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Industry:

Business process outsourcing

Location:

The nordic and baltic countries

WebHelp Nordic is a customer service company which helps businesses connect with their customers and consumers. Even though this will be their first job for many employees, expectations of productivity and quality are high. This creates a particular demand for dialogue and follow-ups. Meet Terje Andreassen, CEO of Webhelp Nordic.

Tell us about your business!

WebHelp Nordic has operations in all the Nordic and Baltic countries. We specialize in customer service and are approaching 3,500 employees. The foundation of what we do is communicating with our clients’ customers. The breadth of our client base makes it important to develop our employees and ensure they’re able to do a good job no matter which client they’re working for at the moment.

 

What challenges does this involve?

Often our employees come straight out of upper secondary school, and for many of them, this is their first job. They need to be educated into working life, and it’s partly up to us to do that. We monitor productivity and quality extremely closely, and our industry can be perceived as a tough one. Being monitored and evaluated can be a difficult and unfamiliar experience, which makes dialogue important. We have to be able to explain why we’re monitoring, why it’s important and what the individual employee stands to gain from it. You can’t just evaluate without having a dialogue around it, so regular employee appraisals are extremely important.

 

How do you prepare a new employee for the tough environment that customer service can be?

All employees undergo training, where we give them knowledge about the job and the client’s product or service. That’s how you pick up the theoretical knowledge. Via Heartpace, we also use onboarding, a type of induction programme. This is an important part of how we give employees the confidence to do their best work. We then work proactively so our employees develop in the position they’re in and can eventually become a manager. It can be tedious sitting and answering questions about bills for seven hours a day, five days a week, so we try to create variation between job tasks.

 

Why is it important for you to recruit internally?

Because we’re constantly growing, we’re constantly looking for new managers. Because we have difficulty recruiting, we depend on finding them internally. Our strength is that we can offer development and career opportunities. The employee appraisals are important for lifting up those employees who have the desire and capabilities to progress within the company. It’s not unusual for you to become a manager after just over a year, which means you then have to manage 12 to 18 people your own age. This makes the employee appraisals extremely important.

 

Why did you choose to work with Heartpace?

We found it hard to maintain continuity in our HR work. We needed to keep track of the documentation and achieve consistency in how our employee appraisals were being conducted. We needed a system which we could adapt to our business.

 

How do you use employee appraisals?

We have an RAQ (results, actions, quality) meeting every month. We also need to have some form of coaching once a week. We have management reviews between managers and employees in slightly higher positions two to four times a year. The purpose of these meetings is for both managers and employees to talk about what’s going well and what needs to be improved. We talk about soft values, for example how to contribute to the team’s wellbeing, but also about concrete goals for your job and the company. These meetings are highly appreciated, and sometimes it’s often not enough to have a meeting just once a month.

 

What kind of role does Heartpace play here?

Heartpace is a way for us to protect the process and make sure you’re talking about the right things. It’s good to be able to start with an appraisal template for an employee’s visions and goals. Before the meetings, both parties prepare and you share your thoughts and talk them over. We then agree together on what can be improved. There is a grade for both employees and managers, and this grade is documented. This enables us to perform evaluations and give everyone the opportunity to develop. The quality of the conversation is different thanks to Heartpace.

 

What HR challenges are you facing?

Our industry has difficulty recruiting, and so it’s important for us to be able to retain employees, pick up on those who reach their goals quickly, plan their careers and provide them with on-the-job training. RAQ meetings play a really important part in this respect. We need to know how to guarantee development and training so the employee wants to stay on and eventually move into a managerial role.

 

How will you continue working with Heartpace in the future?

At the moment, we use Heartpace as an advisor on a consultancy basis, both for the business as a whole and for specific projects. This is something we will develop and use more in the future.

 

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