It was one of those really worrying situations where you’re not sure if you’re watching a comedy, a spoof or a real life documentary. Yes people, on Tuesday evening we sat down to ‘The Call Centre’ and I am SO pleased that we did.
Firstly this is car crash TV at its very best but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be watched and enjoyed – just be warned, if you or your other half work in HR you may need a stiff drink to get you through.
For those of you who have not had the absolute pleasure, The Call Centre is real life business based in Swansea. As the name would suggest, it is a call centre employing hundreds of staff from the local area.
As you would imagine from an office of this size, there are more than your average number of characters – as if this alone wasn’t a recipe for TV documentary success, enter stage left, the owner, ‘uncle’ Nev.
We watched this programme for half an hour still debating if it was in fact real or if it was one of those strange programmes we now get where half of it is made up and half of it is ‘kind of’ realish’. As I never watch programmes that can’t make up their mind what they want to be, I was considering turning over when we ‘Googled’ (because Google is the fountain of all knowledge) and realised, despite our absolute horror and amazement, it is in fact real – every last comedy gold part of it.
So, anyway, here’s the thing. Nev clearly doesn’t go by the book. He tells his staff to shut up, throws things at them and screams ‘GET OUT’ at the top of his voice to those he has just interviewed – better still, they are the poor individuals that got the job! He also engages in conversations that in any normal office environment would be an absolute NO GO!
As an example, one of his staff was feeling particularly down after being dumped (it happens to us all), so Nev says ‘You’ve been a right miserable b*stard for the last month and we all know why’. As if this wasn’t bad enough he then parades this poor girl around the office asking anyone if they want to take her out on a date.
It doesn’t even stop there… he then sets up a speed dating event, yes an arranged function with hundreds of people, just to get this girl a date. He then sends her home with ‘said match’ and makes them bake cakes!
Then we move on to the recently appointed tea lady. Having tried to work in the call centre this young girl realises it’s just not for her but rather than get rid, Nev decides there is a role for her to make tea and coffee for everyone. What was astounding and heart-warming was that this girl takes this job really seriously. It’s apparent if she’s going to be a tea lady she is clearly going to be the best tea lady.
When her delightful co-workers decide to hide her tea bags and teaspoons all hell breaks loose and there are tears, tantrums and warnings – I kid you not, you couldn’t make it up!
What was amazing about this programme was that although there must have been at least 20 scenarios where we turned to each other and said ‘He can’t do that’, ‘You can’t say that’, ‘He is going to end up in a tribunal’, surprisingly I think there’s a lot that we can all learn from Nev.
He has a happy workforce for a start and people who are committed to his business. Ok, they know he’s nuts and openly admit that he is one-of-a-kind but that’s no bad thing. As a result of Nev and his attitude (his team meetings are called a s*it sandwich because you have a sandwich and he gives you s*it) people respect and to some degree appreciate him and his straight forward and no nonsense style.
Move over Sir Alan Sugar, Nev is in town and as far as the Davies’ household goes, he’s leaps and bounds in front of any car crash TV that you can produce and after the most recent series of The Unemployable – sorry I mean Apprentice – I didn’t think I would be saying that.
At the very least you can have some sympathy, empathy and dare I add respect for these people. They are real and perhaps we all need a Nev in our lives to remind us of what ‘being yourself’ can achieve. There are definite lessons I’m taking from Nev and perhaps we need to stop looking for reasons to criticise employers and employees. May be what we need to do instead is get some personality back to the workplace and god forbid have some fun!
I don’t think we will be throwing things at people in Open any time soon or screaming at the top of our lungs but we just may think more about how we can inject some of Nevs better ideas into the agency.
Anyone for a s*it sandwich?
Despite the changing shape of the PR industry a fundamental part of anyone’s daily role is to review the media and be aware of what is going on locally, nationally and globally. Unfortunately this often means that you have to be particularly susceptible to bad news, as well as good.
Recently however I’ve been pleased to see that there has been some really positive news coming from the Yorkshire region. The first piece appeared a couple of weeks ago on the BDaily website. The story focused on a report by Barclays which looked into the entrepreneurial landscape in the UK and Ireland and referenced a notable increase in entrepreneurial activity across Yorkshire.
Although this activity was based on the purchase of shares, it recognised that Yorkshire is the fifth-biggest region for entrepreneurial activity in the country. Even more interestingly, this success appears to have been bolstered by industrial companies.
Hopefully as industrial businesses within the Yorkshire region start to perform ahead of expectations this will then have an impact on other sectors, leading to more green shoots and positive news throughout the county.
The second story that caught my eye featured on the Business Desk last week and reported that 68% of companies in Yorkshire had confirmed that new positions within their organisations were in the pipeline. As a company that is also recruiting, it was great to see that there are real opportunities for jobs and growth within the region.
Better still the piece goes on to report that the Yorkshire and Humber is the region showing most improvement in relation to employment opportunities, up from 54% in 2012, and in addition 84% of those questioned said that they are not planning any job losses this year.
I hope that with more good news to be shared by the businesses in Yorkshire we can all benefit. It would appear that determination, a can do attitude and rolling our sleeves up is certainly helping the companies based within the county to look forward rather than back, and it would appear that many have opportunity within their sights.
So, on that note, may I also take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy St George’s Day – and shhhh, I don’t want to talk too soon, but the sun is finally shining, that can only be a good thing!
I recently posted a blog about Open Communications agreeing to get involved with a local initiative, Wakefield Works. The concept was thought up by Andy Turner from First Choice Recruitment and Marcello Moccia from Room: 97, in partnership with the Wakefield Express.
Rather than sitting around and complaining about the lack of jobs for young people within the Wakefield District, these two entrepreneurs encouraged more than 35 local companies to agree to open their doors to prospective employees for a day. The only real commitment from the businesses who chose to get involved was to give some time and also a minimum of two weeks work experience to any relevant candidate that was interviewed.
As an example of businesses being pro-active and supporting the potential of the district I think this was a shining example of working together and making a difference.
In contrast, I attended the First Friday event last week and was disappointed to hear some people focusing on the negative and referencing the number of candidates who registered yet didn’t take the time to get turn up for the respective appointments.
I don’t think that when providing feedback about an event that this should have been the focus. I think it would have made more sense to give those who arranged the initiative the credit that they deserve for taking their time to do so and then for those involved to provide examples of how well the activity had worked.
We had two candidates turn up to Open Comms on the day and I am pleased to announce that we have agreed to provide a two week work placement for one of them. The candidate that we chose has relevant experience and has the chance to prove themselves to be a real asset to our team.
This is the kind of feedback that we should be focusing on, not the negative. Perhaps by showing how many work placements were agreed as a result of this activity those who didn’t bother to turn up to their appointments will recognise the mistake that they have made and the opportunity that they missed out on.
I would personally like to say a huge thank you to Andy, Marcello, the Wakefield Express and Wakefield Job Centre Plus for their support in making this initiative a success. Without their time and effort it would never have happened and we would be another city just sitting around waiting for someone else to turn the employment statistics around.
I’m hoping that businesses who did get involved in Wakefield Works will agree that it was worth the time and effort and that it should become a regular event in the Wakefield business calendar. Let’s get Wakefield working, focus on the positives and benefit from what we can achieve as a collective.