CHRO Lens: New Way of Working after COVID-19

Special Interview PMAT x Workday

Mr. Vetit Assawamangcla

Executive Vice President, Manager, Human Resources Division Directorship, Bangkok Bank Public Company Limited

The special interview with Mr. Vetit Assawamangcla, a HR top executive or CHRO on the issue “Lens: New Way of Working after Covid-19” has returned to meet the readers again. Today let’s listen to the perspective of the HR top executive of BANGKOK BANK PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED or known as BBL in the business world.


We have been honored by Mr. Vetit Assawamangcla, Executive Vice President, Manager, Human Resources Division Directorship, Bangkok Bank Public Company Limited, who came from non-HR line. He has business experience in foreign business and has overseen human resources for five years. He told us that a challenge in HR work requires both science and art to create acceptance and link HR work to strategies and organizational implementation. The findings relate to real practices, which are beyond the convention of textbooks and require experience and continuous pursuit of knowledge.


Today we will share lessons learnt and experience from the human resource management’s perspective of one of BBL leaders under the Covid-19 pandemic and organizational transition to prepare for the next normal?


Employees’ safety and customers’ services missions must be performed to best current practice

The Covid-19 epidemic has had an adverse impact on BBL, which usually formulates a crisis management plan and a business continuity plan (BCP). The two challenges need to be addressed.


Firstly, taking care of “internal customers” – BBL employees – through safety management to reduce the risk of a Covid outbreak as much as possible, based on the concept “Bualuang’s Bond”, which relates to caring for internal members with a family-style relationship. To prevent the spread of the Covid-19, we do not want four family members to be at risk, so we must take care of ourselves first. The safest way, which may contradict human nature, is to keep social distancing and to be away from risk areas, e.g., measures to prohibit different teams from meeting in order to reduce the outbreak’s spread of the outbreak. If necessary, an online channel should be used or the communication type can be altered to a digital platform, by keeping productivity and engagement levels in mind, and focusing on digital experience for employees.

Secondly, concerning taking care of “external customers” through delivering best services and proposing guidelines for supporting their business due to economic impacts, BBL has made great efforts to deliver services as good as those in normal conditions.


Khun Vetit briefly mentioned the adaptation strategy. To maintain the business without an interruption, he has to choose which activity is “core” and which one is non-core, and which process can deliver services without using a face-to-face communication to plan manpower downsizing and switch to working from home. After work styles have been adjusted, it is evident that manpower is more flexible and tasks can be performed by fewer employees with greater flexibility, who can be rotated to cross-functional jobs.


Preparing People for VUCA World and New Way of Working

The bank business services have been altered when banks serve as more than financial institutions. As a result, HR must plan and develop employees to offer more than financial services. They must be able to develop themselves as consultant to customers. In addition, the idea of business operation switched from increasing quantitative turnover to creating and delivering values to customers. Thus, human resource development plans are specified to bring about competency, skills, and passion to cope with current and future situations.

  1. Upskill – Reskill at the right time by providing employees with more data analytical capability because the customers’ demand has changed significantly during, before and after the Covid-19. As BBL customers come from different generations, e.g., Baby Boomer to Gen C, their demands differ. During the business period, security maintenance is, therefore, emphasized to enhance efficiency in this topic. Customers’ information will be used to analyze how to develop products/services in order to meet their needs.

  2. Digital Technology Experiences: Employees should be encouraged to have direct experience in applying technologies to support services of all products, to prioritize innovation units to use AI and machine learning to expand the business and gain knowledge on online business management using blockchain technology.

  3. Agility: As we live in the world, where situations always change, we have to encounter uncertainty. BBL employees must possess agility in working and learning by adjusting their mindset from being afraid of failures to daring to learn from trials and errors and use design thinking leading to acceptance of the concept of learning from failure.

  4. Cross Collaboration: Employees must be developed to be ready for department collaboration and joint project operations by working together, solving problems, and providing good and diverse solutions to customers.

  5. Coaching and Feedback focus on supervisors’ skills in coaching, counselling, and encouraging. The current challenge pertains to teamwork activities via online. This may reduce customers’ interactions compared to face-to-face counselling.

  6. Trust or Trust Building starts from shifting supervisors’ concept from lack of confidence in subordinates’ ability in performing the assigned task to adjusting their mindsets, while subordinates are worried if their supervisors can solve problems or give them advice and minimize fault detection.


Hybrid workplace is approaching, and manpower is going to change

Based upon the interview, it is evident that BBL culture is changing because of adaptation to cope with the Covid-19. Khun Vetit shared his view about this topic interestingly.


After the Covid-19 scenario, BBL is looking for new ways of working and hybrid workplace based on three models: 3 days at work, 2 days at home and 2 days off model or 3,2,2 model. When working styles change, manpower will be concerned. It was converted from the traditional concept of scaling up to scaling down manpower. This is not to reduce employees in a layoff manner but job rotation, which emphasizes them to learn new jobs that they have never been practiced. For example, the former services of bank branches were transformed from transaction-based to advisory-based services to deliver good employees’ experience to customers. Thus, BBL is responsible for upskilling and reskilling employees.


