In one of SAP’s virtual SAPPHIRE NOW Unplugged sessions, Chief People Officer at NAB (National Australia Bank), Susan Ferrier, discusses how the 160-year-old financial institution managed to navigate the sudden change brought on by the global pandemic through proactive crisis management planning and by reinventing its how the business operates.
In these uncertain and unusual times, as the world faces an unprecedented crisis that all at once uprooted many businesses—both small and large—the adage “unlearning to learn” becomes glaringly crucial in creating a continuous strategy to adapt and thrive. As the world evolves around the global pandemic, the foremost challenge among organisations is rethinking business models and charting a new path forward.
For NAB, the crisis paved the way for innovative changes in the organisation. NAB saw a silver lining in the cloud and focused on reinventing its workforce and operations for a post-COVID world.
In her conversation with SAP Successfactors President Jill Popelka, Ferrier described how the pandemic has become a catalyst for innovation at NAB and how it’s been a phenomenal force of change across the whole enterprise:
“We’ve seen this whole crisis unfold across our complete footprint around the world and it’s really been a time I think, for reinvention for the way that we work, the way that we connect, and also the way that our business model is being reinvented.”
NAB and the Future of Work in Australia
The global pandemic demonstrated how the future of work may look in the new post-COVID world where skills fungibility and work flexibility will play an important role in ensuring an organisation stays relevant.
Quite early on, when the first covert COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Australia, NAB’s executive team immediately charted a crisis management plan that focused on enabling employees to meet the challenges of a COVID-stricken world by upskilling and reskilling of employees through remote digital learning. Ferrier said SAP SuccessFactors played a key role in NAB’s new employee management strategy.
Through the SAP platform, employees reviewed their recorded skills and from there, NAB’s crisis management team was able to plot the steps required to successfully roll out the company’s new digital learning program. The company digitalised and reinvented close to 3000 courses in its existing Learning and Development program in a bid to make its workforce fungible. She describes how the new digital learning program has made a great impact on the enterprise’s efforts to upskill and reskill employees,
“We’ve definitely used [COVID-19] as an opportunity to push harder into ensuring that we’ve got a really strong and valuable digital learning footprint. We’ve pivoted a lot of our face-to-face training to now be delivered via Zoom or Teams. That actually in some cases is working better than it did before. In other cases, I think face-to-face learning is probably more impactful, but we’ve experienced significant take-up.”
Ferrrier also ensured that there would be a consistent and strong communications platform for employees so they are empowered to successfully work from home and become truly flexible.
Newsletters were sent twice a day through email to all employees to ensure they were getting the support they needed in transitioning to a virtual work environment. These corporate newsletters included information about how and where they can get their company-issued laptops and what they can do to manage their mental health and resilience through the crisis.
Ferrier emphasised that ensuring employees are enabled to successfully work from home or work from wherever in a truly flexible way is an important goal for NAB in charting a new path for a post-COVID world.