A tight business environment and sluggish economy have led many companies to cut budgets. These factors have also been one reason many college graduates are in jobs that don't fully utilize their education. In fact, new research from
Accenture finds 41% of workers who graduated from college in the past 2Ys say they are underemployed, as they are working in jobs that do not require their college degrees. What's more, nearly 63% of those interviewed say they will need more training in order to get their desired job.
The slowdown in financial services has certainly dulled the pace of hiring even more than other industries perhaps, but community banks still need to hire good workers and retain existing ones. To motivate and cultivate existing employees, bankers have to be proactive and imaginative. Low interest rates are leaving bank earnings under pressure, so there's an even greater need to find creative ways to drum up morale, without breaking the bank. After all, research shows happy employees are more productive, which benefits both employees and banks.
As you seek out ways to keep employees energized, know that a new survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) finds more than 33% of workers experience chronic work stress. It also found contributing factors include low salaries, a lack of opportunity for advancement and heavy workloads. Further, the effects of the Great Recession seem to be lingering, as many employees also report feeling stuck. Only 39% cite sufficient opportunities for internal career advancement and just over 50% say they feel valued at work.
There is, of course, no cookie-cutter approach to creating a healthy work environment but the APA focuses on five broad categories. These are: employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition. Our advice is to take a hard look at current practices and see where improvements can be made in each of these areas to jumpstart your employee engagement.
Another area to monitor, as evidenced by the 2012 National Study of Employers, relates to two broad emerging trends. The first is that since 2005, an increasing percentage of US employers have offered flex time to at least some employees. For community banks that haven't yet gone this route, there are various publications out thereâ"some free, some notâ"to help you get started. The second takeaway from the study is that flexibility around reduced time, caregiving leaves and flex careers has declined since 2005. For banks, perhaps offering these types of programs will give you a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. Both of these trends cost money and the environment is certainly difficult, so tread carefully and be sure you have thoroughly discussed the cost-benefit.
The good news is that a healthy work environment is good for the bank. Studies show companies with healthy work environments have lower turnover rates, experience less chronic work stress and have employees who are more satisfied with their jobs.
It goes without saying that banks are under enormous pressure to produce earnings that satisfy the expectations of management and shareholders. That said, earnings are supported by employees so the two go hand in hand.