Question: How should Human Resources strategies relate to today’s challenges for financial services companies?
Over the past 10 years of recovering from the financial crisis, companies still face challenges that can be supported with their HR policies and strategies. One of the challenges is damage to reputation and brand.
Financial Services took a reputational hit during the financial crisis and is no longer an employer of choice. Consequently, employee engagement can be critical in retaining and attracting employees. Employee engagement is an important Human Resources strategy!
Reviews on sites such as Glass Door are explored, particularly by Millennials, which is the fastest growing population in the workforce today. Millennials are now becoming the supervisors and managers in companies. Current employees who are engaged are more likely to post positive reviews, spread positive reputation by word of mouth or refer qualified applicants.
Employee disengagement happens over time and is often subtle. However, the signs are not subtle and must be recognized. Disengaged employees don’t perform their jobs well, are a negative influence on other staff, and often create conflicts in the work environment. Disengagement is often caused by a marked difference between employer and employee expectations. Surveys have shown that overall employee satisfaction is the lowest in two decades.
Some areas where employees communicate dissatisfaction are time wasted in unnecessary meetings; conflicts with other work teams; confusion regarding duties and responsibilities; inefficient processes and poor communication; and a marked difference between leadership’s perception and employees’ reality.
What does employee engagement look like?
►Employees take pride in their work, evidenced in the quality performance that enhances productivity and provides exceptional customer service.
►Employees view the company goal as a common goal and work together to accomplish the goals. They believe “We’re all in this together.”
►Employees are loyal and have no plans to leave the company.
►Employees understand and support the company’s mission during good and bad times.
What can an employer do to increase employee engagement?
►Clearly communicate the company's mission and vision.
►Employees are engaged when they understand the goals of the organization and their part in fulfilling the mission and vision. In this way, they feel they are part of the company’s success.
►Provide clear expectations for employee behavior and results.
►This includes holding employees accountable for results and behavior.
►Provide open and honest communication.
►Both good news and bad news should be communicated. Lack of communication can create fear and uncertainty and can lead to turnover. In times of uncertainty, it is often high performers who leave because they realize their market value.
Reward and recognize
►Ensure employees understand they are valued. Incentive plans are not the only way to reward employees.
►When it is possible, engage the employees in decision making. This can be especially important to Millennials who value a collaborative approach to work.
Provide work and life balance
►Current workforces highly value having time for other pursuits besides work. Most employees no longer wish to continue working in an environment of continuous long hours and sustained feelings of overwhelming work responsibilities.
Understand the role of leadership
There is a direct correlation between engagement and leadership behaviors. Leaders who lead by example, openly communicate, and focus on employee well-being make a positive impact on employee morale, which increases employee engagement. The gap needs to close between leadership perceptions and employee realities. Leaders must have a vehicle for hearing employee concerns and recognizing when changes or improvement could be made. Skill development and training for managers to improve leadership behaviors should be available to every level of manager.
Employee engagement can be improved by incremental steps. The first step is embracing the concept of employee engagement and understanding the important role it plays in a company’s bottom line.