At a time of heightened corporate transparency, greater workforce mobility, and severe skill shortages; culture, engagement, and retention have emerged as top issues for leaders of the financial sector; defining this as not just an HR issue anymore.

Quality hires not only impact your bottom line (retention rates, higher performance), they create the ‘flavour’ of how your service or product is created and delivered; making it into much more of a strategic business issue; and one that is growing in importance for the economic effectiveness of the banking world.

Advances in digital media mean that information propagates rapidly across the globe andevery corporate decision, employment tribunal, or petty dispute is immediately publicly exposed and debated. Once-private issues are now posted online for every employee—and every potential employee—to read.  The culture of financial services firms— defined as an evolving set of collective beliefs, values and attitudes—is increasingly visible for the world to see. So why is this important in regard to attracting new talent?

While multi-billion dollar revenue might win in a game of corporate Top Trumps, its pulling power is at an all-time low when it comes to recruiting new staff from the millennial bracket.  The desirability for roles in the banking sector for millennials is fading, with potential employees opting instead for jobs they perceive as having a greater focus on purpose, mission, and work-life integration.  Today, more than twice as many employees are motivated by work passion than career ambition (12 % vs. 5 %), according to a study from Deloitte University Press. This is frightening for companies with 87 % of organisations citing culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50 % recording this issue as very important. For corporations, recruitment used to mean simply selecting the best person from a vast, eager and highly qualified candidate pool, but the power has now shifted significantly from the employer to the employee. Today, candidates are more like customers in a car showroom and the big banks often have to sell themselves to them.

Given the new transparency, banking organisations can use their culture as a key competitive advantage in attracting new talent rather than an Achilles heel, a change that must start at the top.Organisations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep employee engagement, job and organizational fit, are likely to outperform their peers and beat their competition in attracting top talent.

Goldman Sachs is currently considered one of the best banks to work for, offering their employees 360 degree feedback, decision by consensus, and tremendous opportunities for growth. But for some banks it might be a case of first look inward if you want to attract outside talent.How would your own a C-level executives describe your company culture? Could they? Do they have an on-going measure of employee sentiment or are they still relying on an ashamedly obsolete once-a-year satisfaction survey? The key to success for banks is to place their core values at the centre of everything, including their people decisions, hiring against these values and performance managing against them for staff remuneration.

Some banks are ahead of the pack. Some time ago now, Barclay’s CEO Anthony Jenkins sent details to 140,000 staff, telling them of the new Barclays value proposition. He said: “For those who are not comfortable with Barclays’ new set of values – respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship, Barclays is not the place for you. The rules have changed. You won’t feel comfortable at Barclays and, to be frank, we won’t feel comfortable with you as colleagues.”

Brave words that ought to have an impact on the future for millennials in the banking industry.

CategoryBanking Culture
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