Learning | How Openreach improved staff engagement through innovative training

How Openreach improved staff engagement through innovative training
How Openreach improved staff engagement through innovative training

Two years ago, Openreach wasn’t meeting Ofcom’s minimum service levels, and employee engagement scores were low.

So the telecoms company decided to overhaul its training strategy and invest £3.8mil in new facilities.

The result? They are now meeting all Ofcom service levels, and staff engagement is up 11%. And thanks to their cutting-edge training, recruitment has never been better.

No more ‘perfect’ training

Openreach connects homes and businesses using digital networks. It works with 600 service providers like Sky and BT to link the UK to the world.

With millions of people depending on the company, it couldn’t afford to fall short of expectations.

So an internal team reviewed the training and found that it was too isolated, sterile, and only reflected ‘perfect working conditions’. Engineers weren’t being trained for the real work environment.

Open Street

Mark Rainbow, Head of Training Delivery & Facilities, realised what was needed.

“We recognised that a fundamental aspect missing from our training was the ability to see, touch, feel and work on a live end-to-end network, in real-to-life scenarios,” he said.

So they turned an unused company building into an exact replica of the Openreach network. The state of the art facility, called Open Street, was finished in December 2017 and cost £220,000. And trainees could experiment in a hands-on environment that reflected what they would face on the job.

Changing the teaching relationship

This innovative facility – a world first for a telecoms company – also turned the company’s teaching model on its head.

Since trainees weren’t in a traditional classroom anymore, they didn’t need teachers. They needed trainers who could give guidance and encourage learning, not simply disseminate information.

That’s why the trainer role was completely overhauled, giving rise to ‘facilitrainers’.

Effect on trainees

Trainees are surveyed after training and asked to score it out of 5. Three years ago, the average score was 3.8/5. Last year it was 4.8/5.

The new facility has also helped with recruitment. Openreach recruited 1,800 new engineers in 2017/18 and has recruited a further 3,500 this year.

Gaining trust from customers

The facility is a great tool for Openreach’s service providers to better understand how their products and services work.

By inviting service providers in, Openreach has been able to demonstrate its dedication to quality training. This improves trust with providers because they understand it means better service for their customers.

Getting results

The improved training has greatly influenced the way staff keep the UK connected.

Two years ago, 59% of staff said they were proud of the service they give customers. Now, it’s at 71%. Even more proof that the training works is that Openreach now exceeds all 40 of Ofcom’s minimum service levels.

There are plans for 11 more ‘Open Streets’ – a further investment of £6.8mil. Openreach now has people with the right skills to support Britain’s thriving digital economy.

Does your organisation have an impressive training or skills development story? Get recognised like Openreach by entering the 2019 Princess Royal Training Awards delivered by the City & Guilds Group. Entries open until 29 March 2019. Find out more: www.princessroyaltrainingawards.com

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