Unleashing empowerment and motivation

by Vicki Kraai

Is your bank facing challenges in inspiring its team members? Perhaps you’ve observed a dip in performance and you’re uncertain about the reasons for this or what the appropriate course of action should be. Employee retention might also be a pressing concern for you. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, continue reading for recommended steps in self-discovery. Explore strategies for motivating and empowering your workforce for a more engaged and productive workplace.

Employee engagement, according to management consulting company Gallup, encompasses the active involvement and enthusiasm that employees demonstrate toward their work and workplace.

Who plays a crucial role in fostering this engagement? Ideally, it involves HR professionals along with leadership and team management. Your people portfolio stands out as one of the most vital aspects to oversee within your organization. When managed effectively, it not only enhances the work environment, but also positively impacts return on investment — yes, the bottom line.

To kickstart your journey toward intentional empowerment and motivation in the workplace and to foster self-reflection, consider the following foundational questions.

#1: Do you know why employees STAY or LEAVE your organization?
 Yes     Sort of…     We really have no clue

For years, companies have held exit interviews to understand the reasons behind someone’s decision to leave the organization. While this process remains valuable when handled effectively, it prompts us to question why companies aren’t actively seeking insights from current employees on why they choose to stay and not explore opportunities elsewhere. This presents a valuable opportunity to leverage — and potentially market — your strengths in attracting new talent. What are you doing to succeed in retaining engaged employees? It’s worth delving into these specifics beyond industry statistics, as they are tailored to your organization and its unique position in the market.

What is impactful in the eyes of your current employees? Is it your health insurance benefits, flexible hours, work-from-home options, paid time off for community service, tuition assistance or gym memberships? If you don’t know, you need to find out.

#2: Are you creating opportunities to LISTEN to your employees?
 Surveys     1:1 meetings or any forum/feedback sessions
 We rely on our managers for this     No, not at this time

Have you fostered a culture that encourages open communication across all team levels? Are your leaders bold enough to ask crucial questions such as what practices should be continued, discontinued or initiated? The goal is to create an environment where every team member feels empowered to advocate for the customer or the team itself, prioritizing purpose over politics.

Organizations excelling in this endeavor typically implement an organization-wide listening strategy rather than relying solely on individual departments. Successful managers prioritize this strategy, demonstrating a heightened interest in fostering communication and collaboration throughout the entire organization.

#3: Do you ACT on what you learn from your surveys and employee feedback?
 Compiled survey results     Held feedback sessions
 Acted on survey/feedback results     No, not at this time

Continual feedback, regardless of its origin, loses its impact if you consistently fail to follow up or respond to the insights provided by employees. When sending a powerful message, you need to demonstrate your commitment to valuing their input.

The goal is to convey a message of enthusiasm for adaptation and innovation in your approach, both in your work methods and in the ways you support others. The end result should inspire a culture where embracing change and continuous improvement is not just encouraged, but celebrated.

One last note

Organizations equipped with in-house talent development professionals have a strategic advantage. Investing in your people is one of the best things companies can do for the bottom line, and the addition of a dedicated talent development professional is becoming a popular strategic direction we are seeing in the workplace.

In addition, establish a well-structured committee aimed to elevate the overall employee experience. Comprised of HR professionals, individuals involved in onboarding, team leaders and managers, this committee will play a pivotal role in navigating the contemporary challenges of attracting, hiring, retaining and motivating employees. Recognizing the power of a holistic focus on the employee journey can significantly enhance your company’s competitive edge in the dynamic landscape of talent acquisition and retention.

Vicki KraaiVicki Kraai is the CEO of InterAction Training, a company passionate about developing people in the financial services industry. Kraai is also on the faculty at the Graduate School of Banking – Wisconsin’s HR Management School and GSB, Leadership Development.

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