KUWAIT: The “KON” social entrepreneurship program launched by LOYAC in partnership with National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) as a platinum sponsor, hosted a seminar in which Emad Al-Ablani, GM – Group Human Resources at National Bank of Kuwait gave a lecture on “Crisis Management and Lessons Learnt from the Pandemic”.

Ablani said that NBK exhibited exemplary management of a crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic’s scale and complexity. In an early response since February 2020, formed an emergency team entrusted with setting precautionary plans and measures to effectively deal with the pandemic across all its business units and branches.

Ablani stressed that the key lesson learned from the pandemic is that prudent investment in human capital and digital infrastructure over the past years significantly helped in NBK’s success in weathering this crisis, and contributing in the recovery of the Kuwaiti economy recovery from its consequences. Throughout its history extending over seven decades, NBK capably overcame many challenges and difficult crises it faced, and was a key contributor in driving economic recovery, he pointed out.

Business continuity
Ablani explained that the bank had put in place early plans to ensure business continuity despite the partial and full lockdown and the transformation of a number of branches into call centers in the quarantined areas, noting that employees’ working from home required great technical efforts to ensure business continuity, as the bank’s adaptability to the exceptional circumstances imposed by these the crisis is a source of pride for everyone in the bank.

He added that working remotely was not an issue for the bank, in view of its huge digital capabilities, in addition to Group Human Resources following a strategy aligned with digital transformation plans, indicating that during the period of working from home, the bank intensified campaigns aimed to raise employees’ awareness about cyber risk and related protection measures.

Back-to-normal stages
Ablani mentioned that an important part of crisis management is to ensure the gradual return to normal life without any obstacles. To this end, the bank, in cooperation with the health authorities and the Central Bank of Kuwait, implemented precautionary plans and measures that put the health of the bank’s employees, customers and society as a whole as the first priority.

The bank applied stringent precautionary health measures to ensure a safe work environment through a thorough sterilization system of its different facilities and health controls at its entrances and all branches, and strict requirements to wear masks during working hours, he added.

Investment in human capital
Ablani stressed that NBK reaped the fruits of its huge investments in its human capital, whom the bank considers as the key factor of all its successes for over seven decades. The bank continued to raise the efficiency of its employees, by providing them many online training programs and courses developed in cooperation with the most reputable institutions and universities around the world, in line with the requirements of the labor market, he noted.

National talents
Ablani explained that, despite the exceptional challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, NBK continued to play its historical role in supporting and attracting national talents, with a national labor ratio of 73.8 percent.

Supporting employees
Ablani indicated that as part of NBK’s endeavors to provide utmost support to its employees, the bank launched many important initiatives, covering organizational and health aspects, including a special healthcare program in which it engaged a group of physicians and specialists that focused on key areas comprising mental and general health and nutrition, as well as physical fitness.

“NBK allowed parent employees flexible working hours, at the beginning of the school year 2020-2021, to help them set up their children for online teaching. The bank also provided pregnant female employees (in the third trimester) were also granted leave,” Ablani added. He highlighted that the bank launched a campaign over the past months to encourage its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccines, which showed remarkable success, as the percentage of its employees who received one or two doses of the vaccines reached 82 percent of the total employees.

NBK constantly urges its employees to maintain their safety and health through awareness communications that frequently disseminated through the bank’s various digital platforms and posters displayed all over the bank and its branches. In addition, as part of our and based on our social responsibility, we publish and support awareness campaigns through social media accounts, Al-Ablani emphasized.

Furthermore, the bank conducted many surveys during the year about employees’ awareness and confidence in the health and safety measures, which showed a significant increase in the level of employees’ awareness about the health and safety measures taken by the bank at 94 percent. The latest surveys also revealed a high level of employees’ confidence in the procedures and measures taken in the course of the back-to-work plan, at 88 percent.

Honoring frontliners
The GM – Group Human Resources at National Bank of Kuwait stated that, in appreciation of the great efforts exerted by the bank’s employees during the pandemic, the Executive Management honored frontline employees for the dedication and commitment they showed during full lockdown period to continue serving customers during these exceptional circumstances.