Will the new recognition scheme drive the wrong kind of behaviours in TSB?

TSB has said that the new recognition scheme: “will enable us to recognise our new and enhanced behaviours amongst individuals and teams by making monetary rewards throughout the year, rather than just once a year”. Almost all banks have moved away from these kinds of recognition schemes because they can used in some front-line roles to drive sales performance at the expense of what’s in the customers’ best interests. Is it going to be any different in TSB?

And this new scheme is being launched at a time when TSB is aiming to lure many of its existing customers into taking out short term loans or upgrade their current accounts. There are up to 1.5 million customers who have a basic current account and TSB has deliberately not offered those customers anything other than basic banking services. TSB now sees those customers, many of whom would be classed as ‘vulnerable’, as a major source of income growth as it tries to turn the business around. Debbie Crosbie, TSB Chief Executive, recently said: “Actually, we’ve been told one of the biggest reasons that some didn’t previously come to banks for loans – and instead went to the likes of payday lenders – is that they weren’t confident that they were going to get approval or be dealt with in a sympathetic fashion”. The customers being referred to by Debbie Crosbie weren’t confident because they knew full well the bank wouldn’t lend them the money because of their poor credit rating. It seems that TSB is now prepared to accept that risk in pursuit of short-term profitability. Offering customers loans they are going to have difficulty paying back – even with payment holidays – is bad for the bank and bad for its customers.

TSB’s relaxing of its credit policy now is going to result in major problems in the future. The assumption on the part of the senior management team must be that the bank will be sold before those problems come to light.

“Needs Improvement” – The New Forcing Tool

TSB say that: “if you are under performing against your personal objectives, or not demonstrating the key behaviours, your manager will classify your performance as “needs improvement”. If your performance moves to “needs improvement”, your manager will raise this with you immediately. If you continue to be assessed as “needs improvement” your manager will raise this with you immediately”. The bank goes on to say: “If you are identified as “needs improvement” you will not be eligible to receive your full Variable Pay Award. The award will be pro rata, based on the period you have been classified this way”.

Accord and Unite have agreed that the “Needs Improvement” policy is separate from the Performance Improvement Policy and staff have no right to challenge the fact that their performance has been criticised. The bank says it is designed to deal with “small performance issues”. If that’s true, why is the minimum amount of time a member of staff will be recorded as “Needs Improvement” 3 months? And if it’s only for small issues, why will staff lose up to 25% of their Variable Pay Award of 10%? Why any union would agree to such a draconian policy is beyond us?

Let’s be clear, this new policy is a forcing tool designed by the bank to scare front-line staff into meeting their sales objectives. And if staff don’t meet those sales objectives then the “needs improvement” policy, which offers no representation, will be used in some cases to force staff out of the bank.

The union will produce a separate Newsletter setting out what members should do if they are classified as “Needs Improvement”.

In the meantime, members with any questions on this Newsletter can contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 716029.

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