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Managing human capital during COVID-19

CORRESPONDENT
At the helm: Kwape
The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused major disruption globally but as with everything else in life, there is always a silver lining, we just need to be open to the opportunities.

A new realm of possibilities has opened up in many aspects of our lives. One of the most essential roles in any organisation - Human Resources, has accepted and adapted to the ‘new normal’ through a series of targeted interventions. As a role that carries the heart of any organisation through its people, it is imperative that as we transform, we don’t leave our Human Capital behind.

As FNBB HR Director, I am responsible for the human capital practice at the Bank. This means I am tasked with the development and execution of the HR Strategy to enable successful implementation of the Bank wide Strategy. One of the focus areas of the Bank’s 2025 Strategy, is digitisation and robotics. This digitisation has a major impact on how customers experience the FNBB service. What used to require various visits to the bank can now be done online or on the phone and this drive for efficiency and convenience will continue. In order to maintain our position as market leader, we must think differently around skills development to appropriately resource the new Bank.

This will form the basis of the Bank’s drive towards a High-Performance Culture. Considering the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy, including the financial sector, this culture of high performance will be the unique value proposition to distinguish FNBB.

This is because a high-performance culture will drive innovation and ensure we are consistently delivering the best solutions for our customers. Internally, this will be driven by a robust Performance Management System which will ensure that we have “all hands-on deck” and retain the best talent. As a Bank we have had to make major adjustments with regards to our operations in order to cater for new requirements of staff having to work from home (WFH). This is essential to ensure business continuity through engaged employees who are happy to give more discretionary effort as most of our staff complement are now working from home. The primary benefits of this WFH enablement include;

Keeping employees safe by reducing their exposure to COVID-19

Improved turnaround times

Increased accessibility

Enhanced innovation

While the distance and increased disconnectedness amongst teams present their own set of challenges, the benefits far outweigh the obstacles.

As an organisation that takes notice of future trends, the Bank had already started piloting Work from Home prior to the pandemic. So, when the pandemic hit, we just accelerated the project. We are pleased that most of our employees are enabled to work from home and where they experience challenges, assistance continues to be availed.

In this new normal, we need to also focus on the future skills which while technology driven, will also need to include the “softer” skills such as resilience, leadership and being open to change. This will stand them in good stead for their future with FNBB or other entities in the future as this will

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likely not be the last major disruption on a global scale.

As employees increase their interaction with technology to allow them to continue to work from home, innovate and adapt to new technology, they will remain relevant in the global market. This will also create opportunities for employees to have a global presence due to being able to work for any entity anywhere in the world.

The Bank has been able to enhance HR and recruitment processes during this time. Prior to the pandemic, we were already exploring ways in which recruitment could be improved, by reducing dependence on traditional platforms e.g. newspapers. Given the vast benefits of digital media, including cost, the Bank has been deliberate about increasing the use of digital platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media networks, to increase the Bank’s visibility and identify future talent.

Furthermore, we are reducing dependency on conducting interviews the traditional way. Instead, we are embracing the practice of interviewing candidates remotely through video calling platforms, thus reducing travel costs for prospective employees but also avoiding them being disadvantaged by virtue of their geographical location. This will allow the Bank to screen and interview candidates anywhere in the country and by extension the rest of the world as part of the drive to increase the use of flexible contracts, in line with the 2025 Strategy. We are intentional about driving citizen empowerment through employment creation, therefore, despite being able to reach a wider talent pool, our priority remains Batswana. We would like to develop Batswana for other entities throughout the country as well as be able to export their skills beyond our borders.

From a market forecast perspective, the youth sector will continue to be at the forefront during this time. This is due to their ability to better engage with technology and create meaningful content. This allows them to stay in touch with all elements of the digital realm. However, talent, a willingness to learn and the right attitude will always be most valued. For as long people can successfully adapt to flexible arrangements and in settings outside of traditional office spaces, this will mean employee age will not matter that much provided they make impactful contributions to the business. 

In conclusion, considering how different the world looks today compared to this time last year, there is still much work to be done to entrench the desired organisational culture, to change the traditional employee-employer relations, as well as keeping connectedness with people working away from each other.

With the advent of flexible employment contracts, employees will have more choice in what work they choose to do and for who. FNBB has to continue to place itself on the list of those brands people want to work for. The Bank is up to the challenge.

BONANG KWAPE*

*Bonang Kwape is First National Bank Botswana HR Director



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