Three crucial questions about the banking culture crisis

banking culture crisis

This blog series will examine the findings from Accenture’s study on workplace culture in banks. Banks are having a difficult time retaining and attracting the right talent because of their workplace culture.

This situation could be called a crisis. A crisis is not a time to stay the course.

We’ll end the series in a new format. This Q&A is a condensed edition of an interview I gave recently about the current situation banks are in and the choices they have to make.

banking crisis

Three things.

1. It is not a new struggle to find talent in banking. What has given it new depth and urgency?

The first is that the workplace has seen a dramatic change since the pandemic. COVID was a catalyst for many changes and has changed the workplace forever.

The Great Resignation will be next. Attrition levels have gone up for nine straight months, and there are more than 11 million market vacancies. Talent shortage is now more severe than ever. You must care for those you love.

Technology is the third priority in talent management. Banks are moving quickly towards cloud adoption. Banks must invest in people to make cloud technology more effective. This will allow them to realize the return they expect on their investment. Banks need to train their staff in cloud technology and foster a culture of continuous learning. This allows technology professionals to move from the mainframe to the cloud.

2. Is it possible for banks to be less hierarchical? How should banks approach this, if it is?

Research and case studies show that it is not wise to get rid of hierarchy, especially in large, regulated organizations such as banks. However, a lot of our thinking about the topic comes primarily from Taylorism and the military. They’ve been out of date for a long time.

We still need to know who is responsible and who is in charge of the organization by 2022. Leaders are still needed. Do we really need to have 10 or 15 levels between our CEO and the bank’s first career associates and frontline leaders? All of that is falling apart, I believe. Young people who enter the workforce want flexibility not only in terms of where and how they work, but also in what they do.

Banks should examine the hierarchy and grading systems that were in place over a decade ago and assess if they are still relevant in today’s environment. Trust is an important element of culture, and people will choose to stay or leave. This has been proven repeatedly. Because trust is less important, the higher your hierarchy, the more control you will need. It’s a good idea to think about trust and how it is built or broken down in organizations.

Banks can begin by examining which skills and roles are most important. Research shows that every skill has a shelf-life and is declining in value. Consider career systems that are more skill-based. Think about what an individual can do and how they can learn it, rather than what they are responsible.

3. How can higher wages and more qualified employees solve this problem?

When there is a shortage of talent, retention packages can be used to pay wages. Although they work, they can create a false sense security in organizations when people are expected to stay because of retention programs. People move on as soon as they are taken off. Packages must be meaningful. They should last at least six months. This is expensive.

If an employee is offered another job, you might offer a raise in pay. This might boost their motivation, but they will still be in the same place they left. Higher wages may be an option, but they can also be costly.

Our research has shown that most people don’t leave for money. Although they may get a higher salary in a new job, they are not leaving to find a better opportunity. One that offers more flexibility and development, which will take them in the direction they desire.

The problem with hiring is that you don’t know the time frame. There is an acute shortage in talent with new technologies like cloud. It could take up to eight months to find someone and then successfully onboard them into your organization. To be most productive, new hires must adapt to the culture and gain a certain amount of institutional knowledge.

This assumes that you are able to find the right person to hire. Recent surveys of bank leaders were conducted for our Banking Cloud Altimeter publication. They found that cybersecurity and cloud are the most sought-after technical skills in banking.

It is easier and quicker to take your existing people and give them the skills and development they need.

This is the last post in the series. We’ll address four more pressing questions regarding the culture crisis.

If you would like to talk about workplace culture in banking, I would be delighted to hear from you. You can reach me here.

Learn more about the changing nature of work by visiting Accenture’s The Future of Work – Productive Anywhere report: