Cultural change is key to banks’ success in a digital future
Not all banks have billions to set aside for investment in new technologies, but they can use cultural change to become more agile, argues Paul Schaus. “Cultural transformation will look somewhat different at each individual financial institution, but the goal should be the same—to foster a workforce and workplace culture that can thrive in today’s world of unending and uncertain technological change,” he writes in this American Banker op-ed piece. Schaus advises banks to start with implementing new training programs to boost employees’ digital skills. He also believes it is crucial for banks to rethink recruitment strategies, and employee benefits and incentives. “In addition, banks will need to promote a culture where experimentation is encouraged by using agile methodologies, design thinking and more cross-business collaboration,” he writes. “For many banks, this will run counter to risk-averse traditional thinking. Extensive workshops and training programs will be needed to help staff acclimate to the new way of doing business.”
Why banks’ best assets are employees
Banks aren’t buildings, technology or marketing campaigns, claims Dave Martin. “A bank is its people,” he writes in an op-ed for American Banker. “The organizations that understand this and continually communicate it to their teams are the ones that survive and thrive through our industry’s evolution.” Martin believes customers choose banks based on the people employed there, not the products. “Branches, technology and products are tools that help bankers serve customers,” he writes. “Tools alone, however, do not build anything. They require good people utilizing them to create, build and maintain relationships.” Martin cautions banks against perpetually chasing the next “new and improved” products and offers. “Remind your bankers that you have what you need, right now, to make customers prefer you. They see it in the mirror each morning,” he concludes.
What fintech employees want
Fintechs are known for offering fun and unique perks to their employees, but it turns out they do more than that to retain top talent. For the second year in a row, SourceMedia, American Banker’s parent company, has compiled a list of 50 Best Fintechs to Work For. The list includes companies ranging in size from just more than a dozen employees (Fountain City Fintech) to those with thousands of workers (Ally Financial). “Based on this year’s Best Fintechs to Work For ranking, what fintech employees really want from their employers boils down to three things: satisfactory pay, paid-for benefits and a respectful culture,” American Banker reports. SourceMedia’s survey asked fintech employees to score their employers on leadership and planning; corporate culture and communications; role satisfaction; work environment; relationship with their supervisor; training, development and resources; pay and benefits; and overall engagement. “Fun still counts—the companies that ranked highest scored much higher on a question about this than their lower-ranking counterparts—but it’s not the biggest benchmark,” American Banker notes.
Workplace distractions impact productivity
Emails and pointless meetings topped the list of things that keep knowledge workers from getting work done, according to a new survey from Workfront. The survey covered more than 2,000 U.S. workers employed by companies with at least 500 employees, who work on computers and collaborate with other people on projects. A majority (63 percent) of respondents agreed with the statement, “If I had more time to just think, my productivity would improve.” When asked about what gets in the way of work, respondents identified wasteful meetings (63 percent), excessive emails (55 percent) and unexpected phone calls (41 percent) as the main culprits. “As individuals we say ‘Let me be free, don’t put shackles on me,’” Workfront spokesman Chris O’Neal told TalentCulture. “But what we’ve come to find out is that without process, we’re really exposed to a lot of this busywork. We don’t have enough data to say no to things. When you have too many ways to do one thing, there’s no real way to do anything.”
Can a shorter workday increase productivity?
Collins SBA, an Australian financial services firm, experimented with offering employees a five-hour workday schedule for two years, and it has been a resounding success, reports Minda Zetlin for Inc. “The shortened workday came about because the company, like all companies, was struggling to recruit the talent it needed in a very tight labor market,” she writes. Jonathan Elliott, the company’s managing director, also needed to spend more time with his wife who was ill with cancer. By working shorter hours more efficiently and cutting out meetings and lunches, he was able to get the same amount of work done that he’d previously been doing during a full workday. When Elliott offered the company’s 35 employees the shortened workday, their productivity increased and there was a 12 percent reduction in sick leave. “The concept is way more polarizing then I expected,” he told TNW. “In many financial companies, people work 50 to 60 hours per week. That’s just ridiculous to me. Nobody is productive for 10 hours straight.”
