News: Investing in tomorrow: OCBC Bank dedicates $30 million to staff growth and resilience

Learning & Development

Investing in tomorrow: OCBC Bank dedicates $30 million to staff growth and resilience

The $30 million investment complements the $50 million that the bank had previously dedicated to learning programs over the past five years.
Investing in tomorrow: OCBC Bank dedicates $30 million to staff growth and resilience

Over the next three years, OCBC Bank plans to allocate $30 million toward advancing its staff's career growth, ensuring their readiness, and fortifying the organisation against future disruptions.

As per The Straits Times report, senior leaders who volunteer will undergo training and certification to become career coaches under these new initiatives. Additionally, employees will have access to an artificial intelligence-powered career marketplace. 

This platform will enable them to monitor their current skill sets, explore job opportunities within the bank, and determine the necessary skills needed to progress in their careers.

Ms Lee Hwee Boon, OCBC’s head of group human resources, shared with The Straits Times that these measures are integral to a strategy aimed at "navigating a workforce through challenging times."

“Given the trends that we’re seeing – the disruption, the acceleration of technology changes in the workplace – we needed to invest in our workforce so that it is more resilient, so we have a workforce where there is breadth in skills, not just technical domain expertise,” she said.

She further emphasised that during a talent competition, tactics such as increased salaries or promotions offer only temporary solutions to staff retention. "The core idea is to seek the most inherent method to consistently motivate and involve our employees, ensuring their sustained careers with us. It's about enabling individuals to find opportunities within the OCBC Group." 

The $30 million investment supplements the $50 million previously allocated by the bank for learning programs during the last five years.

Ms. Lee also highlighted that experienced senior leaders passionate about mentoring can enrol as career coaches. The bank introduced an internal coaching certification program aligned with the International Coaching Federation's framework, aiming to certify 60 coaches within the initial 12 months. 

All employees qualify for career coaching from these internal coaches, a departure from the norm where such support is often reserved for senior staff. Ms Lyn Lee, OCBC's head of group legal, is part of the first 22 coaches undergoing a four-month training program. 

Scheduled to start coaching in January 2024, they are acquiring skills like active listening to assist coaches in defining their career goals. Despite demanding schedules, trainees engage in peer coaching sessions, sometimes as early as 8 am or as late as 10 pm. 

Despite the challenges, Ms Lee is keen on reciprocating the support she received in her career, aiming to guide others towards success. She views coaching as an opportunity to refine leadership skills, applicable both professionally and personally.

She further talked about the initiative's role in fostering a coaching culture at the bank, promoting a supportive environment for seeking guidance without judgment. Additionally, OCBC's investment extends to new and revamped programs covering career mobility, sustainability, data, and technical banking skills. 

The bank expanded its leadership programs significantly over the past five years, now offering more than 14,000 internal courses by 2022. A pivotal element in OCBC's strategy is the career marketplace, piloted from November and set for a full bank-wide launch in Q1 2024, followed by global implementation for over 30,000 staff in Q2. 

Ms. Lee Hwee Boon detailed its personalised approach, utilising employees' skill sets, completed courses, and job requirements to recommend roles within the bank. This platform aims to facilitate role adjustments for employees and even provide opportunities for short-term skill-building assignments outside their regular positions. 

Developed through collaboration with industry partners, including the Institute of Banking and Finance, AI start-up JobTech, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the platform uses the Future Skills Accelerator framework. Ms. Lee highlighted that this tool addresses the preferences of younger employees for experiential learning opportunities within the bank, potentially reducing attrition rates by offering internal opportunities aligned with their aspirations. 

Furthermore, the platform empowers the bank to transition employees facing job disruptions into roles compatible with their skill sets, fostering internal mobility. For instance, Ms. Donna Teo, a data analyst in the bank's group data office, navigated into her current role through internal reassignment, leveraging her marketing background and web programming skills to delve into data analysis.

Upon discovering an opportunity in her current team, she eagerly seized it and enrolled in a data analytics certification course created by OCBC and Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Reflecting on her journey, she admitted, “I had a lot of uncertainty over whether I can learn new things at my age. But the transition was quite smooth because everybody shares knowledge and there is a lot of information in our centralised portal.”

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Topics: Learning & Development, Leadership Development, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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