OCBC staff are happier in their jobs, and more of them are staying with the bank longer, said chief executive Samuel Tsien.

These are the fruits of a decade of pursuing progressive human resource (HR) practices, he said.

At a media conference last Friday, Mr Tsien said the bank's attrition rate has dropped by one or two percentage points each year in the past three years.

He credits this to the HR initiatives OCBC has rolled out, which have strengthened internal communications, identified and cultivated promising leaders and promoted work-life balance.

The bank has more of such initiatives planned. Sometime next year, it will launch an Asia Leadership Programme, he said.

"All over Asia, every country is changing... we need to equip (our staff) with knowledge about what is changing, what the drivers are behind the change, so that... as we become more regional and more Asian, they have the background knowledge to do that."

This is becoming ever more important as increasing numbers of OCBC's clients are doing business outside Singapore. "If we want to serve them well, we need to be able to communicate with them on the same wavelength as they know about the markets," he said.

Other employee schemes include the Future Leaders Programme, which identifies high-potential staff and grooms them for top management roles. It was rolled out at the end of last year.

Another initiative is the Executive Development Programme, which, since 2008, has taken in 20 to 30 staff a year for management skills training. It has proved to be especially effective at retaining staff - 95 per cent of the employees who have gone through it have stayed with the bank.

These training schemes, along with programmes that promote work-life balance, have raised overall employee satisfaction at OCBC, Mr Tsien said.

"Every year we do an employee engagement survey... Since we launched it 10 years ago, every year without exception the engagement score has risen." In fact, OCBC's score has doubled over this period, Mr Tsien added.