I have to hold my hands up and admit to the fact that I am absolutely loving the new tv series - The Call Centre - a documentary centred around Nev, an extroverted Welsh call centre boss who has let BBC3 come into his workplace to see how he runs his business.
His methods are certainly different to what you would imagine. In fact, every time I watch this programme I can't help feeling incredibly sorry for Nev's HR team .... if he actually even has one. His exploits include parading recently dumped employees through the office to "find them a man cos they are desperate", and although said in jest, it can only make me imagine a tonne of lawsuits that must pass his office door on a weekly basis.
Having said that, Nev has taken his business from 7 people renting a room in a building that the company has just bought to house his 100+ staff.
Nev must be doing something right!
In an atmosphere that has been often described as "hell on earth", call centres must be one of the hardest places to retain employees and to keep morale high. These employees have to deal with daily rejection and little sign of any autonomy or variety in their work .... I know, I worked in one during my university years!
With the lack of many of the hygiene factors required to even begin to motivate and engage people, Nev has taken quite a unique and strong stance in engaging with his staff.
He seems to overstep boundaries every 5 minutes, has been known to throw objects at people that yawn in his training and he is happy to humiliate workers at every turn. Yet his staff seem to be enthused by his presence, there is a lower turnover than your average call centre and there is definitely a sense of camaraderie.
One recent employee, George, who has not been on a date for 6 years was set up with two colleagues by Nev, both of whom got cold feet and knocked the poor guy back. I couldn't help feeling this wasn't really the place of an MD to be setting up his employees but it is all to do with Nev's mantra that "happy people sell" and recently George commented “Nev’s really supportive of everyone, he’s a great boss.”
It has really got me wondering about whether in certain environments many of the "rules" that we imagine are generic across all workplaces just don't apply.
I am going to continue to watch the Call Centre with abject interest to try and work out what exactly is the "Nev Factor" holding this business together so well?
Next episode: Tuesday 9pm, BBC