How can employers improve the low motivation in the finance sector?

sad bankerFindings from a recent survey have shown that organisations in the financial sector have the lowest levels of employee engagement in the UK.

The research, commissioned by Talent Q, revealed that 46% of those employed in the financial services feel unmotivated, and that 52% plan to leave their jobs within 12 months.

These alarmingly high levels of dissatisfaction can be attributed to the poor public perception the finance sector has, following the recent scandals. The negativity surrounding the reputation of the banking industry has heavily influenced the motivation and levels of engagement of those working in financial services. Without improving employee engagement and motivation, the finance sector risk losing their most talented individuals.


How can employers improve this situation?

Previously bonuses were the default motivator for the financial services; however the research showed that only a third of employees are motivated by this.

The responsibility falls to management to improve motivational levels of their staff.  After all, an employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager is the single most important factor influencing engagement. So what can you do to improve relationships between you and your staff?


Top tips for employers/managers

  • Be a good listener – try to be less focused on imposing your own view, and take time to hear what your employees have to say.
  • Be perceptive – talk to your employees, find out what motivates them, what aspirations they have, and how they are emotionally connected to the business – this will help them feel appreciated and valued.
  • Communicate – as a manager you need to be approachable, candid, easy to talk to, and available when needed. You should also collect feedback from your employees as often as possible and respond to their issues, views and suggestions.
  • Stay calm – it is vital that you are able to remain cool under stress. Your employees will look to you for guidance and support, so you need to be able to handle the most emotionally sensitive situations with a calm, professional approach.
  • Take a genuine, personal interest – understand and be sensitive to your employees’ responsibilities and work-life balance. Try, where possible, to be flexible and understanding to their work and personal commitments.

Understanding what motivates an individual employee is a key element of being a manager and one that cannot be overlooked.


So how can you motivate your employees?

Managers need to recognise and understand that staff who feel appreciated are engaged and motivated. Here are just a few simple things you could do to improve motivation and engagement among your employees. 

  • Use positive reinforcement and encouragement – show your employees how much you appreciate their work and give praise where it is due. This costs little more than time, but can be critical to improving motivation among your staff. Taking the time to say “thank you”, or to send a personalised note or email, to show employees that you value what they do, can have a hugely positive impact on workforce motivation.
  • shaking handsTake a genuine interest in your employees – talk to your employees; find out what their likes and dislikes are so you can better understand what motivates them. This knowledge can then be applied to the company’s recognition and rewards schemes. For example, you could offer flexible working schedules, free health club passes or discount vouchers etc. Small gestures can make a big difference, particularly when they are relevant and useful to your staff.
  • Recognise and reward individual performances –  a great way of boosting motivation is to recognise engagement though employee rewards. By ensuring roles are clearly defined, and employees know exactly what’s expected of them, you can reward those who go that extra mile while doing their job. Incentivise your staff and recognise engagement through employee rewards, with realistic targets and public acknowledgement. This in turn helps create a culture in which positive input and creative contributions are encouraged.
  • Offer training and development – by taking a genuine interest in the future path of an employee’s career you are showing a commitment to the. Mentoring, coaching and training programmes can all be helpful to employees, and highly valued. In addition, this extra training will make employees feel confident in their role, and more motivated to achieve the best results.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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