now than there was up to a couple of years ago. Q. By all the staff generally, do you mean? Or just certain... A. I feel across the board there is less engagement by all the staff, because in the last 12-18 months the lets say, the business has become more segmented, so there isn’t the ease of communication there used to be, where people could pick up the phone, people have become very boxed into their own little departments and very defensive of their own little departments, so there isn’t that rapport, that ease that there used to be. At the management side I feel it’s become very isolated as well, it’s become very difficult to communicate as a manager with other managers. There is a lot of pressure not to rock the boat, you just can’t criticise certain things or people even if you can see there’s a problem, so people just keep quiet. Because you’re not a senior manager you have become a lesser person, and you have less to contribute and your opinions are nor valid or worthwhile, and so they are ignored. The senior management are missing a lot by behaving like that, because it’s the middle management and junior management that actually keep the business running and keep things moving, it’s not the senior management. Q. So you feel like it’s senior management behaviour that is a barrier to engagement for the rest of the staff? A. Yes, the senior management are not setting a good example, because they are not engaging with the staff in their department, they are boxing themselves into their offices in head office, they might be having lots and lots of meetings, but unless you’re a senior manager or a particular manager based in head office you won’t know anything about it. Um, for me the senior managers or department managers need to be out regularly to see what is going on in their parts of the business. They also need to get feedback from people out in the field so they can find out and what’s going wrong and what’s going right so they can make things work better. If they are not engaged with their workforce and their teams how can they make decisions about the best way to drive the business forward, they can get as many spreadsheets and financial information as they like and crunch numbers and move numbers around but it’s people who make the numbers work, and if you’re not engaging people then what ever numbers you come up with could be completely irrelevant, they are either too high or too low, if they are too high they can never be achieved or too low because they have failed to take into consideration factors they know nothing about, because they’ve just been boxed into their office or their own little world and sometimes they can miss some really, really obvious things. Such as the fact that we have a big increase in activity in the summer which requires seasonal staff to come in, and if you’ve forgotten that you need seasonal staff it can have a big financial impact. Or in the same way you are putting spreadsheets and 62
financial information together at senior level or when you are putting a budget together or you are putting plans together it’s very easy if you aren’t engaged with your department or your staff you can miss out very important things. Q. So do you feel the senior management team is committed to the success of the organisation? A. I do feel like they are committed, but i think they are focused more on being a senior manager, or being a senior management team, than they are on being the management team for the xxxx business they need to be looking up and down and sideways and not just upwards, they are not going to well informed and you won’t be as up to date as you could be, and I’m not talking about all the senior management team I’m just talking about the senior management team in general. The senior managers need to engage with their management teams and their people, and the best way to do that is to spend time with them not a phone call or a memo, but to actually spend time in their departments watching what they do and what is going on, and that’s the only way you can make the right decisions. Everybody knows that cars need fuel but unless you know where the fuel cap is you can’t put any in can you. Q. So is there anything specific could be done, do you think a more thorough induction process where everybody had the same induction and everybody has a thorough introduction to other departments would make them feel more engaged? A. I think it would I think it would make people feel more engaged, I think it would make people understand the bigger picture, and how things link together and that not doing something properly in a certain department on a certain day has a bigger impact than ... let’s say this mentality of emailing or faxing at five to five may have offloaded a problem from you, but you’ve just left that other department with a major problem that they can’t necessarily resolve or they’ve got to spend a lot of time dealing with, because you’ve gone at five o’clock but basically you’ve passed the buck, you know that those people aren’t going to leave at five o’clock so they’ve got to figure out a way to resolve it somehow, it creates problems because they spend a lot of time and effort needlessly when having better respect and communication between departments would make it a lot easier. An given the nature of the business we’re in, where we need to be very xxxx-focused, I think a lot of people have forgotten that we are here to service xxxx on behalf of the xxxx, and were not here to leave things on a doorstop like a milkman does, and it doesn’t really matter if we don’t do it because we’ll catch it a few days later, and we’ve got a lot of confidential information and I don’t think people realise the implications, because we talk about ISO this or data security and every now and again there might be a training session with a tickbox test at the end of it, but most people don;t understand why we have it, because it’s not really explained properly. They might know it’s to maintain our ISO registration, but why do we need that registration? Why is it important what benefits do we get from that registration, is it a legal requirement or is it just something we like to have? People don’t understand all of that, because they don’t get told, they just get told we have to do this because we have to maintain our ISO registration or we have to maintain our MHRA licence, and people don’t realise that without those MHRA licences we actually can’t work, they just don’t see how things join together, what governs us and why, and why we have to do things in a certain way, it can allow bad practices to come into place. As I say we aren’t a parcel delivery company where it doesn’t matter, we can just leave what ever we take in a greenhouse in someones’s garden. They will figure it out at some point, but we’ve got certain obligations and we are a professional company. You’ve got brand new staff who question things and by asking those questions it can just jog the people who are 63
doing the induction because sometimes they can overlook things because they’ve got into a rut, they’ve a powerpoint for this and a powerpoint for that and all I’ve got to do is go thorough the motions, so when new starters ask questions they make you think, because sometimes the questions are really good and you realise ah, I missed that out, I need to include this and that, I need to explain that better or I’ve forgotten to explain about this, and the inductions get better because you add in more information and more relevant information, to explain it in a better way so the induction process develops and gets better and better. But if you don’t do inductions then they don’t get better. You don’t get that feedback and that’s what’s missing, when people are new to the organisation they’ve got a lot of questions, when they have been there for a couple of years and you haven’t engaged with them then anymore they don’t bother asking questions any more, they just whinge instead. Which isn’t that productive. Q. OK can you think of anything else that’s relevant? A. About Inductions? Q. About inductions and engagement, how can we get them to be more engaged. A. We can get them to be more engaged if we actually did things in a regular basis, ie. we launch a new newsletter, we have newsletter number 1, then newsletter number 2, and then it stops, there’s nothing. The 10 months later we get a brand new newsletter and they think, hmm we’re getting a newsletter again. And then it stops, so we have no consistency at all. The staff, I think staff feel let down because they don’t get to know what’s going on, they don’t get the opportunity for these state of the nation meetings where they can ask questions about the business and ask what’s the business going to be doing next year, also simple things like diaries and calendars, people expect certain things and most companies will give people certain things each year, such as diary ir calendar a desk or pocket one, I know things like Christmas parties, We never ever know if there’s going to be a Christmas party until 2 weeks before then it’s a mad rush, yes you can have a party but then you have to try to find out if the company is going to contribute, and it becomes a total shambles and 9 times out of 10 we end up not having a Christmas party, and people think that’s why it’s done like that or we’re just totally disorganised and don’t care about the staff. Its not as if it’sa different time each year and it’s a surprise, we’ve never had Christmas in March, make the decisions well in advance because you’ve got to budget for it the year before any way. It’s just little things like that certain people get really worked up about, and morale hits rock bottom. I worked for xxx company which was a gas company, and it was very cheesy but on your birthday you always got a birthday card signed by the managing director, and yes it is cheesy but to some people it means a lot of things, it means you are more than just an employee out in the middle of nowhere hundreds of miles from head office, it does make a big difference to a lot of people. And just having that confidence that yes, we are having a Christmas party and there’s nothing to worry about, also having a state of the nation meetings. When senior managers come to site some of them go out of their way to see as many people as possible, to shake hands and have a chat, just be there with a cup of tea, it’s impromptu and nothing organised, but it shows a level of interaction. Things like that could be done better. So when senior managers go to a site they shouldn’t just go there to attend a meeting, they should try to make an effort to at least go to see other parts of the business that’s there, even if not to everybody at least to the other managers on the site, and spend some time with them so the staff can see there is that interaction there. And take time to have a cup of tea and see the environment the staff have to work in, so instead of going out for lunch get 64
some sandwiches, have them in the canteen, have them in the facilities the staff have to use so you can see how well or otherwise it works, and the staff can see you are doing that. When we were taken over by xxxx we were sent over to part of the xxxx business in Holland, and we went to a depot a bit smaller than our depot, the managing director was based there in an office, the customer services team was there and lots of other people who worked in the lab, people who maintained the equipment, people who worked in the yard, drivers, whatever. And they used to have a little room that was the canteen, and every lunchtime everyone including the managing director would go there for their lunch, and they all chipped in a few euros, in fact it was part of the company regulations that the company would spend s much per person on lunch, and they would all contribute and they would have a selection of foods and drinks, hot and cold, and everyone in that organisation would sit down and have meal together and they would all sit round and chitchat. I thought it as an absolutely fantastic idea they had a really good team spirit, it was a really relaxed environment, and everybody was really chilled but very professional as well, and I thought that was a really good way of maintaining that team spirit. I know it’s not possible to replicate that in our business because of the nature of the business and we always have to have someone on the phones, but we could do something similar. Or we could do things better than we are which is everyone hunched over their desk having a sandwich, or going and sitting in their car. It doesn’t build any team spirit and that’s what I think we’re lacking in, especially cross-departmental team spirits. Q. OK thank you very much. A. My pleasure.
