Human resource executives continue to confront and address the ever-shifting priorities that are critical to helping companies maneuver current trends in the workplace.
The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with rising inflation, has disrupted the American workforce. In response, human resource professionals are responding intentionally and thoughtfully to tackle the rising challenges head on. But according to a Human Resource Executive’s survey published in January 2022, 86% report feeling more stressed as they continue to focus on remaining effective business partners. The following are some of the most pertinent talent and employment issues facing banks today and how they impact human resource divisions.
Pay Transparency Laws
An increasing number of states and municipalities require employers to disclose salary ranges to current or prospective employees, a trend that could spread nationwide as prospective employees seek pay transparency and equity at the interview and hiring stage. This requires HR executives to ensure that pay transparency laws are enforced, while demonstrating that salary expectations are commensurate with what the market will bear. Additionally, remote work further complicates the issue, as companies regularly recruit across state lines.
Aside from legal issues, employees today want to know how their current pay range is formulated and which promotional opportunities are available for their career path. Human resource professionals should be prepared for these conversations during onboarding. Without a proactive and well-thought-out message coming from management, employees may assume the worst and — at the very least — begin to explore what the market might pay them for their skills.
Explainable Salary Ranges
Wages are increasing faster than they have in the past 20 years. It is critical that HR professionals educate all internal stakeholders on the methodology they use to develop salary ranges. Typically, HR managers at community banks purchase a mere two or three third-party salary surveys that are used to formulate expected pay ranges for all positions in the company.
In contrast, a documented and communicated compensation methodology can decrease concerns about pay disparity and discrimination. Due to inflation, companies may want to analyze base pay levels semi-annually this year, as opposed to the end-of-year norm, to retain talent.
Reexamining Variable Pay
Strategic HR teams are often involved in crafting departmental scorecards that align performance with board priorities. Something I often say is, “The right bonus program, with the right incentives for the right people, can drive performance.”
Creating a stretch goal structure or modifying who is eligible to participate in an annual bonus program based on corporate results can alter the dynamics of a bank’s compensation strategy and overall financial performance, which is why this topic should be a conversation between the chief human resource officer and CFO. Banks can bolster their talent acquisition strategies by regularly reexamining their incentive payouts and targets to ensure they are delivering a positive return on investment and are competitive.
Embracing a Changing Work Culture
Many financial institutions are enhancing their benefits to demonstrate they truly value their employees. That ranges from shorter vesting periods for paid time off to pet insurance. However, one of the most desirable benefits is a hybrid/remote work arrangement. Banks that refuse to embrace this new model — where it makes sense — need to be prepared to pay more in order to get the attention of top candidates.
However, those benefits cannot be considered in a vacuum. Executives and their HR teams should consider work expectations and their impact on corporate culture as well. In the past, some firms expected employees to work long hours and on weekends in the office in order to advance. But studies are showing a different outcome: burnout. The expectation that employees will forgo a work/life balance for their career is no longer the norm. A culture of self-care for all employees will go much further in promoting a productive and purposeful workforce.
2022 is already proving to be one of the most taxing for HR teams in terms of talent acquisition, management and retention. Banks will continue to face challenges as inflation, salary expectations and work culture changes. But there are proven ways to produce an effective corporate strategy that builds and supports a healthy organization, and generates a good return for investors. Remaining agile, promoting a culture of self-care and paying competitive to market rates will remain fundamental to the success of high-performing banks.