UOB Prepares Employees for the Digital Future
Through this interview with UOB’s Managing Director of Business Banking Mr Mervyn Koh, we gain insight into how this bank is readying its people for the future
Today, Mervyn Koh proudly shares how UOB has successfully expanded from a local bank in Singapore to a leading bank in Asia with a global network of more than 500 branches and offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America.
For more than eight decades, generations of UOB employees have been instrumental in building the bank and in carrying on the entrepreneurial spirit from which it was founded. The importance of developing the skillsets and mindsets of its people as it prepares them for the future is also reflected in how the bank has developed its employee value proposition (EVP).
UOB’s employee value proposition
Through sharing the bank’s dedication to employee growth, care and trust, Koh highlighted the role the UOB’s EVP has in preparing employees in the digital age:
"Continuous employee training and development is a top priority at UOB. Just as the bank has furthered its investments in technology to serve better our customers, it has also ensured that our people are equipped with the professional and leadership competencies, skills and knowledge they require to be ‘future-ready’”, explains Koh.
With consumers becoming increasingly tech-savvy, the bank is also focused on encouraging enterprise thinking among its people, and helping them to acquire digital skills to anticipate and to meet the needs of a new generation of customers.
One of the initiatives introduced by the bank is the UOB 2020 Ideas Contest. “The contest taps the creativity and expertise of our employees to conceptualise innovative solutions for the banking industry,” Koh said. Teams that were shortlisted received guidance on app design and how to pitch their ideas, while mentors from UOB provided advice on customer experience and business realities to challenge the teams.
Koh believes that when people are given the right resources, they will want to do their best. “UOB creates an environment where people feel inspired to innovate,” Koh said. One example is how the bank encourages its employees to participate in its accelerator programme, The FinLab. If the employee’s startup idea is selected, they will be given three months of fully-paid leave to participate in the programme.
UOB adopts many initiatives to provide a supportive and caring environment for its employees. An example is the ability for full-time employees in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong to opt for staggered working hours to suit their family or personal needs. Such arrangements empower employees to manage their work and personal commitments so that they can be at their best, at work and at home.
To foster trust, UOB communicates openly with employees through channels such as town halls, dialogues and the bank’s intranet. Through these channels, employees are informed on matters of importance to the bank, such as business developments, financial performance, organisational changes and new programmes and policies.
Applying the employee value proposition
For the Business Banking team, Koh elaborates on how he applies the growth aspect of the employee value proposition.
Koh encourages his team to take ownership of their professional development so as to build meaningful careers. He worked together with Human Resource to provide the Business Banking team with a clear idea of the various career pathways. With this clarity, employees are able to pursue opportunities to upskill themselves so that they are well-equipped to face future challenges.
“The real test is how agile the person is in the face of change and how they improve their skills to meet our customers’ changing needs,” Koh explains.
Therefore, he concludes that the relevance of humans in the digital future is dependent on both the company’s dedication to provide opportunities for growth, as well as the employee’s efforts to remain relevant in the workforce.
While the pace of change from the advancement of technology may seem relentless, Koh strongly believes that there will always be a role for the human touch.
“At UOB, we believe every digital experience should have a human touch. Technology enables our customers to enjoy a better experience and we will continue to harness it to make banking simpler, smarter and safer.”