What is the recipe for success for any change management initiative? It can be a combination of many varied factors such as clear communication, transparency, flexibility…
Tom Dalby, Director of Human Resources at Rogers Communications, recently faced a challenge. With his 19 years in HR as an HR Business Partner, Tom knows his function and relationships with his business partners inside and out. However, the climate outside of his function and business proved much less familiar.
Rising customer demands warranted expanding the capacity of the call center business Tom supported. But, once that business decision surfaced, how would Rogers make the change without unforeseen costs and disengaging staff? They needed to avoid these costs, while still delivering increased capacity and customer service.
The Business Challenge: Maintain a high level of call center customer service at all times, especially during those occasions of high call volume. The Ideal Outcome: Introduce an extended work week strategy to provide the call center business with the capability to increase hours of work as needed.
“We knew we needed to manage this change each step of the way,” Tom recalls. “The last thing we needed was for 5,000 staff to be at odds with the change – which was a very real possibility given often the change would involve more hours for staff to work!”
The Action Plan: Tom and the leaders of the call center business went to great lengths to focus on two priorities: employee receptivity to and understanding of the changes.
Looking back, Tom calls out three key components of their change management program that made the difference on delivering on the outcome – and more:
Communication – Tom made sure the team over-communicated the change: “We announced the program and its components months in advance for current employees; embedded this information within recruiting conversations to set expectations with prospective employees; and prepared managers for having conversations about and advocating for the change.” By focusing on proactive education about the change, the team ensured each individual staff member was comfortable and understood the plan.
Flexibility – Tom and his business partners recognized that big changes don’t come without a few growing pains. To make the change as easy as possible, they provided employees choice on when they could work the additional time and accommodated the vast majority of employee requests. The advanced notice and employee requests that followed allowed Tom and his team to identify the schedule’s areas of strength and greater need ahead of time.
Transparency – “We knew this would be a big change for many, so we focused on being as transparent as possible about the reality of the change.” Tom and his business partners led a pilot week for the new hours so that employees could experience the extended scheduled in real time. The benefit was twofold in increasing employee understanding of and subsequently commitment to the program and enabling the team to fine tune particular program components before the official launch.
The Result: Success! Immediately after the launch of their extended work week, call center staff delivered on – and even exceeded expectation. Despite an 8.5% increase in call volume, the call center business maintained service levels above target. Leadership appreciated this terrific outcome, too – Tom and his business partners were nominated for Rogers Communications’ Customer First Award for their outstanding impact on the business.