Winning Secrets: Creating the best onboarding and employee experience is CIMB Bank's all-time goal

Winning Secrets: Creating the best onboarding and employee experience is CIMB Bank's all-time goal

"Employee experience is a key process where HR must consistently measure employee’s pain points and strives to continuously enhance it. Our employees are constantly wanting and demanding more and we need to strive to deliver on that expectation," says Gurdip Singh Sidhu, Group Chief People Officer, Group Human Resources, CIMB Bank.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Malaysia, CIMB Bank won gold for Best Graduate Training Programme and silver for Best Onboarding Experience.

In this interview, Gurdip Singh Sidhu, Group Chief People Officer, Group Human Resources, CIMB Bank, shares the secrets behind this win - leveraging digital and technology to create the best onboarding/employee experience for its workforce to ensure they are engaged, feel a sense of belonging, and remain committed.

Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?

Thank you – it is indeed an unexpected win for #teamCIMB as this is our first gold for the Best Graduate Training Programme and silver for Best Onboarding Experience categories. On behalf of the team, we are extremely grateful for the recognition as I am very sure that the other finalists were as capable, if not more, of winning these awards.

Our strategy was simple – we looked into the key impact areas under our human capital strategy which were aligned with the strategic themes of the organisation: "Delivering sustainable financial returns" through digitalisation (and this is where it was imperative to start building talent pipeline with digital and data skills through our signature TCB Digital programme), and customer centricity through our "new employee onboarding" framework.

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

Financial institutions’ increasing reliance on digital channels has accelerated the adoption of technology and shift towards digital. In turn, this has resulted in a growing demand for engineering and technical talent so banks have started to look at securing a sustainable talent pipeline in this space, and CIMB is no exception. TCB Digital is in line with CIMB’s targeted approach to cater to graduates aspiring to a career in digital and technology while providing them with the opportunity to gain deeper knowledge of its application in banking and financial services.

As for new employee onboarding, employee experience was identified as one of the key drivers of employee engagement, commitment to remain, and a sense of inclusivity as well as sense of belonging. Upon further study of various data points, onboarding of new employees was prioritised as an action item given that it is one of the moments-that-matter for employees.

If the previous onboarding of new employees were delivered manually in a decentralised environment, the revamped framework aims to provide a unified and inclusive experience given CIMB’s diverse workforce.

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

Challenges are to be expected when implementing new initiatives. In rolling out the TCB Digital programme, the main challenge was to convince stakeholders, mainly from the businesses, as we had little to no historical data to support our case. Additionally, the design of the TCB Digital programme had to be a complete departure from the existing flagship programme i.e. The Complete Banker Programme (TCB). Our challenge was to ensure relevance to market demands while convincing internal stakeholders that TCB Digital would help address the skills gap and build internal talent pipeline with leadership capabilities aligned to CIMB’s future of work aspirations.

For new employee onboarding, cross functional collaboration and seamless integration between the services delivered by each function was the immediate challenge. Evolving existing onboarding practices within CIMB was made possible by understanding the key components of onboarding, key themes involved, and finally sharing the same aspirations of "providing a best-in-class onboarding experience, enabling employees to fly high".

Constant meetings to identify pain points from new employees, hiring managers and HR coordinators were all tabled for a clear picture of how different teams could deliver the desired outcome. It was not an easy ride, but putting a solid business case with a clear problem statement was key in this particular area.

Q 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?

One year in, the TCB Digital programme has started to provide a consistent supply of talent to fill technology and digital roles based on the number of requisitions as well as positive feedback received from business units.

There was a 100% increase in demand in 2021 for associates to be placed on rotation and the number of participating business units have doubled for the 2021 cohort, which covers business units beyond technology and operations; but also demand from the region, i.e. CIMB Thailand.

As for onboarding, the quarterly survey results for new joiners have shown significant improvements on the overall new joiner onboarding experience, i.e. from 3.4 to 4.0 to 4.3 over a scale of 5.0. Compared to the previous practice, this evolved new joiner experience leads to accelerated time to productivity amongst new employees. This also supports a unified, inclusivity to all new joiners without discriminating them by job grades and ranks.

Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?

Winning these two awards is of course a wonderful recognition of the effort put in by the teams involved. It boosts the morale of the teams involved and in a way improves motivation. On the other hand, winning encourages the team to push the envelope and think of innovative ways on delivering greater outcomes in their respective areas. It gives them the confidence that nothing is impossible, and teamwork makes the dream work.

This Employee Experience Award by Human Resources Online in particular recognises employers from different industries for different categories of which employee experience is being measured, and it provides a platform to learn from best practices by other winning employers.

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

Under CIMB’s HR Blueprint, we will continue to review and redesign CIMB’s employee experience to improve and delight employees when they use HR Services which on various parts throughout the employee lifecycle.

For TCB Digital, plans include to scale up the number of Associates to cover an increasing number of specialisations and sub-specialisations. We also aim to expand our partnership with other tech affiliates and strengthen existing collaboration with 42KL, thereby widening the number of target institutions for a broader selection pool.

As for new employee onboarding, the focus would be more of systems enhancements and integration, standardising the onboarding framework across the region and identifying areas susceptible to robotic process automation and applying it to these identified areas.

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

We chose to showcase areas which are often overlooked but actually have a huge impact on EX and more importantly allows HR to add value while contributing to CIMB’s business objectives.

The strategy that lead us to winning gold was clarity on the problem that the programme intends to solve, buy-in from the top most levels of the organisation, and to have a deep understanding of the talent pool that the programme wants to attract. In the medium to long term, locally grown tech talent support organisational capability in a more sustainable and reliable manner.

With regard to onboarding, the challenges of leveraging the right technology and learning to collaborate cross functionally effectively to add value and enhance the overall EX from the day they join offers interesting lesson on its own and opportunities for interesting innovations.

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

Employee experience is a key process where HR must consistently measure employee’s pain points and strives to continuously enhance it. Our employees are constantly wanting and demanding more and we need to strive to deliver on that expectation.

Image / Provided

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!

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