employee appreciation in the financial industry

Are you investing appreciation in your financial services industry employees? (Photo via Pictures of Money, Flickr)


The financial services industry today has some of the highest overall turnover rates, and experts say the cure is a robust employee appreciation program that puts people first.
Today is Pi Day — a celebration of the fascinating mathematical constant known as pi — so what better time to recognize employees who work with numbers all day?
A Compensation Force analysis shows that only the hospitality industry has a higher rate for voluntary turnover than the financial services industry.
Young employees burned out by 90-hour workweeks, intense competition and little recognition are leaving banking and finance jobs in droves, according to a Bloomberg Business report.
It’s natural for money to be a top motivator in this high-stakes and lucrative industry, yet many companies — faced with high turnover and a big talent gap — are reevaluating their strategies for attracting and keeping employees.
“Banks are acutely aware of the too-high attrition rate among their young associates and analysts … and have initiated programs to combat it,” writes Bloomberg’s Dawn Kopecki.
The HR consulting company O.C. Tanner calls for an emphasis on employee appreciation in its new industry report, “Leading Financial Organizations Today: How Investing in People Strategies Pays Dividends.”
“Employee recognition can be the glue that holds together a fast-moving and transitioning industry like finance,” according to the report.
Read on for tips and case studies for better employee appreciation and recognition in the financial services industry. Now is the perfect time to be setting new goals!

Challenges Facing the Financial Services Industry

Dan Schawbel’s Forbes article “Top 8 Workplace Trends in the Financial Services Industry” highlights the biggest challenges industry leaders face, drawing in part on data from the recent PwC report “Reshaping the Workplace in Financial Services.”
Among the challenges:

  • High turnover stunting growth.
    Among Millennial employees, only 10 percent “plan to stay in their current job for the long-term, compared to an average of 18 percent across all industries.” More than a quarter “are actively looking for the next big opportunity.”
  • Widening talent gap.
    Almost half of CEOs say they’re unable to find employees with the right skills, and among these CEOs, 25 percent report having “to cancel or delay a key strategic initiative over the past year because they didn’t have the right talent available at the time to execute.”
  • Lingering bad reputation.
    The 2008 financial crisis “unquestionably tarnished the reputation of the industry,” and handling this with customers can be a challenge for frontline banking employees. Millennials, many of whom watched their parents lose their jobs in the crisis, may also be wary of joining the industry as a result.
  • Inflexibility.
    One of the qualities Millennial seek most — a flexible work environment — is still a challenge in the traditional, suit-and-tie, 9-to-5 financial sector, where long hours in the office are often a requirement.

Code “Red” and Career Development

Some industry leaders are taking steps to retain employees and create a better work-life balance, according to Bloomberg Business. Bank of America created guidelines to “closely monitor work volume” and make vacation days mandatory. Goldman Sachs has instituted similar rules, plus formed a junior banker career development committee.
At JPMorgan, employee hours are color-coded on spreadsheets. If a banker spends more than 75 hours in the office, their hours are marked in red and scrutinized. Is the number of hours justified? If not, the manager requesting the work may get a warning.
“There are only two things you control in investment banking management: how you use financial capital and how you use human capital,” JP Morgan’s Jeff Urwin tells Bloomberg Business.

Employee Appreciation: A Powerful Strategy in Finance

Career development goals and work-life balance checks are a good start, but more is needed!
The O.C. Tanner Institute’s white paper on employee appreciation in finance recommends strategic initiatives as part of a coordinated HR program.
It calls for an industry-wide commitment to fostering a culture of employee appreciation.
As the industry grapples with retention, reputation and a talent shortage, it’s important for financial leaders to “emphasize and invest in a people strategy that attracts and keeps top talent and ensures all employees are ready to provide outstanding customer care in a way that reinforces consumer loyalty and brand differentiation.”
O.C. Tanner identifies several industry-specific challenges to employee appreciation:

  1. A fast-paced environment where employees are continually working with customers
  2. A fragmented employee population, with teams spread out over several locations
  3. An intense focus on celebrating customer success that can make it easy to forget to also celebrate the unique successes of each employee

In each of these challenges is an opportunity to strengthen the company’s services by recognizing employee successes and building a workplace community.
“More than any other industry, recognition in the financial sector presents a great opportunity to bring people together to celebrate great work and thank team members for all they do,” the report concludes.
Effective employee appreciation programs are necessary for financial institutions to succeed. As companies vie for top talent, “providing superior customer service recognition is proving to be a key culture differentiator.”

Case Study: ‘Thank-A-Banker’ at U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank recently started a corporate-wide program to increase employee recognition. Employees are empowered to share everyday gratitude with each other using Thank You cards. Customers can also recognize employees using a “Thank-A-Banker” program.
Now, thousands of U.S. Bank employees are connecting and celebrating at any given time, according to the O.C. Tanner white paper.
Not only are employees happier, the appreciation program also improved customer satisfaction and turnover. An analysis showed the more a U.S. Bank employee is recognized, the higher their customer satisfaction survey scores. More recognition also correlates with lower turnover.
“People at U.S. Bank are very attached to the people they work with and the commitment they have to serving our customers,” Stephanie Hoffman, Director of Recognition, tells O.C. Tanner. “These are all personal relationships. Recognition helps us foster a culture that appreciates what people bring and offer every day.”

Want practical tips to build your culture of employee appreciation every day this year? Download gThankYou’s FREE Day-to-Day Celebration Calendar for tips on how to plan daily recognition and organize regular celebrations throughout the year. This one-of-a-kind eBook will help you to build an everyday culture of appreciation with month-by-month guides, case studies, research highlights, how-to recognition advice and celebration ideas for specific holidays and anytime.

Click the image below to download your free copy and start today!

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