Heline Lam, Chief of Staff Asia, and Karine Lee, Regional Head of HR Asia on providing an environment where the workforce is given the best opportunities to shine.
VP Bank Asia's robust people strategy consists of three pillars – recruit, reward and retain. Paired with its core values, the Bank encourages employees to embody an entrepreneurial spirit and solution mindset while working collaboratively.
In response to a niche and tight talent pool in private banking, coupled with the disruptive 'Great Resignation' wave, the organisation focused on cultivating a thriving internal talent pipeline and is committed to providing continuous development opportunities. As a whole, it recognises the need to prioritise equipping teams with the tools for ongoing career progression and development amidst the ever-evolving demands of the industry.
From its signature talent programmes, to competitive and fair remuneration, these earned the Bank a silver in Excellence in Talent Management at the HR Excellence Awards 2023, Singapore.
Heline Lam, Chief of Staff Asia, and Karine Lee, Regional Head of HR Asia share more on VP Bank Asia's mission to provide an environment where its workforce is given the best opportunities to shine, and to find fulfillment and satisfaction.
Q Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?
The key to VP Bank's journey to success lies in our dedication to a robust people strategy that consists of three pillars – recruit, reward and retain. Our strategy is developed in line with our core values — "We Explore, We Care, We Achieve." This ethos encourages our employees to embody an entrepreneurial spirit and solution mindset, working collaboratively with each other to tackle challenges head-on to deliver optimal results.
On top of offering competitive and fair remuneration, performance-based incentives with a host of exclusive benefits for our employees, recruiting suitable talents, and retaining our employees are of utmost importance.
Our specialised business model and commitment to excellence in all HR and business operations have differentiated us from other players in the wealth management industry, attracting professionals who share our values and vision.
In the realm of retaining talent, we have nurtured a culture of continuous learning and growth across the Bank. Recognising the ever-evolving demands of our industry, we prioritise equipping our teams with the tools for ongoing career progression and development. This emphasis not only enhances our employees' skills and job performance but also solidifies our reputation for clients and potential candidates who seek quality in our industry.
As we look to the future, we remain steadfast in our mission to provide an environment where our workforce is given the best opportunities to shine and to find fulfillment and satisfaction.
Q Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?
We cannot be prouder of our signature ‘Talent Academy’ and 'Leadership Curriculum' programmes. 'Talent Academy' is an integral part of our talent management process and focuses on the personal development of our talents through initiatives such as 'Hackathon' and 'Alumni Networking' event. These serve to connect them with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, functions, and locations, fostering a global network of contacts and opportunities to further develop their skills and experiences. The internal equity and network are valuable for career growth, future projects, and knowledge-sharing within the organisation.
Our 'Leadership Curriculum' has a unique motto each cycle to ensure that our leaders stay ahead of the demands of the rapidly changing business environment. Most recently, we focused on agile leadership as well as change leadership & change culture, strengthening the know-how on effectively leading through transformative times.
These programmes have led to tangible improvements in decision-making, problem-solving, and strategic execution.
Q During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?
One of the more notable challenges that we faced was in the area of talent attraction and retention. The niche and tight talent pool in private banking, coupled with the disruptive Great Resignation wave among financial institutions in 2022, made retaining top-tier professionals a formidable task.
To address this, we focused on cultivating a thriving internal talent pipeline and committed ourselves to providing continuous development opportunities. We empowered our employees with customised training, professional development initiatives, and clear career advancement pathways such as:
Signature talent programmes, such as the ‘Talent Academy’ and ‘Leadership Curriculum’ as mentioned above.
Training: We set aside a generous training budget every year for each staff, encouraging on continuous upskilling. We also advocate continuing education for senior executives, for instance, we sponsored senior executives for the Asian Financial Leaders Programme organised by Singapore Management University and Human Capital Leadership Institute, a flagship programme designed to develop financial leaders in the Asian market to handle the increasingly complex financial conditions in this region.
In addition, we are supportive of employees taking up other courses that are deemed highly beneficial for their career progression and integration, including the sponsorship of language courses (e.g., Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese or German). A small step goes a long way by enabling our colleagues to master new languages, broadening their horizons, fostering better communication with clients and colleagues, and ultimately empowering them with valuable linguistic skills for lifetime.
Internal mobility: With an international presence, we offer our team members the opportunity to shape their career paths by facilitating internal transfers and/or overseas secondments through our global talent programme. These exchanges and experiences seek to expand their knowledge and skillset through deeper sharing and understanding of our Bank's operations across different locations and cross-cultural teams.
Employee experience and wellbeing: Most recently, we carefully selected and relocated to a prime Grade A office space at Guoco Midtown with abundant amenities and opportunities for recreational activities. Office layout and seating arrangements are meticulously designed to stimulate closer cross-collaboration across teams, with a good balance of common spaces for engagements and leisure, building a highly conducive work environment.
Through fortifying our HR initiatives and prioritising the holistic well-being of our employees, we have not only weathered the challenges but also emerged stronger and more resilient.
Q How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?
In order to drive effective decision-making, we employ a systematic approach to measure the success and impact of our HR initiatives, underscoring our commitment to employee satisfaction and well-being. Central to our measure of success and impact is our employee engagement survey which is conducted to assess employees' current sentiments, perceptions and level of engagement. Responses are collected anonymously to promote a safe environment to be candid and honest about concerns, experiences and/or suggestions, resulting in higher participation rate, facilitating more genuine and accurate feedback and enabling insights into areas for improvement. Collective comments and feedback serve as a guide to management and HR on proactive actions to tailor current and future HR initiatives and policies accordingly.
We also pay close attention to attrition rates, recognising the link between lower attrition and higher engagement. Despite challenges during the 2022 Great Resignation among financial institutions, our persistent efforts led to a significant decrease in attrition rate in 2023; this is a testament to the effectiveness of our HR strategies in retaining top talent.
Last but not least, we strongly believe that there is a direct correlation between engaged, satisfied employees and increased job performance & key performance indicators, ultimately positively impacting client satisfaction, bottom line and business objectives.
Q In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?
In the dynamic HR landscape, we recognise the need to stay at the forefront of industry changes. We consistently strive for greater efficiency and employee-centricity, with HR digitalisation emerging as a pivotal trend that requires proactive adaptation. The new normal will embrace the development of a digital ecosystem that plays a central role in streamlining and harmonising HR processes, allowing employees to manage key functions of their entire work lifecycle efficiently and intuitively within a unified system. This not only simplifies the employee experience but also supercharges productivity by eliminating the need to navigate through multiple disparate systems and grappling with convoluted processes. By utilising a single digital ecosystem, employees may perform tasks, such as performance reviews, to assess real-time feedback, enhancing agility in employee development. We can also expect to fully digitalize employee files for seamless access to information and to highlight our commitment to sustainability through reduction of paper waste.
Data analytics is another pivotal trend. The HR function is expected to increasingly rely on data analytics and AI-driven insights to make data-driven informed decisions, such as identifying talent gaps, forecasting employee turnover, and customise development pathways. In order to meet diverse employee needs, organisations would need to keep up a level of personalisation to tailor learning and development paths, work arrangements, and benefits to boost overall job satisfaction and foster a more loyal and productive workforce. In essence, the HR function of the future will be characterised by its digital, data-driven and highly customised nature, and we all play a pivotal role in actively shaping an agile, engaged, and future-ready workforce that can drive organisational excellence.
In summary, human capital is one of the most important assets in any organisation and we see an increasing need for HR advisors/strategists to join executive/management committee to accomplish business ambitions and vision. the human resources function is a central and crucial strategic partner in ensuring performance success.
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