Engaging Employees

Employees are at the center of everything we do at Union Pacific. Our highly skilled workforce allows us to fulfill our vision of Building America. That is why we invest significant resources to ensure employees get the training and support they need to succeed.

Sharron Jourdan, electrician


Union Pacific strives to provide employees with fulfilling careers and professional growth. We offer comprehensive benefits and focus on training and development opportunities, allowing employees to improve existing skills and learn new ones.

Union Pacific recruits talented employees who have a passion for performance and want to deliver quality results. A diverse workforce is critical to our business and innovative ideas that lead to future success. Although we are making great efforts to recruit, retain and advance the careers of people from all walks of life, we still have work to do. We will continue finding ways to improve and strengthen our performance in this area and reach our goal of having a workforce that reflects the diverse communities we serve.

We continue efforts to recruit women to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers at Union Pacific. That is why we support programs such as the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Women in IT Initiative and its Code Crush experience that introduces young women to information technology in a secure, friendly and engaging environment.



Union Pacific offers a comprehensive benefits program to our employees, including medical insurance, educational assistance, pension and a 401(k). These benefits vary based on whether an employee is non-union or part of a collective bargaining agreement. Union Pacific deeply cares about our employees' health and well-being. New resources offered to promote wellness and work-life balance are outlined below.


Union Pacific recognizes employees may need help at home to support work schedules required to run the railroad's around-the-clock operations. The Bright Horizons Care Advantage™ resource provides access to some of the largest self-select online caregiver databases. Featured services supporting better work-life balance include:

  • Center-based child care
  • Pet care
  • Babysitters and nannies
  • Elder care
  • Housekeeping
  • Tutoring and homework help
Population (Total company)
44,500 (4Q 2015 average)
Traditionalists (born before 1946) <1%
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) 30%
Generation X (born 1965-1981) 50%
Millennial (born after 1981) 19%
Senior Management
Female 19%
Male 81%
Asian 1%
Black 7%
Caucasian 85%
Hispanic 6%
Native American 1%


Union Pacific's wellness program, "Take Charge. Feel Better. Live More," provides employees with resources to address mental and physical health concerns.

Union Pacific Health and Medical Services help employees manage a variety of wellness-related issues. Our System Health Injury Protocol (SHIP II) assists employees who may be at risk for injury because of low fitness levels. The program gives employees access to personal training sessions, as well as consultations with a nutritionist, to help them achieve their fitness goals. For employees who sustain an injury, the company's Return to Work (RTW) program enables them to perform productive, meaningful work activities within their physical capabilities as defined by their physicians. Additionally, Union Pacific provides education and assistance for issues including substance abuse, alertness and stress.

Other wellness programs available to employees include:

  • Personalized Health Coaching helps employees and spouses with health risks including stress, depression, smoking, diabetes, nutrition education and weight management.
  • Employee Assistance Program offers all employees and their families counseling and referral services for personal or work-related problems.
  • Annual Wellness Incentives are available to non-union employees and their spouses for completing a wellness assessment and an annual physical.

Additional examples can be found under View More below.

Wellness Challenge

To increase participation in wellness programs and employee health, Union Pacific's Worksite Wellness Challenge recognizes individual work units that have adopted world-class wellness programs. Launched in 2013, the challenge evaluates and scores all work units on their wellness and safety education objectives. Participating worksites receive points based on engagement levels, resulting in designations to match the teams' efforts. In 2015, 50 out of 53 work units received platinum, gold, silver or bronze recognition. On average, engagement and participation grew 20 percent from 2014.


The partnership with Healthy Contributions grew to more than 5,000 gym facilities available to employees through Union Pacific's industry leading System Health Facility program. The new network includes industry fitness leaders such as Gold's Gym and Anytime Fitness, as well as thousands of regional and local gyms. This benefit encourages Union Pacific employees to pursue a wellness path by taking charge of their health and fitness.


The Union Pacific Peer Support Program helps employees who experience a critical incident on the job or in their personal lives. Union Pacific employee volunteers are trained to help fellow colleagues deal with human and emotional impacts of incidents by working through the recovery process and offering confidential, emotional support. If needed, Peer Support also bridges to professional resources. The National Employee Assistance Helpline is available to employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Suicide is a difficult topic and it can be a particularly difficult to discuss in the workplace. To address the problem, Union Pacific sponsored a company-wide suicide awareness rollout on world-wide Suicide Prevention Day. Volunteers met fellow employees as they arrived to or left work, handing out wallet-size cards about suicide and giving employees a key chain with the message, "Stay Connected." Collectively, the volunteers reached 10,000 employees in a single day. Such peer-to-peer programs are vital to suicide prevention because colleagues have strong credibility with their co-workers. In addition to the direct employee outreach, the Union Pacific Foundation provided a $250,000 grant to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, a public-private partnership working to make suicide prevention a national priority.

