How a great people culture has boosted Metro Bank’s performance

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In a round table discussion at the UNLEASH Conference & Expo in London later this month, Metro Bank’s chief people officer Danielle Harmer will explain the inextricable link between engaged employees and happy customers and encourage organisations to develop a culture that values staff in the same way as customers.

Most organisations will have separate strategies to drive engagement and satisfaction from employees and customers, but is there any reason why they are treated differently? Harmer will argue that people should be treated as people, regardless of their relationship with an organisation, and this culture will help drive customer satisfaction and better business performance.

UNLEASH London

The fifth annual UNLEASH Conference & Expo in London takes place at ExCeL on 19-20 March. Book now to secure your place.

Speaking to Personnel Today ahead of the discussion she is hosting at UNLEASH on 20 March, Harmer says she hopes to use the session to inspire employers to simplify the way they treat people both internally and externally.

“Organisations are sometimes in danger of overcomplicating things,” she says. “They will have a customer mission and a separate internal employee-focused mission, and internal and external strategies. This can be very confusing for employees.

“But it can be simplified by treating people as people. We treat our colleagues how we want them to treat our customers.”

Upon joining Metro Bank, Harmer wanted to harness and strengthen its “uniquely customer focused” culture.

Its people focus begins with the hiring process as job candidates, even if they are unsuccessful, are also potential Metro Bank customers. Treating candidates well through the application process will also enhance the company brand, so giving them detailed feedback about their application and interview performance will help generate a positive experience.

Harmer says Metro Bank colleagues are encouraged to take accountability for their own behaviour from their first day in the job and it uses its on-boarding approach to highlight the importance of “treating people as people”. New starters receive a two-day cultural induction, as well as ongoing skills and leadership training which reinforces the culture.

Culture should be visible throughout an organisation, she advises, so it is important to have a clear purpose and mission to communicate to people. Leadership teams have a key role to play in this and should act as role models for the culture they want their colleagues to adopt.

She says colleagues can “see, hear and recognise” the culture across all areas of the business; for example, its head office has meeting rooms labelled with names related to their ethos and culture such as “Service” and “Game Change”, to reiterate how important they are.

It appears the work Metro Bank has put into creating a positive workplace culture has translated into happier customers, with it recently securing it the top-spot among current account holders in the Competition Market Authority’s Service Quality Survey, which monitors the service that consumers and business users receive from the UK’s largest banks.

Danielle Harmer, who is also master of the Guild of Human Resource Professionals, joins dozens of HR and technology expert speakers at UNLEASH Conference & Expo, which takes place at ExCeL London on 19 and 20 March.

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