The financial industry has not been known to have a positive impression among the public for various reasons, especially with the banking fiascos as of late. One small error due to a technical glitch can wreak havoc on a company’s image. People are very protective of their money, and the institutions that handle other people’s finances have to constantly walk on a tight rope and be very mindful of every move.
For all the work that employees in the financial industry have to do in the midst of such negative impressions, studies have found that most do not feel valued. A recent survey by TINYpulse revealed that only 20% of the respondents from the industry feel that they are worth something at work. Due to high stress levels, companies in the finance sector face high turnover and absenteeism, and in any business, high turnover rates equate to financial losses. On top of the loss of confidence from their current customers, a sinking workforce morale also affects the business’ bottom line.
Employee engagement as a key factor
There are a number of factors that can be attributed to high turnover rates, but for the most part, it boils down to poor employee engagement. It is an effective and cost-efficient solution that not only addresses workforce concerns, but also helps improve overall employee performance that positively affects the company and its clients—leading to better customer service, bigger revenues, and business growth.
A highly motivated workforce will become reliable performers who not only address customer concerns efficiently, but can also help retain a business’ client base. Eventually, engaged employees can also be considered as "brand ambassadors" and provide more value to the business by helping win more customers through excellent service.
Employee engagement in itself takes on many forms—from sporting events, extra-curricular interest clubs, one-on-one sessions, and team building activities, among others—each serving to address the specific needs of the workplace. However, for employee engagement to be effective, it should serve to motivate employees and acknowledge their efforts. Even in the midst of countless customer issues, engagement initiatives should be able to show appreciation for those who have worked diligently for the company.
These efforts need not be fancy, nor do they require considerable resources. As an example, the American Banker, which came up with a list of the Best Banks to Work For, revealed that simple but meaningful employee engagement activities (e.g., managers writing personal notes of encouragement to employees and one-on-one sessions between the president and key personnel) were very effective. Most of the time, the smallest things can make the biggest impact.
Listening to employees
A sound engagement policy allows employees to share their concerns with regard to their work, the company’s management, as well as insights on how to make processes better. Take Citibank, for instance: by implementing the Voice of the Employee, an annual feedback survey for their staff, they are able to collect employee feedback anonymously to help improve the workplace. Other companies set up dedicated desks for employees to air out their concerns through calling or emailing an HR representative.
A good employee engagement program gives emphasis on enabling growth. After all, most do not see themselves doing the same job until they retire. Given the opportunity, employees would want to do and learn more, especially if the training will help them grow professionally.
One example is the Union Bank of the Philippines’ Human Capital Framework, which integrates current and future employees with the right skillsets to the appropriate posts within the bank. This makes sure that employees maximize their strengths and do what they’re good at. Related to this program is the Union Bank University, which offers a curriculum that aims to develop a winning culture of experts. With the implementation of these programs, the bank managed to win the Best Employee Engagement award at The Asian Banker’s International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards in 2015.
Paving the way for opportunities
Despite how cutthroat the financial industry can be, companies should never neglect the welfare of its employees. Not only does employee engagement allow you to increase the value of your business, it also allows you to provide your workforce with better rewards and opportunities. Let employee engagement serve as a chance for you and your company to express gratitude to your employees for their hard work. After all, happy employees do their jobs with passion and provide better customer service, ultimately benefitting your company and your clients.