Ask any school-leaver what profession they want to enter, and banking is unlikely to appear on their short-list. The banking industry has an image problem among job-seekers. And it’s worsening an increasingly severe shortage of talent.  

The scramble for talent is one of the Accenture Banking Top 10 Trends for 2022. Banking executives in Europe rate the scarcity of talent as one of their biggest challenges this year. While it is most acute in critical technology roles, it’s affecting almost every aspect of the banking business. 

So, how can banks attract and retain the talent they need? 

First, we need to step back and see why banking has a poor image among many skilled workers.  

While industries across the board have long struggled to secure top talent, banks could once rely on their reputations for stability, clear career paths and generous benefits to attract most of the personnel they needed. Now, a new generation of workers is more often looking to join flexible work environments where their contribution is quickly recognized and affirmed. They’re willing to make frequent career switches in search of new experiences and challenges. And they’re prepared to take responsibility for their own futures.  

The traditional strengths enjoyed by banks in their quest for talent in the past have lost much of their appeal. In fact, they’ve become a no-no for many job seekers. 

Yet, banks can be great places for young skilled professionals to work. These companies are often at the forefront of new technologies, they’re currently building innovative business models to meet the changing needs of a diverse range of customers, and they are playing a critical role in advancing ESG initiatives and building a sustainable economy. There’s plenty to get excited about. 

Four steps to win back talent  

To regain the high ground in the scramble for talent, some leading banks are exploring new ways of attracting and retaining skilled workers. Spurred by their experiences during the pandemic, when they had to suddenly reconfigure their workforces and give employees the flexibility to work remotely, they’re tackling the demand for talent holistically. These organizations are developing integrated strategies that address the needs, resources and objectives of their businesses. Key steps in this process include: 

  • Creating a blueprint of skills requirements for the short, medium and long terms, across all levels of the business. 
  • Identifying multiple sources of skills. These span internal and external hiring, reskilling and redeploying talent, and “borrowing” skilled workers from business partners and service providers. 
  • Aligning workplace culture to business objectives. Traditional workplace cultures, which are often hierarchical, bureaucratic and siloed, will likely need to be transformed to encourage the flexibility and collaboration required to support new business models. 
  • Communicating the organization’s social purpose. Banks perform a vital role in helping their communities, and broader society, thrive. They need to ensure that they acknowledge their workers’ contribution to this social purpose and affirm the value and purpose of their work. 

New initiatives by progressive banks to transform themselves into innovative and attractive employers are bound to encounter obstacles. The introduction of remote work opportunities for large numbers of employees, for example, is still in its infancy. It will likely challenge attitudes towards performance monitoring, remuneration and career development. Similarly, the common gap between what executives believe employees need and what workers expect from their employer is likely to persist. 

Nonetheless, banks must change their approach to attracting and retaining talent. If they don’t, they’ll struggle to secure the skills they need to succeed in their rapidly changing industry. 

In my next blog post, I’ll examine why banks need to ready themselves for sweeping sustainability regulations that will soon be enforced in Europe. 

To discuss how banks can overcome the talent squeeze, contact me here. To learn more, read the full report, Banking Top 10 Trends for 2022:

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