With a bronze win for Excellence in Crisis Management and Recovery at HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore, Wong Keng Fye, Head of Human Capital at Maybank Singapore takes pride in the team’s all-compassing communication strategy that has ensured business continuity.

He shares with Priya Veeriah how the bank maintained its track record of employment excellence through its numerous initiatives from its financial assistance, comprehensive BCP, senior leadership recognition and more.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

Guiding our HR strategy is the Bank’s mission – 'Humanising Financial Services'. This people-first mindset has underpinned the way we look out for and support our staff.

Evidenced by an award-winning track record of employment excellence, the Bank makes every effort to lend its support to members of the Maybank family in challenging times. In 2020, throughout the course of the pandemic, the Bank has rolled out numerous initiatives in an effort to give our staff additional support.

This includes financial assistance through the recently launched Employee COVID-19 Support Scheme. Being in essential services, our operations go on during the Circuit Breaker (CB) period. We offered work-from-office allowances to staff who need to continue to work in office during this period to help defray their meal and transportation costs. We also championed flexible work arrangements (FWAs) to better help staff accommodate both work and personal demands. With the majority of our workforce working from home (WFH), the Bank placed increased emphasis on communications to keep staff informed, engaged and connected.

How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

We believe that a happy workforce is a productive workforce. The Bank’s Humanising approach includes our HR strategy which prioritises support for staff at the workplace and beyond. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have demonstrated that company support not only meant providing financial relief, but also meant ensuring the safety, physical health and mental wellbeing of our staff. For example, we held webinars on these topics and shared lunchtime exercise videos.

Under the leadership of the Singapore Management Committee (SMC), the Bank has navigated different phases of the pandemic with effective measures. Our crisis response is comprehensively outlined in the Bank’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and directed by a BCP Organising Committee – comprising several SMC members from key sectors including Human Resources. On-the-ground support is provided through a network of BCP Coordinators who are tasked to handle the communications and WFH needs of their respective sectors and units. Our approach has top-down alignment and wins the support of senior management and staff.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

In the face of evolving circumstances especially in the early stage of the pandemic, our crisis management response entailed more frequent and clear communications to keep the bank-wide community connected and well-informed. From keeping pace with evolving health regulations and movement restrictions to maintaining alignment with our Head Office in Kuala Lumpur, constant communication was key to a successful execution of our BCP.

To overcome staff accessibility issues and increase the overall effectiveness of communication, BCP Coordinators were called on to update their respective sectors and units.

With the majority of staff working away from office, HR supported the increased reliance on mobile devices and data by extending a monthly mobile allowance for non-Branch staff over the CB period.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

Business continuity has been our prime objective throughout the COVID-19 crisis. For the Bank, it is more than performing an essential service. Remaining steadfast and reliable for our customers in times of uncertainty lies at the heart of Humanising Financial Services.

We assured our customers that bank operations were as usual. From keeping branches open to making more e-services available, the Bank maintained and availed as many services as possible during the CB period.

Our senior management also acknowledged the sacrifices made by our frontline staff and appreciated their resilience by presenting a gift voucher token to each staff working at the branches and property management teams as well as our security personnel and cleaning staff.

Q One of HR’s biggest responsibilities this year has been crisis communication and engagement, as a bridge between the management and staff. What are some lessons you’ve learnt in an eventful year of improving communication?

Crisis communication has been a critical component of the Bank’s overall pandemic response. Keeping pace with the constant flow of information and the increased volume of communication has been challenging.

We see overcoming issues and challenges as a stepping stone to enhancing communication effectiveness.

From simplifying messaging for dissemination through multiple channels to strategically reinforcing key safety protocols and health regulations, the Bank has depended on communications to ensure staff and management are aware of the latest happenings.

What we have learnt in 2020 is that effective communication during times of crisis calls for balance. On top of a comprehensive communications plan, it takes team effort to ensure everyone receives accurate up-to-date information, so that we can move forward united as one.

Photo / Provided

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