What will workplace culture look like tomorrow?
For many businesses in the banking sector and beyond, the COVID-19 pandemic catalysed and accelerated some significant changes when it comes to workplace culture and practice. From remote and hybrid working schemes, to four day working weeks and vital diversity, equality and inclusion policies, the financial services industry is beginning to change its approach to work.
How are some of these changes expected to manifest in the future? Are these trends here to stay? And will the typically traditional financial sector keep up with the modern shifts in workplace culture?
We spoke to Katharina Ehrhart from the Financial Services Skills Commission, and Heather Thomson from The Data Lab about recruitment, retainment and workplace culture in today’s corporate world.
For many employees, solid professional development opportunities are an important part of career decisions today. However, this is expected to become increasingly important in the future. Careers are elongating as the population lives and works longer than ever. As a result, reskilling and internal training are playing a big role in long-term job satisfaction.
Furthermore, within the financial services industry, rapid technological and economic changes mean that employee development will become more important than ever.
“Just having a competitive salary is not always enough,” says Katharina. “Delivering learning and development opportunities is important.
“We’ve got a great example from a firm in Zurich; they’ve automated their claims handling - which has immediate benefits to their customers because claims processing times have become quicker. But during the process, they worked with their existing employees to future proof the system. They upskilled the employees so that they became the people who can automate the process.”
Arguably the idea that best captures today’s workplace zeitgeist, there is a mixture of new working arrangements being explored across numerous sectors. What will work arrangements look like in the future? If the current setups are anything to go by, then we can expect to see a significant increase in hybrid and remote working schemes. Benefits include a reduction in the overheads associated with running an office, and a reduction in businesses carbon footprints as a result of lessened commuting time.
In the financial services sector, flexitime working, whereby employees are no longer locked into a ‘9-5’ working day, is an option that faces the most backlash. However, this too could be set to shift. Advantages of a relaxation of strict working hours include improved accessibility for parents and carers.
Younger workforces, including the newly arriving Gen Z, are increasingly choosing career paths based upon these kinds of work contracts. Can the finance sector keep up, and ensure they attract the best young talent going forward?
Culture, equality and inclusion
“I’ve been involved in recruiting candidates for a number of years now and the most common question I get these days is to do with the organisation’s culture,” says Heather. “It’s something I never used to have to answer. It's such a competitive market out there, there is a demand for skills and an expectation of coherent DE&I policies”
Examining the workplace culture of tomorrow, it's clear that the financial services industry must embrace and improve its diversity, equality and inclusion approach. Younger generations especially are less likely to take up a professional offer if the company’s values do not match their own.
“DE&I is something our members are committed to; obviously progress has been made,” says Katharina, referring to the many high-profile finance businesses with membership to the Financial Services Skills Commission. “But there is still a lot more to be done. Part of this comes down to attracting and retaining talent. If we look at some of the areas that some individuals are looking to - inclusion is important.”