Digitising the workforce at Nationwide

Written by
Jane Hanson, chief people officer, Nationwide Building Society

02 Sep 2020

02 Sep 2020 • by Jane Hanson, chief people officer, Nationwide Building Society

The pandemic has presented Nationwide Building Society with an opportunity to reshape the workplace, with greater inclusivity, choice and flexibility, explains chief people officer, Jane Hanson. 

When we talk about ‘digitisation’ at Nationwide, one thing remains at the centre of our thinking; what kind of employee experience do we want to create? It is a deeply rooted belief that stems from our values as a mutual (that we can achieve more together than we can alone), that you cannot have a compelling member, or customer, experience if you do not have an equally good employee experience.

We refer to this as our ethic of care – to support each other, to be listened to and heard with respect and to have different voices contributing are integral to building a thriving workplace.

The impact on organisational culture

Digitisation cannot create a workplace culture, but it can have an enormous impact on it. Done well, with a clear vision of what it is we want to achieve, it can take our employee experience to new heights.

But without that clarity of thinking and a willingness to engage people, it can permanently diminish a culture that you’ve spent years building. 

Building connection during lockdown

As human beings, our innate sociability means we naturally seek out contact with others. Any enhancements we make for our people, and our members, are built with that inalienable need to connect in mind.

During lockdown, we built and launched our own ‘Kinda’ app, an online tool connecting Nationwide colleagues who might need extra support. If our people were self-isolating, they could search the ‘Kinda’ database for fellow colleagues nearby who could help with getting everyday essentials.

Helping employees manage their wellbeing

Our recently formed partnership with the workplace mental health platform, Unmind, is a demonstration of introducing technology in response to a lived human experience. With colleagues consuming over 70,000 minutes of content on the Unmind app in June alone, it provided another way for our people to manage their own wellbeing.

It is only through listening, and responding, to your people that you can realise the potential of the future. Our people are what makes us different. Good technology offers more choice, new ways of working and creates demonstrable value, but it is through blending these two spheres together that helps us to create unique experiences for both our people and our members.

Keeping 'human' connection

Lockdown has shown us, in a microcosm, the continued importance of having the right technology in place to respond quickly and enable our people to thrive in their roles, no matter where they work. Platforms like Microsoft Teams, which we rolled out in 2019, helps us create meaningful human experiences, supported by technology, in the same way it can enhance our member experience too.

Without a willingness to take people on the journey and encourage adoption, or new ways of working, large-scale digitisation will inevitably fail. Simply introducing new technologies without any thought around culture, change, leadership or adoption is short-sighted and would negatively impact the employee experience that is vital to our success as an organisation.

Putting inclusion at the fore

The pandemic has presented us with an opportunity to reshape the workplace, with greater inclusivity, choice and flexibility over how and where we work. This is not just about providing people with the right equipment, or technology. It’s about talking with people across the organisation to evolve our culture and how we work as an organisation.

We don’t yet know what a ‘future workplace’ might look like. However, we know that for it to be successful it needs to be co-created with our people and underpinned by a clearly defined culture and people-led employee experience. An experience that is ably supported and enhanced by technology.

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