Designing a supported returner program
Regional Australia Bank is a customer-owned bank that has been helping its customers achieve their lifestyle goals for over 50 years. The bank has a strong reputation for being flexible, personable and being able to make the complex simple. Its Head Office is based in Armidale, NSW and its branch network extends to 38 locations across regional and coastal NSW. Offering a full range of retail consumer banking services, Regional Australia Bank has grown to become one of the premier banking alternatives to the ‘Big Four’ banks.
Regional Australia Bank has long offered a range of flexible working options to employees – including working from home, compressed hours, flexible start and finish times and extended leave.
The challenge for the business has been finding the time and resources to improve its approaches and policies, so that it can continue to provide ongoing support to its staff and the broader community.
As part of the Career Revive initiative, Regional Australia Bank held a morning tea to better understand staff experiences of maternity leave and the pressures facing women who wished to balance work and careers.
Attendees completed a short and anonymous survey used to examine the appetite to introduce a formal mentoring program for new or expectant mothers.
Regional Australia Bank also wished to create opportunities for women who had been out of the workforce for an extended period.
The challenge was to create an accessible program, which provided practical support and training to aid women’s re-entry into the workforce.
Regional Australia Bank examined gaps in its current and future workforce and considered areas of the business that were best suited to support, re-train and retain skilled women from the local community.
To further inform design activities, Regional Australia Bank sought employee input on the qualities, motivation and behaviours that made it a great place to work.
Through a dedicated design workshop, the executive sponsor, HR and learning staff discussed:
- Areas where staff could work flexibly within the business;
- Technical supports required;
- Dedicated supports for returners; and
- Program timing and intake.
A part of the Career Revive initiative, Regional Australia Bank also reviewed its recruitment approach, changing its search parameters on Seek to reach more diverse candidates.
Participation in Career Revive has allowed Regional Australia Bank the time and support to elevate female workforce participation as a strategic business priority.
The business case for the Supported Returner Program has been endorsed by the Regional Australia Bank Executive Team, with a view to implementing the program in its various locations.
Insights gathered from staff throughout the project have been funnelled into strategic improvement initiatives, including the upgrade of online learning and performance programs.