Two of Singapore’s biggest banks are using this HR strategy

HRD talks with two of Singapore’s top banks about one special employee policy which has helped turn their companies into highly attractive places to work

As most HR practitioners know, a positive employer brand means the difference between simply picking the top staff for your firm and having to struggle to find the right candidates. Despite the urgency in attracting the best types of employees, there is one method HR may have overlooked: volunteer leave.
HRD talked with two of Singapore’s biggest financial institutions about what this policy has done to benefit their firms.
At DBS Bank, employees are given two days of volunteer leave per year, a spokesperson told HRD.
“To encourage staff to engage in sustainable community programs, we introduced a movement, ‘People of Purpose’ in 2014, which encourages staff to develop longer term and more meaningful engagements with all segments of the community,” they said.
“Since its introduction, the number of volunteer projects adopted by bank staff has doubled to over 40 projects from last year. More than 20% of DBS staff in Singapore participate in ‘People of Purpose’ activities.”
Although DBS allows its staff to volunteer with any organisation, it also helps acquaint people with the options available by providing a list of NGOs registered under the National Council of Social Services (NCSS) and National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).
Additionally, DBS encourages employees to adopt causes they feel strongly about and become ‘Volunteer Leaders’. They can then rally their colleagues to join, develop and execute initiatives which meet the needs of the chosen causes.
“We believe this is more meaningful than standard volunteer programs which are typically ‘one size fits all’,” the spokesperson said.
Standard Chartered Bank is another firm which encourages its staff to volunteer.
“We started our employee volunteer (EV) leave program in 2007 to provide every Standard Chartered employee with two paid leave days per year for volunteering,” a spokesperson told HRD.
“Following the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our employees, partners and communities, in 2010 the bank increased the number of paid volunteer leave days to three per employee every year.”
The bank currently has a number of volunteer schemes which its employees have taken part in:
  • 1,000 employees have volunteered for the Silver Lining initiative which helps with issues arising from Singapore’s ageing population
  • 200 volunteers have entered the Seeing Is Believing program which has helped more than 1,200 seniors get their vision tested
  • 800 employees have participated in the bi-annual food packing and distribution program which gets 47,000 food items to over 2,000 needy families
  • 600 volunteers have assisted with a monthly handicraft making session for people living with HIV
“Since 2007, the culture of volunteerism within the bank has grown significantly in Singapore,” the spokesperson said. “In 2014, our employees in Singapore devoted 4,373 employee volunteer days to support the local community, a 15-fold increase from 2007, where there were 290 days recorded.”
Related stories:
How to ensure your CSR program is a success
How credible is voluntary work as experience?
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