New Years’ resolutions – we make them, we loathe them, we try to keep them, most of the time we fail but it’s okay. It’s just a resolution. There’s always next year! Not the same for financial institutions.
It’s been a difficult period over the last 20 plus months. The experience of living through COVID has forever changed us and we’ve learned from the experience. It’s now time to plan for the next calendar year and evaluate our priorities. Determine what should continue to be the same and what should be done differently based on what we know today.
Consider the following three focus areas for 2022.
- We are never going back to the way “it used to be”. The past is the past. All we can do is plan for today and for the future. Financial institutions faced incredible challenges when forced to pivot during the onset of COVID. Imagining a large remote workforce was not in the vision previously. As a result, the lens through which we view the workplace now is much different than it was two years ago. For employees who have jobs that can be performed remotely (mostly back room positions), many of them will want to continue this practice. However, there is still a contingent that feels more productive in a traditional office environment. Be flexible in your approach to continue allowing eligible employees to work remote, especially if it means you are retaining your best talent. In fact, many financial institutions are now instituting hybrid models of work which includes both remote and on-site workdays.
- Be open to trying new and different ways of conducting business. This is a time to be innovative and creative. Embrace the technologies that can make you more efficient and provide the greatest flexibility to your customers. Today’s reality is, and will continue to be, doing the same work with fewer employees and thus, technology can be one way to fill the gap. Technology has allowed financial institutions to provide services to customers in new and different ways. The same is true with creating flexibility for employees.
- Focus on employee retention and engagement. Doing so is critical for future business success. With a deficit of working age people in the market, coupled with others who have voluntarily dropped out of the labor market for varying reasons, attracting new talent is challenging at best. Therefore, more emphasis must be placed on retaining employees and keeping them engaged (both in-office and remote employees). Practices to foster engagement include employee engagement surveys, stay interviews and team building to foster esprit de corps between on-site and remote employees. Interestingly, this emphasis on retention, engagement and workforce planning has evolved into a new position titled “Chief Workplace Officer” in order to devote the attention required on workplace culture and engagement.
2022 is going to be another dynamic year. For financial institutions, it’s imperative to evaluate your current state – everything from practices, policies and people and make adjustments that will keep morale high and create efficiencies through innovation.