How Tech Hinders the Ability to Hire

In my role as a CEO of an up-and-coming fintech startup, I spend a lot of time talking to bank executives. In recent months, those conversations have often focused on a common pain point they are all feeling: hiring.

Many executives are struggling with hiring resources and adequate staffing. While the focus is often on salaries, I think the underlying problem is that a culture lacking an innovative spirit, evidenced by outdated technology, deters the new generation of applicants. Banks are not delivering a culture that fosters innovation, nor are they using or employing technology that applicants want in their daily job. Ultimately this leads to insufficient numbers of applicants; filling open positions is an ongoing struggle.

In contrast, open positions at our company typically get hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants for any opening. The question then is: Why is there more interest in a position at a “risky” startup than in an established financial institution?

Unlocking Satisfaction
Ultimately it comes down to one thing: employee satisfaction. Higher satisfaction is often correlated with successful and long-lasting teams; the lack thereof spells doom and high turnover. As millennial employees become the majority of the workforce, their preferences and desires are becoming a more prominent factor in evolving impressions of employee satisfaction. Ultimately it comes down to a few elements:

  • Having a clear mission and ability to affect decisions that influence progress toward fulfilling the mission.
  • Delivering a collaborative and innovative culture.
  • Providing flexible work schedules and remote work possibilities.
  • Encouraging and supporting personal development.

While banks incorporate some of the elements above, they often overlook the impact of technology and business models. Banks often use an outdated technology stack that, while painful for experienced employees, is perceived as utterly terrifying for younger generations who grew up using customer-centric apps and highly customizable digital experiences. In addition, the procedures for handling customers at these institutions are often highly scripted and regimented, allowing little room for variation and a personal touch. These factors can contribute to lower employee satisfaction and an annual turnover among frontline staff that has surged to 23.4% — its highest level since 2019, according to a 2022 compensation and benefits survey from Crowe LLP.

Nonetheless, bank executives rarely consider the impact the technology they make employees use has on that employee’s satisfaction at the company. This is something that definitely deserves more attention from the board and management, and should be one of the major factors when evaluating new technology.

Creating Employee Engagement
There are several elements that make new technologies more desirable to younger employees and that may increase their satisfaction. Improving these could lower your institution’s annual churn and benefit the bottom line.

  • The user interface and user experience of your technology should be similar to that of popular consumer-facing apps. Familiarity requires less time training on how to use the technology and will increase affinity from the get-go.
  • Basic capability features should also be similar to what consumer-facing apps offer. For example, communication and messaging apps should have features like the ability for customers and employees to seamlessly transfer and move between text to video.
  • The technology should allow employees to access feedback and training in the same platform. This increases the platform’s transparency and timeliness of any feedback.
  • The technology should allow for gradual deployment and a test/iterate approach. This collects feedback from a wider number of employees and can generate a greater sense of contribution.

Incorporating the employee’s experience to an already complicated technology acquisition process might sound daunting, but it’s important to remember that this change does not need to be comprehensive and instantaneous. Instead, it can be deployed in stages, allowing your employees and the whole organization time to deploy, observe and adopt. Gradual but consistent change will yield better long-term results for both your customer and employee satisfaction.

Institutions that embrace technology their employees want to use and allow for a culture of innovation and bottom-up input will lay the groundwork for higher employee satisfaction in the future, leading to less turnover and a better bottom line. Those banks that don’t will continue to struggle to attract and retain staff, while relying on pay hikes to close the gaps.

Driving Innovation Through Cultural Clarity

New York-based Quontic Bank bills itself as an adaptive digital bank; it’s also a $1 billion community development financial institution (CDFI), lending to immigrants, low-income populations, gig-economy workers and borrowers who struggle to get a traditional mortgage. That mission means that the bank’s executives — including chief innovation officer Patrick Sells — tend to think about banking a little differently.

Its culture is a true competitive advantage of the bank — and that goes beyond having good, talented people on staff who get along with one another. It requires a mission, he says, and “strategic anchors” that can guide decision-making and empower employees.

