Case study: Santander accounts for many changes after acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are not uncommon in the banking sector and 2008 was a busy year on this front. Ian Cunning, senior reward manager, human resources at Santander, says: “Towards the end of the year we acquired Alliance and Leicester, the retail deposit arm of Bradford and Bingley and the card division of GE Money. This almost doubled our headcount, taking us from 16,000 staff to 26,000. It was an interesting time.”

Given the scale of these acquisitions, harmonising pay and benefits took time. “Initially, we had to establish key principles and objectives,” says Cunning. “These included simplicity, cost-effectiveness, fit for purpose and to be competitive in the market.”

One of the first areas to be tackled was pay and salary grades. “We were relatively lucky as similar scales operated across the companies,” says Cunning. “Also, because we were moving from Abbey to Santander, we were able to introduce a new system across the board. We implemented one structure to ensure equal pay, but also to enable employees to understand where they were in career development. On top of this, local changes were brought in to take account of shift allowances, overtime, and so on.”

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