When John was applying for a bank job, he looked for an organisation with an attractive work culture that encouraged knowledge sharing and collaboration and rewarded positive behaviour. 

Every company has a distinct culture that is developed over time and influences how work is done, and the interaction between employees, and with customers. 

The banking industry has one of the highest employee turnover rates across all sectors. Employees often complain of burnout and usually leave within a year.

“Companies that are successful create environments where employees love to come to work and believe they are wanted.” – Peter Burke, Best Companies Group.

An attractive work culture makes all the difference between the most desirable banks to work for and the least desirable ones. 

What is work culture?

According to the Harvard Business Review, work culture communicates an organisation’s values, beliefs, and assumptions within the workplace. It includes components such as the company’s vision, mission statement, practices, narrative, leadership style, rewards, routines, etc. When a work culture complements staff’s personal values and expectations, they are motivated to achieve the organisation’s goals.

The leadership deliberately establishes the company culture, but it is expected to evolve organically through the daily interactions within and outside the workplace.

The right culture will make work fun, inspiring and productive. It will also create a loyal workforce. But, a terrible work culture can make work unbearable and the bank goals unattainable. 

Therefore, it is crucial to develop and encourage a good work culture in your financial institution.

Unique Challenges of the Banking Industry

1. Increasing competition

The emergence of fintech has provided a more simplified customer experience that is easily accessible to the underserved population. As a result, customers are increasingly favouring them over traditional banks. Hence, bank employees are under constant pressure to meet high targets. In addition, the mental and physical stress of dealing with unsatisfied customers and managers cause a lot of bank employees to burn out rather quickly.

2. Employee turnover

A Compdata survey revealed that the Banking & Finance industry has an 18.6 per cent turnover rate, one of the highest among all sectors. Why is this so? One major factor is the low level of engagement at work. Some employees are not in the right roles and find it difficult to crossover to a more suited role. Also, a lack of understanding of employee needs and inadequate managerial strategies to motivate teams to contribute to the increased turnover rate in banks.

3. Poor work-life balance

The typical full-timer in a different sector works about 40 hours a week, but employees work upwards of 50 hours each week in the banking industry. The inflexible work schedule creates a high-stress situation, especially for married employees and nursing mothers.

4. Non-performing Loans

A non-performing loan is a bank loan that is subject to late repayment or is unlikely to be repaid by the borrower in full. When a borrower fails to make any scheduled payment for a period of 90 days, it hurts the bank’s financial performance, resulting in less money to create new loans and pay operating costs. According to a National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, up to 9% of all loans in the economy are bad loans.

5. Angry customers

Stress levels of bankers go up due to customer dissatisfaction, but they are often encouraged not to let unhappy customers knock the wind out of their sails. However, if left unchecked, tension can arise and grow into full-blown conflict. 

With all these pressing challenges that bank employees have to deal with daily, a strong and attractive work culture is essential to keep spirits high.

Benefits of an attractive work culture

1. Talent attraction and retention

HR professionals agree that an attractive work culture gives a company a competitive advantage in attracting prospective employees who intend to stay long term. A good way to attract the right talent is through the reviews of existing and past employees.

An attractive work culture within the bank will boost employee morale.

Bank employees are more likely to stay longer if they are assured that their employers care about their well-being. They will become personally invested in promoting the bank’s good image.

2. Foster team spirit

An attractive work culture facilitates communication, social networking, and productive interactions, building internal cohesion and collaboration between team members to achieve impressive results.

3. Better customer service

Satisfied employees make satisfied customers.

Negative work culture will reflect in the way the employees treat customers, which will adversely affect business. But when employees get praised and rewarded for their positive contributions, they tend to be more committed to their job. 

Giving constructive feedback and training opportunities for career development can ensure employee satisfaction. And satisfied employees will be willing to go the extra mile to deliver quality service to the customers. 

If customers witness a poorly managed situation, they are likely to spread the news. But an attractive work culture will reassure customers of the bank’s integrity.

Tips on how to create an attractive work culture in your bank

HR and bank managers can use the following tips to create and maintain attractive work cultures.

1. Share your mission

In the early years, the bank’s culture was tied to the founder’s values and vision for the organisation’s future. Define and articulate the organisation’s culture – its values, goals, and practices. This will give employees a clear picture of their purpose and how their roles positively impact the bank.

2. Set clear goals

Clearly stated goals that are measurable and realistic guide employees’ efforts and shows them how they contribute to the organisation’s success. Essentially, this improves employee engagement, and, with a performance management system, employee performance can be precisely measured.

3. Hire for cultural fit

Hiring decisions should not be made based on the required skills alone. The candidate’s personality and values should be considered as well. This is because while an individual may learn a new skill or improve on an existing one, their personality is ingrained.

Cultural fit refers to someone’s ability to reflect and adapt to the organisation’s core ideas, attitudes, and practices.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, poor culture fit resulting from turnover can cost an employer 50-60% of the person’s annual compensation. During onboarding, introduce the bank’s culture to the recruits repeatedly until they absorb it. As old employees leave and new ones come in, do not allow the culture to erode.

4. Social networking and mentoring

Promote healthy relationships within the bank across all levels by creating opportunities for social interaction like sports, community service, office parties, road trips, etc. Encourage senior staff to mentor subordinates and help them to assimilate the bank’s work culture.

5. Lead by example

Employers and managers should lead by example in portraying the preferred work culture in the workplace. Simple ways to do this include expressing gratitude and remaining optimistic during difficult situations. Employees are much more likely to engage in positive behaviour when they see their managers doing the same.

6. Employee well-being

Show that you care. Lay down ground rules on healthy work-life balance for your employees. Pay attention to their physical and mental health, and encourage them to take the necessary time off.

Managers should ensure that employees have the resources, tools, and healthcare opportunities they need to live their healthiest lives.

 It is bad for your bank’s reputation if your employees are frequently ill. 

Looking out for employees’ well-being will eliminate the pressure of letting a good employee go due to ill health. It will also help eliminate the extra cost of sick leaves and temporary replacements. 

7. Career development

As a manager, your employees’ career growth should interest you. As long as they are working with you, any new skills and knowledge gained will be used for the bank’s benefit. Even when they leave, their continued success can prove the good work culture in your bank, thus attracting ideal talents. 

Allow and encourage them to take courses that can boost their skills set. If they want to move into a new career path within the bank, provide the support they need.  SeamlessHRMS helps employees prepare for internal opportunities by setting up career development plans, tracking their growth, and linking them up with future opportunities.

8. Reward good work

A culture of appreciation and open celebration of employees’ accomplishments can motivate them to do more. Set up a performance management system with SeamlessHRMS and come up with a reward plan for good work. Rewards like gift cards, cash bonus, paid vacation, or an award can enhance staff engagement. Also, you do not have to wait till the end of the year to reward your employees. Little things like handwritten notes of gratitude, free lunch, and so on would boost employee morale.

9. Listen for feedback

Give and solicit feedback regularly. Employees are more satisfied with their job when they feel that their voices are heard and valued. They will also learn to respect each other’s opinions. You can meet them one-on-one and ask for their feedback. Direct the discussion by asking the right leading questions. 

A consistent employee engagement survey can be designed with open-ended questions that should prompt constructive feedback. 


HR managers in banks have to deal with the peculiarities the affect the workforce in the banking industry. They have to develop innovative ways to manage employee activities and their performance while promoting an attractive work culture. SeamlessHR is an all-in-one HR software that automates recurring HR tasks and removes the challenges involved in managing those HR functions, from hire to retire, so you can focus on driving the company culture within the workforce.

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