Human Resources and Our Bank – Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, MD & CEO, SyndicateBank

A bank today is called an IT company in banking business. I believe, at its core, it is still People Business. People define it, at least in its adoption of business outcomes and user experience parts of it. Great successes in banks could easily be traced to the success of the People Strategy of the top leadership. The failures similarly could be attributed to the flaws in anticipating & managing human resource transition and changes.

The famous global HR practitioner, Ms Lucy Adams, who once headed the HR at BBC, prescribed a format called EACH, which means Employees as Adults, Consumers and Humans. It is an interesting framework, which has a lot of application in situations like Syndicate Bank HR Transformation.

What are the areas of improvement in employee life cycle management of our bank? An employee starts with selection, goes on to onboarding, to career moves, placement and positioning. At times, mid-career attrition or discipline issues, to separation as retirements or moves to higher and greener pastures. In legacy organisations which are also large like us, the challenges of human resources have the additional dimensions of a slow moving and entrenched bureaucratic approach, which many times is the anathema of transformation. People with HR responsibility think traditionally, use traditional methods to manage, think slow speed as desirable speed justifying it on the ground that human component should not be rushed! Let us examine the applicability of EACH (Employees as Adults, Consumers & Humans) framework to our situation.

The foremost attribute of our HR strategy today is to treat all employees as adults. This contrasts with the traditional HR approach of treating employees as children, who should be controlled, given sermons and who should be placated with goodies or benefits only when they whine, cry or complain.

In an adult world, which we are trying to bring in as a core concept of Syndicate Bank HR, every employee will be allowed to express an opinion and will be provided an environment to flourish and grow, enabling him/her to contribute to the organisation as a full adult member of a large joint family.

As a consumer, an employee samples, consumes and rates bank’s products and services. In the famous work “Employee First Consumer Second (EFCS)”, Vineet Nayar, ex CEO HCL Technologies propounded that unless employees are happy and have a sense of pride in the company’s products and services, they wouldn’t advocate it to others. In our bank, as we talk about digitising products and services or making them benchmarked to the best, it is mandatory that the employees accept and agree on the excellence of not just the product and services, but also the quality of life in the Bank, processes and leadership in the organisation. This requires HR being conscious of employees being consumers, which means all the time thinking, calibrating, innovating and perfecting consumer preferences, consumer experiences and consumer delights (remember.. consumer = employees).

The biggest misnomer in companies is telling human resource as an ‘asset’. Unfortunately, asset means programmed input and output, uniform algorithmic behaviour, fixed maintenance and spare part routine etc. But our approach at Syndicate Bank is to treat HR not as an asset but as humans with emotions, bad patches, frustrations and joys.

All these emotions and biological changes at different stages impact professional and organisational behaviour.

We are conscious of employee productivity, but we don’t want the productivity of a robot. We want to encash on the positive vibes and positive framework effects. We recognise that human emotions and equations play a strong role in the bridge between the employee and the organisation.

We want to create vehicles to enable the employee to travel the path of excellence and as he/she enjoys the journey, the organisation expects to reap the benefits of a professional and top of the line work force.

With this strong philosophical design principle, we are revamping and changing the HR. Very quickly, we propose to take global consultants to help us transform our HR holistically. There are many other forward-thinking steps we are about to initiate. About those, next time.

                                                  Mrutyunjay Mahapatra

MD & CEO, Syndicate Bank

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