Human Resources

Nurturing the Bank’s human capital

Driving the Bank’s value creation model is the responsibility of its human resources or human capital. The term “human capital” encapsulates the fact that the Bank considers its employees a resource that needs to be nourished. This goal to nurture its people is an acknowledgement of the fact that the Bank’s 9,380-strong team creates value for the Bank and its stakeholders in the same way that the Bank in turn remains mindful of delivering value to them.

Workforce analysis

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Total number of employees 9,380 9,683 9,628 10,263 10,320
Percentage of female employees (%) 15.22 15.25 13.71 12.36 11.27
Percentage of Saudi employees (%) 97.09 96.64 95.92 91.76 90.90
Number of employees departed 732 910 1,033 729 712
Turnover ratio (%) 7 9.49 10.73 7.10 6.90
Percentage of total hours spent on training 289,566 428,394 391,086 386,772 476,388

Employees working from home by grade/gender (at least during the lockdown period)

Male Female Total Percentage
Director level and above
(Grade 13, 14, 15, 16, 18)
136 1 137 4.76
Managerial Level (Grade 10, 11 and 12) 499 21 520 18.05
Staff (Grade 9 and below) 612 159 771 26.76
Outsourced 1,277 176 1,453 50.43

Being able to attract, nurture and retain talent contributes towards succession planning and expansion into new areas. The Bank’s people are responsible for achieving its Vision and remaining strongly customer centric.

Nurturing the Bank’s human capital is also essential, especially within the backdrop of a rapidly evolving environment that places new demands on employees. The current COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point, but so are mega trends such as new entrants to the market (like fintechs) who are shaking up the banking field. Should the Bank’s employee cadre fall behind in their ability to face the changes and challenges of the times, the Bank risks becoming irrelevant. The Bank’s human capital remains central to the success of its future strategy.

The Bank’s Human Resources Business Partners also worked closely with senior leadership to develop an effective HR agenda that effectively supports the Bank of the Future strategy. In addition, clear KPIs set for each employee at the beginning of the year are linked to overall Bank and Department goals to ensure that each employee is working in alignment with the Bank’s goals just as much as the Bank’s HR function is aligned with the Bank’s strategy.

The COVID-19 pandemic furthered the Bank's integrated thinking journey. HR came together with different teams within the Bank like never before – working in the Command Centre and with the Business Continuity team, the Digital team, business lines, and support services – in order to ensure that employees remained productive and positive during the unprecedented challenges of the year under review. Despite challenges to the recruitment process, the Bank was able to maintain a 97% Saudi employee population.

Human resources in a time of COVID-19

Faced with the challenges of 2020, the Bank’s Human Resources (HR) department was able to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues in the IT team to quickly mobilise employees to work remotely. Effectively measuring employee performance, adjusting incentive payment methods, and hiring new employees despite the lockdown-related restrictions were some of the challenges that the Bank was able to overcome during the year under review.

Effective internal communications, along with regular follow up with employees stranded outside the Kingdom were some of the methods the Bank employed to ensure that employee morale and productivity remained high. All business trips were cancelled for the safety of the Bank’s people.

Employees with underlying conditions were given special attention to ensure that they remained safe. A sizeable portion of employees were given paid days off during the lockdown and requested not to come into the office. In addition, paid leave with related benefits was made available for employees suspected of having contracted the COVID-19 virus. The well-being of employees who contracted the virus remained a high priority during the year with regular checks made by the Bank.

Parental and other leave remained unchanged. Out of the entire employee population, 9% of male employees and 7% of female employees, respectively, took parental leave during the year under review.

Parental leave by gender

Female Male
Number of employees who took parental leave 108 698
Number of employees who returned to work after parental leave,
by gender
108 698
Number of employees who returned to work after parental leave who were still employed 12 months after return, by gender 108 698


The use of temperature checks, sanitisers and awareness booklets were other methods employed to minimise the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Face-to-face meetings and training programmes were halted or converted to alternative methods such as conference calls and other forms of virtual meetings. Medical doctors were available at the Bank’s premises for rapid response in the event of an employee feeling unwell. A back-to-work campaign was also initiated by HR encouraging employees to undertake all preventative measures against COVID-19 after the curfew was lifted.

Engagement and wellbeing

While the Bank upholds recognised standards and principles for labour practices, employee wellbeing and occupational health and safety, it also strives to ensure safe and fair working conditions and practices, and to create an environment that allows employees to flourish.

In this respect, the Bank considers all efforts at enhancing productivity and profitability as entirely compatible with employee wellbeing. Centralisation, automation, and digitalisation enable the Bank to become cost-efficient by facilitating prudent growth. Modernisation reduces the demands and pressures on the Bank’s people, enabling them to work more efficiently and productively, significantly reducing fatigue, while allowing morale and motivation to remain high.

