L&D Teams Need To Work Hand-in-Hand With Business Teams To Fuel The Growth: CHRO, Federal Bank

In a recent interaction with Ajith Kumar K K, CHRO, Federal Bank discussed the recent changes observed in the learning and development process; the need for cutting edge technology, and how important is it now to sync personal development with business goals.


How majorly do you think COVID-19 has transformed the whole learning and development process?

Even in the most uncertain times of job cuts and layoffs, the Bank is confidently going ahead with its recruitment plans, though in a controlled way. We have switched our onboarding program to a fully virtual Induction training program. At the same time, an offline connection with new recruits is also established through virtual cultural nights, meet and greet sessions, and team games, etc to ensure that the social connection of the physical induction training program does not get compromised. COVID has made virtual learning through webinars a daily routine. Through a unique program called DAKSHA, we bring in some of the expert speakers in the industry to reflect on growth opportunities, compliance challenges etc which enables our senior team to draw and internalize some of the best practices, strategies, experiences and learnings from across BFSI industry.

As opposed to imparting classroom-based /instructor-led training, the focus is now on digitally-enabled bite-sized or microlearning, enabling flexible and self-paced learning. We also promote peer-learning and talent development through the Internal Master class series, wherein internal subject matter experts engage in tacit knowledge sharing sessions virtually. Overall, the new approach is more about “learning” than “training”. Incentivizing learning and self-development through PMS scores, appreciation forums etc. has helped us capture more ownership and engagement from the employees and build a learning culture within the organization.

Organizations need personalized training that incorporates cutting-edge technology, supports professional development, and encourages employee engagement, on what the Federal Bank is focusing more?

As we follow the guiding principle of Digital at the Fore, Human at the core, we had started moving our employee training programmes to more flexible, virtual modes even prior to Covid. Covid has definitely fast-tracked this to an effective blended learning model for employees, which consists of structured Mandatory and Microlearning programmes, interactive and gamified learning contents, self-paced e-learning programmes and instructor led virtual training programmes. We also provide MOOCs way of learning (Massive Open Online Courses) and have tied up with various institutions to offer relevant and value-adding learning programmes to our employees. Our employees get to choose from a bouquet of these professional development programmes, depending on their current job roles and the future area of expertise they choose to build on. This helps us in upskilling, reskilling and future proofing our employees for changing needs of the industry and making them a truly cutting-edge workforce. To ensure continuous learning and engagement in learning programmes, learning and development of self and one’s team are linked to performance scorecards across various levels of the organisation

What will be the trends of learning and development in 2021? what is your overall outlook?

The role of learning and development (L&D) will continue to broaden than before, with L&D teams facilitating and supporting transition and change initiatives in their organizations. In a world where Banking goes more Digital, some roles have to undergo significant changes. For example, sales and relationship teams who can now connect with existing and prospective clients only through online modes or over the phone, should be equipped to succeed. In an increasingly cashless world, cashiers may need to be reskilled to virtual banking assistants. With Digiloan facilities, a part of credit analysts may need to be upskilled to be data analysts. To fuel growth of organisations, upskilling and reskilling employees is a must-do and L&D teams need to work hand-in-hand with business teams to identify skill gaps, plan for future growth and create training solutions that target those goals. With remote working becoming more real and a matter of daily routine, team leaders must be trained in other soft-skills to exhibit higher levels of empathy, effective communication skills etc to properly support, manage and motivate teams. Virtual reality and augmented reality platforms could be solutions for such critical skills, such as delivering feedback, communication and active listening. On the client side too, we may have to increase investment in customer education on Financial services and Cyber security.

 According to you, what are three major things you would advise as a must for a future-ready L&D strategy?

1. Concrete reskilling and upskilling plans to equip our human capital meet competition and changing needs of business and lifestyles

2. Active participation and ownership by business teams and leaders in the above and aligning them to future business strategies. The HR and L&D team need to have a clear line of sight of the changing goals and priorities of the business, so that everyone is working toward the same objectives.

3. Training in technology/Digital has to be embedded in all roles that we intend for future.


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