The right approach to new technology can play a part in boosting employee engagement in financial services sectors. New research from Zellis reveals valuable insights on how to motivate banking and insurance employees.

The top drivers of motivation are recognition, rewards, and benefits, cited by 66% of respondents. This figure rises to 87% among large organisations (1,001 to 5,000 staff).

Income level makes a difference. Some 64% of high earners indicate that their salaries make them feel either ‘positive/motivated’ or ‘very positive/motivated’. But only 49% of the lower-paid say the same.

The findings come from a survey of 500 UK and Ireland financial services employees, reported in Motivated change: Employee attitudes to AI (and other technologies) in banking and insurance.

Enhance training and development

Next on the employee engagement list for those in the banking and insurance sector is training and skills development (63%). In very close third place is learning new tools and systems (62%). This finding is significant given that new technology is expected to be the single biggest driver of change in the financial services sector over the next five years.

It is also noteworthy because an individual’s experience of technology, whether positive or negative, can have a big impact on how they feel about, and at, work.

Banking employees rank recognition, rewards, and benefits most highly (65%). Next comes learning new technologies (62%), followed by training and skills development (61%).

Insurance professionals are more driven by recognition, rewards and benefits (70%) than their banking colleagues. The same applies to training and skills development (70%), which ranks second on the list of motivators. Learning new technologies comes in third as a driver of employee motivation in insurance.

How to motivate banking and insurance employees 3

How will AI impact financial services employee engagement?

AI is already helping financial services firms to generate competitive advantage. Understanding how professionals feel about these systems is valuable when organisations are planning for, implementing, and optimising their adoption. It is also vital for employee engagement.

Interestingly, just over half of the professionals questioned (52%) feel either ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ about AI. The top reason for this positive outlook is the belief that the technology will assist them in learning new skills (42%). Employees also expect it will boost their productivity and efficiency (38%).

As to the applications they believe AI is best suited for today, three out of five would be ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ in using it to help recommend products and services. They would also be happy to employ it for note taking and call logging (58%) or to review documents and applications (57%).

In banking, a slightly higher number (54%) than the average said they feel either ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ about AI.

Insurance employees are generally more sceptical of AI than their banking colleagues: only 49% feel either ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ about it.

How to motivate banking and insurance employees: 6 tips

How to motivate banking and insurance employees 2

When it comes to supporting financial services employee engagement, it’s clear that recognition, rewards, and benefits are the top motivators.

However, these are very closely followed by training, skills development, and learning new tools and systems; highly pertinent as advancing technology plays an increasing role in both banking and insurance. The firms that most effectively equip their people will reap the rewards of both employee engagement and competitive edge.

1. Evaluate where technology can help

To boost employee motivation in banking and insurance, evaluate where and how technology can make their lives easier. Focus on supporting them to do their jobs more effectively so they feel as if their concerns are being taken seriously. Also clarify which areas of the business should not be automated as they still require the human touch.

2. Prioritise your activities

Gauge whether existing systems need to be replaced, or if existing applications should be upgraded, enhanced, or added to. Explore where technology is causing friction in customer interactions or is having a negative impact on employee productivity. Focus your resources on resolving these key issues. This includes prioritising user-friendly applications that make the working day easier for professionals, not harder.

3. Act on feedback

Always discuss your intentions to implement new technology with any teams that will be affected. Listen carefully to their feedback. The more you can understand what engages or demotivates people, the better you can respond to them and allay their concerns.

4. Create comprehensive training programmes

To enable an effective transition to new technology, create robust, comprehensive training programmes that cover the implementation stage and beyond. This includes equipping employees with the skills they will require for the future.

5. Be proactive

Take a proactive approach to training. Explore potential skills gaps across the organisation to identify what learning and development activities are required and where. As a minimum, ensure professionals have access to whatever training they need to use systems effectively. Doing so will make their jobs easier and boost productivity in the process.

6. Tackle the technology confidence gap

Be careful to take note of any technology confidence gaps in your workforce. Some groups may be less confident in using new technology than others. So, rather than provide one-size-fits-all training, take these confidence gaps into consideration. This means customising your support to cater to the needs of individuals rather than taking a blanket approach.

See the full report for more insights

How can financial services organisations effectively prepare their people for new technology? Discover valuable insights for employers to drive better technology adoption and gain a competitive edge.