Listen up! Jose Luis Alfaro, Head of Support Services
By The Berry That Cares On October 03, 2018

For 15 cumulative years and counting, Jose Luis Alfaro Bermudez has been a member of The Berry That Cares. Currently he is in charge of a team of 35 support staff members that not only listen to the needs of employees but take action and get results. The program is only a few years old but Jose Luis has seen positive results in employee satisfaction and great strides towards keeping a harmonious company culture. Now it’s our turn to listen as Jose Luis describes what it takes to be on his team and why size doesn’t matter when it comes to an employee’s problem.

What are the responsibilities of the support staff?

Basically our main concern is the overall well being of The Berry That Cares’ team members. We ensure that staff members are satisfied in all aspects of being an employee, and that whatever necessity or urgency they may have is taken care of in a prompt and efficient manner. This could refer to teaching staff how to make a bank transaction or request medical rest, ensuring that bus rides for commuting team members run smoothly - everything that corresponds to the operative side of working here, as well as the day to day comfort and security of working here.

When did this project begin?

We began offering support services in June 2014. We began with just two support staff members, but soon realized that this wasn’t enough for all of our employees to be heard. And they told us that. Employees weren’t getting answers, or responses were taking too long to get back to them. This program was created because we wanted to listen, and respond with clear and accurate information. We’re like an annex, between the workforce and the answers they need. Now we have 35 support specialists, each one responsible for about 200 staff members.

What requirements must be met in order to become part of the support staff?

There aren’t necessarily any ‘special’ requirements, such as a specific university degree. First and foremost, it’s about having a talent for working well with people and the desire to serve your community. Those were the main qualities we looked for in the selection process, which included a series of interviews and tests overseen by a panel of staff members and a psychologist. The psychologist helped us identify and ultimately select individuals who were especially gifted in areas of empathy and social interaction.

What are the most common problems that come up with workers?

About 60-70% of the issues brought to our support staff are work related. For example, new team members are eager to learn about the benefits and opportunities we can provide them as a company. The other 30-40% is personal. But team members will only open up to our support staff once we have successfully built a trusting relationship with that employee. This is our aim: to offer a space and opportunity where workers feel free and trusting to expose their concerns, no matter how little or big they may seem.

What are some of your team’s goals?

Every year we focus on a different theme. For example, last year our support staff proposed to educate all team members in how to interact with someone of a differing culture. Why? Because our team members derive from many different zones of Peru: the north, south, jungle, highlands and coast. With this objective our support staff brought an awareness to the company culture and taught us how to create and sustain a peaceful working atmosphere.

There’s nothing more satisfying than grabbing a handful of fresh berries and knowing they come straight off the bush. But a blueberry’s journey from field to table requires more than just a skillful hand. A few factors attribute to our product being as plump and fresh as it is.
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