VMBS stays ahead of COVID-19 curve

Even with the novel coronavirus pandemic dampening many companies’ plans in 2020, the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) instead saw higher levels of productivity and engagement among staff. This happened mainly because of the entity’s proactive adoption of a work from home (WFH) policy in 2018, which allowed it to seamlessly transition online as the world scrambled to deal with the new pandemic environment.

This was revealed at a recent Jamaica Observer Business Forum by Assistant Vice-President (AVP) of Human Resources (HR) Dr Dayton Robinson.

In what was described as a progressive HR agenda, Dr Robinson explained that the company is results-driven and not driven by activities. Although many corporate firms have stated outright that WFH will be a permanent feature in their operations, the AVP explained that even when the pandemic subsides and there is some return to normality, employees will have the option to return to the physical workspace if they choose to do so.

“We have recognised from studies that remote and flexible arrangement provides team members with a good sense of balance on well-being and affords them the ability to work in the confines of the space that they’re comfortable in and take care of family members. The research has shown that people who work from home are generally more loyal to the organisation and have a higher level of productivity.”

Despite the company securing globally recognised IT solutions from 2018, the building society still purchased devices for its staff, of which 40 per cent are working at home across the group, with VM Wealth Management seeing 80 per cent of its staff at home.

So, although the company reduced expenses from reduced office use, the group still committed to the purchase of over 150 laptops and smartphones plus other necessary devices to make the WFH arrangements suitable for staff.

Chief executive officer (CEO) of VM Wealth Rezworth Burchenson noted how the HR engagement index moved beyond VMBS’s standards and ascended to global levels. The net promoter score, which relates to customer engagement, also rose significantly due to the group’s commitment to constant communication with members over the year.

President and CEO of VMBS Courtney Campbell mentioned the company’s decision to provide low interest rate loans over a possible six-year period to staff who needed to purchase devices for their children who were adjusting to the new modality of life.

Even with the potential fallout associated with the pandemic on the lives of its members, the risk of the building society didn’t gradually move up, mainly because VMBS’s exposure to segments, such as tourism and travel, were extremely minimal before the pandemic.

This led to Reid declaring that 2020 might have been the best year in the 143-year history of VMBS. Apart from clients becoming more adept with the digital environment, Reid noted that all businesses in the group exceeded the revised budgets, excluding the New York office which was severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions in the state.