HR Award winner profile: Suncorp Group, Best Workplace Flexibility Program

HC chats to the general manager of HR at Suncorp, the recent recipient of an award for its employee flexibility program.

HR Award winner profile: Suncorp Group, Best Workplace Flexibility Program
Suncorp Group, a leading insurance, banking, and superannuation brand in Australia and New Zealand, recently won an Australian HR Award for Best Workplace Flexibility Program.

The Group has 14,500 employees and relationships with nine million customers.

HC sat down with Louise Dwyer, executive general manager of HR at Suncorp’s personal insurance branch, to discuss the company’s success.

“A lot of companies talk about flexibility but it’s really part of who we are at Suncorp,” Dwyer told HC. “It’s a point of difference and part of our unique value proposition. 

“We are very proud of what we have achieved over the past few years – we have taken an innovative approach with our flexibility offerings, which will in turn help us to achieve our vision to be the place to work in Australia and New Zealand.

“We know the world of work is changing and have factored this into Suncorp’s Group People Strategy for the next five years.”
She noted in particular the rise of the ‘work anywhere’ environment, global connectivity, demographic changes and disruptive ways of doing business – the sharing of resources as well as information.
Flexibility is key
At Suncorp, flexibility is acknowledged as a key component to attracting, retaining and engaging the very best talent. 

“We’re particularly proud of the wide range of flexible work arrangements we have that give people more say in how, when and where they work,” said Dwyer.                           
The company’s offerings are about supporting people to be the best they can be – inside and outside of work.

These include: various part-time arrangements, the choice to work from home, job share arrangements, and mentoring roles for transition to retirement – among others.

“The fact that 84% of our people say they are working in a flexible way – that’s 20 points above the global high performing norm – is clear evidence that we are making it work, not simply making an empty offering.”

“We have been successful in this space as flexibility has been integrated into our broader Group People Strategy, which includes a focus on diversity and inclusion, leadership, talent, performance and rewards, learning and development, and strategic workforce planning.”
Dwyer added that having the support of senior management is also key, which in part comes from a shared understanding that flexibility has value for a number of stakeholders.
“Flexibility delivers benefits for employees by helping them to achieve a balance that’s right for their individual circumstances,” she told HC. “It also benefits Suncorp by providing a more scalable workforce, which means we can respond to customers faster in times of need – such as weather events. 
“Our Work@Home (W@H) Hubs are also a critical part of Suncorp’s business strategy.”
Work@Home Hubs
Suncorp’s W@H model was designed to support contact centre employees by enabling them to conduct the majority of their work from home.
Employees are able to nominate the times and hours in a week they wish to work. To date, 460 employees have opted for these working patterns.
Over the next 2-3 years, Suncorp is hoping to have over 850 people working on the W@H scheme.
“People typically live within a 30-minute commute of a W@H Hub – a connection and collaboration point for training and team meetings,” Dwyer added.
“Our W@H Hubs are attracting high-performing individuals who previously found securing work difficult as a result of factors like study, a disability, charity work, their carer role or a commitment to elite sports.”
Suncorp now has a number of W@H Hubs, the largest of which are in Fountain Gate, Melbourne, and Carindale, Brisbane. 
“W@H employees continue to be more engaged than other employee groups,” said Dwyer. “In 2015 the engagement of Hub employees was 10 points higher than the Suncorp average.”
“Flexibility as part of an integrated People Strategy has been a key driver in lifting our employee engagement scores.  In 2015, our already world class engagement scores increased another four points from the previous year.”
“We’ve always been confident that flexibility was a key differentiator for us, and we wanted to demonstrate this by entering the HR Awards,” Dwyer added. “It’s also always a great opportunity to put the team forward to be recognised in the market for our achievements.”
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