Training the next generation

OCS Australia's Christine Johnson discusses the importance of upskilling staff.

Recognising, supporting and nurturing talent is at the core of a new development programme for OCS Australia employees – the Sparkle Development Program.

As part of its core values, OCS fosters a ‘can do’ attitude – where it invests in and nurtures talent, and encourage teamwork and collaborative working so staff are equipped and focused to deliver against their objectives.

Executive sponsor HR & HSEQ at OCS Christine Johnson says the development of customer service, contract and support staff managers is a key focus for OCS.

Johnson says this aligns with the company’s ‘People’ strategic pillar elements of retaining the best people, increasing employee engagement, and investing in OCS’s workforce.

“As an integral role within the organisational structure, at the forefront of most of OCS’s customer and staff interactions, OCS required a comprehensive development programme to develop skills in these team leaders,” Johnson says.

Johnson is supporting its people on a growth journey that enhances skills in current roles to deliver a standard of operational excellence and create strong succession planning.

“It enables our talent to progress to higher levels of responsibility and reward, build leadership, positive influence and high engagement at a local level.”

Johnson says OCS knew the training programme had to be specifically targeted to staff, with many wary of having to sit a test or undertake public speaking as part of it.

OCS used consulting firm Bendelta to develop the bespoke programme loosely based around the Rising Star program in OCS’ UK operation. As a result, the Sparkle Development Program was launched in branches on both the East and West coast late last year.

Johnson says the programme is designed to build leadership capability for the future, ultimately resulting in stronger succession planning.

“It’s about our colleagues developing themselves to realise their potential,” Johnson says. “Our people represent the future of our business and will be involved in leading it to sustainable growth and further profitability.”

Bendelta tailor-made the courses so it was almost totally interactive and without the need for PowerPoint presentations.

“The course was specifically designed to help individuals become the best they can be, not the same as everyone else,” Johnson says. “The feedback has been extremely positive and a number of our people commented on how the skills learnt on the program were easily transferrable and could be put into practise quickly.”

The course involves three modules and is run over six days, with participants given homework and learning journals to complete.

So far, 26 staff members have been through the programme with graduations held recently in Perth and Sydney.

Among other things, the managers gained confidence in understanding and leading a team, became comfortable in holding performance conversations and learnt how to improve services to “delight the customer.”

Succession planning is a critical but often overlooked process, and all companies need it.

OCS believe training plays a crucial role in its organisational success, while trained and knowledgeable employees also:

  • Acquire new skills,
  • Increase their contribution to the business
  • Build their self-esteem
  • Move to other positions within the organisation with improved promotion prospects and/or better pay
  • Are upskilled to do new and different tasks, which keeps them motivated and fresh

Globally OCS has more than 87,000 staff working in 16 countries and strive to increase employee engagement and develop a winning culture through training and development.

OCS managing director New Zealand and Australia Gareth Marriott says as employees are trained while working at OCS, they can see OCS value them enough to invest in them.

“OCS’s aspiration is to be an organisation that upskills rather than churns employees,” Marriott says. “As a company we have a long term commitment to sustainability when it comes to our people and succession planning is part of this.

“To achieve this we need a skilled and competent workforce who are motivated and want to stay with us today and tomorrow. OCS is committed to building a strong learning organisation around quality and team competence. We need to make the business better for the next generation.”

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