Senior figures from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are increasingly talking about the culture within firms. The regulator says that it is often not possible to write prescriptive rules in this area, so good practice examples can be very important in assisting firms to know what a good culture looks like.

Opening a webinar, held on October 4, Jonathan Davidson, Director of Supervision – Retail and Authorisations at the FCA, said he is committed to promoting a culture within firms that provides good customer outcomes.

Instead of the usual webinar panel of financial professionals, the panel for this session comprised an innovation management consultant, a relationship manager at delivery firm Ocado and a representative of research charity the Institute for Employment Studies.

The central theme of the session was that employees must be motivated to act in the right way, which will then hopefully lead to good customer outcomes.

A person’s basic needs might include financial security and a sense of belonging.

On the next level, ideally people would arrive at work with a purpose. Employees want to know how their personal contribution helps the firm achieve its corporate goals, so ideally this should be communicated to them on a continuous basis and not just at each annual appraisal or similar. Indeed, nothing that is said during an annual appraisal, whether positive or negative, should come as a surprise to the employee.

The best line managers have the skills to find out what motivates each individual who reports to them and will tailor their motivational efforts accordingly.

Social media has highlighted one problem in that people sometimes get envious when they see their friends apparently enjoying work more than they are.

It can be important to try and identify a way that all staff could qualify for some form of bonus, and obviously simply achieving higher sales volumes and getting higher pay as a result is not the way the FCA would want firms to operate in the modern world, given the continual regulatory obligation to achieve good customer outcomes.

Firms could consider if more employees could be given development programmes with stated objectives to work towards.

Technology is changing the workplace, and sometimes some management decisions, or decisions about whether to lend to a customer, may now be made by automated tools. However, increased use of technology can also create exciting project opportunities that can be used to give staff greater variety in their role.

Line managers and employees can work together to find ways of doing their jobs better. After all, the junior staff are the ones who are actually ‘at the coalface’ and know what works and what doesn’t, and sometimes one team member will be able to share an experience which their colleagues can learn from. The Maslow hierarchy of needs or a similar model can be used here as employees identify which of the needs in this model are already being met, and which other ones they would like to meet as a priority. Sometimes some experimentation is required to find what really works and what doesn’t.

There are many things that can be offered to try to motivate staff, including:

  • Flexible working
  • Free fruit or snacks
  • Extra annual leave for those who engage in charitable or voluntary work
  • A breakout zone where staff can play games etc.
  • Awards for going above and beyond the usual job requirements – there could be separate categories where some awards are chosen by management and some recipients are chosen via a vote amongst their colleagues.

As far as possible, firms should try to find out what the staff want in the way of perks – the example was given of firms who have offered gym memberships only to find out that either very few of the workforce wanted to take advantage of this, or the ‘discounted’ membership of a high-end gym was actually more expensive than other gyms which staff already used.

At the end of the day, the best ways to monitor the effectiveness of staff motivation are: is the staff turnover low, and do staff come to work with a smile on their face?

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article