b). Interview 2 – Transcript Female leaver, age 25-34, length of service more than 3 years Q. So you are leaving the organisation soon, can I just ask you about your Induction, what made you take the job in the first place? A. Um, I suppose it’s important to mention that when I first started with the company I was in a different role to the role I’m in now, at first I was a xxxx. I suppose the main reason I took the role was the friendliness of the staff, I thought everyone was very friendly here, and it was a pleasant environment, things have evolved a lot since then (laughs), and the induction I had it was a very small organisation at the time and the xxxx department was a very different to the way it is now, so my induction was on a smaller scale than what we’d probably need now. It was fairly comprehensive, there was a lot of things packed into the first couple of weeks when I started, I got to visit out with a technician which a lot of the staff now don’t get the chance to do, I spent a lot of time with xxxx, I spent time with xxxxx who as the xxxxx at the time called xxxx, so there was a lot of stuff packed in. Not a lot of it made sense to me because I was really new, and I didn’t understand what people were talking about most of the time, there was too much information all at once. One of the things I found difficult when I first started was that everyone who was here had been for a couple of years, knew the job very well and knew each other very well, and I think it’s hard to be a new person on your own, not to be with a group of other new people, you can kind of support each other. So that was the only thing I felt was lacking, I felt a little bit left out sometimes. I think after the first couple of weeks of induction I started to go on to the job itself, I found it a little bit more difficult. I don’t think I was given good feedback about my performance, and what feedback I was given wasn’t delivered in a very good way. So I didn’t enjoy it very much for the first few months and I wanted to leave, and I almost did. But after I was more established I became more comfortable here, and then after a year I changed to the job of xxxxx, and I think at the time it was just after a Transition and there wasn’t much scope for an induction, or any relevance for it really because I’d already been with the company for a year and I think I knew everything I needed to know about the company. In terms of training there wasn’t any, but I don’t think there was any available. I have had some training over the years, but it’s been quite limited, there’s not much, there’s not many tools to govern how we manage people, um, and we’ve tried to develop our own methods but there’s not been a lot of guidance on how to do things really. We do have a support function with HR but there not based here and it’s limited. (Laughs). Is that all you need? Q. It’s quite common that new starters struggle at first, and new starters leave more often than any other category of employee. One of the things they quite often say is that it’s the social interaction that’s lacking, they get on the job training but not necessarily the support to meet their other needs, What do you think we could do to improve that? A. I think that’s quite well dealt with when you recruit a team of people at the same time, they kind of support each other and become quite friendly, and have the same experience at the same time. But when we recruit one person I always found that we have a higher attrition rate when we have just one person starting, and they are in an environment with they are working with people they don’t know, who all know each other. I think some buddying or mentoring would be good, I know it’s difficult to achieve because our staffing levels are quite um, minimal, (laughs) but I think to give them a buddy to befriend them over the first few weeks, that would help them bed in 66
quite a lot, but that person would have to be quite carefully selected, because they would have to be supportive and have quite a positive attitude about the company as well, if we put them with someone who had a very negative attitude that would make them want to leave more really, but it could be achieved, I think it would make them feel more comfortable socially, I think an important time for people who are brand new, it sounds silly but like lunchtimes, who do they go for lunch with, where do they go because they might not know the area, often you just see them sitting in their car because they don’t know what else to do, they feel quite uncomfortable, so answering that kind of problem would make them bed in faster I think. Q. Maybe assigning them a lunch buddy? A. Yes. Although that person would have to be willing to sacrifice their lunch break for a week or so, just to help that other person settle in a bit. But I think it could be achieved and it would help a lot. Q. In your experience working with your team what kind of things do they say they don’t enjoy about working for the company, about working here? A. Um, do you mean sort of established staff members? Q. Well any staff, I am focusing on new staff but ... A. New staff tend not to express their opinion that much, usually when we employ people it’s on a temporary basis at first, so they tend to keep that type of opinion to themselves. The more established staff voice their opinions, usually it’s the general feeling of lack of communication, about not being kept informed, and I think what they mean by that although they don’t know how to say it is that they’re not involved, that things are imposed on them, that this is how you’ll do it whether you like it or not. So I think it would be better to engage them in any kind of change, even if it was just at a small level, so they would be more committed to it and more motivated if they’d felt they’d had some input on the direction of the change, that would be good. And another thing is a symptom of our location in the business is that they feel excluded from things that go on elsewhere, they tend to hear things from staff in other teams, and usually when they are hearing it they know before we know as well, which isn’t good. Q. So obviously you xxxx, have you tried to involve them in getting feedback, and did it work? A. It’s hard to do really, it’s hard to pitch it at the right level. We’ve tried a few times, we’ve held staff meetings, when we were given our directive of cost efficiencies we ran those focus groups to try to get their opinions on how we could be more efficient, I did it with the xxxx team at the time, and unfortunately what you get it is a lot of moaning about things that are difficult to do at the moment, rather than thinking about how we can improve things for the future. It’s hard to pitch it at the right level and I don’t think I pulled it off really. But if you could do it so that they were involved in the decision making process it could have good outcomes, but it’s hard to stop it just being a moaning session really I think you’d have to be skilled that I am at that kind of things. Q. Do you think if there was some kind of social media tool or forum or some kind of electronic way that people could feed their ideas back that people would use it? Or do you think it was just be abused? A. Hmm. It could go either way. It could be abused, especially if it was anonymous. Or it could just be a barren wasteland where nobody would use it. Because people do like to complain about things but even when they are actively asked by heir line manager they can’t really give you any kind of concrete information, because they eel disgruntled and disillusioned but they don’t know why. And I think it’s juts a case 67
of preventing it getting to that stage, because an employee doesn’t start out feeling like that they end up feeling like that, um, I don’t know what kind of engagement with them we would have to have to stop them getting like that, I don’t know if a form would necessarily work. It would be an interesting experiment, if you had a range of staff, you’ve got your new staff who are quite positive and you’ve got your more established staff who’ve got a less positive attitude, an interesting mix of input. I think your brand new staff would be a bit intimidated to contribute, but they would be good because they’ve got fresh eyes, but the older staff they may just see it as an opportunity to moan about things. Q. But possibly after they’d had the opportunity to moan and get it all off their chest maybe they would start to be more constructive? A. Maybe, if it was a longstanding thing they knew was always there for them to use, rather than here’s an opportunity take it or don’t, then yeah, maybe. I think maybe just the knowledge that if need to say something they can say it, maybe they don’t need to actually say it. I think maybe the disillusionment might stem from them thinking, well nobody listens to me anyway. Q. Do you think that disillusionment is about the management team here, or do you think it’s about the senior management team in xxxx? A. I think that if you were to ask them they would probably say it was about the management team here, because that’s all they can see and that’s all they can understand, they don’t see that the management team here has limitations as well. Management starts at the top, I think really, um, and it works down over, from their perspective it’s probably us, from the bigger picture level it’s more senior management level. Q. SO what’s your impression of the senior management team then, do you think they are putting procedures in place or demonstrating behaviours in place that engage people? A. For some people yes, there are some people in the business who are very engaged, and get a lot of input, and there are others who don’t, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of logic behind it other than that person seems to be a particular favourite at that time, there might be other things going on that I can’t see, but that’s all I can see really, people tend to go out of fashion they are shiny and new and then they are not so new any more. I think there is a lot of politics at senior management level which is detrimental to the business, um, there’s a lot of egos at play, conflicting egos, things that should be handled well aren’t handled well as a result. As far as I know the business doesn’t even have a strategy, if it does it’s not explicit, I don’t think the senior management have any kind of long term plan on how things are to be achieved, and if they do when there’s a lot of massive change it doesn’t seem to be implemented very well. It’s kind of reactive rather than proactive, and for an organisation of this size in an industry of this type, I think they rely a lot on the good will of their employees, who stop things from becoming a massive, massive problem by just managing them, but there’s no appreciation of that either or recognition that that’s what people do, they keep doing it, but.. Q. Do you think the senior management team know what junior and middle management do? A. No. I don’t feel they have any real respect for middle management, or any awareness of the amount of fire fighting that they do to stop things becoming really high profile or really critical. If they are aware there’s no recognition of it, there’s no indication that they appreciate it, there’s a lot of blame that gets bandied around but no praise that I can see. 68
