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Promoting diversity and inclusion is good for business

Abdulla Aleter, Head of Human Resources, NBF

Technology is changing the world, one business at a time. In this evolving landscape, the increased deployment of technology is putting a spotlight on the need for employee engagement strategies that take into account the diversity in terms of backgrounds, skill sets, and ways of working. For businesses to strive, there should be a clear understanding that in a globalized, multi-cultural society, diversity and inclusion are key drivers of employee engagement and productivity, talent acquisition, innovation, and growth. According to a study by Mckinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for workforce diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. To put it simply, promoting diversity and inclusion is good for business[1].

As a trend-setter and a role model in the region, the UAE announced its national strategy for wellbeing for 2031 in an aim to make the UAE a world leader in quality of life. It announced the launch of 90 new projects to improve the “physical, psychological and digital health of future generations” as highlighted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai[2]. Promoting healthy and active lifestyles, good mental health and adopting positive thinking were some of key growth areas which were identified by the UAE Cabinet.

This government-led initiative reinforces the practices undertaken by companies and entities such as National Bank of Fujairah which understand the importance of an engaged workforce for their overall business.  NBF has always championed this principle and placed employees at the center of all its business operations. Over the years, it established itself as a thought leader in the HR space, while continuing to be recognised with multiple accolades for its exemplary employee engagement programmes and policies.

At NBF, the HR team and management are aligned on making diversity and inclusion key priorities at the bank. As such, the bank has integrated ‘Diversity and Inclusion principles’ into its people activities to ensure employees with different demographics & backgrounds are exposed to a positive and stimulating work environment that suits their particular needs. This has been achieved through segmenting employees and ensuring that all the bank’s programmes and initiatives are designed with their specific needs in mind. Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally within the organisation.

1-    Benefits for every stage of life

The bank’s Flexible Benefits scheme, which has been running for four years, allows employees to select benefits suitable for their own stage in life. This personalised programme takes into account the various needs of NBF’s workforce whether they are Emirati employees, branch employees, managers or millennials.  For instance, employees can have access to additional practical benefits that best suit their demands such as extended health insurance options and the opportunity to sponsor a loved one by exposing them to an array of lifestyle benefits among many others.

2-   Work/life balance

Recognising the importance of family, the bank offers maternity and paternity leave to all parents. In addition, feeding hours are given to all women retuning to work for one year following their maternity leave and have private spaces allocated to them for nursing in order to balance their personal and professional needs.

3-    Equal pay and growth opportunities

As equal pay continues to be a hot topic in the global space, NBF has already ensured that its pay strategy treats employees at the same level fairly and equally. The bank recognises the work of its employees irrespective of their gender, race and religion and offers them equal growth opportunities to help them climb the career ladder.

4-    Access to knowledge and training

NBF ensures its staff maintain the highest standards to be able to provide the best services to customers by involving them in ongoing training. As such, career development opportunities focus on supporting employees’ growth journey while ensuring service excellence.  For example, the bank dedicates an average of 5 days of training for each employee per year where a wide range of development interventions are offered to suit their various needs.

5-   Open door policy

The bank’s employee engagement strategy has been an exemplary one which was recognised by reputable organizational consultancy firm, Korn Ferry Hay Group, who put NBF amongst the top three banks in the GCC and amongst the group’s global list of “high performingcompanies”. As part of the bank’s award-winning strategy, it put in place two systems to encourage engagement from employees, Eureka for suggestions and Shukran for recognition. It also generates annual surveys in which employees voice their comments and concerns to the organization where all entries received are analyzed and put into action. 

6-    Mental and physical well-being

At NBF, the wellbeing of its staff members was always a key factor to ensuring business success. As such, it has put in place a full-service wellbeing programme, that provides support for the mental and physical needs of all its staff members. For example, the bank provides annual medical screening for all employees. Moreover, it also executes a programme titled “Know your Numbers”, which inspires positive changes in the lifestyle and overall well-being of many of its staff. NBF also dedicates its efforts in catering to the mental wellbeing of its employees by running awareness-focused tutorials on how best to manage stress.

In today’s dynamic and continuously changing business world, it is the human assets and not the fixed or tangible assets that differentiate an organisation from its competitors. NBF’s model has always focused on placing its employees at the forefront of everything it does and only through that approach was it able to deliver service excellence and establish long-lasting relationships with customers.  As such, the bank’s HR-led efforts and initiatives have gained widespread recognition testament to its success over the years. Just this year, the bank received multiple accolades at The Gulf Employee Experience Awards including, the “Overall Experience” award for the best entry, “Employee Engagement and Happiness” award and the “Employee Insight and HR Metrics” award while ranking second in the “Employee Empowerment” award.

These awards are not NBF’s firsts in the space; in 2018 alone, the bank claimed The Nationalisation award, HR Team of the Year award and the Overall Gulf Employee Experience award. Moreover, the bank’s success was also recognised in another space at the Human Capital Forum MENA 2018 where it received “HR Team of the Year” for the third consecutive time and was awarded third place in the “Best Employer” category.