Brokerage promises to protect jobs

Amidst a backdrop of a global pandemic and a predicted rise in unemployment as the furlough scheme comes to an end, a Doncaster-based insurance broker has pledged to protect its staff despite challenging market conditions.

One Call, which was set up in 1995 as a high street broker and now employs more than 750 staff has made the bold claim which according to managing director Nik Springthorpe, “was to reassure our excellent workforce, who had natural concerns about job security.” sat down with him to discuss this and the future of the business which is celebrating a quarter of a century this year.

“Having been successful and grown over the last five or six years, and continuing to do so, we are in a good financial position”, Springthorpe explains. “[And as] an independent company, with shareholders [that] are here for the long haul, we [endeavour to] treat stuff as family.”

Speaking over zoom he is clearly thankful for what he describes as the “exemplary support” One Call’s staff have offered to its customers throughout lockdown and states that as a result the business wanted to give some positivity and confidence to its employees.

He continues: “We will try to protect them [One Call’s employees] as best as we can and, we are fortunately in an industry where people have to have insurance it’s one of those purchases that people reluctantly have to make, as a result we don’t predict we’re going to suffer too much.

In fact, against the backdrop of job losses across the country, Springthorpe says One Call is actively recruiting. And similar to other business leaders which has spoken to, he believes that one benefit of the UK’s largest home working experiment is proof jobs can be done remotely, thus enabling the business to cast its recruiting net wider than its usual South Yorkshire stomping ground.

However, speaking to the managing director it’s clear that this promise isn’t just the result of Covid-19. He refers to the business’ 2020 vision, which was all about retention. Part of this he tells me is about increasing customer retention which at the time of speaking was already up on the previous year and sitting just below three quarters – something Springthorpe is rightly proud of considering, as he put it Covid-19 could be “really unsettling”. But also, to retain talent.

This drive to retain staff has seen the firm invest “considerably” since the start of the year to support employee wellbeing, resulting in a gym being built on its Doncaster site.
In fact, the firm has been making concerted efforts to support employee retention for over 12 months. Last year the firm rewarded three of its longest serving employees who had over 20 years of service each, with a first class four-day trip to New York.

Away from the pledge and its own employees, the business is also looking to support the wider Doncaster community with Springthorpe explaining that the business is working with the HR teams at local employers, Eaton Electrical and Wabtec to give them advance viewings of any up and coming One Call vacancies so that these can be offered to staff who are being made redundant and weaved into consultation meetings.

He says: ‘Yorkshire isn’t just One Call’s home county, it is also my home county. If I, and One Call can help in any way we can, then we will do our best to extend our support to other businesses in the area.’

So is this pledge a sign of confidence in the future by One Call, Springthorpe puts it simply, “we can’t predict the future, none of us can [and] we haven’t got a crystal ball. But we want to be transparent about our intentions.”

Those intentions include growth, particularly on the commercial insurance side of the business and on improving efficiency. As the conversation with Springthorpe comes to an end he highlights that there needs to be a focus on longer term economic prosperity from all areas, government, local authorities and business.