How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Banking Sector

How-to-Improve-Employee-Engagement-in-the-Banking-SectorBanking industry leaders are facing significant challenges to manage their talent. According to Quantum Workplace research, only 50 percent of employees in the banking sector are highly engaged and 35 percent are a retention risk. 

Attracting, retaining, and engaging skilled employees has proved difficult amidst the low unemployment rates currently experienced in the job market.

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As employees have an increased power to seek out attractive organizations that meet their needs, banking industry leaders have struggled branding themselves as an employer of choice, to both frontline and corporate employees. And a skills gap rising amidst an industry-wide digital transformation has made retention initiatives even more difficult to navigate. 

To make strides toward employee and business success in the banking world, leaders need to prioritize employee engagement. Shape your retention strategy around the employee experience to increase productivity, boost morale, and retain top talent. 


What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the mental and emotional connection that employees feel toward their work, team, and organization. The connection can be strong or weak, based on employee perceptions. 

Employee engagement is important to employee, team, and business success. Organizations with a highly engaged workforce report lower turnover, higher employee morale, and stronger business outcomes. 


Why is employee engagement important in the banking sector?

Employee engagement is important in every industry, especially as “the great resignation” has triggered a high competition for talent in organizations nationwide. 

Based on quit rate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial services will reach a record-high voluntary turnover rate of 18.4 percent by the end of 2021.

Based on our research, 35 percent of employees in the banking industry are considered a retention risk. Top reasons for turnover include:

  • Negative perceptions of pay
  • Lack of career growth
  • Poor communication during times of change

Engagement and turnover go hand in hand. And the state of employee engagement in the banking industry doesn’t look great. Our research shows only 50 percent of employees in the banking sector report high engagement. 

To retain top talent and maximize your success, your employee engagement strategies should be top of mind. When you regularly assess and adjust your initiatives, you can better support your employees to stay engaged, perform at their best, and drive business outcomes.


Employee engagement statistics in the banking industry

1. 35 percent of employees in the banking sector are a retention risk.

At average banking organizations, over one third of the workforce is at risk of turnover. But this retention risk drops to 24 percent at organizations identified as a Best Place to Work.

Continue to prioritize employee engagement in your retention initiatives. When employees feel supported, valued, and aligned, they are less likely to look for work elsewhere. 

2. Only 50 percent of employees in the banking sector are highly engaged. 

With the right engagement strategies in place, half of your workforce could be more satisfied, productive, and successful. In those organizations identified as a Best Place to Work, 69 percent of banking employees are highly engaged. 

These workplaces measure and analyze employee engagement regularly—and prioritize their employees through a variety of engagement strategies and a strong employee value proposition. Consider re-evaluating your employee value proposition to reverse any disengagement within your workforce

3. Senior leaders are responsible for the #1 driver of employee engagement in the banking sector.

Senior leaders have a large impact on employee engagement in this industry. The disconnect between customer-facing employees and corporate employees must be remedied to improve employee engagement. 

Branch employees perceive a gap in communication, recognition, and developmental opportunities, which makes them feel undervalued. But engagement increases the most when employees believe their leaders value them as the organization’s most important resource. 

4. Only 35 percent of banking employees believe senior leadership is leading their organization in the right direction.

The vast majority of banking employees aren’t confident in senior leadership. Leadership has a large impact on employee engagement, but unfortunately, only 35 percent believe their leaders are on the right track. 

To remedy this lack of trust, leaders need to communicate better. When employees know the “why” behind business initiatives and important decisions, they are more likely to have buy-in and high engagement. In fact, of the 35 percent of employees that report trust in their leaders, two thirds are engaged. 

5. Only 32 percent of employees in the banking sector believe their immediate supervisor sets a good example for them to follow. 

Senior leaders aren’t the only leaders that have an impact on employee engagement—your managers have a big impact too. The impact these leaders make directly affects employees’ day-to-day experience at work. 

When employees don’t have a good relationship and connection with their manager, they may lose motivation, productivity, and engagement. Help managers build strong relationships with employees to maximize their engagement and performance. 


Employee engagement activities in the banking industry

The top drivers of employee engagement give insight into what matters in the employee experience. Shape your employee engagement strategy and activities with these drivers in mind for optimal results. 

Top driver: “My job allows me to utilize my strengths.”

Employees want a job that they enjoy. Engaging roles are challenging, but they should leverage your employees’ strengths. 

Suggested employee engagement activities:

  • Clearly outline job duties and required professional skills in the interviewing process.
  • Regularly check in with employees and ask for feedback to understand their perceptions.
  • Ask questions like, “Are your responsibilities what you expected?”
  • Provide outlets for them to put their strengths to use.
  • Leverage transparent communication about available growth opportunities.
  • Invest in your employees’ skills, development, and career growth. 

Top driver: “If I contribute to the organization’s success, I know I will be recognized.”

If employees don’t feel appreciated for going above and beyond, they have no reason to continue that behavior in the future. Without meaningful recognition, your top performers can become average performers quickly, or even leave the organization altogether.

Suggested employee engagement activities: 

  • Stay updated on employee initiatives to provide proper recognition.
  • Leverage public and private recognition.
  • Be specific and outline exactly what you appreciated in your employees’ efforts.
  • Highlight your employees’ value to the company.
  • Recognize both teams and individuals. 
  • Show your appreciation with praise, promotions, or raises, if warranted. 


Top driver: “My opinions seem to count at work.”

Employees need to feel heard and seen in the workplace. Leaders should listen for and celebrate employees’ input, as they have valuable insight into your workplace. By listening to employees, you can actively increase their engagement levels. 

Suggested employee engagement activities:

  • Ask for and listen to continuous feedback from employees.
  • Request feedback regarding the employee experience and business initiatives.
  • Avoid taking feedback personally.
  • Create a plan and act on received feedback. 
  • Follow-up and communicate your plan of action to employees.
  • Stress the importance of employee feedback and communicate your appreciation. 


Top driver: “I trust our senior leaders to lead the company to future success.”

Employees and their leaders need to have a strong foundation of trust to reap high engagement levels. Employees need to understand where the company is going and why. 

Suggested employee engagement activities:

  • Communicate transparently about business initiatives.
  • Outline the “why” behind important decisions.
  • Leverage a two-way communication model that welcomes questions. 
  • Take employee input into account.
  • Keep employees updated on key metrics and progress on goals. 
  • Communicate the outcome of your initiatives. 


Employee engagement software for banks 

The right employee engagement platform can help streamline your initiatives to increase trust, communication, alignment, continuous listening, and recognition. 

Improve the employee experience and implement a trusted solution to promote employee, team, and business success. 

  • Engagement, pulse, and lifecycle surveys help leaders gain insight into the perceptions of employees to make the right adjustments to the employee experience.
  • An effective one-on-one tool helps managers and employees have simplified and meaningful conversations about engagement and performance. 
  • A valuable feedback tool provides an outlet for your workplace to give—and ask for—thoughts, tips, and coaching to further push growth and development. 
  • The right recognition platform allows every employee to give and receive recognition, both private and public—helping employees and teams feel more valued. 
  • Goal software helps your employees stay motivated, aligned, and productive. 

While the banking sector has been difficult to navigate with high turnover rates in 2021, shifting your strategy and prioritizing employee engagement can help. Adopt our strategies to support your employees and create a top-performing workforce. 

Interested in learning more? Learn how HR is driving business success in Finance and Insurance with the right employee engagement, performance management, and people analytics tools.

3 ways HR is driving business success in finance and insurance

Published November 16, 2021 | Written By Kristin Ryba