"Credit card company Capital One is happy to sign the bill when it comes to helping its staff escape work pressures. Every quarter managers receive £50 per employee to spend on having fun, which has established a strong sense of team spirit, with eight out of 10 staff saying colleagues go out of their way to help them. Capital One earns a top 25 ranking on this point.
There are also reward schemes to recognise excellence, such as ""There's no place like Ops"" for operations associates nominated by colleagues. Winners can choose from experiences that include motor racing, snowboarding and aromatherapy massages.
Capital One started in 1995 when its founders Nigel Morris and Richard Fairbank persuaded Signet Bank, a regional bank in Virginia, America, to try their idea of customised credit cards. Its British arm was launched a year later by Rob Habgood from a bedroom in his flat. Today the company has 46m customers worldwide.
All employees are known as associates, and staff elect colleagues to represent them on a panel that meets every six weeks and is chaired by Ken Stannard, the firm's head of UK card business. About 80% say managers talk openly and honestly with them and 89% say the values of the organisation have been made clear to them, again both top 25 scores.
The firm encourages employees to give at least one paid working day to a local community activity. During Children in Need, Capital One acted as a regional call centre for the east Midlands. A computer system was developed by the company, free of charge, for the child protection unit of Nottinghamshire police, which has now been adopted by three other forces and could be taken up by another 10 this year. Employees rank the company 13th overall among the best 100 companies for putting something back into the local community — comfortably its highest individual ranking.
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