Banks were already facing an “existential crisis” around digital and technology, Sells continues. “The pandemic that we found ourselves in has only exacerbated that tension,” he says. “[W]hen there is anxiety, we tend to act irrationally, we can tend to act scattered, we go back and forth. And what’s really critical is a steady hand as to who we are and what we need to do, and how we navigate through this, so we don’t get sucked into all of that. The culture, the clarity that we have, has definitely helped us navigate this storm.” Quontic has hired almost 90 new employees during the pandemic, he adds.

Sells discusses this further in this interview with Emily McCormick, Bank Director’s vice president of research. It has been edited for brevity, clarity and flow.

BD: It’s very easy to think about innovation, and focus on the nuts and bolts of the technology, but the culture and the mindset are so critical. How do you think through culture as it applies to innovation?
PS: There’s a tragedy in that innovation is often synonymous with technology, especially in this industry, and it really shouldn’t be. Innovation as much more than that. The thing that perhaps needed the most innovation, and would yield the greatest results, was culture that I think many banks don’t have. I think culture is an area where they’ve struggled. When you compare it to what’s gone on in the world around us — there’s so many things happening, and banks haven’t kept up with that.

These issues all interplay with each other. I think the greatest existential threat to the industry of community banking is culture. We have lost the war on talent. As the first digitally-native generation grew up and came out of college, they didn’t want to go work at a community bank. So today, we’re so behind from a technology standpoint, and we’re frantically, as an industry, trying to say, “We need this, we need that.” And that’s really a Band-Aid.

If we don’t figure out how to change this and lose the next decade of talent, we don’t stand a chance. The technology that’s new and cool today, we know the pace it’s accelerating at will be nothing compared to two, three years from now. … We also know in the data that’s coming out around millennials and the generations that follow, is that the sense of purpose matters immensely. And so for us, where we really focused on innovating, or what to do differently, is all in and around culture: How do we do that, and how do we bring that to life at Quontic? That will drive us into the future and where we want to go.

BD: You’re active on Twitter; one of your recent tweets focused on the fact that culture doesn’t end at the bank, it extends to the customer. Could you expand on that concept and how that informs how Quontic meets customer needs?
PS: There’s three components to Quontic’s culture: the mission, the de-centralized decision [making], and the shared language. Core values became that shared language, but one of our core values is try it on. For example, we want to be quick to try something new, even if we don’t know if it’s the right thing or not.

The other one is saying, “Cheese.” The next time someone asks to take a picture of you and they say, “Cheese,” what happens? Both of you smile, and usually the photographer is also smiling. How do we create that interaction? I think most customers expect, when you call your bank, you’re going to get very black-and-white answers as to what can and can’t be done. And there isn’t so much a focus on making it a pleasant experience.

An example of that, when Covid[-19] first happened at the end of March or early April, as an online bank, we picked up a lot of CD customers. For the consumer, one of the great things about CDs is you commit to putting your money in for a period of time, and you typically get the highest interest rate. If you break the CD, you lose all that interest. We knew a lot of customers would be nervous about what that meant for their financials, so we quickly reached out to say, “If you need to break your CD, you can do that penalty free.”

The majority of people said, “Thank you for offering this. As of now, I don’t want to do that.” But there was another group of people who said, “Yes, I want to do that.” Those same people called us back later and said, “I ended up being OK. I want to re-establish my account with you, and I’m going to tell everyone I know about what you’ve done for me, because it was so above and beyond.”

We want to be a spot, even though there’s a lot of anxiety going on, where we can bring smiles to people’s faces. I don’t know the data, but I doubt many banks emailed their CD customers to say, “You can break penalty-free if you need to.” We’re trying something on, and what happened from it? It deepened relationships and brought new relationships because it resonates the culture of who we are with the customer that we serve.

