How DCB bank is powering through the COVID crisis

Early preparation helped the Bank respond better and more effectively to the lockdown.

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Mumbai-based DCB Bank has organised a slew of activities to keep its employees engaged and motivated.

One of the first things that DCB bank did was to extend the medical coverage provided to employees to include COVID. As a precaution, the Bank started preparing for a lockdown scenario quite early, from March 12. This included arranging for transport for the employees, designing work-from-home protocols and securing equipment for the staff to work remotely. “We started preparing early and because of this we were able to respond to the situation much ahead of the announcement of the national lockdown,” claims Venkattesh R, president and head of operations, technology and HR, DCB Bank.

The management at DCB bank set up a task force which was in charge of all communication related to COVID-19, such as issuing of guidelines to branches, usage of protective equipment, such as masks and sanitisers and the manner of dealing with customers who visit branches during the emergency situation. All communication happened via emails and SMS to all 6600 employees at DCB bank.

DCB bank also set up an audiobridge, which essentially connected with employees over calls to update them on new measures taken by the organisation, informed them of learning and engagement activities and reinforced the precautions to be taken by employees, among others.

Adjusting to the new normal

In the branches, standard measures have been taken, such as provision of temperature guns, gloves, masks and sanitisers, to all employees. The biometric system has been disabled across branches. Cafeteria services have been reduced to allow only 25 per cent capacity at a time.

As an additional measure, branch employees have been divided into two teams, which go to work on alternate shifts. Usually, a branch has around 10 employees which has now been reduced to 33 per cent across all branches. The first team works for one week and the second team comes in the next week.

Customers queuing up to enter a DCB branch

Due to the reduced number of staff at a time, sections of the staff working in other areas, such as credit or mortgage now come in during the second half, while the regular branch banking staff attends during the first half. Working timings for branches range from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m and have been extended as per revised guidelines.

In each state, the bank has appointed a point of contact responsible for deployment of new working guidelines, across all branches in that particular state. Moreover, for each state, the rules are different keeping in mind the different infrastructure and design of each branch. Some are large and spacious, while a few are congested. Accordingly, rules for social distancing, shifts and number of people have been issued for each.

Even for the corporate office of the bank, at Lower Parel in Mumbai, all non-critical employees have been working from home. According to Venkattesh, the current model of working will continue till the situation completely normalises. Out of the 550 employees at the corporate office, only 25-30 people, mostly critical talent, are required to travel for work. Ten per cent was the peak capacity they were able to work with at the office during the lockdown period, according to Venkattesh.

Venkattesh R.

The banking sector has already become technology focussed, as organisations are witnessing increased efficiency and better user journeys in terms of employing the digital format

The rest of the employees have been working from home and provided the necessary equipment to facilitate the same. DCB bank started sourcing laptops for the employees at the same time as it began working on a business continuity plan for the lockdown period. This, Venkattesh says, helped them save costs as well as time and effort, which would have otherwise gone into procuring them. Necessary measures, such as VPN connectivity and data security were also taken care of right at the beginning.

It is not the just the non-critical functions that have been allotted work from home, but even the IT team, which is a crucial part of the system has been mandated to work remotely. This is to ensure that members of this critical function are not compromised in any way. Today, with most banking entities working remotely and increasingly adopting the digital route, technology and IT experts perform critical and core functions for organisations.

“In almost every function we have some of the people working from home. The number is greater or lesser depending on the function,” explains Venkattesh.

HR managers are continuously in touch with employees and their families. In case workers or family members face a health issue, they are identified, tracked and monitored till they recover. Daily calls are made by the COVID-19 task force, bringing together business heads to discuss relevant issues with the employees.

To prevent confusion and anxiety, all employees have been briefed on steps to be followed if they or their family members are identified positive. Also, employees have been guided on how to respond to situations while abiding by the local authorities should they face issues in commuting to work. “The first few days were challenging but people are quite used to working in a hybrid model by now,” states Venkattesh.

DCB bank is also creating a back-to-office booklet for employees containing the do’s and don’ts for employees in a pictorial format.

Front foot on the digital front

To reduce the footfall in branches and help make banking easier, DCB bank has been encouraging its customers to go the digital way.

DCB Bank has relaunched its mobile banking application with newer functions such as card block, self-registrations and other unique features. The hallmark of this mobile banking application, according to Venkattesh, is the improved UI and UX. After DCB relaunched it during the lockdown period, the application rating went up from 2.8 stars on Google Play to 4.8 stars. The application was originally launched in 2018. Te has another application called DCB zippi for online deposits, launched in 2015.

In almost every function we have some of the people working from home. The number is greater or lesser depending on the function

The Bank is planning to launch another application, for the post-COVID working scenario, which Venkattesh informs is almost ready. Through this mobile application, it will be possible to monitor social distancing between employees, the number of employees occupying office desks at a particular time and staff capacity at peak hours, among others.

This will be accessible to employees at the branches as well as the central office.

“The banking sector has already become technology focussed, as organisations are witnessing increased efficiency and better user journeys in terms of employing the digital format. Keeping the human element enabled within the technology being used is the winning mantra for businesses,” says Venkattesh rightly.

Learning and engagement

The bank has developed a few learning and engagement programmes specifically for the COVID crisis and lockdown period.

Appreciate, build ownership, communicate and develop

Called ABCD in short, this is an engagement platform for supervisory staff in the organisation. The top management get on calls with the supervisory staff over an audiobridge, and deliver byte sized modules in appreciation, building ownership, communication and development. Each session lasts for an hour.

Any Body Can Train

Referred to as ABCT in short, this programme uses the concept of crowdsourcing. Employees across the organisation create short, bite-sized videos based on their learnings, for their colleagues. These are sent to the L&D team who curate, edit and upload them on the Company’s leaning management solution platform, called Lumos. “We have already received a lot of nominations and it has been successful in making this a truly participative journey rather than a top-down approach,” says Venkattesh proudly.

Winning mantra

The HR team members pick out employees who are doing exceptionally well in their functions and try to bring out what makes them successful. These points are then shared with other employees.

Mujhe Pata Nahi

A part of the ethics workshop in the organisation, Mujhe Pata Nahi is a series, which uses comic strips and modules to drive the importance of ethics among the employees. Already 61 workshops have been completed in this area. “We want people to focus more on ethics especially during this time,” points out Venkattesh.

Safety guide for customers

The learning programmes have been immensely successful as can be gauged by the participation and completion numbers. In the past 56 days of lockdown, employees at the organisation have completed over 50,000 modules of learning. To highlight the spike in numbers, the total number of modules completed in the past year was around 76,000. “A highly energetic L&D team, high volume of participation from business and the huge amount of ownership among the people has made this possible,” asserts Venkattesh.

The bank further organised two sessions under an initiative called HourHR for all its employees, to dispel any misinformation and to enable employees to handle mental stress during the crisis. In the first session, a specialist in infectious diseases was called in to clear any doubts regarding COVID-19 and provide information on precautionary measures to be taken.

In the second session on mental health, a psychologist was called in to help out employees and their family members to answer any questions related to taking care of one’s mental health. Both sessions were conducted over audiobridge.

Preserving memories of the employees’ COVID journey for the future

In a unique initiative, DCB bank is planning to publish all the extraordinary stories of its employees during COVID times, in the form of a book. This is a gesture of gratitude, which will also capture the hard work of its people. “This will become a guidebook for many to cherish and share their proud achievements with loved ones,” explains Venkattesh.

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