West Bromwich Building Society

Shortlisted team for Award for HR strategy: Personnel Today Awards 2000

 


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The 150-year-old West Bromwich Building Society recovered well after the recession of the early 1990s – but was faced with having to rethink its personnel policy after experiencing enormous growth towards the end of the decade.

The building society’s pre-tax profits rose by 19 per cent to £15.6bn in the year to March 2000, with assets up 16 per cent to £2.8bn.

But with 700 employees, Paul Turner, general manager of the company’s people development division, saw there was a need for a radical personnel programme to keep pace with the company’s growth and technological development.

Turner recognised that developing the skills of the workforce in line with West Bromwich’s corporate business plan would allow the company to maintain its position as one of the top 10 building societies in the UK.

Under his leadership the people development division set about developing a targeted plan to bring the company’s HR philosophy in line with chief executive Andrew Messenger’s corporate plan and vision.

The aim was to achieve a uniting HR policy which began at board level and flowed seamlessly down through departments to individuals. Turner’s team looked at what skills individual staff had that contributed to the company’s success, identified personnel issues and began moving towards establishing a competency framework in the company. This allowed them to draw up sets of objectives at every level – for divisions, teams and individual members of staff.

Turner’s department monitored trends within the company in areas including staff turnover, ethnic origin, absenteeism, employees’ qualification studies and training and evaluated programmes such as Investors in People.

By benchmarking against the rest of industry, his team set targets for each of those areas and decided upon a number of major initiatives, including a new staff survey, a new health care package and the restructuring of the people development division to deal with internal changes in the company.

These included appointing a new IT trainer and a new recruitment and diversity officer. The team used employee focus groups to gain feedback about the impact of the change programme and find new policy ideas.

And a new targeted selection process was developed in the company to improve staff retention and customer service. This allowed for better staff development, allowing people to progress within the company according to their individual skills. Employees were given an incentive to stay within the company by providing them with career objectives within the West Bromwich.

The result was an HR policy featuring an innovative mix of ethics and business targets, which are aimed to maximise the potential within the building society

While retaining and training staff is still high on its agenda, encouraging them to fulfil their role in an organisation that values its community awareness is equally important.

Turner has not just set out to create a workforce of highly-trained staff – he has attempted to create a set of employees who act as ambassadors for their company.

 


Company fact file

Team People Development Division, West Bromwich Building Society


Team leader Paul Turner


Number in HR team 18


Number of employees responsible for 680


Main achievements Integration of a people development strategy derived from the corporate plan. Ideas raised by the board were integrated into the operations of divisions, teams and individuals in the company


Priorities for next 12 months Continuation of people development programme to ensure staff are properly cared for and commitment to a recruitment policy based on individual skills

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