Focused on our employees

With their in-depth knowledge of the property, capital and savings markets, and their skills in underwriting, risk assessment and customer management, to name but a few, our employees are the backbone of our success as a company.

In return, our investment in training, development and engagement is essential to ensure we retain a committed workforce and remain an attractive proposition for new candidates.

Over the last year our central employee focus has been on harmonisation-related activities, and communication related to the pandemic. This includes providing guidance to ensure the safety of those employees who, due to the nature of their roles, are required to work from our office and branch locations, as well as keeping in touch with employees who are required to work from home.

We’ve ensured we keep a direct line of communication open between Andy Golding and our employees – regular updates were issued along with a number of video calls. We also have “Ask Andy” questions that employees can anonymously submit – which, when answered, are available for everyone to view on the intranet.

Recruitment

In 2020:

  • We broadened the remit of Talent Acquisition to focus on roles across the newly combined business to ensure that a recruitment specialist is partnered with the hiring managers to provide them with bespoke support in attracting high quality candidates and assist them in making strong recruitment decisions.
  • Over 40% of UK vacancies and 6% of OSB India vacancies were filled by existing employees.
  • Our Talent Acquisition Team filled almost one-third of UK vacancies on a direct recruitment basis, resulting in saving in excess of £400,000 on agency recruitment fees.
  • Just over half of all the vacancies within OSB India were as a result of direct recruitment activity.
  • OSB welcomed 83 new UK employees with a further 90 joining OSB India. With 49 employees joining CCFS, the Group-wide employee base at the end of the year totalled 1,786.

Currently, we advertise vacancies internally on a weekly basis in order to provide career development opportunities for existing employees. A key focus for our Talent Acquisition team was again placed on proactively identifying potential candidates directly and through improved use of our website and external job boards. 

Our recruitment procedures are fair and inclusive, with shortlisting, interviewing and selection always carried out without regard to gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, colour, race, caste, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, age, pregnancy or maternity leave or trade union membership.

No candidate with a disability is excluded unless it’s clear that the candidate is unable to perform a duty that is intrinsic to the role, having taken into account any reasonable adjustments. Reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process are made to ensure that no applicant is disadvantaged because of their disability and that questions asked during the process are not discriminatory or unnecessarily intrusive.

As an example, in 2020, the Group arranged an interpreter for a deaf candidate during their interview and their subsequent onboarding. Advertisements for vacancies are also reviewed to remove language associated with gender bias.

In addition, executive sign off is required for roles where only candidates from one gender are interviewed.

Training and development

The People Development team, based in both the UK and India, provide learning and development to all employees across the Group, delivered through workshops and digital training.

OSB’s Fit to Practice Scheme is a way for line managers to identify development needs, provide feedback and progress the competence levels of those they manage.

Within CCFS, the approach regarding training and competence requirements is managed on a departmental basis, although the OSB Fit to Practice Scheme will be deployed across the Group in 2021 to ensure consistency.

2020 challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic and move to remote working meant the People Development team had to rethink their approach and move away from workshop based modules to digital ones.

It also prompted a focus on helping line managers to manage a remote team and support the wellbeing of staff – given the impact of isolation and lockdowns on mental health.

In 2020:

  • The People Development team delivered over 500 workshops and facilitated the attendance of over 230 employees at other external and internal learning events.
  • The recorded number of training hours for delegates at workshops in Q4 averaged over 2,200 hours per month, exceeding attendance prior to the pandemic.
  • The average percentage of employees with overdue monthly mandatory training was less than 0.4%, demonstrating the awareness employees possess of key requirements.
  • 15 employees received financial support to pursue their professional qualifications.

Despite the pandemic, four individuals completed their apprenticeship programmes and transitioned into permanent employed positions.

Retention and progression

Retaining, supporting and developing existing employees is a priority for the Group, reflected by the success we had in 2020, including that 33 UK OSB employees, 44 CCFS employees and 50 OSB India employees were formally promoted to a more senior grade, and our Group-wide regretted attrition rate was less than 8% (an improvement on 2019’s 11%).

Our Emerging Manager and Leading the Way programmes for new or aspiring manager roles were introduced in 2020 to allow employees to deepen their understanding of the knowledge, skills and attitude required in a managerial or supervisory role.

In 2020, OSB India identified a Primary Talent Group, which, to aid progression of its members, was provided with a range of talent management activities including the opportunity to be mentored by senior leaders, psychometric assessments, career development interviews and internally-delivered bespoke leadership workshops.

Remuneration and benefits

Our employees deserve to be rewarded fairly and transparently, and share in the success of the business.

In 2020 we harmonised the different remuneration and benefit approaches adopted by OSB and CCFS.

This involved:

  • Creating new Group Grading Structure which established a new grade for each individual role.
  • Subjecting benefits to an external benchmarking review to establish the differing levels of benefit applicable to each grade.
  • Harmonising approaches in respect of generic employment terms and conditions of employment, and the methodologies for determining annual pay increases, discretionary bonus awards and all non-core benefits and schemes.

