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The Employee Experience Index for the Financial Services Industry

The finance tech transformation makes people a critical success factor for the financial services (FS) industry: Engaging critical talent while building a more agile organization has become essential to competing and innovating in the new world of FS.

Managing the employee experience (EX) is the most actionable way to retention, attraction and work productivity during the biggest talent shifts the industry has ever been facing. As one CEO of a global FS company puts it: “In 10 years, probably less, we will have substantially fewer employees, and the ones we do have will be significantly different from what we have now.”

This is the environment in which the world’s largest and most innovative financial services institutions get together in Amsterdam on October 17th, 2019. They are following an invitation by INGs CHRO Hein Knaapen to discuss the ‘Employee Experience Index’ (EXI©) and its potential to become the industry standard for benchmarking and improving the employee experience and proving its business value. As TI People, we are asked to manage the initiative as global EX thought leaders and co-creators of EX. Hein’s and his fellow CHROs’ expectations define the EXI© FS value proposition, by which the EXI …

  • ... delivers a robust industry benchmark for EX
  • ... explains the ROI of EX investments
  • ... identifies local action to improve the EX

The EXI FS pilot

Subsequent to the EXI FS charter meeting, a pilot will start in November 2019. In the pilot, fifteen FS institutions will validate the EXI FS value proposition in a six weeks project. For this pilot, we have defined the ‘data universe of EX’. Companies will measure these data elements in an effortless way: No personal data is collected, no integration with IT systems is needed. Key elements of the EXI FS to measure are:

From the pilot, each company will obtain their individual benchmarking report on EX and the best ways to improve it. With the EXI FS pilot, all participants enter a co-creation process to evaluate the EXI’s value proposition and to solidify it for ongoing industry application.

Four CHRO expectations for the EXI© FS

In preparation of the EXI FS charter meeting, we interviewed the participating CHROs. They explained their companies’ people strategies, linked it to EX and concluded four major expectations for the EXI FS:

Expectation #1 – The need for productivity and agility

Most people strategies of financial services companies are striving for agility and productivity. As INGs Hein Knaapen puts it: ‘If there is one thing I have learned as a CHRO, it is that everything HR does has to have a clear line of sight to business outcomes.’ In that way, employee experience has to measure what helps to drive productivity of the company. Tanuj Kapilashrami, Group Head of HR of Standard Chartered adds to this thought: ‘As a company, our employee engagement has been improving for a number of years. That does not mean that our job is done: We need to drive productivity and collaboration further. For our new people strategy employee experience is the link to business strategy.’ And Royal Bank of Scotland’s HR Chief Operating Officer Lynne Rennie-Smith specifies: ‘We are a very fact-driven company with sophisticated ways of analyzing productivity and engagement. With the EXI we’d like to explore if EX is bringing a new opportunity to act on improving both.’

Expectation #2 – The need for fast and local improvements

Most CHROs we spoke with had some sort of top-down driven functional transformation underway, mostly in connection with the roll-out of a cloud-based HRIS like Workday or SuccessFactors. The one thing they do not need is another top-down driven change of the HR operating model. What they need instead is to complement the ongoing functional transformation with an element of fast, local improve­ments. And that’s what they expect the EXI to do: Make employee experience visible in the very mo­ment it happens, measure it at the most critical touchpoints of employees with the organization. And through that transparency enable local teams to improve the experience fast, and ideally without asking ‘the center’ for global changes and approvals. That way, the EXI is expected to add to the idea of agility, local enablement and speed.

Expectation #3 – The need to change leadership behavior

Culture is on the desks of all CHROs involved in the EXI initiative, and for a good reason: New incumbents of FS market leaders attract critical FinTech talent with a compelling company culture, agile ways of working and a collaborative startup environment. Yet, changing a company culture is hard. What’s resonating with the CHROs is the line of thought of Prof. Herminia Ibarra, a leading academic on leadership behavior. She will be present at the EXI FS charter meeting to contribute her ‘outsight principle’ research:

The Outsight Principle by Herminia Ibarra

In the context of the EXI, the principle basically says: As changing a culture is hard, and so is the change of mindsets, let’s start with changing the behavior, the way managers act. That over time will change their mindset, and the culture. The EXI© strives to make the employee experience of manager behavior transparent in the moment the experience happens – and that transparency will change the way managers act.

Expectation #4 – The need for a sense of belonging

Discover’s CHRO Andy Eichfeld says: ‘Half of Employee Experience is the employee journey. The other half is their feeling of belonging.’ Mark Levy, who invented ‘Employee Experience’ as CHRO of Airbnb, is an advisor to the EXI initiative and will contribute the concept of belonging to the EXI FS charter meeting. Mark says: ‘When asked by Brian Chesky, a co-founder at Airbnb, to reinvent HR with a focus on the employees and to scale the culture, we made the shift from HR to Employee Experience. Most important was the impact this shift made; creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere, connecting employees to customers and to the communities in which they operate.’ Mark will help build the EXI in a way that belonging doesn’t feel like yet another top-down concept, but rather one that’s made visible and measurable ‘in the moment’ by the EXI, and hence triggers local improvement action.

A new era of ‘outside-in’ and ‘local’ improvement of performance

The EXI FS charter meeting is the biggest industry gathering on employee experience. As such, it has the potential to kick off a new era for the industry: Defining priorities by the employee experience. Managing productivity needs of the fintech revolution from the outside in. And driving fast, local change. Exciting times!

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