Human Resource Management and the Banking Sector

9 September 2016

tHuman resource management and the banking sector By Imran Samad Human resource management (HRM) has long been overlooked in the corporate sector in the country where a small section, comprising mostly the multi-national companies was practising the same. With the growing realization of proper HRM in the corporate sector, it has grown into an important activity. Now the head of HRM is an important member of the senior teams of any thriving business. Although the idea is new for many local businesses where entrepreneurs are at the beginning of the learning curve yet in reality the theme is getting support from the organized entrepreneurs.

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The banking sector has grown from a few institutions primarily involved in deposit acceptance and trade finance into a complex multi player markets where large number of commercial banks, financial institutions and specialized banks are operating with various products and activities. The banking has become a complex activity within the financial market linked directly and indirectly with an over-all national growth and its impact as an integral part of regional segment of a global banking environment.

Almost every bank and financial institution is involved in various functions in a day’s job and thus requires a highly effective team and appropriate manpower to run the show. Corporate goals are translated into viable realities and profits only with human element who play their due role in achieving the desired results. Thus even the high automation would require proper man behind the machine to make things happen. This idea has been realized by top managements in progressive banks. Like many other organized sectors, banking requires a multi layer manpower for its various requirements of professionals and support staff.

The range may require reasonably educated security guards on the one end and a highly educated and trained professional as head of corporate finance at the other. With liberalization of activities within the banking sector, for example, more emphasis on consumer and house finance and personal loans, etc. banking has turned itself into a more market-based business where banks have expanded their reach more to customers’ door steps in a big way making banking more practical. This has further highlighted the need for proper deployment of man-power to run banks efficiently.

For many years, HRM banks like other institutions have been handling this sensitive activity through respective personnel departments. This means human resources were managed like other physical assets e. g. pieces of furniture, calculators, equipment and appliances. Personnel departments were primarily engaged in approval of leaves, handling of staff loans, issuance of show cause, conducting disciplinary enquiries and termination from service. Recruitment was a routine function and was done in a mechanical way to hire people with specific educational background irrespective of their real value to the institution.

Success stories of large banking companies have been evident of the fact that HRM is quite different from management of physical assets. Human brain has its own peculiar chemistry. Its strong sensory and decision-making capacity has to be greatly emphasized by the employers. The work force constituting all levels of employees are constantly thinking in many dimensions. On the one hand it is the assigned duty and task they are to perform and for which they are paid by their employer, on the other they think of their long run goals and objectives.

By no means, their brains can be controlled to think beyond the current situation of employment. Managing this educated, skillful and trustworthy work force is not an easy job. A few of the current challenges faced by the banking industry in terms of human resource management may be the following: Effective work force: A time-consuming and hectic job is to hunt the right talent. Its just sitting by the river and waiting for the right fish to catch. Higher the professional value of the vacancy, tougher is the search. Identifying the right stuff followed by negotiation is the element which makes the job tough for the employer.

Banks are keenly interested to fill up two types of breads of professionals. Ones who are outstanding professionals with high job hopping attitude – these are those who come in – work for some time and then leave for better prospects. Others are those who are keenly picked-up, trained and are some how retained to be developed as future management within the bank. Management trainees are a growing popular phenomenon where freshly qualified business graduates are engaged by banks and a certain percentage of these well equipped professionals stay back within the organization to grow into the footsteps of senior managers.

Banking jobs being apparently lucrative for many, attract a large number of candidates against advertised vacancies in media creating a large data base management problem. This has been facilitated by specialised hiring agencies who may take up the job of hiring in case of large number of vacancies. Right people: The most difficult agenda of HRM across the banking sector is to retain the right people.

Sudden growth of retail banking and other services has put pressure on HR mangers in banks to engage more professionals within shorter span of time thereby attracting manpower in other banks on attractive packages has made the job market very competing. A bank in a normal course invests time and money to hire and train the appropriate work force for its own operations. This ready-made force is often identified and subsequently picked-up on better terms by others. Compensation: How much to pay to the right employee and how much to the outstanding performer.

Banks have traditionally followed pay scales with predetermined increments, salary slabs, bonuses and time-based fringe benefits like car and house advance, gratuity, pension, etc. The situation is not the same anymore. An increment of Rs500-800 per annum is no more a source of attraction for a professional anymore. A basic pay with traditional formulas of linkage with medical and other facilities has no soothing effect today. A promise of future growth, learning culture and corporate loyalty is out of dictionary and does not mean anything to this energetic and competent performer today.

A waiting period of 3-4 years in each cadre haunts the incumbents who strongly believe in immediate compensation. There are examples to this. Thanks to the car financing modalities car is no more a fantasy item any more. A freshly hired professional requires a brand new car or car loan on resuming office quite contrary to his previous breed of bankers who would wait for the job seniority to qualify for a car loan. Job satisfaction: Everybody in the bank wants to work in the preferential department, preferential location, city of his own choice and boss of his liking.

An administrative deviation from any of these results in lowered job satisfaction. Although hiring is normally based on regional requirement matching the area of activity with that of employee’s nativity yet other elements like appointment in the department of choice and preference makes the job of HR manager quite challenging. What the HR manger cannot afford is the dissatisfied employee who not only disrupts the smooth working himself but also spreads the negativity to others by his de-motivated attitude.

Morale boosting: What has long been overlooked is the morale boosting of the employees by the organizations. Human beings even if satisfied of material wellbeing need to be appraised and encouraged constantly. Smart banks have realized this need and have taken steps to keep their work force motivated through proper encouragement like man of the month awards, repeat get-togethers, conferences, sports events, dinners, company sponsored travel, reunions, etc. This is the way employees create a feeling of belongingness.

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