Plymouth Citybus

Driving down levels of staff absence…

We speak with James Church, the Commercial Manager at Plymouth Citybus to find out how the company places the health and welfare of the staff at the centre of its thinking, through a whole range of initiatives that are designed to reduce levels of illness…

Plymouth Citybus is a familiar name on the streets of Plymouth with its fleet of vehicles transporting people around the city and out to the towns of Padstow, Bude and Ivybridge. And with the company and management picking up more than their fair share of awards, it’s not surprising that recent surveys across both staff and customers have shown high levels of satisfaction, with passenger levels sitting at around 93%.

James: “It’ true, as a bus operator we are in the business of moving people from A to B from about four in the morning to just after midnight, so in this respect we are no different from others who operate in this sector. We offer competitive rates of pay and we are also investing considerable amounts of money into new vehicles, which means that our drivers work in a good environment.

That is of course all true, but James is being a little modest; Plymouth Citybus is part of the larger Go-Ahead Group which provides significant bus and rail services in the UK, Germany and Singapore – and by significant we are talking over 1 BILLION passenger journeys each year. But the key thing is that even though Plymouth Citybus is one of the smallest groups within this large family, it punches well about its weight in term of both passenger satisfaction and community engagement, which prompts the question: what is it that makes Plymouth Citybus different?

James: “Our MD Richard Stevens has created staff collectives across the company for the benefit of employees and the community. We have many active groups in all kind of areas; darts, football and bowling along with health initiatives like Fruity Fridays and our own ‘Mid-Day Mile’. This is where we e-mail staff and arrange to meet at reception so that we can all go on a reasonable walk; the fact is that many of our staff do sit down for long periods of their working day, so it’s important for them to have access to muscular and skeletal excises in addition to these short walks around Plymouth.

The truth is that Plymouth Citybus takes care of its staff; the business holds the New Standard from Investors in People, so again no surprise to learn that there are clear communications between all the staff and the management team. And it’s also about keeping staff engaged and fit and healthy through good work practice and when needed, providing staff with easy access to early diagnosis and treatment – and this is where Coralline Health come in…

Jacqui Shaw: “Coralline Health have been working with Plymouth Citybus for a number of years now and we provide a whole range of healthcare products; all staff have access to ….. xyz treatment – quickly. Health insurance is a mechanism of achieving that and it matters for two reasons: firstly, it’s good for individuals to have a plan in place and second, it means that people in business can be back at work as soon as possible, which is good for them and the business.

Clearly much is being done to engage and look after the staff, but what about the community as a whole? Pauline Neal tells us more:

“Plymouth Citybus is a great business to work with as they not only look after their staff, but they are active in the community too. They are a Dementia Friendly Business offering in house training and they support other local community groups and charities, raising money for good causes like the recent Gold Dust Appeal at Derriford. We hear a great deal about company ‘best practice’ and this local business really is a good example and we are very happy to work with a company that has such high standards; where the management team really care.”

James: “The business has come a long way since the early days of the Plymouth Corporation Tramways, but we are still very much in the business of transporting people to work and school, to see friends and family. Our drivers take great pride in what they do and should they fall ill, well it suits everybody to get them back at work as soon as possible, so our main drive is to get sickness levels down and keep staff at work.”

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