The new harmonised approach provides employees with an element of choice; for example, they could choose a higher pension contribution and lower bonus opportunity, or vice versa.

In addition, employees could choose from two separate health and insurance packages, with differing levels of cover for life insurance, income protection, private medical insurance and a medical cash plan.

For the vast majority of employees, the harmonised approach represented an enhanced benefits offering in comparison to their previous arrangements.

Once proposals were approved, they were shared with a number of employee forums and the Group Remuneration Committee ahead of their launch. This included a detailed employee guidance pack and an online Q&A forum, which saw over 120 questions raised and relevant responses published.

Employees also received individual letters detailing their new grade, benefits, and any changes to their existing terms and conditions of employment.

We also encourage our employees to hold shares in the Group via our Sharesave Scheme, which is offered annually to all UK-based employees. This allows employees to save a fixed amount of between £5 and £500 per month over either three or five years and use these savings at the end of the qualifying period to buy shares at a fixed option price. At the current time, around 57% of OSB employees and 58% of CCFS employees are members of the scheme.

Redundancy and redeployment

Our Group Redundancy and Redeployment Policy is designed to ensure that, ahead of any potential redundancy situation, we take all reasonable steps to identify feasible alternatives that meet the needs of the business. Should redundancy situations become unavoidable, the Group ensures that employees are appropriately informed and consulted, internal redeployment opportunities are explored and outplacement support is made available to assist them in obtaining employment externally.

Employee engagement and culture

Results

The 2021 Best Companies to Work For survey was completed in January 2021 and 81% of UK employees responded.

We were pleased to retain the ‘Two Star’ rating which OSB achieved as a result of the 2020 survey, with Best Companies describing this rating as representing outstanding levels of employee engagement. This was a particularly good score given the challenges posed by the pandemic and restructuring activities that had taken place post-combination.

We also participated in the 2020 Banking Standards Board (BSB) survey, which aims to influence positive change throughout the banking sector, and provide insight into employees’ perceptions of the application of the Group’s values, highlight any potential barriers to challenge and voice any observations of unethical or inappropriate behaviour.

Following responses submitted by around 75% of employees, the results showed an increase in all nine categories. Of the 36 main survey questions, 27 saw scores increase with the average question score increasing by over 2% and OSB’s average ranking increasing from 14th in 2019 to 13th out of the 29 banks who participated.

Additional questions posed by the BSB also saw strong responses to questions relating to the way the Group had managed the impact of the pandemic and had sought to help customers and employees, especially in respect of health and wellbeing.

OSB India participates in a separate employee engagement survey, run by the Great Place to Work Institute, and has been officially certified as a ‘Great Place to Work’ for the fourth year in succession, with strong results in all five survey categories (credibility of management, respect for people, fairness at the workplace, pride and camaraderie between people).

The overall 2020 results saw an increase of around 2% with scores improving in four of the five categories, the highest score relating to the pride category, reflecting the strong brand and culture that exists throughout the teams in Bangalore.

A combined culture

During late 2020, a new set of combined Group values were established as a way to harmonise culture across the Group. This was a collaborative process, with focus groups set up around the business to get feedback and input. Our new Values were launched in early 2021 along with new Purpose and Vision statements.

While four of the values (Stronger Together, Take Ownership, Aim High and Respect) were closely linked to previous CCFS and OSB values, Stewardship is a newly introduced value, focusing on behaviours that relate to the Group’s responsibilities from an environmental, social and governance perspective.

Employee feedback and forums

The Workforce Advisory Forum OneVoice meets on several occasions throughout the year. It aims to enhance engagement between the Executive Committee/Board and the wider workforce, and is attended by employees who have nominated themselves to represent their respective department or office, as well as rotating Non-Executive Directors and Group Executive Committee members.

Within CCFS, the Employee Representative Committee met on several occasions during 2020. It provides the opportunity for elected representatives to discuss employee-related concerns and provide feedback to senior management.

The Group operates a Whistleblowing Policy, championed by the Chair of the Group Audit Committee. We encourage employees to feel confident in raising serious concerns at the earliest opportunity and we provide multiple channels to raise concerns confidentially, protected from possible reprisals. Regular reports are provided to the Group Audit Committee, including an annual report, which is also presented to the Board.

Employee recognition and awards

Our previously separate employee award schemes have now been combined into a new quarterly award programme (the Galaxy Awards), which is directly linked to our newly established values. Teams and individuals across the Group (including OSB India) are nominated by their colleagues for going above and beyond in a particular value and win a variety of prizes.

Meanwhile, our Long Service Award programme recognises employees with 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25-year employment milestones.

Diversity and inclusion

We actively promote and encourage a culture and environment which values and celebrates our differences.

In line with our Disability Confident Employer (Level Two) status, we are proud that the Group can offer employment to employees who are registered as disabled.

Gender pay gap

The Group has published its 2020 Gender Pay Gap Report in line with legislation that applies to all UK companies with more than 250 employees. The full publication is available here.

OSB’s median gender pay gap as at 5 April 2020 was 36.4%, reducing from 37.6% in 2019, although the mean gap of 44% remained similar to 2019’s 43.1%.

