How Banks Can Crack the Code on Employee Engagement


By Lisa Bullock, Vice President
Part 3 in a blog series on critical issues facing banks today. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

We’ve all been hearing about engagement for so long, it’s almost become another intangible “soft” buzzword. And with a business to run, there are plenty of other priorities competing for attention. Yet the banks that have cracked the code on employee engagement are reaping the business and performance benefits, with passionate bankers poised to capture customers who will entrust them with their financial well-being.

What sets these bankers apart from the rest? It’s certainly not their financial knowledge—that’s a given for anyone who’s hired into the role. Instead, engaged bankers exhibit certain standout behaviors that contribute to their stellar performance. They’re the ones who always seem to go the extra mile to deliver memorable customer experiences. And at these banks, it’s not just the “superstar” performers who behave this way. The behaviors—and levels of performance and services—are consistent, regardless of line of business or function. As a result, the banks’ customers are engaged, buy more, stay longer, and recommend the bank to their friends.

The Impact of Engagement on Performance and Profitability

For these banks, employee engagement clearly isn’t a “soft” issue, a low priority or a somewhat meaningless buzzword. Instead, it’s a key ingredient driving their competitive advantage. In fact, a number of studies have drawn a clear correlation between employee engagement and bank performance and profitability, including findings such as:

“Fully engaged bank customers have more than twice the number of investment, insurance, or advisory products with their primary bank than do their actively disengaged counterparts.”

“Retail banking customers who are fully engaged bring 37% more annual revenue to their primary bank than actively disengaged customers.”

So, what can you do to get the kinds of results these banks are getting? Here are three key strategies top-performing banks apply to prioritize employee engagement and turn it into a critical business differentiator.

1. Connect the Dots between Strategy, Culture and Engagement.

Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices in an organization. Job number one to increase engagement is to make sure that bank strategy is perceived as authentic to the bank culture, composed of a mosaic of employee ideas and values, and reflective of the needs of the marketplace and communities served. Thoughtfully aligning these elements will breathe new life and energy into bank culture as a foundation for increasing employee engagement.

 

2. Shift the Culture by Developing “Shared Purpose.”

Too often, bank employees talk about feeling disconnected (and therefore disengaged) from how they contribute to bank success. Recent research shows that, on average, 37 percent of employees do not have a clear understanding of what their organization’s senior leaders are trying to achieve and why – a critical piece of the employee engagement puzzle.

To capture the hearts and minds of your employees, start with “shared purpose.” This means all levels of managers and employees should be working together collectively to create more value for both internal and external customers. Shared purpose delivers meaningful personal value to all employees as they become part of the solution to achieve bank goals and objectives. Employees who are emotionally connected to shared purpose are proud to work for and contribute to the success of their companies.

 

3. Shift Manager Mindsets about their Role as Stewards of Employee Engagement.

How many times have your managers, when faced with challenging goals, assumed only a few high performers will step up to do whatever it takes, so they let the seemingly less engaged “off the hook”?

Through their behaviors and assignments, managers often inadvertently send messages that undermine engagement. You may need to reset management mindsets so they’re focused on developing an environment where employees are freed to discover greater possibilities in themselves, ready and willing to deliver their best. This includes:

  • Asking employees for their viewpoint on how to overcome challenges
  • Listening proactively without giving the answer
  • Setting the stage for employees to come up with their own solutions

Coming up with a solution yourself triggers a creative spark and an emotional connection to the outcome. By engaging in a dialog that places the responsibility on the employee’s shoulders, and by expressing genuine belief in the employee’s ability to succeed, the manager’s mindset and behavior will become the game changer for increased engagement.

When employees view their managers as committed to understanding and supporting their individual strengths and potential, they will be more engaged and aligned with organizational goals and objectives.

Strategy Culture Engagement

There’s nothing “soft” about employee engagement, and with the right tools, strategies and behaviors, every bank can crack the code to unlock high performance. In today’s environment, no bank can afford not to.

 

 

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