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By Daniel Mason, Vice President & Regional Sales Director, EMEA at Visier

It’s no secret that the financial services industry is in the midst of a serious (and deepening) skills crisis. In fact, a recent study commissioned by Visier found that as many as 84% of UK HR professionals in financial services companies believe it is already causing major issues within their organisation. What’s more, over two thirds (67%) of the same professionals feel that the lack of skilled candidates available is holding back long-term digital transformation plans, which has the potential to affect their organisation’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.

But with our estimate suggesting the crisis will not be solved for an average of 3.5 years, what can organisations do to attract new staff and importantly, retain those they already have in an increasingly competitive marketplace?

Is an even bigger storm brewing?

Few sectors garner as much media attention about working conditions as financial services. With well over a million people employed in the UK alone, the sector receives near-constant scrutiny regarding work-life balance, job pressures, and of course, pay.

Yet even though the industry’s ongoing struggles are well documented, there’s evidence to suggest the worst is yet to come. Visier’s own research found that more than half (52%) of current UK financial services employees expect to actively look for new jobs outside their existing companies over the next 12 months, with 62% of those considering moving out of the sector altogether. This should set alarm bells ringing for every financial services organisation and raise major questions about the motives behind such a mass migration out of the industry.

Employee experience is more important than ever

Given the events of the past 18 months, it’s easy to assume many of the employees planning to leave have been dissatisfied with their current organisation’s performance during the pandemic, however the opposite would appear to be the case. Of those surveyed, over three quarters (77%) said they felt well supported by their employer during the last year, meaning other factors are at play.

Of course, there’s a multitude of reasons why employees may feel the need to move on, despite having a positive relationship with their existing employer. While these are always unique to each individual, the three most common reasons cited by those questioned were, perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘poor work-life balance’ (43%), ‘salary’ (33%) and ‘feeling undervalued’ (25%).

Following closely behind in fourth place was ‘not being encouraged to learn new skills’ (19%). However, there’s a growing school of thought that this has a much bigger impact on employee satisfaction than the raw data might suggest. Work-life balance and salary have always been major drivers of change, and learning new skills can go a long way towards helping workers address these by improving the value they bring. Furthermore, investing in the skills of employees is a great way for financial services organisations to tangibly demonstrate how much they value them and their contribution to the company as a whole.

Investing in employee skills is key to long-term success

As financial services organisations continue to work on strategies that they hope will turn the tide in the ongoing crisis, an increasing focus on creating new learning opportunities and upskilling current employees will undoubtedly pay significant dividends in the long run. In fact, in a study by LinkedIn, the priority focus areas for 2021 L&D programs in UK organisations include upskilling and reskilling (52%), leadership and management training (51%), diversity and inclusion (33%), and employee wellbeing (31%). Within the study, 63% of L&D professionals surveyed said that their CEO has become an active champion of workplace learning, with employee development has become a higher business priority since COVID-19. Not only can it boost existing employee satisfaction and reduce unwanted churn, but it can also provide the foundations for a new employee-centric culture that bolsters morale even further, helping attract new talent into the business along the way. In fact, the research highlighted how learning skills together as a team can have a positive impact on engagement and foster a sense of belonging.

People analytics can give businesses a crucial edge

For financial services organisations looking to gain a better understanding of their workforce’s needs, people analytics can give them the crucial edge they need. The early insights it provides into key trends, such as disenchantment about skills training, can help organisations address them long before they become major drivers of employee churn. The real-time intelligence it offers can also help inform key business decisions and optimise operational efficiency at every level, creating a better employee experience across the board.

With the ongoing skills crisis showing no signs of abating, financial services organisations need to turn the microscope inwards and examine why employees are choosing to leave their company, or even the industry as a whole. Often there are numerous factors at play, many of which are intertwined with each other, such as a lack of perceived investment in personal skills and development leading to a feeling of being undervalued as an employee. Businesses need to accurately look at what has happened to change the morale of their employees and cause this skills crisis, to then be able to confidently predict what may come or how they should react to it. Tools such as people analytics can help organisations get ahead of these trends and use the insights uncovered to drive meaningful, positive, and long-term change throughout their organisations.

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