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This article is brought to you by DBS Hong Kong

With a vision to become the “best bank for a better world”, DBS has not only embraced the future of work, workforce, and workplace, but also taken actions to empower employees and managers for it.

As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. What’s more, it equally understands the intricacies of providing an inclusive work environment where employees can develop professionally, thus making it an employer of choice.

In Hong Kong, as in across the region, DBS Bank prides itself on being a purpose-driven organisation by growing together with its employees, in both their professional and personal lives. “This is achieved by understanding their needs in different life stages, providing hyper-personalised solutions in their career development, and celebrating the moments that matter to them,” affirms Vince Wong, Senior Vice President, COO, Human Resources, DBS Hong Kong (pictured above).

There are several strategies the Bank deploys to create a great workplace where people can be the best version of themselves, are empowered to drive changes, and make a difference for fulfilling lives.

Starting with the youngest end of the talent chain is DBS’ Graduate Associate Programme (GAP) for Technology & Operations, a specialised two-year development programme for young talents who have just graduated and have less than two years of working experience. Selected candidates are placed on a fast-track progression, while outstanding individuals have the opportunity for regional exposure as well. A glance at the annual employee performance review shows that the hard work invested in this talent pays off – not only do they tend to perform above target, but they also contribute to building scalable infrastructure for the bank.

Such commitment to investing in the future of the talent landscape is not a one-off effort. It is the basis of its dedication to being a learning organisation, where employees are encouraged to take charge of their development by gaining exposure and experience, evaluate their personal performance by seeking regular feedback, and acquire new skills and knowledge as part of their learning journey. Known as the ‘DBS Growth Development Model’, this framework comprises the elements of education, exposure/experience, and evaluation.

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This model is powered by a number of industry-leading initiatives, one of which is the ‘DBS Learning Hub’, a dedicated career portal with personalised recommendations to facilitate employees’ professional development. It is a one-stop curated platform offering customised and recommended skills-specific learning solutions for employees. It integrates different learning resources such as LinkedIn Learning, book reviews, classroom trainings, research papers, TedTalks and videos.

‘Be My Guest’ is another impactful initiative designed for colleagues to immerse in different functions in the Bank. This is achieved by experiencing a day in the life of a senior leader via leadership shadowing, understanding how a team works to develop by role workflow shadowing, or take part in a team’s townhalls, offsites and meetings via meeting exposures.

Vince shares: “A key focus would be to upskill and reskill our employees so that they are ready for the continuously changing landscape. Ultimately, we aim to develop a highly-engaged and future-ready workforce that delivers high performance.”

Amidst all this, leaders are not left behind, and transformational leadership has, in fact, been on top of DBS’ agenda, given it is key to the Bank’s new way of working. “With the increasing emphasis on technology market competition posted by fintechs and shift of customer behaviours, the banking and financial industry has been undergoing transformation,” Vince explains. “In DBS, we aimed to organise ourselves in order to deliver customer value end-to-end by adopting a data-driven operating model.”

This is why a change in skillsets was needed, especially artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) was brought in to the way DBS does business. Given this fundamental shifts in mindsets and behaviours, transformational leadership is imperative to DBS.

In addition to all ongoing efforts to upskill and reskill the workforce to stay ahead of the curve, the Bank is leveraging data and digital, to continue investing in its people and empowering them with a personalised development journey. iGrow, a hyper-personalised platform powered by AI, has been rolled out this year to provide employees with learning recommendations that fit their needs by understanding their profile, so as to match the demand and supply of internal opportunities and maximise the impact of workforce agility.

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DBS’ focus on hyper-personalisation isn’t just limited to its learning programmes though – it is, in fact, the very foundation of its ‘Future of Work’ strategy. This started back in the thick of the pandemic in 2020 when a survey was rolled out to understand the needs and feedback from employees while operating in split locations or working from home. This was later elevated to a regional ‘Future of Work Taskforce’ with 80 members coming from different functions and regions to better address the changes brought about by COVID-19. In the six-month study, the taskforce reviewed the insights gathered from research, deep-dive experiments, and employee surveys, to roll out DBS’ ‘Future of Work’ strategy in 2021.

Called the ‘Future of Work, Workforce & Workplace (F3W)’, this vision reimagines the future, embraces new ways of working, and identifies ways to thrive in the new normal. As part of this approach, permanent hybrid working model has been implemented whereby all DBS Hong Kong employees have the flexibility of allocating 40% of their time to working from home (WFH).

“With this, our employees can enjoy the flexibility and continuity to meet the demands of work while taking care of personal needs. New work rituals and new norms have been introduced in the Bank to galvanise our people so that we are all aligned and can thrive in the new & now normal,” Vince affirms. Support has also been provided to employees to procure WFH gadgets for setting up their home offices; meanwhile, different initiatives including tele-medicine consultation and webinars have been introduced to take care of employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.

Evidently, policies at DBS haven’t been launched for the sake of doing something new – employees are truly supported and equipped in leveraging them. To take another example, an F3W internal resourcing hub has been launched where the emphasis is on providing employees and managers with guidebooks for hybrid working. This aims to facilitate managers and employees to form new behaviours and work rituals under the new normal.

Further, the team kickstarted 2022 with the ‘Technology and Tools’ campaign. “This aims to equip our people to be the digital bankers of tomorrow by embracing new ways of working, with the knowledge and skills of how to leverage our digital tools,” says Vince.

What’s clear from the DBS case study is that change is a continuous effort, not a one-time initiative. As important as it is to roll out new campaigns, it is equally important to follow through with actions and behaviours that demonstrate commitment to change and employee development.

Vince concludes: “Throughout the years, HR has been the strategic partner with the business to ensure human capital strategies are aligned with business operating needs. We continue to see ourselves as the guardians of DBS’ culture and values, which guides us through the way we do things.

“We strive to create a joyful work environment where people are proud to be part of a great team, and hence create amazing solutions and experiences to make a lasting difference to our customers.”

Recently, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) had a big win with three gold and three silver awards at the inaugural Employee Experience Awards 2022 Hong Kong, organised by Human Resources Online.


Photos / DBS Hong Kong

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