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24 / Jul / 14
By Mary Obozua
Author

Off the wall

On the 30th April 2014, I attended an event by Great Places to Work titled –‘Transform your business through the power of trust’.  Great Place to Work fundamentally believe that every company can be a great place to work when there are high levels of trust and engagement. The event focus was howrefocusing on trust, engagement and company values is driving businesses forward for Barclays and Capital One.

Speakers were:

Karen Bowers, (International VIP HR & Sustainability) CAPITAL ONE;

Lee Hewett, (VP Corporate Affairs) BARCLAYS

Charles Fair, Great Place to Work

For those who were there, I was amongst the crowd that came late due to the tube strikes and ultimate traffic chaos; however I was also amongst those who were surprised at the persistence of delegates to get there and the overall turn out!

The speakers each had interesting business cases and provided insight into their known and unknown challenges regarding winning the trust of the employees and keeping them engaged.  They kept us engaged for the hour with their candid approach to highlight the links between engagement and business performance in their respective roles. I found the most valuable part of the event was the question and answer session.

A question was asked by a delegate addressed to Lee Hewett, asking him about values within a bank as large as Barclays. This led to my biggest take away and reiterated the relevance of engagement and high performance in the workplace. This topic never seems to get old.

Talking about ‘getting old’, the conclusion by Charles Fair elaborated on an old practice in the army that was undoubtedly the best way to sum up the event and the response Hewett gave. Fair mentioned that in the army you never see values written anywhere on walls. However, if you asked any soldier what they were, you would pretty much get a consistent response. This is because it is the values are instilled in each person from day one, taught and shared to them like morals ‘written on your heart’.

What Barclays plan to do really flags the way recruitment, on-boarding programs and employee surveys could be handled in the future does it. On-boarding plans can ensure values are part of the induction program and employee surveys will incorporate a different style of questions that probe into howengrained the values are and whether they are evident in the culture of the organisation. The hope is that on-boarders should have the values integrated in the way they work and that the values are really entrenched within the bank.

In about 5 years, the survey data will be exquisitely interesting, and the results of all this hard work and research will be analysed to demonstrate whether this new direction ‘works’.

For now, we are encouraged to ‘join in’. For those who do not have values, create them based on what the company was built on and what it is to be built on, such as customer service, trust, teamwork and integrity. The more meaningful they are to employees the more likely they are to become part of the organisation’s fabric.

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