In this second part of our two-part feature, Datuk Nora Manaf, Group Chief Human Capital Officer, delves into what’s in store for her workforce – where the formal WFH community will be a component of the total workforce. Jerene Ang and Priya Sunil report. 

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In part one of our special two-part feature, we learnt how Maybank’s flexible work policy, which was formalised in 2013 as a pioneering effort back when negative perceptions existed on such arrangements, has grown to now include a mobile work policy.

In this second part, she details how the Bank is continuing to expand flexibility for its workforce, all while ensuring wellbeing and productivity are intact.

Looking ahead, the Bank will continue to put the safety of its employees and workplace futurisation efforts as priority. At the same time, selected employees will continue to be identified to go on mobile arrangements on a permanent or longer-term basis for jobs/roles that can be done from home.

“As we did before, we will take into consideration their digital system dependencies as well as personal home conditions to ensure that employees can continue to thrive from home. As part of the previous learnings gathered, we will work towards automating the system to enable our employees to apply to opt in for MWA – this will provide them the flexibility to self-apply for this arrangement.”

Further, the shift to work-from-home arrangements and the uncertainties in 2020 has no doubt posed challenges to employees – be it lesser opportunities to keep physically outfit outdoors, adjusting their financial priorities, the lack of socialisation with colleagues, and more. This brings the need for Maybank to address one of the most important topics - workplace wellness and employee wellbeing, shares Datuk Nora.

The Bank has undertaken a series of initiatives to address this:

  • A series of thematic ‘Happy Zoom’ sessions which include games, music jam, virtual celebrations (i.e., Hari Raya and Chinese New Year celebration). These sessions act as a platform where employees engage in non-work-related conversations which mirror the usual lobby conversations they have in the office.
  • Part of its #HumanisingWorkplace wellbeing boosters, Maybankers are guided on creating a hybrid team culture where they are encouraged to keep their Fridays to be digital-meeting-free and to turn on switch-off mode after 10pm on weekdays as well as complete switch off on weekends.
  • Flexibility to self-declare one-day medical leave without providing a medical certificate so they can take rest when unwell.
  • A Step & Sleep Challenge, where Maybankers are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “We acknowledge that it is best to have a good balance between taking care of oneself and giving your best at work.”
  • In-house virtual fitness classes – as part of their remote working schedule.
  • A Tiger Cub Virtual Camp with a suite of programmes hosted by the Bank’s Childcare Centre, which allows young parents to take occasional breaks from family and from work.
  • Group Human Capital Staff Emergency Support (GHC SES) as a single point of enablement and support contact for all employees, in relation to COVID-19.
  • Staff Financial Relief Scheme – introduced to assist with temporary deferral of loans through moratorium and financing obligations.

This year, joining Maybankers in Malaysia on this remote work journey will be those from the Bank’s operations in Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore among others - with local implementation of the mobile work arrangement framework in their respective countries.

The Bank will also continue to provide options to employees to agree with and discuss their preferable work arrangements through a ‘Management Model’ which essentially details out the individual’s weekly schedule on days they work on site and from home, as well as the agreement with the managers and team members and other inter-dependencies in ensuring the ecosystem enables such arrangement.

“We believe our HR system’s ‘Conversation Log’, which facilitates continual communication between employee and their manager, is an enabler for improved employee performance and growth. This also ensures that our central governance remains agile in responding to needed improvements as we continue to experiment and learn.” 

Is a full flex workforce on the cards in the near future?

In Maybank, the formal WFH community will be a component of the total workforce, Datuk Nora notes. “Maybank is of the view that our remote workforce is part of our efforts towards the future of work, with a hybrid way of working three, five, or even 10 years down the road, providing diverse opportunities for the modern workforce (those working remotely and on-site employees in split locations for both Business Continuity as well as business requirements).”

After all, she adds, the Bank believes in inclusivity, so there will always be a mix of permanents, fixed, with full flex arrangements. “You can say that our future ‘Maybank Office’ will continue to see a blended arrangement with employees working in the office, at split locations and working from home.”

The Bank is, in fact, allowing more employees to be part of its mobile workforce for the long-term, seeing it as “an opportunity to reimagine everything about how we do our jobs and how we run our organisation.”

We are recognising the diversity of people in our workforce and facilitating inclusion knowing well enough that this would unlock higher productivity potentials.

This flex workforce even relates to the Bank’s sustainability efforts, in terms of social/environmental impact, in terms of the carbon footprint reduction observed through the flexibility in employees’ work schedule.

Overall, the hybrid workforce in progress will cover ‘all aspects of fitness’: mental, physical, emotional, financial and performance, which leads the person to a more productive and healthier self.

“We also believe that allowing our employees to be on remote is essential as we build organisational resilience towards future pandemics, for both our employees and our community.”

What Chief Human Capital Officers should know before making the leap to flex-work

Wrapping up the interview, Datuk Nora shares her words of advice for all HR leaders out there who are exploring a similar journey.

#1 Take a people-centric approach

A good HR leader should focus on employee engagement as high levels of engagement lead to higher performance and ultimately drive an aligned, thriving and purpose-driven culture.

Engagement starts with prioritising employees on an individual level. This also means having policies and processes that truly enable choice, inclusivity.

By putting people first, especially during challenging times, and giving them the space to virtually grow and connect with others in their workplace, businesses will see positive impact.

#2 Provide support for physical and mental health

In the midst of the global pandemic, it is not surprising that most people value the actions and efforts provided by companies to protect employees’ physical wellbeing. What matters more is that, during this challenging time, employees value and praise the steps taken by companies to foster mental wellness and help them combat social isolation. The most effective step to battle isolation is regular check-ins by managers to see how their employees are doing personally and professionally.

A good HR leader will take their time to connect with employees on a weekly basis to ensure employees are mentally and emotionally supported. More generally, employees appreciate emotional support from senior executives, Datuk Nora notes.

#3 Personalise, go beyond just a policy, acknowledge that it is not for everyone

The whole remote work is more than just a policy – it is about a change in the workforce system and management. Transparency, keeping the workforce informed and engaged as well as providing handrails even on a daily basis has worked for us. More specifically, an engaging remote work environment can greatly improve employee performance and an organisation’s productivity, she concludes.


Photo / Provided

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