We host a lot of events throughout the year, and recently held one dedicated to the UK passenger transport sector. Experts from ORC International and HR professionals from Abellio, Transport for London, British Airways, Keolis and Reading Buses discussed trends in employee engagement within the sector and heard Transport for London share their journey to creating a customer centric-culture. We also explored the growing importance of measuring and sustaining a positive safety culture within the workplace and its noticeable effect on employee engagement and business performance.
We kicked off the session by sharing industry trends gathered through our research conducted for a large number of passenger transport companies. Alarmingly, we have found that only 58% of employees in the transport sector are engaged, which is lower than both the public and private sectors. What’s more we found that while employees are proud of where they work and are likely to recommend those companies, they are much less likely to stay in their organisations and don’t enjoy the content of their jobs enough to be willing to go above and beyond. Also, the sector really seems to be struggling when it comes to organisations providing a clear strategic narrative to its employees, making employees feel their voices are heard and they can speak up. This appears to impact the sector’s ability to enable employees to put the customer first.
TfL’s journey to customer centricity
Our guest speaker, Clara Barrington from TfL, shared TfL’s journey to creating a more customer-centric culture – working with their bus operators.
The role and impact of London buses is huge. There are 7,500 London buses which carry more than 6 million passengers each weekday – more than the rest of England combined. For every one journey made on the underground, there are in fact nearly two made by bus. As such a popular mode of transport TfL found that a large percentage of complaints and negative social media comments were to do with the bus service and around bus drivers. This was clearly an area they needed to focus on through changing behaviours to deliver a better customer experience.
TfL started to look into the customer pain points and where the mismatches were in terms of how TfL staff viewed the customer experience they were delivering and how customers rated that same experience. Working with ORC International they delved into these experiences through a series of workshops with Bus Operators, the Buses directorate and staff across TfL who contribute to bus services.
The aim of the workshops were to get people enthused about the customer experience and generate initiatives for improvements. As a result of the sessions ‘I am welcomed every day’ was identified as the representation of the experience customers should receive when using London buses. An accompanying visual was created so that this statement could serve as a guiding light and a reminder of how any business decision and behaviour would impact customers’ daily experiences.
Another outcome of the workshops was to action plan around building trust and collaboration, communicating the matter effectively, and harnessing good ideas for improvement. All of this work rolled into a Bus Customer Experience programme which was launched this February.
Since the launch TfL have seen some incredibly encouraging outcomes such as: increased communication; the employee survey score for ‘cares about customers’ increasing by 9 points; a new customer experience training programme for bus drivers; job swaps between the Operators and TfL; a bus driver induction DVD; a customer experience conference and TfL customer experience workshops.
Safety culture and employee engagement
To close the event we discussed the idea of a safety culture and the extent to which we encourage a positive safety culture in our organisations. While many organisations actively track safety measures, fewer explore the human factors which impact safety in their organisation. We discussed how encouraging positive attitudes and behaviour towards safety not only ensures a lower likelihood of incidents but will also improve overall attitudes throughout the business and improve overall performance.
Through desk research, working with experts and a number of transport and construction organisations ORC International has created a model for safety culture research which can be implemented as an audit of safety culture within organisations and a way to track progress. This model has been successfully implemented for a number of companies such as Laing O’Rourke to support them with their Mission Zero campaign and covers a number of drivers of safety culture.
Underpinning a positive safety culture is communication and, specifically for the passenger transport sector, we discussed the communication that reaches customers and how we can engage people with often dull safety messages. We spoke about examples of London Underground drivers bringing their personalities to safety announcements and how organisations such as SouthWest Airlines are famous for turning tired messages into something new and exciting.
You can read our whitepaper – Beyond compliance: How to create a true sense of safety culture – here.