BD: We know that small businesses continue to be devastated by this pandemic. How is Quontic thinking through meeting the needs of small businesses, as this crisis continues and past it?
PS: This gives us the opportunity, in any crisis, to reframe, which is something I talk about in terms of innovation. What is innovation? Can you reframe what’s going on? Can we become aware of these underlying assumptions that haven’t changed in a while? If we change nothing but that, everything changes — that’s where you can find your most effective innovation.

For example, there’s a lot of small business owners who are behind the ball in terms of e-commerce. There [are] two ladies that own a [boutique] that I’ve gotten to know, and they wanted to open up a Shopify account to sell products online. I helped them do that. In one lens, helping [our small business customers] establish Shopify and e-commerce doesn’t result in any new revenue for the bank; but it strengthens the relationship and the [role] that banks historically played as a resource for small business owners.

There’s an opportunity to rethink branches. … While there’s great technology out there, like Shopify and Square, they don’t have people who can help you. What if the branch became a place where small business owners could get help [digitalizing themselves?] Now you’re utilizing the space that so many banks already have, and you’re beginning to play that meaningful role again in society. I think there’s a tremendous opportunity for banks to think differently, and say, “How do we help our customers also embrace technology that will ultimately help their businesses thrive?” That’s an example of a way banks can reframe what those relationships look like and deepen those relationships that’s outside of the norm as to what we think banks should be doing.

BD: So essentially, it’s about having that talent and expertise within the branch that can help the customer, and empowering employees to do that.
PS: This goes back to the mission [of] financial empowerment. It’s both that the products banks offer [are] one size fits all, and that the culture or the skills are largely the same. What if banks said, “We’re going to hire kids out of college who understand social media and e-commerce natively to help our small business customers.” Now you have talent that can help your bank figure out how to evolve. You solve two problems with one stone, and begin to change the reputation and everything. Not only does that have an impact for today, [but] my suspicion is the ROI on that over a decade is tremendous.

But you have to be willing to do something different. That’s where banks struggle, understandably; we’re taught to mitigate risk and to think about risk in everything. That can stand in the way of trying things that aren’t all that risky … it’s not that risky to add another digital bell and whistle that our core provides. It may be new for the bank, but it’s not really risky or innovative. We actually have to challenge ourselves to be bold and do something differently.

How Innovative Banks Train Employees in a Pandemic

Until recently, PlainsCapital Bank conducted training like many other banks — in person. 

The $13.8 billion asset institution has branches that stretch from north Texas to Houston, and down to the Rio Grande. The 1,000-mile area is served by just three in-person training facilities; it required immense logistics and expense to get employees there. So when PlainsCapital banking services training manager Jennifer Williams was introduced to microlearning, the concept just clicked.

Microlearning is exactly what it sounds like: short, frequent learning sessions lasting a few minutes each, which are often completed digitally. 

Learning in bite-sized chunks aligns with the speed of modern life. Williams notes “[t]oday’s world is so fast paced. Twitter is 280 characters, TikTok is short videos.” Most people are conditioned to pay attention in short bursts. This is true in learning environments too. Microlearning has been shown to produce a 25% lift in knowledge retention rates compared to traditional, long-form methods like in-person instruction, according to John Findlay, founder and CEO of game-based learning platform LemonadeLXP.

PlainsCapital, a unit of Hilltop Holdings, embraced the concept of microlearning when it launched LemonadeLXP for employee training earlier this spring. The timing was fortuitous; the rollout occurred just as Texas announced a shelter-in-place order that put the kibosh on in-person instruction as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

LemonadeXLP educates bank staff with interactive, microlearning modules and role-play scenarios. The platform provides product simulations that help both employees and customers learn how to use digital banking tools. And learning materials can be repurposed as branded, searchable content for the bank’s website, app or call center reps.

But it’s not what LemonadeLXP does that makes it attractive to banks like PlainsCapital. The magic is in how the company approaches learning: by making it a game.

The dynamic, game-based nature of Lemonade stands in stark contrast to the static experiences provided by traditional learning management systems — even the ones that have been “gamified” by awarding users with accolades. The team at LemonadeLXP is emphatic about the difference between being game-based and gamified. Around the office, they refer to “gamification” as “lame-ification.”