Q. So what kind of things would make you feel more appreciated and valued? A. Probably in the bigger picture the use of my experience, and my colleagues as well. I mean we went through the experience of a transition and it was really revolutionary, and it was painful, and we learned a lot of things from that and then none of that knowledge was used, in the transition of the three new regions. I mean they relied on our knowledge to make it a smooth transition in terms of the xxxx, but they didn’t use that knowledge for any other parts of the business, and they set up lots of new processes and procedures and teams without our input at all where I think our input would have been quite valuable. Even the transitional team was a group of brand new people who had never been through a transition. So being involved would have helped me feel more engaged, would have helped me feel more valued, to have been recognised for the experience that I’ve had and the knowledge that I’ve got would have been motivating, um, and also just to see that there is some potential for development for me and my colleagues. There’s been a lot of change in the business and lots of opportunities being created elsewhere, but none here, really. And now that I’m leaving the main driver for me leaving is the thought that now that we’re reaching a period of stability not only is there no potential for progression there’s no potential for personal development either, there’s nothing new for me to learn. It’s just quite stagnant really, unfortunately. Q. So that’s the main reason that you’re looking for another job? Lack of career development? A. Lack of career development and the possibility that what I do is going to become very static and samey, and I don’t like that thought really. Q. So to make you more engaged you would have liked the opportunity to work on different projects, new things. Do you think that would have made a difference to you leaving, even if you’d stayed at the same level but had more opportunities to do more things? A. Probably, it would have made me less conscious of the other opportunities that are out there, maybe I wouldn’t have looked as closely as I did at other opportunities as I did, if I felt engaged here. I mean there have been opportunities in the past where I’ve been pushed forward for things by you, which is why for a long period of time I haven’t considered changing jobs, because I’ve been able to do other things, but those opportunities have slowly dried up, so it’s encouraged me to look elsewhere. If I’d had more opportunities here I probably wouldn’t have looked, if I’d been offered this opportunity accidentally if I hadn’t have looked for it in the jobs market, if I’d put my CV out and it just landed in my lap I probably would have still taken it, but I wouldn’t have actively looked for something. I don’t think. Q. So what do you think are the main barriers to success in the company, what are we doing wrong? A. Communication is definitely one of them, the involvement of the whole rather than just certain parts of the business. There is no communication really everyone communicates by email, it’s certainly not the most appropriate format for communicating. Nobody really gets together or uses opportunities very well. For example you were talking about a xxxx meeting earlier where they weren’t even talking about xxxx. Um so there’s a lot of people who’ve got together to talk about something and it’s not even relevant. I just don’t think there’s a very holistic approach to things, everything is sort of segregated, there’s a lot of silo thinking, this is my pocket of what I need to do and I don’t need to consider you, um, but because everything we do inter-relates to everything else we do, if we change something it will affect 2 or 3 other departments, so we need to involve them to make sure it 69
doesn’t have a devastating effect on what they do, so that they’re briefed, and the staff are aware. I think there’s a lot of things that are done independently of other parts of the business. Senior management should be communicating with each other to oversee all of the changes going on in their relevant department, but it seems like all the changes are going on separately and then it’s only when things go wrong that the other departments are, well, not kept informed they are informed by default when they’re affected. Q. In Japan they have a different way of inducting staff, they induct a large group of staff all at the same time but they have a generic induction, they’re not recruited for a specific role so they all get the same induction, and then after 6 months or a year they might be allocated to an actual job, but what it means is that they get an overview of every department. I mean it’s not necessarily practical to do that, but do you think an induction programme that had some elements of that would help to get over this sort of silo thinking? A. Yeah I think so, but I think its at a deeper level than that, it would have to be at senior management level because they are established now, and they are not ever be new so there would have to be something done the them to make them think that way. But having a group of people recruited for a generic role and then separating them out, they would develop friendships and contacts and relationships that way, and they would also develop a better awareness of the business as a whole, I mean it’s hard to do and the smaller the business gets the harder that would be to achieve, if you were recruiting lots of people at the same time.. Q. I suppose there’s the geographical location as well, if you had a new starter here and one in xxxx and one in xxxx, yes it might be a good idea to try and do them all at the same time but is it practical? A. Yeah I think obviously it might be different in Japan, they must be more mobile when they are that part of the workforce, whereas it’s not really the same here, when you recruit people they’ve normally got families and stuff so it’s not practical, but I think we have tried to have that kind of format, because when we induct certain people in certain roles they do send people round the business, but not everybody gets that opportunity. And every time we recruit somebody we can’t send them round the entire business, there should be some effort to place people in each part of the business at least for a few days, to get an understanding of what they do and how they operate. The majority of our business have never seen or spoken to other parts of the business, for a good long while the staff here were not allowed, I mean they’re still not really allowed to speak to the xxxx team, I mean there are reasons for that but I think because nobody speaks to anyone else they don’t form bonds or connections or relationships they are kept separate. Q. Do you think that’s a big problem with low morale in the organisation, because we don’t work as a team? A. I think once you’ve met someone it gives you a much better understanding of who that person is, it’s harder to see that person as a...I think say for example our xxxx team, because we never actually speak to them it’s always an email, you kind of forget you are speaking to an actual person, who has opinions thoughts and sort of valid logic, you just see them as a person who’s having an argument in an email with you, it makes them quite one-dimensional. I think emails need to go, they really do. It should only be used to communicating out massive amounts of information like here’s an SOP, not having a conversation with someone, because it makes that person a one dimensional argument, and it just breaks down relationships. But it’s across all levels of the business, managers communicate like that and they’ll make 70
decisions about how things are going to happen between their departments in an email, I just find it ludicrous really. I don’t understand why they can’t just speak to each other on the phone or conference call, videoconference, webex, but they choose not to. Q. How would you describe the culture in he company? A. It’s changed quite a lot over the past year or so. Um, I think I’d describe it as a back-covering culture. Everyone’s more concerned about covering their own back than they are about getting a positive result than they are about the long term success of the organisation. There’s no forethought about how can we be excellent at what we do, it’s just how can I make sure I’m covered and that doesn’t deliver positive outcomes at all. It makes everybody very defensive I think, very conscious that as long they come out of things OK them nothing else really matters. It’s not an innovative way of thinking and I don’t think it bears our end user in mind a lot of the time, the xxxx aren’t really considered. Q .Do you think that culture is affecting engagement levels among the staff A. Yes, they see a lot of it, and because they see a lot of it they start to demonstrate that behaviour themselves. Because they can be under attack by anybody in the business, they can receive feedback from anyone in the business about a mistake that they may have made. It makes them very defensive and if they have to do something they email as many people as possible to cover their own back. They will put notes on all over the account to cover their own back, I mean they are supposed to note but it’s just to cover their own back. And it’s again the culture of criticising and blame, there’s not enough recognition of what they do well, it’s just I’ve got another email from xxxx saying I’ve done this wrong or I’ve done that wrong. So I think recognising their strengths would be a good start and pointing out when they have done well, maybe not creating opportunities for them but making them feel valued, then I think we’d see more positive behaviours coming out rather than negative. Q. Do you think regular 1-2-1’s help? A. Um I think staying in touch with people is important, it’s an iterative process where you are reinforcing their strengths where they are told what they are doing well but you can also tweak with any inconsistencies or any problems. Having a monthly conversation with someone steers them and balances them a lot more than them just careering off on a certain pathway and then 6 months down the line getting pulled back again. I think it’s useful, it doesn’t always work it depends on the person but it’s useful. Q. Do you find that positive feedback improves performance and engagement levels? A. It has 2 results I’ve noticed, you can really tell when someone’s had positive feedback, but another outcome I’ve seen is if someone is given positive feedback it gives them a false sense of security and then we find a behaviour you’ve never seen in them come out. For example someone is given positive feedback about a good attitude to xxxx or having a good rapport, within a day or 2 of having a 1-2-1 like that they will have a complaint made about them about their attitude to a xxxx. (Laughs) It’s happened a few times now and I don’t know why. I think it’s a false sense of security so they relax, and then we get a complaint. It is fed that back to them straight away because we wouldn’t wait for the 1-2-1, but then on the next 1-2-1 the person is told you know you got really good feedback last month and then we had this example, usually that person has their tail between their legs and they think oh actually... so it has 2 outcomes it’s funny, it depends on the person again, everyone’s different and you have to bear that in mind, people are funny. 71
Q. I think that’s it there isn’t a one size fits all otherwise every business everywhere would be doing everything perfectly. A. Yeah you would just need to follow a formula. You would have brilliantly engaged staff and you’d have great competitive advantage and profit margins would be fantastic, but it doesn’t work like that unfortunately. Q. Maybe it’s just that we need to place more importance on getting the right people, maybe some people just aren’t the right fit and nothing you ever do is going to make them happy. A. Absolutely. I think the recruitment process is important, because what we do is very niche, we need a certain type of approach, not a certain type of person because we’ve had a lot of people who are very different in their personalities, but they have a set of skills that can’t be teached –taught sorry – there’s nothing we can do to teach them those skills it’s just intrinsic in their personality. Erm – so when we recruit people, and we do do it, but maybe it could be a bit more robust, maybe a personality test would be a good indicator, because I know you can set that kind of thing up through a provider or intermediary, and that would tell you whether they have the right kind of caring attitude, I mean it’s hard to tell that at an interview sometimes. Q. Yes it’s quite easy for someone to say the right things. A. Yeah especially when they are quite well briefed by the recruitment agency before they get here as well But if you gave them a personality test it ..people do try to answer the questions the way they think you want them to answer them, but I think there’s ways of setting them up so it would show how a person would respond in a certain situation. So I think that’s something we could explore. Q. Do you think we have some people here who aren’t a good fit? A. Yes we do, they might have been a good fit when they first started but for one reason or another their level of engagement has been reduced, and their disillusionment has increased, and there are people here who just don’t fit at all. Not as many as there have been in the past, we tend to find there’s a high attrition rate for those people, some of them stay longer than others but usually they always leave, because they don’t fit in with our way of doing things, we have a lot of problems with them and eventually they will leave. But out of all of the people here I’d say quite a high percentage of them are probably what we need but probably just need to be developed or worked on, to make it better. Q.OK is there anything else you can think of that you think might be useful or relevant? A.Um...not really! Q. OK thanks very much.