What it takes to build a strong company culture
There are no shortcuts to building a strong company culture, argues Katie Burke. “There’s no hack to building a high-performing company culture,” she writes in a blog post for Inc. “However, there are some critical ingredients: empathy, dedication, iteration, and a team that understands there are no shortcuts in getting the employee experience right.” She shares three ways to approach it the right way: 1. Build a strong foundation with values everyone knows and lives. 2. Don’t assume you know what’s working and what isn’t; ask for feedback from employees and candidates. 3. View culture as a business issue, not just an HR issue. “A high-performing culture is three things: strong enough to attract talent that raises the bar on what’s possible in your company, remarkable enough to keep employees engaged and excited to come to work every day, and transparent enough to identify and iterate on feedback,” Burke writes.
Why it’s good to be in banking
Banking is a righteous career because its focus is on helping consumers and business owners realize their dreams, claims Paul Hickman. “Most people go into regular banking because they want to make a difference,” he told Bruce Weinstein in a Forbes interview . “You finance a business, it does well, you drive by it and think, ‘I helped do that.’” Hickman, the president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association, also believes that it’s crucial for the finance sector to be populated by competent and ethical people. “I think it’s more important in banking and law than in most industries,” he says. “You’ve got to be beyond reproach in both of those industries, otherwise you’re not going to have the confidence you need to do your job from your constituents, from your clients and your customers.”
The value of meaningful work for employees
According to new research from BetterUp, employees would give up a whopping 23 percent of their total future lifetime earnings in exchange for one thing: work that is always meaningful. In this Inc. blog post, Scott Mautz outlines several suggestions for leaders on how to create meaning at work for employees. “Gather stories of how your employees’ work helps others, even in small ways, and encourage them to share their own stories,” he writes. “Re-frame the work your team is doing so they can understand how and why what they do matters.” Mautz highlights the importance of continuous learning and building self-esteem and autonomy. “Micromanagement can be a meaning-killer,” he writes. “Including your employees in decisions and giving them space to get the job done helps them feel less like numbers and more like contributors.” Mautz also believes creating a caring and authentic culture is key to providing a sense of meaning to employees. “The best scenario is that employees don’t actually forfeit a quarter of their salary for meaningful work. What says we leaders can’t give them this one for free?” he concludes.
How millennials are shaping workplace culture
As millennials become an even larger part of the workforce, they will inevitably influence and architect a new corporate culture, argues Jason Albanese in this Inc. blog post. Among the social issues they champion is a culture of empowerment through speaking out about sexism, discrimination and harassment. “While millennials are not the only voices contributing to these revelations, discussions and activism, they are a generation that seems collectively inspired to create change for the better,” he writes. Albanese also cites a Brookings Institution report from earlier in the year, which found that millennials were the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history with minorities making up 44 percent of a population of more than 75 million. “As members and advocates of this largely diverse population and with the largest representation in the U.S. workforce, millennials stand to forever change the face of business and politics and how the United States is viewed throughout the world,” he writes. Corporate social responsibility is another value millennials cherish. “Millennials, much like the rest of the population, can tell the difference between authentic and thoughtful representation of deeply rooted brand values and PR stunts,” Albanese writes. “Leveraging a diverse workforce to generate ideas that solve for social crisis is a solid start to building a brand that will resonate with generations to come.”
