XPS Pensions Group + Emperor: Creating a values-led culture

XPS Pensions


Following the merger of two businesses, there was a strategic need to create a new brand, which stood out from competitors and the industry, engaged employees and attracted talent. There was acute awareness that the combined organisation would thrive only if the cultures of the two businesses and 15 locations were aligned. The company set out to create a sense of belonging to the newly formed group; to ensure a common set of values made them “one-team”; and to guide day-to-day decisions and behaviours. In June 2018, sponsored by the co-CEO’s, XPS partnered with Emperor to reposition the business and brand.


An insight-led approach was taken; ‘bottom-up’ – seeking views from employees, and ‘top-down’ with leaders, to align with strategy and business needs. Employee focus groups were formed across the business. This wasn’t just an audit of the firm – there was a built-in aspiration: ‘What really matters to us, and how should we behave?’. This research informed the creation of an authentic, inspiring purpose, vision, mission and values narrative; a bold, visual identity; and a compelling 12-month communications and engagement plan. The new values, informed by all employees, were established as ambition, agility, helpfulness, expertise and always doing the right thing.

Pre-launch, senior leaders were invited to a workshop to explore the values and make their own personal pledges for action based on these. Office champions were also enlisted to bring the campaign to life locally. At Launch in January 2019, a multi-channel approach was taken to inform and involve all employees; including CEO roadshows and videos; “Values in action” stories and local “Tea and chats” hosted by the champions. Post-launch and through into 2020, it was key to maintain momentum, and new engagement elements were introduced including values-based nominations for the company recognition scheme and the VIP (Values in Practice) annual awards programme. Acting according to XPS’s values was also embedded into performance management and became a prerequisite for promotion.


Success was measured quantitatively through the XPS Pensions Employee Engagement Survey where, for example, 97% of employees were aware of the company values and 86% understood how these applied to their role. In the 2019 Client Satisfaction Survey, 94% of clients were happy with XPS, and 9 out of 10 clients said they would recommend them. Ultimately, the company’s delivery on purpose, vision, mission and values is demonstrated in financial performance and overall revenue for the group in the FY 2019/20 was up 9%.

Qualitative measures, including feedback, recognition, and case studies, all show evidence of happy, motivated employees. Operationally, the values have led to future-focussed business decisions, such as investment in new technology and success in recruiting record numbers of new starters, who are clearly motivated by the brand and leadership.