Khun Vetit added, “The focus factor relates to conflict management when people are working together.” Work culture, which is judged by data rather than experience and familiarity, including empathy or compassion, is created, Empathy or compassion is an ability to understand other people’s emotions and accept them by valuing all opinions and adapting them to reduce conflicts.


Connection before Solution: BBL Principle of Corporate Culture Transformation

We want to change various things to alter present work styles and prepare for the future. Such changes must take place at the level of organizational culture, where BBL has applied the principle “connection before solution.” To acquire cooperation, connection must be created first. It is easier to ask for cooperation or coordination from acquaintances than official cooperation from strangers. Accountability and commitments must be also communicated from CEOs to employees at all levels and all opportunities, e.g., via meetings and town hall meetings.

In summary, mindset and corporate culture changes can be achieved through the following procedures:


> Awareness: to inform employees what BBL is going to change, why such corporate culture is emphasized and how the impacts on organizations and employees are.

> Buy in: supervisors must serve as an example to their subordinates. The training process is also used.

> Implementation/execution: KPI is applied to determine goals of each department, e.g., solution presentation to customers and lean work procedure adjustment.

> Talent allows talented groups to push for actual and sustainable changes.


Making a Great Experience and Offering Employees Opportunities

As we know, we are now in the digital age, during which work styles, employees’ behaviors and work adjustment have been much changed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Employees’ expectations to be satisfied go beyond the dimension of career advancement and remunerations. Thus, HR operations must think carefully about dealing with situations and the environment not only to make employees happy to work at their potential to produce productivity but also give them opportunities for self-development.


Khun Vetit told us that we were previously used to the word “Customer Experience” but now we are focusing on employee experience, which has been implemented in a more concrete manner. Many organizations have applied the concept to take care of employees throughout the life cycle to deliver them good experience by prioritizing the following issues:


Sense of Purpose and Meaningful work

It is remarkable that new generations enjoy learning and changing their jobs. After working for a while, they resign to become a business owner. Thus, the HR department must adjust itself to meet their goals by applying the concept of sense of purpose or letting them recognize their own and organizational goals.


Application of People Data

It is an era that human resource management relies on data to create advantages and upgrade capabilities by analyzing employee-related information to add value to HR operations, e.g., data applied to career paths and promotion. Skills, ability, and performance will be considered to decide what ability and skills are needed for that position. This will be used to determine succession planning to develop qualified employees as readiness leaders, who are ready to take actions. People data will be used to analyze what they have performed, outstanding talent, leadership, as well as what management styles or skills are required for that position, and what kind of approach will be used to develop them as successors.


Ability Development X Knowledge Sharing

According to Khun Vetit, HR important issues in the next two years will involve the two following HR challenges:


  1. No matter how organizations develop, HR must respond to all situations of organizational implementation, develop human ability, design organizational structures, and adjust cooperate culture to match organizations.

  2. Learning and sharing atmosphere must be created leading to knowledge sharing and sustainable development. It is notable that two-way communication among talent groups will rather expand their thoughts and develop them towards the pursuit of better outcomes than expand development without sharing.


In Preparation for a New Way of Working from the Views of HR and Executives

When the Covid-19 crisis ends and returns to normal, the following issues relating to new ways of working will receive attention. It is very necessary that executives should study them to formulate policies and strategies so that organizations are ready for the future.

> Health and safety: Organizations must strive to control and prevent high-risk impacts on employees’ health.


> Agile and flexible organization: The agile concept must emphasize problem-solving and communication among organizational employees to build confidence in team and organizational efficiency resulting in rapid organizational implementation.


> Flexible Manpower: From the point of view of “young generations”, operations must be flexible and match their lifestyles, while some organizational operations use technology to support work and embrace remote working. As there are a wide variety of employment types, permanent employees for many positions are not necessary.


> Digital Transformation: Continuous development from technology can enhance new customers’ experiences. Database collection and in-depth analysis are no longer difficult and increase organizational agility. If organizations do not prepare people to apply technology to support their operations, they will be advantaged to those ready ones.


> Human Centric Culture places importance to internal and external customers as human beings. Their lifestyles are understood, and the real needs of human beings are considered.


Thoughts for HR colleagues: Post COVID situations are a difficult task

It is no exaggeration to say, “After the Covid-19 situation, the world will never be the same.” Here are some tips from Mr. Vetit Assawamangcla, a CHRO to all professional colleagues.


When business moves, all organizational units must move too. HR must possess learning agility. Today, HR must understand business moves to deliver suitable solutions to organizations.


Not only forecast but also foresight is required. Nowadays, we must look to the future. Thus, we must leave the same familiarity. Organizations cannot survive through the application of existing data sets plus the former experience to formulate strategies.


Power of team focuses on managing people of different ages, and developing themselves to learn new things, as well as being open to new ideas. To seek better options, all feedbacks must be valued, and useful opinions must be selected. Soft side or powerful skill or social ability development must be also planned, such as language proficiency, communication, friendliness, optimism, and social expressions.


It is expected that following this interview readers will gain knowledge and techniques, as well as broaden their perspectives on “people” management. Let’s see again in the special column: CHRO Lens: New Way of Working after Covid-19. On the next opportunity, don’t hold your breath to learn human resource and organizational development through the viewpoint of the next CHRO.

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