Life Away from Work at Bank Islam

By Dania Aziz

At Bank Islam, work-life balance means being able to integrate one's professional life seamlessly with one's personal life.

A successful work-life balance should be achieved without compromising your productivity. Bank Islam’s Flexible Working Arrangement (FWA) lets you have exactly that, as it provides employees with the freedom to work in ways that best suit them. As the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of FWA amongst the BITIZENs (as it fondly calls its employees, the Bank Islam citizens), Bank Islam’s move to adopt a hybrid work culture this year is the natural progression.

According to Santi Octavia Sarmawi, a Deputy Manager of Culture & People Development Department at Bank Islam, the flexibility to set her own work hours and pace afforded her more time to spend on priority tasks and building meaningful collaborations instead of commuting to office. “It also afforded me more time in the day with my family. I can choose to start my work day later to spend more time with my family in the morning or choose to start early so I can leave the office earlier to beat the city’s peak hour traffic,” says Santi.

Instill agile mindset and fluid work behaviours among Bank Islam employees

FWA is just a small part of the work-life balance equation. Some people work well under any amount of supervision – a lot or a little. Despite not being physically in the office most of the time, productivity remains as usual (if not more), and teamwork and collaboration continue to happen seamlessly. “In finding the right balance, I found that the two most important elements are having an active two-way communication between any colleagues and supervisors, and setting a clear expectation about the results and outcome to be achieved,” shares Santi.

The “open door” policy practised by Bank Islam leaders encouraged employees to communicate openly and honestly, and to give constructive feedback whenever needed, which ensures that expectations are set clearly. With Bank Islam’s adoption of new working ways and technologies – progressively putting in place the technology infrastructure, applications, and digital workplace solutions in order to nurture mutual trust and open communication – being present in person in the same room is no longer a pre-requisite to problem-solving and decision-making processes.

The Bank’s open, versatile, and flexible common workspace BITIZone@L10 provides BITIZENs the freedom to use the space in any way that can boost efficiency and productivity through collaboration. “BITIZone@L10 is a showcase of what we want our new culture to be – a culture that nurtures innovation, agility, and collaboration,” Santi explains.

Bank Islam also emphasises on employee wellbeing through various initiatives that support BITIZENs’ health and wellness needs, and builds on their resilience to cope with abrupt changes brought by the pandemic. Last year, the Bank introduced its in-house Employee Assistant and wellness programme Bank Islam Live Well Programme to tackle the four elements of human wellness – physical, mental, spiritual, as well as financial wellbeing. Access to wellness professionals via a digital healthcare solution, and group activities such as virtual exercises and a Bank-wide biggest loser challenge during the pandemic, for example, have helped BITIZENs keep track and maintain their personal wellbeing.

Bank Islam’s advocacy to help those in need

Initiatives for community service and helping those who are in need are a big part of the Bank Islam culture. Bank Islam advocates its staff to give back to society. Volunteering in the community services programme carried out by its corporate social responsibility arm, AMAL, is an annual activity for Bank Islam staff. Giving charity and contributing to the sustainable development goals have never been made easier with Sadaqa House, Bank Islam’s Social Finance initiative.

“As an employee, our involvement in these community programmes gives us a deeper sense of purpose and connection to the company. By participating in these activities, we become aware of what our surrounding underserved community needs. Thus we are able to come up with solutions that tackle their financial problems and help us better serve them,” Santi clarifies.

The Bank is also very serious about supporting BITIZENs’ growth. Learning and development is a major component. BITIZENs at all job levels are encouraged and empowered to learn new things and move to a new role within the Bank regardless of their job levels.

“We support BITIZENs’ growth journey from as basic as learning a new skill to as advanced as charting a new career path within the Bank through internal talent mobility, development of future leaders, secondment, and professional certifications and Digital Upskilling programmes,” Santi adds. All these with the aim to enable BITIZENs to pursue their passion, to grow and learn so that they can rise to the challenging demands of the ever-changing business landscape in this IR4.0, and the disruptive world of digitalisation and innovation.

Explore opportunities at Bank Islam this 30 July to 2 August at GRADUAN Aspire 2022. Visit to be part of the most interactive virtual career fair in Malaysia.

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