Top 3 Human Capital Trends for Banks

By Melissa Jezior

The financial services industry is going through a period of unprecedented change, driven by the digital revolution and changing consumer behaviors. Financial services industry leaders must remain keenly focused on customers and shareholders, and also must place an expanded focus on their employees’ overall experience.


The war for top talent is in full swing, and financial organizations must either adapt their talent strategy or risk losing top talent to the competition. Gallup reports that less than one-third of U.S. employees are fully engaged at work. This means employees are not achieving at their full potential, or they are looking for a better opportunity.

The good news is there are ways for financial institutions to improve their overall employee experience so they are keeping their best and brightest.

But where do you start? A first step would be to examine the top three human capital trends. These 2018 trends center on creating innovative employee experience and talent strategy that results in:

  • A productive workforce
  • Better customer interactions
  • Reduced turnover costs

To improve the employee experience—and business performance—financial organizations must reshape their cultures and workplaces for an ever-changing, on-demand world.

Trend 1: Direct – “I need to know.”

Always plugged-in, we go right to the source to get what we want. For example, Twitter is a direct one-to-many communication line to the world. Uber connects us straight to drivers, not dispatchers. Eastern Bank’s spinoff lets banks make small-business lending decisions in as little as five minutes. FirstBank in Colorado opens about 40% of all new accounts online, making it easy and convenient for consumers. Direct access. Constantly connected.

Employees want a direct and open communication line at work.

They expect clear, frequent messaging about where the organization is going, direct access to leadership, leaders who welcome and act on employee feedback, and tools for collaborative work every day.

According to the 2016 Eagle Hill Consulting Core Values Survey, 47% of working age Americans do not know or are not sure of their company’s core values.

Meet the innovators.

  • Crowdsourcing core values. One of the secrets to General Electric’s longevity is its evolving culture, argues Harvard Business Review. As the company reimagined itself as a digital industrial leader, its “GE Beliefs” not only stress agility and speed, but this new value system was developed directly from employee contributions and feedback via a crowdsourcing process.
  • Spurring Collaboration and Innovation. BNP Mellon provides its employees with frequent innovation training sessions, platforms for collaboration, and opportunities to contribute ideas through an annual competition, A.C.E. Winners of the competition are given funding and other resources to help develop their idea in one of the bank’s innovation centers.

Move forward.

  • Make core values the compass. On a daily basis, find ways to bring core values to life beyond words on a page so that employees integrate them into their everyday experiences.
  • Roll out the red carpet for ideas. Foster a “no-bad-ideas” culture by actively collecting ideas using idea management platforms like Idea Drop. Create feedback loops so employees see that their contributions don’t end up in a bureaucratic black hole, but are considered and acted on.
  • Strike up the conversation. Provide a direct line for two-way communication with leadership. Spur employee-to-employee dialogues through internal social media like Slack, Salesforce Chatter, and Yammer so people can easily stay connected, share thoughts and recognize accomplishments.

Trend 2: Personal – “I do it my way.”

From selfie obsession to social media oversharing, the “me generation” thrives in the digital era. One-size-fits-all is out. We consume information, experiences, content, and products on our own terms. Spotify creates personalized playlists. GoPro cameras capture the world as only we see it. Venmo has diminished magnanimity by allowing us to pay someone back precisely and instantly. What we like. How we like. Where we like.

Employees want the freedom to design “choose your own adventure” work experiences that allow them to deliver on expectations while supporting their personal and evolving definition of work-life balance.

In the 2106 Eagle Hill Work/Life Balance Survey, employees indicated that financial security is the number-one factor for maintaining work/life balance.

Meet the innovators.

  • Freedom to be responsible. Zillow trusts its employees to make good decisions that are mutually beneficial for them and for the company, reports GeekWire. Employees have the freedom to choose how they want to be compensated. And within some guidelines, they decide how much vacation time they take. Zillow gives people the benefit of the doubt that they won’t let work responsibilities suffer.
  • Providing balance and flexibility. The American Bankers Association has been certified as a great place to work and for good reason. The association continues to introduce policies and programs to help balance the needs of its diverse workforce, such as flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, and benefits to reduce financial burden on commuters, new parents, and those managing student loans.

Move forward.

  • Know employees like Google does. Fuse new world data analysis with old school goal setting to understand what matters to people in their daily work environment and for their career path over time.
  • Be flexible with flexibility. Go beyond flexible work arrangements to provide employees with creative ways to individualize their work experiences such as options to define their own career paths, student loan repayment, and paid educational sabbaticals.
  • Let them go with their gut. Loosen the reins where possible to support and reward employee autonomy, self-direction, and entrepreneurial spirit that supports business goals. Help people channel their passions and pet projects, rather than stifle them.

Trend 3: Fast – “I want it now.”

Waiting is a lost art. It is the era of now, of immediate gratification. Messages are instant. Food is fast. Paying takes a tap. We get content, products, services and answers on demand. In real time. We watch shows on Netflix by entire seasons, not individual episodes. Amazon Prime Now delivers packages in hours, not days. And behind the scenes, data is being collected and analyzed at lightning speed.

Employees are impatient for anything but real-time responsiveness at work. They want to be in a forward-thinking, forward-doing atmosphere where action is swift and smart—and calculated risk-taking is encouraged.

An Eagle Hill Consulting Feedback Survey from 2015 found that 55% of employees say they want feedback on their work on a daily or weekly basis.

Meet the innovators.

  • Numbers not guesswork. Google is pioneering data analytics for HR processes and decisions with a “people analytics” approach that uses algorithms and predictive modeling to address staffing, planning, hiring and more. Google empowers employees to experiment and innovate, and rigorously collect and analyze data—and it uses that data to make smart, fast decisions.
  • Healthy growth: USAA believes that you can’t expect customer satisfaction without employee satisfaction. In addition to boasting an array of innovative health programs, USAA urges all of its employees to help move ideas from lab to market. Some 1,000 out of 32,000 employees contribute innovation proposals, and nearly 94% participate by voting ideas up the pipeline.

Move forward.

  • Explore uncharted territory. Encourage experimentation, prototyping and piloting of new ideas in human capital—from market-leading compensation structures for high performers to on-site health and wellness activities.
  • Up the frequency on feedback. Replace annual performance reviews with daily, weekly or monthly check points to solicit employee feedback. Have casual conversations and/or measure engagement easily and frequently with tech tools like TinyPulse, WooBoard, or HappyMeter.
  • Bring HR into the digital age. Safeguard that the HR department has the data and capabilities necessary to stay ahead of the market. Apply what works in understanding customer and market trend data to employees and workplace data. Make bold changes—and quickly—when necessary.

Melissa Jezior is CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting, a management consulting firm that provides services in the areas of strategy, organizational design, human capital transformation, and change management. Melissa’s vision was to break away from the traditional management consulting business model—she wanted a more collaborative, family-driven type of consultancy. Under her leadership, the company is growing rapidly by blending the nimbleness and family-driven culture of a smaller firm with the approaches, methodologies, and capabilities of a larger firm. LinkedIn. Twitter.