Nationwide’s employee engagement policies played a key role in boosting pre-tax profits by 21 per cent last year, according to the building society’s most senior HR professional.
Speaking at the CIPD annual conference in Harrogate, Keith Astill, head of corporate personnel at Nationwide, said there is a direct link between the way the company treats its employees and the financial bottom line.
“People like being engaged on an emotional basis,” he said. “There is a direct link between how we look after people, and how that relates to the way they deal with customers.”
Nationwide, which has 700 branches across the UK and 16,000 employees, has also seen its total assets increase by 19 per cent since launching an employee engagement initiative in 2002, known as Pride.
Pride, designed to ensure that all staff are aware of the company’s values and implement them in their day-to-day activities, is more than just a mission statement, according to Astill.
“Behaviours and attitudes are hardwired into performance management,” he said. “It is not just fluffy HR activity. Every year we bring 250 people into head office to explain the values [to them], and they then take that back to [their] branches.”
Nationwide’s recruitment policies also use Pride as a focus to ensure that people are the right fit for the company, Astill said.
“We recruit on attitudes and behaviours, looking for drive, willingness to work as a team and go that extra mile,” he said. “The first two years (of employment) are critical – we still lose too many people in that period.”
What is staff engagement?
HR consultancy Chiumento defines engagement as a positive, two-way relationship between an employee and their organisation. Both parties are aware of their own and the other’s needs, and support each other to fulfil these needs. Engaged employees and organisations ‘go the extra mile’ for one another, and both reap mutual benefits.