How HSBC Rethought HR With Technology

Image credit: iStockphoto/elenabs

What comes to mind when looking for employment at a financial services giant and a traditional household name in banking?

For HSBC, they wanted to change the perception. Keeping with their overall strategic vision of becoming a “Bank Fit for the Future”, the incumbent used technology to rewire the entire employee experience — from pre-hire to leaving the bank.

Brandon Coate, head of human resources at HSBC Singapore, noted at the recent HR Tech Festival that his HR team focused on four areas of the employee lifecycle: a positive pre-hire candidate, intuitive virtual onboarding tools, a mobile app for employees for all learning and other HR-related matters, and ensuring a good leaver experience. 

Apps to simplify HR

In all these stages, HR took the lead in creating apps or a platform to simplify the experience.

Take recruitment, for example. Coate highlighted that they have a check and chase bot called “Cha cha” and offer and onboarding bots. “We are really focusing on candidate and manager care and making sure that we have the best selection tools that are free of bias.”

The strong focus on technology helped the HR team improve candidate experience from 4 (out of 5) in 2019 to 4.8.

“We have seen how technology has empowered our managers and enabled our people to have a far better HR experience with recruitment and onboarding.”

Another technology development is the HR Mobile App. It is akin to a super app for all matters relating to HR at the bank. It was launched in July 2020 through the company’s HR platform SAP SuccessFactors.

One of the biggest gripes that we had from our employees was that access to HR processes or access to HR administration tasks, such as approvals, such as performance management and setting up objectives was cumbersome. It required multiple clicks and wasn’t easy to navigate within the HR system,” said Coate.

The new app offered a single destination for HSBC employees to make quick transactions on the go without accessing their laptops or desktops.

“So now our colleagues can access their objectives, which is within that everyday performance and development plans. They can then update their objective process. The manager can also review and provide comments,” said Coate.

The app also gave access to online learning resources from mobile devices. This allows employees to learn at convenient times. “It also gives them access to real-time people manager dashboards, including things like organization charts, so it really centered around trying to make it a far better user experience for our employees,” said Coate.

Learning and development

Learning and development is a huge concern for today’s HR. Many see the value in hiring and nurturing a growth mindset.

So, the bank launched HSBC University, which is positioned as a one-stop online shop for all learning needs. “It includes everything from mandatory training, as well as resources on leadership risk management and business-specific training. So, this is really the one portal for our colleagues to get all of their job or career learning,” said Coate.

While these technological advances may sound great, Coate noted that it is essential for companies to ensure that the culture is ready for them.

At HSBC, Coate and his team focused on empowering employees to become inquisitive and curious about their own development. They wanted employees “to think more about the skills that are required in their career rather than just what’s required for their current role.”

“We all know that people may have multiple careers. So, it’s really around that skill-building and experience gathering to engage our people when it comes to learning, and the HSBC University platform allows us to do that,” said Coate.

Extending this concept further, Coate and his team launched a new approach to skills development called HSBC Skills Framework. In Singapore, the framework is integrated with Singapore’s IBF Future Enabled Skills.

“What this really allows us to do is work with our employees as we all know the nature of work is transforming more rapidly than ever,” said Coate.

Health and well-being

COVID-19 brought health and well-being to the forefront. Employees became anxious about their health but were concerned about the long queues at clinics and their risks while waiting for medication.

So, the HR team launched the telemedicine app. It answered employees’ demand for an app that caters to medical consultation and access to medicine without leaving the house or waiting at a clinic.

“You’re talking about a loss of two to three hours of productivity, which adds to the stress of our employees because they feel that they had to make that time up,” explained Coate.

The telemedicine service was launched via WhiteCoat. “They’re able to get a video console and get a diagnosis and also have medicine delivered. Typically, the average time it takes for the medicine to get delivered to our employees is within an hour.”

“So, we’ve been able to kind of help the employees manage whatever’s going on with them from a medical perspective so that they feel that they have greater security and it allows them to stay focused on work,” he added.

These employee-centric developments may help HSBC to recruit and retain the right talents as the talent war picks up after the pandemic. But it definitely breaks the conventional view of life as an employee at a traditional bank.  

Image credit: iStockphoto/elenabs