About The IPA

The IPA exists to promote the involvement and participation of employees in their places of work, and through doing so improve the quality of working lives. The IPA is Britain’s leading organisation delivering partnership, consultation and employee engagement in the workplace. Through our research and practice we develop new ways of working, based on trust and collaboration that deliver better workplaces and better outcomes – employee wellbeing, increased productivity and improved services.

The IPA is a not-for-profit organisation, funded by membership subscriptions and fee income from consultancy, training and research services. We are one of the few ‘open spaces’ in the UK where employers, trade unionists and other workplace representatives, academics, legal experts, human resource and employment specialists can come together with politicians and policymakers to discuss and debate employment issues and policy.


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About Royal London

Royal London is the UK’s largest life, pensions and investment mutual looking after 8.7 million policyholders, entrusted to manage £147bn of their assets, it helps to build financial resilience while championing how we move fairly to a sustainable society. Its Purpose, ‘Protecting today, investing in tomorrow. Together we are mutually responsible’, defines the impact the company wants to have. It shapes what they do on behalf of their members and customers, financial advisers, colleagues and the communities in which it operates. The company offers protection, long-term savings and asset management products and solutions in the UK and Ireland. As a proud, committed, and modern mutual, it takes a longer-term view, ensuring it delivers positive, enduring change on behalf of its members and customers and their families, helping to protect the standard of living for this and future generations.

Annual Report 2022

An important aspect of Royal London as an employer is the company culture, which is called the ‘Spirit of Royal London’. This culture is an underpin to our company Purpose and at its heart lie four core values:

s  Empowered

s  Trustworthy

s  Collaborate

s  Achieve.

These values are held in high regard across the business and are a key link into the Colleague Representation Forum (CRF).

Background to Employee Forums in the UK

The development of any successful organisation is normally supported by positive and proactive communication processes which recognise the benefits of involving people in matters affecting their work. Organisations can choose from a wide range of information and consultation mechanisms.  Most choose to use a variety of face to face and arm’s length arrangements for information disclosure and direct consultation. A colleague council will complement these rather than replace them.


Effective information and consultation are valuable disciplines which reinforce a shared commitment to work and encourage greater openness, the sharing of ideas, the early identification of problems and the ability to generate better quality decision-making. 

The ability to work together in teams which span individual projects, deliver great customer service and exceed performance requirements is complemented and enhanced by the sharing of information and consultation between staff representatives and management.

One of the key roles for a forum is to provide management with an accurate ‘temperature check’ of colleagues’ opinions. This is difficult to achieve without a representative body because employees are often unwilling to present their true opinions for fear of possible recrimination. 

Whether this is a fear based on truth or perception is unclear, but the net result can be an employee voice skewed towards those who speak the loudest or those with a particularly strong point to make. This can lead to a reaction from colleagues to changes that may come as a surprise to management, which an accurate temperature check would help avoid.

Creating the Royal London Colleague Representative Forum - CRF

Colleague representation has been a long-standing principle of engagement at Royal London. By 2015 this had evolved into an Employee Representative Forum (ERF) with voluntary Organiser and Coordinator roles, providing external training for new representatives and expanded areas of involvement and influence.

In 2018 the then Chief Executive Officer agreed the ERF model had evolved as far as it could, given the natural restrictions of voluntary roles. A strategy group was created within the ERF to work with the Employee Relations team through 2019, resulting in Royal London funding a project in 2020 to define the structure, roles and guidance collateral to support a new Colleague Representative Forum (CRF), with full support of the Executive team.

The CRF was formally launched on 1 January 2021 with a full time Principal Officer, two part time Deputy Principal Officers and voluntary Lead Rep roles, who are allocated three days per month to fulfil their CRF duties. The agreed representative/colleague ratio moved from 1/100 to 1/50. Representative training was brought in-house and developed in conjunction with the IPA, removing significant costs, increasing the flexibility and targeted impact of recruitment and training.

Read more about the Royal London Case Study here.