Fun benefits engage First Direct staff

First Direct has found that a fun working environment engages staff more effectively than than pay and traditional benefits.

Employee surveys revealed that the bank’s workforce placed core values, brand identity and a sense of strong family bonds as factors which matter most to them at work, said Jane Hanson, head of HR at online bank First Direct, in the session on Getting engaged at the CIPD conference on Wednesday.

Employees also said they appreciate their employer’s understanding of family matters, Hanson added that although the banks’ maternity, paternity and adoption leave policies are “fairly standard”, the organisation offers on-site nursery places, arranges events for employees’ children, trains leaders on how to help new parents and gives new parents a pack which includes a bib and ironing vouchers.

While employees appreciate such benefits, Hanson said that other fun events and elements in the workplace produce staff happiness. “[But] what really matters is the fun, feeling stuff,” she said.

For example, the bank recently held a beach party in response to the lack of a hot British summer which included a ‘how many people can you fit on a lilo’ event. “[Events like these] create a wow feeling about First Direct. It creates stories and memories, the things people talk about in the pub. Our challenge in HR is creating this happiness,” she said.