NAB placed extra emphasis on having its 40,000 staff develop their data and digital skills while on lockdown, converting thousands of training programs to run online in the process.
Chief people officer Susan Ferrier told SAP’s virtual Sapphire Now conference that the bank saw an opportunity for staff to “upskill and learn”, and for the bank to ultimately develop a more flexible workforce.
Staff were asked to review skills recorded against their staff profile held in SAP SuccessFactors.
“We really pushed the skills inventory that sits in Successfactors and said, 'Here's an opportunity to brush up your internal CV,” Ferrier said.
“We asked everybody to also go in and review what they had in that tab in SuccessFactors and to update their skills.
“We've really been pushing things like skills and mental health [during lockdown], and [that] now's the time for you to double down and think about the future, particularly on things like digital and data skills.”
At the same time, Ferrier said that NAB had digitised most of its existing training programs so they could be run remotely.
“We've definitely used [COVID-19] as an opportunity to push harder into ensuring that we've got a really strong and valuable digital learning footprint,” she said.
“We've pivoted a lot of our face-to-face training to now be delivered via Zoom or Teams.
“That actually in some cases is working better than it did before. In other cases, I think face-to-face learning is probably more impactful, but we've experienced significant take-up.
“I think we've changed something like 3000 of our courses from what they were before to digitise and reinvent them in a way in which they'd be able to be delivered remotely.”
NAB has several active streams of work underway to effectively redesign its operations for a post-COVID world.
Ferrier revealed last week that this would end hotdesking, with desks now only available via a booking app, presumably to provide some sort of traceability should it be required (rather than a full hotdesking environment, where it may be immediately unclear who was sat at what desk and when).
At Sapphire Now, Ferrier detailed at least three other work streams.
One of these focuses on making skills and teams more “fungible” - in other words, able to be shifted internally to fulfil resourcing requirements at short notice.
During COVID-19, the bank - like many other large organisations - retrained people from across the business to join its frontline and work through a spike in inbound enquiries from customers.
The effort involved about 800 NAB staff, and appears to have given the bank a taste of what it would be like to have a more flexible and re-assignable workforce.
“One of the things that we realised through this is that we can train people fast to go do other jobs that are different to the ones that they were doing up until COVID-19 hit,” Ferrier said.
“In the past we would have said,'Oh, it's going to take us three weeks to repurpose these people to be able to go and do this job rather than that job'.
“But we've been able to move so rapidly, we've taken a three week training course and condensed it into two really intense days, with a lot of on-the-job coaching.”
Having staff from other parts of the business pitch in had been “very energising and engaging for our frontline”, as well as for NAB more broadly.
“I think that's one thing that we really learned is that skills, in some cases, aren't so particular to one job, and you can rapidly retrain and mobilise,” Ferrier said.
“That fungibility idea is going to be something we carry forward.”
Another work stream is focused on enabling “a truly flexible workforce, where people come in and out of our office buildings, work from home [or] work from wherever in a truly flexible way.”
“We're rapidly looking at how we can hold onto the habits and practices that we've created in the last few months,” Ferrier said.
Yet more work is aimed at determining what the bank of the future will look like, particularly as a larger portion of customers gravitate to digital channels and shun physical branches.
“One of the things that we've noticed is our customer behaviour … and customer habits have changed,” Ferrier said.
“They've really mobilised much more rapidly to digital, online and on-demand or self service type platforms such as our app.
“Customers are moving away from needing to physically be in our branches. So we're trying to work out what that means for the future of banking.”