CCFS’ median gender pay gap as at 5 April 2020 was 14.4%, with the mean gap at 29.8%, these figures showing a solid reduction from the 2019 reported figures of 17.8% and 49.8%, respectively.

While these percentages are heading in the right direction, we recognise there is still work to be done. Recognising that we have more men in senior roles and more women in clerical roles, we are looking to address this and close the gaps further. 

Women in Finance

Both OSB and CCFS have made progress towards gender balance and the commitments they made as signatories of HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter.

Both OSB and CCFS had committed to achieve a target of 30% of senior management positions within the UK being undertaken by female employees, with OSB’s target date being the end of 2020 and CCFS by the end of 2022.

We saw solid progress in 2020 and, on a Group-wide basis, ended the year at 29.8%. The Group has committed to increase this percentage to 33% by the end of 2023.

Diversity and inclusion activities

Our Group-wide Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Working Group was set up to raise awareness, celebrate diversity and tackle any issues of inclusion.

A range of activities were undertaken in 2020, including:

  • Hosting a facilitated debate on World Religion Day between religious and non-religious employees
  • Raising awareness on Valentine’s Day in respect of different types of marital status
  • Celebrating International Women’s Day
  • Focusing on the cultural heritage of employees on UNESCO World Day
  • Celebrating PRIDE month in June by raising awareness and publishing emotive stories written by employees relating to their personal experiences of being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Group is also a member of the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion, the UK’s leading employer network, covering all aspects of equality and inclusion issues in the workplace.

In 2020, we harmonised a range of employee policies in order to ensure clarity and consistency. This included policies on flexible working and homeworking, acknowledging the needs of employees who have parental and/or carer responsibilities.

At the end of 2020, around 55% of our UK OSB workforce was female, as was 60% of the CCFS employee base; and within OSB India, females constitute 40% of all employees. Currently, 17% of our Group Executive Committee is female, as is 50% of the Board.

Looking ahead

In 2021, we’ll be undertaking a talent, inclusion and diversity evaluation to measure different areas of D&I practice. In addition, we’ll be seeking to obtain a more comprehensive overview of ethnicity so that this data can be analysed and actions established. It will also enable us to undertake robust ethnicity pay gap reporting and establish data on ethnic diversity at senior levels.

Human rights

We want each member of our workforce and other stakeholders to be treated with dignity and respect. OSB endorses the UN Declaration of Human Rights and supports the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights. The Group adheres to the International Labour Organisation Fundamental Conventions.

We seek to engage with stakeholders with fairness, dignity and respect. The Group does not tolerate child labour or forced labour. OSB respects freedom of association and the rights of employees to be represented by trade unions or works councils. The Group is a fair employer and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, age, caste, disability or ethnicity. Our policy applies throughout the Group and is communicated to our employees during induction training.

The Group’s fourth annual statement in accordance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 was published on our website in June 2020. No instances of modern slavery have been reported and we continue to ensure we consider the risk. Our internal policies and training ensure we establish good practices, and act ethically and with integrity, including engaging with existing and new suppliers.

We issue a Code of Conduct documenting our expectation of compliance with modern slavery regulations and we have incorporated, where appropriate, provisions in the relevant contractual documentation.

We also have anti-bribery and corruption policies which are reviewed annually and approved by the Group Audit Committee. We don’t condone any behaviour connected with accepting, requesting or offering any bribe or inducement in return for providing a favour.

The Group is not itself considered to be at a high risk of bribery; all business is conducted in the UK and the only significant outsourcing arrangement is with a wholly-owned subsidiary of a UK building society in relation to CCFS’ deposit-taking business.

These policies operate in conjunction with a number of other Group policies such as the Conflicts of Interest policy, Modern Slavery Act Statement, and Vendor Management and Outsourcing Policy.

If an employee suspects that a policy is not being followed, they are required to immediately report this in accordance with the Group’s Internal Fraud Policy and Response Plan or the financial crime reporting procedure, as appropriate. The Group’s Whistleblowing Policy and procedures are also available as an alternative reporting process, if, for whatever reason, the other procedures described above are not appropriate.

OSB India

OSB India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Group, is based in Bangalore and has around 500 employees. OSB India supports the Group across various functions including Support Services, Operations, IT, Finance and Human Resources.

Interaction with UK colleagues is actively promoted and, under normal circumstances, employees have the opportunity to travel to the UK to undertake training and develop relationships.

OSB India is a holder of ISO 27001: 2013 certification, which demonstrates high standards of information security. To that end, the business continuity site in Hyderabad was opened and became fully operational in 2017. OSB India prides itself on excellence in customer service and the ISO 9001: 2015 certification is a testament to meeting customer and regulatory requirements by providing outstanding customer service.

In compliance with the Modern Slavery Act, OSB India does not support excessive overtime and all employees in India are encouraged to work in accordance with local legislation. Employees are all based in our modern Bangalore office and are provided with a range of benefits which include 22 days of annual leave, 12 days’ sick leave and cafeteria services.