Effective HR strategy as a driver of change

Why HR strategy is important for the success of the organization – Natalia Halunko, HR Director of UKRSIBBANK BNP Paribas Group, shares her experience

The personnel management strategy is of great importance for the business success and development, especially when it comes to large organizations. What programs does UKRSIBBANK BNP Paribas Group use in its HR strategy? How did UKRSIBBANK manage to become the only Ukrainian bank with the Certificate of the Top Employer Institute? And what is the process of bank employees certification? Read about this and more in the first part of the PaySpace Magazine interview with Natalia Galunko, HR Director of UKRSIBBANK BNP Paribas Group.

The last year and a half have been a real test for companies in various industries, including banks. Have lockdown and remote work affected UKRSIBBANK’s personnel management policy? What methods have proven to be an effective crisis management tool?

The transition to a remote format has accelerated all the transformation processes in the UKRSIBBANK BNP Paribas Group, and, of course, has affected the work with people. As of today, three big teams are running a project called New Way of Working,

One of the teams is responsible for the “bricks” area of focus, and its task is to develop the concept of a hybrid office, where physical space will combine remote and physical format of work. The second team is responsible for the “bites” line – it is about the working space digitalization and long-term investment in upgrading the equipment needed for the hybrid format of work. And the third team is responsible for the “behavior” area, dealing with changes in working with people.

Our main task today is to “capitalize” the experience gained during the quarantine period both in UKRSIBBANK and in the international group of BNP Paribas (68 countries). We take our best practice of internal communications into the new reality. At the beginning of the quarantine, the rapid transition to digital communications allowed most units to keep the operational rhythm and adapt quickly. We will take with us the tools of prioritization and smart resource management, developed over the past year and a half. We are also intensively developing a model of “positive management”, without which the hybrid format of work may not be an advantage, but a threat of losing the organizational unity and lowering the stage of involvement of our employees

For two years in a row, UKRSIBBANK has been certified by the Top Employer Institute. This is the only bank in Ukraine. What does this certificate indicate? What criteria do you need to meet to get it?

The TOP Employer certificate shows that our practices of work with people and maturity of HR-processes is in compliance with the best European standards. Every year, new processes are added to the certification perimeter, reflecting global trends in personnel management. For example, this year we answered well-being questionnaire for the first time.

To get such a certificate, it is necessary to prove the effectiveness and completeness of the processes for implementing HR-strategy in the organization. This list includes Talent Strategy, Workforce planning, Talent acquisition, On-boarding, Learning & Development, Performance management, Leadership development, Career & Succession planning, Compensation & Benefits, Culture. To be honest, to prepare an organization for such certification, HR-team needs several years of systematic efforts and constant work in a row to improve strategies and processes.

Do you, in turn, certify the bank’s employees? How? What can be influenced by the results?

We have a clearly defined Professional Certification Policy, which consists of two areas: mandatory certification and optional certification. Mandatory certification is stipulated by the requirements of the regulator and is fully paid by the bank. Optional professional certification is reimbursed in the amount of 50%, but not more than the established amount. However, this type of compensation is not very popular.

Professional certification requires time, effort and an understanding of its effects on the career development. That is why only those employees who are ready to proceed start the professional certification process. The bank has long had internal certification of ACE managers, whose task is to introduce Lean management tools and continuous improvement of processes.

We are also actively developing internal certification in the Agile area. We have three internal schools: a school of product thinking, a school of scrum masters, a school of service design. The graduates of these schools undergo internal certification process and in the medium term are considered for roles in tribes.

To ensure the teams share the bank’s values, in my view, we need to start with managers. Often the declared values ​​remain declared and have nothing to do with the values ​​of managers and the behaviour they demonstrate in their work.

Banks, although mainly those operating in the international market, support diversification and inclusion in the industry. How do you at UKRSIBBANK address the issues of fair pay and career opportunities regardless of employees’ gender, race and sexual orientation? Are your offices inclusive? How topical and relevant are these issues are for Ukraine in your view?

