Saffron Building Society

Case Study

Creating an inclusive culture, supporting strong collaboration and informing development activities.

saffron building society hero

Saffron Building Society

Financial Services
United Kingdom
Behaviour (PPA)
Emotion (TEIQue)

The assessment creates a framework that empowers people to have conversations with upward management, peers and direct reports that is safe, constructive and feeds empathy, mutual understanding and collaboration.

Amber Goodchild
People Adviser

The Challenge

With core values of community, responsibility, problem-solving and service, Saffron Building Society is focused on the external and internal communities it serves. Saffron’s values help to support the company’s #buildinghappy framework. Amber Goodchild, Saffron’s People Adviser explains that the team are long-term users of Thomas assessments because they “understand that you get the best from people when they’re happy and feel like they belong.” 

With just 175 people in the business, Amber explains, “there isn’t a hierarchy. Everyone knows each other on a first name basis”. Whilst the company’s friendliness is a positive contributor to its culture, it also means that “team fit” could be at risk of discouraging diversity. “The assessments have helped to challenge that”, explains Amber, “we use Thomas to drill down to what really makes people tick so that we can find out how to boost their happiness and productivity.” In the current high-churn employment market, psychometric assessments also help Saffron Building Society delve deeper into the dynamics of any teams with higher-than-average attrition rates.

Like many companies in recent years, Saffron Building Society has navigated hybrid working. Remote work makes it easier to misunderstand or misinterpret communications. Amber explains, “Assessments help to break down barriers, especially when our people are working from home. They empower people to have open and honest conversations. You can be mindful of how someone’s behavioural preferences affect how they communicate. For example, people with high ‘Influence’ in their behavioural profile might enjoy a chat. That could be irritating for people with high ‘Dominance’, because their priority is getting to results quickly.” With community at its core, Saffron needed a solution that could facilitate effective communication in a hybrid working context. 

saffron-building-society challenge

The Solution

Saffron uses the Thomas Behaviour and Emotional Intelligence assessments to help to create an inclusive culture, support strong collaboration and inform development activities. The Thomas Behaviour assessment forms part of Saffron’s onboarding process and is usually conducted 4-6 weeks after new recruits join the company to gain an accurate picture of them in their new role. 

Having gained accreditation in the implementation of Thomas’ Behaviour assessment, Amber will arrange a session to discuss new hires’ assessment results. Sometimes this is followed by a further meeting with their line manager, who also receives the new hire’s ‘How to Manage’ report, provided alongside the Behaviour profile. Additionally, Amber runs Teams sessions using the Thomas Behaviour profile, during which she explains the ‘DISC’ model behind the behavioural assessment. These sessions give teams within Saffron Building Society the opportunity to review the spread of behavioural profiles within the group and play to its collective strengths. “People really like these sessions. I always have managers coming to me saying, ‘I want to do it with my team’”, says Amber.

“We offer the Emotional Intelligence assessment to anyone who asks for it, but predominantly use it with people who are on development plans, senior leaders and team managers”, Amber continues. Again, Amber runs a session looking at the background of the assessment before reviewing individuals’ emotional intelligence charts in more detail. “We will pick out three to five areas for them to work on. Some of them might want to work on maintaining one area at a certain level, others might want to increase or decrease certain areas like assertiveness. We set up a development plan and they work on that throughout the year with the people team or with their managers. They also get peer feedback which helps to verify or question their own beliefs about themselves.”

Saffron Building Society results

The Results

The self-awareness provided by the assessments supports the open and collaborative culture at Saffron Building Society by supporting effective communication. “The assessments also enable our people to learn how to adapt their communication to colleagues’ behavioural preferences. You might think someone is being rude because they are constantly chasing you for something, but in fact they have a high level of compliance in their profile, and they need to something done.” When they are under pressure, Saffron’s teams find that psychometrics diffuse interpersonal tension. 

“The assessments allow people to adapt their communication to their audience. I think they also make people more understanding and open to differences and to being themselves. Assessments have really helped to integrate the team.” Psychometrics have proved especially helpful for enhancing reporting relationships at Saffron. Amber explains, “everyone has different strengths and limitations and so needs to be managed in a different way. Thomas helps our managers better understand team members and adjust their management style to get the best out of the team.” Saffron’s team use Thomas assessments to gain greater self-awareness, and with it, a deeper appreciation of others’ traits, communication styles and approaches to work.

Saffron’s investment in its people has translated into exceptional employee engagement scores. Saffron’s score for ‘Belonging’ is 8.5, 0.5 above the benchmark for the financial industry. The company also outperforms in ‘Inclusivity’ with a score of 8.7, above the industry benchmark of 8.2. “The assessments help people to be their authentic selves, which is something we are keen to encourage. Thomas’ framework is scientific and tried-and-tested, which helps people to talk more freely. We love psychometrics and will continue using them because we see such great results.”

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