Australian HR Awards winner profile: Heritage Bank

A 91% engaged employee rating might be the envy of any HR professional, but it’s just one of countless metrics that indicate Heritage Bank is at the top of its game. Here’s how they do it.

Any HR professional would welcome metrics indicating over 90% of the workforce is engaged – and that’s just what Heritage Bank has achieved. The bank, which picked up an Employer of Choice (<1000 workers) citation at September’s Australian HR Awards, has proven that their ‘people first’ philosophy is more than just a slogan.

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 amongst 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.’

Bob Hogarth will be speaking on employee engagement at the National HR Summit on 10-11 March 2015. Find out more here.

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