Creating a healthy culture

Our long-term success depends on us building and nurturing a healthy culture where colleagues are engaged, and where our working environment is underpinned by robust risk behaviours.

Our Values guide the way we identify the right people to serve our customers well, as well as how we manage, engage and reward our colleagues. These values are at the heart of Our Code (the Group’s Code of Conduct).

To make sure we really live Our Values, we reinforce them in our policies, processes, communications, learning and leadership role-modelling.

How we measure our progress

We continue to monitor our progress against our goals – gathering feedback from colleagues through our listening strategy, which includes our colleague opinion surveys, a Colleague Advisory Panel that connects directly with our Board and ‘Workplace’, our social media platform. We also track metrics and key performance indicators, and feedback from regulators and industry bodies, including the Banking Standards Board’s (BSB) annual assessment of culture in the UK banking sector.

Just under 50,000 (78%) of our colleagues completed our most recent opinion survey. The results showed a further improvement in colleague sentiment and NatWest is now at or above the global financial services norm (GFSN) and global high performing norm (GHPN) across all comparable survey categories.  This is our strongest position to date and reflects our purpose and values coming to life in our response to the pandemic.


Colleagues can report concerns relating to wrong-doing or misconduct via Speak Up, our whistleblowing service. The service facilitates confidential and anonymous reporting, as well as monitoring of potential whistleblower detriment. When colleagues were asked if they feel safe to speak up 88% responded favourably, reflecting continued improvement in results for this question. In 2020, 441 cases were raised compared to 458 in 2019.


As a strong component of making NatWest a purpose-led organisation and a great place to work, having an established wellbeing strategy is key. At the start of 2020 we already had an established wellbeing strategy and made a further commitment, through our People Pledges, to support the wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and communities, all of which was re-enforced through our Group-wide People Strategy. 

In March 2020 our CEO announced plans to introduce social distancing measures for essential key workers (e.g. branch colleagues) and enabling many colleagues to work from home as part of the organisation’s response to the global pandemic created by COVID-19. In less than a month, the world and our colleagues had a whole new set of physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing priorities and challenges that we needed to address at an unprecedented pace and scale. Using external research, internal data/colleague sentiment analysis, internal behavioural science and professional judgement to guide us, we used an evidence-based approach to shape, implement, evolve and validate a COVID-19 Wellbeing Plan that was truly purpose-led and fully supported colleagues, customers and communities during the initial “respond” phase of the pandemic.

Our approach to wellbeing has been recognised externally through winning the Best Health and Wellbeing Category at the HR Excellence Awards 2020.  Understanding and caring for the changing and differing needs of our colleagues remained our priority.  We flexed and evolved our original wellbeing plan and quickly built wellbeing and learning into our daily routines.   Our Live Well Being You COVID-19 Wellbeing Plan placed colleague wellbeing firmly at the centre of our incident response.  We developed a wellbeing plan which was reviewed and updated monthly, launched our COVID-19 wellbeing hub signposting colleagues to public health information, emotional wellbeing support, new physical health interventions, financial wellbeing guidance and support, community and volunteering opportunities, leadership support, and guidance on managing bereavement and domestic abuse.  We also maintained a weekly calendar of events helping to keep our colleagues socially connected and engaged during the most challenging of times.  Through our business facing teams we were able to offer wellbeing support to our customers too. 

We understand the importance our line managers play in the support of their teams, especially during uncertain times.  We provided them with targeted support through the introduction of an online mental health awareness module as well as providing access to extended mental health training.  Over 90% of line managers completed the modular training and given the appetite to provide ongoing support, we’re continuing to offer extended mental health support through 2021. 

Some of the practical tools we provided included 24/7 access to a virtual GP, the launch of a new emotional wellbeing programme which included Anxiety, Stress, Resilience, Mindfulness, Money Worries, Sleep and a COVID-19 specific programme.  Most recently we have also provided access to a digital physiotherapy tool as well as extending our wellbeing offering to our colleagues’ dependents, with the introduction of mental health support for 11-18-year old’s.  Several campaigns during the year allowed us to focus on physical health priorities (menopause, reproductive health and men’s health) and a focus on wellbeing throughout the seasons as we approached winter for colleagues in the northern hemisphere.

We continued to monitor the wellbeing of our colleagues throughout and our pulse surveys helped us understand the specific points of wellbeing impacting our colleagues. 90% of colleagues felt their line manager cared about their physical and mental health, and 45% of colleagues felt that COVID-19 impacted their mental health.   Our annual internal wellbeing index shows that we are 3% above other high performing companies and 9% above the GFSN.

During the year we launched our Wellbeing Champion network which rapidly grew to over 1,000 colleagues who have committed to providing wellbeing support and signposting to their teams, supported by enhanced learning and a deeper understanding of our wellbeing strategy.  Unable to host our annual Mental Health Conference as a physical event, we created a virtual conference showcasing several expert speakers and activities for our colleagues.