DFCC Bank nurtures dynamic professionals | Daily News

DFCC Bank nurtures dynamic professionals

Sonali Jayasinghe
Sonali Jayasinghe

DFCC Bank has always remained dedicated to nurturing and developing its team of dynamic professionals, whilst cultivating a high-performance culture that is rooted in strong HR principles. DFCC Bank’s Vice President of Human Resources, Sonali Jayasinghe, shines a light on the HR principles, strategies and protocols that are put in place at the Bank to ensure that both employees and the organization thrives and reaches their mutual goals.

DFCC Bank's HR philosophy

The Bank’s HR philosophy is to be an integral strategic partner to business units whilst fostering a sustainable value driven internal culture. We also strive to ensure the availability of avenues for individual growth and advancement for our employees.

Q: What is the work culture at DFCC?

A: At DFCC we have a culture where we encourage performance optimization whilst providing avenues for professional and self-development. We believe that an enabling culture in the workplace drives organizational performance and towards this we focus on constantly reinforcing our seven core values, namely, being innovative, customer centric, professional, ethical, accountable, team oriented and socially responsible. We strive towards ensuring transparency and equitability in our processes and procedures. Our employees are encouraged to speak up, voice their opinions and share their ideas. We strongly advocate an environment which respects the diversity of opinions, as well as social and cultural norms. The DFCC culture drives employees to excel and achieve the highest productivity and efficiency levels at what they do thereby driving the organisation towards excellence.

Q: What are some of the recent key initiatives that have been implemented at DFCC that you feel have made a difference?

A: As part of the integration initiatives adopted in 2015, the core values of the Bank were reviewed and revamped with the entire process being driven by a cross selection of employees who represented the staff base thereby ensuring more buy in and ownership from staff to live by these values. In July 2016, DFCC engaged Great Place to Work Research & Consultancy Pvt Ltd to provide input on internalizing the values within the organization to ensure a cohesive and consistent understanding and practice of these values among the staff. The assignment was conducted in four phases and encompassed aligning Bank values to business strategy, interpreting individual behaviours demonstrating these values, carrying out a culture audit to identify strengths and possible changes required to key practices to ensure alignment to support behavioural change, engaging all employees through large group interventions to build ownership of the values. To further inculcate these values, we have had regular activations around our principles including island wide value focused energizer sessions, contests, communiques, recognition schemes. Communication on bank values can be found at all Bank premises and customized people management capability enhancing workshops are conducted at all levels of management aimed at improved consistency in people handling and providing supervisors with the necessary competencies to foster employee engagement through trust, inclusion and acceptance thereby enabling their staff to live the values.

Last year we also introduced two new development programmes for our staff, ‘Ascension’ and ‘Rise’. The former is targeted towards providing personal and professional development opportunities for our high potential staff and the latter focuses on providing assistance and guidance in a supportive environment for the staff who are at present struggling with target achievement. A focused re-skilling programme has also been introduced to enable employees whose job roles have changed significantly based on business needs of the Bank, to adapt to the change and acquire the knowledge and competencies associated with their new roles with minimum disruption. We believe that these supportive frameworks enable performance optimization whilst also enhancing job satisfaction and job fit.

Several avenues are available to employees to share their opinions, ideas and concerns. “Innovation Boxes” have been made available for staff to drop in their ideas for improvements and change. In addition to employees having direct access to the Chairman and CEO through dedicated email addresses and telephone lines, open days are also held with them periodically where staff can have a one on one chat to share their ideas or suggestions. The HR department visits the branch network periodically to meet with employees to discuss personal concerns and provide advice on any HR concerns they may have. Additionally, selected strategic units have been assigned a HR officer who functions as a business partner and provides further assistance and HR input where required. A cross functional grievance committee provides an additional alternate channel for employees to raise concerns. The Bank recently launched ‘Reach Out’, an initiative targeting our female employees who comprise about 50% percent of our workforce. Through this programme, women can ‘reach out’ to other women for confidential advice and assistance on issues impacting their personal and professional well-being. These initiatives help to encourage the fostering of trust and transparency in the workplace and help to create a more positive and productive environment.

Q: What are the career progression prospects?

A: In our view, the career progression opportunities available at DFCC are extremely competitive in comparison to the industry which is a reflection of the rapid expansion which has created many enrichment and advancement opportunities for our staff. Many varied career development programmes and certification programmes are available to employees at different levels. The promotion policy is communicated and accessible to all employees to enable them to map their career plans.

Q: What are the Learning and Development opportunities provided to employees?

A: Over the years the Bank has actively demonstrated its commitment towards investing in employee development with the objective of developing a competent and versatile talent pool. Individual training plans are available for employees which are reviewed annually. In addition to on-the-job skilling, special assignments, job rotation and enrichment opportunities, extensive classroom based programmes are organised both locally and internationally. Coaching and mentoring programmes and opportunities to participate in varied teams and committees are also made available to our employees to enable them to diversify their knowledge and exposure. Through these capability and capacity building initiatives, the Bank provides our employees with the necessary competencies to meet expected performance and quality standards. It is anticipated that such initiatives will give them the necessary edge to respond effectively to demands placed upon them by internal and external changes and developments.

