Career Advice HR Focus

Banking on staff engagement

Published on Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013

As the first local bank in Hong Kong to employ the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, Hang Seng Bank is proud of its high staff participation rate in bank-wide CSR events.

Louise Lam, head of human resources at Hang Seng Bank, says that in 2012, more than 25,000 hours of service were contributed by bank volunteers and their families.

“We facilitated this giving back to society by organising about 130 volunteer activities, with a particular focus on underprivileged children, elderly people in need and environmental education,” Lam says.

At the Employer Branding Conference, Lam will share how Hang Seng Bank builds its employer brand through employee engagement. She will describe the values that the bank holds as an employer and how it strives to enhance the employee experience.

Founded in 1933, Hang Seng Bank today employs nearly 10,000 people. The home-grown bank is one of the top 50 listed banks in the world and the 18th largest in terms of market capitalisation in Asia.

High ethics and good teamwork are two key elements of Hang Seng Bank’s employer brand, Lam says. The bank believes that a strong employer brand can communicate a compelling and coherent brand image externally and internally.

It is also important in attracting and retaining top talent, and in creating good business synergy in combination with the employer’s service brand and positioning in the market.

Even though the bank is able to rely on a committed and loyal workforce – with the average length of service exceeding 10 years – Lam recognises that the main challenge it faces in building its brand is the keen competition for talent, particularly for frontline sales personnel.

It is coping well with that challenge, however, as shown by its recent victory in the category of Most Attractive Employer in Hong Kong’s banking and financial services sector at Randstad’s 2013 awards.

One of the ways that the bank shows it cares about the well-being of its employees is through the different types of leave if offers, including paternity leave and birthday leave.

The bank is also the only Hong Kong company in the Corporate Knights’ list of “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World”, while its Corporate Responsibility Report 2012 achieved an A+ rating from GRI – the highest rating available – for the second consecutive year.

Hang Seng Bank has been a constituent stock of the FTSE4Good Global Index for 12 consecutive years, and was the first local bank in Hong Kong to become a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific Index. It was also the first local bank in Hong Kong to attain ISO 14001 certification on environmental management for all its offices and branches.

Lam believes that the use of CSR to successfully build an employer brand requires a CSR strategy that is consistent and sustainable across the entire organisation. In addition, employees should be actively engaged in helping accomplish the company’s CSR mission.

One of the many ways in which the bank engages staff involved in CSR programmes is by organising volunteer luncheons to collect feedback. The company also provides relevant training for staff volunteers on tree conservation, hairdressing, sign language, mediation skills and event organising.

Lam also recommends that staff volunteers be recognised and rewarded for their efforts. For instance, volunteer leave can be initiated or an annual volunteer recognition dinner can be hosted by senior management.

“Deliver what your brand promises with passion,” Lam says.