For most people, the name Culture Club conjures up images of a heavily made-up Boy George singing Karma Chameleon circa 1983.
But for staff at Redwood Bank the name has a very different meaning, with no singer in sight.
"Our Culture Club is made up of colleagues from each team within the Bank. The mandate of the group is to review best staff engagement practices internally and externally," explains Leon Marklew, Redwood’s Director of Business Development.
"We meet once a month, and it gives staff the chance to raise any potential concerns or worries they or their colleagues might have. We’ve found this process is highly productive and helps maintain the strong supportive culture that we’ve cultivated at Redwood."
Although the club was formed in 2018, not too long after Redwood’s launch, it came into its own during the UK lockdown.
"Once everyone had been asked to work from home during the first lockdown, we decided to take the Culture Club online," says Stuart Davidson, Director of Products & Strategy.
"None of us had any idea how long we’d be working remotely for, and we recognised early on that we needed to maintain a strong culture throughout the pandemic to retain high morale.
At Redwood we’ve always firmly believed that a happy and content workforce leads to
excellent customer service standards, which is why we put so much focus on our employees and what they think."
How it works
Participation in Redwood’s Culture Club is voluntary. Each team within the Bank asks for one or more volunteers, who believe they can fairly represent the views of colleagues within their teams.
"Part of the Club’s mandate is that members must listen to their team’s concerns before then articulating them to the rest of the group," says Leon.
"From there, we can discuss best practices and how we can resolve and improve in order to maintain the Bank’s very successful culture enhancement programmes."
Setting the tone
Much of the positive working environment that Redwood is renowned for comes down to open, honest, and regular communication across the departments.
From the moment Redwood opened for business, Gary Wilkinson, CEO and Co-Founder, has made building a strong and healthy culture based on support and core values, his number one aim.
"As CEO it’s my responsibility to set the tone for the culture at the Bank and demonstrate this in all interactions with colleagues.
"From inception we’ve worked tirelessly to ensure our core values are at the heart of everything we do. Simplicity, Certainty, Integrity and Tirelessness form the basis of our approach to customer experience and its operations."
How has it helped?
"I think that as one overall team, we’ve become very good at keeping the Bank’s culture, behaviours and values in the spotlight. We uphold what we believe in, and ensure that all staff, no matter at what level, have a thorough understanding of our key values and how we apply them day to day," Leon says.
This was particularly evident during the pandemic, when the Bank achieved top spot in the Banking Standards Board engagement survey for 2020.
The Culture Club also helped iron out any early problems staff might have had when they began working from home when the COVID-19 crisis first stuck.
"One of the biggest lessons we learned while the vast majority of the teams were working from home, was staff needed decisive, transparent and supportive leadership from their line managers," explains Leon.
"Feedback we received across many of our teams was that management needed to remain visible to employees and communication needed to be clear, consistent and regular."
What does the future hold for the Culture Club?
With lockdown restrictions easing and the vaccination programme successfully being rolled out, Stuart thinks office working might be reintroduced in the near future.
"We’ve been monitoring the situation and we think there will be an opportunity to bring everyone back at some point, which we’re looking forward to very much.
"But, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), some staff are understandably feeling anxious about returning to the workplace. This is another area where the Culture Club will openly discuss concerns and reassure people who might be worrying.
"We know there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the future, but the Culture Club provides our staff with the platform to air these concerns, and where possible we try to solve them, to give everyone peace of mind so they can focus on customers and the job in hand."
"Redwood is a team of people who work together, and everyone really cares for one another. There is a huge sense of family and I’m proud to work for an organisation like this. I’m also so proud that we get recognised by the awards that the Bank wins, particularly when we’re up against high street names."