The nations largest lender State Bank has begun a massive employee engagement programme to ensure its 2.6 lakh-strong staff does not work mechanically and is sufficiently motivated to take on newer challenges that the future will throw up, a top official has said. 


The programme, christened Nayi Disha or the new path, focuses on work-life balance and also involves the staffs' immediate family members, also giving them the ability to inform the bank if an employee is not able to leave work on time. 


“We realised that over a period of time, our employees, especially the ones in branches, had started to work mechanically which could have an impact on customer service and also their morale,'' Prashant Kumar, deputy managing director and chief development officer, told PTI over the weekend. 


The previous chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya too had initiated a slew of pro-employee measures such as letting them choose the location before transferring a couple of both of them are with the bank, extending sick leave to attend to in-laws health needs, long leaves to help their children during the exams among others. 


He said the bank has hired an external hand to design the programme, and started implementing it in December with the top management, including chairman Rajnish Kumar. 


Over 350 trained staff are reaching out to every employee in the programme, which is the first major initiativereaching out to every member of the staff in over four years. They undertake five to six hour-long sessions which end with a team dinner with each ones spouses, Kumar said. 


Half the staff has already undergone the module and the programme will be finished by March 15, in time to let the employees focus on the heavy duty workdays towards the end of the fiscal year, he said. 

At the end of the training module, the employee signs a pledge which draws from the banks value statement released last year, vowing to keep herself healthy, not damage the environment, speak positively of the bank and leave for home at least once a week. 

Interestingly, the pledge card has a special bar code which, if scanned by the employees spouse using a mobile phone, will send out an alert to the employees superiors about the employee spending long time at work and result in corrective action, Kumar said. 

Without mentioning non-performing assets, Kumar said the banking sector has had a difficult time in the last two-three years which has affected the employees and the bank found it essential to rejuvenate and prepare them for the future as well. 

While stressing that the worst is behind the bank, the employee is told about the business plan and also the way banking is changing due to technology, which will entail changes in their working as well, he said. 

The bank had already started stressing on the importance of employees health and the need to maintain work-life balance around a year ago, Kumar said, adding this programme takes it up as a strong need. 

Over 27 per cent of SBI staff are women and the average age has now come down to 43, he said.