Attracting and retaining talent is increasingly becoming a critical business risk


Difficulties in finding and retaining talent have become both a challenge and a risk for companies in all geographies and industries. This problem is further magnified as companies increasingly embrace new technologies and their growth strategies rely on new skills to enable the returns on these investments.

Banks, for example, have invested heavily in technology – in areas such as cloud, artificial intelligence, core operations and cybersecurity – increasing their reliance on tech-savvy talent. Banks are finding, however, that people simply cannot keep pace with technology and change. As a result, the expected benefits of applying many of these technologies, such as speed, insight, and agility, are often simply not realized. Lack of the necessary talent could lead to execution risks, gaps in customer service and potential compliance issues.

Other factors compound the problem. People have discovered during the pandemic that they have more career options than they thought as working from home and virtual work models have become the norm and demand for skilled workers far outstrips supply . The pandemic has allowed for greater transparency on pay, benefits, and also on what companies are doing (or not doing) to address work-life balance issues. At the same time, the work-from-home model has reduced the friction of moving between jobs. Consider that about 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in February, marking the ninth straight month that quits exceeded 4 million per month.

Most companies have failed to understand the need for change in the workplace. And our research, in fact, shows that industries like banking and finance need to do more to create engaging and positive cultures that focus on the employee experience. These companies tend to pay well and offer good career opportunities, but that alone is no longer enough. Industry structure, culture and practices must continue to evolve to attract talent and retain existing employees, many of whom are ideal targets for other companies seeking their skills.

And increasing pay usually doesn’t solve the problem; there is no strong link between compensation levels and attrition over long periods. Organizations can pay well, but still have a poor culture and generally continue to shed talent. Compensation alone cannot overcome a poor culture.

a lot of work to do

The talent issue is real, important and critical. There is a gap between leaders’ perception of what their employees need and employees’ perception of what their company should be doing to support them. To close this gap, companies need to adopt a more human-centric approach, paying particular attention to areas such as:

Physical and emotional well-being of employees

Give workers meaning and meaning in their daily work

Create trust and a positive environment in the workplace

Do more in areas such as inclusion and diversity

To address talent risk, we recommend three key first steps:

1. Listen. It means hearing what employees are saying and finding out what they need to do their jobs more effectively.

2. Experiment. Companies should consider new flexible working arrangements, localization strategies, and different ways to measure employee contributions to organizational success.

3. Invest. Most companies need to invest more in learning and development programs to keep employee skills in line with market demands and give them time to take advantage of these opportunities. It may also be necessary to spend more on technology that makes work (and life) easier for workers.

Our research has shown that organizations that continuously invest in their people, including cultivating skills and developing future talent at scale, and aligning their technology strategies with business growth can unlock more human potential and value than their peers. In fact, leaders in these areas are more likely to achieve greater technology transformation outcomes, including improved organizational agility and innovation and improved customer experience.

The changing composition and attitude of the workforce is permanent and the risk of inaction by business leaders is great. This is not a problem that can be solved by compensation alone. Employees are increasingly seeking a technology-driven culture, forcing institutions to adapt to new ways of working to enable agility, collaboration, and continuous learning. For organizations, culture matters more than ever, and it’s important for leaders to think about how their cultures can evolve to be more employee-centric.

Dr. Bridie Fanning, Talent and Organization Manager for Banking Services at Accenture, contributed to this post.


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