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An innovative approach to staff management has earned DBS plaudits and a Best Employers award

Published on Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017

Thanks to its commitment to being a successful business, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) has also taken the Best Employers Hong Kong Award and the Commitment to Engagement Award 2017 in the latest round of the Aon Best Employers Awards.

“These awards are a big encouragement for my team as we focus on reimagining HR and striving to become the preferred employer,” says Sharon Cheng, managing director and head of human resources for Hong Kong and China. “We are committed to creating a great workplace for employees, the way they define it, which is to be the best, to be the change and to be the difference. By being a good employer, we are making a positive impact on the business and on society.”

The bank is on a journey to embrace changes in the digital world, which are also aligned with the way they manage their staff, Cheng says. It has become a key priority to drive an innovative culture where employees are empowered to put forward new ideas and changes to keep the business competitive and relevant to the experience of customers.

Innovation and digital technology have become embedded in the bank’s hiring and talent development process. For example, the bank redesigned the graduate recruitment process for its management associate (MA) and summer internship programmes.

“MAckathons” – hackathons designed for MA recruitment, have been introduced to replace the traditional assessment-centre test. During the MAckathons, candidates spend a 12-hour day with the bank to be trained in its human-centred design methodology, and apply this knowledge to “hack” their way to a solution for real business challenges and then pitch their solutions to senior bankers.

To further engage candidates for its graduate programmes, the bank has embedded gamification into the recruitment process. Candidates play a game, called “Joyful Journey”, to enhance their knowledge of DBS. The bank assesses their alignment with DBS’ corporate values by analysing their behavioural traits.

DBS also provides continuous learning workshops and forums to encourage staff to acquire a digital mindset and learn in an enjoyable way.

“‘Making Banking Joyful’ is our strategic priority. We seek to create a happy, easy, trustworthy and seamless banking experience for our internal and external customers,” Cheng says. “That is why it is important we let our staff understand and experience what joyful banking is, to begin with.”

For example, the bank regularly partners with start-ups and fintech companies for demonstrations of the latest technology across different industries. In its “Spark Making Banking Joyful Fest”, key players in digital innovation were invited to conduct learning workshops, forums, showcases and company visits. Key events were held at The Vault, DBS’ innovative co-working space, and were live-streamed for the benefit of all staff.

DBS has also overhauled the methodology of learning and development. Gamification takes place across the board in the form of online and mobile learning platforms, and competitions that involve multigenerational teams. The bank has also migrated from traditional classrooms to hands-on experiential learning and virtual classrooms, making things more learner-centric.

As part of the new architecture, the bank is also transitioning to DBS Horizon, a cloud-based learning management system. Staff can use the portal on mobile devices to access all related information at their own pace.

“The future of learning will continue to evolve from content-centric to learner-centric to facilitate intelligent learning with on-demand content and social and collaborative environments,” Cheng says.

As well as engaging staff in a digital world, DBS is also committed to staying in touch and catering to the various needs of its diverse workforce.

“Each generation of staff brings unique strengths and values at work,” Cheng says. “Building a healthier, more diverse and future-ready workforce will boost our ability to spearhead the transformation of banking. This starts with hiring the best talent and giving them the flexibility to decide the kind of work environment that works best for them.

“It is our aspiration for DBS to be known as a great workplace where employees feel connected and valued, and achieve growth and progress.”

The bank has devised a mechanism to ensure employees are offered flexible benefits that meet their present and future needs.

In order to offer flexibility, an in-house programme, iFlex, allows employees to customise their benefits packages and select from a variety of items pertaining to family, health and lifestyle needs.

The bank has also implemented arrangements, including flexitime, part time, working from home and unpaid leave, to help staff reconcile their career with personal needs and aspirations. Employees also enjoy a suite of banking services and loans at preferential rates.

DBS also boasts a vibrant staff club that organises a variety of recreational activities throughout the year including sport, games, workshops, talks and performances.

The bank has invested in hiring an independent international research consultancy to conduct an annual employee engagement survey. To hold management accountable, action plans will be created based on the findings, and all employees will have access to senior management through team meetings, quarterly town halls, lunches, conferences and off-site visits. There is also an online channel for staff to post work-related questions directly to the CEO.

“As a company, we envision DBS as a forerunner in transforming the financial industry,” Cheng says. “This aligns with our vision as an employer, where we will continue to build an innovative workforce with a digital mindset to take up future challenges and reach new heights.”