Case study: Royal Bank of Scotland gives credit for local choices

Communications have been central to the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) rolling out its successful flexible benefits programme, RBSelect, to an international workforce.

The solution was a communications toolkit – a suite of options from which local managers could select, according to their country’s particular requirements and budget.

Jim Cowan, a senior consultant in remuneration and benefits at RBS, says: “It worked really well in terms of our ability to use a colour palette and visuals that created a consistent look and feel. What did not work so quite so well were things like sales straplines. Some of those things we found did not translate at all.”

In developing its communication strategy, the bank aimed to create a “global RBSelect experience”, but economies of scale were one of the challenges it faced in doing this.

“In the UK, with more than 100,000 staff, we are better able to justify individually-tailored communications,” says Cowan. “As we expanded internationally, the populations we were looking at were much smaller. In the same way that we did not have the economies of scale when negotiating deals with individual benefit providers, we could not get the economies of scale to offer the variety of communications.”

Although all RBSelect’s international launches have been highly successful in terms of take-up, the bank is currently looking at how its communications could be improved, particularly in terms of when it is appropriate to use the local language and the extent to which decisions should be delegated to local managers.