Treating our staff like clients

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How do we make sure ABN AMRO staff make the very most of their talents? That’s the question Felix Bartelomij, Head of People Development, asks himself every day. He says one thing’s for sure: “ABN AMRO wants a score of at least 9 out of 10 for client experience. But the only way that’s going to happen is if we first manage to score that high with our employees. Our aim is to work together with staff to create an environment in which all of us can completely be ourselves and make the most of our unique talents. And if we succeed, satisfaction levels will increase and staff will be ABN AMRO ambassadors.”

It’s key that we create a working environment where employees are always challenging one another – by collaborating, giving each other constant feedback and transforming the workplace into the ultimate learning environment. Felix Bartelomij Portret Felix Bartelomij Head of People Development

Small gestures, big impact

“Our staff act as ambassadors for our organisation, promoting ABN AMRO as a great place to work and to bank,” says Felix. The bank’s aim is to make sure every employee’s experience exceeds expectations – from the very first job interview to an employee’s leaving do on their last day. Felix gives an example of what he’s talking about. He says, “Last month we offered contracts to two members of staff. When completing all the formalities, I think it’s important to add a personal touch to mark the importance of such an occasion. So we had party balloons and a personal card delivered to both of them. It may be a small gesture, but things like that can actually have a big impact. In fact, they make all the difference to staff – that’s exactly the kind of thing people are excited to tell their friends and family at a birthday party or barbecue.”

Space to be yourself

This personal approach to staff is at the heart of the People Development policy Felix has in mind. “I feel we still tend to overthink how staff can do their jobs better,” he continues. “The result is that HR often introduces new products and services which are overly complex and ultimately fail to meet their needs. That’s why we’re committed to getting staff much more involved and are giving them the opportunity to tell us what they need. We’re asking them to take part in discussions about the things that have a direct impact on them personally. We’re experimenting together and learning a lot. That’s how we plan to create HR tools and services that are truly user-friendly and reflect our motto: keep it simple and be relevant. It’s also how we’re laying the foundation for a culture in which there’s space for individual initiatives and ideas.”

Development is more than training

People Development wants to ensure that staff develop and make the most of their talents for the bank. But that takes more than good training opportunities, Felix emphasises. “It’s key that we create a working environment where employees are always challenging one another – by collaborating and giving each other constant feedback, we’re transforming the workplace into the ultimate learning environment. We also need to be more in tune with the learning preferences of our staff. While a training course may sometimes be the best way for an employee to grow in their job, it’s often much more effective for them to ask a colleague for feedback and tips, or shadow a co-worker in another department for a day. There’s still so much we can teach one another. And I think staff should be doing a lot more of that.”

Lifelong ambassadors

In the fifteen years Felix himself has been with the bank, he’s taken full advantage of all the development opportunities at ABN AMRO and the space he’s been given to discover how he can make the best use of his talents. Felix says he thinks it’s important that the bank should continue to motivate staff to make the most of themselves. “I think we can push that pretty far, too, even if it means encouraging a member of staff to take a job with another employer for a time. I mean, if that experience will benefit the employee, we shouldn’t be afraid to advise them to do that, rather than clinging on to them for dear life. And what would happen if we agreed they could always come back? That’s when ABN AMRO scores at least a 9 out of 10 for employee experience. And chances are we’ve also got an ambassador for life who will promote us to others as an employer. Just like a consumer who bigs up their favourite brand. I think we should be treating our staff a little more like our clients.”

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