Banks Should Strive to Be a ‘Best Company’
By S. Hayes Macarthur
In nearly every survey we’ve seen where corporate leaders are asked to name the No. 1 issue facing their organizations, the nearly unanimous reply is “attracting and retaining good people.”
It has never been easier for job candidates to explore their options. With a little savvy and a couple of clicks on the Internet, prospective employees can get their names in front of dozens of hungry hiring managers, while gathering incredible amounts of information on those potential employers. It is equally easy for headhunters and employers to lure relatively happy employees away from their current employers using advanced tools and aggressive tactics.
That’s why every company, including banking institutions, must strive to be a “best company” – one that offers the best jobs, the best opportunity and the best working environment. Achieving this goes beyond the extra efforts we all naturally make while recruiting new prospective employees. The organization must become an employer where current employees want to stay and continue working.
We have found that individuals evaluating new jobs evaluate their current employers against similar criteria. Banking institutions, whose employee pools are often limited, can be severely disrupted by high employee turnover. That’s why it’s particularly critical for banks to position themselves as places where employees want to work.
Banks should pay particular attention to several key areas of human resources:
• Advancement opportunity: Banking institutions can create formal career paths, outlining three to five year growth, supported by a learning environment. Management must be clear about job expectations for both prospective and current employees and performance and progress must be formally monitored.
• Work and life balance: Practices vary from industry to industry and can be as simple as creating fair time-off practices and rules. A manager who leads by example and solicits employees for suggestions will have employees who are more loyal. Enabling employees to have some control over when, where and how they perform their jobs, for example, could be the difference between an employee who is happy and one who is looking for a new job.
• Inclusion in decisions: The best companies ensure that all employees are valued and can participate in the decision-making process. Practices could be as simple as having an employee suggestion box or even an employee suggestion committee. Employees who contribute to the decision-making process are much more likely to support those decisions.
• Management effectiveness: Both prospective and current employees want to work for managers who set clear expectations and objectives and who know how to deliver feedback. With daily headlines highlighting corporate fraud and illegal activities, organizations that promote corporate integrity will be where people want to work.
• Communicating: Aside from explaining an organization’s goals, news, policies, etc., employers should show how their employees’ jobs connect with the company’s goals. Employees who understand how their individual roles contribute to the bottom line are generally more committed to both those goals and the overall mission. Communication is much more than giving employees information – listening to employees’ suggestions and giving feedback is an important part of the relationship.
• Job satisfaction: Competitive compensation and benefits are factors, but don’t ignore the non-monetary aspects of employment. Employees who are given challenging work – and adequate tools and training – will be more satisfied than those who have been assigned routine and mundane tasks. Perhaps the most important aspect of job satisfaction, not to mention the cheapest, is giving recognition for an individual’s contributions. Unfortunately, too many employers fail to adequately recognize employees for their efforts.
Employers who want to be recognized as a “best company” need to implement and maintain best practices. Best practices need not be expensive to implement and maintain. In fact, many are simply common sense management principles that require zero to little monetary investment. Both existing and prospective employees will certainly recognize companies that are committed to becoming a “best company.”
S. Hayes MacArthur, who holds a Masters of Human Resources Management degree, is director of human resources at Amper, Politziner & Mattia, one of New Jersey’s largest certified public accounting and consulting firms. Amper has recently been named “The Third Best Place to Work in N.J. and No. 1 Public Accounting Firm” by a leading statewide employment survey.