c). Interview 3 – Transcript Male front line staff member, age 25-34, length of service less than 12 months Q. Is there anything about the survey results that surprises you? A. (looking at the summary of the questionnaire) yes there is a few I would have expected a bit more negativity from this when I was going through especially this one ‘do you feel confident that the supervisory ’ oh no I read that wrong never mind - I think it depends on the level people have read into the conversation.. Q. Yes I thought about breaking that down into local management and…that’s why for these questions I’ve broken it back down a bit more, because things here are a bit different to the way things are at head office, but I don’t know how much people here feel involved the wider organisation, what do they actually see, do they just see xxxx.. A. I would hope not Q. They don’t know how much contact they have with head office apart from xxxx… A. And servicing, I mean in the past I’ve had people coming through who wanted to pay for the oxygen, GP surgeries stuff like that where I’ve had to out it through to head office, because it is all very different, it’s all ‘were medical they are commercial’ Q. At head office? A. Oh I’m thinking of xxxx Q. That’s Industrial A. Ah..so head office no I haven’t had any contact with head office then Q. At head office you’re got planning. Servicing is dealt with at xxxx where we have our filling plant, that’s where all the xxxx is supposed to come from. In xxxx we’ve got the xxxx team, the senior management team. A. That’s people like...um Q. Xxxx? A. I was going to say xxxx there I don’t know why Q. the xxxx team’s there. There’s xxxx who is the Managing Director, then you’ve got the xxxx manager which is xxxx, he’s responsible for the technicians, xxxx and us, then you’ve got the xxxx manager xxxx and he’s responsible for xxxx and all the distribution. The you’ve got xxxx the xxxx manager he’s responsible for health and safety A. Was it xxxx who came up to do that training? I think you were off Q. He’s a xxxx xxxx bloke A. No don’t think I’ve met him…I’ve met xxxx, I met him last time he was here, I was quite taken aback by it he just came in and said hello, I’ve never met you before. I’ve met xxxx well I’ve spoken to him numerous times trying to deal with low flow concs and iGo’s and stuff, I’ve had quite a bit of dealings with xxxx, in the new regions you don’t speak to the xxxx as much, I’ve spoken to xxxx quite a lot Q. Well she’s based in xxxx not based in head office, A. I think this is personal opinion but I find the xxxx team for the new regions is quite detached from us, I think there’s quite a bit of a gap between them and us, and I think that’s probably why there’s a couple of communication breakdowns with them occasionally but I suppose they are just trying to do a job and we’re probably annoying them just as much as they are annoying us, ETA request and that must become quite annoying. Q. Yes, I think they struggle a bit. Shall we just go though some of these questions? So when you first came here what did you like about it? Was it just A job? 73
A. No, I was working in a sales environment in BT, a few reasons why I left which aren’t relevant but I got the interview here and xxxx did my interview and there just seemed like there was a lot more to it, than ringing people up and trying to sell them something. It just seemed like you were more involved in things… it seemed like it had more substance? Does that make sense? Rather than just doing a 1-9 “do you want to buy some BT – no – do you want to buy some BT - no” it’s soul destroying, whereas going though the induction with xxxx there did seem to be a lot more going on and you had to use it seemed you would have to sue a lot more brain power in trying to solve things, that’s what attracted me and still does I like the idea of having to solve the problem to try and get things sorted for people, but it wasn’t just a job, no, it was a change how much what went on at BT influenced that I can’t remember now, but I mean it did bring me in and once I started learning about it, I liked the idea that it wasn’t just a call centre, I mean it is a call centre but it’s more like an office, I’m not tied to my desk there’s not a dialer so there’s no-one making my calls for me, I take a call or make a call myself, there is a bit more substance, I’m not my own boss but I can manage my own time a bit more effectively and I can get a bit more out of my own time if I’m managing it, that’s how I feel anyway rather than just having this, this and this to do you’ve got 30 minutes 30 minutes. I do like that about it I’ve got to be honest. Q. So when you had your induction what was good about it, what was bad about it, do you think there was anything missing? A. Um…I think it’s a bit hard to day because after I had my induction the idea I had of the job role was a bit different to what had been explained Q. By the agency was that? A. Yes, I mean it was explained that it would ne taking calls and working in the call centre, I mean xxx was great xxxx are great but in the time I had from driving from there to here I don’t think I had the – I didn’t have this in my mind. I thought I was going to be in an office sorting basically admin. And then you get there the people here bring you into the fold a bit more…I wouldn’t want to day there was necessarily anything bad about it….un Q. Were you inducted in a group or were you on your own? A. I was on my own. Q. How did you find that then? A. I prefer to do things on my own, especially if it’s something like coming into a new job, or if you were to change my job in here I’d appreciate it on my own 1-2-1 so I can have it explained properly instead of sitting in a group where people have different styles of learning. Q. So you got lots of 1-2-1 training… A. I did yes, I mean even in the training – oh no, sorry in the training there were 3 other people, I mean we weren’t the biggest, it was me, xxxx, xxxx, xxxx and xxxx, which I think aided in the, I mean I think if there had been more of us it would have been a lot harder for me to just go straight into it. The training was brilliant I think xxxx got us ready for this really well. I think it was all personal expectation going from training to going on the phones, it’s all personal expectation I’ve wrote this down as well, I mean I came here when we’d just taken on 3 new regions, 30,000 xxxx, and I was not ready for it…laughs Q. I don’t think anybody was really… A. That first day of work even when I had 2 minutes wrap time it was really difficult to keep up with it all, I thought what is going on, obviously I would have been in a lot 74
worse place without the training but I also think if I’d been in a larger group I’d have been in a lot worse place. Q. Do you think the training was long enough? A. Erm – yet again I think that’s quite hard to say, when I was on the phone for the first few weeks when I had the wrap tine I had the people around us, I was sitting next to xxxx I had xxxx behind us, I was being trained up on the phone as well I felt, but in terms of my actual training I don’t think there was much more we could have done, unless we went excessively into the medical things which we don’t need to know.. Q. So it was just practice you needed then? A. Yes just to bring that confidence up a bit, it’s just starts getting into the swing of it, I’ve got to say xxxx was fantastic, I can’t sing her praises enough, she was the one who got me through it, people thinking I was speaking in Chinese and all sorts.. Q. Chinese? (Laughs) A. Honestly I’m not kidding, ‘I cannot understand you’, and I passed her to xxxx, the next day she called back and she was speaking to me fine (laughs), but I think what I call the book smarts, you know the protocol and when to do a 4 hour, what to do with a concentrator, that was all covered in the induction. But how to actually do the job, you don’t learn that until …it’s like learning to drive, once I got on the phones that’s where you learn the job, but I think the training …yes, I think I was ready for it. Q. What about the organization. How would you describe the culture here, what’s it like? A. I think this was something I’d written down, I think here in xxxx we do work really well together, we do make the best out of a bad situation, what with xxxx and things like that, and when it comes to it we are just working on our feet, I think there’s a good work culture here we work as a unit, I don’t think…again I don’t know how head office works as I’m not there, and they might think the same thing about us, they might think we’re too higgledy piggledy for them, I think as a company here I think we work extremely well together, the xxxx team the xxxx team, the xxxx team and things like that. And there’s been plenty of times where there’s been no xxxx at the depots , or xxxxs delivered only, I think that does get to me, and we start to bring each other down, calm down a bit, it will be all right, go into the hallway and blow off steam. I think if I had something come up tomorrow or even tonight and I needed someone to cover half my shift it would be done, because we are quite close-knit, if that explains what I am trying to say. This would be opinion but I do feel sometimes with the xxx department and head office that where we see the P numbers as people they see them as a number, if that makes sense, and I do understand that this is a business and it has to be run as a business, but that’s something I didn’t expect, the divide between treating people as xxxx, they need oxygen to see their granddaughter’s play, it’s not an emergency but it pulls at your heart strings, and we will try for that but xxxx, I know they would say no it’s not an emergency it costs the company too much, we can’t justify it to the xxxx,I think that’s the difference, I’m probably shooting myself in the foot here but it’s ran more as a business at head office, it’s more of a service here. Q. OK thanks. Do you feel that what you do is valuable? Do you feel that you are valued by the managers here, or… A. I would say I do yes. I wouldn’t say that I’m not valued an I’m not appreciated, I think there are people the managers trust to get things done and I’m one of those people, I don’t like doing things wrong for a start, I think we do a valuable job and I think we are valued. 75
Q. what about communication, we know there are lots of emails and it is difficult to talk to people because they re on the phones, we have tried to have staff meetings but because you can’t take people off the phones we have to have it before work or after work, and not very many people have come, understandably, you don’t necessarily want to work extra hours to come to meetings, I’ve sent emails asking people for feedback and there’s not a lot of it, but then we get feedback via 1-2-1’s that people don’t feel involved and the communication isn’t as good as it could be, I mean what do think of the way we communicate in the business. A. I think my job would be a lot more difficult without email. I think getting people to commit to a meeting outside of work would be difficult. Q. We tried it before work and we had a small handful of people, we tried it after work and there were about 3 people which isn’t really a staff meeting. We should have staff meetings, I would really like to have staff meetings I just can’t justify it, there’s just enough staff to take a large group offline and having a meeting with a few people is not a staff meeting. A. I don’t think a representative system would work either I don’t think people would be happy with that. Q. Maybe it would be better than nothing? A forum, maybe an electronic forum of some sort? A. Maybe someone who was not a manager, maybe just one of us, then they can relay the messages to you for people who don’t feel comfortable bringing them. Q. Do you think people are reluctant to speak up? I mean do you feel if you had a suggestion, if you thought there was a big problem do you feel like you could speak up? Or do you feel like people don’t. A. I think it would depend what it was about. I think it can be quite frustrating because there is only so much that we can do before you come up against the point that this is company procedure and we can’t change stuff like that. So I think it’s a mixture between can I speak up, can I speak to people and can I bring this forward without being reprimanded ...or not reprimanded that’s a bad word to use, but…(pauses) Q. Thought badly of? A. Yeah, or should I bring this up will anything be done about it. I think those are the concerns with actually speaking up, I mean I don’t have an example – xxxx say, to be honest there’s not really much we can do about it. Q. Well I am feeding it back, everyone in the business is aware that there are some problems with xxxx. A. Even the xxxx who have this ‘X’ across them because they are the baddies (laughs) they can’t do anything about it. I mean in some cases the communication with managers and things I mean, also something I do know is being dealt with is the communication to technicians, is something if I was going to bring something up it would be that the techs in some regions don’t read notes, I bring that up and it does get addressed, you you’re your email, you hear your manager speaking to the depot and for the next couple of jobs it goes back to where he is giving the ETA call, he is reading the notes and then it just stops again. But then again I don’t want to be, I think I am just pulling at teeth here I think I am just nitpicking, on the whole I think in this part of the business if I had a problem I think I could come to you, I could go to xxxx, I do feel like I could anyway. Q. What about xxxx, he’s one of the senior managers, do you feel like you could approach him? A. No. I don’t feel like I could approach him. 76