Improving female representation remains a priority with the Bank striving to ensure that the proportion of female employees receiving training, promotion and representation at Senior Management levels keeps increasing.
In addition, the Bank continue to work towards ensuring that the ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women and men across all locations of operation and all employee categories remains equal.

Employee policies and communication

The Bank continued to focus on ensuring that employee relations remain cordial and mutually beneficial. To this end, it remains steadfast in upholding a number of policies, such as the whistle-blower policy and grievance policy, to provide a working environment that is fair and safe for all. Such user-friendly procedures remain firmly in place for employees located anywhere to raise concerns about their workplace. The Bank’s formal grievance policy illustrates the Bank’s commitment to hear each and every grievance through a transparent process that protects employee rights and is conducive to fair solutions.

Prior to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Bank was able to kick off a number of road shows to present the Bank’s strategy to employees. The Chief HR Officer accompanied the CEO and the General Manager of Retail Banking to every region in the Kingdom to meet Bank employees. Subsequently, the Bank conducted virtual focus group discussions covering a representation of employees from all groups and geographies. These focus groups were conducted to gather ideas about transforming the Bank to be the Bank of the future, increase employee engagement, and navigate the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Employee communication channels

  • Road shows
  • Virtual focus groups
  • Employee survey
  • Senior management messages
  • Employee email updates
  • Circulars
  • Regular HR newsletters
  • Periodic news broadcasts
  • Pandemic awareness booklet
  • Whistle-blower policy
  • Grievance policy

Whistle blowing

To deliver on its commitment to build a world-class compliance framework, the Bank also firmly enforces its whistle-blowing policy. While encouraging employees to speak up and report any activity that violates the Code of Conduct or any of the employee policies, procedures and instructions, the Bank ensures that all employees can access whistle-blowing channels through which they can voice concerns anonymously and without fear of repercussions.

Employee Survey

The Employee Survey launched in November 2020 revealed that despite the challenging operating environment and disruptions to working and living conditions employee engagement showed a 4% increase to reach an overall Employee Engagement Index of 70% with a majority of employees appreciative of the Bank’s efforts to support them through difficult times. An action plan in response to employee feedback will be put together in the first quarter of 2021.

Another important method of maintaining good employee relations is the regular on-going performance feedback that all employees receive from their line managers. This feedback is combined with a robust performance assessment methodology that includes relative assessment and calibration.


The Bank also provides employees with market- and performance-driven total rewards that include, fixed, variable and benefit frameworks. Recognition programmes continue to celebrate high performance on a monthly basis.

Salaries and benefits

Salaries paid       1,110.7 1,061.8 1,047.2 1,059.9 1,042.5
Benefits paid  694.9 680.2 744.7 689.9 759.1
Social security contributions        148.3 137.7 135.0 138.3 134.9
Total salaries and benefits paid 1,805.6 1,742.0 1,791.9 1,749.8 1,801.6


During the year under review, the Bank continued to make the usual celebratory payments to employees to mark special occasions.

Celebratory payments

Initiative Type Marriage New-born Insurance Upgrade Back to school Total
Number of employees 205 902 459 3,227 4,793


The transportation allowance for grade 4 and below employees was increased from SAR 350 per month to SAR 500.

The Bank was able to make all such employee payments without depending on government relief programmes.

Digitally transforming HR processes

In support of the Bank’s strategy to be the Bank of the Future, HR began streamlining its various departments using automation to improve the efficiency of its systems and processes and enhance the employee value proposition. For instance, the Bank automated the field allowance payment process within the HR system for greater efficiency and accuracy.

In line with HR’s “Ways of Working” strategy to transform the department into an agile and digitalised function, the Bank launched a new digital recruitment system which significantly improved the applicants’ experience while enhancing the efficiency of the recruitment processes itself and eliminating paper work.

The HR Management Information System was also enhanced during the year under review with line managers now able to approve HR transactions using their email, rather than having to log into the HR system. This upgrade contributes towards a far more efficient and convenient approval process.

During the year under review, the Bank launched a new user-friendly Learning Management System, “Taleem,” which proved to be ideal for remote working conditions. Employees were able to access Taleem easily and conveniently through the Oracle HR System. The system itself is efficient and provides employees with greater control over their learning and development, automatically notifying managers and employees via SMS and email at significant points in the learning journey. Taleem also allows employees the freedom to review and print certificates as they complete each module.

Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

Recruitment was particularly challenging across industries due to the pandemic-related restrictions. To adjust to these times where social interaction is limited, HR used digital channels and methods to conduct interviews. The Bank also changed its policy to provide new recruits at grade 10 and above with laptops from their first day in the office. While new hires faced tighter controls, the Bank focused on hiring for critical positions only, during the year under review. These steps went a long way towards providing a safe environment for potential recruits and strengthening the brand as one that cares for its people.

