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Creating impact beyond banking: 6 best practices that make DBS a purpose-led employer
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Creating impact beyond banking: 6 best practices that make DBS a purpose-led employer


‘Live more’ is not only DBS’ promise to its external customers, but also to its people.

This article is brought to you by DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited

A bank is traditionally associated with providing its customers a sense of security and safety – at DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (“DBS Hong Kong”), this feeling of ‘being cared for’ extends to its employees as well, with the purpose of growing together with employees, in both their professional and personal lives. “This is achieved by understanding their needs at different life stages, providing hyper-personalised solutions in their career development and celebrating the moments that matter to them,” says Betty Lam, Managing Director, Head of Human Resources, DBS Bank (Hong Kong).

DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 19 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank's "AA-" and "Aa1" credit ratings are among the highest in the world.

Let’s deep dive into some of DBS’ renowned talent strategies across the employee lifecycle that make it a great workplace and employer.

#1 Building a digital-led workforce by empowering employees for continuous learning

DBS’ growth & development model comprises "Education, Exposure/Experience, and Evaluation", driven by the underlying principle of empowering people to own their career development and progression. To this effect, ‘iGrow’, an internal personalised career platform was launched in August 2022. Betty (pictured below) explains, “Based on employees’ personal profile, 'iGrow' leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify suitable learning and development programmes to further upskill/reskill our employees. It can also identify suitable internal opportunities that our people can move into as part of their career development.”

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Additionally, ‘DBS Learning Hub’ is a one-stop curated platform offering customised and recommended skills-specific learning solutions for employees to improve on. It has combined together different learning resources such as LinkedIn Learning, book reviews, classroom trainings, e-learnings, research papers, external conferences, TED Talks and videos.

All of these contribute towards the bank’s ambition to focus on workforce performance and productivity, as well as stay ahead of the exponential changes in the world’s digital, fintech, and technology spaces through innovative and immersive continuous learning and development programmes.

#2 Nurturing transformational leadership to inspire, mobilise, and enable employees

With people being the key to driving DBS towards the next horizon, the imperative falls on leaders at all levels to be equipped with the required skills and mindset. To this end, DBS’ ‘Transformational Leadership Programme’ is a multi-year campaign to provide holistic support to leaders. It is designed to strengthen managers’ capabilities via various learning programmes, encourage practices that have been learned into the daily role, seek areas of improvement via a feedback loop, make great decisions, as well as transform team effectiveness.

With leaders being tasked to play an important role to inspire, mobilise, and enable employees during the bank’s transformation journey, they are supported in three key areas:

  1. ‘6 roles of DBS Manager’ – a framework that defines a manager’s role
  2. ‘Leadership Skills’ – soft skills that enable managers to execute the six roles
  3. 'PRIDE!' values – the DNA of all employees

#3 Maximising the benefits budget to offer hyper-personalised wellbeing support

DBS’ holistic employee wellbeing programme supports employees in different aspects including their physical wellbeing through ‘iFlex’, a flexible spending account for employees to fund a wider range of expenses; their financial wellbeing through ‘iShares’, for employees to become a shareholder of the bank and share the bank’s success; their mental and emotional wellbeing through a permanent hybrid work model enabling 40% of work-from-home, as well as ‘iOK’, a free, confidential service to employees and their dependents for round-the-clock access to wellbeing support.

As a result of these programmes, employee engagement has been on the rise since 2020, as well as employees’ ratings on wellbeing and hybrid work effectiveness. “Everyone in DBS is included and we are committed to supporting them on this journey,” affirms Betty.

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#4 Enabling employees to balance their personal needs against the demands of work

As part of its wellness strategy, DBS has invested a significant amount of mindshare to flexible working arrangements. Under flexi-time provisions, DBS employees can select the working hours that best meet their needs subject to business exigencies, as long as they align with the core working hours of 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Additionally, while the permanent hybrid work model allows employees to work from home 40% of the time, a special provision to request for 100% remote working has been developed for new parents or primary caregivers for a maximum of six months.  Betty shares, “All these are part of our efforts to empower our people to achieve the best of themselves.”

#5 Reconfiguring and transforming the workplace to 'JoySpace'

The bank’s ‘PRIDE!’ values shape the way employees work with each other: ‘Purpose-driven, Relationship-led, Innovative, Decisive, and Everything Fun!’. To add to this imperative, 'JoySpace' has emerged as the signature DBS office – an activity-based workplace, to facilitate co-creation, ideation, and cross-team discussion. In Hong Kong, this journey started in 2019 to redesign the office for the Technology & Operations team in Kwun Tong into an agile collaboration workplace, as well as the office in One Island East into 'JoySpace' the following years.

Betty adds, “In this year and beyond, we target to have more 'JoySpace' to enable greater collaboration and ideation, and blend the best physical and virtual modes for working under our ‘Future of Work’ vision.”

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#6 Ensuring full oversight and accountability for the sustainability strategy

The final part of DBS’ purpose-led business approach is ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance). Its approach to sustainability is guided by a sense of purpose: to create value for the long term, by managing business and ESG risks in a balanced and responsible way. This approach is based on DBS’ three sustainability pillars – namely, responsible banking, responsible business practices, and impact beyond banking – which enable the bank to engage with all stakeholders towards its climate goals.

As a member of the United Nations Global Compact, DBS is committed to driving progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Among the 17 UN SDGs, DBS has chosen to focus on the six SDGs to make the most meaningful contribution in its markets of operation: gender equality; affordable & clean energy; decent work & economic growth; industry, innovation, and infrastructure; responsible consumption & production; and climate action.

To ensure full oversight and accountability for its sustainability strategy, DBS has established its own Local Sustainability Council in each core market. The Council consists of senior management members from various business and support units. It has a broad mandate to execute initiatives in line with the DBS Group’s sustainability approach while adapting to local market conditions.

“We all aspire to achieve and expect ourselves to outperform in our lives both personally and professionally. While it is important to be successful, it is more important we treat everyone with respect and dignity,” says Betty.

DBS Bank’s people practices: The role of HR

Evidently, Betty alongside her HR team at DBS Hong Kong and the wider DBS Group, have much to take pride in. Betty expresses, “HR has been the strategic partner with the business and support units to ensure human capital strategies are aligned with their operating needs.

“We continue to see ourselves as the guardian of DBS’ culture (sense of purpose) and values ('PRIDE!'), which guide us through the way we do things. We thrive to create a joyful work environment where people are proud to be part of a great team, and hence creating amazing solutions and experiences for our customers that make a lasting difference.”

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Photos / DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited

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