CHRO Lens: New Way of Working after COVID-19
Special Interview PMAT x Workday
Chief Human Resources Officer at Krungsri
The special interview of CHRO Lens: New Way of Working after COVID-19 has brought readers to Episode 3. Today we take you to visit Bank of Ayudhya Public Company Limited or BAY, a familiar name in the Stock Exchange of Thailand. BAY was founded in 1945 and has been listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand since 1977 or for more than 40 years. We are honored to invite Khun Vasin Udomratchatavanich, Chief Human Resources Officer, to discuss with the PMAT about human resource management and organizational transformation in preparation for the next normal during the Covid-19 pandemic. This interview will provide lessons, experience, and recommendations beneficial to people and organizational management in multiple dimensions.
COVID-19 a catalyst from gradual to accelerating changes
Khun Vasin told about human resource management during the Covid-19 epidemic from coping with the first round of the pandemic, interesting lessons learnt and changes to the work process and employees’ mindset. As for the first wave of the epidemic, it still seemed unfamiliar. BAY was informed and formulated work from home measures in accordance with the social distancing policy. Meanwhile, business continuity plans (BCPs) have been mapped out to deal with the pandemic, which became more severe.
As for the first policy: 50% WFH, it is notable that employees voluntarily work in the office rather than at home. Another issue relates to supervisors’ attitudes, they feel that when their subordinates are not working close to them, their performance will not be so efficient. The major reason was analyzed from employees who have little experience in digital platform. The use of technology to support their operations is not a major choice. BAY requires knowledge and gradually adjusts behavior through preparation courses so that employees can better access to technology. It is also remarkable that their technology use learning is faster than normal periods.
Proactively cope with COVID-19 under an intensive surveillance
It is very necessary to control the risk of employees’ infection. BAY has developed an application to track employees to ensure that infection risks can be lowered as much as possible. If any employee risks being infected, he or she must be separated. Anyone who interacts with that employee must be also monitored. This task will be performed by the HRBP, which provides up-to-date data on employee tracking and the current manpower rate.
Another Aspect of Working form Anywhere
Concerning the lessons learnt from WFH in the first round, Khun Vasin regarded that they are good as they focus on the shift mindset. Our former belief was stick to on-time operations, e.g., punctual attendance rather than work focus. This has led to more flexible working process, which allows employees to manage themselves, time, and the assigned tasks, as well as assess their success in the content rather than the process. On the other hand, joint working without face-to-face interactions brings about challenges in various topics, which HR must seek strategies to support employees’ operations, e.g.,
More frequent meetings, less working time, and online meetings: Employees have learned that all of them increase the efficiency of meetings. On the contrary, the more technology, the more meetings. Sometimes, this affects the working time.
Engagement team building through remote work is one of supervisors’ challenges. When employees do not work closely, how relationship will be built, how the relationship with their subordinates will be created via the screen, and how trust will be built in the team. While employees feel that they are distant from colleagues, supervisors are worried if their supervisors and their colleagues know what they are working on.
COVID 19, a Key to Open the World of Work and New Business Operations
Despite adjusted work styles, the operating results did not meet the target. It is evident that in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity. Thus, traditional working style is not necessary. This can link to the review of business operations. In case of working from home, employees can provide services to customers, even though they are not at the office. An idea emerges that locations are no longer required. If the office is transformed to online, employees do not have to travel for a long time and will have a better quality of life.
During this crisis, BAY reviewed the workplace seriously. For example, BAY has a subsidiary company on application development and its employees are new generations. We originally believed that workplace could contribute to creativity. The working environment appeared with the investment. In case of working from home, high costs will be saved because of online meetings. If the on-site meetings are needed, the head office space can be shared. This enables employees to have flexible working time, which is in line with the behavior of new generations.
How to Prepare People’s Future Skills in Case of Global and Business Changes
From Khun Vasin’s point of view, future arrives sooner than expected. Development must be so quick that employees do not fall behind. Necessary skills provided by the BAY to employees comprise:
1. Although digital skills are continuously developed, they are still insufficient. Currently, learning courses on new way of work are designed for all levels of employees. These courses are aimed to provide basic technology skills for supporting their operations.
2. Emotional stability is promoted as it is important to working from home. Employees may feel lonely, insecure, and unconfident. If emotional stability is not supported, it may affect employees.
3. Flexibility and adaptability are supported so that employees can work and live in accordance with the new normal. They can also adjust themselves quickly when encountering sudden, severe, and unpredictable changes.