“It’s a lazy approach to try to spice up learning,” says Findlay. “[Gamification] doesn’t change the learning experience. All it does is tack game elements onto it — give you a badge or points for completing the same old crappy learning experience.” 

While these small rewards may have appeal at first, that tends to wane quickly. “Some people might read a couple extra PDFs the first time, but when they see that that badge has no context, no relevance, it quickly loses its enticement factors,” he says. 

That’s why, instead of rewarding task completion with badges, Lemonade rewards actual knowledge with real game scores. 

Scores have power because they challenge the user to learn from their past mistakes. Scores compel people to revisit — and thus retain — information to beat their own record. That pursuit is what makes game-based learning so compelling. 

Scores also help PlainsCapital manage training more effectively. “Before, when we were in-person training, [employees] would leave and we had no real clue, no concrete evidence, of what they retained and what they didn’t,” says Williams. “Now we can see exactly by their scores where our knowledge gaps are.”

The new learning experience makes training less burdensome for employees, without sacrificing efficacy. In the past, employees sequestered at training facilities would feverishly respond to emails at every break in an attempt to stay caught up while out of the office, Williams says. Now, employees train for 5 minutes a day and are retaining more knowledge than ever. PlainsCapital has increased its learning average from 63% to 93% in the first half of this year.

There’s also a financial case to be made for microlearning. In long-form learning models, employees spend about 47 hours a year in training at an average cost of about $654 per employee, according to Findlay. Microlearning cuts training time down to 22 hours — supposing employees engage for just 5 minutes out of each day — resulting in $300 in savings per employee annually. 

Today, PlainsCapital Bank engages employees with Lemonade via prize sweepstakes, scavenger hunts and certificates. They’re exploring a “brag board” idea and launching brand new games every week, regardless of whether they have a new product or service to promote. Next, Williams will focus on expanding the use of LemonadeLXP to reduce call center times.

“Lemonade was a game-changer for us,” she says.

The Quiet Crisis You May Be Overlooking

“In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job,” reads a recent headline in The New York Times. “You Can’t Have Both.”

As leadership teams consider how they’ll return to some version of “business as usual” when the pandemic abates, there’s one factor they may be overlooking: When daycares and schools close, working parents without effective support systems are forced to prioritize between their children and their career.

“The pandemic has made a bad situation worse,” says Simon Workman, director of early childhood policy at the Center for American Progress.

The supply of high-quality child care couldn’t keep up with demand before the pandemic, and it’s expensive, accounting for 20% to 30% of a family’s monthly income, he says. Providers that are already financially strapped are now earning even less, due to safety and health guidelines that can be costly to comply with. Some providers won’t endure the economic fallout from Covid-19.

Amid the myriad worries facing companies today, child care may seem minor. But it’s a huge stressor for employees, impacting their ability to work. Inadequate child care resources cost working parents and the companies that employ them tens of billions of dollars annually, according to a study, with parents losing $37 billion in wages and companies experiencing $13 billion in lost productivity. And the problem is larger than those numbers suggest:’s research only accounts for parents of children under the age of three.

Child care benefits could be an effective tool in a company’s arsenal when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Roughly half of bank employees are 45 or younger, according to Bank Director’s 2020 Compensation Survey, meaning that many are focused on building families as well as their careers. Yet only 12% of banks offer child care benefits, according to our survey.

Sterling National Bank, a subsidiary of Sterling Bancorp, chose to subsidize backup child care for its employees following conversations between CEO Jack Kopnisky, Chief Human Resources Officer Javier Evans and Margaret Wortley, director of benefits, HR operations and compliance, exploring how Sterling could better compete for talent in New York City.  

“Jack talked to Margaret and [me] and said, ‘I want us to offer contemporary, forward-looking benefits to keep us right there at the leading edge,’” Evans says. The $30 billion bank based in Montebello, New York, competes for customers and talent with the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup.

