Putting staff in first place

The Executive PA Media Employer of the Year award celebrates organisations that truly value their PAs. Michelle Taylor, whose company Bupa Australia, was commended last year for its family spirit tells us why her company regularly comes out on top for its staff

How does your company show its appreciation for staff?
We recently had our Customer Service Awards, where we recognised outstanding achievements, not only from managers but our claims and contact centres too. As part of the awards, people were able to choose a leader they’d like a development and mentoring session with.

Now, I still see some team members communicating with the leader who they met with, and emailing updates. We also have the opportunity to spend time with more senior/experienced EAs within the business to learn and grow.

What sets Bupa apart for you?
I recently lost my mother and the ‘Bupa family’ gathered around me. I received flowers and messages from our directors. Even now they still check in on me,asking me if there’s anything they can help further with.

How supportive is your organisation to your training needs?
I belong to the internal Executive PA Network and a ‘Business Chicks’ group. We also have subscriptions to many online portals and reading materials.

Bupa encourages us to seek development, inside and outside the organisation. I’ve attended many computer courses, fully paid for by Bupa, to up-skill and learn new skills.

Currently, in customer service, we have an in-house leaders’ development course. Many of our leaders have travelled to attend claims conferences, workshops and personal development sessions held by third-party organisations. And we have a learning portal called Grow, which offers cloud-based learning tools, including videos, demos and face-to-face training for all employees, no matter what level.

Whatever the training, my managers are always right beside me cheering me on. There are great opportunities to expand and as a PA/EA there are many projects you can put your hand up for.

What are your internal communications like?
The Bupa community intranet is like a social page where team members from different states can post pictures, discuss or blog: this has been a great interaction tool.

I’ve personally set up community workspaces for two business units and we have a great following; not only our own teams, but other business units are following and commenting, too.

This is great for us, considering we are spread across Australia.

How flexible is your working environment?
Bupa really wraps its arms around staff going through difficult times, whether through ill health or losing a loved one. It’s very family-friendly and offers many flexible working conditions for part-time, job share and remote working. I have a son with severe autism and I’m supported to work from home for his therapy appointments. A long-term employee recently had an accident and Bupa helped set her up at home as she wanted to continue to work.

How supportive is your company to your daily wellbeing?
Our Smile Program offers health services and support options. There are team activities and a suite of wellness discounts across the areas of healthier bodies, healthier places, healthier cultures and healthier minds. We have health coaching, life skills and quit smoking programmes, as well as free flu vaccinations and vouchers to help us stay well during winter. We also have wellness staff come in and do skin checks, blood pressure and cholesterol testing. However, the more popular ones are the reflexology and massages…

What about other incentives or benefits?
We get a great discount on private health, travel and general insurance, as well as discounts with our Bupa Optical and Bupa Dental centres. Bupa also generously matches dollar-to-dollar for any employee who does fortnightly pay contributions to charities. All employees have two volunteering leave days each year. This is flexible and can be taken as a full-day activity or hourly allotments. In the past, people have volunteered after some of the most horrific bush fires in Victoria. We also regularly support the Redkite charity with its Christmas wrapping at shopping centres.

Michelle Taylor is PA to head of claims and PA to the head of service optimisation at Bupa Australia.