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Darlington Building Society was formed over 160 years ago in 1856, to benefit the local people of Darlington. As a mutual organisation, they exist for their members and are committed to working for the benefit of them - supporting employment, people and communities across the North East of England including the Tees Valley, North Yorkshire and County Durham.
They have no outside shareholders to pay dividends to, so all profits are used to benefit their members. The Society has grown to include 9 branches, supported by ‘Darlingtonline’, their online banking service.
They continue to invest in local communities through various initiatives, including their pledge to annually share 5% of their net profits after tax, various employment opportunities and, more recently, through a programme of refurbishing all its branches.
They have funded holiday enrichment clubs and homework clubs for schoolchildren and supported a local charity that works to distribute food and other basic shopping staples across the region that would have otherwise gone to waste. Also key to the Society is supporting the local employment market and the development of their own employees.
“I am absolutely delighted to receive the 2 star accreditation from Best Companies in recognition of the ‘outstanding level of engagement’ with our people throughout the past year. This will send a clear message to our people, members, partners, suppliers and the regional community that Darlington Building Society understands the importance of workplace engagement and genuinely values its people.
This recognition is a reflection of the inspirational and exceptional skills of all of the people leaders throughout the Society, during a period when we have faced some unprecedented challenges and have all felt the personal impact of Coronavirus. I am both proud and humbled by my colleagues’ professional response to the pandemic, their dedication to the service of our members, and their support for each other, and would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them.” - Andrew Craddock, CEO
Their CEO has been the steady hand guiding the Society throughout the pandemic, from the beginning always being visible to all colleagues to provide them with reassurance and confidence that their wellbeing and safety were his top priority. He immediately moved monthly conference calls to weekly, completing via video call to ensure the feeling of closeness as a work family was not lost. The organisation introduced the use of the question tool Slido to answer real time, confidential questions from colleagues, no matter how difficult they were. The organisation has ensured that they continue to acknowledge and reward the hard work of their employees via gifts sent to their homes.
During the pandemic, Darlington Building Society substantially increased their touch points with line managers. They have had regular communication sessions with the leadership team and have dedicated specific time to coach and support on key subjects such as ‘managing remote workers effectively’. They have invested in their digital platform to enable them to deliver content and support manages who are mainly working from home with their teams virtually. The organisation has focused a lot on mental health and wellbeing and launched their ‘be kind to yourself’ campaign, encouraging managers through support and guidance to aid themselves and their teams with a range of resources and activities.
Darlington Building Society have always been very passionate about supporting the health and wellbeing of their employees. They understand that one size does not fit all and so offer opportunities for people to choose what best suits them. The organisation has looked to provide a suite of information and activities to aim to have something for all colleagues. Early into lockdown they identified colleagues who they had been supporting with mental health issues, as well as those shielding or who were living alone during lockdown. Their Mental Health First Aiders then reached out to these individuals to offer a chat with a cuppa via video conference, before then extending this to all colleagues. Throughout lockdown they shared articles and videos from sources such as The Mental Health Foundation at regular intervals on all elements of mental health during a pandemic. They also launched a ‘wellbeing week’, which saw them add a wellbeing hub to the company intranet, which hosted various materials to support wellbeing, including exercise videos and food recipes.
Learn more about the 8 factors of workplace engagement here
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