Messages from bank employees have been leaked complaining about an internal email from the Commonwealth Bank requesting they record their attendance ahead of a mandatory return to the office.
But the Bank explained that the internal roll system is a voluntary app designed to help locate colleagues in the workplace, as it responded to the reaction from staff.
An email was sent to the Commonwealth Bank’s 49,000 staff that required employees to return to the office for at least 50 per cent of their work time per month from July 17.
It resulted in hundreds of complaints from workers that were filed to the Finance Sector Union (FSU), with some threatening to quit.
In an email back in May, CommBank group executive of human resources, Sian Lewis, broke down why the bank was asking workers to return to the office saying the move built ‘stronger connection face-to-face’.
Commonwealth Bank employees have complained about an internal email asking they record their attendance in the workplace ahead of a mandatory return to the office – but the bank explained the inflated reaction was over a voluntary app designed for workers in the office
She then announced the launch of a ‘Connect Me tool’ inside 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 maximises time with colleagues’.
The app works by recording days employees are in the office.
But some took issue with the measure, with one worker, who opted to remain anonymous, describing it as ‘ridiculous and annoying’.
The employee told News.com.au that staff had ‘become kindergarten kids again, forced to tick attendance at school’.
‘They (staff) are annoyed at being treated like kids,’ they said.
‘They are fine to return to the office but not the way they treat us like kids, ticking attendance.
‘If we go back to the office we will do it because we want to, not being forced like this. They need to know the way of working is changing now.’
But the Commonwealth Bank explained to Daily Mail Australia that the app was voluntary to use, was actually created in response to employee feedback and 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 on helping them connect with their colleagues on the days they come into the office,’ a CBA spokesperson said.
‘The app is entirely voluntary and is being used by thousands of our people to share their in-office days and see where colleagues they work closely with are planning to work.’
The bank revealed the launch of the ‘Connect Me tool’ inside the WorkDay HR system in an internal email
The app allows employees to ‘connect with their colleagues on the days they come into the office’ and is entirely voluntary
Screenshots were also leaked of Commonwealth Bank employees criticising the request to return to the office.
One person said: ‘When I accepted the offer at CBA 1.5 years ago, I was informed that I can completely work from home for the role.’
‘The consideration at the time was combined benefits of ‘work from home’, ‘salary’ and ‘environment’ your organisation provides. When CBA suddenly announces mandatory office, it took away the benefit without renegotiation.
‘This violates the core value ‘care’ CBA tries to achieve. When our bank claims we ‘care’, do we do one-way announcement or do we try to speak with/listen to employees?’
Another said: ‘I completely support the insights and observations expressed in the email, and I certainly experience these every time I visit my leader and team who are based in Sydney.’
‘Unfortunately I don’t achieve these experiences when sitting in the Melbourne office. The flexibility of WFH was one of the benefits advertised for my role I accepted 12 months ago.’
A third suggested the bank work on ‘improving ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) score and keeping institutional investors happy’ instead.
‘I’m all for transparency and would love to see data on this, it would definitely be an opportunity to dispel all the conjecture in the comments if supported by data,’ they wrote.
The response from the bank’s employees has been slammed by other Aussie workers who have said if staff can’t cope with working half the week in the office, they should just resign – or their employers should sack them.
‘If the staff are not prepared to work five days a week in the office, they should be fired,’ one commented.
‘Ask for their resignation, see if they will attend the office,’ said another.
‘Get back to the office and work you lazy bunch of whingers. He’s your boss. He employs you and pays you so do as he says. Entitled and spoilt rotten,’ a third comment read.
‘I don’t get why people are complaining… I’m happy going into the office three to four days it’s not impacting my family or our budget … if you don’t like your employer’s policies simple get a job elsewhere,’ another posted.
Complaints were filed with the FSU after CommBank group executive of human resources, Sian Lewis, sent an internal email requesting staff return to the office for at least 50 per cent of their work time per month
A screenshot shows leaked messages from Commonwealth Bank employees criticising the request to return to the office
The Finance Sector Union claimed the direction to work in the office was made without consultation with staff or the union and that Ms Lewis did not appear at a meeting with some bank staff and the FSU to have the edict overturned.
‘It is totally unacceptable that CBA delivers an edict to its staff altering work from home arrangements without any consultation,’ said FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano last month.
‘Our members have raised serious concerns about the significant impact this change would have on them, including on their work/life balance, mental health and well-being and caring responsibilities.
‘They complain about the financial impact of increased commuting costs and childcare costs.
‘Some say they will now be seeking employment elsewhere.
‘For some CBA staff, their teams are not local so they are being made to go to an office to engage in video meetings with other workers interstate or overseas, or working 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 to the office.
‘Our approach to hybrid working has always been about finding the right balance between our longstanding commitment to flexible working and ensuring we deliver the best outcomes for our customers,’ the spokeswoman said.
The CBA say office workers connect with an additional 11 more colleagues each day and spend between 20 to 30 minutes more time collaborating with each other.