Having experience of more than 13 years in the field of human resources in the banking sector, Ms Dichhya Shrestha is the Head of Human Resources in Century Commercial Bank Limited. Ms Shrestha did her MBA specializing in Human Resources from Kathmandu University School of Management and thereafter started her banking career at NIC Asia Bank Limited (erstwhile Bank of Asia Nepal Limited).
Ms Shrestha has a demonstrated history of working in human resources management with expertise in HR strategic planning, recruitment and onboarding, talent and performance management, training and development, merger and acquisition and employee relationship management. She envisions effective utilization and maximum development of human resources.
Can you share with us about yourself summarizing your childhood, student life, banking journey and your passion for HR?
Born and raised in a family with having a strong belief in empowering their daughters, I have had a very blessed childhood. My parents always prioritized providing good education and moral upbringing. I did my MBA from Kathmandu University School of Management specializing in Human Resource Management. In my experience of 13 years in this field, I have found working in HR very fulfilling. The success of any organization depends on its vision and the strength of its human resources which ultimately defines the ability of an organization to achieve its objective. Furthermore, it is a role where I can be a part of employees’ growth and play an influencing role in changing lives.
We see very few women in senior positions, particularly in banks and financial institutions. What are the reasons for this according to you? or do you think things are changing now.
We have come from a long history of patriarchal society. The access to resources, exposure and career path were high ‘gender categorized’. However, over the past few decades, there has been considerable change in the social norms and perspective of people, and we are moving ahead with equitable opportunity. The impact of these progressive changes takes time to be visible. Despite the challenges, we can see the representation of women leaders is increasing and the gender gap in higher-level positions is narrowing.
What, in your opinion, should the ideal organizational culture be, and what role does HR play in this?
In my opinion, the ideal organisational culture, be it in any sector, is the one where every employee is given equitable resources and equal opportunities. It is where the success of the organization is linked with the contribution and productivity of its employees. The organization should have its vision clearly communicated and each employee should have a sense of responsibility, accountability and ownership towards its organizational excellence and success. HR has a major role in fostering a positive approach within an organization by developing, communicating, reinforcing and adapting the professional culture of high values.
What HR practices do you believe distinguish Century Bank Limited from other Nepalese A Class Commercial Banks?
Although there are a number of Banks in Nepal, due to the limited size of the industry, there is constant competition among the Banks especially while attracting and retaining high performing employees. The salary and other benefit packages provided by the Banks are more or less the same. The career aspiration of candidates, be it a fresher or experienced staff, has changed. They are no longer attracted only by pay packages. What attracts and retains any employee is the sense of belongingness, recognition and a platform to perform and grow. This is where Century Bank has found its competitive advantage. In our Bank we have a culture of open communication, every staff can voice their grievances and we try to address each issue at a personal level. For instance, at present where we are faced with unprecedented challenges in managing the Bank due to the COVID-19 impact, we at Century Bank have always tried to put the well-being of our employees a top priority.
Even during this period of the pandemic, while many organizations focused on cost-cutting in staff expenses, apart from regular salary and benefits, our Bank has provided full paid facilities including work from home, reduced working hours, quarantine/ isolation arrangements to our staff. Furthermore, we are continuously learning and evolving and strive to achieve a cultural cohesiveness incorporating the best national and international HR practices.
Can you give us insights into specific performance management practices implemented in Century Bank Limited? How do you measure the effectiveness of such practices?
Over the years, we have been able to design and implement robust and effective performance management practices. We ensure clear communication of performance objectives, encourage continuous feedback for development and link promotion, reward and recognition with performance. The performance assessment is fair and transparent. Specific Performance Management at Century Bank is target centric assessment of the staff members. The entire staff members are provided with the qualitative and quantitative, time-specific targets; which are assessed and reviewed periodically. It starts with assigning jobs or departments or functions as per the organization target. In due course of the performance period, the assessments are done and reviewed along with the necessary guidelines and training as required.
