The Gatehouse Blog

Redefining the culture at Visa

Visa competes on the global stage for the brightest talent. Our culture is what differentiates us in the market, helps us attract and retain the right talent, and contributes to Visa’s reputation as a place where people thrive and are proud to work.

Our cultural transformation continues to be guided by an executive team who are committed to Visa’s Leadership Principles and model the belief that “everyone is a leader”, and that transparency, integrity, collaboration and accountability describe how we act and lead.

Following the acquisition of and integration with the global Visa organisation in 2016, we created an employee communications and experience programme designed to improve staff engagement. Our approach was two-fold: 1. focus on empowering and informing employees by providing them with the tools, training and timely communications they need to be successful; and 2. create new programmes that inspire and transform the employee experience at Visa from the moment they step into the office.

Empower and inform

A significant amount of work took place in the early stages of the integration to inform and educate our employees, from the basics, such as communicating Visa’s strategy, helping employees understand the global company structure, way of working, compensation model and performance review process. We also introduced new tools to enable collaboration and recognition, including a new peer-to-peer recognition portal and a global intranet to educate and inform staff.

We also facilitated informal meet-ups for team members with new leaders who had joined Visa’s leadership team in Europe. Providing opportunities for employees to engage informally with company leaders proved essential in helping them understand the company’s priorities and develop their own professional objectives.

Once the internal communications foundations were in place, we focused on mapping out the employee experience and creating unique experiences for employees to engage with throughout their career at Visa.

“A significant amount of work took place in the early stages of the integration to inform and educate our employees”

Inspire and transform

To ensure we built a plan that was right for our people, we ran focus groups across the Europe region to determine what was working well and what needed improvement. We combined this data with insights from the annual employee engagement survey and other feedback channels, and were able to narrow our focus to these key areas: communicating and embedding the strategy, increasing leadership visibility, focusing more on diversity and inclusion, and continuing to build Visa’s employer brand by creating programmes to engage, excite and recognise employees.

The engagement programme that resulted contributed to a significant increase in employee engagement (as measured by our annual engagement survey), and introduced a culture that values learning, curiosity and an innovation mind set. Here’s a taster of some of the programmes we introduced:


Press Pause is a new Wellbeing programme. For people to thrive, they need to work in an environment where they can be themselves and feel supported in all aspects of their work and personal lives. To enable this, our approach to wellbeing is holistic, focusing on emotional, physical and financial wellbeing. Each month focuses on a different component of wellbeing and, where possible, we connect it to external awareness campaigns. The programme offers a broad range of activities and online webinars, such as mindfulness and yoga, plus we collaborate with HR and Employee Resource Groups to ensure that our initiatives draw on internal and external expertise. Employees can also access our Employee Assistance Program and get access to confidential counselling. Press Pause earned a “highly commended” at the UK & Europe 2018 Employee Engagement Awards.



A brand new programme, piloted at our European Headquarters and which we are now planning to expand to other offices in in the near future. Once a month, 20 employees are offered an opportunity to learn something new while also getting to know their colleagues better! The contents of the sessions are extremely varied and some of our past sessions have included terrarium making, juggling, card tricks, and even a basic German language lesson. Each participant receives a take-away so they can keep practicing their new skill. The programme proved extremely popular with our employees and continues to generate a positive buzz.


Visa sponsors some of the largest sporting events in the world, including the Olympics Games, FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cup and, most recently, UEFA Women’s Football. Working in collaboration with the Sponsorship team, we build employee engagement programmes around these properties which consist of editorial content, shared challenges and events to offer employees unique experiences. For example, for the 2018 Winter Olympics Games we hosted a Europe-wide photo contest where employees shared their winter sport inspired photos, and installed environmental branding in Europe HQ which showcased Team Visa athletes. For the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, we rolled out supporter’s packs to offices in Europe, and the larger offices received a pop-up football stand where they hosted local activities such as keepy uppie challenges and virtual reality experiences. We are in the midst of planning for the Women’s World Cup and will be sure to bring the excitement of women’s football to our employees in Europe.


Working with colleagues in the London Innovation Centre, our team helped to run employee tours giving everyone the opportunity to learn about the future of payments across the different areas such as retail and transportation. We also team up with our Innovation Centre and the Employee Resource Groups to help organise events where partners, clients and challenger banks come and talk to employees about the latest trends and challenges in payments and technology. If these events are taking place at Europe HQ, we either live-stream or share recordings of the session so employees who can’t attend can engage with them.

We are often asked to quantify the impact of our approach. The overall engagement index score for Visa Europe increased by 12 points between 2017 and 2018. The response rate to the question “I have a good understanding of Visa’s strategy” increased by 9%, and responses to “I feel proud to work for Visa” increased by 5% in the same period. As already mentioned, we were lucky enough to be recognised at the UK & Europe 2018 Employee Engagement Awards too. We continue to leverage industry best practice and deliver it in a way which works for our company and our most important asset, our people.

We are doing some really incredible things and while it is an honour to be recognised by winning awards, our small and committed team is entirely focused on supporting our global Leadership Principles by keeping employees informed and shaping experiences that matter for our people.


Biography: Laura Anderson

The Employee Communications and Experience team are working to create a culture at Visa where colleagues can thrive.

As an Employee Communications and Experience Manager for Europe, Laura is responsible for leading work streams to inform and engage colleagues about sponsorships, recognition and HR programmes. She also manages communication channels, advises leaders on employee communications and engagement and is on the Young Professionals committee.