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|ÜSTRA Hannoversche Verkehrsbetriebe AG
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By the development of richer tasks and jobs, fewer hierarchies, more teamwork, more complete tasks, mixed work areas and more responsibility for the driver groups, customer contacts have been improved.
Further goals were: increase of productivity, reduction of monotonous workloads and an increase of employment flexibility.
The enterprise sees itself as a typical urban passenger transport company, which is confronted with the competition with many (more often smaller) private bus companies since the middle of the 90's. Before this background, starting from 1996, a change process was introduced, which aims at a customer-oriented restructuring of the company’s services. The change process is centered, according to statements of company representatives, on the concept of "Co-management" with the works council. It is based on a "contract of confidence" in all strategic questions of the company’s development between the works council and management.
Drivers and other employees of the operating department
From: 1997 to: current
New working structures in the bus operating department
ÜSTRA plans for its group and mixed work model that bus operating department employees also take over tasks outside of the department, especially in more customer service oriented jobs.
The new work structure was developed together with all drivers in a pilot project and tested, in order to introduce it in 1999 in the whole bus department as well as via a pilot project in the tram and metropolitan railway department. The tram and metropolitan railway department introduced the new structure for the entire operating department team during spring 2001.
Each group of drivers receives a 3-day qualification for the group work. Apart from task- related topics, methodical tools and social authority are taught in a classroom or acquired together during workshops. The groups are accompanied by group mentors, who originate from the driving personnel. They mentor the group until the drivers can organize everything completely by themselves. The introduction process as well as the co-ordination of the groups are organised by the coordination team, which consists of all group mentors.
Each group (max. 16 drivers) has one group day every 7 weeks. Apart from the fundamental group tasks, like joint responsibility during long-term vacations and shift service planning by the group, documented discussions take place, information is exchanged and introduced and suggestions for optimisation are made. Thus, for example, driver groups began to examine and optimise the timetables for their routes. Internal and external specialists can be invited to the group days depending upon the group,s need.
Every group has its own fleet of vehicles. Economical driving should be promoted by this-group-specific vehicle pool.
The change of tasks and responsibilities brought about more complete tasks and job profiles. Because of the expanded customer contact and the mechanism of group days, drivers can plan, organize, implement, check and make own suggestions for improvement independently. For the better examination of their measures the driver groups in future are to be supplied regularly with information about the total passenger numbers expected, customer satisfaction, and other interesting indicators.
Getting close to customers by assigning a team to a route
Each group has a main route for which it - in a sense of line management - is responsible and which constitutes the majority of the services (max. 60 %). The drivers can thus learn specific customer requests on this route and thereby increase customer proximity. During the group days suggestions on improvement of customer services are further developed. The groups’ experiences are support by mobility advisors, whose task it is, to inform enterprises, larger institutions and single customers more widely about the changes made to the routes.
The Principle of "Mixed work"
The job of mobility advisor and also other activities in the enterprise are also being executed by the drivers. Initially only some employees from the garage or from the administration exchanged individually their services with the drivers. This change also had to be embodied firmly on an organisational basis to create new work areas and to ensure a "systematic change" between operating department and other departments. Such work areas are for example: Drivers and bus or tram garage-based employees, personnel administration and the operating department, operating department and bus preparation or operating department and mobility advisor. For example the work time of a "mobility-advisor/driver" is divided to 50 % to driving and to 50 % to tasks within the range of mobility consultation. Drivers are relieved by their pure driving activity by part-time changing to another activity.
The changes achieved in the organisation are an interesting example of adapting to competitive pressure by adopting a more humane organisation of work, namely the introduction of group and mixed work for drivers. The development of a contractually supported cooperative relationship between works council and the company management shows how, under difficult economic conditions, results that are acceptable for both sides can be obtained.
Experiences with the new work structure
After an inquiry at the completion of the one year pilot phase, the majority of the participants shared the opinion that the relationship with fellow colleagues had improved because of the group days, also the flow of information and the possibilities of influencing decisions had grown. Half of the pilot participants’ work satisfaction increased. However only a minority of the respondents felt that after introduction of the group and mixed work the relationship with superiors had improved. The relationship group days also contribute to driver stress reduction. Exchanging jobs (e.g. operating department employee in the workshop – technical employees in the operating department) additionally promoted mutual understanding. Furthermore customer opinion polls executed by driver groups in buses, trams and metropolitan railways, as well as at bus/tram stops helped to overcome existing barriers in communication with passengers and reduce existing prejudices.
Reduced rate of sick leave in the pilot group
It has to be assumed that this positive balance is also a reason for the fact that the absence due to sickness in the pilot group during the pilot phase fell more than in the other operating department employees.
Increase of return on investment
The measures compiled in the pilot groups, like for example suggestions regarding changing of bus stop locations, changing of routes, and changed types of vehicles used, have contributed to changes of the shift roster sequences to increase the return on investment of both pilot lines by 2 % and 9 %.
High expectations to the expansion of their personal possibilities of participation could not, to the opinion of some employees, always completely be fulfilled. A larger scope of action for the driver groups could only be reached, if other departments gave up some areas of their responsibility. This giving up of responsibility areas has not always been without conflicts.
The liberalisation of the urban public passenger transport market and the accompanied increasing competition pressure by private companies made üstra decide, to draw up a "contract of confidence” in September 1993. With this employment agreement between work council and management, which was updated 1996, measures and methods were specified for the expansion of driver possibilities for taking action and making decisions.
For the introduction of group and mixed work external labour research institutions were involved. The know-how of these institutions formed important inputs for the realization of the change measures. There were intensive consulting experiences with the Institution for industrial engineering science of the Ruhr University of Bochum; an advisor was adjusted as a work council adviser. In the process accompany measures, cooperation was sought with the "local transfer of technology place Hanover". An advisor was adjusted as internal process companion. Today he is working as a personnel manager at üstra. The members of the work council participate since long years in labour research courses of the university of Hannover.
|Recruiting and integration policies within the company|
|Skill and career management procedures|
|Training program content, practices and processes associated with the evolutions observed in the occupation|
|Relations with national/regional policies|
|Relations with Collective Agreement|
|Other : Operating department in an urban passenger transport enterprise|
Broad publication in urban passenger transport branch media, lectures on specialized congresses, exchange of experience with managers and/or work councils form urban passenger transport enterprises and on Workshops
If affirmative, is the Handbook available?
Basis for the case study is the Material written by: Aust, B. (2001): Gesundheitsförderung in Verkehrsunternehmen – Betriebs- und mitarbeiterbezogene Maßnahmen im Fahrdienst, Hrsg. Berufsgenossenschaft der Straßen-, U-Bahnen und Eisenbahnen, Hamburg www.bg-bahnen.de