Managing budget limitations and attracting talent to drive change

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the thought leader as an individual, and are not attributed to CeFPro or any particular organization.

Jonas Vernon Ng, COO Laurel Road, a division of KeyBank, KeyBank

How has the impact of the macroeconomics environment effected allocation of budget and talents?
  1. The Great Resignation still continues in the US, despite macroeconomic signs of a slowdown. People continue to leave organizations for better compensation, more expansive responsibilities, and work/life balance.
  2. This has caused a two-way fluidity in talent – in addition to losing people, organizations are bringing in high numbers of new people. The battle for upgraded and upskilled talent is intense.
  3. From a budget and talent deployment perspective, it has caused many organizations to contemplate or at least contend with an upward compensation trend en masse to both attract and retain talent. In addition, organizations are having to pay top dollar in the job functions that are in highest demand (e.g., engineering, data/analytics, digital, coders, etc.).
In what ways have budget and talent allocations been impacted by the hybrid working environment?
  1. In the beginning of the pandemic, this was perceived as a net benefit to some companies, as organizations experienced a newfound ability to attract talent across geographies. However, in the long run, this has proven more of a challenge for smaller to mid-size companies like KeyBank. We find ourselves competing for talent with larger companies that have a national brand when our own brand is only known regionally.
  2. Additionally, as companies onboard more and more employees that are either hybrid or remote-workers, the culture that companies have built becomes harder to maintain/sustain. Some employees feel less connection and rapport with their teammates or feel disconnected to the bigger company and team objectives.
  3. In the short-term, companies may experience budgetary cost-savings in overhead and plant/equipment with remote workers. But in the longer run, the expenses have shifted to different needs and tools of a remote/hybrid worker, as well as the long-term expense impact of attrition and employee disengagement if it is harder to create a sense of inclusion with employees who are not physically in the office.
What are some of the challenges with attracting resources to progress agendas?
    1. In a remote or hybrid working environment, the facets that draw employees to an organization have shifted. In the past, people might be drawn to compensation, role/responsibilities, and commute. Now, commute is no longer as much a consideration, and it’s been supplanted by things like mission, organizational hierarchy and support, culture, etc.
Why is it important for senior management to buy in to enhancing customer experience?
  1. Short answer – it’s critically important. The world has already moved to a physical PLUS digital engagement model – what my boss calls Phygital. The reality in retail banking is that foot traffic walking into the bank branch continues to drop every year. Customers are busy, and they want and need access to their bank 24/7 on their terms. They only come into the branch for things we have not yet enabled online or in mobile, and they actually resent having to come in.
  2. The new reality is that customers judge experiences across verticals – what they experience on Amazon, they also expect at Home Depot and McDonald’s and their local grocery store and yes, their bank. They’ve come to expect a highly digitized engagement model, and we have to meet customers where they are. And because the younger generations are more loyal to experience than to brand, you have to Innovate or Die.
How have the changing markets effected talent dynamics?
    1. With a hybrid working environment, employees may sometimes struggle to develop the soft skills and cultural indoctrination that would have been cultivated by being physically in the office amongst teammates. In this new normal, this has created a different dynamic with regards to talent and skill development.
    2. At our company, we have been progressively exploring new ways to teach these soft skills and create a sense of camaraderie – deliberate mentor matching, frequent travel to HQ with professional and career-development programming, innovation incubation group projects and Hackathons, Speed Networking events, etc. It’s our hope that these efforts fill the void for what used to happen when people were physically in the office.

Jonas was a speaker at our 2022 Customer Experience & Digital Banking USA Congress.