The past couple of months have been difficult for the Pakistani economy. Globally high oil prices and commodity prices have hit the economy hard: petrol prices almost doubled at the pumps, inflation is running at double digits, high current account deficit, massive rupee depreciation, and plummeting exports, with July exports at $2.2 billion versus $2.9 billion from June along with energy load shedding have resulted in businesses across the country laying off thousands of employees, or asking them to take salary cuts.
At this time, it is positive to see HBL going the other way and thinking of ways to help its employees during this challenging period, despite the steep tax imposed on the banking sector in the June budget. HBL is the country’s largest commercial bank and employs over 15,000 people. It is probably one of the largest employers not only in the financial sector but also overall in the private sector.
A ‘Bank with a Soul’ is HBL’s motto, highlighted only a few months back in its first-ever Sustainability report, Enriching Lives, released in June. In line with that motto, HBL recently announced a policy to help its employees counter the inflationary scenario.
HBL has announced several measures to help its employees. These include short-term instant measures and those that will have longer-term benefits for employees.
Immediately they announced Interim Ad-hoc Support, which is financial assistance that will be paid in two tranches in August 2022 and October 2022, to over 15,000 employees at senior manager and levels below. In addition, given the sharp increase in petrol prices, they have issued a revision in their travel reimbursement policy for employees, and reimbursement for official travel has been enhanced to Rs 30/km for cars and Rs 10/km for motorcycles.
HBL makes people top priority. #HBL is cognizant of the impact of the current economic challenges on the Bank's staff and is implementing actions to extend financial support. #JahanKhwabWahanHBL pic.twitter.com/CqCOnamBzD
— HBL (@HBLPak) August 3, 2022
Furthermore, they have implemented a staff transport loan policy for all employees. In addition to the existing staff car loan facility, they will also be entitled to avail of a motorcycle loan up to Rs 200,000/- at 0% markup. This is designed to assist staff in reducing their commuting expense and encourage the use of electric motorbikes. They are also in the process of launching the HBL Share Sawari, which will be an in-house carpool solution that has been developed to allow HBL employees to share the vehicle amongst themselves.
HBL growing strong each decade
These policies also enhance and synergize with HBL’s broad focus on encouraging environmentally sustainable initiatives. An example of the importance they give to this can be seen when in 2020, they announced they would not finance any new coal projects. Within its bank branches, it has a policy of reducing the carbon footprint to zero by 2030 and is moving towards solar panels where possible.
HBL is a going concern for over 81 years now. Initially founded in 1941 in Bombay, after partition, it moved to Karachi and since then has gone from strength to strength, with every decade increasing its market capitalization, brand power, prestige, and ability to hire and train an international standard workforce. It has acted as a nursery ground for other banks within the country, with many senior Bank personnel having spent initial years in HBL and for many people who have moved to international organizations worldwide.
The Bank’s current strategic thrust, as highlighted in its Enriching Lives report, highlights the importance of people’s agenda and giving back to the community and country. There is hope that these steps taken by HBL to look after its employees can catalyze other organizations in all industries to follow suit.