Employees are an untapped trove of information at most banks and credit unions. They will tell you a lot more than you think and often are eager to do so. Not only about their own experience on the job — which is critical enough — but key insights about customer behavior that are impossible to gain any other way.
A yearly employee engagement survey is a good way to give your team a chance to weigh in on satisfaction and intent to stay. But that annual exercise isn’t enough in the rapidly-changing world of banking. It really just scratches the surface.
You need to dig deeper by taking a more layered approach to employee feedback, the insights will enable you to retain high performers, and that will both improve customer experience and amplify your brand story. High performers are the ones who set the tone for everyone else and can be effective mentors and role models for colleagues. Thus they help improve customer experience at all levels of the institution.
Before ‘Digging,’ Answer These Questions
More details on what a “layered approach” means are covered below. But an effective listening effort begins by answering four key questions:
Why are we doing this? Conducting another survey because you’ve done one in the past shouldn’t be the only reason to expend resources on an automatic repeat, much less additional research. Make sure you’re clear on the purpose. Beyond benchmarking key employee indicators or measuring against past results, will this research help you strategize for growth, reassure your board about plans or attract and retain talent?
What exactly do we want to learn? Know whether you want to uncover problems you’re not yet aware of, address existing issues or build on some great things already happening — or all of the above.
Do we have buy-in from relevant departments? Sure, it’s a basic, but HR, Marketing, Training, Business Development and others must be willing to collaborate on an employee engagement project. Once on board, it’s critical to keep everyone informed and accountable. Using a shared internal document or a collaboration tool like Basecamp will help.
Will we actually use the data? Even more important that buy-in: Are you committed to acting on your newfound intel — even if it’s not what you expected or wanted to hear?
Don’t Jerk Us Around:
Employees will feel like you’ve wasted their time if they think their responses have fallen on deaf ears. But if they see you act on their feedback, they’ll become stronger advocates for your brand.
Read More: Engaging Employees to Accelerate Digital Banking Transformation
4 Approaches to Tapping Employee Insights
When using a layered approach to gathering employee intel — going beyond just an annual survey — be creative in how you bring people together to provide feedback. But also be sure staffers feel they can tell you what they really want you to know in ways that protect their privacy and allay any fears of recrimination.
1. Lunch and learns are often thought of as staff training sessions. Turn this idea on its head and offer lunches where management learns from employees. Offer an open mic approach that allows people to bring up topics of their choice. Establish a safe feedback environment. Set ground rules for constructive comments and “dare to be stupid” questions, then be open to listening.
Well suited for… generating a broad array of ideas that can be further tested in a survey or piloted, identifying areas where employees feel “left in the dark” or uncovering potential ways your processes can be improved for better customer experience.
2. Employee focus groups are good formats for focusing on one topic and exploring it in depth. Since focus groups offer qualitative information, not quantitative, don’t project the feedback from any one group across the entire organization. Use an independent moderator and conduct multiple groups on the same topics to avoid faulty assumptions. These groups can be held in person or online, giving you ample opportunity to hear from people working in different markets.
Well suited for… exploring a topic in more depth and uncovering attitudes and emotions about it. Focus groups are also a good way to work on pros/cons of improving product offerings or ways to implement customer experience enhancements.
Read More: Banking Must Realign Its Workforce for The Digital Future
3. Social listening can be used to gain insights into sentiments of current and former employees. Regularly monitor Glassdoor, Indeed and other job-review sites to see what people are candidly saying. Take one-offs with a grain of salt, but watch for trends. A repeated theme demands attention.
Besides job-site reviews, observe what’s happening on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Search for specific hashtags like #ihatemyjob and #lovemyjob and watch for trends and ideas that could inspire improvements.
Check These Out:
Hashtags that may be worth exploring for employee trends: #hatemyboss #worksucks #mondaymotivation #itsamonday #jobsbelike #iquit #reasonihatemyjob
Well suited for… learning more about employee and prospective employee feelings about your bank’s culture — and your competitors’ culture — both positive and negative. This provides insights into where you can improve, but also inspiration for new ways to build on your employer brand assets.
Read More: Why Most Banks Struggle to Deliver a Killer Customer Experience
4. Closed-group social conversations can be good forums for generating ideas and opinions about culture-improving topics like incentive programs, leadership training, mentoring, job sharing, flexible working hours or working from remote locations. Setting up these groups through your Slack channel or on private Facebook pages fosters input from people all across your institution and in different markets.
It may take some time for group social conversations to get traction. Watching the ebb and flow can give you a sense of when it’s time to close the conversation, but you may want to let them stretch for a few days or a few weeks.
Set up the groups and invite the members. Pose questions, then listen as the group shares their thoughts with you and with each other. Watch the conversations that unfold. Chime in when necessary to ask for clarification or more details, but spend most of your time listening.
Well suited for… exploring a topic in more depth and uncovering attitudes and emotions about it. This can also be a good method to generate starter ideas for improving such things as customer experience, employee onboarding processes or other areas within your strategic plan.