Q. Well you don’t know him I suppose, he isn’t based here. A. I think it’s a bit that, it’s also a bit…a bit uncomfortable but I don’t mind…the rumours you hear about where the blame gets allocated about certain things, xxxx and that sort of thing. I don’t know whether they are true or not but if you hear something it’s going to be there isn’t it. Um, so I find maybe he and another xxxx gentleman who came here, I don’t feel like I’d be able to approach those two guys. I just don’t think…I know xxxx came up to me and introduced himself, maybe that should have been a trigger, I mean it’s nearly a year now and it’s what you hear, this is what so-and-so says, you build up this picture in your mind and it’s …it’s hard to try to explain….(pause) Q. You don’t feel he would be approachable? A. No, I don’t. From the amount of time I’ve been here I find that probably people at that level I don’t find them approachable. Q. So you do feel like you can feed back, but only up to a certain level. A. It might be because of the culture, this is our little work family, I’m more than happy to come up to the managers here because I trust these 100%, whereas these …bigwigs if you want, maybe not so much. Like I was saying before, working within the boundaries people have got to work with, they’ve got to run the business like it is a business. Q. SO you’re talking about rumours, do you think people are generally happy or generally unhappy? I mean some people are always unhappy and moan a lot, but generally in the call centre what’s the level, is OK, really bad, or somewhere in between? A. I wouldn’t say it’s really bad, I think people are unhappy, I have my days where it’s just the hardest job in the world and I think everyone does. Q. DO you think that’s because of the situation, because of xxxx and xxxx complaining, rather than people? A. Say, I do know that behaviour breeds behaviour, from working in sales. So if I’m sitting next to you and I’ve got a face on, by the end of the day you’ll have a face on, you’ll be moaning and kicking off. So I think everyone’s guilty of that, of losing their rag, if I was to, ‘bloody missed delivery’, slam my headset down, go make myself a cup of tea, out of the 10 people sitting around me from one person it will spread, spread, spread, so I think happiness in the call centre, it goes from day to day, you ca have a really good day and then others you just think, what on earth is going on. I know that doesn’t really answer that question. Q. So if we take out the things that we can’t change, xxxx and complaints, and we focus on things that we can change here, can you think of anything we could do to make things better? A. Long pause…that is a hard question, how do you keep 50 people happy? Q. I’m not, you know, unrealistic thinking they can all be really happy, but what I’m aiming for is possible 38 of them being reasonably content most of the time? (laughs) A.To be honest I think the majority of people are happy. From my perspective I can be quite happy in this job and I can be quite unhappy in this job, it depends what sort f day I’ve had. I don’t think this would be something I could do for a 10 year block for example, you’ve got quite demoralizing, we deal with death quite a bit which can bring people down, without speaking for other people I wouldn’t say it’s an unhappy environment I think it is mostly circumstantial, people get angry and it spreads and spreads and before you know it upstairs is just a ….(laughs) It’s just one of things that’s going to happen, for things to change 77
Q. Do you think it’s external things that need to change? A. Yes I would say so, a bit more working together, I’d like to see the xxxx,xxxx and us working together. I used to work out of hours a lot before it all changed, we’d have one tech saying one thing and another tech saying something else, people are talking and that Saturday that’s supposed to be a 6 hour shift feels like for ever. I think that’s what it comes down to, if it’s not external that we can’t really change etc. I think a lot of the unhappiness in here is caused primarily by ourselves. Q. Being negative? A. Yes, I mean we’ve had the odd occasion where we’ve had a really bad time,xxxx’s been calling us everything under the sun, and of you see something like that and nothing is done about it you can get a bit angry about that, you think hold on we’re not here to put up with that type of behaviour, you’re supposed to be protecting me. Q. So what can we do to make people feel more positive? Do you think there’s anything we can do? A. I don’t know, I mean we are aware that people are working as hard as they can to get things changed, I think if you kept saying things are changing things are changing, and they didn’t change – it’s a bit of a catch 22. It’s going to be hard. As to what to change I’m quite easy to criticize but as to how to change it, no idea to be fair to you. Q. This is the problem I have, I can see things that need to be improved, but how to actually do it? It’s not that easy. A. No you can’t take the whole office to go and sit in the sun Q. I’d just hate to think there’s someone sitting in here with an absolute gem of an idea and just not saying anything about it. A. That could be the suggestion, maybe a suggestion box Q. I mean I did send out an email last week asking for suggestions and I didn’t really get much back, the ones I did were mostly all the same, we need more xxxx, which I already know. A. That’s not very helpful.. Q. Well that’s the feedback that people had, which is fine, but … A. That’s why I wanted to come in and speak to yourself, because I’m trying to be as constructive as possible which is why I don’t want to go back to problems with xxxx, the xxxx team, certain technicians, how to get it back on the right track is very very difficult. Q. Do you think it needs to be something that starts at the very top? A. I think so, I think they are scaling everything back, we’re getting more work that will be coming, it would be nice to see them implementing things that seem like they’re even trying to benefit us, I mean you’re the voice of the call centre, I know you aren’t responsible for answering the calls we all take responsibility for how we deal with people on the phone. It would be nice to see something from the top that’s to make things easier for us Q. Do you mean to protect you against xxxx being obnoxious? A. For example when I was selling things to people when I was physically ringing people up and someone became abusive to me the phone was taken away from me and the manager would deal with it. Because even though I was ringing them, we’re still doing a job we’re still protected. I know it must be extremely frustrating when a delivery fails but there’s no reason to speak to people the way I’ve heard, and you just have to sit and take it I don’t think you’d be allowed to terminate a call here if you felt the way they were speaking to you was unacceptable. Q. We do have a script that you can use but… 78
A. I know we try not to, because they are xxxx, but some of the things that’s said Q.DO you feed that back if you have a really bad call? A. I’ve been quite lucky I’ve never had someone be extremely unpleasant, I tend to find it is normally my female colleagues that get the really abusive ones. I mean I’ve got one in my head at the moment and I do feel like it as just forgotten about, I don’t want to go into detail this isn’t the right place, but I think more could have been done about that, instead of letting it get the way it was and someone ended up in tears, because he hasn’t had an ETA. I think that’s a bit extreme. It would be nice, though, I man going back to the rumours you hear the blame for the missed deliveries, xxxx issues, complaints, you do hear it gets blamed on us. Oh that’s xxxx fault. Q. How can xxxx issues be our fault? A. I know it’s a maths issue, that’s just I would appreciate that just to see that someone…. I don’t want to overstep the mark because I do think the managers here like yourself do work hard, you’re looking after us, but these bigwigs that show up in the massive cars you know get in our corner a bit as well. I mean I know there are some mistakes but it is just as hard a job as the technicians, they are face to face with xxxx so it’s understandable why they tell xxxx certain things. Q. Sometimes it’s easier for xxxx to be horrible over the phone than it is face to face. I mean we often get complaints and the xxxx will say, I know it’s not the technician’s fault, it’s nothing to do with him. And you think, really? He’s the one who was supposed to ring you, but it’s obviously my fault…(laughs) A.I agree with that it is easier to be nasty over the phone, than it is to be on your face, the people who are shouting one day are the people who are telling me I’m one of the nicest people they’ve ever spoken to the next. And they’re not very well, so you do have to just take it. Q. You think we need to out something better in place to support people with difficult calls? A. Yes I mean there are protocols for the complaints procedures and stuff with the 24 hour callbacks if it does become too extreme the managers do try to call back straight away, but if someone wants to speak to a manager, I think that could be improved, because if you pick up the phone and someone’s going mad because they placed an order and the back page hasn’t been filled in, I’m sorry there’s been a bit of an error, or someone that’s had R1 R2 deliveries all the time, there’s not much we can say to them, I can’t contact xxxx directly, I mean I must admit with stuff like iGo’sI do contact him directly, but I’m supposed to go through my manager to contact people like that, it would be good to be able to, because I can’t do that they want assurances it’s not going to happen again and I don’t feel like I’m in the position to give those assurances to people. Q. Hmmm..we don’t feel that confident either…(laughs) A. And I think that might be the problem, the misconception that managers will be able to help, to get it sorted Q. I wish I could! A. When realistically it’s not like that. It’s about managing expectations, and we want things running to a T, I think that’s part of, I mean when I answered the question was the job what I expected I thought it would be like a well oiled machine, but speaking to xxxx customers and xxxx customers I don’t think other suppliers are any better Q. It was running quite well, before we took on the new regions, but the xxxx was like that as well, then we got it stable and it was running really well. This will settle down as well.
