4 HR Challenges in the Financial Services Industry (And How to Overcome Them)

November 9, 2021 | Shannon Shoemaker

The financial services industry prides itself on stability and security in an uncertain world. However, that can mean becoming inflexible and slow to change, even when rapid transformation is crucial.

From advancing technology to generational changes to the COVID-19 pandemic, financial services organizations have faced many challenges in recent years. Some of these challenges have affected human resources departments in particular.

The following are four of the greatest challenges facing financial services HR departments and how HR leaders can overcome them.

 

1. Providing Long-term Remote Work Opportunities

PwC’s Remote Work Survey found that, prior to COVID-19, only 29% of financial services companies had at least 60% of their employees working from home once a week or more. After the pandemic, however, 69% of companies expect 60% or more of their workers to work remotely at least once a week.

Employers have been challenged to create a hybrid workplace that can accommodate both in-person and remote employees. Moving forward, financial services companies and their HR leaders should examine what worked during the pandemic and what did not. Tana Thomson, Chief People Officer at Portland-based Vista Capital Partners, said that her company is conducting more frequent employee surveys. New hires receive an “onboarding buddy” to check in on a weekly basis. Such tactics like these can help workplaces evolve.

Workforce leaders should consider how remote work affects different roles, from accountants to financial advisers to traders. Take note of the different challenges that remote employees face, such as childcare needs or collaboration with coworkers. Some employees may have more people-oriented skills that are difficult to adapt to remote work. This can help HR leaders determine what tools can help employees be more effective remotely.

 

2. Competing for Top Talent

Like other industries, financial services providers are facing tough competition in recruiting and hiring the best candidates. Some key problems include:

  • Finding candidates with the right skills, especially a combination of digital and financial experience;
  • Attracting mid- and upper-level professionals;
  • Retaining existing employees; and
  • Offering appealing benefits and salaries.

 

Financial services companies should offer attractive starting salaries and other benefits if they want to draw ideal candidates. They must also add non-monetary value in the workplace, including a desirable company culture and professional development opportunities.

In addition, HR leaders should make the hiring and onboarding process as attractive and seamless as possible. This may include increased automation in recruitment and hiring, to help expand the talent pool and save time for both employers and candidates. Skill-based assessments can also help HR departments determine if a candidate is the right fit. Making the interview and hiring process easy for the new hire creates a foundation for employee loyalty and engagement.

 

3. Addressing Workforce Mental Health

Mental health has become an important workplace issue in the wake of the pandemic. HR leaders at financial services firms should not be afraid to address the topic. Financial services employees may still face fears of disease or job loss, or anxiety about the safety and care of loved ones. Public-facing employees may experience emotional exhaustion from serving individuals in financial difficulties.

Financial services providers should consider adding or expanding employee wellness programs to include mental wellbeing. Employers may offer training in stress management or connect employees to resources that can help with mental health directly, or with underlying factors, such as financial needs. HR leaders should survey employees to determine their stress levels and potential causes and determine which changes or programs have been most helpful.

 

4. Maintaining Employee Engagement

Even when remote work functions smoothly, keeping employees engaged can still be challenging. HR leaders should help build a company culture and workflow that engages and empowers employees.

  • Make a good first impression with a positive onboarding process that builds a relationship and ensures that new employees have the tools to build the skills they need to be successful.
  • Actively solicit employee feedback and conduct regular performance reviews. Address any problems with realistic plans that enrich both the company and the employee.
  • Communication with employees should be open, frequent, and varied. Avoid using one single channel or format to share company news or HR announcements. Instead, use different, targeted methods, such as email, intranet hub posts, video, or SMS.

 

Staying flexible and open to employee needs will foster a more engaged, efficient, and dynamic workforce. Rather than becoming static and resistant to change, financial services organizations that adapt to new challenges will be more successful in building an engaged, productive workforce.

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