WEDNESDAY 19 JUN 2013 4:11 PM


The Fix: Not easy being green

The Co-operative Bank dropped out of the Lloyds TSB deal, leaving uncertainty over the fate of part of the latter’s workforce. Internal comms experts weigh in on how Lloyds TSB should handle the situation internally.

Paul Sweetman, lead of employee engagement team, Fishburn Hedges Group

The bank must move quickly from acknowledging what has happened to discussing what comes next. Leaders must communicate their new vision of the future for the Verde branches: their aims, their immediate plans and how re-branding as ‘TSB’ fits in. They have to share as much as they can, as early as they can, and give employees every chance to raise questions and concerns (responding to these quickly and openly). In this way, whilst they can’t give employees certainty as yet, they can build greater confidence and trust among their people that they’ll be informed and involved as the situation evolves.

Rebecca Pain, business development manager, theblueballroom

The main focus for employee communications at Lloyds TSB should be the honesty, accuracy, speed and flow of announcements and highly visible leadership. If employees are being kept informed throughout, they will be feeling more at ease with the changes, even if these will impact negatively upon them – at least they know where they stand, and can plan. If there will be greater opportunity for staff, they should hear this straight away – employees are often a business’ best brand ambassadors, especially now they are active online. Telling staff where they will be and what the brand values are will allow them to support the move publicly and accurately, and make negative comment less likely, as well as protecting the engagement of their workforce. 




Steve Doswell, CEO, Institute of Internal Communications

At IoIC, we see several strands to the story. People are a key part of the ‘asset’ and there’s a responsibility to help retain staff. So employees need reasons to feel enthused by the new venture. Sale following separation is a well- trodden path – look at the UK energy sector for many viable examples – so staff can be reassured that they’re not guinea-pigs in a risky business experiment. Once a new owner steps up, though, it becomes important to handle cultural variation sensitively. A pacey, innovative culture can lose momentum when harnessed to one that’s slower, more risk-averse. Air-brushing the old owner out of the story won’t help employees overcome their feeling of being cast adrift, either. Instead, recognise the legacy but focus on the future. Also, involving employees in defining what the new entity wants to be known for, its values and behaviours and so on can be the ultimate exercise in engagement. And we all know what highly engaged employees bring.


Simon Kenwright, head of engagement, Maverick

It’s essential that the 8,000 staff that work in Lloyds’ 631 branches are given clear messages from the top about the company’s current situation. Giving employees an opportunity to grill management at the earliest opportunity will help to stop the rumour mill from scattering false information. Staff also need firm guarantees about the commitment to grow the ‘new TSB’ bank, but in a sustainable way that will have lasting benefits to the group. The staff obviously put a lot of work into the bid, so it’s important that their hard work is recognised company-wide.

Rachel Miller, director, All Things IC

Project Verde and the impact on employees of the Co- op purchase falling through cannot be underestimated. Not just the Lloyds Banking Group employees, but Co-op too. Now is the time for effective two-way communication; it’s vital that employees have the ability to air their views and ask questions. Employee assistance programmes should be offered to enable people to air any serious concerns, particularly as individuals deal with stress and uncertainty differently. For Lloyds Banking Group, focus will surely shift to the new TSB branding and to preparing for the future.





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