I retired at the end of 2022 with mixed feelings of relief and apprehension. A huge dislocation, impossible to anticipate fully. In any event: I’m now practising what I've spent many years preaching about retirement.
But this short piece isn't about me. It's about Employee Benefits Collective (EBC), the firm I've been working for in the pensions team since July 2019.
I should make it clear that I've chosen to write this unilaterally, without even mentioning it to colleagues beforehand. So: no inducement or coercion has taken place. This may read like an ad but no money has changed hands.
More about Team EBC
I'm not quite sure who's stalking whom, but I'm glad to say that I've worked with my manager, James Biggs, at three companies over the last nine years — and with is, I think, the correct preposition there, not for.
I'm naturally wary of people with as much charm as James. It can be used as a weapon. But with James: WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get!
As well as being entertaining, knowledgeable, eloquent, and quick-witted, he really is courteous, considerate and kind.
I'd say our views on pensions are 90% or so in alignment, which is a good number: some divergence is healthy.
I know that my friendship with James and with my capable and engaging colleagues in the pensions team — Sapna Begum, Christine Archer and Martin Thomas — will endure for many years to come. Am I allowed to call you lovely, colleagues?
Forgive me if this sounds sentimental. I know I'll miss our day-to-day conversations, our shared purpose, our camaraderie.
Working at EBC
This is James’ approach:
- As long as the work gets done, I don't care when or where you do it. Use your time as it suits you.
- Take leave whenever you like. We'll work around your time away.
- I think this. What do you think?
- Feeling ill? Go far away from your desk and forget work until you're better.
- Family bereavement? Take as much time as you need.
- Are you OK? Let's talk.
- Fantastic work! Thank you!
- Express your opinions freely in pension governance reports. I'll back you in meetings.
And this is the way at EBC generally.
Employees are treated as a valuable resource, not cogs in a machine or entries in a spreadsheet.
All jobs unavoidably incorporate some drudgery and boredom; but these elements have been far outweighed by enjoyment and fulfilment working at EBC.
We're doing, I believe, something that matters, something that makes the world a bit better.
Although we work for and are paid by employers, in the pensions team, our main concern is to ensure workplace pension schemes provide value for money for employees and offer them the opportunity to achieve good member outcomes -- a comfortable retirement, in other words. I love this. I'm the type of cynic who's really a thwarted idealist.
Employee Wellbeing at EBC
Employees at EBC are expected to be industrious and are rewarded accordingly. We are well remunerated and have a comprehensive range of benefits.
We are praised when praise is due, as it often is at work. We receive unexpected bonuses and presents from time to time (a measure of thoughtfulness that goes a long way with me).
Provided we meet our responsibilities, we can work as flexibly as we like. We are encouraged to discuss personal difficulties honestly if they arise. Perhaps most importantly, we are trusted -- and in my experience, employees don't abuse trust, they repay it. Employee wellbeing is central. EBC practises what it preaches.
Many of the employers we supply employee benefits to are similarly enlightened. This mini-blog is mainly a public thankyou to EBC.
It doesn’t really have a specific target audience, but perhaps it will be read by a few representatives of ethical employers who are wondering who to appoint as a benefits consultancy.
There's an extraordinary breadth of experience and insight across EBC. You will receive a sympathetic, insightful, made-to-measure service. You could do a lot worse.