2022 Winner – UOB Thailand Training talent for the future – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards



United Overseas Bank (UOB) Thailand wanted to prepare and progress its staff for the rapid changes in working practices, technology and skills that is taking place in the banking industry. So, the bank launched a Better U foundational program with Data Tracks in particular areas of importance for the future, such as analytics, to ensure it is ready for the changing marketplace.

Its efforts were rewarded with the Best Training and Development Course and Excellence in Talent Management trophies at the virtual RBI APAC Awards 2022 held on 23 June.

Phase one of the project started with 1500 employees three years ago. By the end of this year 15,000 UOB staff will have been through the Better U program, which has been amended and improved in Phase two after employee feedback, and now extends to seven other Asian countries such as like Singapore and China.

The Better U program starts with a five-hour workshop to foster an intrinsic desire to learn and explanation of what to expect from the subsequent 12-week digital learning experience delivered via LinkedIn courses on the five core competencies, which are designed to incubate skills such as:

  • Growth mindset,
  • Problem solving,
  • Digital awareness,
  • Human-centered design skills, &
  • Data storytelling and decision-

Depending on employees’ interests or skillset the granularity of the course can be specified after the Foundational elements have been completed to allow them to specialize in project management or data analytics, and so on under the Data Tracks and a Deep Dive framework.

This is further broken down via pre-tests to match and enhance proficiencies in these areas, so someone new to data basics for example with only basic Excel skills, can be streamed and trained accordingly.

Similarly, someone that already knows coding can study Python, SQL, ‘big data’ engineering or other such topics.

The training benefits that employees get in terms of their career advancement are obvious and UOB Thailand ensures it is upskilling its organization and is prepared for the digital future. Thanks to its efforts the bank now possesses the innovational, managerial, technological, people and problem-solving skills that it will need as digitalization advances.

The course is accredited by the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) and participants – who are credited with one day of self-development leave – get a UOB- IBF Certificate upon successful completion of the RBI APAC Award winning course.

After each learning module completion, a Deep Dive is undertaken to evaluate comprehension and satisfaction, with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey for each candidate assessing the course and providing feedback for future improvements and on-going learning add-ons and recommendations.

There is also an accompanying Knowledge Station and Dashboard to encourage collaboration across functions and on-going learning and flexible culture change.

Maintaining and enhancing customer service forward- facing communication and people skills is a key aim for the bank. These skills must never be forgotten as digitalization advances.

This is particularly true as flexible working practices, work from home (WFH), multi-tenanted partnership approaches to development, virtual meetings and customer service tools, and other such ‘new norms’ come into fruition in the years ahead, having been accelerated by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Maintaining a work / life balance in this environment is important and UOB has advice and help for staff here too. During the pandemic the bank distributed protective equipment, helped those who wanted a vaccine to get it, and gave food and a thank you eCard to employees who had to continue to work during Covid-19, often from home which could be isolating.

Art and Mind therapies and a UOB Heartbeat virtual fitness run helped here.

Talent management

The talent management aspect of UOB’s internal revolution was recognized by the RBI APAC Awards 2022 for the way the training effort has been supported by the deployment of new technologies to support collaboration, knowledge-sharing, storage, connectivity and so on.

For instance, an enhanced Shared Drive folder was unveiled in September 2021 for employees, better office Wi-Fi, WFH equipment grants, better and bigger Microsoft (MS) Exchange Online email inboxes and mobile functionality, MS OneDrive, and the Office ProPlus suite. In addition, there are knowledge-sharing digital tools, such as:

  • Yammer
  • MS Teams
  • MyUOB on mobile devices for employees.

A project to improve work procedures across the retail, wholesale, and Human Resources (HR) divisions at the bank initially identified 21 key processes that needed improvement. This could be a need for more IT uptime and a change to service level agreements (SLAs), more flexible hours in new joiner contracts to reflect changing work practices, and so forth.

A new and improved standardized annual performance review procedure has also been put in place to better assess all employees, including those working from home, and ensure goal setting, mid-year reviews, career progression and year end evaluations become a more important part of everyday life, as the bank strives to improve.

UOB looks set fair to meet the challenges of the future thanks to its training and upskilling program and effective talent management. All of which will also positively impact recruit costs, help to fill positions quicker, and enhance employee satisfaction and engagement. It’s a ‘win-win’ for everyone.