Introductory remarks from Michael Ilgner – Global Head of HR and Real Estate

Reflection on what we can learn from the pandemic

Every year, we provide you a comprehensive overview, in the form of our HR Report, of how we are creating the best possible environment for our people to thrive.

We approach the next phase of the bank, a move into sustainable profitability, with a willingness to learn and an open mindset. This includes fundamentally changing the way we work.

To take this step we have also drawn on the learnings from the pandemic. Two years ago, much of our workforce switched to work from home overnight, and many had never done this before. While it was a challenge to set everyone up, the bank carried on. Clients continued receiving the service they were used to. At the same time, we have not lost sight of the focus on transformation and on optimizing our workforce. Our bank-wide People Survey showed record levels of engagement and commitment. How was this possible?

True leadership

The pandemic forced many leaders to adapt their management style. Those who had difficulty letting go of decision-making or wanted full control of every task had to empower their teams. Leaders had to be flexible and empathetic as their teams balanced different commitments. Wellbeing and mental health emerged from the periphery to become a priority.

The focus paid off. Engagement, commitment and care and concern scores hit record levels in our 2020 People Survey. What was especially pleasing was this remained high in 2021.

We proved the power of regular conversations

Having a conversation costs nothing and, as it turns out, impacts everything. When we crunch the data from our People Survey, the conclusions are emphatic: talking to each other positively impacts all our survey items and is the biggest accelerator of progress. A seemingly simple action can be overlooked, but the pandemic forced all of us to communicate more.

Years of building a speak up culture within the bank showed positive results intentionally. And a stronger feedback culture, evidenced by our quarterly surveys, led to higher engagement, motivation and commitment.

What was also clear was the power of appreciation and recognition, with just a little bit going a long way.

Networks really matter

At the heart of our people strategy is how we build connections and collaborate. Employees with strong networks could ride the shift in working practices caused by the pandemic and continue almost as normal. New joiner had to build networks in a virtual environment – and the importance of collaboration tools really stood out. Creating a welcoming working environment was key. We also identified technology as one of the key pillars of our Future of Work strategy as it ensures they are productive whether in the office, in a branch or at home.

We can all do more to improve diversity and be inclusive

We experience the power of different perspectives every day, especially when dealing with complex topics. Improving diversity, especially at our more senior levels, is an ongoing goal for the bank. We announced renewed gender diversity goals and intensified our efforts to increase Black representation at the bank. What also became apparent is how our people want to shift gears on inclusion. Whether it is how we tackle unconscious bias, run meetings or think about disabilities and neurological differences. Switching on your camera often made all the difference in the absence of in-person interactions.

Our approach to attracting, retaining and developing the best diverse talent has evolved since the pandemic, and will continue doing so. At the heart of our strategy is strong leadership, based on trust, collaboration and empathy. We understand that learning is not a set path, in fact it is more unstructured than ever before. So we need to adapt our learning culture to ensure our people take the time each day to learn independently and from each other.

The foundation that makes all this possible is a diverse and inclusive environment, one where everyone feels valued and able to speak up. Getting these elements right will strengthen the connections, across teams and countries, that make our Global Hausbank concept so powerful.

In our people and places strategy it is clear that we want to shift from the “where” to the “how”. At the heart of this will remain the question how we lead, collaborate and learn. We have an opportunity to evolve our mindset from asking our people to work on something, to encouraging our people to work towards something – linked to a clear sense of belonging, a purpose and focusing on the “why”.

We look forward on updating you on our progress.

Michael Ilgner
Global Head of HR and Real Estate