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Investing in Your Team

Always remember that your employees are your greatest asset

By Loni Meiborg

“People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers.”
— Unknown

“Those who have a best friend at work are twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs.”
— 2018 Gallup Poll

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
— Helen Keller

We’ve heard it all. We’ve read it all. We’ve experienced most of it. But how, in today’s tumultuous employment atmosphere, do we keep our team engaged, grow great talent, and keep everyone happy without breaking the bank (both the brick-and-mortar and the piggy bank)?

With average costs of onboarding a new employee exceeding $4,100, it’s in every bank’s best interest to crack this code. Taking a page from the marketer’s playbook, it is much more cost effective to focus on growing existing relationships than acquiring new ones. And that adage adds up for employees as well. Here are six strategies to consider to build strength and longevity among your team:

Purpose

Most people will agree, without purpose there’s no point. In fact, performance soars when you can tie an employee’s work to a bank-wide purpose. Providing a strong purpose to an employee’s role will ensure a deeper level of engagement, and even increased satisfaction.

To do this, make sure you are providing transparent communication. Explain the goals of the team, the bank, and offer a big picture perspective. Take an active interest in their development, both professionally and personally when possible. When their service positively impacts the overall goal of the bank, make sure they know that they are part of that success, it will encourage them to find more ways to contribute.

Development

Each year Fortifi Bank surveys its employees to measure satisfaction. And each year, the number one desire is for more career advancement opportunities. An interesting response since, if you asked senior management, they would say the sky is the limit for every employee. So where is the disconnect?

During monthly check-ins, have open conversation about what each employee wants to be “when they grow up.” Then find the appropriate training and development opportunities to support that. Let them know you’re grooming them towards their goals, even if it’s in a different department. Once the right position opens, they’ll be ready and set-up for success. Don’t let your stellar employees leave for a “perceived” growth opportunity — offer it to them first.

Recognition

No matter how long you’ve been a leader, rewards and recognition take constant focus and practice. Set up a system — whether it is a Microsoft® Outlook reminder or an assistant who follows through — to ensure your rewards and recognition efforts are timely and consistent. Although major performance achievements and milestones are important to note, don’t miss the little things either. Post their achievement on the intranet for all to celebrate, send flowers to a new parent or grandparent. When that big project wraps up, acknowledge their work and share your appreciation. Making that human connection with each employee will quell fears, instill trust, and develop a lasting relationship.

Voice

Okay, one more quote —

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden. It’s deadly.”
— Mark Sanborn

This topic is multi-faceted. In part because when an employee has a voice at work, it opens the door for them to influence decisions. The other part is building the confidence that when an idea, concern, or perspective is expressed, there will be no workplace consequences.

When both are accomplished appropriately, you will get the feedback you need to achieve better results as well as having the team’s full support along the way. Make sure you’re asking for their
input regularly.

Share ideas and concepts well before execution to give them time to process and come back with a thoughtful response. And, whether you take their suggestions or not, it is important to circle back to share why their thoughts were accepted or rejected; and regardless of which, recognize their contributions to the conversation.

Solutions

When building trust among your team, you need a sharp focus on being solution oriented. You might say, “well then what am I paying them for,” but I’m not talking about the day-to-day blocking and tackling. I’m talking about the issues that impact their passion, purpose, and drive to do a good job.

If a team (or individual) is toxic, they look to you for resolution. If they’ve hit a hurdle (or brick wall) on a project they want to see through, they look to you to remove it. If they need a change in process that is outside of their authority, they look to you to have their back. So, ask yourself, do your employees have frustrations? Take them seriously. Work with them to build an action plan and then see it through. You will have their loyalty in return.

Compensation

It is not by accident I list this one last. Don’t get me wrong, money is still a high priority for many, however, with the right mix of compensation strategies, it doesn’t just come down to dollars and cents. In fact, if you jump right to money and skip the previous five strategies, you’ll find your employee turnover rate growing.

Nowadays people expect flexibility. And no, this doesn’t only mean “work from home.” They want to make it to their child’s dance recital at 3 p.m., they want to work at night sometimes to accommodate a later start to their day, they want to take a vacation without feeling guilty. That’s flexibility.

So do your due diligence when setting your compensation philosophy and dive into market research, but keep an eye on what else their package includes. Take an interest in their mental and financial health to keep your employees feeling appreciated. And, when you can, give them grace and stop watching the clock.

If you plan to adopt these or other strategies to engage your employee base on a deeper level, be sure to align your efforts with your entire management team for consistency as they will not be as effective when administered in a silo. In fact, if done in a here-or-there approach, it could cause animosity between teams and break down your culture even faster.

Engagement strategies should also reflect your company’s core values, which are truly the cornerstone of your culture. Consider your values when creating strategies, and how you deliver those strategies — it will make all the difference.

We know things will likely get harder when conducting business and the competition is fierce. Recognize that employees are your greatest asset and take good care of them; in turn, they will take good care of your customers. The dividends are priceless and the rewards vast.

Meiborg is senior vice president – organizational development at Fortifi Bank, Berlin, a member of the 2022–2023 WBA Marketing Committee, and serves as past chair of the WBA BOLT Section Board of Directors.