Employers from the financial service industry are shifting office culture to be more empathetic and are providing additional benefits to help employees cope with the COVID-19 crisis and beat burnout.
While employees invited the workplace into their homes and dealt with unprecedented anxiety that spread across their family, work and personal areas, human resources acted as a catalyst and stepped up and supported their employees and prioritized their mental and emotional wellbeing whenever required.
COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest health and economic crisis that the world has ever seen. The disruption brought by the pandemic impacted all businesses – banking, financial services, and the insurance industry was no different. All financial firms responded quickly to ensure business continuity amid this pandemic. Adapting to the right technology played a big role in differentiating the organisation, but Human Resources played a major role while facing hardships and getting adapted to challenges which the pandemic has brought around.
Employees from the financial service industry have shown exemplary perseverance, professionalism and dedication to serve millions of customers, especially the workforce from the banking institutions were like frontline workers, who ensured that essential service like banking was available to customers even during the lockdown. Behind this, there have been a lot of efforts involved, sacrifices made by every individual banker and HR played a critical role in building capabilities, providing emotional support across the employee life cycle that led to this consistent delivery.
A year into COVID- 19 pandemic, most of the organizations had stagnant growth due to a reduction in the demand which led to delay in business expansion plans, less spending, and minimization of the cost for maintaining the required margins for survival.
The hiring trend was also seen to be moving downwards, as such there have been very few opportunities in the job market for young graduates. Professionals in several other industries lost their jobs which forced them to accept positions in fields they wanted to leave or said yes to jobs they were overqualified for because they simply needed the money. Decisions like these were painful but may have been necessary for the short run. Few missed out on their promotions and lost their professional growth.
No one enjoys the feeling of getting stalled or moving backwards professionally. In fact, one of the researches shows that one of the most powerful indicators of employee’s mood and satisfaction is the feeling they are making progress toward a meaningful goal.
Banking & financial institutions have also felt the same challenges for loss of demand for credit and deposits. Since banking has been the backbone for the financial system of our economy, it has played a much-needed role to ensure continuous liquidity in the market. Overall, to keep such continuity and delivery of service, the workforce was required to be kept motivated and to be cared for during such tough times.
Employees had to face burnout for a short time due to change in workplace dynamics, the same expected level of contributions amid loneliness, and fear and insecurity with uncompensated loss of family members during the entire period. While employees invited the workplace into their homes and dealt with unprecedented anxiety that spread across their family, work and personal areas, human resources acted as a catalyst and stepped up and supported their employees and prioritized their mental and emotional wellbeing whenever required.
As HR, the biggest lesson learnt from the challenges of the pandemic is that we have had to become compassionate and sensitive to the needs of our people while staying focused on the delivery of tasks as well.
Apart from mindset and acceptance, trust in your employees is the key to empower work associations. As every HR process from onboarding to exit interviews got digitized there was a far greater need to have conversations with the employees regarding these changes
The year witnessed several HR Initiatives across organisations, like introducing work from home, employee wellness programs, virtual employee engagement practices, employee self-service tools, virtual helpdesk, and much more.
Let’s Explore How Financial/ Banking Institutions are Dealing with Employee Burnout during the Pandemic.
Work from Home and Hybrid Workplace: Many Institutions have been venturing into a hybrid workplace giving employees flexibility while retaining the traditional workplace. As per research through internal feedback from employees, most of the non-customer-facing roles would like to continue working from home while others felt loneliness in the initial part of the days.
Apart from mindset and acceptance, trust in your employees is the key to empower work associations. As every HR process from onboarding to exit interviews got digitized there was a far greater need to have conversations with the employees regarding these changes.
Harmony between Work and Family: There were, however, some concern areas especially in child care, leading to employees working late nights and even on weekends. Younger employees were also struggling due to several reasons including lack of infrastructure at home and the need to seek help and direction from colleagues and mentors. Other issues led to employee burnout including anxiety, fatigue, and over communication. HR had to be extra sensitive while dealing with those problems and effective steps were taken to enable employees to build their networks outside their immediate work interactions.
Redefining Employee Experience, Wellbeing and Nurturing a Culture of Collaborations: During the lockdown, employees learnt to manage work and life together at home and strived to maintain a balance. Post the lockdown relaxations, the employees from non-customer-facing roles came back to the workplace and their entire setup had to be redefined with safety norms as new normal. Moreover, recently most financial institutions have covered the cost of vaccination for the employees and their dependent family members which can be seen as a small gesture from the employer to express the organisation’s gratitude to their entire workforce.
Empowering Work Associations: Apart from mindset and acceptance, trust in your employees is the key to empower work associations. As every HR process from onboarding to exit interviews got digitized there was a far greater need to have conversations with the employees regarding these changes. Virtual branch visits which was another unique but relevant practice followed in few banking institutions for effective employee connect.
One thing we know is that COVID-19 is here to stay and the future is full of uncertainty. The most important part has been to build resilience because unlike many other crises which had an indication to end, no one knows when will this pandemic get over. The pressure of the pandemic has left almost everyone feeling burned out and over-exhausted. The biggest learning which this crisis has taught us will enable us to implement more employee-friendly practices at our workplace. We have to be ready for the long haul!