A.I don’t doubt that, it’s just finding the right mix. What needs to be where and when. I mean I need to manage my own expectations and if I came in with a clear head everyday I wouldn’t get as stressed out as I do. But no it would be nice if something was in place, when we’ve done our best and we’ve promised them, we’ve sent emails everywhere to the xxxx team, the xxxx team and yourselves, I know that’s not very realistic but like a complaints department, somewhere you can say this person’s on the phone for about 20 minutes I cannot get rid of them, shouting screaming calling me every name under the sun, missed a delivery for the second time whatever, it would be great if there was something in place so that could be dealt with. Even xxxx, I know that wouldn’t happen, but it would be great if we, I don’t mean for this to be in a combative way towards them, but it would be nice to have someone who actually knows why the job hasn’t gone ahead explain why the job hasn’t gone ahead, instead of having to sort of go, tech out of if time oh well he was called away n an emergency, he had so many emergencies we’ll get it out for you today, you know you just feel a bit, um, (laughs), yet again that’s managing my own expectation on that as well, just a structured complaints procedure, one that’s better than the one we have now. Q. Can you think of anything else you can think of that we haven’t touched on? A. No but I do appreciate you letting me come to speak to you today because I do get stressed sometimes, but once you sit back and get it out in a nice calm way, I do feela lot better. I know people are trying to change things, it’s just hard to keep a level head sometimes. Q.Yes I do try, I mean I can’t make a cylinder appear out of thin air either, but I can phone more people and nag them. (laughs) A. Yes you lose your temper because you’re trying to help someone, you lose your rag, and xxxx will say, I can’t magic it there, and it just sort of goes, yeah you’re right, it brings me back down and you go and sit back down. And thank you for letting me come in here, Q. Well thank you for participating A. Oh no problem. d). Interview 4 = Transcript Female front line staff member, age over 55, length of service more than 3 years My experience of Induction was it good, bad, did I feel welcome and how can we improve it? I think when I first started here obviously this place had been established for quite a number of years and I don’t think there’d been a huge turnover of staff or any take-on of staff so it was very much a transitional ,period, it was a bit... manic’s the wrong word, it was a busy time, and not to be negative but I want to be honest, there wasn’t an induction process in place there, so obviously it was a learning curve for everyone I think, because it was just so crazy and so manic with the take-over of the South West. Q. How did you get your training, was it sitting in the call centre on the job? A. Yes various ways really, reading literature, sitting with people, I sat with xxxx quite a bit so learned about the servicing, I sat with xxxx and xxxx so I learned about the xxxx, so generally speaking I learned a sort of overall view of what it was all about, how the process actually worked, I was dying to get on the keyboard and get a bit hands on, because I think that’s very much in my opinion that’s where you really learn, so it was a little manic and unstructured but not in a negative way, because it
was just such a huge time with the xxxx takeover, we just needed to get the bods in and the ball rolling for a successful transition really. Q. Yes we didn’t really have a trainer, all the experienced people who knew what they were doing we needed on the phone, so we didn’t really have anyone spare to do anything. A. It was difficult, but at the end of the day after 4 and a half years here it must have been OK, you kind of job that changes, well all jobs change but this is the kind of job that changes on a regular basis, as long as you’ve got a firm foundation of what it’s all about you move forward, I think that’s the way all jobs go really, so it was a little bit unstructured but that was just the circumstances dictated, it was a wild time (laughs) but I got a bit of an understanding of how it worked and I had an understanding by the time I went on the phones, so yeah you just kind of take it from there, and that’s where the learning curve starts isn’t it? So it was a bit stressful! Q. Yes it was a bit stressful for me too! A. Yes we got through it we all pulled each other through it. I’ve probably covered the second points about did I have an understanding of how xxxx operates, how it all fits in, my understanding was that we offered a home oxygen service to xxxx and I could see the xxxx role I could see the techs role and I could see how it all fits together, it develops as you go along, when you start a new job there seems so much information to take in, you want to do it all right, I think sometimes you have high expectations of yourself and I think sometimes those expectations are unrealistic, I get frustrated with myself because I don’t know everything now, which is ridiculous because that’s not the way it is, it’s very much a learning curve, to give an understanding of how everything sort of works, how the jigsaw fits together. Q, What about the social aspects of it? I know particularly here but a lot of feedback about Induction shows that you receive a lot of on the job training, but people are not necessarily welcomed into the social aspects of the workplace, did you k now who do you have your lunch with an d that sort of thing? I think because it was a very small office, if there had been 200 people working here it would have been different, you wouldn’t have had that comfort feeling, but I came here and I knew a couple of people, I’d worked with xxxx in the past at xxxx and I’d worked with xxxx in the past, so there was that safety net there, and I’m not the kind of person who is backwards in coming forwards, so I’m quite outgoing anyway, I will ask and find my way around, I remember one day xxxx said I’m going to Tesco, so I said can I come with you so I can find my way the nexy time so I can do my shopping, so it was friendly and welcoming environment, and the fact that there only a few staff here made it welcoming. Q. Was that one of the reasons you took the job? A. Yes it probably was, because when there’s just s small amount of people, I’ve worked in small offices I’ve worked in big offices, you learn how to interact with people you learn how people react, and you learn how to interact with them. I mean upstairs in our little office w all work quite well together, we get a bit moody sometimes and we call get a bit down sometimes, but we know how to handle each other, best leave that one alone, best try and coax that one, so you do get tot know people and you develop better working practices as well, because when I came here when I walked in for interview it felt, I know this is a silly word but it felt cosy, you didnlt feel as if .. it was a very welcoming environment and that’s one of the things that persuaded me to take the job. In terms of the culture, how would I describe the culture here, well at xxxx this is my domain so this is the area in which I know the culture best, I think in our offices now I know we’ve expanded a but I think we work 81
really well together, I think we communicate well with each other, we work well as a team, we are there to provide a little bit of support, we feed off each other all the time, I’ll say and I doing this right should this be this, and somebody will go, Oh yeah, aha, and I know it’s right but you just need affirmation sometimes, our culture here I know we’re a call centre but I see it as more of a customer care centre, when people are ringing I say it’s a customer care centre because we do actually care, contrary to what goes on sometimes we do actually care about people, and I think it’s a nice working environment, we’re not in each other’s pockets, everybody knows how to interact with each other, it’s a good support network, my father died at the beginning of the year and I had people there to support me, things like that. It’s not always words not always necessary sometimes it’s just a hug or something, that’s all you need. So I think it is a really nice environment and the people are.. I mean we have to work here 8 hours a day do you might as well make the most of it, I think it’s a very comfortable working environment. Head Office well I’ve put on here and I don’t mean to be rude but I’ve out on here alien concept, I don’t know much about head office I don’t deal with them, I deal with people from other teams from the servicing department and things like that and think sort of telephone based, I think we’ve got a good relationships with them and we have bit of chitty chatty on with them a few kind words, oh it’s a nice day today, good night last night, and then you move forward with what you need to do. I think it’s important that we have a positive working relationship with other departments. As a global organisation, we’re just a teeny little speck kin the global organisation, we’re a teeny drop of water, it’s huge out there. When I look at the website I look at it every day sometimes I feel like we’re the poor relation stuck away, you’re in xxxx but there’s a lot going on out there but we’re just a tiny little speck really. It’s difficult to comment in that because we work within the parameters of here and the other departments we work with in a regular basis. It sometimes worries me a little but that we’re in a little bit of a blame culture. I mean I don’t want to be negative but I’ve got to be honest, you have people blaming everybody else, this person didn’t get their delivery because this person didn’t do their job right, that wasn’t done right. Mistakes happen and I think we need to look not who to blame but how we can resolve it, it’s not whose fault is it because they out the wrong colour shoes on for work that day, we’re interested in OK, there’s been an error or an oversight, how are we going to put it right. Q. I mean we need to know if someone needs a bit of extra training or is making the same mistake over and over again, but I know what you mean there’s a difference between that and the way feedback comes back from xxxx. A. It makes it sound like I’m so perfect sitting here, I’m not, I make mistakes as well because I’m a human being but if I come across a common denominator, someone who make the same mistakes again and again, I’ll quietly have word and say can we o over this, and can we get some explanation on this because you seem to do this every time, as I say I’m not backwards in coming forwards, I wouldn’t want to undermine anybody I think I’m quite diplomatic in the way I approach people, but if I’ve done something wrong I wouldn’t want someone standing on the desk shouting it out but I would appreciate it if they came to me and said what have you done, let’s move forward, I think it’s sometimes hard to stay positive and find solutions rather than allocate blame. That’s my perception of the situation, and it’s my work ethic, I’m very much a pacifist very much a peacemaker, I don’t know if that’s a copout because I don’t like confrontation, I will challenge if I need to but I like to do it in a peaceful way, I like a peaceful life. Q. I think most people do (laughs). 82
A. As I say that’s my perception of the culture, but I think in our little kingdom here we have a really good working culture here, everybody tries hard to work well together, but we’re all different with different ways of working, different thoughts and opinions and there’s nothing wrong in voicing that opinion, working a different way, but as long as at the end it all comes together and it’s correct that’s all that matters. And we need to sort of respect that. So that’s my bit about being positive, because I think that’s what we need to do, as a customer care centre I think we’re quite undervalued, but then again external to this, I mean everybody in every department could say that because I don’t know everybody’s job, but do they know exactly what we do here, we don’t just put orders on it doesn’t just stop there. Q. When the complaints started going to head office xxxx our xxxx Manager was on the phone to me very quickly saying I can’t believe what it’s like dealing with these complaints, hats off to your team, we didn’t realise how many you get or how difficult it is to resolve them, so yes I think that has helped actually, having it transferred down there, I mean they’ve transferred it back here now A. Absolutely, hot potato hot potato Q. Yes they did, but they hadn’t appreciated how much more we do, but I think there is more of an awareness now that they’ve had to try to do it themselves. A. Unfortunately because we do things well we are penalised for, it, i.e. getting the complaints back, the extra workload, sometimes I have so many popup boxes to action but we get there eventually. I mean another department would say to me you don’t know what we do and I don’t, because I’ve not experienced it, we are very valuable in the organisation, and I’m not precious I don’t need someone going you’re fab xxxx every day, sometimes a few kind words go a long way. You know, somebody says good job there, a few kind words. Q. Yes that’s the purpose of the monthly 121, is to give positive feedback, and if somebody is making any errors or they need a little bit of support to get that organised. A. Yes I sit directly opposite xxxx and I know how she works and she knows how I work, we’re like meerkats sometimes she pops up and I pop up, we can say something over the computer screen it may mean nothing to anybody else, ‘job’s OK, you know we have this tic-tac communication but we know exactly how each other works it’s quite good in that respect. Like you say to do 121’s but it’s time constraints. Q. Yes we should do the 121’s hopefully this year it should be better, we haven’t got any transitions this year it should start to stabilise, so I am hopeful we will be able to get back to steady state. A. Yes everything is starting to, calm down’s possibly the wrong word let’s be honest most days in here are manic, but I think things and people are starting to become more confident in their job roles, we’ve got quite a lot of experienced people, I think we probably know than we think we know and it’s only when you have to deliver something that you realise that knowledge is in your head really, I think we’re coming to a stabilisation point, once we get the move over and everybody’s settled moving forward it should be OK apart from the issues like xxxx which are beyond our control. But frustrating what I can about that. Was the job what I expected, well I don’t think any job is ever what anybody expects. There’s more to it than meets the eye. I didn’t expect to just be taking orders every day and putting things on the system, I knew there’d be more to do in the background. It’s a pressured job you’ve got to have a lot of knowledge and a lot of care skills, you’ve got to project to people that yes you do care that they didn’t get their delivery, you’ve got to act in an advisory role to xxxx’s 83
