Ukrainian banks came through the first months of quarantine “with flying colours”. In addition to ensuring processing all the necessary transactions both online and offline during the lockdown, they also continued to grant loans.
At the same time, the banks faced an internal challenge, dealing with their employees, as banking, despite the use of any cutting-edge technology, is, first and foremost, about people.
The banking system has experienced several crises, each of which has led to increased competition in the market for the top experts. Nowadays is no exception, as the COVID-19 crisis has made the competition for professionals among the banks stronger, as well as increased the bankers’ motivation.
Now every bank has experienced how important qualities such as flexibility, adaptability to changes, ability to learn are, both an individual and for the bank itself as an organisation. All of us, both banks and bankers, are learning to work in our new reality.
Every single business has seen where and how to optimise, what to focus on and where to direct additional resources. The changes may include staff and office space rightsizing, as well as revision of the organisational structure and individual business processes.
In the banking market, where competition for the high-performing staff has always been fierce, it has become obvious that employees will appreciate loyal and responsible employers most.
Now the labour market candidates will pay more attention to the bank’s image, as in “the way this bank took care of its employees during the quarantine and what guarantees it can provide if the situation occurs again”.
Similarities in values will also have a huge impact on the relationship between an employee and an employer. The banks will need to show what their position and values are in a transparent and open way in order to find and retain their perfect candidate.
Exam for banks
The banking system is usually very vulnerable to crises. For this reason, from the very beginning of the pandemic, JSB Ukrgasbank decided to do the following: despite the fact that almost 70% of our staff worked remotely, we did not change the approach to the payment of bonuses for those who work in the office and remotely.
During the first days of quarantine, all employees who could work from home were moved to remote work. At the same time, we paid 100% salaries to them. No one was forced to take a leave.
People who work directly with clients should be paid extra money, although they have been provided with antiseptics, bactericidal lamps, masks and gloves. After all, we work with cash, which must be disinfected with special lamps.
We were well aware that all the changes would put great pressure on our employees. Therefore, in order to reduce its negative impact, we have strengthened our internal communications. We regularly updated our employees on current and important news about the bank and the state, provided useful advice on how to organise work under new conditions, as well as how to take care of their mental health.
We have created a safe environment for work and customer service in all the premises of the bank.
Banks have their own ins and outs of work with cash. We have purchased modern disinfectant devices, from bactericidal lamps to devices used for disinfecting CIT vehicles and premises using the “cold fog” method, as well as provided our employees with personal protective equipment. And, believe me, it was rather difficult to do all these things amidst the turmoil.
At the same time, all the bank’s branches continued and continue to operate as usual. We additionally increased salaries for employees who directly serve customers.
New requirements for employees
I believe that the quarantine made managers of all levels see clearly what requirements they have for employees, what professional and personal qualities an employee should have in order to show flexibility, adaptability and respond to stressful and non-standard situations.
Any changes in expectations will lead to a revision or adaptation of competency models in companies. Corporate cultures in companies will change, values will change as well.
Staff employment policy and management approaches will be more practical. They will allow you to quickly change roles and responsibilities.
Flexibility in the forms of process organisation, management approaches and models is the quality without which no bank will be able to operate efficiently.
Employers will definitely review their internal standards and approaches to occupational health, as well as care for physical and mental health of their employees.
If we talk about bank employees, I believe that the work will be appreciated even more, while motivation will definitely increase.
Kyrylo Shevchenko, Chairman of the Board of JSB Ukrgasbank