Our people

When it comes to delivering our business objectives, we recognise that our employees are our single most important asset. This is why we work hard to attract and retain the best people, and provide them with opportunities to develop and fulfil their potential within the business. We employ over 3,100 people across the UK and Ireland and we are committed to providing them with a motivational and safe working environment.

TARGETS
2007 Work with Race for Opportunity and the Employers' Forum on Disability to improve workplace diversity across the Provident Financial group Not achieved
Identify opportunities to embed consideration of environmental issues into community involvement activities Not achieved
Retaining quality staff
% of staff turnover throughout the Provident Financial group
Year % Staff turnover
2007 17.1
2006 19.5*
2005 20.0*
2004 22.0*
*The data reported here has been restated to reflect that the international division and Provident Insurance are no longer part of the Provident Financial group.

We recognise that each member of our team is important, the longer they are with us the more history they have with us and therefore the more understanding of our business, products and customers they have.

In 2007, we placed people development at the heart of our business strategy and throughout the year both the Consumer Credit Division and Vanquis Bank introduced a range of new mechanisms to appraise, reward and communicate with staff. The Provident Financial group as a whole managed to reduce staff turnover by 2.4% this year meaning that staff turnover is now under the national average. Addressing the issue of staff retention will continue to be a key priority for the Provident Financial group.

Recognising trade unions

We recognise that trades unions play an important role in supporting employees and maintaining working standards. The Consumer Credit Division continues to recognise two trades unions - Unite and USDAW (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers). There are agreements in place with both these trades unions regarding consultation and negotiation with both and also a recognition agreement for area managers.

Managing health and safety

We give the health and safety of our staff a high priority and ensure that all reasonable steps are taken. To ensure that we deliver against the commitments set out in our health and safety policy, both the Consumer Credit Division and Vanquis Bank have health and safety working groups that report directly to the Provident Financial board. These groups oversee the implementation of the policy and provide strategic direction of its management.

HEALTH AND SAFETY PERFORMANCE 2007
No. of accidents/incidents affecting employees across the group
Accident: Death/major injury 0
Accident: Reportable major injury 2
Accident: Reportable >3 day absence 3
Incident: Death/major injury 0
Incident: Reportable major injury 0
Incident: Reportable >3 day absence 0

In 2007, we continued to introduce measures to ensure that the environment in which employees and agents operate is safe and secure. This included completing the delivery of a health and safety awareness training package across our Consumer Credit Division during two personal safety weeks. The computer-based training module covered a range of personal safety issues, including those that might arise from being in a customer's home, driving, or handling sums of money.

We also undertook a considerable amount of work to look at health and safety and well-being issues that go beyond regulatory requirements; for instance, absenteeism and stress. Our stress policy commits us to take all reasonable steps to identify the causes of stress and to eliminate or control the risk of stress. We delivered a series of workshops to our managers, which focussed on these high profile issues.

Our commitment to equal opportunities

We are committed to ensuring that equality and diversity are embedded within our company culture, and work hard to ensure that our workforce is representative of the many communities in which we operate. We realise that it is of strategic importance to attract and retain a diverse workforce and ensure that equal opportunities underpin our recruitment, employment, training and remuneration practices.

Gender Breakdown image

We continue to be corporate members of the Employers' Forum on Disability, and Race for Opportunity, which enables us to access best practice advice and support on the management of a range of diversity issues and improve our performance in this area.

Our gender breakdown

The gender profile of the Provident Financial group remained the same as last year with 49% women and 51% men. This is the same as the spilt for the UK workforce as a whole (according to figures published by the Office of National Statistics in February 2008).

During 2007, we saw an increase in the number of female managers employed across the Provident Financial group, with 27% of women now occupying these roles, compared with 24% in 2006.

Women in management image

* The data reported here for 2004 - 2006 (above and below) has been restated to reflect that the international division and Provident Insurance are no longer part of the Provident Financial group.

Staff from ethnic minorities image

Our ethnicity profile

The proportion of our employees from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups decreased slightly to 3.8% compared with 4.2% in 2006*. This contrasts with the proportion of the UK economically active population from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities which, according to the Office of National Statistics most recent Annual Population Survey, stands at 8.9%.

Our age profile

The age profile of our business is similar to that of the profile for economically active people in the UK. 26.1% of our staff are in the 'over 50' age group, which is similar to the percentage of employed people in the UK who are 50 years of age and over.

Age breakdown throughout group image

Disability

In 2007, staff declaring disability is recorded at only 0.03%. We recognise that this is a very low percentage and consider that it may not reflect the true percentage within our people as it relies upon people declaring that they have a disability and our current systems may not adequately capture this information. During 2008, we will review the systems we have in place to improve the capture of disability related information and will work with the Employers' Forum on Disability to raise awareness of disability issues amongst line managers.

The importance of training and development

Training and development are an essential part of our CR commitment to our people and to the long-term success of our business. We offer a range of opportunities, including comprehensive induction courses for new starters, skills modules on subjects such as team leadership, counselling and IT, and specialist training courses.

Advancements have been made in the way our operating businesses provide training to staff and record the training given, whether in our branch network or in our call centres. In 2007, both the Consumer Credit Division and Vanquis Bank launched new learning management systems which will enable all employees to access a range of role-related computer-based training courses that will be accessed via the intranet. The systems are now intranet-based which will make it possible for us to compile accurate data regarding staff training in the Consumer Credit Division and Vanquis Bank.

The total number of training days delivered to employees across the Provident Financial group was 7,854, this equates to an average of 2.7 formal training days per employee in 2007 compared with 2.1 days in 2006.

Our benefits package

We continue to operate a savings-related share option scheme which is very popular. During 2007, 2,482 employees were saving to buy shares in the company under this scheme.

The pensions we offer reflect the general trend of moving away from final salary pension schemes. In January 2003, the final salary schemes we had in place were closed to new employees and replaced by a stakeholder pension plan. Under the Provident Financial Stakeholder Pension Plan the company contributes 8% to the plan, and members contribute at least 6%, with the option of contributing more if they choose. The plan also includes a range of other benefits including life assurance and long-term disability cover.

Keeping our people informed

With our workforce of over 3,100 employees spread over a wide geographical area, it is imperative that we have good communication channels in place for our people and for the business. We regularly communicate with our people through a variety of methods and media, raising awareness of our various initiatives, campaigns and schemes, including those that relate to our CR programme. It is important that we make it possible for our people to contribute their comments and suggestions. To enable this we have set up channels for feedback. For instance, at Vanquis Bank, employee forums are held quarterly and attended by elected representatives from all business areas to discuss issues raised by employees.