Company programme energises employees

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 November, 2008, 12:00am

Workforce motivation has long triggered debate among human resources (HR) professionals, workplace psychologists and senior management. From conferences to workshops, discussion forums to focus groups, companies have, for years, wrangled over how they can best encourage staff to go that extra mile.

CLP seems to have found the answer. Its 'Take an Extra Step' programme enables all of the firm's 4,000 workers to take part in a systematic initiative that every six months recognises staff who have taken that additional step towards continuously improving the workplace and community.

Staff are awarded tier awards by participating in Take an Extra Step approved schemes or by generating ideas towards improving workplace efficiency and customer service excellence.

Staff participating in at least one of these approved schemes will earn a bronze pin. A silver pin is awarded to those who have taken part in at least four identified schemes. To receive the gold pin, employees need to meet all the criteria of silver, be nominated by a supervisor for gold, and score at least 80 per cent in the award nomination form which is assessed by a judging panel.

The designated schemes, which cover a range of areas including safety and health, care for people, care for the environment and innovation, all share one thing: they promote and foster the Take an Extra Step corporate culture.

'Each department used to run their own programmes which covered different areas but we decided to group these efforts under one umbrella of recognition because the set-up was previously too fragmented. By consolidating these initiatives under one scheme of recognition, the concept is easier to promote and staff will more likely understand its purpose,' said Chan Hin-sang, CLP group HR manager - employee relations and communications. The Take an Extra Step programme also gives employees a clear strategic focus and provides a broad platform on which to galvanise and energise the workforce because staff have a common aim - an award scheme which they can work towards. Staff will more easily be able to see the bigger picture, beyond the purview of their own department and immediate responsibilities.

The scheme's objective was to nurture a corporate culture in which people cared for each other, the community and the environment, and one in which individuals could learn to value innovation and knowledge, Mr Chan said.

Gold pin winner Ben Wong, a customer sevices officer who answers telephone calls made to the company's 24-hour emergency hotline, said the programme pushed him and his colleagues to go beyond the scope of duty time and again.

When an angry caller complained about tripping over a patch of uneven ground which, the caller believed was on a CLP site, Mr Wong immediately sent a team of technicians to the area to address the problem.

'On arriving at the scene, the team realised the designated site did not belong to CLP but, because the team was motivated by the Take an Extra Step scheme, they mended the uneven flooring anyway,' Mr Wong recalled. 'Under ordinary circumstances our staff members would take the extra step but having a programme like this really helps as it serves as a frequent reminder all the time.'

Mr Wong won his gold pin for his contribution towards the 'Ten Brothers' campaign, a customer service communications initiative inspired by the popular Chinese legend and adapted to fit the needs of the team. Ten customer service staff members were chosen to become caricatures, each representing one of the 10 brothers in the legend. Every individual epitomises a virtue crucial to the core that comprises good customer service. 'The programme was designed to boost the motivation of colleagues. By expressing 10 customer service principles through caricatures, it is easier for the team to digest and understand,' Mr Wong said.

The caricatures and mottos have been depicted on various stationery - sticky notes, notepads, files, posters - and are strategically placed around the office to remind staff of these values.

The Ten Brothers idea, which kicked off last year, has been so well received that there are plans to expand the legend's 10 core characters. To keep the momentum going, the CLP team responsible for the idea will launch one new character every three months over the next 36 months.

Power points

Staff members recognised and awarded for their efforts in going the extra mile

Take an Extra Step programme serves as reminder to make the additional effort

Three-tier award system uses gold winners as role models

Systematic programme helps staff see bigger picture