As we emerge from the peak of the pandemic, all the macro-economic indicators are in the red, and it’s easy to talk about the economic and business impact.

But increasingly, when I speak to leaders in the banking industry, the conversation turns to the people impact.

The measure and nature of the physical, mental and social impacts differ from person to person, but the pandemic has affected everybody.

So when we look at the human impact of this system shock, we need to make sure we are looking after everybody.

Doug Conant, the author and former CEO of Campbell Soup, put it quite simply: “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”

I’ve written before about the importance of customer-centricity. But, as Conant says, we also need to focus on the employee.

Employees are the most valuable and differentiating asset for all businesses.

People who are suddenly working from home, from a spare bedroom (if they have one) or the kitchen table, or even from their bed, is not ideal.

The blurring of the lines of work and home responsibilities further compounds this impact. This has caused record numbers of people to be fearful of the uncertainties around work conditions, collaboration, jobs and livelihoods.

Leading with compassion and caring for our people and communities are more essential now than ever before.

Leaders now must balance between driving outcomes and results, and providing the necessary support and enablement for their teams.

Their teams’ mental and physical health and safety have become an important priority.

One way for leaders to think about centering employees is to apply customer-experience principles to the employee experience, or EX for short.

Employee-centricity will help financial services organisations address the challenge around attracting and retaining talent that is required to further their innovation and growth agenda and also enhance productivity.

Accenture’s recent research found companies that provide a great employee experience outperform the S&P 500 by more than double — 122%. And companies with highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable than their peers.

The employee experience is not only about work and the work environment but also includes the organisation’s response to “moments that matter” to employees.

Just as the customer experience has become more personalised and human-centric, so organisations are thinking about EX in the same way, personalising the individual’s experience. This calls for a profound change in the HR organisation as it plays a pivotal role in leading the change.

Leaders need to learn different skills as well. When you have an in-person meeting and one person doesn’t contribute at all, it’s easy to notice that, read the body language and reach out to the individual later if required.

It’s more difficult to notice those subtle cues over Zoom or MS Teams. Leaders need skills to keep team cohesion going remotely.

If you would like to read our latest thinking on the employee experience, here’s a link to it.

Do you think we should be thinking about customers, leaders and employees in the same way? Or are they fundamentally different, and therefore should be treated fundamentally differently? I’d love to hear from you.

Jigyasa Singh

Jigyasa Singh

Managing Director – Financial Services, Africa

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