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New recruits at Hong Kong and Singapore banks face lonely first weeks on the job

If you’re about to join a new bank in Singapore or Hong Kong, you could be in for a rough few weeks. For one, your start date could be pushed back, and even when you do join, you will face a lonely induction period as banks enforce remote working and put their orientation programmes online in response to the coronavirus. In Singapore, these efforts were given fresh impetus on Friday as the government introduced new regulations to encourage social distancing in workplaces.

UOB has “modified” its induction programme, says a spokesperson for the bank. “Whereas we used to welcome all new joiners at a one-day orientation, we are now managing induction on a team-based level and through online outreach,” she adds.

We understand that Deutsche Bank in Asia is conducting day-one orientations by teleconference instead of in classrooms and that Nomura has used Webex, the video calling platform, for its Singapore and Hong Kong inductions since February. The banks did not comment.

OCBC is ensuring its in-person induction sessions are “kept to small groups” and its training programmes are now all accessible online, says Jacinta Low, head of HR planning. A spokesperson for Societe Generale says a large part of its induction process is already done online so the bank only had to make “minor adjustments” to make it fully digital.

Even after a new joiner has got through their formal induction training, it may be a while before they meet their team, or even their manager, in person. A new survey by recruitment firm Randstad found that 68% of respondents from financial institutions in Hong Kong are working from home and 25% are working on a split-team or shift-work arrangement.

“New recruits these days would definitely not have the full experience of establishing relationships with their colleagues – it’s challenging to connect over emails and messaging platforms,” says Rick Chung, director of banking and financial services at recruiters Randstad. “This may inherently result in lower productivity as they would have to spend their time figuring out who they should reach out to for help or information,” he adds.

SocGen in Asia is trying to address these challenges. “Despite the drastic reduction in face-to-face meetings, it’s important to keep contact with future new joiners. Our teams have made sure to personally call every newcomer before they start in order to assist their onboarding on their first day at work,” says the spokesperson for the French bank.

Chung says he’s noticed that banks have begun to push back start dates for some new hires to allow more time to co-ordinate their inductions, although employers are trying to minimise these delays.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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