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Staff find a flexible approach is something they can bank on

For TM Bank, taking care of employees makes good business sense

For TM Bank, taking care of employees makes good business sense

At 69, Di O'Reilly is looking for a change in her work arrangements. An executive assistant at Teachers Mutual Bank (TM Bank) since 2000, she admits to getting a "bit tired" and wants to ease back on her full-time workload - which suits her employer just fine.

Next year, TM Bank is launching an initiative for mature-age workers, such as Di, to help them transition into retirement. It will allow them flexible work arrangements so they have time to spend on hobbies and expanding their social networks.

"We'll be getting independent financial advice and I'm going to think about volunteering, maybe at Vinnie's or Salvos," she says. "You know some people lose their identity when they retire, so it's good to make a new life for yourself."

The initiative will also include teaching workers how to use social media to keep in touch with their former workmates once they retire.

TM Bank, formerly the Teachers Credit Union, has come a long way since its humble beginnings in a tennis shed in Hornsby nearly five decades ago. But taking care of its employees has remained a high priority, says Helen O'Reilly (no relation to Di), the company's chief human resources officer.

Considering 70 per cent of the bank's 440 employees are women, having female-friendly work practices has ensured that for the past five years TM Bank has enjoyed a place on an exclusive list. It is one of only 125 employers nationally to receive an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation (formerly the Employer of Choice for Women in the Workplace).

"We have addressed the gender pay gap and pay everyone for the role they are doing, regardless of their sex," Helen O'Reilly says. "We are also very proactive in the area of sexual harassment, and we educate our employees about our zero-tolerance policy."

TM Bank also has generous paid parental leave and a flexible back-to-work program for returning mothers. "A woman can initially work from home on a temporary basis, then work part-time, reduced hours or have a job share - however it suits her," she says.

These flexible working arrangements extend beyond working mothers to employees who want time to study or attend to other duties. Others can take leave-without-pay to study or travel for up to 12 months, says Marco Sicurella, senior HR manager. "The main thing is that this flexibility is embedded in our whole work culture," he says. "We take a holistic approach to all our employees."

TM Bank also has a concerted program of succession planning, which focuses on female employees who want to progress in their careers. Six women are selected and sponsored each year as part of the national Women and Leadership program. They attend leadership symposiums, conferences and receive three months of coaching.

Another 20 employees (men and women) are given mentoring and career progression planning through participation in an innovation and leadership committee. This committee is also involved in implementing the company's strategic plan. "They get to work with the social media, marketing, HR and finance committees, too, so there is a lot of collaboration," Mr Sicurella says.

To ensure employees are happy, the TM Bank focuses on improving their wellbeing, both physical and mental. The company has offered pilates and zumba classes, programs with Weight Watchers, and is now introducing an on-site personal training course, including boxercise, so employees can reach their fitness goals.

"I went on Weight Watchers and lost 15 kilos," says Di O'Reilly. "You had no excuse not to do it because it was right in the office."

To boost people's self-esteem and ensure that employees are appropriately rewarded and recognised, supervisors have a reward tool-kit that includes giving "thank you" cards and targeted vouchers. These are tailored to fit a person's passions, such as cooking classes or adventure sports. Outstanding achievers are also commended at the annual awards nights.

Statistics show these initiatives have paid off, says Mr Sicurella. "We have very high employee engagement - about 88 per cent, up from 86 per cent last year - one of the highest in the financial service industry, and also a very low staff turnover of 7 to 10 per cent."

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