Bank of Valletta workers bring in union over ‘excessive’ workloads

Bank of Valletta has agreed to lighten the load on a number of employees who have complaining of excessive workloads and impossible targets

Bank of Valletta has agreed to lighten the load on a number of employees who have complaining of excessive workloads and impossible targets, brought about by a schedule of major organisational changes the bank introduced to improve its customer servicing capabilities.

The General Workers Union registered an industrial dispute with BOV for breach of the collective agreement, following extensive outisde recruitment.

In a letter to BOV employee members – seen by MaltaToday – General Workers Union (GWU) section secretary Riccarda Darmanin insisted that “the general morale of the staff has never been so low as these days”.

The ‘alarming’ number of employees resigning from their jobs at BOV was blamed on employees feeling that bank management considered them unskilled and incapable of being given roles in the new bank structure.

Employees who spoke to this newspaper said the changes introduced by the bank were too drastic and abrupt.

“To make matters worse, many of us were assigned new tasks and targets while still performing old duties because the migration to the new structure is taking longer than predicted,” one employee said. “And above all this, they are setting unattainable KPI (key performance indicators) targets for us, knowing full well we can never reach those targets while this confusion is ongoing.”

Key performace indicators are set by management as targets for employees to fulfil in a certain time window. Not fulfilling one’s KPIs could affect an employee’s performance reviews, bonuses, chances for promotion or even the job itself.

A spokesperson for GWU confirmed that BOV has given the employees new tasks and targets, which they are doing their utmost to reach. “At the same time, it was agreed that back-office work had to migrate to other specialised departments, but the process is still in progress. Due to this, most of the employees are finding it difficult to cope with the situation,” they said.

MaltaToday is informed that these new KPIs were in fact the biggest concern raised in a meeting the union held for BOV employees on 13 July.

Many employees complained that management had raised targets without carrying out a review exercise to determine the effects of such increases.

The GWU instructed its members to attend interim KPI meetings but not to accept them if they considered them off-track.

The union called on the bank’s HR department to present its study and data on which the raised KPI targets had been issued.

The GWU later sought a meeting with Bank of Valletta CEO Rick Hunkin, to discuss the new service model, lack of career progression and lack of communication. Several suggestions were discussed to favour employees’ health without hindering the bank’s transformation programme.

“It was agreed to build a feasible, processing infrastructural plan, to ease the burden on the employees,” the spokesperson said. “This plan will allow employees to focus on their delegated KPIs, reach the desired results and to reschedule the products courses listed in KPIs to have a work/family life balance during summer and the festive season.”

Overall, the spokesperson described the meeting with Hunkin as ‘very positive’.

“The GWU embraces the necessary changes the Bank needs to carry out,” a spokesperson said. “However the workers’ well-being must always be considered. The Union aims to take a strategic approach to attain the best results for both sides.”

This newspaper reached out to BOV for its comment on the issue, but no reply was forthcoming by the time of going to print.