NACCM 2010: Service Sabbatical: Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Employee Development Opportunity

Patricia Dilane, Director Member Service Delivery, Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts

Service Sabbatical is an innovative program from BCBS-Mass that improves quality, reduces attrition, and generates goodwill in the community, driving hard ROI.
The initial objective they had in mind was to provide the ability for associates to grow professionally, not just job training, and also be able to provide stronger ties to the communities they serve. The thinking was that this approach could improve quality and attrition metrics, paying for itself.
The week-long curriculum focuses on
‘ Big-picture call-center operations
‘ Business challenges that the center faces
‘ Team building through development of solutions to those problems, including interviewing executives to gain context and knowledge while gaining more exposure
‘ and a community event that ‘gives back’

They run the program regularly, accepting 10-12 associates into the program each quarter from a pool of approximately 50 applicants. Senior management believes in this and attends the sessions as well, both participating and encouraging. They even now have a wait-list from senior executives that all want to participate.

Feedback from the associates has been incredible ‘ survey responses are tremendously positive. But beyond that, BCBS quality metrics have increased for all participants, many have been promoted and attrition has decreased. The program has even expanded into Claims and Provider Services areas, further facilitating cross-functional collaboration and teamwork.