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Diversity and Inclusion

Union Pacific is committed to diversity and providing an inclusive work environment where people can be their best. Drawing upon the expertise and experiences of people from all backgrounds improves Union Pacific's decision making, problem solving and strategic thinking. Recruiting, leadership development and mentoring initiatives are helping build and maintain a diverse team.


A discrimination-free workplace and fair treatment are fundamental rights of all Union Pacific employees. We strive for a work environment in which differences are respected and valued. This is foundational for encouraging all employees to contribute to their fullest potential. Union Pacific is committed to providing a work environment free of offensive behavior directed at a person's race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, veteran status or disability. This includes offensive behavior directed at employees, customers and visitors to company facilities, as well as other people employees may come in contact with during the normal course of work.

To learn more about diversity at Union Pacific see our Affirming Diversity webpage.

Employee Resource Groups


Union Pacific's Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are networks of employees that help Union Pacific nurture a diverse workplace where all employees can do their best work. Each ERG has an executive sponsor who ensures these groups can direct management's attention to issues of particular concern. ERGs not only support their own members, but also provide educational experiences for all employees and service to the communities in which Union Pacific operates.

About 3,000 employees company-wide are involved in one or more Employee Resource Groups, which include:

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group AERO

    Asian Employee Resource Organization (AERO): AERO's mission is to recruit, retain and advance Asian employees to leadership at Union Pacific, as well as build awareness of the rich and diverse Asian culture through engagement in the company and with the community.

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group Ben

    Black Employee Network (BEN): BEN's mission is to increase the recruitment, retention and advancement of African-American employees within Union Pacific through promoting and facilitating personal and professional growth, and working with Union Pacific senior leadership on diversity issues. BEN also provides scholarships, encourages post-secondary education for high school graduates, and supports local African-American communities.

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group Bridges

    BRIDGES: BRIDGES' goals are to help protect and enhance Union Pacific's progressive, innovative reputation; create development opportunities through training, coaching and mentoring; provide a forum for networking; engage local communities; and advocate for issues affecting the LGBT community.

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group Conah

    Council of Native American Heritage (CONAH): CONAH's mission is to assist Union Pacific with the recruitment, retention and development of employees with Native American heritage and to build bridges to the Native American community. CONAH has built bridges with local and state entities that have special initiatives addressing the needs and concerns of the Native American people.

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group Lead

    LEAD –A Women's Initiative – Lead Educate Achieve and Develop: LEAD's mission is to foster an environment that increases opportunities for women to be recruited, retained and advanced as Union Pacific leaders and to make a difference through professional programming, personal development, mentoring and community involvement. LEAD celebrates Women's History Month, sponsors and participates in many community events, and supports many philanthropic causes.

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group Len

    Latino Employee Network (LEN): LEN was established to serve as a liaison with management to promote a better understanding of the issues and concerns among Latino employees. LEN endeavors to ensure the full integration of Latinos into the workplace through partnering with the company on recruitment, development and retention initiatives. LEN also has established strong partnerships with the Latino community in Omaha, Nebraska, through its many social and cultural projects.

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group UP Ties

    UP Ties: This ERG works with the company to ensure that Union Pacific attracts, develops and retains emerging professionals. Membership in UP Ties promotes understanding of the railroad, heightens inter-departmental knowledge, builds leadership and communications skills and provides Union Pacific with another "face" in its communities.

  • Building America Report 2015 - Employee Group UP Vets

    UPVETS: UPVETS' mission is to recruit, develop and retain military veterans and interested employees at Union Pacific through engagement in the company and community. The group provides military veterans immediate access to a network of fellow service members who provide mentorship and camaraderie.


The Latino Employee Network (LEN) showcased growth and success at its annual conference in San Antonio. More than 200 Union Pacific employees attended the largest conference in LEN's history, which offered networking opportunities, discussions with Union Pacific executives and professional development sessions. LEN has more than 600 members and continues to grow.

Building America Report 2015 - Latino Employee Network

The Sunset Service Unit, which stretches from Dalhart, Texas, to Yuma, Arizona, received LEN's Field Chapter of the Year Award. The new chapter recruited 150 members in 2015.

Training and Career Development


Union Pacific supports career paths through a talent management initiative called CoreConnect. CoreConnect includes a defined set of competencies focusing on how work is done, as well as goals and results. Through the core competencies, we create a culture of performance and growth that supports our vision, mission and values. Core competencies focus on how employees:

  • Build relationships and influence others
  • Handle adversity
  • Confront problems with courage
  • Lead teams
  • Embrace change
  • Make effective decisions
  • Act strategically
  • Focus on customers
Building America Report 2015 - Latino Employee Network

Educational Assistance

Higher education provides professional and personal development opportunities for those seeking to advance in the company. Union Pacific offers educational assistance to all full-time employees who have been employed for at least six months by the time classes begin. Tuition reimbursement is given to full-time employees who enroll in job- or career-related courses at accredited schools, colleges and universities, up to a maximum of $5,250 per calendar year, potentially covering up to 100 percent of tuition over the course of a degree.