“[They’re] all here in our backyard,” Evans continues. “So, we’ve got to make sure that we stay at least contemporary, from a benefit offering, so we can be competitive from that point of view.”

One provider the bank chose was Helpr, a startup offering a range of services for employees, including backup care, online classes and tutoring for kids, as well as consulting and concierge services.

Sterling initially subsidized 16 hours of backup child care annually, intending to offer employees a chance to take a date night, for example. This grew to 80 hours due to the pandemic. Up to that limit, an employee pays no more than $6 per hour with the bank covering the rest.

For employees seeking long-term care, Sterling also subsidizes the cost to recruit and screen candidates. Employees pay a one-time $500 fee; a similar service would cost $2,500, says Wortley.

“We’re hearing back from companies that primary care is the biggest stressor for their employees right now,” says Sarah Bystrom, a business development executive at Helpr. “That’s causing this anxiety and stress around how to continue to balance family and work life.”

In addition to Helpr, Sterling works with Bright Horizons, another care provider.

In response to the pandemic, the bank increased hourly pay for front-line staff and awarded a $750 bonus to non-executive employees, according to Evans. They also received extra paid time off, which many used to care for children, and Sterling has worked with employees to create more flexible schedules. Virtual education goes beyond banking to cover topics like working at home with children.

Sterling also provided access to Headspace, an app focused on mindfulness and mental health. “We knew right at the beginning of the pandemic that this would take a mental toll on folks,” Evans says.

Working parents need support in these unique times; they’ll also need it after this crisis is in the rearview mirror. According to Workman, about 2 million families experience a job disruption — missed work or even quitting — due to child care challenges.

“That’s bad for the family, but it’s also bad for the employer,” he says. “As a society, as an economy, we all benefit when families have access to high-quality, early childhood education they can afford and access on a reliable schedule.”

Pandemic Poses Path to Boost Employee Engagement

The coronavirus crisis has temporarily boosted employee engagement, giving companies and managers a chance to implement changes that could make those increases permanent.

Employee engagement has increased since the start of the pandemic, according to the analytics and advisory firm Gallup, even as negative emotions also have risen. One potential reason could be stronger and more-empathetic connections between managers and employees. Companies have an opportunity to continue making changes that could result in long-term employee engagement increases, such as shifting managers from bosses to coaches.

Stay-at-home orders caused many banks to move to remote work environments for their employees, which altered the way managers relate with and oversee their reports, says Andrew Robertson, a managing consultant in retail banking and financial services at Gallup. Those shifts occurred as the firm began to see lower reported levels of well-being and higher levels of emotions like stress and anxiety in its surveys.

Work has really shifted, so the dynamic of … command-and-control literally can’t work right now,” Robertson says. “A boss would be over-the-shoulder task managing or micromanaging. Employees are acutely aware that is no longer applicable.”

The firm has also seen an increase in the percentage of employees who wish to continue working from home in some capacity, as well as an openness from managers and executives to allow that. But adding a work-from-home arrangement can complicate management once employees go off-site. In response, some managers seem to be electing a more empathetic, personal and coach-like approach when it comes to connecting and managing remote workers.

Managers are key to a team’s success, especially in moments of pressure and crisis. Their ability to connect and lead their reports has huge implications for banks seeking top performance. But they can also be a major liability when it comes to preserving, enriching and engaging a bank’s workforce.

Gallup’s research indicates that 70% of a team’s engagement can be attributed to their manager. Bad managers are costly: The firm found that one out of every two people leave a job as a direct response to a manager.

“If you want to boil employee engagement down, it’s essentially the manager,” says Paul Berg, financial services thought leader at Gallup. “Most people are having a mediocre-to-poor experience with their manager.”

But Gallup has found that employee engagement has moved higher during the pandemic, from 34% to 38% — its highest level since it began tracking in 2000. That’s a critical opportunity for banks. Higher employee engagement can translate into higher customer advocacy, productivity and profitability, and lower turnover, absenteeism, safety and theft.

