The spotlight on the banking sector persists, infact intensifies. Challenges range from the uncertainty of Brexit to sustained focus on conduct and an ever-mushrooming threat of fraud and cyber risk.
Banking executives today are burdened with a burning need to think differently. The need to respond to new threats (Fintechs, neo-banks), new technologies (blockchain) and new customer needs (millennials, ageing population) while balancing profits and shareholder value, risk and costs is keeping the c-suite extremely busy.
And amongst it all, is the employee; an individual who is living through multiple pressures including an ever growing risk of job loss, and an increasing influence of a new workforce (contractors, freelancers, gig workers). Today’s workforce is feeling immense pressure. Stressed, over worked, nervous, challenged: are just some of the reactions one hears of, when engaging with employees at banks.
Banking once a career of choice, is losing it’s pull on talent.
So, what is today’s employee looking for?
Perhaps a human touch, empathy, access to help and support, a feeling of community, new skills and a sense of belonging.
Consequently, banking CHROs have taken charge. A digital CHRO is no more a mere business support executive of the past but a strategic voice shaping the culture and future of their organisation. Employees are an asset and the CHRO their voice.
New questions are taking root in HR huddle rooms and forcing active debates including:
- Have we got an employee centric culture that attracts and retains talent, and creates an environment to allow for best performance?
- Are we truly focussing on employee experience, personalisation and well-being?
- How should the bank change with a changing workforce (and a new employee mix)?
- How are we incentivising and investing in innovation skills to shape the bank of the future? Is it working?
- Are we truly aware of our workforce: measures of diversity, churn rate, retention of new hires, critical roles and high potentials, bench strength?
- Is everyone taking accountability of their actions and are ‘fit’ to perform their role?
With these and many more such questions bringing new challenges, the focus of the debate must move from operational management and oversight to experience management and engagement.
No doubt in many banks, technology is still a limitation, employee data remains in silos (even for permanents), often still paper based with a potentially revolving door complicating matters. Can one really take control?
The answer seems obvious!
Real time, in-memory data platforms working alongside human capital management cloud solutions is the undeniable solution, bringing the possibility to integrate, report, predict and forecast, allow for anonymisation where necessary (remember GDPR!) to give control, visibility, transparency, mobility and collaboration. As CHROs embark on their digital journeys with cloud solutions, new technologies and data platforms are bringing new possibilities.
And bringing immediacy to this data platform opportunity are 5 agendas that have already gained furious energy:
- Enabling individual compliance (SMCR) to financial services regulatory demands (FCA) on employees; allowing ownership and self-paced learning
- Encouraging well-being to ensure every employee can bring their ‘best self’ to the workplace
- Enhancing employee experience that makes it easy and stress free to execute every task
- Driving workforce productivity driven by individual employee insights to predict challenges and opportunities
- Personalising workspaces that allows individuality while contributing to the corporate agenda
Each of these demand careful focus and attention.
Leveraging employee data is the obvious solution, with behavioural science, AI/ML and mobile apps as enablers. Design principles shaping innovative outcomes now include agile, real time, drill downs, what-if scenarios and mobile access of information.
But innovative solutions are only possible if CHROs and the HR workforce understand and embrace the power of data.
So what’s the immediate next step?
Asking the right question is the first step. Exploring and exploiting innovative possibilities, the obvious next one. CHRO’s will no doubt need a compelling business case, arguments to re-focus change budgets and be able to carefully monitor effective execution. To do that HR executives must as a matter of urgency educate themselves on new data technologies and allow experimentation with new capabilities and ways of working.
Isn’t it time the HR function exploits technology and data and data platforms to drive ‘intelligent insights to drive a revolution’ thereby getting closer to the workforce, not just as a collective but for each individual, individually?
By Anuj Kumar, Director, financial services and banking at SAP UKI