At CCBL, the target is not only provided to an individual but also the branch/department on the basis of the SMART goals disseminated to the concerned units/department/branch. Results orientation and the recording of the same in the context of profitability are key measuring indicators, being a bank. Nevertheless, the average effectiveness of such practices is assessed on the basis of improved employee productivity in the context of business or profits and/or reduction in the number of complaints against the services rendered for ascertaining service excellence. Additionally, the bank assesses the target devised in the early period periodically, segregate the performances of the branches/units/department on one hand and the other, assess the overall productivity in the context of behavioural effectiveness to ensure uniform services throughout the Bank.
What does the future of HR look like to you? How will digital technology impact the future of HR?
Needless to say, digital technology shall impact HR in a positive manner. We have already started using different systems, online modules for various functions. The digitization is not only limited to database and payroll management but we have already moved ahead with the technological adaptation in the area of Performance Management, Training Assessment and Planning, Competency Mapping. We have already started taking applications, interviews, examinations, training, aptitude tests using various online modules.
We have a separate in-house system development unit in our Bank that focuses on digitizing maximum banking functions and processes therein. The challenge here is to maintain the human touch needed in HR management, mitigate the associated risk, equip our employees and embrace the new changes in the industry. Banking is slowly changing to “Touchless Banking” with the use of Artificial Intelligence. The future of HR effectiveness depends on the adaptation of technological innovation. The significance and the use of technology have been felt especially during this pandemic. The point is not only to adopt the new changes but also to ensure that the staff are well versed with the changes in technology and its applicability.
We hear things like, "If you're a banker in Nepal, forget about work-life balance." Is it really so tough to achieve employee wellbeing in banks? If not, describe the strategies you've used in your organization to ensure employee wellbeing.
Work-life balance is all about prioritizing various aspects of the two facets and making good trade-off decisions. However, if you have a supportive family and you work in an organization where the well-being of employees is valued, achieving work-life balance is not difficult. In our Bank, we ensure that all staff understand their responsibility and role. There is constant mentoring and counselling by supervisors. We do not believe that working extra hours or not taking leave/s is linked with higher performance. Rather than the hours of work, it is the output, contribution and productivity that counts.
What significance does HR have in the transformation and financial performance of a business?
HR plays a significant role in the organization’s strategic planning, defining objectives and achieving the financial target. The quality of human resource assets of an organization is positively correlated in the results, basically the transformation as per the environmental requirement and achieving the desired financial performance. The higher the quality of human resources, the greater will be the productivity resulting in higher efficiency and better financial performance.
As an HR, your position is in between employee and employer. How do you maintain this balance in the right way, and what suggestion would you like to give aspiring HRs in this context?
In my view, the main challenge of HR is to balance the need of the staff with the expectation of the organization. Effective communication, clarity in role assignment and target, employee engagement and involvement are the important aspects in striking the balance between the employee and employers.
I would like to suggest the aspiring HR fraternity understand the dynamism in the behavioural aspects of people and change in the aspirations of the new generation. Further, in addition to the implementation of a robust and transparent HR System, they should also focus on the alignment of employees’ career development with the performance of the organization. This shall help the new HR personals to work effectively.
We are all aware of Nepal's stringent recruitment and selection procedures for banks and financial institutions. However, we continue to hear that banks must invest extensively in the training and upskilling of selected applicants. What skills would you encourage a fresher applicant who aspires to be a successful banker in Nepal to cultivate before joining any bank?
We mainly focus on the behavioural characteristics of candidates applying for an entry-level job. While recruiting and onboarding fresh candidates, our prime focus is on facilitating their adaptation to our culture. We look for candidates who are willing to work sincerely and who understand the demanding nature of the banking job. Joining the bank is working as a trustee of many depositors and investors therein ensuring utmost compliance with the regulations issued. I would like to suggest fresher applicants firstly ensure their interest in Banking and commit with full integrity and honestly, have basic knowledge of regulations within which Banks operate. Candidates aspiring to start their career in Banking should work on enhancing their communication ability, customer service skill and time management. Rest the Bank and HR department will do to ensure a healthy work environment and performance upskilling through intensive training and knowledge enhancement.
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