4.Communication skills via the screen in some cases may deteriorate the communication efficiency. Distraction and technical errors may lead to misunderstandings. Thus, one procedure must be added to coordination via the screen, e.g., conclusion after meeting.
Khun Vasin emphasized that individual adaptability is different. Therefore, line managers play a crucial role as they must monitor their staff during the WFH and future periods. Based on BAY’s concept, no one will be left behind and entire organizational changes are stressed.
Lateral Thinking in Case Financial Institutions Dare to Let Employees Fail
Khun Vasin stated again that significant changes relate to mindset. If mindset is not adjusted, actual changes cannot take place. The former image of banking business had to be reliable and business activities had be carried out in line with the regulations. When time changes and challenges always occur, lateral thinking alone cannot drive organizations forward. The lateral thinking concept has been initiated by BAY. Driving organizations also relies on creativity. Because of financial business and the concept that focuses on least mistakes or no errors, thoughts are limited to the frame, e.g., during emergency operations, BAY allowed employees to express their opinions and recommendations to organizations by posing a question, “How to make operations during the Covid-19 efficient?”.
The concept of Fail Fast, Learn Fast has been implemented in a more practical manner by stressing that employees “should not be afraid of failures but fail fast, learn fast and learn from failures.”. However, it is evident that most employees still stick to fearing failures due to the nature of banking business. BAY is still in the adjustment period.
At present, BAY’s Core Value and Team SPIRIT remain the same with some additions to be consistent with the current situations and can be practically applied. Practices and communication are reviewed so that employees understand core values that correspond to current situations, such as communication enables employees to understand changed customers’ behaviors leading to efficient customer management.
BAY’s Unsecret Recipe, Changes from Internal to External
Based on the BAY’s concept, employees are compared to internal customers. Good services to employees are focused on to facilitate their work lives and make them feel comfortable. It is believed that if organizations deliver good experience to employees, employees will provide good experience to their customers too.
Changes must still relate to the reward, career path and performance appraisal systems. KPI is currently used to suit situations but emphasizes in-depth success by listening to employees’ views and encouraging them to be brave to share their comments without being afraid of failures. Reward systems are applied to connect career path. Talent consideration is based on agile leaders who can cope with emergency situations in accordance with the VUCA world.
Talent retention in practice still applies incentives via compensation and promotion. Compensation is considered by market benchmarking. Concerning career path, staff rotation is more emphasized based on the principle, “Growing to a position, rotation is needed” resulting in other types of challenges.
The internal recruitment system has also been more applied, and “the exponential transfer should be abolished.” In the past, if the cross-functional transfer was necessary, it had to remain in the same position. Currently, it is suspended to motivate more cross-functional transfer. As a result, employees focus on self-development to grow in the required career path. In addition, a variety of careers is increased, e.g., permanent transfer or changeable transfer.
Organizational transformation must be accompanied by upskilling
We also ask Khun Vasin about his view on what he strongly focuses on in the next two years. He pointed out that work culture must be changed. In addition to “speed” in the banking business, “reliability” must be essential to drive organizations to move on in an appropriate step.
The first emphasized issue involves organizational transformation. To respond more quickly to the changing environment, BAY has applied one concept of establishing a startup subsidiary as a ranger unit, which reacts quickly and flexibly.
The second issue relates to employee upskilling to work together in the future. The BAY’s priority is multi-functional employees. For example, those engaged in HRIS must have knowledge of UX and UI too. They must know the demand of internal customers or employees. If a good system is created but employees cannot use it, it will be useless.
Finally, we would like to ask Khun Vasin as CHRO to provide advice or voices to executives and recommendations to HR professional colleagues to drive forward. He stated that executives have a role in promoting cultural changes. We may not forget that the current situation has been changed. The successful ones or some traditional work practices do not function anymore. He requested that executives are open-minded to changes and new ideas, as well as change their thinking methods. He also wished that executives deliver encouragement to their employees. During these situations, one of the most important factors is “organizations and employees must fight together.” Lastly, Khun Vasin passed on his morale to HR professional colleagues, who are facing difficulty more than before. He also asked HR to be proud of themselves to perform at their maximum potential. “Working with heart is happy despite tiredness.” Entering the next normal period, necessary HR skills consist of resilience, flexibility, and rapid on-site decision-making. He wished all organizations to overcome this challenging situation together.
PMAT sincerely hopes that readers will gain knowledge and techniques as well as expand their perspectives on better people management. Let’s meet again in the special column CHRO Lens: New Way of Working after COVID 19 at the next opportunity for meeting CHROs from the two organizations soon.