With automation increasingly taking over routine and repetitive manual jobs in banks across functions, where does that leave the banking professional? A view that is gaining ground is that emerging digital technologies will create a demand for new professional skills, and increase reliance on innately human capabilities such as critical thinking, empathy and problem solving. We go a step further to say that without this skill set, and the cultural and organizational transformation to go with it, banks will not be able to fully leverage the other developments that will unfold in 2018.
What are the trends marking this transformation of the banking workforce? Our viewpoint is as follows:
- Banks’ multigenerational human resources will tilt towards youth, with the millennials set to account for 72 percent of the global workforce by 2025.
- As bankers and banking customers become younger, new-age skills such as customer experience design, product design based on customer empathy and journeys, data science, and knowledge of AI will be in huge demand. Scrum masters, agility coaches, machine learning engineers and full stack architects will be an essential part of the talent pool. With the boundaries between business and technology breaking down in banking operations, the same will happen at the individual employee level to create multidisciplinary talent with an appreciation of both domains. (Axis Bank’s twin tracking program to nurture both traditional banking and new age skills among employees to create “digital bankers” is a great example). This lean multidisciplinary workforce will run banking operations supported by, or in collaboration with, an “automation workforce”
- Progressive banks have already moved on this front to empower their employees to work in multidisciplinary teams by using Agile principles at scale across IT and product management. ING Netherlands is one among them. The Bank’s delivery team is composed of different sub-groups – at the lowest level is a multidisciplinary team with a common goal; next is the line organization comprising groups of people with similar expertise who work with different multidisciplinary teams; third comes a grouping of these groups itself; finally, there is a broad interest group which is open to all. By ensuring alignment between various working groups, ING has managed to empower its multidisciplinary teams and nurture an environment, which supports innovation.
- Design, development and delivery of products and services needs to be extended to the workforce. There should be a constant feedback loop to incorporate suggestions for improvement into product design.
- Unfortunately, on current form, banks will find it challenging to attract the right talent for this new kind of workforce. Recent research into the workplace choices of IT and engineering professionals found that there were no banks in the top 25, and only 2 in the next 25. Another study said that purpose-driven organizations had more satisfied employees. Therefore, in 2018, banks will need to effectively articulate their purpose, to tap into the progressive millennial talent that is inclined towards impacting a change and associating with a purpose.
In addition to hiring the right talent, the new banking organization will need to accelerate learning and development to retain the right talent for business. Building a customer centric organization to be at Zero Distance to what our clients want and need, is the Infosys way of developing talent that thinks like the customer in product, process and solution. Banks can apply these principles to ensure that their frontline staff is always in tune with clients.
Other organizations, such as DBS Bank and Axis Bank, are also doing remarkable things in the areas of learning and reskilling. DBS Bank, for example, pairs employees in need of certain skills with employees who are already experts, with great success. Axis Bank has built an excellent academy to train its workforce.
- Besides a multidisciplinary workforce, 2018 will also witness the emergence of a hybrid talent pool where there will be full-time employees and part-time/ short-term recruits who will flow in and out of the system, and will need to be trained, on-boarded and absorbed on a case-to-case basis. A one-training-fits-all approach, such as the one mandating 20 hours of computer-based training for permanent employees, will not work here given the diversity of education and experience of part-time workers. Rather, training must focus on building existing skills and aligning them with the business using methods and delivery formats that are easy for the candidates to use. Think of platform businesses, such as Uber and Airbnb, which “employ” people with regular day jobs to work for them in their free time, as per their free will. Learning will also go the same way to offer more and more quick/ short-term, application and device agnostic courses in place of educational programs of long duration. While online programs have been around for a while, they were rather inaccessible because they required significant commitment of time and money. Now, entities such as Udacity and Coursera have not only enabled “quick bursts” of learning through short programs, but also made them very affordable by deeply discounting them during Black Friday sales and other events. As banks embrace the platform model to feature a wider variety of offerings and channels, they may take the same approach to their workforce, to employ not only those with “full-fledged” banking qualifications but also others who have acquired specialist knowledge via short-term courses.
Expect the changing banking workforce to take shape in 2018.