Total new hires by age group and gender

Year 18 to 30 years Over 30 years
Male Female Total Male Female Total
2020 276 70 346 152 12 164
2019 399 341 740 191 27 218
2018 398 161 559 130 18 148
2017 353 202 555 106 11 117
2016 631 293 924 121 15 136

The Bank continues to ensure that its workforce is as diverse as the customers it serves, striving to increase its female cadre while ensuring that all employees receive fair remuneration and opportunity to progress their careers.

In line with the Bank’s strategic objective to improve the employee value proposition and its HR pipeline, the Bank is now in the process of implementing a best-in-class Talent Management and Performance Management System. The new system will enable HR administrators, employees and managers to track, measure, and report on performance more effectively across business lines and supporting divisions.


The Bank’s performance management system helps guide and monitor each employee’s progress towards individual, departmental and Bank goals. In addition, HR has put in place dedicated career development paths for each job family, enabling discussion around careers. All employees receive the opportunity to discuss career progression plans with their line manager during the mid-year and end-of-year performance review.

In addition, a dedicated Governance Unit has been established within HR covering audit, risk, compliance and SAMA-related matters to ensure strict control and adherence to all policies, procedures and regulatory guidelines at all times. Standardised Control and Risk Governance KPIs are also included in all relevant employee scorecards.

Providing competitive compensation and meaningful benefits, the Bank is committed to attracting, retaining and equitably rewarding top talent. To ensure consistency and comparability, the Bank has developed an Employee Value Proposition and compensation policies and practices on a differentiated, pay-for-performance-and-potential model that is linked to the Bank’s and the individual’s performance and market pay position. The Bank’s Compensation proposition and practices are also fully aligned with regulatory guidelines and are audited annually for strict adherence compliance.

Employees by grade and gender

Grade Male Female
2020 2019 2020 2019
Senior management 171 181 2 2
Middle management 2,136 2,084 228 228
Other 5,733 5,941 1,215 1,247


Employees by age and gender

Age group Male Female Total
2020 2019 2018 2020 2019 2018 2020 2019 2018
18-30 years 2,640 3,212 3,670 819 922 825 3,459 4,134 4,495
31-40 years 3,902 3,609 3,306 465 423 357 4,367 4,032 3,663
41-50 years 1,223 1,163 1,103 128 119 120 1,351 1,282 1,223
Over 51 years 187 222 229 16 13 18 203 235 247

With nearly one third of employees having been with the Bank for over 10 years and a further third or more having put in six to 10 years of service, nurturing and managing talent effectively is critical to the Bank’s strategy of being the Bank of the Future.

Service analysis of workforce

Number of years of service Male Female
2020 2019 2018 2020 2019 2018
0-5 years 2,753 3,170 3,651 867 978 861
6-10 years 2,612 2,324 1,895 338 280 218
11-15 years 1,445 1,615 1,591 102 102 110
16-20 years 643 601 649 64 77 93
Over 20 years 499 496 522 57 40 38


Employees by category

Category 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Permanent 9,380 9,683 9,628 10,263 10,320
Contract 118 113 35 35 26
Outsourced 2,844 2,250 2,052 1,986 2,247
Total 12,342 12,046 11,715 12,284 12,593

Talent management and development

Alignment of talent strategy with the Bank’s strategic direction is key to deliver on strategic business and people priorities of the Bank. With this intent, the focus of Talent management this year has primarily been on the following three key paradigm shifts:

  • Moving away from largely subjective decision making to a more objective, data-supported decision making process with regards to talent processes
  • Enticing business lines to take greater ownership and be more engaged in the talent management processes
  • Enhancing the integration and alignment of key talent practices to effectively deliver on people priorities of the Bank

In view of these, the following talent practices were implemented during the year under review.

  • Competencies to build the “Bank of the future”

    With the ABCDE – back to Basics strategy coming to an end in 2020, the leadership in light of the Bank’s new strategy reviewed the Bank’s existing competency framework. A total of 11 behavioural competencies were firmed up during the review. These include eight ‘Core Competencies’, which are applicable to all Bank employees, and three ‘Leadership Competencies’ applicable to all people managers and leaders across the Bank. The new competencies are now being integrated into all HR collaterals and people practices, including job descriptions, recruitment-led competency-based interviews, and in the emerging leadership development agenda.

  • Critical roles that impact Bank performance

    The Bank’s existing critical role identification framework was reviewed and refreshed to further increase objectivity in the identification process. Centred on two factors, business impact and risk to the Bank, the critical role framework was further enhanced with a clearly defined levels based scoring criteria. In addition, process efficiency was further improved by leveraging technology to help optimise the input collection process. This process significantly contributes towards the succession planning process.

