Engaging Employees

Employees are at the center of Union Pacific's business. Our highly skilled workforce enables us to fulfill our goal of Building America. That's why we invest significant resources to make sure our employees have the training and support they need to succeed.

Srinath Sathyanarayanan, senior systems consultant

Highlights, Challenges And Opportunities

Union Pacific provides excellent jobs to our employees, offering great benefits, a comprehensive wellness program and ample opportunities for training and development. Through these programs, we strive to build a strong, healthy and highly skilled workforce.

Union Pacific has a steadfast commitment to employee recruitment and development, and we seek new ways to strengthen employees, who are the backbone of our company. About 40 percent of all new hires are referred by current employees, but we know we have an opportunity to further attract and engage employees. As we move forward into the 21st century, we look forward to building upon the foundation of a resilient and dedicated workforce.


Union Pacific offers a comprehensive benefits program to our employees, including medical insurance, educational assistance, a pension and a 401(k). These benefits vary based on whether an employee is non-union or part of a collective bargaining agreement.

These benefits vary based on whether an employee is non-union or part of a collective bargaining agreement, but may include the following:

  • Life insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Educational assistance
  • 401(k) Thrift Plan
  • Medical, dental and vision coverage: A total of 96 percent of non-union employees who elected medical coverage enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan.
  • Financial education: We provide information to our employees through instructor-led courses on such topics as personal budgets, debt management, creating and protecting wealth, and planning for retirement.
  • Benefits education program: We offer instructor-led courses, video conferencing and one-on-one consultations.
  • Benefits Statements: Annual Benefits Statements provide non-union employees with a picture of their total compensation (salary plus bonus) and the ability to model different retirement scenarios, taking into account any pension, Railroad Retirement or Social Security benefits, 401(k) and personal savings.
  • Pension Plan: Union Pacific offers a defined benefit pension plan to salaried non-union employees.
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Population (Total company)
Female 6%
Male 94%
Asian 2%
Black 11%
Caucasian 73%
Hispanic 12%
Native American 2%
Senior Management
Female 17%
Male 83%
Asian 1%
Black 6%
Caucasian 88%
Hispanic 4%
Native American 1%
Sustainability Report 2014 - Employee Our Workforce
Traditionalist (born before 1946) >1%
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) 32%
Generation X (born 1965-1981) 48%
Millennial (born after 1981) 19%

Labor Agreements

About 85 percent of Union Pacific employees are covered under Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) unique to 14 different unions. These agreements cover wages, benefits and work rules.

Offering a Path to Wellness

Through Union Pacific's wellness program, we encourage employees to "Take Charge. Feel Better. Live More." To support that philosophy, we continue expanding the number of tools available to help our employees make healthy choices and proactively address mental and physical health concerns.

Union Pacific Health and Medical Services helps employees manage a variety of wellness-related issues. For example, Union Pacific's 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.

Wellness Challenge

To increase participation in wellness programs and employee health, Union Pacific's Worksite Wellness Challenge recognizes individual work units that have adopted and fostered world-class wellness programs. Launched in 2013, the challenge evaluates and scores all work units on their wellness and safety education objectives. Each worksite receives points based on its level of engagement, resulting in each participating worksite being awarded a "bronze," "silver" or "gold" designation. In 2014, 51 of 53 work units received a bronze, silver or gold recognition.

Other wellness programs available to employees include:

  • Health Coaching: Personalized coaching is available to employees and spouses for health risks including stress, depression, smoking, diabetes, nutrition education and weight management.
  • Employee Assistance Program: This program offers all employees and their families counseling and referral services for personal or work-related problems.
  • Annual Wellness Incentives: Incentives are available to non-union employees and their spouses for completing a wellness assessment and an annual physical.
  • WebMD Live More Portal: Union Pacific's self-service portal houses an employee's Well-Being Assessment and includes each user's customized Well-Being Plan, a personalized summary of overall well-being that offers insight into steps that can be taken to improve health. Among other features, it provides health trackers and reminders and behavior journals.
  • Clinical Decision Support: This program provides non-union employees and their families help obtaining trusted, current and personalized information and support for medical issues. This service provides research, available treatment options and things to consider for any medical diagnosis or health topic.
  • Friend to Friend Network: This program makes financial assistance available to active or retired railroaders and their immediate families who have suffered a health or dwelling-related tragedy. This network helps an average of 700 families every year.
  • System Health Facilities: Nearly 8,000 contracted facilities and an on-site Health and Fitness Center at our headquarters location are available to union and non-union employees, free of charge.
  • Annual Health Wealth Expo: About 2,000 employees attend this event annually to meet with benefit plan providers and learn from health and wealth management experts.
  • Peer Support: The Peer Support team is made up of more than 1,000 specially trained volunteers who support fellow employees and their families through physical, psychological or emotional stress.
  • The B.W. Schaefer Wellness Award: Union Pacific recognizes one employee each year for his or her commitment to health and wellness and use of company wellness tools. The B.W. Schaefer Wellness Award recipient is a recognized role model for wellness and health within his or her work unit, exhibits exemplary work performance and safety awareness, participates in wellness activities while off-duty in the community and initiates ideas to further promote a healthy culture at the worksite.
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UP Way

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

Sustainability Report 2015 - Employee UP Way diagram

UP Way:

  • Supports our mission – Dedicated to Serve – and our values – performance, high ethics and teamwork.
  • Ties to our leadership attributes of vision, commitment, communication, teamwork and respect.

