HR support for those who protect us

How ELMO helped Defence Bank


Defence Bank opened its doors in 1975. As a member-owned bank, Defence Bank employs around 200 people, who support approximately 90,000 members through a national branch network, an Australian-based Contact Centre, the bank’s website, and an award-winning mobile app.

Defence Bank’s purpose is to serve those who protect all Australians, which it does through a range of competitive products and services, personalised service, and genuine member care. The People & Culture team offer the full range of people services, including payroll, and is focused on building employee capability and strengthening the organisation’s people-first, technology-enabled way of working.

Problems Experienced

" During daylight savings, we’re working with up to six time zones across the network – that can make scheduling training or town halls an interesting experience."
- Head of Employee Experience at Defence Bank

Defence Bank faced an assortment of unique challenges – several of which stem from the fact that most branches are located on active defence bases across Australia. This creates an unusual working environment. The Head of Employee Experience at Defence Bank, recalls hosting a teleconference where one of the participants needed to go on hold when the jets took off overhead. There are also technological challenges with branches operating in a low-colour, no-sound, low-bandwidth environment.

There were also numerous talent management challenges. He explains: “We have leaders located far from their people. During daylight savings, we’re working with up to six time zones across the network – that can make scheduling training or town halls an interesting experience.”

Defence Bank implemented its first learning management system (LMS) just under 10 years ago, and that system was retained until it reached the end of its working life, simply because it worked. Upon going to market for a new LMS, the Defence Bank team found few systems and course libraries suited their needs as many were animation heavy or required sound; others were just too slow given Defence Bank’s limited bandwidth.

1 Geographically dispersed employees, often based away from their managers
2 Training schedule difficulties due to geographic spread across multiple time zones
3 Technological challenges around limited internet bandwidth and low-colour, no-sound restrictions


The EX leader says that in many ways, ELMO was the natural successor to Defence Bank’s previous LMS. While the functionality was different, there were similarities. The people involved in the transition to ELMO were also highly experienced, which made the experience easier than it might otherwise have been.

“Knowing the platform was working well in other mutual banks and similar organisations – like industry super funds – gave us comfort too,” he says. He adds that ELMO works well for Defence Bank and other mutual banks as course playback isn’t affected by the low-colour, no-sound, low bandwidth environment. This is important in a retail setting where learning is sometimes completed at the counter.

There were further benefits to ELMO, which combined well with Defence Bank’s existing people processes. “The pre-built course library gave us a range of professional modules to supplement the technical content we write in-house; and the performance module allowed us to reintroduce goals and checkpoints after a three-year hiatus, with scope to add additional activities like competencies and 360 reviews when we’re ready,” he explains. “These are all wins for a small team.”

The Result

" We’ve been with ELMO for a few years now and the platform is firmly embedded into our people experience. Known internally as Pathway, it’s the place you go to for all things learning and performance."
- Head of Employee Experience at Defence Bank

ELMO has given Defence Bank a stable, secure, and simple-to-use platform to build and deploy learning across its network. It has also supported the reintroduction of performance planning and review processes.

“We’ve been with ELMO for a few years now and the platform is firmly embedded into our people ecosystem,” the Head of EX says. “Known internally as Pathway [the name given to the ELMO system by Defence Bank], it’s the place you go to for all things learning and performance.”

In the past 12 months, the Defence Bank team has found even more ways to maximise ELMO’s value, taking full advantage of features like face-to-face bookings, short-answer quiz questions, and using the performance module to provide a structured induction plan for each new starter. “We’ve reduced manual effort and improved system utilisation, which are both wins when you’re lean like us,” he says.

The bank’s Head of EX has personally been engaged with ELMO since 2014 and in that time he’s seen the company grow from approximately 50 people based in Sydney’s Bondi Junction, into an ASX-listed company of several hundred people with offices across Australia and New Zealand. “I’m privileged to have built strong relationships with ELMOnians across the business and had the opportunity to share not only my experiences but my suggestions along the way,” he says. “During these past six years ELMO has grown and matured and I’m excited about where the company is going as new customer success initiatives like the ELMO Loop [ELMO’s product feedback consortium] take flight.”

1 Creation of “Pathway” (the name given to the ELMO system by Defence Bank) – a stable, secure and easy-to-use hub for performance and learning at Defence Bank
2 The roll-out of fortnightly learning programs across the Defence Bank network
3 Introduction of quarterly performance check-ins between managers and employees
4 The reintroduction of goal setting and performance planning and reviews
5 Use of ELMO Performance Management to create structured induction programs for new starters
6 Reduced manual entry for the HR team