Reinventing The Workplace, People First

By Ahmed Wafi

Bank Islam’s responses to COVID-19 is a perfect example of prudence, planning and successful action.

In early 2020, even before the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic, Bank Islam begun to notice the growing signs of the critical impact the virus would have to the business. It was about two weeks before Malaysia’s historic Movement Control Order 1.0 that Bank Islam initiated its COVID-19 Task Force.

Ready to take on the challenges a global pandemic posed, Malaysia’s strongest Islamic Bank rolled out its company-wide flexible and remote-working policy and infrastructure. This was supported with comprehensive guidelines, besides the latest communication and collaboration tools that enable all staff to smoothly adapt the remote working setup. Their fully on-cloud self-service human capital management empowers the staff to manage their own HR resources, anytime anywhere.

Understanding the importance of clear and concise communication during this period, expectations between managers, senior executives and staff were made clear before the commencement of remote work ensuring effective delegation of responsibilities, mutual trust, also most importantly the safety and wellbeing of their people.

During this period, leaders exercised a high level of understanding, measuring their people’s productivity based on outcome rather than output regardless of working hour arrangements.

Looking on the bright side of things, the Bank saw COVID-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent its workplace and accelerate its digitalisation journey across the organisation, an initiative that had already been in the works.

The Bank embraced the timely opportunity with agility, optimising and maximising its efforts to accelerate digitalisation through these focus areas:

  • Digital Agenda – Dividing it into three components, specifically: People - driving digital culture, capability and competency; Process - propelling innovation and automation; and Technology - strengthening infrastructure and capabilities.
  • Digital Literacy – Accelerating their people’s digital literacy through in-house Digital Upskilling Programmes with internal expertise to develop individual and team capabilities, ensure sustainability, and an overall development of its talent pool.
  • Employee Engagements –Continuing to strengthen the employee engagement initiatives and practise authenticity in communications, leveraging on various collaboration tools.

Bank Islam has always placed their people at the forefront of their growth, understanding that the only way the business will continue to grow is if the people grow with the Bank. With this in mind, the Bank understands that it doesn’t need fancy initiatives and engagement programmes to help their people grow.

Instead, growth is fostered through empowering and encouraging mutual trust and accountability across all job levels, being clear with expectations from top down to bottom up, practising clear, concise regular communication with virtual check-ins, establishing policies to support work flexibility, and creating time for team building through non-work interactions such as virtual hangouts and various work-life harmony activities.

Today, Islamic finance is a USD$2.5 trillion industry spread across over 80 countries, making inroads into mainstream finance. This display of monumental potential means that Bank Islam holds an equally monumental responsibility as Malaysia’s pioneer of Islamic banking.

With the aspiration to further drive the growth of Islamic finance regionally, the Bank also aims to pave the way for other Islamic banking players in the country to grow.

They do however admit that a shortage of experienced talent in Islamic finance and an ageing workforce leaves the future of the industry to the millennials and Gen Z.

With the intention of molding the younger generation to be future leaders of Islamic finance, Bank Islam launched the Young Leaders Programme to produce holistic highly trained industry professionals and to build the next generation of leaders in the Islamic banking industry through structured leadership development programmes and continuous learning.

The establishment of the Bank Islam Centre of Digital Excellence (CDX) in 2020 takes the organisation one step closer to becoming a fully digital Islamic bank, spearheading the exploration of experimental new businesses and technologies, re-evaluating business models to prepare for the future.

Needless to say, opportunities are aplenty at Bank Islam, one of Malaysia’s most preferred employers.

And you can discover a world of exciting opportunities when Bank Islam goes online to meet you at GRADUAN Aspire happening this 9 to 12 July!

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