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 three related goals – world-class safety, service excellence and increased productivity. These grow our business and improve job security. 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

Employee Resource Groups

Union Pacific's Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are networks of employees that help Union Pacific nurture a diverse workforce where all employees can do their best work. Each ERG has an executive sponsor, which 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.

Roughly 3,000 employees companywide are involved in one or more Employee Resource Group. Membership continues to grow, and 2014 saw a large increase in representation of field chapters within these groups.

In addition to facilitating the ERGs below, Union Pacific supports diverse communities in the states and cities where the company operates. For example, Union Pacific serves as a major sponsor of the annual Heartland Latino Leadership Conference held in Omaha, Nebraska.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

  • Sustainability Report 2014 - 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.

Auxiliary Work and Training Status

When an employee surplus occurs, in lieu of furloughs, about 60 percent of train and yard employees are covered under AWTS agreements, which guarantee employees eight work or training days per month, continued full healthcare benefits and accrual of service time toward Railroad Retirement. In addition to providing for our employees, AWTS helps the company by allowing employees to remain current on training and maintain their proficiency, thereby allowing them to return to full-time work faster when the demand returns.

Growing Volumes, Surge Resources

In 2014, we handled 7 percent more volume than in 2013, and we overcame weather-related delays. Maintaining a ready workforce and surge resources – locomotives and equipment – was crucial in handling the increased volume.

In fact, we ran nearly as many annual carloads as our all-time high in 2006, but we did it more than 2 mph faster. To put that in perspective, operating an average of 1 mph faster is the equivalent of adding 150 to 200 locomotives and 100 to 200 or more train, engine and yard employees.

Transporting goods on time is crucial for customer satisfaction, and the AWTS program, unique in the industry, gave Union Pacific a ready pool of talent to call back to work when volumes surged.

Training and Career Development

Union Pacific offers training and career development opportunities to our employees, helping us cultivate a high-quality workforce capable of the challenging work this industry demands. Training also helps keep our employees safe on the job. In 2014, Union Pacific conducted 1.9 million hours of safety-related training, an increase from 1.65 million hours in 2013.

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

  • New Employee Onboarding Program: Company and department orientations are a primary focus of our new employee onboarding process. Along with communication and industryspecific training, we provide an interactive electronic-learning experience and an instructorled orientation program.
  • Skill Development: We offer a variety of technical, communication, safety and environmental trainings.
  • Transitional Training: Union Pacific is dedicated to preparing degreed and non-degreed employees for key transition points in their careers.
  • 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 a core competency for Union Pacific, especially as we seek to grow our business through superior service. Our Field Management Trainee (FMT) program, for employees with prior experience in field operations, and Operations Management Trainee (OMT) program, for those new to operations, provide a hands-on opportunity to manage transportation operations.
Retention Rate Operations Management Training Field Management Training
2010 56% 73%
2011 61% 75%
2012 72% 77%
2013 85% 86%
2014 94% 98%
2014 Training Nonagreement Agreement
Total Training Hours 496,741 3,721,332
Number of Employees 7,135 45,786
Average Hours/Employee 70 81

Operations Management Trainee Spotlight: Jeff Hite

As an employee who has gone through Union Pacific's Operations Management Trainee (OMT) program, I can say firsthand that the instructors of this program are some of Union Pacific's greatest assets. The OMT program gave me the confidence I needed to start leading employees. Union Pacific has the most professional and safest employees in the business. They expect a lot from their leadership, but this program gave me a solid foundation to build upon. Even now, after completing the program, I feel that I can still call upon my former instructors for mentorship and advice.

In addition to the job training I received as part of the OMT program, I felt that the networking opportunities available to trainees were also incredibly valuable. The meet-and-greets and socials that we attended during the program allowed me to meet many professionals from all over the Union Pacific system. Now, if I am in a pinch and need to call on someone, I have a long list of people to ask for advice, and I am confident that I will get the correct answer. Of all the professional development classes that I have taken all over the world throughout my life, this program tops them all.

Sustainability Report 2015 - Employee Employee Spotlight

Intern Connection Program

Union Pacific's companywide Intern Connection Program (ICP) allows college students to learn about Union Pacific, discover the different functional departments, volunteer in the community and network with senior leaders. The ICP organizes events throughout the year, with a summer "peak season" that coincides with an influx of interns.

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.

Key Awards and Recognition

Sustainability Report 2015 - Employee Engagement - Jack Koraleski

Jack Koraleski

Union Pacific Chairman

  • Recognized by Institutional Investor as No. 1 chief executive officer in the Airfreight and Surface Transportation sector*
Sustainability Report 2015 - Employee Engagement - Rob Knight

Rob Knight

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President-Finance

  • Honored by Institutional Investor as No. 1 transportation chief financial officer in the Airfreight and Surface Transportation sector*
  • Named No. 2 on The Wall Street Journal’s list of Top Performing CFOs in the S&P 500
Sustainability Report 2015 - Employee Engagement - Lynn Kelley

Lynn Kelley

Vice President-Supply Chain and Continuous Improvement

* Awarded in 2015 for 2014 performance