Helping to improve the culture for UnionBankers is also a focus at the bank. In place are two self-managed team programmes, namely Culture Conversation – or C2 as it is abbreviated to – and the REACH teams. Under Culture Conversation, seven cross-functional teams of executives work on innovation, sense of urgency, value-based governance, customer experiences, straight-through processing, sustainability and collaboration. Under REACH teams, there are 30 unit-based teams comprising a manager and staff who work on SmartBanking goals. These culture-focused team programmes help to forge greater cross-team collaboration.
The bank also focuses on utilising storytelling in strengthening its culture, and to this end, UnionBankers are trained in storytelling. The programme is called Celebrating DNA Stories, and it revolves around the belief that compelling stories that demonstrate how UnionBankers live the purpose, values and brand can foster inspiration and affinity. The Bank’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Justo A Ortiz, personally goes on a workplace caravan so that the chosen stories are read to an audience comprising the storyteller’s colleagues and in some instances, to the bank’s customers.
While sharing experiences is healthy, recognition is also regularly practised at the Union Bank. A recognition programme entitled Heroes and Champions takes care of this.
These are instances of a broader human resource policy where the HR department serves as more than just a ‘hire and fire’ department as is considered a strategic business partner for the bank. Here, people solutions are formulated to allow employees to reach their full potential, an important element of long-term business success.
The Human Resources department at Union Bank is recognised as having a central role in building the culture, in attracting the right talents, in growing experts by developing human capital and in driving results and business outcomes by the sheer optimisation of its UnionBankers. For example, HR keeps employees engaged so that staff understand how important it is to keep customers engaged, for it is the customers that are crucial to the sustainability of the bank.
As with any culture, communication is important. Townhall meetings are conducted regularly at formal venues to ensure there is a place for open discussions on the state of the company and its departments. The bank also initiates weekly and quarterly committee meetings and business reviews so that team members receive updates on the performance of the Bank and its business units. Additionally, there is an internal web-based portal called Great2BeU where the company’s HR policies and standards are found, alongside messages, stories, pictures, updates and links to communication materials to keep all UnionBankers connected, updated and informed.
Competency development is a key area of focus for the bank. There is a UnionBank University that runs ten academies, namely Operations, IT, Finance, Six Sigma, Risk, Leadership and Management, Self-Mastery, Marketing, Sales Boot Camp and Innovation Academy. Courses are provided via classroom structures and via e-learning on demand platforms. The UnionBank University course offering also supports the MyCareer programme, a self-driven career development programme where individuals are given the freedom to create their own development plans to achieve their career goals.
Feedback and coaching are integrated to the programme called My Performance. An important element in this programme are the coaching conversations done by the leader that focus on how the team member can do better in the future rather than focusing on how a team member has done in the past; this is part of the overall emphasis on learning as part of talent development.
While learning and development are good, there is also space for social activities at UnionBank. For instance, the social events calendar contains events such as Christmas Celebrations, Volunteer Day and Spooktacular (Bring Your Kids To Work Day). These fall under the banner of the UCare programme, containing four cluster programmes called Happy You, Smart You, Secure You and Healthy You. There are also running clubs, Financial Literacy Brown Bag sessions, bazaars, book clubs, UnionBank dance crews, and other groups. These are all designed to help employees nurture their passions outside of work, to connect with like-minded individuals and to promote emotional, spiritual and intellectual health.
The management believes that UnionBank is one of the best companies to work for because of “its great culture and its strong leadership team.” Team members are encouraged to be their best self and are supported in their efforts to succeed. There is a strong sense of belonging and community in the organisation.
The bank’s efforts have produced tangible results as the findings from an employee engagement survey have revealed the top three things employees value most about working at the bank as being knowing what is expected at work, knowing the importance of their contributions and the purpose, vision and values of the brand, and most importantly, having people around you who care.