How community banks can use cultural-driven engagement and continuous learning to combat the Great Resignation

By Lindsay LaNore

Aug. 31, 2022

Talent recruitment and professional development has always been a critical issue for community banks, but today’s job market is different. The impact of the “Great Resignation” has placed the workforce in the driver’s seat. Even so, as nimble, local decision makers, community banks have a big opportunity to stand out from the crowd of potential employers.

What Is the Great Resignation and why is it important?

So, what is the “Great Resignation?” It’s the term used to coin the mass exodus of the American workforce in 2021, which many attribute to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this isn’t the first instance of workers abandoning their posts. According to the Harvard Business Review, the quitting trend started more than 10 years ago.

Whether this is a recent development, or the continuation of a long-term trend that has influenced the workforce ecosystem, it’s safe to say that the rules of the road have changed. What worked prior to the pandemic needs to be revisited by business leaders going forward. Business growth hinges on employee engagement and creating an inviting culture. So, how can leaders and organizations avoid turbulent turnover rates and sidestep the fate to which so many companies have fallen victim?

How to Combat the Great Resignation

Many organizations have found that by humanizing the future of work they can attract new employees, reduce turnover, and create a more productive and engaged workforce. A major component of a people-first approach is recognizing the potential of employees. Five practices that ICBA’s Community Banker University employs to embrace a people-first culture are:

  1. Schedule check-ins to identify interests and developmental needs. Test out different frequencies (monthly, every other week, or weekly) and see what works best with each individual.
  2. Provide skills-based training opportunities. Community Banker University offers an assortment of education resources on topical issues such as our Information Systems Auditing Workshop.
  3. Create “stretch” assignments in the form of short-term projects that fall outside an employee’s typical role and job function.
  4. Embrace new ways to collaborate and share knowledge and skills across departments. There are myriad ways to achieve this, some tactics include encouraging brainstorming sessions between colleagues, using a unified online platform like Microsoft Teams for communication, and treating mistakes as learning opportunities.
  5. Nurture leadership potential by providing a mix of technical and power skills training. ICBA’s LEAD FWD Summit is the perfect vehicle for expanding team skills in these areas.

Exploring Culture-Driven Engagement Opportunities

Creating a culture of learning is also a proven way to engage and retain employees. While this requires nurturing and engagement from every corner of the bank, it is time and resources well spent. Encouraging and supporting an environment where people help each other learn constantly can be a positive game changer. In addition to increasing productivity, performance and satisfaction, it can lower attrition rates and absenteeism—creating a healthier workplace. Often, innovation and creativity soar because we allow employees to be curious and explore new ways of thinking.

While the technical banking skills necessary to perform a job will always be required, additional focus must be given to the development of “Power Skills.” Examples include but are not limited to team building, critical thinking, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and new communication and presentation strategies. This is one way to future-proof your bank. Power skills allow bank teams to add value beyond any automated or intelligence system, operate in a digital environment, and continually adapt to new ways of working and new technologies.

One very important way to demonstrate bank leadership’s commitment to continuous learning is by linking learning and performance goals. At the end of the day, providing all employment levels opportunities to learn and grow has profound benefits for a bank. Drive engagement through learning. Do this early and often, and always, remember to make learning fun!

Continuing Education

For further discussion on how implementing professional development programs in the workplace can benefit recruitment and retention, I am co-presenting a session at ICBA’s LEAD FWD Summit, the industry-defining event for mid-to-senior level community bankers. I will be sharing how and why creating a culture that prioritizes professional development is a winning strategy for organizational success.

Join us to gain a deeper understanding of the industry, learn how to incorporate today’s trends into your own practices, and work with other community bankers who are not direct competitors to explore new banking strategies. Discover more on this phenomenal learning opportunity and invaluable information for community banks here.