Engaging Your Employees—Without the Mumbo Jumbo

By Jeff Szyperski

Looking back on 2018, I think it’s safe to say banking has had a good year. The industry—reflecting the strong economy—produced healthy earnings, and we finally turned a policy corner when Congress passed its first bipartisan regulatory reform legislation in a decade.

But as employees at Chesapeake Bank are used to hearing me say, what made us good this year is not going to make us good next year. That’s not to be pessimistic, just realistic. It acknowledges that we always have to do more, do better or just do things differently if we want to remain successful.

It’s about self-improvement, and we work hard to instill such a culture at our bank because we know our people are our biggest differentiator. When we are deeply engaged in the business of our bank, and we invest in and nurture their development, our bank thrives as well.

The same is true for the industry at large. When banks invest in their employees—and I mean really engage them in banking’s mission while nurturing their careers—our industry will see more success. That’s because engaged employees make passionate advocates, and advocacy is a big part of a banker’s job description these days, whether with policymakers or customers.

It’s also because engaged employees are more likely to be happy in their jobs and make banking their career. Whether their specialty is finance, IT, human resources or marketing, career-minded bank employees who are focused on succeeding in their fields will make banking better.

So how do banking leaders deepen employee engagement? I think it starts by not underestimating their interest in the bigger picture.

While much has been said about the younger generation of workers wanting work that has meaning, the truth is all employees today want to make a difference. They want and need to know that a greater good is being served.

Fortunately for banks, it’s not hard to connect the dots between the fundamental service we provide and the greater good it does for our customers and communities. (ABA has a website that also makes it clear—aba.com/AmericasBanks—where you’ll see dozens of examples of how banks are changing peoples’ lives for the better.)

America’s banks do critically important work. We help make financial dreams come true. That’s a solid mission statement—no mumbo or jumbo. Let’s make sure all of our industry’s 2 million employees know it, understand it, believe it.

Ensuring our employees are passionately engaged in the mission of banking is the best way we can continue our industry’s success and help our communities thrive.