Bupa wins top award for its quick change strategy

A five-year culture change programme at private healthcare provider Bupa has
seen profits more than double and netted the company the top prize at the
Personnel Today Awards 2002.

The firm’s profits have soared from £52m in 1996 to £135m in 2001 thanks to
the HR team, which has radically overhauled the company’s ‘top-down’ culture to
create inclusive management.

The organisation is now in the top third of a worldwide service industry
benchmarking survey after struggling near the bottom in 1996.

This success, along with a dramatic improvement in staff retention, led to
Bupa picking up the evening’s top award, having also topped the category in The
Work Foundation Award for Organisational Change.

Bob Watson, HR director at Bupa, said: "We had a top-down culture where
senior managers ordered and staff did. This culture left staff disillusioned.

"Now employees feel involved with the company and this inclusive
culture has helped improve business performance."

Bupa also improved staff training, introduced flexible working, on-site gyms
and staff restaurants.

The company put on a one-day workshop for all 42,000 staff to show how
important their individual roles were to the service.

Managers embarked on in-depth courses to bed in the organisation’s new
behaviours, and managers had 360-degree appraisals to evaluate their skills and
were paired up to share learning experiences and knowledge.

Communication channels were also improved to give staff direct access to senior
managers and a staff newsletter was launched.

The staff opinion survey was improved and rewards, with £2,000 worth of
holiday vouchers for the winners, introduced to show staff that their
contribution to the business is valued.

By Paul Nelson

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