3 Secrets to Becoming one of the 40 Best Finance Workplaces

Chinwe Onyeagoro  

Blog - Chinwe Onyeagoro - March 28, 2017

3 Secrets to Becoming one of the 40 Best Finance Workplaces

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Since we’re talking finance, let’s skip to the bottom line: High-trust employers are more profitable than their peers. Annual revenue growth at the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance was 26 percent compared to 18% at companies that didn’t make the list. That success in part comes from the high level of confidence employees have in these organizations, where 94 percent of team members say they’re proud to tell others where they work.

Want to create that level of enthusiasm in your workplace? Here are three key takeaways from the Best Workplaces in Finance, recently announced by Great Place to Work and Fortune.

  1. Promote positive relationships

    Even by the high standards of Great Place to Work–Certified companies, an exceptional share of employees at the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance trust the intentions of their co-workers.An average of 87% of colleagues at these companies say they have an emotionally and psychologically healthy work environment. The leading employers encourage this by making clear that they won’t tolerate manipulative behavior (an approach winning firm Baird calls the “no a_hole” rule.) Plus, these organizations foster office camaraderie and the personal connections that build a collegial culture.

    Renovate America, for example, gives $750 a year to 18 employee clubs engaged in hobbies outside of work. The company also chips in registration fees and uniforms for sports teams.

    At Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG), there’s a heavy emphasis on culture day-to-day. This is evident in executives’ open-door policy, candid discussions on work-style differences and toy elephants decorating conference rooms as a reminder to always discuss the “elephant in the room.” As one BHG team member says, “Ownership is approachable on a personal level. Amazing growth trend. Organizational health is a big focus, which means dealing with conflict in the office in the appropriate ways.”

  2. Emphasize leadership with integrity

    93% of people working for these Best Workplaces say their managers are honest and ethical. In an industry where ethical behavior is incredibly important to the organization’s reputation and the soundness of its operating practices, this sets these finance companies apart. Plus, our research shows ethical leadership has a big effect on employees’ experience.

    Employees at the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance who said their leaders are ethical were also:

    • 10x more likely to look forward to coming to work
    • 7x more likely to say they have a great workplace
    • 5x more likely to say they’re proud to tell others where they’re employed

      But enhancing integrity and accountability in the workplace isn’t always easy in practice.

      Best Workplace American Express has staffed an ombuds office for 20 years to serve as a confidential resource for employees discussing sensitive issues without fear of retribution. Co-workers can contact the office after business hours, and this independent entity can escalate issues within management without revealing the person’s identity.

      American Fidelity Assurance has formed five accountability groups, comprised of leaders across different divisions and perspectives, that meet on a monthly basis to discuss leadership strengths and weaknesses and hold senior leaders accountable to the company’s core values. Leaders also receive scorecards that combine a mix of employee feedback, survey scores, turnover stats and more.

      These kinds of practices turn a professed culture of honesty and credibility into real behaviors. As one American Fidelity Assurance Company employee explains, “The ethics of this company which strongly promote always being honest and doing what is right and fair. The fairness of salary, benefits and bonuses. The culture which promotes taking care of our customers and helping them, even if it means offering a solution that may not be especially beneficial to the company, but is in the best interest of the customer and is the right thing to do. As companies go, we are the "Good Guy".


  3. Encourage Open Dialogues with Employees

    People care more – and perform better – when they feel they’re truly part of a bigger effort. The Best Workplaces were significantly more likely than their peers to involve team members in decision-making and encourage a transparent culture.

    At Quicken Loans, for instance, CEO Bill Emerson holds regular face-to-face lunch meetings with team members to discuss any issues they want to talk about. The idea is to encourage open and honest discussions with leadership to both build trust and include employee suggestions and feedback in executive decisions.

    At Best Workplace USAA, one employee describes a similar sense of open dialogue between leadership and staff: “the culture at USAA is unlike any other. Every employee is not just made to feel important, we are important. Every employee has the ability to participate in the innovation of new products or systems. Upper management takes what we say very seriously and is consistently implementing changes we request. I feel very valued as an employee.”

In an industry often known for being high-pressure, these three key takeaways can turn a solid business into a financial powerhouse. How will you improve your workplace?

Chinwe Onyeagoro
Chinwe Onyeagoro

Chinwe Onyeagoro is President of Great Place to Work®. She works with multi-billion dollar technology, telecom, financial services, and bio-pharma companies to successfully execute business strategy by developing high-trust, high performance cultures. She has worked for two top management consultancies (McKinsey & Company and The Monitor Group – acquired by Deloitte in 2013). She serves on the boards of private equity firms and lending institutions that have invested over a $1 Billion in small and medium enterprises that create good jobs in communities.