Critically analyze the learning and development programs of ENBD and how this has positively impacted the change management system of the company. 

Emirates NBD speeded up the adoption of digital learning tools. Critically analyze the learning and development programs of ENBD and how this has positively impacted the change management system of the company.
Critically formulate two substantial recommendations on how ENBD can further improve its talent management programs in line with its change management initiatives.


Case 2: November 8, 2022

Organizational Development and Change: Emirates NBD’s Programs During the Outbreak



The world has seen a major transformation in technology over the past decades, with better and more robust internet connectivity and information technology systems. Several organizations have been exploring new ways to do work and engage with their talents. Some have been implementing remote work, while many others were still reluctant to adopt that setup. It is only after the pandemic has paralyzed the whole world that many organizations considered and implemented new ways of human resource management, such as remote work, to keep their companies afloat and navigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.[1] It is interesting to take a look at how organizations implemented organizational development and change management programs during the coronavirus outbreak and how they contributed to the company’s resilience and success despite the crisis. This study takes the case of Emirates NBD.

Emirates NBD is No. 2 among the banks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in terms of assets.[2] It is based in Dubai, with a workforce of about 9,243 full-time employees and a net profit of AED 7 billion. Emirates NBD has 915 branches and 4,029 ATMs and SDMs in the country and abroad. The bank deals with different financial business segments, such as retail and wholesale banking, wealth management, and Islamic banking. Emirates NBD considers its people as its most important assets, and its values are built around them: integrity, passion for performance, and teamwork.[3]

Emirates NBD’s COVID-19 Precautionary Measures

The coronavirus posed incredible risks among people, and it was imperative for companies to protect their employees more than ensuring that their businesses continue to operate. At Emirates NBD, people’s safety and well-being were prioritized and the bank implemented bank-wide precautionary measures following the directives from the UAE government. The bank immediately put into action its business resilience and continuity plan.[4]

Highly at-risk employees, such as pregnant women, people with disabilities, senior employees, women with young children, and other employees with comorbidities, were allowed to work from home to ensure their safety. Similarly, non-customer-facing roles started working from home. Other employees that can report on-site worked in split schedules to ensure that everyone can practice social distancing and avoid overcrowding. Some employees like working parents were given flexible schedules so that they can attend to their children amid school closures. Emirates NBD also installed thermal scanning machines on its premises and implemented deep cleaning and sterilization protocols as preventive measures to keep their employees safe. These measures allowed the bank to continue with its operations and provide uninterrupted services to its customers. Moreover, amid the changes in the work setup, the bank put on hold all its classroom trainings and shifted to digital and online training.[5]

Organizational Development and Change Management Practices Amid the Pandemic

Despite the crisis, it is important for organizations to continuously provide learning and development opportunities for their talents. They must be able to adapt to the changing circumstances because the business landscape is constantly shifting and evolving fast. Employees’ development helps the company improve outcomes and gain a competitive advantage in the market.[6] However, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges in retaining talents and helping them realize their potential.

At Emirates NBD, employees are encouraged and challenged to unlock their hidden and untapped potential. The bank has implemented performance management and learning and development framework, which identifies key improvement areas for employees no matter their current level is. The framework determines opportunities to upskill and broaden employees’ expertise. Emirates NBD claims that its people “have shown resilience, solution orientation, and engagement in their response to the crisis, solidifying our organizational development and change management framework.” Moreover, the company continued with its annual performance review during the pandemic with a performance pay scheme that gives employees performance-based rewards both as an individual and a unit. Emirates NBD gives incentives, bonuses, and recognition awards.

Emirates NBD recognized the importance of implementing recognition programs during the pandemic to show its employees that they are extremely appreciated.[7] It is an essential element of effective organizational development and change management, which will help position the company for long-term growth because it has a workforce that performs excellently. An organization that offers attractive compensation and benefits and a supportive work environment tends to increase employee retention.[8] In today’s competitive business landscape, retention of top talents is crucial and more cost-effective than hiring new people.

Emirates NBD has the GEM (Going the Extra Mile) Recognition Program, Bravo – Employee to Employee Appreciation, and Milestone Awards for Long Service. The GEM program aims to motivate people to go the extra mile and recognize them for doing so. Bravo is an online portal where employees can send an e-card or virtual encouragements to anyone in the group. It promotes teamwork, accountability, and collaboration among employees. Meanwhile, Emirates NBD also recognizes the employees who have been staying with the company for many years, acknowledging that their commitment plays a key role in the success of the organization.[9]

Learning & Development Initiatives

Emirates NBD recognizes the importance of nurturing its talent to ensure the sustainable success of the company. Emirates NBD ensures that all of its employees receive training that will help them improve their skills and expertise. Exhibit 1 shows Emirates NBD’s learning and management development model. Even before the pandemic, the company has been investing in digital learning, but since more of its employees started working from home due to the pandemic, the adoption of digital and virtual modes of learning accelerated exponentially. Emirates NBD took the opportunity to leverage its technological resources to help its people develop professionally through its learning and development programs. The pandemic has changed the learning situations and proved that technology can be a great enabler for employees to remain productive even in a crisis.[10]

Among Emirates NBD’s learning platforms is its Emirates NBD Academy, a learner experience platform that provides intuitive and engaging learning experiences for all its employees. It also has its own mobile learning application called Axonify designed for the bank’s frontline employees where they can learn more about the products and services the bank offers. At Tanfeeth, Emirates NBD’s subsidiary, associate employees use Skillsoft to learn online courses while managers use Udemy. Emirates NBD also utilizes Microsoft Teams as a virtual classroom platform while it put on hold its in-person trainings.[11] Exhibit 1 shows the number of graduates in every leadership and management development program of the company.