and things like that, obviously we’re not qualified to give advice but we never turn anyone away we try and help people, to be fair no job is what w expect it to be it’s a bit like being a parent it’s always more than you think, it just does not come with a manual. (laughs). I think you’ve just got to with it and confidence comes with experience, so if you can portray that confidence over the telephone to someone that you will take ownership of something and you will be the one to help them, and set them a realistic expectation as well, I’ll say to people I’ll do what I can but I’ve got to be honest, you’re not going to get these in the next half hour and it’s not being negative it’s being real, and the longer you’re in a job the higher expectation you have of yourself, as well, you expect to be able to resolve something a grass root level or coming in new would think that’s not my job or that’s not something I can do, it develops. So the answer to that was no, it wasn’t what I expected or maybe it was somewhere deep in my heart. Do I feel valued by local management senior management? I’m fine with my relationship with my manager, I get on well with xxxx, as a team we get on quite well, we’ve worked together for quite a long time now and you get to know how people work, how they feel what things can affect their daily work, what problems and issues they’ve got going on in the background that can affect the way they feel or the fact that they are a bit down today, and we just work around that accordingly. You don’t have to make a big fuss about these things, xxxx doesn’t have to shout over every ten minutes ‘You’re great xxxx’ it’s just you develop comfortable working relationship, I’m more than happy to know that if I’m not happy with something or had a problem if I was unsure of something I would just have to shout and xxxx would be round, so I think xxxx puts a lot of faith in her team but obviously we are talking a bout me, she puts a lot of faith in me, can you do this for me can you do that for me, we have a comfortable working relationship and that’s good when you know how people work, here I’ll help you out or just a cuddle it does it for me Clare, I’m more than happy with the support I get. Do I feel listened to and can we improve it? Do I speak up? Yes I do feel I’m listened to, I don’t think I’m rude or bolshy and I try not to be negative, I get fed up like everybody else, and I have no doubt that if I have any issues I can go to xxxx, I don’t perceive to know everything and I’m happy to ask for advice. Q. One thing I am really conscious of is that we send a lot of information out by email, and what I’d really like to do is get everybody off the phones and have proper staff meetings, I know we have tried to do it a couple of times but you’re asking people to come in early or stay late and not everybody’s able to do that, it’s not really fair, we did try it and there wasn’t a great response, I know you came. I know people feel like they aren’t always informed about everything that’s going on and if had proper meetings people could ask questions about what’s happening in the future, like with the new call centre, I am conscious that people want to know this information it’s just how...how do we do this? I don’t like sending millions of emails, we can do a little briefing at the 121’s but it’s not the same as getting everyone together, but I can’t everybody off the phone. A. I know, well I’ve made a note one of the further points, well it just isn’t feasible even in small groups because it causes disruption, because we have KPI’s and things like that, we have targets to adhere to everything is driven by the targets behind it all, so I did try and scratch my head and come up with something and the only thing I could think of was like a weekly bulletin, anything more than one page or a bullet point people tend to lose interest in, I’m not being rude by saying this but sometimes you just get information overload
Q. I know I get them as well you get one instruction one day and the next day you get something else. I am really conscious of that and it’s really difficult to keep up with what you’re supposed to be doing. A. The only thing I could think of was a weekly bulletin popped on everybody’s desk on a Friday, or there for us to pick up, I don’t even know how I would structure it I’ve tried to draw a little map of how I would structure it, I think probably the most important things we do outside of what we do on the telephones on peoples mind is things like holiday allocations, getting our holidays in, maybe just a bulletin to say this week or that week we’ve got availability, or we did really well on our targets this week. Some people don’t know what the KPI’s are, it has a big impact on the business, same as the FRA’s I don’t think people realise that things like that are target driven and are part of the KPI’s, so that was the only thing I could think of, but it would have to be bullet points, if you’ve got more than one sheet you will have lost people, so something staff-orientated first like holiday availability because everybody thinks I’ve got this to take and that day to take, I could be totally wrong in what I’m saying really the only way around I can think of, updates, projected moving date for the new building Q. Well we were supposed to be in by now A. You could run a competition, any guesses? This week’s prize. Q. xxxx suggested having a staff forum so we could have a regular staff meeting with 2 or 3 people rather than everybody, that might work. A Yes we had a discussion about that this morning, the representative part, the only thing is and I’m not being negative, is you don’t want to out anyone’s nose out of joint because they weren’t picked as the representative Q. Yes we’d have to elect somebody A. Absolutely it would be campaign the lot going on, I think more of a focus group feel more staff orientated. But that was the only other one we thought about, a quick fix. Q. You know I have tried to get feedback, I’ve sent out emails and I don’t get a great response, I’m sure people do have things to say maybe it’s just because people feel like they’ve heard it all before, or they think it won’t be listened to, it’s trying to find ways to get people to speak up, I’d hate to think there was someone sitting there with a brilliant idea and thinking nobody’s going to do anything about it what’s the point. Like the focus groups it made such a difference who was there, because we had a couple and there was a lot of quiet people and it didn’t last very long and noone said much, then we had others that could have gone on all day, loads of information coming out. A. Yes it’s getting that balance, it’s making everybody feel included and confident that they can out these ideas forward and they will be looked at or looked into, I’m not backwards in coming forwards, I can remember a while back I was talking about things like refresher training, when I was doing the ‘dirty docs’ for the South West I put a little training guide together in case anyone else was doing them, it was very you press this button you press that button it was very very literally step by step, and it wasn’t to undermine anybody’s integrity it was because I would like somebody to present me with something like that, yes that’s the button I would press, that’s exactly the way I like to learn, to encourage people to speak up, you know we might not be able to put this into action , it may not be feasible there are other factors that are beyond our control that will stop this from being actioned but it’s a way to encourage people to put ideas forward to just say look you know, Clare and the management are open to suggestions you know if you’ve got a good idea, it might 85
not be that she can do it straight away, it might not be feasible but it’s still a good idea, it’s a communication thing. Q. That’s the thing, I do want people to feel involved and feel like they are communicated with but there are some barriers to that, for example we’re up here and everybody else is down in xxxx, you can’t talk to people that easily, you can’t get people together that easily, so it’s not easy, I’ve worked in a lot of call centres and that is always a problem in call centres, especially she you are 24/7, you can’t everybody together and it’s not fair to ask people to come in on their days off, so maybe a staff rep... A. You know a sheet of paper, a good ideas idea, have you got a good idea you know write it down, not something stupid have you got something that will improve our working lives that could make things easier for us, have you got a change you would like to see implemented, we’ve got to be realistic but open up, give us your feedback. And I think people tend to be a bit oppressive sometimes, I don’t know why people are different aren’t they, maybe they aren’t comfortable talking to people at a management level, maybe they think you’ve got enough on your plate dealing with external factors to do with the running of the call centre. I think if people were honest and open, honest and open doesn’t mean being bolshy and aggressive and negative, you can be honest but diplomatic, you would never hurt someone’s feelings or be rude to them hopefully, but I think it’s just about encouraging people to be a little but more forthcoming you know. Trying to...everyone’s a bit negative at the moment the running on quicksand scenario, we can’t work like this, we come into work every day and we need to keep a little bit of jollity up. Q. If people are feeling negative is that mainly about external factors like xxxx problems, or do you think any of it is something we could do something about? A. The vast majority to be fair is factors beyond our control, the fact that we haven’t got xxxx generates the complaints and every call is different, just because you’ve had a poor call doesn’t mean the next one should be the same it’s the time between calls, that one’s done the next one’s going to be different, when I get cheerful xxxx on I think, don’t go stay on the line, when you get 7 or 8 really not good calls in a row or complaints it’s frustration on their part it’s frustration on your part because you can’t do anything to help or you can’t help in the way you want to, because we’re human beings, to stay positive if one of us is a bit down or fed up the others are there to rally round and pull them up by their bootlaces, but yes it’ external factors beyond our control that create the issues we have to deal with, xxxx come on screaming to us I don’t like being screamed at but I can see their point of view, I wouldn’t like to have cylinders all over the place or be hooked up to a machine and I think we need to pull ourselves up by our bootlaces and be a bit more upbeat and positive about things. Q. I think that would be good, I just don’t know how we’re going to do it. A. I don’t know either Clare, I think some people you can chivvy along and cheer up and some people, well I’m just determined to be miserable because I’m at work and I don’t want to be at work. But then who does? It’s the way life but I think generally speaking I can only speak for the office I’m in and the crowd I’m with, just putting jobs on and checking jobs, but last night xxxx came into the office, xxxx and xxxx were there, xxxx stayed back and we just had 10 minutes chat and we ended up laughing our socks off over something totally unrelated, you do silly things through the day, me and xxxx do silly things through the day, we’ll learn an Italian word gelato is ice cream that was the word today – silly tings to keep our spirits up it is silly and it is daft, but some people by virtue of the people they are don’t really want 86
