CommBank: grows Workplace Giving participation to 42% of employees through strong leadership and opt-out

Commonwealth Bank changed the way it enrolled new employees in its Workplace Giving program in 2011. Rather than new starters needing to opt-in to join the program, CommBank now automatically enrolls all new employees into the program, providing an option to opt-out during the on-boarding process, or at any time after. This opt-out method has grown participation among the bank’s 35,000 eligible staff from 15% to 42% – no mean feat when the average Workplace Giving participation rate is less than 5%.

Sharona Torrens, Commbank’s Workplace Giving and Indigenous Affairs Executive Manager says encouraging new starter’s participation in the program enables the bank to engage them right from day one. “Once they begin their role, there is a lot of business information coming their way and it can be harder to connect with them,” she says. “Having them engaged through the on-boarding process is a real opportunity to gain their attention and build their connection with the great work we’re achieving in the community.”

CommBank Foundation is one of the oldest Workplace Giving programs in Australia, celebrating its centenary in 2017. Its Community Grants Program supports youth-focused charities by providing three-year grants. A 14 employee advisory committee promotes the Foundation and looks for opportunities to engage employees to keep the program front of mind. They do this through written messages, events and other activities, including encouraging employees to donate their time and skills to Community Grants recipients through volunteering, fundraising and pro-bono support – all of which offer a first-hand glimpse into where their money is going.

“Providing opportunities for our people to work closely with community organisations is a key aspect of CommBank’s vision to secure and enhance the financial wellbeing of people, businesses and communities,” says Torrens. “Together these opportunities increase awareness of, and advocacy for, the program and the great outcomes it achieves.”

Torrens says the number of new starters opting-out during the on-boarding process has been minimal and when they do have questions about the approach, it’s an opportunity to discuss the program’s results with them and help them understand where their hard earned money will go.  It’s also important to note that employees can easily opt-out of the program at any time.

“That’s where constant conversation with employees about what our Workplace Giving program is achieving, how it works and where their money is being directed is really important,” she says. “We are seeing great outcomes for those in need and we must clearly articulate these results to those who are regularly contributing to the program.”

CommBank employees certainly have a lot to be proud of! In the last decade, more than $20 million in staff donations has been raised for the community. CommBank also makes an employer contribution of $2 million each year to support the Community Grants program.

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Commonwealth Bank won a Highly Commended Award for Best Overall Program at the 2017 Workplace Giving Excellence Awards. Click here to read more about their program.