Aside from professional training and career development, Emirates NBD also ensures that its employees have good financial well-being. It is a financial institution after all. The company believes that the financial well-being of its people affects their engagement and productivity levels significantly. During the pandemic, a special Financial Wellbeing workshop was conducted for all the Emirates NBD employees, headed by its Tanfeeth subsidiary. Meanwhile, its other subsidiary, Emirates Islamic, provided professional coaching, regulatory certifications, and banking trainings to select leaders and Emirati employees.

Empowerment Programs for Emirati Employees

Emirates NBD also participates in the UAE government’s Emiratisation, a program that aims to increase the number of Emirati nationals hired by UAE companies. The company has a diverse workforce of 70 nationalities, and as of 2020 data, UAE nationals account for 25% of the company’s employees. The bank has several initiatives that are dedicated to Emirati nationals, such as its National Leadership Program (NLP), which provides opportunities for Emirati employees who have demonstrated growth potential to become part of the Executive Committee and N-1 level Unit Head. The Board of Directors aims to nationalize 66% of its ExCo jobs and 50% of N-1 level jobs at Emirates NBD. The bank also developed Al Nujoom, a program that develops top-performing Emirati tellers into head tellers. Meanwhile, Emirati Islamic takes care of certification and training opportunities for Emirati nationals in commercial banking. These include the Annual Internal Certification Bridge, Core Consolidation, and Moody’s Certification.[12] Emiratisation has been challenging for a lot of companies because of the gaps in skills in the labor market.[13] However, Emirates NBD has made significant progress in achieving Emiratisation. The financial sector is particularly challenging to fill because of its complicated regulations and operational processes, yet the UAE’s banking sector is one of the industries that represent the maximum Emiratisation among all sectors.

Notable Achievements

Emirates NBD has achieved great heights despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the official banking partner of Expo 2020 Dubai. It also reached AED 7 billion in net profit and total assets of AED 698 billion in 2020. Emirates NBD received several awards and recognition, which reflects the strength of the company as a brand. Among the awards that it received are Best Bank in the UAE and Excellence in Leadership in the Middle East by Euromoney Awards for Excellence, Ranked 5th in Forbes’ Top 100 Companies in the Middle East, One of the top 100 banks in the world, ranked 87th in The Banker list of World’s Top 1000 Banks, Best Bank in Dubai and Best Bank for SMEs in Dubai by Asiamoney Middle East’s Best Bank Awards. Tanfeeth was also given the Best Recruitment and Change Management Strategy Award at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Middle East People Awards. Emirates NBD was able to continue to provide value to its community with several initiatives that demonstrate its social responsibility, as well as resilience. “None of these efforts would have been possible without our most important resource, our people,” said H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bid Saeed Al Maktoum, the Chairman of Emirates NBD.[14]

Leading Innovation and Change

Aside from organizational development and change management, the pandemic has also brought technology and innovation a top priority for Emirates NBD to serve its customers better and encourage them to continue banking safely and securely. In 2020, Emirates NBD launched several digital banking products, such as the SmartSCF which allows businesses to automate supply chain collaborations, the Visa Flexi card that encourages customers to use contactless payment, and voice banking through Emirates NBD Skill on Amazon Alexa to assist visually impaired customers especially. As a leading financial institution in the UAE, Emirates NBD also leads the creation of innovative banking products and services, which are crucial in times of quarantine and other limitations that people experience during the pandemic. Moreover, the bank recognizes its responsibility to create a positive impact on society and address various challenges involving the environment, society, and governance. Its sustainability management focuses on risks and opportunities that affect its stakeholders (directly or indirectly) and mandates all of its departments to be responsible for sustainability too. It also ensures regular engagement with stakeholders to ensure that it is making an impact and stays relevant.[15]

Exhibit 1

Emirates NBD Learning & Management Development Model

Source: Emirates NBD Sustainability Report – 2020

Exhibit 2

Number of Graduates in Every L&MD Program at Emirates NBD

  1. Becky Frankiewicz & Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “The Post-Pandemic Rules of Talent Management,” Harvard Business Review,, October 13, 2020.
  2. Corporate Finance Institute, “Top Banks in UAE,”
  3. Emirates NBD, “Sustainability Report – 2020,”, 2020.
  4. Emirates NBD, “Emirates NBD COVID-19 Coronavirus Precautionary Measures,”, March 2020.
  5. Babu Das Augustine, “Emirates NBD takes precautionary measures against coronavirus,” Gulf News,, March 16, 2020.
  6. Steve Glaveski, “Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development,” Harvard Business Review,, October 2, 2019.
  7. Emirates NBD, “Sustainability Report – 2020,”, 2020.
  8. Victor Oladapo, “The Impact of Talent Management on Retention,” Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 5(3), 2014.
  9. Emirates NBD, “Sustainability Report – 2020,”, 2020.
  10. Becky Frankiewicz & Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “The Post-Pandemic Rules of Talent Management,” Harvard Business Review,, October 13, 2020.
  11. Emirates NBD, “Sustainability Report – 2020,”, 2020.
  12. Emirates NBD, “Sustainability Report – 2020,”, 2020.
  13. Amal Sabah Obaid Qambar, “Human Capital Development in the UAE Islamic Banking Sector: Addressing the Challenges of Emiratisation,” Cardiff Metropolitan University, August 2015.
  14. Emirates NBD, “Sustainability Report – 2020,”, 2020.
  15. Emirates NBD, “Sustainability Report – 2020,”, 2020.


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