Banks that are actually a model for high Employee Engagement! 

The original Survey Insights Article starts of with ‘OK, so the title may have grabbed your attention as you might be thinking (given the recent economic problems we have had) Really?!’, which is probably what the title of this post did too.

However, there is a bank, in the UK that is a model for high employee engagement (in fact there are at least two, read the original article here). The first bank the article mentions is Handelsbanken, the growing Swedish bank here in the UK.  During the economic downturn Handelsbanken has consistently returned balance sheets that have made European banking regulators purr with delight.

How have they achieved this – well firstly with no sales or market share targets and also with almost zero marketing.   Handelsbanken’s Chief Executive Mr Anders Bouvin says “Our customers don’t feel better because they can read the bank’s name on a football shirt or on the side of a bus.”  How refreshing!

Long-termism and decentralisation

Fundamentally, Handelsbanken is different from other banks – it’s values, for example, long-termism and it has a philosphoy of decentralisation.  More importantly, from an employee engagement perspective, it actually lives these values.

For example, it’s slogan regarding its philosophy is “the branch is the bank”; branch managers are empowered and entrusted to build local customer relationships and prudent lending and investment is based on these one-to-one relationships.  This is in stark contrast to how the majority of banks conduct their business in the UK.

In addition, it’s long-term approach is also lived out.  For example Mr Bouvin persuaded shareholders it was in the long-term interests of the bank to grow organically, using profits, not debt, to fund new branch openings.  He, personally, doesn’t have an annual bonus and has been with the bank for 28 years.

Employees share in the profits but not in the traditional way. If the bank exceeds the average profitability rate of its peers, surplus profits are put into a fund and distributed to all the staff.

Employees then only receive these accumulated benefits when they turn 60, again this encourages long-term thinking and loyalty.

The blog also mentions First Direct (part of HSBC), you are probably well aware that, in terms of customer services, first direct out-performs all other banks in the UK and, more recently (via a report by the Boston Consulting Group) far wider:

“The latest award is from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consultancy and one of the world’s leading advisors on business strategy. The award recognises first direct’s “superior ability to attract word-of-mouth recommendation”.

The results were based on a detailed survey of 32,000 consumers, who were questioned on their purchasing habits and their opinions on leading brands across a range of sectors.

In addition to beating all the other UK banks surveyed by BCG, first direct had a higher ‘word-of-mouth’ rating than any bank in the US, Germany, France or Spain.”

Read the full article here.

The content of this article is not owned by Engage for Success and has been extracted from the original blog post by Survey Insights which can be found here.

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