A job at a contact centre is not often thought of as a typical starting point for a high-flying corporate career. But at TSA Group, that’s the reality for much of its executive team, who have discovered that working at a contact centre was their first step to a secure and fulfilling long-term appointment.
While many would think of manning the phones in a call centre as a temporary job for university students trying to pay the bills, TSA Group’s commitment to developing and retaining its staff is paying off.
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Join for a job, stay for a career
TSA Group’s Chief People and Corporate Affairs Officer, Zahra Peggs, says providing career advancement opportunities at the entry level has been key to the company’s growth from small startup to a multinational operation with more than 4,000 employees. That approach has resulted not only in rapid growth, but also industry recognition of excellence in business performance, with TSA Group recently recognised as one of Australia’s best privately-managed companies by Deloitte.
“You join TSA for a job, but there’s an opportunity to stay for a career,” Ms Peggs says.
“You can come to us with no experience, and you can rise through the ranks and build a career in contact centre operations. But, where we go a step further, is we help mould them into an even better businessperson. That’s because we provide the opportunity to work across a whole range of different industries within one employer, and so you get access to different business models and different kinds of industries across our different clients, and that’s really valuable.”
An executive team that started out on the frontlines
Ms Peggs says she started in a frontline role in a back-office team, while The successful transition of the management team from the frontlines to the executive suite hasn’t been a coincidence, it’s been a feature of TSA Group’s strategy as it evolved from a small business to a large operation, Ms Peggs says.
“We are all very much a product of the business and the way it has a bias for promoting from within,” Ms Peggs says.
“We have a practice of always advertising our roles internally, and that is a discipline that we’ve held for many years. We believe it’s particularly important for us now that we are able to decide how the business continues that legacy. Our strategy is very much about how we keep that real for the 4,000 people that work for us today and how it remains part of the DNA of the group as we continue to scale the business.”
“When we were given those opportunities, we were a much smaller business, so it was easier for us to build the networks and stand out to be given those opportunities. What we often think about now is how can we maintain that approach when you’re in a much bigger environment, and how do you continue to identify the talent and give it the opportunity.”
A robust internal development plan
TSA Group’s people strategy is to provide clear career pathways while also giving employees the support they need to grow their skill sets and make the most of the opportunities provided. Ms Peggs says the company’s Aspiring Leaders program provides employees in any role at TSA Group a platform to move onto a leadership pathway, allowing them to understand the skills they need to acquire to become effective people managers.
“We also run programs, which can be quite tailored based on the particular skill sets that we’re trying to obtain in the business at the time,” she says. “The labour market has been challenging over the last few years, so we haven’t been able to go to market and ”
“Within our technology services and tech development teams, for example, we’ve developed those skills in-house. Where we see talent, we will always work with people from an individual development plan basis, where we send them off to further their education, external training and development courses. It’s a pretty flexible model that we offer.”
In addition to training and support, Ms Peggs says the management team retains a strong connection to frontline workers.
“We understand that some of the most important insights that we get about our business are going to come from those people. Being visible and being connected to the frontline isn’t just a nice buzzword, it’s actually what we do.”
Investing in good people
Ms Peggs says there are significant benefits beyond staff retention for TSA Group by demonstrating potential future career growth.
“If you retain brilliant people, they become advocates for your business,” Ms Peggs says.
“They refer people from their networks to work with, and you can trust their judgement because they have been great at what they do. Retention in our industry is challenging in Australia, so the more that we can do to tailor the way that the job works for people, the better off we are as well.”
Looking forward, Ms Peggs says TSA Group will maintain the same strategy as it had when it was a small business when seeking to lay the foundations for its next phase of growth.
“The executive team have had this experience of being given the benefit of development and opportunities that maybe on paper, we wouldn’t have been qualified for, or nobody else would have given us a shot, but this business did,” Ms Peggs said.
“We’re really conscious about retaining that small business, entrepreneurial, find good people and create spaces for them to come through the business approach, even though we are a much bigger business today than when we started. If you put your head down, demonstrate you have got capabilities, you will be given an opportunity to prove it over a really long, valuable and rewarding career.”
TSA are Australia’s market leading specialists in CX consultancy and contact centre services. We are passionate about revolutionising the way brands connect with Australians. How? By combining our local expertise with the most sophisticated customer experience technology on earth, and delivering with an expert team of customer service consultants who know exactly how to help brands care for their customers.