In 2015, a team was formed to evaluate Union Pacific's discipline policy and programs, and develop recommendations. The team's approach included research, analyzing discipline and testing data, surveying managers and agreement professionals, holding a focus group with labor representatives and benchmarking other companies. The result, called Managing Agreement Professionals for Success (MAPS), provides a single, consistent, system-wide standard for addressing rules violations, while reinforcing employees' safe conduct through learning opportunities such as coaching, conferencing and training.

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Union Pacific offers training and career development opportunities to our employees, helping us cultivate a high-quality workforce capable of the challenging work the rail industry demands. Training also helps keep our employees safe on the job. In 2015, Union Pacific conducted 2.1 million hours of safety-related training, an increase from 1.9 million hours in 2014.

Some of Union Pacific's training and career development programs include:

  • New Employee Onboarding Program: Company and department orientations are a primary focus for new employees. Along with communication and industry-specific training, we provide an interactive electronic-learning experience and an instructor-led orientation program.
  • Skill Development: We offer a variety of technical, communication, safety and environmental training.
  • Managerial and Leadership Training: Union Pacific supports individual employee needs through training focused on all aspects of management and leadership. These courses help employees grow and develop, while encouraging employee engagement throughout the company.
  • Transitioning Managers: Union Pacific is dedicated to preparing degreed and non-degreed employees for key transition points in their careers. This includes a robust program to provide newly promoted managers with the tools they need to lead a team for the first time.
  • Emerging Leaders: We seek to maintain a strong pipeline of leaders. This means developing individuals who can move into higher levels of organizational leadership. We offer a series of leadership programs that vary from a three-day course to 10 months of intensive training.
  • Transportation Operations Training: Operational excellence is critical for Union Pacific as we seek to grow our business through superior service.
  • Field Management Trainee and Operations Management Trainee Programs: Hands-on opportunities to manage transportation operations for employees experienced in the field and employees who are new to operations.
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2015 Training Nonagreement Agreement
Total Training Hours 548,637 4,070,271
Number of Employees 6,968 40,422
Average Hours/Employee 79 101
Retention Rate Operations Management Trainee Field Management Trainee
2011 57% 70%
2012 56% 68%
2013 65% 77%
2014 71% 90%
2015 94% 88%

UP Way

The UP Way is an integral part of our culture at Union Pacific. It challenges all employees to improve safety, service and productivity through tools and processes that standardize work, solve problems at their root cause and eliminate variability and waste.

Strong employee engagement is a crucial part of the UP Way. When our employees actively take part in our culture of continuous improvement, we can achieve world-class safety, service excellence and increased productivity. UP Way outcomes include:

  • A safer and better work environment
  • Employees who design and continuously improve their work
  • Consistent and predictable work processes
  • Better understanding of expectations and processes
  • Improved working relationships
  • Sustained process improvements
Sustainability Report 2015 - Employee UP Way diagram


Rail car maintenance employees in the Roseville, California, area used UP Way initiatives to work more than 1 million hours injury free. Safe, efficient car repairs are vital to Union Pacific's operations and the team was determined find ways to keep each other safe.

Employees used UP Way tools to standardize training and promote a "stop the line" process to mitigate risks. They also completed several projects to implement additional safety initiatives, including:

  • Providing weekly safety facts.
  • Sharing driving and personal protection equipment tips.
  • Offering inclement weather updates to minimize safety hazards and maintain their safety record.

The team is proud of its major milestone and continues looking for ways to ensure everyone goes home safely.

Labor Agreements

Approximately 85 percent of our 44,500 full-time-equivalent employees are represented by 15 major rail unions. On Jan. 1, 2015, current labor agreements became subject to modification, and we began the latest round of negotiations with unions. Existing agreements remain in effect until new agreements are reached or the Railway Labor Act's procedures (which include mediation, cooling-off periods and the possibility of Presidential Emergency Board and congressional intervention) are exhausted. Contract negotiations historically continue for an extended period of time, and we rarely experience work stoppages while negotiations are pending.


Demand for train and yard service employees declined because of reduced business levels. The reductions caused some employees to be furloughed or placed on Auxiliary Work and Training Status (AWTS) boards.

Approximately 65 percent of all train and yard employees were eligible to be covered under AWTS agreements. About 30 percent of the furloughed employees were on AWTS boards in 2015.

AWTS agreements provide up to eight work or training days per month. Employees continue to receive full health care benefits and service months continue to be earned for purposes of Railroad Retirement. AWTS helps employees remain current with required training and enables a faster return to full-time status when business demand increases. This helps Union Pacific deliver when its customers increase their freight needs.