Is your bank prepared to attract a tech-focused workforce?

The banking industry has always been a beacon for job seekers. The industry is rich with opportunities for every level of experience and offers pathways for growth to those who are truly motivated and savvy.

But how many times have you heard, “It must be nice to have banker’s hours,” when someone refers to the perceived structure of the industry’s 9-to-5 workday and holiday schedule? While not every banking employee sits at a desk answering calls all day, there is more of a cubicle culture and workplace structure within this industry than most. And in a post-pandemic world, this perception isn’t doing any favors to attract top tech talent.

COVID-19 has put digital adoption on a faster track. Not only did banks have to elevate their customer experience strategies, they also had to make lightning-fast decisions around implementing technologies to support work-from-home or reduced-capacity working.

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A recent article from Deloitte states, “As banks adapt to the economic realities of 2021, they may need to make some hard decisions on the optimal talent models. But at the same time, they should maintain a focus on employee well-being and productivity as the pandemic-induced stress on the workforce continues.”

It was evident at the start of the pandemic how adaptable some positions were to remote work success.  Many in-person jobs traditionally seen as “have to be there,” were transformed and modified very quickly.

As Rajashekhara Maiya, global head of business consulting at Infosys Finacle, put it in an article earlier this year, “The task in 2021 is to align the workplace context to digital delivery, and support an increasing number of transactions from ‘non workplace’ locations, even the workforce has changed beyond recognition… We expect banks will expand their workforce (and ) they may also need to rebadge, reskill and repurpose existing employees.”

This shift in workforce and workplace strategies means there is a huge opportunity for forward-thinking banking and finance organizations that better understand their workforce and how their workforce interacts with their workplace environment.

While early indicators were that AI and robotics would replace human workers, some companies are finding they are spending more on highly qualified personnel. Instead of looking for someone with a finance background alone, for instance, the need is to find someone with finance and IT experience.

And what about those jobs that truly are “have to be there”?  How do you attract these kinds of individuals and, more importantly, how do you keep them?  And it isn’t just about keeping the at-the-branch employees happy, but those who continue to work remotely as well.  There is more and more attention on engagement, as well as retention.  Institutions are turning to workplace engagement-focused software in some cases to help solve the riddle of what keeps great employees.   Workplace strategies are becoming commonplace language in banking, and we don’t see that trend losing pace, given the effects of COVID-19 and the emphasis on returning to work safely.

Finally, it is important to have a strategy for return-to-work employees, as well as flexible employees. The rise of smart buildings and offices – where employees can pull information or interact with their work environments in an easy, mobile way – is a leading way to help those returning to work feel safe and secure.  Many believe having such an approach will actually lead to higher retention. And as some of these technologies are also amenable to agile workforces, you can feel more confident that those who work from home and collaborate remotely will also feel valued.

By finding the right combination of safe delivery of services and a diverse workforce, banking is primed to be a leading example of how the changed world can adapt and overcome with the right people in place. Talented job seekers might even be inspired to say, “It must be nice working those bankers’ hours.”

Leaha Pearman is senior new business sales manager for North America at Planon.