Three ways millennials are improving workplace culture
“Millennials are pushing companies to evolve, and that can be good for the well-being of everyone. It seems like millennials have greater culture mindfulness and a desire to shape it. Millennials have helped to advance the concept of an ‘ideal’ work environment to an expectation of an excellent workplace culture,” writes Alan Kohll in this Forbes Leadership Strategy article. He cites three things millennials ask of a company culture, that benefit every generation’s well-being. 1. A flexible environment. Flexibility has been shown to reduce stress, boost mental well-being and encourage productivity. 2. A sense of community. Community involvement provides a sense of belonging and social connectedness. Strong social connections improve physical health and psychological well-being. 3. Personal development. This is a vital part of an individual’s growth, and learning new things can make us happier. “By 2020, nearly half of the workforce will consist of millennials. Millennials will continue to transform work culture as baby boomers retire and rather than see it as a negative, it’s time for organizations to embrace the positive things this generation is bringing to the workplace,” Kohll concludes.
How to build a strong company culture
A strong company culture attracts top talent and retains that talent for years to come, argues Naz Beheshti in this Women@Forbes blog post. “There is now greater employee emphasis on whether the organization aligns with their personal values and purpose, and has a positive work environment and culture,” she writes. “In this climate, having a strong company culture is not just a perk. It is integral to the success and continuity of your business.” Beheshti outlines three top strategies to build a strong company culture: 1. Clarify and communicate your company values, beliefs, purpose, mission and standards. 2. Live the values of your company and avoid leadership hypocrisy. 3. Focus on the wellbeing of employees to motivate and engage them to thrive in all areas of their lives. “While a healthy paycheck is certainly of interest to many of us, the most successful employers have come to understand that pay alone does not attract or retain a company’s most desirable and talented employees,” she writes.
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.”
How to build a winning company culture
Culture in the workplace is defined as “the personality of the company,” and encompasses “the values, behaviors and attitudes followed by the entire organization.” In this Oracle blog post, Tuula Fai argues that an innovative work culture is one of the reasons why some startups have been able to attract and retain top talent in a competitive market. She believes building a winning company culture is not just about the perks, but also about the fundamentals of work. “Employees want to be part of something greater than themselves—a mission they believe in, a community of caring professionals, a role that offers meaningful work, and a manager who values their contributions and celebrates their success,” she writes. Here are three steps Fai recommends to build a winning company culture: 1. Ensure your business and HR processes reflect your organization’s vision, mission and values. 2. Prioritize cultural fit and relationship networks when recruiting, in addition to skills and experience. 3. Foster an environment in which employees “walk the talk” and encourage their peers to do so.
Three strategies to build a better workplace culture
Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workforce shows that 67 percent of workers, or two out of every three employees, are disengaged. What’s the number one reason for workforce disengagement? “A toxic culture,” writes Shaara Roman in an op-ed for TalentCulture, “defined by fear of speaking up, abundance of rules and hierarchy, top-down communication and silos.” She recommends three strategies to fix a toxic workplace culture: 1. Show employees the “why” behind their work and give them the opportunity to innovate and own their contribution. 2. Foster a two-way feedback loop by sharing the “why” behind the decision and engaging their teams in sharing their ideas. 3. Create an empowering culture, by valuing differences and creating an open, transparent environment for people to share ideas and debate openly.
A guide to corporate culture
Culture and leadership are ‘inextricably linked’ and the best leaders are the ones ‘fully aware of the multiple cultures within which they are embedded, can sense when change is required and deftly influence the process,’ according to the Harvard Business Review. The magazine’s in-depth cover story, “The Culture Factor,” delves into the definition of corporate culture and eight distinct styles, distilled from more than 100 social and behavioral models. ‘Caring’ culture focuses on relationships and mutual trust; ‘Purpose’ emphasizes idealism and altruism; ‘Learning’ highlights exploration and creativity; ‘Enjoyment’ unites workers and employers in fun and humor; ‘Results’ culture makes achievement and winning top priorities; ‘Authority’ relies on strong control and decisiveness; ‘Safety’ looks to caution and preparedness; and ‘Order’ depends on structure and time-honored customs. “Leading with culture may be among the few sources of sustainable competitive advantage left to companies today. Successful leaders will stop regarding culture with frustration and instead use it as a fundamental management tool,” the authors conclude.