Some of the reasons behind the move include that companies quickly rolled out definitive and detailed plans that kept employees informed of how their jobs would need to change. Managers were empowered to support employees as they moved to remote work, and employees may be especially grateful to have a job right now.

But another reason may be that employees and their managers may be having more meaningful and more frequent conversations — a dynamic that can drive engagement. Managers are figuring out ways to keep their teams connected to their work and to each other, acknowledging their colleagues’ stress and trying to keep morale high.

This creates a natural opening for banks to continue cultivating this increased engagement by training managers to become coaches and not bosses. But not just any type of coach.

Berg says companies that adopt a coaching mentality for managers tend to focus on specific objectives, which winds up being “completely ineffective.” The secret to good coaching is focusing on an employee’s strengths. Just as the best coaches help their players identify and leverage their strengths as part of a team, the best managers “focus on what’s right with a person,” Berg says.

Shifting to a coach mindset may come more naturally for some managers right now, given that remote work has changed the types of conversations they have with employees. Robertson says effective managers during the pandemic are the ones who get to know their employees and their situations in order to help them accomplish what they need to, and can have more-meaningful conversation about their work as a result. He believes the role of managers as a glue connecting workers to their banks has become more, not less, important during the pandemic.

“There have been moments [during the pandemic] where we’ve really understood that these human connections are important at work, and that we’re actually able to accomplish so much together when we make those thoughtful human connections,” he says.

How One Bank Puts Agile Management Techniques Into Action

When David Mansfield took the reins as CEO of Provident Bancorp six years ago, he could see that a change was needed, and that required new thinking.

“We were a typical community bank trying to be everything to everybody,” says Mansfield. He transformed the $1.1 billion bank based in Amesbury, Massachusetts, into a “true commercial bank” to the small and mid-sized companies that form the “backbone” of the community.

We’re trying to offer products and services that are not commodities, where we can differentiate ourselves, add value and get paid for it,” says Mansfield. “The customer’s appreciative, because they’re getting a product or service that really isn’t available to [small and mid-sized companies]” — like specialty services usually offered by large regional and money-center banks to their corporate clients.

To accomplish that, he needed employees who weren’t afraid to shake things up. He also needed to develop a culture and tools that facilitated collaboration within the organization. To do this, he borrowed managerial techniques from the technology sector by adopting Lean and Agile techniques.

Teams within the bank using these methods identify how to improve processes and workflows. “We have had some really amazing success stories,” says Mansfield.

Lean management aims for continual, incremental improvement. Quick “daily huddles” in the bank help staff focus on the day. In these 15-minute standup meetings, employees provide a quick update about progress on key projects and share any obstacles they’re facing so these issues can be addressed.

Mansfield credits Lean methods for improving interdepartmental dynamics. “One of the major premises of Lean [is that] it’s all about the customer experience, and we truly believe within this organization that everybody has a customer,” he says. Loan officers and branch staff directly interact with the customer, but support staff have a customer, too: their colleagues serving the customer. “What I love about our IT group is, they believe that wouldn’t happen unless they serve their customer, which is that group of people.”

Provident Bancorp still incorporates Lean thinking, but started shifting to Agile techniques late last year, upon hiring Joy Curth as senior information officer. Curth’s experience includes a stint in application development at Intuit, and she understands Agile methods. The principles of Lean and Agile are similar; both seek to create workflow efficiencies and promote iterative development.

Curth doesn’t have a banking background, which appealed to Mansfield. “We’re trying to do some different things, really leverage technology, and the traditional bank chief information officer just is not what I was looking for,” he says. As the bank weighs partnerships with technology companies, “she’s not only able to speak their language, but she’s able to recruit people to join her team [and] really professionalized our project management team” due to her Agile background.