The e-learning platform, which offers up to date technical as well as soft skills based content, is now used extensively and is particularly appreciated by our regionally dispersed workforce. Regular quizzes, assessments and competitions are organised to propagate knowledge on bank products and best banking practices. In addition, the facilities provided by our in-house library are accessible to all staff. The Bank also offers very attractive education schemes to encourage our employees to acquire relevant professional and post-graduate qualifications, which are extensively utilized at present. In addition, we offer mentoring opportunities, “Buddy” programmes to assist new recruits as well as targeted individual development programmes such as ‘Ascension’ and ‘Rise’ which are mentioned in detail above. We also have our own award winning Toastmasters Club where employees get the opportunity to practice and hone public speaking skills.

Q: How do you ensure you recruit individuals that fit in with the brand and organizational values?

A: When selecting potential recruits, we look for individuals possessing the necessary technical skill sets as well as behavioural attributes and values which align with the cultural ideologies of the Bank. Our recruitment process encompasses a range of tools such assessments, behavioural interviews, group discussions, psychometric assessments, presentations etc.

All new recruits go through a minimum of two interviews and a final discussion with the CEO. The interview questions are structured to ascertain the level of fit in terms of technical competence for the particular role and in addition behavioural scenario based questions are also used extensively to get an insight as to how the individual would handle particular situations as well as elicit their extent of “fit in” with our brand and value proposition.

Each interview panel would always comprise of an individual from the relevant business area the recruitment is targeted towards, a member from HRD as well as a member from an alternate business area so as to ensure transparency of the process as well as diversity of perspective when selecting recruits to our team. As a reflection of the importance placed on the function, staff members selected as panellists are given periodic skills training to ensure they possess the capability and cognitive awareness to ask the necessary probing questions to elicit an understanding of intrinsic values and attitudes of potential recruits.

Q: What do you think gives DFCC an edge against competitors?

A: Our skilled and professional work force gives us an edge. In our recruitment practices we look for people who possess the requisite technical skills and experience as well as a high level of commitment, confidence and a drive for excellence. Many of our employees possess multi-disciplinary qualifications. We actively encourage individual development through the acquisition of knowledge by offering a range of educational opportunities which are fully or partially subsidized by the Bank. In addition, we offer a range of development initiatives structured to suit employees at different stages of their career with the Bank. The Bank’s historic roots in development banking has ensured the availability of a diverse and extensive internal knowledge base. We ensure availability of a long term knowledge repository by disseminating this expertise through regular knowledge sharing programmes. The Bank culture encourages diversity of thought and the open exchange of ideas and knowledge, thereby enabling a nurturing environment and a productive work place.

Q: How does DFCC encourage employees to maintain a work-life balance?

A: DFCC recognises the importance of ensuring that our employees have sufficient time to unwind and spend time with their loved ones.

Accordingly, we offer rostered work schedules depending on the needs of the job role and encourage our employees to use their annual leave and we even provide them with a holiday allowance at this time. Over 70% of our workforce now comprise of millennials who value opportunities for interaction and the forging of bonds. With these needs in mind, the Bank organises many opportunities for social interaction such as getaways - both local and overseas, quiz and movie nights, sports days, parties, talent shows and exhibitions for our staff and their families to show case their abilities, the annual dance. We also actively encourage participation in sports and other extra-curricular interests and sponsor a range of opportunities ranging from basketball to chess.

We also place importance on providing employees with the opportunity to look after their well-being, with this in mind we conduct regular knowledge enhancement programmes on health, nutrition, stress management and overall wellness of themselves and their families. We encourage our employees to have an active life style and incorporate fitness into their personal regimes by providing attractive and subsidized gym memberships, organizing fitness challenges/ competitions and opportunities to attend yoga, self-defence and aerobics classes, hiking trips etc.

One of our core values is social responsibility and over time this has been embedded into our cultural ethos with our employees demonstrating time and time again their commitment to “living” this value and contributing funds, time and effort towards the betterment of society. During this year our employees voluntarily contributed towards many initiatives such as disaster relief programmes, tree planting and beach clean-up campaigns, blood donation events and volunteering to teach English to name a few. We also have an active team of cross functional employees - the DFCC Community Projects Team, who have initiated several projects with the involvement of a large spectrum of employees.

Q: What do you think are the people management challenges you are dealing with today and how does DFCC deal with them?

A: Sourcing and retaining talented high performers, balancing the need for increased productivity and contributions in an increasingly competitive and challenging landscape with the necessity to ensure a fair work life balance and developing the next generation of leadership are some of the key challenges.

In addressing these challenges, we are adopting a proactive approach by a variety of communication channels open for employees to express their ideas, expectations and concerns and based of this feedback, we constantly devise programmes to ensure employee engagement is maintained at optimal levels.

We also focus on enabling sustained improvements in productivity and output through investments in technology and constant review and improvement of processes. In addition, many development and performance enhancement programmes, individual coaching and mentoring initiatives and incentive schemes are also provided to ensure that our employees have an environment where they can perform at their best.

DFCC Bank provides professionals seeking a rewarding career, with a safe and goal orientated working environment, where they can truly tap into their full potential and grow in both a personal and professional capacity. The Bank’s HR practices play an important role in providing the cross-organizational framework that is required to manage talent and give team members the tools and guidance that they need to perform at an optimum.

More information could be obtained from their web www.dfcc.lk. 



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