Underlying the changes has been a more open approach to communication between all levels and departments. Whereas information had been perceived as a source of power and was not willingly shared, the introduction of an employee director (elected by the staff), a staff manager, and the establishment of a trade union/management strategy forum, have established new communication channels. “We work very closely with the three unions represented here,” says Prichard. These include Amicus, Unison and the T&G.
The programme requires a high level of spending. Some £150,000 is invested in driver training each year, but it has brought results. The passenger base has increased by 10 per cent in the past two years, profitability is up, and the company has been able to invest in modernising its fleet and staff facilities. Overall, staff turnover is down and, among drivers, is down some 10 per cent from the industry norm of 20 per cent. Cardiff Bus is also confident of achieving Investors In People (IIP) status later this year.
Bob Ducroq, bus driver and employee director, says: “Communications from the staff go through the unions or myself. If any major problems come up, I can put the issues to the board, so communication is a lot better than it was five or six years ago. The training helps new people coming in and is an opportunity to spend some time with some other drivers. It feels like the company has been resurrected – we have new buses, the equipment is a lot better, and our market position is stronger.”
Bus driver Roger Stock says: “Training has helped a lot, particularly as it covers issues such as dealing with customers and driver awareness. Lines of communication are far better. There are still niggles but nothing like it was five or six years ago, and generally people seem happier.”
Brown’s HR learning points
Make sure all employees are part of the development process
Companies need to have a very good structure in place for monitoring training. Briefing staff before and after training is as important as providing the training itself
Get funding and top management commitment locked in from the start
Look at training as a long-term cost and strategic issue
A key issue for Cardiff Bus in using TSW was its independent charitable status. The training agenda was based on long term planning within an IIP framework