Bad Things Happen When Banking Employees Aren’t Engaged

Everyone wants an engaged workforce. It reduces attrition and builds brand loyalty. Yet banks and credit unions continue to approach the subject with the same, tired methodologies. Now facing stiff fintech disruption, it’s vital to understand what engagement really means. Four 'mindset shifts' will help achieve this.

If you Google “Employee Engagement” and look for images representing it, you’ll find groups of people in business attire smiling, high-fiving, laughing, or conducting some other staged behavior. While it may look a bit comical, somewhere in the recesses of our minds, we want to replicate this feeling with our own staff.

We associate happiness with engagement, and often try to fill the void with a series of initiatives and activities to “engage” people, ranging from free pizza to off-site meetings to giving out swag, to public recognition of high performers.

Financial institution leaders have all done these things at one point or another. But does this really build employee engagement?

With the ongoing pandemic, many of these old methods are not possible to implement, and many banks and credit unions are struggling to figure out how to connect with the many employees still working remotely.

The problem is, they’re defining “engagement” in the wrong way, and hence, applying the wrong solutions. Institutions need to re-examine what engagement means and deliver a more valuable and relevant experience. This requires four mindset shifts.

1: Shift From Creating Happiness to Creating Purpose

Instead of focusing on trying to improve the superficial happiness of employees, increase each employee’s understanding and sense of purpose. These questions help the process:

  • Does each-and-every employee fully understand how they add value to the organization?
  • Do they know how they can create positive change to impact a common goal?
  • Is that goal something they can be proud of and would want to share with their friends and family?

2: Shift From Seeing Roles to Seeing Skills

While everyone in a bank or credit union has a role and scope of responsibility, each person brings to the table an often-untapped background of skills and knowledge which can positively impact the institution outside of their role.

If an accountant or HR administrator also has a passion and talent for photography, can this skill be capitalized on and create value for the company — in social media, for example — and provide an opportunity for them to contribute above and beyond their traditional role?

3: Shift From Managing Tactics to Managing Outcomes

With the change to remote work, managers don’t have the luxury of checking in on employees as easily as before, or do they? One major insurance company is actually tracking the mouse movements of their remote employees – if their mouse isn’t moving on the screen consistently, they’ll receive a notification from their superior and have to explain why. Seriously.

Is the measure of success really about mouse movements, or how many claims get processed within a 12-hour period? Are you focusing on helping employees accomplish objectives or micromanaging implementation?

4: Shift From Acknowledgment to Trust

While managers want to recognize employees for going above-and-beyond in their roles, trust goes much farther. When an employee is trusted as a professional, and to do their job thoroughly and accurately, it builds confidence and reflects the financial institution’s faith they have in their staff.

Do you exhibit trust with your employees, providing them the tools and latitude to execute their jobs independently, without excessive oversight?

Employee engagement is often defined as the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the institution, and put discretionary effort into their work. To create this passion and commitment requires a genuine dedication to helping your employees succeed and grow, not just creating superficial, short-term happiness.

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