Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

Doing good can help banks retain top talent

How can traditional banks expand their client base and retain strong employees? “First, identify underbanked sectors and provide to them financial tools that can support their emergence from poverty and enable profitable capital development; and second, empower employees to work on tools, applications and sectors that will provide them a ‘human’ as well as ‘financial’ return on their labor,” writes Andrew Waxman in this American Banker op-ed. Many well-paid employees of prominent banks felt a “profound embarrassment” about their employers after the 2008 financial crisis, according to Waxman. The way to overcome this is by making them feel good about themselves and the work they do. “By making mainstream banking products available to [the underserved], banks can accomplish the goal of both helping their bottom line and of bringing major sections of the population out of poverty and exploitation,” he writes. “If banks can enlarge the pool of people they help—and can contribute to improving the world in some way—they are likely to foster more engaged and fulfilled employees, from the CEO down to the most junior analysts.”

The valuable role of an agile coach

In this CIO article, Sarah K. White explains the valuable role that agile coaches play in organizational change by developing teams and facilitating the cultural change necessary for sustained agile success. “An agile coach will keep businesses on task while they embark on building internal agile development teams—which can help save time, money and resources. The coach serves as an objective party to help navigate common roadblocks and pain points in the adoption process,” she writes. Each company has diverse needs for agile adaptation, so there are three different types of agile coaches to serve their unique needs: technical coaches, process/management coaches and non-directive coaches. “Some businesses might want an agile coach with a strong technical background, while others might want someone who can get leadership to embrace the change. As businesses continue in their agile strategies, some will want to consult an agile coach for one-off issues or questions that arise,” White writes.

The environmental benefits of the gig economy

More Americans are working from home, which is good news for the planet, writes Dom Galeon in this World Economic Forum blog post. Galeon cites the results of a new study by researchers from the University of Texas and the Rochester Institute of Technology, which analyzed the daily schedules and energy consumption habits of 11,000 Americans over a nine-year period. The researchers found that Americans were staying home an average of eight days more in 2012 than in 2003. They also found that staying at home decreased the average national demand for energy by an estimated 1,700 trillion BTU in 2012. That’s equivalent to almost 2 percent of the total national energy demand for the year. “We did expect to see net energy decrease, but we had no idea of the magnitude,” said lead researcher Ashok Sekar from the University of Texas. If Americans are staying home more, that means they are consuming less fuel for transportation, which remains one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses. “If the shift in habits and lifestyle continues on its current trajectory, it could play a significant role in the fight against climate change, right alongside decreased fossil fuel consumption and increased usage of clean energy alternatives,” Galeon writes.

Why managers need mental health training

“Training managers to help care for employees’ mental health would turn a contributing factor of mental illness—the workplace—into a protective one,” writes Sarah Greenberg, a psychotherapist in this Quartz at Work editorial. Basic training doesn’t involve a two-year graduate degree, nor is it intended to turn managers into therapists, “a terrible idea,” she notes. “It is just awareness and human relations 101: How to be kind, how to listen, what to look out for, and how to create an environment of emotional (or psychological) safety,” she writes. A 2017 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found giving managers a four-hour basic training course in mental health resulted in an 18-percent reduction in work-related sick time off. The cost-benefit analysis concluded that every dollar invested in training yielded a $9.98 return. Greenberg admits more research is needed to gauge the benefits in different work settings, but adds, “When something is as prevalent, stigmatized, and costly as is mental illness in the workplace, it demands solutions that are integrative and embedded into the fabric of daily life.”

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