ADB to roll out further HR reforms

The logo of Asian Development Bank. The Manila-based financial institution may soon allow its staff to work remotely. Photo by: vanou / CC BY-NC-ND

More Asian Development Bank staff may soon be able to look forward to working away from the office.

A new remote work policy is currently up for approval by President Takehiko Nakao, according to Ann Rennie, deputy director general of ADB’s Budget, Personnel and Management Systems Department.

In an effort to address complaints about its lack of flexibility and mobility and to better retain high-level staff, ADB is currently reforming its human resources policies as part of the bank’s 2020 Strategy internal review. The Manila-based international financial institution has been intent on communicating openly both internally and externally about the reform — and Thursday was no exception, when Rennie presented where the bank currently stands in its effort to create a “talent culture” at the 14th Annual Career Development Roundtable in Oslo, Norway.

For one, building a talent culture means retaining top talent.

Since 2007, ADB employees are allowed to work from home up to three days per month. But as requests continued to come in from staff wishing to work from the United States, Australia, India, Beijing and more, bank management realized it was time to review the policy as a measure of staff retention, Rennie told Devex.

The new remote work policy, she explained, will be available for “high-potential” staff, although each individual will still have to justify his or her need to work remotely.

“The policy is set up so it could be unlimited,” Rennie said of its duration, but so far the longest remote work arrangement has been one year.

ADB is also reviewing its staff retirement plan and has already added a provision to extend length of appointments beyond the age of 60 to retain key staff or those with hard-to-find skills and knowledge, if necessary. A health specialist in Mongolia, for example, or a lawyer with specialized knowledge who has proved to be exceptionally difficult to replace, may now be asked to stay on, the official said.

The bank is also undertaking a total compensation review that will include a call for more flexible, tailored benefits package.

Her team has also just finished a skills audit to identify gaps in the organization’s operational roles. The bank, she said, would like to “beef up technical skills,” which means creating new vacancies to recruit senior-level talent in areas such as infrastructure, governance and climate which will be posted by the end of the year.

In late October, Nakao held a “town hall” meeting with staff and revealed to them details on other upcoming changes to the institution’s human resources policy, including more deployment of senior staff to country offices, strengthening the role of national staff and increasing rotation between departments.

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About the author

  • Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is an Associate Editor for Devex. Based on the U.S. West Coast, she works with Devex's team of correspondents and editors around the world, with a particular focus on gender. She previously worked as Devex’s Southeast Asia correspondent based in Bangkok, covering disaster and crisis response, resilience, women’s rights, and climate change throughout the region. Prior to that, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.