  • Succession planning for Critical roles

    The Bank reviewed and enhanced its succession planning framework and process during the year under review, moving to a more data driven approach that uses success profiles based assessments at leadership level. Accordingly, leadership assessments were carried out for 129 leaders at Director level and above. This has helped enhance objectivity in the successor identification and successor mapping process.

  • Leadership and successor development

    Leadership assessment reports and feedback have provided significant insights and clear development priorities at individual level, respective leadership level and also by functional level. Such insights will serve as inputs to develop a more relevant and impactful leadership development agenda targeted at the three levels. Successors identified for respective critical roles will also be part of a sharper and more focused development programme with individual insights.

  • Nurturing a healthy talent pipeline

    The Bank has well renowned graduate development programs intended to help build a talent pipeline of future leaders. This year, the Bank significantly dialled-up its graduate talent intake, with 89 new graduates inducted across three batches. Two of the three programmes are thematic graduate programs focused on building talent bench strength within IT. These graduates go through a well-structured development programme which includes blended learning, on-job rotations and assessments. In addition to the graduate talent pipeline, the Bank carried out its annual talent assessment exercise and 15% of the target population from officer to managerial level have been identified as core talent.

Programme type IT
Participants 59 23


  • People Council

    A People Council was established this year with an intent to encourage greater engagement and ownership from leadership teams on people and talent practices. This forum would also facilitate improvements in process efficiency and effectiveness of key people policies and practices.

ARB Academy

The ARB Academy’s most significant achievement during the year was the astute use of blended learning for Bank employees. This transition from a largely classroom-driven learning channel to an e-enabled learning channel was managed swiftly and smoothly during the unprecedented year that was. While making the new learning management system (LMS) platform accessible to a wider audience, the Academy also made available new role and domain based certifications offered through online content, and converted existing learning programmes to virtual, e-learning solutions.

Hours of training by grade

Grade Total hours
of training
Senior Management 667 0.2
Middle management 32,321 11.2
Other 256,578 88.6


Employee training

2020 2019 2018
Number of training programmes 420 622 744
Total number of participants 9,737 11,191 11,935
Training days 48,259 71,399 65,181
Hours spent on training 289,566 428,394 391,086
Number of trained staff 9,737 11,191 11,935

Employee training by gender and category

Type Number of employees Number of person hours of training
Male Female Total Male Female Total
Mandatory 3,551 1,239 4,790 17,778.75 5,628 23,406.75
Non-mandatory 3,291 720 4,011 210,200.25 55,959 266,159.25
Of which eLearning component 595 95 690 17,819 6,227.50 24,046.50


Type Number of employees Number of person hours of training
Male Female Total Male Female Total
Senior Management 19 2 21 507 160 667
Middle Management 1,748 414 2,162 24,274 8,047 32,321
Other 5,075 1,543 6,618 203,248 53,330 256,578

Winning the hearts and minds – of both teachers and learners – and encouraging them to adapt to the new reality and embrace the virtual learning model that the Bank had already invested in was another challenge that was overcome during the year.

Hours of training by skill type

Type Number of
persons trained
Technical skills 5,019 110,804
Soft skills 3,782 178,762


To foster online learning, HR introduced the Learning Lab to create a learning community where employees are able to get together virtually with a facilitator and work towards receiving certification for completed learning modules. Due to the pandemic, employees received assistance in setting up the network remotely and using the content itself.


Future outlook

With vaccines being produced and plans being made to distribute them globally throughout 2021 and most of 2022, the Bank is preparing to incorporate a more robust working from home policy to its HR policy. The policy will include flexible working hours and guidelines for junior employees to securely access the Bank’s online systems remotely. In anticipation of a global shift towards allowing more and more employees to work from home, the Bank too has already begun exploring ways to optimise such a move. Systems that have been tailored to employees working from home will be further improved, even as the Bank continues to ensure that employee health and wellbeing remains strong in the face of remote working.

Talent management and the diversity of the Bank’s workforce will continue to be a focus going forward. The Bank will be anchoring talent and learning practices to well-defined frameworks. The goal will be to help management teams make decisions that are objective and frame solutions in a more effective manner. The Bank will also be looking to enhance virtual stakeholder engagement.

The Bank’s BOTF Strategy (refer page 41) aims to ensure that it is on track to lead the market in employee engagement, in addition to customer experience and regulatory conduct. To execute this strategy, the Bank will continue to invest in its people with a focus on building the right capabilities, providing the awareness and training required to ensure that it is compliant with all regulatory requirements, modernising its IT infrastructure and streamlining processes.

GRI 102-8, 401-1, 401-2, 401-3, 404-1, 404-2