Putting staff first – the secret to Policy Expert’s success
A company that has had to embrace rapid growth, Policy Expert, a Milton Keynes-based insurance provider, is our first case study for Love where you work – Milton Keynes.
Since it started in 2011, Policy Expert’s workforce has grown 4,000%, expanding from four people to more than 170 today. Not only has the company had to keep up with this monumental growth, but it has also had to work to counter the prejudices associated with the insurance industry. As Tara Rist, Head of HR says:
“When you think insurance and you think contact centre, it’s not sexy is it?”
For Vikki Shannon, Recruitment Manager at Policy Expert, it’s essential employees are kept motivated and empowered. “Customer service is at the heart of everything we do, which is why employee engagement is so important. If you have happy staff, that’s going to come across in the customer service.” Vikki added: “Everyone has contact with customers so it’s really important that our staff are happy.”
So how do they do it? As one of the top employers in the area on Glassdoor and recent winners of Home Insurance Provider 2018 at the Insurance Choice Awards for a second year in a row, we were keen to unearth as much as possible from them.
Tara said: “It’s fair to say that in our early days our focus was on growing and getting the customer base together.”
“We made a conscious decision to focus on our staff. That went across all levels. The first thing we did was design a management development programme to get everyone to a base level in that community. This was essential in order to scale the business.”
“We then turned our attention to our biggest community, our CREs (Customer Relations Experts), the guys on the phones. We introduced an employee forum, where representatives from each area of the business come together once a month and can put forward anything they want to discuss. Ideas or grumbles – where we could, we’d fix them. Where we couldn’t, we’d explain why.”
Contact centres typically have high staff turnovers, however thanks to the processes put in place at Policy Expert the average tenure of employees is two years and eight months.
Recognising talent on the floor and ensuring it is nurtured is key to this, which led to the introduction of an apprenticeship development programme. This takes employees from the phones into management roles, as well as giving them the opportunity to gain a management qualification.
Tara said: “We want to grow our own managers wherever possible, rather than sourcing them externally. There is also the opportunity to move into other jobs here. You might think there isn’t much job mobility at a call centre, but it’s especially not the case at Policy Expert.”
Vikki added: “We always look internally to fill roles before we even think about going external. This resonates better with our employees as they can see the programmes we have in place are a way of genuinely progressing.”
As an insurance provider, Policy Expert offers all staff the opportunity to gain a qualification in the field through the CII (Chartered Insurance Institute).
In 2018 alone, 50 members of the team have passed successfully.
Tara said: “Ultimately, we are a contact centre – we can’t give everyone the career they want, but we can give them the opportunity to progress into a huge variety of areas.”
Vikki added: “We teach people the skills they need to succeed in this industry, they just need to bring their personality.”
Milton Keynes provides a diverse and sociable backdrop that reflects the ethos at Policy Expert down to a tee. Although being based outside of London brings its own challenges. Tara said: “It’s tough from a recruitment point of view. Although what is great is that over some of the bigger businesses in the area, people choose to come and work for us. Milton Keynes has branded itself well. It has a vision for the future. It brings people in.”
Learn directly from Policy Expert’s employees what makes it such a great place to work.