Finance Sector Needs New Focus on Culture to Attract Talent

Study finds job seekers desire more innovation, flexibility and time for volunteering

By Roy Maurer Jun 7, 2017
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Workers in the financial services industry—still rehabilitating its image for its role in the 2008 economic collapse—are searching for new jobs with flexibility, meaningful work and innovation. 

A new survey commissioned by workforce management software firm Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Future Workplace, an executive development firm, found that 62 percent of 806 financial services employees feel that the 2008 crisis still impacts how they view the industry. On the positive side, nearly 75 percent believe that the financial services sector can recover from its tarnished image. The survey was conducted between March 27 and April 4.

"Employees today care about competitive pay and benefits, but they also care deeply about flexibility, meaningful work and choosing an employer that is a good corporate citizen," said Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace. "By promoting flexible environments, investing in philanthropy and connecting [the work they do] to positive changes in the world, financial services institutions can continue to succeed and grow in today's global economy and remain an attractive industry for the younger generations."

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they are interested in remaining in the industry, but more than 25 percent said they are more interested in working in the technology industry, especially Generation Z and Millennial employees (39 percent).

"While high-potential grads from top universities used to make a beeline for lucrative careers in finance, today's young people are increasingly pursuing jobs in tech," Schawbel said.

In another study Future Workplace conducted with global staffing firm Randstad, with more than 4,000 Millennials and members of Generation Z, only 10 percent were interested in a career in finance, while 27 percent said they were interested in working in the tech industry.

"High-potential grads want to work at tech companies like Google and Facebook because they are more innovative in nature, give employees a deeper sense of purpose and offer flexibility," Schawbel said.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Recruiting Externally and Internally]

Additional highlights from the Kronos/Future Workplace survey include:

  • 76 percent of respondents said they are driven by more than money when they seek a new job, and 73 percent said they need to see what a company stands for before joining. In addition, 52 percent said they need their company to have a strong philanthropic mission. "Whether it's through department or team volunteer days, providing volunteer hour options so employees can take time to give back to the community is a great way to better the working experience," said Malysa O'Connor, senior director of the financial services practice group at Kronos.
  • 80 percent of respondents said they wish their employer offered flexible or compressed schedules, and 69 percent said they need flexibility and telecommuting options to stay in the financial services field. O'Connor recommended employers include more remote work and flexible work arrangements to provide greater autonomy to top performers and re-examine shift patterns and more-flexible scheduling for hourly workers. "Open PTO [paid time off] policies are another option as a lot of organizations are moving to unlimited time off arrangements that give people flexibility to manage their time as long as they are meeting all performance objectives," she said.
  • 79 percent of respondents said that working for an innovative company is important to them. "Innovation has become one of the biggest buzzwords in corporate America," Schawbel said. "You can't change the world, or even make a lot of money, if your company is stagnant. Companies that invest more in FinTech [a growing area of financial services technology] may be able to get employees excited about working there."
  • Respondents said that their company could improve innovation by allowing for the free flow of ideas (53 percent), having a budget for investing in ideas (37 percent), holding idea competitions (35 percent) and hiring entrepreneurial employees (31 percent).

O'Connor advised HR not to neglect employee development. "If there is an open dialogue between employees and managers, then they can work together on a development plan that helps employees meet their personal and career-growth goals," she said. "With training, mentorships and opportunities for learning, employees feel like the company is invested in their success."

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