According to the UNDP (United Nation Development Program), women in Ukraine earn 23% less than men. This figure varies depending on the industry, the difference is 35% in courier services and postal services; 30% in art, sports, entertainment industry, hotel business; 33% in the financial sector and insurance. Wikipedia also reports that the financial sector is experiencing one of the largest gender pay gaps.

In BNP Paribas’ HR strategy, diversity and inclusion are very clearly identified as a priority. In the process of implementing the strategy, the group introduced the Equal Gender Pay tool, which contains a methodology for assessing the fairness of remuneration and reporting requirements. In this regard, we have a mechanism for monitoring the fairness of remuneration by gender. In addition, we use process KPIs to control gender equality in talent management, recruitment, and career management.

Today, 49% of vacancies in the bank are filled by internal candidates. This allows maintaining expertise, reducing staff turnover and provides an opportunity for professional growth of each employee who is willing to invest their time and energy in learning new functions.

I’d like to note that all these actions are not just an analytical exercise, but a solid basis for management decisions. For example, having analyzed the location of inclusive jobs in the structural units of our bank, we decided to increase the number of such positions in the main bank. As of today, the main bank has more than 100 employees with the “special needs” status. We have a special program and budget to create such jobs in various departments of the bank.

While talking about the department, it is worth mentioning that from 2019 we have been systematically reformatting our offices, making ramps and wide openings for people with disabilities. At the moment, more than half of our branches meet the standards of openness. It is important to note that the legal requirements are being finalized, and our bank’s experts have joined the NABU working group working on this issue.

I would like to particularly note that in the BNP Paribas group, UKRSIBBANK is the leader in the number of women employees in IT, including in management positions. At the moment, 29% of all IT technicians are women, which according to the DOU portal is slightly higher than the average ratio in the IT industry in Ukraine. At the same time, we aim to increase the share of women in engineering and technical positions in IT.

UKRSIBBANK supports the goals of gender equality and proves that women are good at combining motherhood, housekeeping and business management. In 2019, the ratio of men and women in management positions of the bank was 60% – women and 40% – men. And the number of women in the bank’s board is 38%.

Earlier, UKRSIBBANK supported the HeForShe initiative, emphasizing the importance of gender equality in Ukraine and creating favourable conditions for the development of women in business. To help women develop their professional and entrepreneurial potential, our bank has launched the Women in Business program. The purpose of the program is to help women use their talents, skills, and creativity for a better future. We also signed the Declaration on Gender Equality and Domestic Violence in Support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals No. 5 “Gender Equality” and No. 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth”.

Is it possible for the students to start their career at UKRSIBBANK? Are there vacancies for inexperienced candidates? Do you accept interns with further training and the possibility of formal employment?

We have had programs for students for many years. “Stars at the Start” is a four-month internship program, during which a student performs a specific production task under the guidance of a mentor. Most of the “stars” stay to work in the bank, many of them quickly get into the talent development program and make a career in our country or in other countries in the BNP Paribas group. Among the former “stars” are those who now work in Paris, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Warsaw.

The annual internship program for young IT professionals allows us to hire up to 30 interns per year. More than half of them move to full-time positions after the internship.

We also have an internship program for employees of departments who have no work experience. At the same time, we regularly assess the degree of satisfaction of the internal clients with such programs. Based on the study of pain points, the idea of ​​the PRAKTYKA Online program was developed. The program concept is to combine the distance learning and a final internship in the department. According to the results, the pilot program was recommended by the Ministry of Education of Ukraine. We launched it in full before the quarantine, and during the first months we got a decent result. Currently, 108 universities use PRAKTYKA Online as on-the-job training for their students. Since its launch date, 3,049 students have registered for the program, of which 2,060 have received certificates based on the results of the internship.

Read about the secrets of building a team that will share the company’s values, as well as whether to invest resources in new knowledge and skills of staff in the second part of the interview with Natalia Galunko, which will be released soon.

The interview was published on the PSM7 website on October 5, 2021.

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