When a company shows it cares about employees, that appreciation is typically reciprocated. Studies show that employees who feel valued, heard and supported tend to feel more connected to their workplace, incentivized to perform at higher levels and less likely to leave for another job. All that adds up to higher organizational performance and reduced turnover costs.
But that’s not all. Research by Gallup and other sources shows companies with highly engaged workers also enjoy greater customer satisfaction due to those employees delivering better experiences-and that can have a tremendous impact on loyalty and revenue.
In the hyper-competitive banking industry, executives should strive to leverage this often-overlooked employee-centric strategy, especially as the transformation of digital ecosystems and online interactions continues. While leadership often touts their appreciation for their employees, there are consistent critical engagement components where management still often misses the mark.
1: Out of sight often means out of mind
Employee engagement is generally focused on customer-facing workers, while those in supporting operational functions fail to receive the same attention. When employees working in support functions are more engaged, those functions run more smoothly often reducing complications for customer-facing employees (e.g., IT system errors are resolved more quickly, finance transactions are completed more reliably, etc.). When employee engagement efforts are equally applied, support functions become more efficient and friction is reduced for customer-facing staffers, thereby allowing them more time and focus on customer satisfaction efforts.
2: Departmental walls create barriers
Most banking processes involve a combination of functions that are often siloed. In just one example, the process of onboarding a new hire involves HR, IT, security, facilities, and individual business lines. When internal functions operate independently, it’s difficult for those groups to align, collaborate, and resolve issues together, often resulting in a poor employee experience.
3: One size never fits all when it comes to…
The employee demographic is changing, and with it, the job attributes that workers value most. Younger generations tend to place higher value on a sense of meaning in their work, autonomy, and flexibility in how they get their work done while simultaneously feeling like part of a group. Conversely, the Baby Boomer generation generally places more value on traditional job attributes—long-term stability, career trajectory, and financial rewards.
Work flexibility to accommodate unique working styles and schedules ranked first in a recent survey of Gen Z and Millennial workers conducted by the Netherlands-based human resources firm, Randstad, and over 78% percent of respondents to a Center on Aging and Work study reported having flexible work options contributes to their trust, engagement, enthusiasm, productivity and overall success as employees.
Traditionally, companies select standard devices and software packages for employees, with some variances based on role. Meanwhile, today’s tech-savvy employees want more say in the technology they use in their day-to-day jobs, especially Gen-Zs and Millennials, who have much higher expectations for technology—the best examples of which include speed, quality, availability, and intuitiveness.
How to fix employee engagement
Fostering employee engagement begins with empathy—getting to know employees and truly understanding their day-to-day responsibilities, needs, expectations, and culture. This can be achieved a number of ways:
- Observe employees at every level in their daily roles, engage them in one-on-one conversations regarding their concerns, and include them in problem-solving ideation processes.
- Perceive employees as internal customers. Apply the principles and methodologies of the service and product customer experience models to a similar model for employees.
- Leverage technologies and processes to monitor the employee experience in a meaningful and insightful way. While many companies distribute periodic surveys to employees, those assessments typically measure general sentiment and have high risk of being biased, versus creating measurement models that can derive root causes of pain points. Similarly, many companies use monitoring and analytics to measure device and process performance, but rarely use those tools to identify the human impact of identified issues or prioritize solutions to better satisfy employees.
- Expand the C-Suite by adding a leadership role such as Chief Employee Experience Officer, whose primary job is to advocate for employees amidst competing business priorities, facilitate collaboration across siloes, and act as the overall shepherd for achieving an optimal, end-to-end experience for employees.
With more than half of the American workforce feeling neutral about their jobs according to Gallup, employee engagement has never been more important. While the balance sheet has been the traditional measure of success—especially in the banking industry—an alternative measurement that can lead to sustainable competitive advantages and long-term market strength is engagement throughout the workforce itself--the people who are the company.
When you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers—and your customers will take care of your bottom line.
About the Author: Megan Geyer serves as Director, Customer Experience for Financial Services for NTT DATA, a top 10 global IT services provider