The changing world of work is exercising many businesses, but Yorkshire Building Society Group’s (YBSG) culture development programme – a groundbreaking initiative to influence change by working directly to affect employee behaviour – has kept it on the front foot.
Since its initiation in 2016, the programme’s goal has been to change the financial group’s character by using behavioural science to influence employee mindset and initiate positive new behaviours.
Programme leaders conducted multiple strategic interviews, focus groups, engagement surveys and reviews throughout the year – which ultimately led them to gaining a robust view of the existing culture.
The group found that YBSG acted like an organism – able to change when simple, replicable behaviours, such as putting away phones during conversations and coming to work on time, are spread by highly connected and influential employees.
YBSG used network analysis to identify these influencers and engaged them in informal sessions geared to help target and shape specific behaviours.
A majority (91 per cent) of the influencers felt that YBSG needed to change and that a new target culture would make a positive difference to the business’s performance.
The building society designed events based on feedback from the group, further observations from meetings and soundings from elsewhere in the business. From their second event onwards, the influencers reported a visible shift in key target culture behaviours.
In the seven weeks between events three and four, which coincided with the ‘Beast from the East’, the influencers recorded 2,000 episodes of phones being put away during discussions and employees turning up to work on time. If each incident saved five minutes for five people, then YBSG calculated a savings of 833 hours of productivity, worth £13,000 or an annualised benefit of £97,000.
The business believes that cultural change is a marathon of continuous pursuit and forward-thinking, not a sprint. YBSG continues to keep engaging colleagues – and expects further changes to come.