Ng Ying Yuan, Chief Operating Officer, Group Human Resources at DBS leads Human Capital Analytics, Employer Branding, Diversity and Inclusion, and Special Projects at DBS. In addition to her role above, she also serves as the bank’s Chief Learning Officer.
Ms. Ng comes with over 20 years of industry experience with some of Singapore’s leading establishments including PSA International, and Singapore Economic Development Board, having spent more than 16 years with the latter.
In this exclusive conversation with People Matters and ServiceNow, Ms Yuan dives into companies pivoting to a distributed workforce model without having to give up the ethos and soul of the company, irreversible changes in digital behaviours, new ways of working in the new “never normal” world, reconfiguring workspaces and revolutionizing employee experience with intelligent technology.
Here are excerpts from the interaction.
In your opinion, what are the top three trends that will shape work, workforce and workplace in 2021?
First and foremost – COVID-19. The way we work has changed in every industry, and at this point, we are never going back to the old ways of working. This gives rise to several issues which need to be addressed. For instance, how do companies pivot to a distributed workforce model with more flexible work arrangements without having to give up the ethos and soul of the company?
Second, the global skills agenda.
COVID-19 has brought about what we see as irreversible changes in digital behaviours and consumption, particularly in services sectors including healthcare, education, finance. Sectors such as F&B, retail, and professional services have had to pivot digitally.
The global workforce will need to upskill to keep pace with these rapid changes, and this will be a high priority for many organizations.
Third, an increased focus on employee health and wellness, especially mental wellness.
The term 'intelligent banking' was coined by the CEO of DBS, bringing about a revolutionary experience for its customers. How is the bank leveraging intelligent technology for revolutionizing employee experience for a distributed workforce today?
As a digital-first and data-driven company, we are always exploring ways to leverage technology to not only deliver joyful banking experiences, but also joyful employee experiences.
This includes ensuring that our employees remain engaged and prepared for jobs of the future as we continue to shape the future of banking. For instance, we launched DBS Match this year to help prepare employees for future roles. DBS Match taps on the power of AI and algorithms to bridge our understanding between the skills and experience possessed by an employee against the requirements of the new role, allowing us to match employees with new opportunities at scale, with greater precision and speed.
As per a recent ServiceNow survey, 91% of Singapore employees and 89% executives say COVID-19 has made their company rethink how they work and create new and better ways of working. What new ways of working do you foresee? How does the working model for DBS look like in 2021 - remote work, return to work or a hybrid working model? What are some key considerations critical to taking this call?
Last year, DBS announced that we will be implementing a series of transformation initiatives to realize new ways of working in the new “never normal” world. These initiatives are a result of insights gathered from research, deep-dive experiments and employee surveys conducted by a cross-functional regional Future of Work Taskforce which the bank convened around the middle of last year. There are a few initiatives that speak directly to how we see work and the workplace changing in the next normal.
DBS will be adopting a distributed workforce model. All employees will be given the flexibility to work remotely up to 40% of the time. We found that over four in five of our 29,000-strong workforce are able to work seamlessly remotely. Our employees also shared that they prefer hybrid work arrangements over a pure ‘remote work’ or ‘work in office’ approach.
DBS will also roll out more flexible work arrangements.
We are implementing a formal job-sharing scheme to better support employees who need more flexible work arrangements. The scheme will enable two employees to share the responsibilities of one full-time role.
Employees on this scheme will retain all existing medical benefits in full and continue to be covered under the bank’s insurance plans. At the same time, we will also introduce more part-time work arrangements.
We are also taking a fresh look at redesigning work and collaboration spaces. Over 80% of our employees across key markets indicated that they prefer to have more open collaboration spaces to facilitate informal discussions and cross-team ideation, which they found difficult to do remotely. We will build on our experience in developing ‘JoySpaces’, or activity-based workspaces since 2016, to further reconfigure workspaces to enable greater collaboration and ideation. We have also launched a 5,000-square foot ‘Living Lab’ that aims to blend the best of physical and virtual work space configurations.
What is your advice for organizations prepping for a return to office? What non-negotiables should they account for?
The safety and overall well-being of employees will continue to be our priority. This means ensuring that safety protocols must be in place at workplaces.
Beyond that, the physical, emotional and mental well-being of employees will become a focus, including building resilience and preparing employees for a “never normal” world.
For instance, at DBS, we have lined up a series of programmes under our “TOGETHER” movement to introduce new skills and training, as well as activities to promote mental and physical well-being through fun learning festivals, challenges and get-together virtual sessions. We have also launched a health app made available to all employees so that they can plan their personal health goals and participate in well-being programmes.
How is DBS preparing the workforce for emerging skills and future of jobs?
Even before COVID-19 struck, conversations around the skills needed to prepare Singaporeans for jobs of the future were already taking place. But with COVID-19 disrupting entire industries and accelerating digital trends, we are witnessing the start of a global transformation in the future of the workforce, and discussions around upskilling and career transitions in the next normal have gained renewed urgency.
We believe that going forward, jobs will continue to be disrupted but at the same time, we can also expect more new jobs to emerge as the global economy transforms. This will mean a need for constant learning and relearning to stay relevant.
Learning will become more multi-dimensional and employees will need to be open to different growth opportunities throughout their career.
With this in mind, as skills required in banking are fast evolving and new types of roles are being introduced, DBS will be doubling down on its efforts to upskill and reskill employees. Employees will be trained in emerging areas such as design thinking, data and analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and agile practices. Over 7,200 employees across the bank will be upskilled or reskilled and of this group, about 4,300 are in Singapore.
DBS also advocates and facilitates internal rotations, cross-functional projects and other experiential learning opportunities across the bank to enable our people to deepen their skillsets and broaden their exposure so that they are prepared for larger roles as they grow with the bank.