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The Financial Services Compensation Scheme celebrates 20 years of existence this year. But it also celebrates dads taking extended paternity leave
Perhaps not surprising that an organisation that deals with financial matters can tell its story through numbers.
That’s true of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The numbers are 20, 68 and 100. They probably wouldn’t advise you buy a lottery ticket with them.
But those numbers represent a journey that has brought them to where they are today – with flexibility and paternity leave huge parts of their approach to looking after their team.
Let’s go through those numbers.
Twenty is the number of years the FSCS has been going. Set up in 2001 it brought eight previous insurance schemes together under one roof. Basically FSCS protects you when financial firms fail. And if the firm you’ve used has gone out of business and can’t pay your claim, they step in to pay compensation to help get you back on track.
“Since launch in 2001 we’ve paid out billions in compensation to millions of customers,” says Chief People Officer David Blackburn.
Key to the function of FSCS is supporting confidence in the financial system. In the years after the 2008 financial crisis that was particularly pertinent. And that’s where the second number comes in.
Ten years ago as banking increasingly moved online and on to smart phones the FSCS was still sending claimants a 68 page form to fill out. Added David, “If you’re doing your banking online it doesn’t engender confidence when you get a 68 page form through the post! We had to modernise the service. Part of that involved changing the culture. For example we were still thinking about claimants rather than customers – we needed to change that.
“We put experience at the centre of everything – for our customers, our stakeholders and our people.
“To achieve outstanding customer experience we needed a new way of working.”
Unable to compete with the big City institutions in terms of salary alone the organisation had to find another way to stand out and attract talent. So they made every job flexible. “The objective was a belief that creating an environment with that level of flexibility would attract and retain the best talent in the most diverse sense. We did, and still do, want to increase diversity across every characteristic.”
That includes dads.
And that’s the third number in the series. Over 100 per cent of dads now take more than the statutory two weeks of paternity leave thanks to the organisation’s generous paternity leave package. New dads get 20 weeks on full pay. But, crucially, that’s not just a policy hidden away on the corner of their intranet page.
Other firms could learn much from their approach.
“There are individual conversations,” explains David. “When it comes to our attention that someone is going to become a dad their manager will sit down with them to discuss. We’ll let them know what their entitlement is and encourage them to think about using it.”
Line managers are key to success of course. Not only are they proactive around paternity leave they are given support so they understand the policy and can implement it without adding to their workload unnecessarily.
Role modelling is another important plank in the approach. Those that go on paternity leave are encouraged to speak up on their return. “One of our managers used it,” says David, “and that made a huge difference in showing it was a policy for everyone.” And it goes right to the top. Current CEO Caroline Rainbird is a working mum who embraces flexible working.
The more men that take paternity leave the more change is embedded. “It’s become a cumulative thing,” says David. “Maternity leave is so well established, it’s such a well articulated process but it’s slowly dawning on people that paternity leave is part of the same thing. It’s all about the unit.”
An organisational culture that values work life balance and flexible working meant the Financial Services Compensation Scheme was well set up to weather the Covid storm. Most employees were already working flexibly in some way before being forced to work from home. Going forward the FSCS has binned the idea of core hours and redefined a previous stipulation that employees must spend a ‘reasonable’ amount of time in the office.
Employees are now empowered to choose their own arrangements. “If you want to take the kids to nursery, or go for a morning run, that’s fine. We’re giving people ownership of their day. I sometimes tell my team that I’ll be having a nap at two o’clock. It’s OK to work to your rhythm.”
And it seems to work. “This year we’ve finally laid to rest the idea that flexible working has a negative impact on productivity,” explains David. “Our productivity has gone up, we’ve had our best ever year.”