Kok Lai Ching, Head of HR Division, OCBC Bank (Malaysia)

Team OCBC took home the silver award for 'Best Organisational Upskilling and Reskilling Strategy' and bronze for 'Best HR Digital Transformation Strategy' at the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Malaysia.

In this interview, Kok Lai Ching, Head of HR Division, OCBC Bank (Malaysia) (pictured) shares programmes to create a more open, growth mindset culture and how in doing so, employees are continuously being upskilled whilst creating a culture of learning.  

Q Congratulations on winning in this inaugural edition of the award! What is your employee experience strategy that led to this achievement?

Thank you for this recognition. We started with the end in mind by having an employee-centric culture as key. This needed to start from our daily business practices before working its way into the work environment, and the training and developmental courses that we provide to our employees.

OCBC aspires to create a more open culture and growth mindset. To do so, we are continually upskilling our employees towards embracing a culture of learning.

Once we had set in place our strategy by having an employee-centric culture, we provided our employees with the opportunity to learn on different platforms, with resources and mentors as necessary to get everyone up to speed. These efforts include our flagship signature programmes for key staff.

How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?

We leveraged the strong foundation of the OCBC Group as we recognise the importance of our employee proposition as a strategy. We have, ever since, been on a journey toward rethinking how we might reskill and upskill people to meet the changing workforce needs.

Besides, we strengthened our digital foundation in building capabilities, crafting our talent and workforce strategy, and connecting learning programmes with new behaviour and skills whilst embracing our OCBC learning philosophy based on three key themes: autonomy, relatedness, and 'better me and us'. The learning philosophy allows us to establish a clear focus on executing our plan the best we can.

What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

With a monumental paradigm shift in the way we learn, coupled with rapid digital advancements, it was not just our HR team that recognised the need for change. The business units were equally concerned about minimising skill gaps in the midst of evolving needs.

Our challenges included:

  • Rapid transition to digital learning,
  • Employee time constraints in learning,
  • Up-to-date learning programmes relating to their roles and skills.

To do so, we constantly set for ourselves new ways of working and thinking by using scalability, partnership and reach, amidst the regulatory boundaries in banking. We leveraged our strength with our regional presence whereby we facilitated knowledge and integration through sharing and tapping on each other’s strengths.

Upskilling employees is more than a strategic decision for our bank to stay relevant with a competitive edge.

Not every employee learns at the same pace that we want to embrace, thus we often delegate upskilling actions via a programmatic approach, noting that this is indeed about more than mere programmes.

How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? Any achievements you’d like to show off?

As we navigate increasingly complex environments and diverse technology, we are also challenged to identify the opportunities that will help our business in achieving its goals more efficiently and effectively.

Our view of ROI is that its focus is on the results of the employee experience. We have our own internal survey index to evaluate how we impact the learners’ experience, and the results have been positive. The learning initiatives are trusted for providing advice, ensuring effectiveness and quality, and how those results help improve the businesses’ scorecards and results.

As part of our focus on equipping our employees to thrive using future skills, we have a lined up 'Future Smart' programmes that we map according to proficiency and certification levels. This, in turn, translates into workforce transformation roles and competencies for our bank.

What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of the debut Employee Experience Awards?

The award describes our organisation’s accomplishment, and it conveys a message of inspiration to the team members, apart from boosting employee morale and a sense of belonging and purpose. Being part of this award reflects our OCBC values and culture, i.e. being forward-looking and bringing lasting value to how we want to uplift and sustain employee experience.

Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?

We have a clear focus on our people strategy which entails the upskilling and reskilling of our employees.

Our next focus is to ensure we bring learning impact to the next level where employees are taking charge to learn, relearn and be part of a stronger learning ecosystem.

Do share tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.

To us, the award is not a reflection of a single employee or a department. It is an award that belongs to all who directly and indirectly have upheld our organisational values. Always think about the employee experience you want to create and how you want to leave a legacy. Of course, any award comes with real work behind it, in the outcome and real impact you bring to employees and the organisation.

Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?

A place to belong, grow, and transform in a congenial environment while being well aware of the outside world.


Photo / Provided 

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