Penelope Gan explains how AmBank's work culture allows individuals to thrive in a highly regulated industry.

If the current Gen Y thinks that the job market is hard to crack, employers are also working extra hard to hang on to their Gen Y and Z employees who have no qualms about leaving if they are unhappy personally and professionally.

Penelope (Penny) Gan, the Deputy Group Chief Human Resource Officer of AmBank, explains the biggest challenge facing the banking industry in reaching out to Gen Y: “To captivate their minds and hearts, one individual at a time.

“Then, there is the challenge of keeping them excited and inspired to work within the boundaries of a well-established corporate infrastructure and industry expectations that more often than not prioritise governance and compliance, as we are operating in a highly regulated industry.”

That about sums up the challenge the bank faces in retaining the present generation of workers.

As work-life balance is of great concern to this generation, how is AmBank incorporating this element into its corporate culture to attract and retain Gen Y?

“The issues are less about work-life balance, but more about work-life integration. It’s understanding them and then, casting individuals into areas, roles, functions and projects in which they are passionate about and where their innate talent and abilities will flourish, shine and produce exponential outcomes,” says Penny. “Assigned and supported with the right opportunity and avenue, the feeling of drudgery and toil will dissipate and be replaced with purpose, empowerment and belonging.”

The work culture at AmBank is designed to bring out the best in its people. Penny elaborates on this: “AmBank’s high-performance culture that is balanced with good governance and compliance is cultivated by respecting and supporting each individual to remain unique in imparting his or her skills and knowledge, and in sharing the experience and outlook.”

Some of the biggest challenges facing organisations today are on motivating and inspiring loyalty among their workforce. AmBank has approached this challenge by adopting the idea of inclusiveness. “AmBank is an organisation where people initiatives are designed not in isolation, but based on feedback and exchanges received via various channels made available to all levels of employees,” she says. “Our internal ‘Speak Up’ channel, for example, allows anonymity to encourage employees to share candid views and suggestions.

“The initiatives, implemented at the macro and micro levels, adopt the extremes of high touch one-on-one sessions to self-service technology, to cater for different generational and individual needs and touch-point preferences. This, in turn, ensures that the value we derive as individuals maximises the collective efforts and resources gone into developing any programme.” It is also to ensure that everyone has an overall sense of ownership of what AmBank stands for and that staff are part of the solution and the future.

Her advice to the 20-somethings about to enter a challenging job market is to be exceptional in whatever chosen field they enter. “You’ll get noticed and be in demand, if you are exceptional at what you do. And the only way to be exceptional is to do what you naturally do best.”

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