Still a fairly recent addition to the high street, Metro Bank opened its first branch in 2010 and was one of the first high-street banks to open in the UK for over 100 years.
Its employee base has grown steadily year on year to reach 2,700 employees, but with rapid growth a typical way of life, the retail and business bank expects this number to reach 3,000 by the end of 2017. A key differentiator in Metro Bank’s operations is the convenience it offers through its longer store opening hours: seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm on week days.
A breakthrough moment in its growth journey saw Metro Bank list on the London Stock Exchange in March 2016. Danny Harmer, chief people officer, says: “The sense of achievement for everybody at Metro Bank of it being a fantastic milestone on our journey from start-up to being [an organisation] that is listed on the FTSE 250 is absolutely amazing.”
Reward at Metro Bank
Going through the annual reward review cycle at Metro Bank is an opportunity for the reward team to emphasise the culture at the organisation and the role that benefits play in this. Harmer says: “The great thing about working here, what’s unique about us in terms of what we offer [employees], is the fantastic growth and career opportunities because we are growing so fast in a culture that is very enabling and inclusive, and if it’s right for [the employee] then it’s a fantastic place to work. Then, on top of that, we offer a fair salary, pension, variable [pay] and benefits.”
A key aim within Metro Bank’s culture is to clearly and simply keep employees aligned to the organisation and its growth, explains Harmer. “The main way we do that from a reward perspective is through our share options so that everyone feels part of the organisation and like an owner, a sort of partnership,” she says.
“This is a growth model, we invest for growth and therefore we see profit as something that is a reward for doing our jobs well. In a growth organisation, the value of the [organisation] will grow and therefore [the] share price will increase. So options are the best way of enabling people to share in the success and the growth of the [organisation].”
The share options plan, MShares, is administered by Equiniti. All transactions are settled through payroll to alleviate employees’ worries about tax returns. Metro Bank informs employees about the details of the share options, and its other reward and benefits schemes, through video e-learning, and its own employee version of Wikipedia, Metropedia.
The share options vest over a five-year period because Metro Bank wants employees to appreciate, and feel part of, the bank’s growth story. It also feeds into the organisation’s overall mission of creating ‘fans’, says Harmer. This mission comes from the bank’s founder, Vernon Hill, whose central idea is that fans, not customers, are essential to a growth organisation, and that great customer experience is at the heart of operations.
This helps to shape the bank’s variable pay model. The variable reward, which comprises a cash bonus and share options, is calculated by the organisation’s performance, as well as an employee’s level of seniority, personal behaviours and delivery. Metro Bank’s aim of providing great customer experience in its branches stems from its people strategy of aligning reward with behaviours and delivery.
“We’re very clear that the [employees] in our stores don’t have sales or product targets,” says Harmer. “This is absolutely a bonus, not an incentive. If [we] want customers to have the right outcomes, [we] need to make sure that [we’re] not giving [employees] a different message to that, or a confusing message by the way that [we] build any incentive or reward schemes, so we don’t.”
Metro Bank offers employees a bonus exchange scheme whereby they can exchange 25%, 50%, 75% or all of their cash bonus before tax for additional share options. “Over a quarter, by amount, of our bonuses switch into share options and it gives [employees] a chance to share more in the growth of the [organisation],” says Harmer.
The organisation is clear in its communication of the scheme that employees fully understand they are exchanging cash for a share option. “We are very transparent and straightforward with people about it,” says Harmer.
Health and wellbeing
Metro Bank partners with Vitality to provide private medical insurance (PMI) and takes advantage of the rewards it offers alongside this in order to promote healthy lifestyles. This includes giving employees a higher level of excess for good wellbeing habits, such as recording a target number of steps through an activity tracker, or buying healthy food and taking part in health screens. For example, the provider will come on site to Metro Bank and measure employees’ blood pressure or test to prove they are not smoking, which boosts their Vitality status. “It’s great from a health and wellbeing perspective, it also engages people in the idea of looking after themselves, which is clearly what we want them to do, both for themselves and for the organisation,” says Harmer.
The bank also offers access to an employee assistance programme (EAP) and the Bank Workers Charity, an initiative that offers financial, physical, social or mental wellbeing support to workers in the banking industry.
With a further 10 to 12 stores opening this year, Metro Bank’s focus will clearly be set on driving customer experience through its people, behaviours and culture.
Metro Bank at a glance
Metro Bank opened its first branch in 2010, the first new high-street bank in the UK for over 100 years. It offers retail and commercial banking services, and its stores are open seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm on week days. Its London contact centre is open 24/7.
Metro Bank has 2,700 employees, 60% of which are aged 30 or under. It has a 50:50 gender split.
Business objectives impacting benefits
- To create fans by offering customers a differentiated service.
- Opening more stores to increase its retail footprint.
Danny Harmer, chief people officer, joined Metro Bank in 2012. Previously, Harmer held the HR director role at Barclays, Lloyds and Halifax. In addition, she has held other roles within the businesses, such as regional director and operational roles. Harmer says: “I think it’s really useful to have [held] business leadership roles in any organisation, because you see how stuff lands on the people and that’s really important: what impact is that having in the business? It helps you to be more practical and see it from your customer’s perspective.”
While regional director at Halifax, Harmer’s region was ranked top in terms of its overall performance and delivery one year; recognition that Harmer says is one of her key achievements in her career so far. “The feeling of achievement for the team was fantastic. What it really shows is that if you do the right thing with people, you can achieve sustainable fantastic results for the customers and the business.”
Benefits on offer at Metro Bank
Pension and group risk
- Group personal pension plan. Contribution levels are set according to seniority, starting at 3% employee contribution and 6% employer contribution, then rising to 4% and 8%, with a maximum 5% employee and 10% employer contribution.
- Life assurance.
Healthcare and wellbeing
- Private medical insurance: different levels based on seniority with the option for all employees to trade up or down. Employee-paid for entry-level employees; cover for employee only, employer-paid for the next level; then employee plus partner, employer-paid; and employee plus family, employer-paid.
- Flu jabs.
- Discounted gym membership.
- Employee assistance programme.
- Member of Bank Workers Charity.
Company car and travel
- Car allowance for job need.
- Interest-free season-ticket loans.
- Sixteen weeks’ shared parental leave at full pay.
- Childcare vouchers.
- Flexible working arrangements.
- Holiday for entry-level roles starts at 23 days and increases to 25 days after two full years’ service. For other roles, it starts at 25 days and increases to 30 after two full years’ service.
Pay and reward
- Variable pay.
- Bonus exchange scheme.
- Bikes for work.
- On-site canteen.
- Sports and social clubs, such as a choir, football, boxing, bootcamp and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
- Bank products available to employees.