NBK Group Human Resources.. An example to follow in coronavirus crisis management

During the coronavirus pandemic, the bank continued to play its historic role and social responsibility by soliciting and recruiting national talent.

  • NBK raised the motto “The safety of our employees and customers comes first" since the early days of the crisis.
  • Intensifying remote training courses and programs to raise employees’ efficiency
  • 2,625 Employees, representing 86% of total staff, completed the mandatory training courses remotely through NBK’s E-Learning platform.
  • The bank organized 71 training programs and workshops that were attended by 1137 trainees, representing unprecedented levels in view of the pandemic.
  • A significant increase in the level of employee awareness about the health and safety measures taken by the bank to face the pandemic
  • NBK allowed parent employees flexible working hours, at the beginning of the school year, to help them set up their children for online teaching.

The year 2020 posed a critical challenge for leading institutions’ readiness to deal with a major crisis of the size of COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) gave an example to follow in how to manage the crisis and take the initiative to support the national economy and society at large, to recover from the fallout of the pandemic, as part of the bank's leading position and long track record of weathering crises spanning for 68 years.

Group Human Resources was key pivot of the bank’s success story in the apt dealing with the developments of the coronavirus crisis during 2020, as it harnessed its full potential to this end, focusing on 4 key pillars: first: preserving the safety of the bank’s employees and customers, second: providing logistic support to the rest of the bank’s departments to ensure business continuity and providing services with the usual quality, third: supporting government efforts and society at large in curbing the outbreak of the pandemic, and fourth: intensifying remote training courses and programs to raise employees’ efficiency.

The Group taken proactive measures and activated emergency plans since the early beginning of the crisis, and applied strict precautionary health measures to ensure a safe work environment and adopted a thorough sterilization system for all the bank’s facilities.

Employees’ awareness and confidence

Group Human Resources team, in coordination with all the bank’s business units, formed an emergency team, since the beginning of February, which took upon itself setting precautionary plans and measures to effectively deal with this pandemic in all the bank’s departments and branches, and to take all responsible measures to help curb the spread of the virus.

In addition, an integrated back to work guide and plan, with a detailed protocol which were all approved by the executive management. This plan included all information, procedures and precautionary measures aimed to ensure smooth gradual back to work stages, while avoiding any gathering or crowding.

During these stages, the bank applied strict precautionary health measures, ensured a safe work environment, adopted a thorough sterilization system for the different facilities, and imposed health control at the entrances of the bank and all its branches. Additionally, the bank set social distancing as a prerequisite for returning to work, and mandated wearing masks during all official working hours.

The bank also installed sanitization stations, regularly distributed masks and sanitizers, measured employees’ temperature, left the entrance doors to the floors open during working hours at all its branches and facilities, in addition to sterilizing all floors on a daily and weekly basis, placing instructional floor signs, and adopting electronic forms and digital services to prevent any chances for spread of the infection, and Group Human Resources has been working on acquainting employees of all procedures through all the bank’s communication channels.

The bank conducted many surveys during the year about employees’ awareness and confidence in the health and safety measures, which showed a significant increase in the level of employees’ awareness about the health and safety measures taken by the bank during 2020, at 95%. These surveys also revealed a high level of employees’ confidence in the procedures and measures taken in the course of the back-to-work plan, at 85%.

Recruitment of Kuwaiti staff

During coronavirus pandemic, the bank did not abandon its historic role and social responsibility in soliciting and recruiting national talent, by recruiting 188 young Kuwaiti talents during 2020, considering that NBK is the top Kuwaiti private sector institution in terms of recruiting national staff, with a national labor ratio 71.5%, in line with the bank’s strategy to solicit qualified national talent and develop their skills with a view to prepare highly-qualified leaders for the future.

In this context, NBK enjoys the highest retention rates of Kuwaiti employees, reflecting the bank’s successful plans for managing human capital and the extent of NBK’s appreciation of its human cadres. The bank also boasts a female employment ratio of 45%, which is a remarkable achievement among the whole the banking sector and regional work market. The bank is also committed to empowering more women through mentoring and providing opportunities for their career development.

Training courses

Group Human Resources has exerted relentless efforts over the years in developing the infrastructure of employees’ training platforms. The past months were no exception, as the bank did not stop its efforts to raise the efficiency of its employees and proceeded to provide them with training programs and courses, developed in cooperation with reputable institutions and universities around the world. By using the latest technologies and interactive digital tools, they lead a successful and effective schedule during the coronavirus pandemic.

During 2020, the bank organized 71 training programs and workshops that were attended by 1137 trainees, representing unprecedented levels in view of the pandemic, and reflecting the bank’s commitment to investing heavily in enhancing the efficiency of its employees, especially considering that the development of programs and workshops also included the training content, in line with the requirements of the Central Bank of Kuwait, in addition to engaging highly reputable international educational institutions, including Harvard Business School and London Business School.

In addition, the methodology of the training programs provided by the bank to its employees as well as to government entities to which the bank provides training programs such as Ministry of Justice – Experts Department were mostly shifted to Virtual training approach.

NBK also provides its employees with continuous training and career development opportunities designed to enhance their competencies with the aim of qualifying talented individuals to hold key positions in order to ensure continuous improvement of the quality of the bank's services and meeting its customers’ needs.

Group Human Resources graduated the 23rd batch of NBK Academy program in mid-July 2020, in addition to honoring the outstanding graduates and assigning them to work at the relevant departments. The Academy was shifted to Blended Learning approach during the pandemic.

And as an integral part of Group Human Resources’ commitment to continue employee career development, it launched NBK Personal Development Platform during the second quarter of this year where all the bank’s employees are required to complete the mandatory training programs remotely. This comes in line with our compliance with the decisions of the Central Bank of Kuwait.

The program comprises the following training courses: Anti-Money Laundering, Fraud Awareness, Anti-Bribery and Corruption Training, Code of Conduct and Business Ethics, Customer Protection Guide, Data protection and Information Security Awareness. All employees are required to complete all sessions to be eligible to take the final post-assessments, and get the minimum required passing score of 70%. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that a total of 2625 employees, representing 86% of NBK employees, successfully completed all mandatory courses and obtained completion certificates.

Furthermore, the Group added several training materials on how to work remotely during the crisis, with the aim of enhancing employees’ awareness and adaptation to working under the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, with a back to work policy guide for their return. There is also an additional training course for managers on how to effectively lead their teams remotely.

Flexible working hours for employees

Underscoring its endeavors to provide utmost support to its employees, the bank allowed parent employees flexible working hours by providing them a 2-hour permission three days per week, at the beginning of the school year 2020-2021, to help them set up their children for online teaching. The bank also provided a special healthcare program in which it engaged a group of physicians and specialists that focused on key areas comprising mental and general health and nutrition, as well as physical fitness, with the aim of supporting the bank's employees during these challenging times.

Honoring front-line employees

In appreciation of the great efforts exerted by the bank's employees during the pandemic, the Executive Management honored front-line employees for the dedication and commitment they showed during full lockdown period to continue serving customers during these exceptional circumstances. In this honoring, the management presented the employees with an honorary shield in recognition of their efforts, and reaffirmed that NBK’s human capital is truly its most valuable resource and the key factor for all its successes over the past decades, and therefore, the bank will save no effort to provide all kinds of support and appreciation to its employees.

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