How to retain talents


Local corporations are starting to adopt talent management programmes to chart their employees' careers while leveraging on their regional operations to create new work experiences for employees seeking overseas exposure. Several companies share with StarBizWeek their human resource strategies in grooming and retaining talents in an age of the mobile workforce.

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd

The banking group's talent management strategy is to identify and cultivate a set of leadership competencies that its present senior leaders believe will help the group become a leading financial franchise in the Asean region, says CIMB Group Holdings Bhd corporate resources head Hamidah Naziadin.

“Our key talent selection, performance management, training and development, succession management and compensation policies and processes are anchored on these leadership competencies,” she adds.

Fresh graduates keen on a banking career are placed in a management trainee programme called The Complete Banker Programme, which is geared towards intensive training with rotations in all fields of banking to create universal bankers. These graduates are also mentored by leaders in the group who will show them the ropes and help them build solid foundations for a banking and financial career.

Hamidah says employees are encouraged to further their studies and take up relevant courses which will improve their skills and enhance their personal development.

When it comes to identifying an employee's best job-fit, CIMB uses a formal and comprehensive career management framework, which is underpinned by its career path initiative that establishes the various career streams an employee could undertake and the associated technical and leadership competencies as the employee moves from one work role to another.

“For example, an executive in transaction banking could start in a direct sales role and learn sales techniques from formal training programmes and receive sales coaching from a sales coach. The executive could then move to a structured sales role with consultative selling skills,” explains Hamidah.

She says the group stresses the role of a manager as a career coach in offering sound career guidance to their direct reports on training rotations for acquiring relevant skills and competencies based on their intimate understanding of their direct reports' strengths and developmental challenges.

The group adopts an individual development plan as part of its key talent development programmes, whereby the employee and his or her manager engages in a development dialogue to craft the developmental goals of the employee to accelerate their professional aspirations in the group over the next 18 to 24 months.

While the group's talents do get allured by competitors offering higher salaries and bonuses, CIMB's take on reducing attrition is not merely confined to creating better remuneration packages.

“Studies show that retaining talent through money can only go so far. Winning the talent war is about helping the employees find more meaning in the work they do,” says Hamidah.

She says the group uses employee value proposition to address this issue, which includes creating a competitive total rewards package, various career progression opportunities, challenging roles in a dynamic work culture and investing in its people.

“This employee value proposition will form the foundation for all our major human resource initiatives going forward to engage and energise CIMB's workforce,” Hamidah adds.

With its regional presence, the banking group's employees have opportunities for both short- and long-term regional assignments that will help them work effectively with other cultures and hone their business acumen as they develop solutions to overcome regional business challenges.

“Our global employee exchange programme is a structured platform where business and competency needs across the region are fulfilled and is designed to enrich the career growth and provide international exposure for our talents as they also learn cultural assimilation,” she says.

The banking group realises that the newer working generation, more so generation Y, comes with a different set of expectations and career aspirations.

Hamidah says the key is to really listen to this generation that grew up with a heavy reliance on technology.

“We understand that they prefer to be evaluated on the end result of their work irrespective of where, when or how it was produced and favour organisations that not only look at their contributions but also their personal growth,” she adds.

Thus, the group organises the “Blue Ocean Challenge” annually, which encourages employees to put forward ideas that break away from the status quo and promotes the creation of a new market space.

Axiata Group Bhd

Mobile operator Axiata Group Bhd's talent management programme aims to build a talent pipeline of future leaders for the group's sustainability, whereby the programme ensures that line managers have the competencies of managing people.

Aside from this, other developmental initiatives include job assignments in different functions or different countries which give exposure and field experience.

“We want our talents to maximise their development opportunities so that they can realise their full potential. It is important to provide the structure, systems and processes to produce good people to ensure there will always be talents to carry the organisation through the years ahead,” says Axiata human resource head Datin Badrunnisa Mohd Yasin Khan.

