I believe the “human connection” of middle market banks has always set them apart. This focus isn’t just about how banks treat their customers. It’s also about how they treat their employees—and how that translates into a positive employee experience that makes a bank a great place to work. 

The power of human connections at work   

I can’t think of another time when a positive employee experience has been more important. Middle market banks are struggling with staff shortages across roles—tellers, call center representatives, technologists and more. After two years of working in crisis mode, some employees are burnt out. Others are rethinking what work-life balance means for both their professional growth and personal well-being.  

These challenges got me thinking about what it really means to improve people’s experiences at work. Our Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, Ellyn Shook, recently co-authored a research report that explores the importance of fostering an “omni-connected” experience at work. Omni-connected experiences help employees feel connected, on expressly human terms, to their organization, the people they work for, and the people they work with.  

The research reveals that just one in six employees feels this way at work. I’m sure you know from personal experience how important it is for employees to feel highly connected. What you may not realize is how important it is for banks. Organizations with omni-connected employees can gain up to a 7.4% revenue growth boost per year. They can also improve trust, retention and productivity. With gains like these at stake, what middle market bank wouldn’t want to foster omni-connected experiences?  

Banks have a strong foundation to build from  

Here’s more good news. As I see it, many middle market banks are doing much of this already. After all, human connection is part of their purpose and identity. Rather than start from a blank slate, they have a solid foundation to build on as they strengthen and extend omni-connected experiences for bank employees. There are four key actions that the research describes, all of which are relevant to middle market banks: 

  1. Instill modern leadership. When I think of modern leadership in the context of a middle market bank, trustworthiness is the first word that comes to mind. It’s the foundation of every banking relationship, and the employee relationship is no exception. Employees want to trust that leaders are making decisions with their interests in mind. They expect them to lead with empathy and transparency. Employee trust, especially in today’s environment, comes from knowing that they are free to speak up and share their perspectives—that middle market bank leaders will listen, learn and act on feedback to improve the workplace.   
  2. Grow a thriving culture. Middle market banks have purpose-driven cultures. Their values and ways of working are tied to serving people and small businesses in local communities. There’s nothing else like it in banking, and it’s a draw for many prospective employees. In addition to an unshakable grounding in purpose, a thriving middle market bank culture allows employees more autonomy. This freedom could mean less rigid organizational structures that give employees more decision-making responsibility. Or it could be nurturing a culture that welcomes experimentation—where perfection doesn’t stand in the way of progress.  
  3. Enable the agile organization. Top banking talent isn’t interested in old-school work styles grounded in complex processes that focus more on what you can’t do. They want more room to work in agile sprints while enjoying opportunities to showcase their skills and learn new ones. While some banks “hide behind” regulators, insisting that stage gates are unavoidable and agile operations aren’t possible, this isn’t always true. Consider the story of a financial technology firm. We helped them with an agile transformation of their largest line of business. It was so successful that they expanded the effort to an enterprise-wide agile transformation.  
  4. Empower people through technology. Whether middle market bank employees are tellers, loan officers or developers, their experience now involves digital technologies. In fact, I think that banking is one of the more advanced industries when it comes to digital employee experiences. 

Middle market banks should keep pushing from this place of strength. As digital tools continue to advance, banks should explore how they can help employees do more interesting work. They should also look to ways that digital tools can help employees achieve the work-life balance they need to stay happy, engaged and productive.  

More human connection pays off for everyone 

Middle market banks are in an excellent position to enable omni-connected experiences for their employees. Now they just have to build from there. Because when middle market banks commit to making their banks even greater places to work, everyone wins—employees, local communities and banks, too. 

To learn more about how middle market banks can create omni-connected experiences for their employees, please contact me here or connect with me on LinkedIn. 

Learn more on “How middle market banks can play to win.”  

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