The Talent War is Real for Banks. Here’s How You Can Win.

David Abbou

If talent acquisition wasn’t already challenging enough before the COVID era, high transmission rates and proliferation of new variants have made human resource planning a moving target for financial institutions and lenders worldwide.

This mass confusion is entirely understandable — Many traditional banks have been determined to bring employees back to offices and branches. Many large banks set target dates earlier this month right after Labor Day, with others aiming for return-to-office by Monday, October 4.

The spanner in the works? Same old nemesis — coronavirus — but with newer troubling variants like Delta being transmitted and fueling fears across the United States, many banking employees are understandably pushing back. They’re expecting flexibility from their employers so that they can decide where they work while these pandemic conditions ease — and even after.

Financial companies who have traditionally been more rigid and office-centric are facing a unique dilemma, how they manage it will massively impact their ability to win the war for talent — both acquiring and keeping qualified employees onboard.

How can they strike the right balance in a way that ensures employee productivity and loyalty, while setting up their human resource planning for success now and well after the pandemic subsides?

To Beat the Talent Shortage Banks Must Throw Out the Old Rule Book

Just as vital as banks’ need for digital transformation to deliver experiences expected by customers of today is understanding and accepting the new workplace of today, and putting it into motion.

Employee productivity is one of the main apprehensions to embracing remote working for larger banks. But recent data shows otherwise: A 2-year study by Great Place to Work of over 800,000 employees working in Fortune 500 companies found that most are seeing their productivity levels improve when working from home.

Reading the tea leaves — and data findings like this — is especially important for large traditional banks. This means HR leaders need to throw out the old rule book and give talent flexibility to work remotely considering the talent shortage banks in many regions are struggling with to attract qualified talent.

As uncovered in the recent digital banking summit, regional digitalbanks like Quontico for example have pounced on the doors that remote working has opened up to broaden the talent pool they can tap into.

“This is a new frontier of remote working. Our CTO lives in Alabama. Our CSO lives in Vegas. Our CMO lives in DC. Our Chief People Officer lives in Indiana, and it goes on… If you can embrace remote working, you can cast your net wide across the nation. And all of a sudden you’re finding awesome people.” – Steve Schnall, CEO of Manhattan-based digital bank Quontic bank

Community Banks with a branch footprint such as CNB Bank have applied a hybrid approach during the pandemic, and finding flexible working arrangements effective in their recruitment efforts:

“We’re offering hybrid or flexible working arrangements. And that’s actually worked for us really, really well. We are still trying to recruit within the community because we’re a big believer in really building that professional development. But when it is needed to look outside, we’re looking outside and expanding that pool. I can expand my net for resources and find them in another state and bring to that, that diverse thought that we may not have achieved previously.” – Yarrow Diamond, SVP of Innovation Solutions at CNB Bank

Keeping Talent Just as Important as Acquiring it for Banks

Hiring top talent is one challenge, keeping it is another. The pandemic has shed light on the convergence between customer-facing banking processes and employee satisfaction — which is so key to both productivity and talent retention.

The need for digital banking accelerated at historic levels since the pandemic began in 2020, and customers going forward expect quick and convenient ways to complete transactions from their smartphones without being forced to call the contact center, visit the branch, or trek out to scan and email paper documents back to the bank.

At the same time, employees have had to bear the burden resulting from digitally incomplete processes in the form of higher call volumes, misunderstandings and disputes, and an incredible amount of time and resources wasted on handling paper-heavy legacy processes to onboard customers, process loans, and service a myriad of customer requests.

Digitally completing banking processes has therefore become critical not just to acquire and retain customers, it’s critical to removing the productivity drain of broken banking journeys and outdated legacy processes, which in turn free employees up to focus on tasks that positively impact the bottom line.

Removing Productivity Drain & Slashing Employee Turnover Via Digital Completion

Leading research firm Forrester recently conducted a thorough evaluation of Lightico’s Digital Completion Cloud and the Total Economic Impact it is delivering to banks. The study found that freeing up employees to accomplish more in less time directly helps reduce employee turnover by 10% and associated costs by $155K per year.

Greater job satisfaction and reduced turnover have always been top objectives for HR departments and leaders in developing employee well-being strategies. Removing needless pain and friction from customer-facing employees by enabling them to interact digitally with customers is helping banks eliminate talent borders by enabling remote working, and just importantly keeping employees productive, happy, and loyal.

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