DBS Bank is joining the small handful of companies in Singapore that have implemented job-sharing schemes—an arrangement that allows two or more people to share the responsibilities and remuneration of a single role. The bank announced its new initiative earlier in November, as part of a series of changes precipitated by the pandemic and developed through its own internal research and experimentation.
Flexibility, structure, and talent attraction and retention
The concept of job-sharing has been around for some time, with the Ministry of Manpower billing it as a way of creating work-life harmony at the workplace and specifically encouraging it for PMET employees above a certain salary level. According to DBS, work-life balance is the driving objective behind the bank's own scheme: the idea is that having lived through the pandemic, some people may want to spend more time on their home lives or personal interests, while still keeping themselves occupied and relevant through work.
A job-sharing arrangement provides the flexibility and structure for them to do so, and as a bonus, it improves the bank's ability to attract and retain good talent—potentially even opening doors to talent pools that are otherwise shut out from full-time jobs, such as stay-at-home parents and caregivers.
DBS CEO Piyush Gupta has announced that the bank is prepared to "radically transform the way we work" through this and other initiatives. “As the way we live, bank, and work continues to change dramatically, we must address the magnitude of the disruptions before us," he said. "By implementing these measures, we believe that Team DBS will emerge as a confident future-ready workforce.”
How does it work?
As a concept, job-sharing seems straightforward, but the details can appear daunting enough that very few companies have actually implemented it so far. In May last year, the ministry and the Singapore National Employers' Federation jointly released guidelines on how to implement job-sharing—the takeup rate was approximately 2 percent at the time, according to the ministry.
DBS's scheme is voluntary, and its feasibility will depend on the nature of the role: for now, according to the bank, it will be mainly applicable to operational and back office roles. But the bank also predicts that the scheme can apply to a variety of emerging roles, including those related to its evolving workforce model: for example, the bank cites agile coaches and scrum masters, non-traditional project management roles that originated in software development and have since been popularized in other fields.
Employees who apply for the scheme will have their pay, non-medical benefits, and leave pro-rated, but DBS has made it clear that they will be offered full medical benefits and be covered under the bank’s insurance plans—a major consideration after nine months of the pandemic. Other changes to their working arrangements, including the distribution of workload, will depend on the role, and the bank says employees are expected to engage their managers for more information before applying for the scheme—since, being voluntary, it requires the participation of other applicants to make it work for any given role.
More remote and part-time work, more hybrid arrangements
While DBS says that some employees have already applied for the job-sharing scheme, it does not have projections for the total number of shared jobs it expects to see, or the eventual impact on its workforce size—currently 29,000. The bank does have other figures related to flexible work, though, and is rolling out other initiatives as a result of its research.
For example, over 80 percent of employees can work remotely with little to no disruption, and so the bank will be allowing all employees, regardless of role, to work remotely 40 percent of the time if they choose. This hybrid arrangement is intended to balance out the difficulty of staying engaged and connected with colleagues while working remotely, and will eventually extend to reconfiguring workspaces to make collaboration easier when people are in the office.
In addition, the bank has said it plans to train some employees in emerging areas of technology and workplace management, such as design thinking, data and analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and agile practices. About 7,200 employees across its operating locations will be upskilled or reskilled.