How to become an employer of choice

by Chloe Taylor17 Apr 2015
Heritage Bank gained recognition at last year’s Australian HR Awards as a great place to work, winning the coveted Employer of Choice (<1000 employees) Award. With a 90% workforce engagement rate, the bank has proven both to its staff and the external community that its ‘people first’ mantra is more than corporate terminology.

Heritage strives to create a workplace community, in which staff at all levels can interact and progress. Bob Hogarth, the bank’s general manager of people and culture, runs an annual ‘Our People’ conference, with motivational speakers and the presentation of the CEO Awards, one of the organisation’s many events that reward staff who have demonstrated behaviour reflective of the company’s values.

“Heritage has focused on something that sadly many other organisations seem to overlook – the value of please and thank you, the value of publicly acknowledging staff who do well,” said Hogarth.

Particularly popular events among the bank’s staff are its Leadership Networking Breakfasts, which allow staff to meet staff from Heritage’s other locations and listen to presentations from successful leaders. These events are also broadcast to staff in remote locations, and are typically oversubscribed.”

Hogarth’s determination to acknowledge staff achievements is reflected throughout the organisation. Not only does Heritage reward its high achievers with accolades such as Employee of the Month and Team of the Year, it provides its employees with opportunities to participate in over 30 different courses designed to improve the likelihood of career progression.

Heritage has also established an alliance with the University of Southern Queensland, which allows staff with Heritage qualifications to receive up to 16 exemptions for a 24 unit degree or up to 50% unit exemption into an MBA. The association between Heritage and the university is the first arrangement of its kind in Australia.

The organisation is determined to honour its ‘people first’ ethos, implementing a Health and Wellbeing Program to ensure a positive work-life balance. The program offers employees services such as counselling, lunchtime activities encouraging physical activity, and health programs to assist in employee’s efforts to lose weight or give up smoking.

Heritage Bank’s success stems from its genuine dedication to its people, with Heritage treating its staff with as much respect as its customers. “The ‘People first’ branding and ethos resonates with our staff, customers and communities but only because of a sustained level of genuine commitment to this ideal,” said Hogarth. The organisation is defined by these values, so much so that it has become a critical component of its employment branding:

‘At Heritage we have a clear point of difference, when we say people first, we meant it. As a valued staff member we look after your needs and are passionate about creating an environment that encourages you to achieve your best – personally and professionally.’

“Being a finalist in the Australian HR Awards is wonderful recognition for the people practices of any organisation,” said Hogarth. “Being chosen as a winner is fantastic national acknowledgement that is both humbling and encouraging. Heritage Bank was thrilled to win Employer of Choice <1000 in 2014. It reinforces that the HR strategies and initiatives that have been supported by the organisation are amongst the nation’s best and publically proclaims to all current and prospective employees that this is a company at the forefront of people practices.”

“Heritage Bank has been fortunate in the past few years to win a number of Australian HR Awards and we are highly honoured to be recognised in this way,” Hogarth added. “The HR Awards are a highlight of the Australian HR calendar and are highly prized and valued in the industry.”

Is your organisation a great place to work? Nominate your company as an employer of choice at this year’s HR Awards by 30 April. For more information or to submit a nomination, visit


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