Messages have been leaked from bank employees complaining about an internal Commonwealth Bank email asking them to sign in ahead of a mandatory return to the office.
But the Bank explained that the internal registration system is a voluntary application designed to help locate colleagues in the workplace, as it responded to the reaction of staff.
An email was sent to all 49,000 Commonwealth Bank employees requiring employees to return to the office for at least 50 percent of their work time per month beginning July 17.
It resulted in hundreds of complaints from workers going to the Financial Sector Union (FSU), with some threatening to resign.
In an email in May, CommBank group human resources executive Sian Lewis explained why the bank was asking workers to return to the office, saying the move created a “stronger face-to-face connection.”
Commonwealth Bank employees have complained about an internal email asking them to check-in at the workplace ahead of a mandatory return to the office, but the bank explained the inflated reaction was due to a voluntary application. designed for workers in the office.
He then announced the launch of a ‘Connect Me tool’ within the WorkDay HR system that ‘provides a view of who will be coming into the office each day and allows you to plan for in-person collaboration that maximizes time with colleagues’.
The application works by recording the days that employees are in the office.
But some took issue with the move, with one worker, who chose to remain anonymous, describing it as “ridiculous and annoying.”
The employee told him News.com.au that staff had “turned back into kindergarten kids, forced to mark attendance at school.”
“They (staff) are upset at being treated like children,” they said.
‘They are fine to go back to the office, but not in the way they treat us like children, marking attendance.
‘If we go back to the office we will do it because we want to, not forced like that. They need to know that the way they work is changing now.’
But Commonwealth Bank explained to Daily Mail Australia that the app was for voluntary use, was actually created in response to employee feedback, and was only designed to help find workers who were present in the office.
“Our Connect Me app was developed for our employees, in response to their feedback about helping them connect with their colleagues on the days they come into the office,” a CBA spokesperson said.
“The app is completely voluntary and is being used by thousands of people to share their days at the office and see where colleagues they work closely with plan to work.”
The bank revealed the launch of the ‘Connect Me tool’ within the WorkDay HR system in an internal email
The app allows employees to ‘connect with their colleagues on the days they come to the office’ and is entirely voluntary
Screenshots of Commonwealth Bank employees criticizing the request to return to the office also leaked.
One person said: “When I accepted the offer at CBA 1.5 years ago, I was informed that I can fully work from home for the position.”
‘The consideration at the time was the combined ‘work from home’, ‘salary’ and ‘environment’ benefits your organization provides. When CBA suddenly announces the mandatory office, it removed the benefit without renegotiation.
‘This violates the core value ‘care’ that the CBA tries to achieve. When our bank claims we ‘care’, do we make a one-way announcement or try to talk to/listen to employees?’
Another said: “I fully endorse the ideas and observations expressed in the email, and I certainly experience them every time I visit my Sydney-based leader and team.”
‘Unfortunately, I don’t get these experiences when I’m sitting in the Melbourne office. The flexibility of the WFH was one of the benefits advertised for my position that I accepted 12 months ago.’
A third suggested that the bank work on “improving the ESG (environmental, social and governance) score and keeping institutional investors happy.”
“I’m all for transparency and would love to see data on this, it would definitely be an opportunity to dispel all the guesswork in the comments if the data supports it,” they wrote.
The response from bank employees has been criticized by other Australian workers who have said that if staff cannot cope with working half the week in the office, they should simply resign, or their employers should fire them.
‘If staff are not prepared to work five days a week in the office, they should be fired,’ commented one.
“Ask for their resignation, to see if they attend the office,” said another.
‘Go back to the office and work, you bunch of lazy complainers. He is your boss. He employs you and pays you, so do what he says. Titled and spoiled rotten ”, read a third comment.
“I don’t understand why people complain… I’m happy to go to the office for three or four days, it doesn’t affect my family or our budget… if you don’t like your employer’s policies, just look for a job somewhere else”. ‘ posted another.
The complaints were filed with FSU after CommBank group human resources executive Sian Lewis sent an internal email requesting that staff return to the office for at least 50 percent of their work time per month.
A screenshot shows leaked messages from Commonwealth Bank employees criticizing the request to return to the office.
The Financial Sector Union claimed that the direction to work in the office was made without consulting staff or the union and that Ms Lewis failed to appear at a meeting with some bank and FSU employees to overturn the edict.
“It is totally unacceptable for the CBA to issue an edict to its staff altering work-from-home arrangements without any consultation,” FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said last month.
‘Our members have expressed serious concerns about the significant impact this change would have on them, including on their work-life balance, mental health and well-being, and caregiving responsibilities.
‘They complain about the financial impact of rising transport and childcare costs.
‘Some say they will now seek employment elsewhere.
“For some CBA staff, their teams are not local, so they are required to go to an office to participate in video meetings with other interstate or overseas workers, or work from home that day.”
The union added that they wanted the bank to “suspend the mandate and engage in proper consultation” to develop a “work from home policy.”
The Commonwealth Bank told Daily Mail Australia in May that it was simply providing a “framework” for staff to get back into the office.
“Our approach to hybrid working has always been about finding the right balance between our long-standing commitment to flexible working and ensuring we deliver the best results for our clients,” the spokeswoman said.
The CBA says that office workers connect with 11 more colleagues each day and spend an additional 20 to 30 minutes of time collaborating with each other.