Adoption of Agile has been project based, and the bank’s first project under the methodology was integrating ResX Warehouse Lending, a warehousing lending division that it acquired in January from $58.6 billion People’s United Financial, based in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

“Dave came to us and announced we were going to do an acquisition, and we were able to complete that project in [roughly] 8 weeks,” says Curth. “A whole acquisition of staff, technology, contracts — that was pretty expedited and showed that we were able to do that without a hitch.” The project’s success encouraged bank leaders to roll out the approach for most key projects.

“Even the bank we were doing the acquisition from [was] really impressed with our team,” says Mansfield. “We really drove it; it was an everyday meeting, what’s the status, how to keep things going.”

Agile is an ongoing journey that Mansfield believes represents the “next evolution” for project management at Provident. He’s a big reader, and one of his favorites is “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins.

“There’s a concept he uses: Shoot bullets first,” says Mansfield. Shooting bullets means pursuing attempts that represent a low risk and require minimal resources. If it works, you recalibrate and then “shoot the cannonball when you’re ready,” he says — using your company’s resources to make a big move based on those earlier, iterative attempts.

Another one that he calls a “gut check” on Lean techniques is “Jumpstart Your Service Revolution: Transform Your Company’s DNA and Thrive in an Age of Disruption,” by Thomas Schlick.

By adopting Lean and Agile techniques, Mansfield is creating a bank that differentiates itself in the market. Curth adds that employees enjoy working there. It’s what drew her to the bank. “When you implement this type of culture, your morale is high, and there really is an energy that is compelling and exciting,” says Curth.

Recommended Reading from David Mansfield, Provident Bancorp

The Value of Company Intranets


The popularity of digital channels is placing increased pressure on bank branches to maximize every opportunity to acquire, engage and retain customers. Branches are evolving away from segmented teller lines and personal bankers to single points of contact that can facilitate any customer request. Key to this evolution is the presence of an intranet, which can be thought of as a centralized workflow that provides quick access to information, something that does not exist in most branches today.

By leveraging an employee intranet to create universal bankers, banks can successfully transition from a passive environment to one that drives engagement, reinforces the brand and establishes a new standard in service.

“A centralized system makes the process smoother, as the employees can locate the information they need and provide it quickly to the customers,” says Judy Price, vice president and senior operations and compliance officer at Carolina Alliance Bank. “When customers come into the bank, we want to quickly address their needs and make the experience enjoyable. A bank’s ability to continue growing is a direct byproduct of its ability to prioritize serving and engaging customers.” Combining the roles of a traditional teller and personal banker means that the employee is knowledgeable enough to serve anywhere in the branch instead of being confined to a single location. This role removes silos and functions across multiple tasks, such as facilitating transactions, opening new accounts, completing loan applications and managing the essential business of general customer service.

Intranets have other benefits as well. A single repository of information is essential to educating employees on cross-departmental responsibilities. For management, an intranet system can generate reports weekly, monthly or as needed to track employees that have completed training and also communicate if someone has failed to satisfy any requirements. Depending on the size of your financial institution, the degrees of universal function likely vary. A universal banker must be able to provide information, forms, policy and procedures on any product that the bank offers. To do so, access to a system-wide exchange of information must be available, providing insights into customer requests and ensuring that each one has been directed to the most appropriate person, tracked and completed in the timeliest manner possible.

An intranet is an extremely effective channel for communicating internal news, brochures and documents and posting announcements. This information can include content that is generated by others in the organization as well. Sue Besselievre, vice president of Kitsap Bank, says “Our site is so engaging now that our top executives are regularly producing company-wide blogs and fresh content for our employees.” An employee can access any system needed and stay up to speed on important information, while also maintaining a channel of communication with management. Consider a financial institution that is spread across multiple states with many locations; the ability to eliminate the duplication and data redundancy ensures that everyone is seeing the same information, sparing any confusion and subsequent time spent trying to remedy the situation.

No bank or credit union will be successful without demonstrating its respective prioritization to serve customers or members. Intranets are not new, but it is a proven technology and making an investment in this capability ensures that a financial institution presents its brand accurately, while managing every channel and making sure customers can interact at their preferred point of contact with ease.