to interact in that way and they can get on with it, but as long as they’ve got an overall positive atmosphere and we can do that, some days you can come upstairs and you will hear quite a bit of laughter, so that’s good. You working environment is dictated by people around you, if everyone around you is a misery no matter how happy you are when you come in, by 5 o’clock you’re like, oh my god! I need another cup of coffee! Q. Do you think we should have a misery corner and put all the miserable people in one place (laughs) and out a wall around it? A. (laughs) I feel negative saying that, but I think overall people know we’re going through a rough patch and there are things beyond our control, I think everybody’s been a bit overworked and stressed, I know I am I’ll be honest, it’s been information overload like my poor little brain’ll not take any more, but when I get to that security gate I’m like... right, what’s for tea? I’m in a different role all together. I think you have to learn how to, it sounds so easy, but you have to learn to leave it at the door. We need to pull everyone up by their bootlaces, it’s fairly positive anyway, I mean yesterday we got another email round for the asset audits, I thought oh no how much more can I do? I can’t! But it doesn’t matter what you’re asked to do we just do it. I think it’s just maintaining that positive atmosphere, it’s getting people to open up and give ideas, I think you’d find that 90% of people or more will be happy to give ideas, once the words are said you feel better because it’s all off your chest. I’m sure things are going to get better once we stabilise and get a system that doesn’t belong in the British Museum... Q. I’m just paranoid about this thing it keeps going quiet I keep thinking it’s gone off (laughs) A. xxxx and I talked our phone batteries dead the other night they both went off at the same time! I think in an environment like this it’s important to communicate, I mean you come upstairs and people think oh, Clare’s the boss, we can’t talk to her, and I say you can she’s a human being, she’s a mam she’s got four kids, she’d probably happy to have people talk to her. I’m not suggesting we have coffee evenings upstairs it’s just getting people to open up to and communicate with each other better, I think everybody needs to just get on with it quite frankly. Once we get n the new building and get settled and establish some lines of communication but that as you say is the difficulty, Q. It is quite difficult. I mean in the last place I worked people kept saying lets do something to build team spirit, so we thought let’s have a bowling league, a couple of teams, and it fell flat after a couple of months nobody went, it was a shame because the first time everybody came, it was really good, everyone was like, yes this is the way forward, and then it just sort of fizzled out, everyone was too busy. A. I think if you’re going to have a team building event in my opinion having worked in a few call centres, a one off event occasionally, I can remember one particularly good one our team manager, who knew me from school but that’s another story, we had a team building day and it was absolutely hilarious, but it was the fact that people wanted to make it good, in the board room we just did silly things like observations, watch this clip of a movie, what do you get out of it, and it got really funny she had such a mix of personalities we had such a lot of people giving input, like tasting competitions like yoghurt and just silly things but it was hilarious, you think oh I’m not competitive but people are competitive, quizzes and things but it was just really good we had something different every 4 or 5 months, not on a regular basis but just thrown into the mix every now and again lets build a raft and sail the
Tyne or something. Just silly things people have got to be wiling to participate, willing to let yourself go. Q. If we did something like that it would have to be outside normal working hours, and then not everybody could come we’d have to leave some people here on the phones. I would be good to do something like that, but would people come along? There’s my hen night soon, A. Oh when is that? Q. Some time in June A. When is the wedding? Q. 24th August. A. Oh plenty of time to recover! That’s good it gives people time to interact socially that’s what we need. Q. People want to do different things, the young ones probably want to go clubbing, older ones like me, I don’t want to go clubbing A. and Nana’s like me, I want to go clubbing! If I pull someone who’s 18 – I mean no! But now you’ve mentioned it the different age groups I think that works well in the working environment, you’ve got a mixture of life experience and the young ones bringing in their experience of technology and I think we’ve got a really good age mix, we’re a proper little melting pot and everyone gets on really well, I think there’s a lot of positives to be taken out, and I think reading the evaluation there, there’s a lot of positives in there, that’s good people have responded in that way, people haven’t just filled in what Clare wants to hear, they’ve been honest. Q. I mean there are a few people who are dissatisfied, but the majority seem reasonably happy. A. Yes when you look at the percentages Q. I have to say when I read it I was expecting more people to be dissatisfied, I was quite pleased A. Which just goes to show if you do encourage people they will give an honest opinion, it’s just trying to deal with the external factors. Q. DO you get regular feedback from your team leader and do you find it useful? A. I do get regular feedback, unfortunately we don’t have the opportunity to have our 121s at the moment, xxxx listens to our calls and I sit right opposite xxxx anyway, so I get feedback or she’ll say you did well there, I heard that, I like to take ownership of things, maybe that’s an old fashioned thing to do but it’s part of my work ethic, when I’m dealing with something I like to ring the xxxx back at the end of it, and say this is the best resolution we’ve got, I know we’re not supposed to make external calls like that I do it when we are quiet, I want them to hear my voice and know that what they started with and what they ended with is the same person, I don’t want them to be passed from pillar to post, so I say to xxxx is it all right if I just dial out? Well you were going anyway weren’t you? Well thought I’d better ask. So I do get sort of like good feedback. I make mistakes I’m a human being, I missed somebody’s order off, it was a bulk order but that’s not an excuse, xxxx took the call and I said it’s me, I’ve made a mistake, I’ll resolve it and I’ll ring the xxxx back, xxxx was like no it’s all right, but I was no, I made the error I’ll ring them back. So you take ownership of what you do, and I get good feedback, but it’s knowing the person you’re working with, I know xxxx quite well and she knows me quite well, we’ve got a good working relationship, I would feel confident asking her anything, I’ve made a bit of a booboo here, I’ve done the wrong thing but for the right reason, so I feel happy with the feedback, if there was something wring she wouldn’t make a big show of it, she would be discreet in the way she did it but it’s always quite positive feedback that we get, sometimes it’s 88
not my place to do so but I sit next to xxxx, we’ve got a bit of a rapport going and sometimes I rein him in a bit, sometimes he will rein me in a bit, oh the axe’s coming out, it’s learning from each other and learning how far to go with each other, sometimes if he’s had a really bad call you say you did well there, and a few words do just go a long way. Just even sometimes saying you did really well that’s all you need. So I feel happy with the feedback I get from xxxx, with the environment I work in. Nobody likes coming to work, I’ve worked all my life and quite frankly I’m sick of it Clare, but that’s how it goes, I feel quite positive really. Have we talked about the communication bit enough? Q. Yes I think so A. Do I think people are treated fairly? I do think people are treated fairly, we’re all individuals and we are all in different circumstances, I mean xxxx is going through a really bad time at the moment and we’re all trying to support her because we genuinely care, we’re trying to do things for her you know, I know that of she needs to leave people won’t think look at her she’s leaving at 3 o’clock, they’ll think poor xxxx, she’s got to get down to xxxx to see her xxxx, I do think people are treated fairly . People are treated as what they are which is individuals, and if circumstances occur we do what we can to help and think that god it isn’t me in that situation. She’s had a really bad time over the last couple of years I keep telling her it’ll get better but I’m not sure how much she believes that. So onto my resignation! (laughs) Q. I don’t mean you particularly, I mean if people have left what do you think are the main reasons? A. I’ve got to be honest, it’s the reason I come to work and the reason you come to work every day, it’s the money and that’s the reason people leave. It makes the world go round and that’s what people leave for, it’s what makes you function it’s what pays the bills, which just keep going up and up and up and you have to give yourself the best standard of living really, Q. You think that’s an issue, pay? A. That would be the reason I would leave, definitely, because I’m not in a situation now where I want to be a high flyer, that would be the reason and I’m sure everybody else, unfortunately it’s the reality of the situation. And I think possibly for some of the younger ones career progression definitely. The bad points here are no reflection on yourself or the management here it’s a company issue, is the ever increasing workload, it’s a compliment in many ways that we’re so efficient that we can take on more work, being realistic it is more of a guarantee that we’re going to have a job do you have to put that spin on things, and I think the fact that the salary hasn’t increased massively over the last few years but anybody in any job would say that, but I’m trying to be as honest as I can here, but I think the good points outweigh the bad points, it’s a good working environment and I think we’ve created that working environment as a team, and I mean the whole building when I say team, I think we’ve created quite a good communication network, if we find something out, for example this morning I had 2 or 3 people saying oh, I’ve only had part delivery, from the same depot, xxxx depot, so I say just to make you all aware guys you might have issues with xxxx, it’s good to be prepared. It’s quite a nice working environment, it’s not far from home which is a huge advantage for me, I know you’ve got bit of a hike (laughs) but is something that’s personally advantageous to me, you know don’t want to go hiking all over the world to get to a job I’d be half stressed to death before I get there, the building’s quite nice and we’re going into the new building soon, and I’ve used the word a few times before, it does have that sort of cosy feel, it’s businessy it’s a working environment but it’s not an impersonal 89
environment, that’s what I’m trying to say. I think the working hours are quite good because obviously we’ve got out of hours staff so we work 8.30 to 5, which is a good working ethic Q. It’s quite unusual for a call centre. A. It’s very unusual for a call centre, it’s usually 8 til 8, being realistic so that’s one of the good points, the good points tend outweigh the bad points, I’ve tried to be honest but not negative about the discussion we’re having today, I thought it would be interesting for me to take part in this discussion today, I’ve done counselling in the past as you know, so when you ask for volunteers to help write assessments and assignments and things so, I thought it would be good for me as well, so I hope it’s been useful Q. Yes thank you very much A. I’ll always be honest I’ll never be rude, never be horrible to people. If you need anything else just give me a shout.
Appendix ix: Request for volunteers for interview From: SIKKINK, Clare Sent: 29 April 2013 15:31 To: xxxx Subject: volunteers please!
Hi all Further to the recent survey I sent out, I need to interview 4 people this week as part of my masters course about the experience of Induction and staff engagement levels. Ideally Iâ€™d like at least one newer person and one experienced person, and the interview needs to last about an hour and a half. I will record the interview and transcribe it, then I will give you a copy so you can make any corrections or amendments. The transcripts will be anonymised, and both transcripts and recordings will be securely stored before being included in my research paper. The recordings will be destroyed once the report has been marked. Please email me if you are willing to participate, Many thanks Clare Sikkink Customer Service Manager xxxx Email: clare.sikkink@xxxx Tel: xxxx Fax: xxxx Mobile: 07870986476
Appendix x â€“ Exit interview template XXXX LTD - EXIT INTERVIEW REPORT Name:
Date of Start:
Date of Leaving:
Salary: Reason(s) for leaving A Resignation
Please give details.
Employee's Comments 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Better Job Changing Career/Further Education Personal Reasons Insufficient Pay Hours Working Conditions Pregnancy Travelling difficulties Other
( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (
) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )
For completion by employee: Was your workload fair? Were your duties clearly defined? Did you receive adequate training? Any suggested improvements to the job, please give details? If so, have you raised them in the past, please give details? Was the job described to you fairly when you were taken on? What was morale like in your team?
YES/NO YES/NO YES/NO YES/NO YES/NO YES/NO
Did your manager:
Give praise for work well done? Deal with complaints/problems fairly? Inform you of your progress? Listen to suggestions/criticisms?
( ( ( (
( ( ( (
( ( ( (
( ( ( (
) ) ) )
) ) ) )
) ) ) )
) ) ) )
Other comments made by employee during Exit Interview:-
Interview conducted by: (Print Name) .................................................. Managers Signature
.................................................. Employee's Signature
B Dismissal Please give reason. Details of warnings given
4 Temp/seasonal work over
C To Be Completed by Manager V/Good
6 Understanding of work/leaning
8 Time Keeping
9 Attitude to: Work
Was the employee honest?
Would you reemploy?
My First Name