Axiata, which has operating units in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and India allows employees to tap the company's regional footprint and experience the working culture in some of these fast growing markets as part of the employees' career development plans.

“Our internal resourcing process ensures there's a good job fit in any deployment or assignment whilst delivering the right development experience to the employee,” says Badrunnisa.

She adds that an employee's job fit involves developing the length and breadth of the individual, which is done through training courses as well as project work in various departments and across operating companies.

Hong Leong financial group

The Hong Leong financial group, which offers banking and financial services, is undertaking a human resource transformation programme to enhance the capability and competency of its human resources.

The programme will harness and optimise its employees and use a career development framework to develop new and existing talents within the organisation, says the group's chief human resource officer Ramon Chelva.

“Our recruitment and retention approach is embedded in our talent management strategy in the manner we source, identify, select, develop and deploy talents. For example, when we procure talents, we look for behavioural characteristics from candidates who are innovative, creative, articulate, energetic, flexible, customer-orientated, confident, credible, global in outlook, forward thinking, and influential,” says Ramon.

Its talent initiatives targeting fresh graduates for its talent pipeline locally and globally include its graduate trainee programme and global associate programme.

The group also adopts an employee value proposition strategy in building a consumer banking bench strength with an emphasis on strong and continuous leadership, team work and impactful talent management.

“People say that an entrepreneur is born. We believe that an entrepreneur can be nurtured and an employee's talents can be grafted provided the interest, will and conviction exist,” says Ramon.

Hong Leong tries to identify leaders at every level in its organisation and once these talents are spotted, they are equipped with skills, tools and charateristics that are needed to be successful entrepreneurs in the group.

The group also offers other development opportunities such as job rotations, job assignments and overseas attachments at regional offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and China.

“Our global internal mobility initiative allows for exchanges amongst our overseas offices where we second, post and transfer various levels of our employees. For example, the country director in Vietnam is a senior management from Malaysia who manages our banking operations there with a team of local and Malaysian expatriates,” says Ramon.

The group's talent refreshing initiative forms part of its continuous learning and development efforts while its academies have structured development programs to equip executives/managers with specialist skills as part of the talent bench strength development.

Similar to other organisations in the banking industry, Ramon says a challenge in the current job market is matching supply and demand of talents.

“To a certain extent, we are circumventing this through our multiple recruitment channels and infusing international elements into our sourcing and development programs to build our own pool of internal talents versus buying talents externally,” he adds.

Hong Leong, which has appointed other nationals in key managerial positions, says that it aims to build a new financial conglomerate in new markets.

“This will require us to build a compelling workforce with regional bench strength and differentiating world class capabilities. We believe that our business globalisation will require our existing local people to be multi-cultural, diverse and international in outlook,” says Ramon.

But he adds that the group's organic formula of having a diverse international workforce will not displace Malaysians as the group's hiring policy ensures that local practices, policies and procedures are adhered to, in which foreign talents are only considered when suitable Malaysians cannot be found to fill those positions.

Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd

The Nestle group uses four key processes to manage its talents - performance evaluation, talent assessment, succession planning, and a progress development guide process.

Performance evaluation involves yearly assessments of an employee's performance and achievement, which not only provides input for the annual salary review but development areas for the employee, says Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd human resource and group corporate affairs executive director Zainun Nur Abdul Rauf.

Talent assessment is monitoring the employee's sustained performance and potential growth in the organisation. He or she will then be categorised within the organisation and managed according to the most suitable development programme.

Zainun says that succession planning, the third step, gives the company the chance to plan and develop potential successors of key positions while progress development guide relies solely on the managers and employee to discuss his or her development action plans.

“This is where all inputs and information about the employee's strengths and development needs will be translated into actionable training and a development plan,” she says.

As Nestle adopts these four practices globally, Zainun says the group provides both in-house and overseas training and development programmes for its employees based on their current and future job requirements and individual development needs.

“To motivate and retain employees in the organisation, we provide internal transfers and promotion opportunities to our employees through career and succession plans.”

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