Page 1: Introduction
The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the days of jobs for life in which an individual might work for a single employer until their retirement. Today, organisations operate in an environment of constant change and, therefore, they need to adjust their structures and work patterns to adapt to these changes. This requires individual employees to be more flexible in their approach to work. Individuals entering work need to engage in a process of lifelong learning, continually adding to their portfolio of skills, knowledge and capabilities. This case study focuses on ways in which a well known business organisation has set about building a workforce to meet the challenges of the future. It examines the recruitment of young people with the necessary qualities of innovation and adaptability to operate in a challenging business environment. Additionally, it outlines some of the important training schemes developed to help trainees progress whilst working for the organisation.
The Equitable Life Assurance Society
The Equitable Life Assurance Society is a successful provider of financial and associated services consisting mainly of Life Assurance and Pensions. It focuses on high net worth individuals (i.e. people whose incomes and wealth are higher than average) and selling pensions and insurance to groups e.g. through company pension schemes.
The Society still essentially follows the principles of its founding members. In modern terms they are:
- to operate as a mutual body providing financial and associated services directly to the policy holders at cost. Unlike many other societies, The Equitable Life Assurance Society has not become a public limited company (Plc). The owners of a mutual society are its members rather than shareholders.
- to run a full ‘distribution of profits’ policy and to avoid the unfairness created by the retention of profits earned by one generation of policyholders for the benefit of successors. Furthermore, to aim at ‘fair’ bonuses between all classes and durations of policy.
‘Equitable’ means fair. The Society sets out to treat its members fairly, so that those people who have bought policies with the Society should receive a fair share of the profits. The Society is now the highest producer of new annual premium business in the UK. This position has been achieved by steady growth over a number of years.
In recent years, The Equitable Life Assurance Society has set out its aim as that of:
‘Growing more contented customers.’ This simple statement is very important. It shows a customer led approach - finding out what the customer needs and delivering it.
In the 1970s and 1980s, many companies in the UK had a top down approach. Senior managers at the top of each organisation passed down decisions and instructions to lower level employees. Today, thinking has completely changed. It is now more typical to see customers placed at the top of an organisation chart, followed by the customer service employees who interface directly with customers and who are best placed to determine their needs.