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With the right strategy and tools, financial services firms can shape a company culture to move beyond regulatory and stakeholder expectations.

5 Ways Finance Firms Can Ensure Culture Change Sticks

While many financial services firms recognise the need to manage or change company culture, they don’t always know where to start or how to tackle the problem. And with global social movements and the ongoing impact of COVID-19, expectations and mindset of customers, employees, and regulators have advanced – making complacency fatal in today’s global context. Simply complying with rules and regulations is not enough. 

As firms look to navigate an increasingly transparent and diverse playing field, a resilient company culture is not a “nice to have” but rather a critical success factor. But despite efforts by firms to improve their risk models and to establish oversight, processes, and structures to better understand employee behaviours and improve customer outcomes, the needle is not moving as rapidly as regulators would like.  

In this blog post, we outline a five-step approach to help you embed a resilient, dynamic, and sustainable culture across your company.  

  1. Demonstrate your culture change

Firms need to show, not just tell their employees that their culture is evolving and what the end goal looks like. The C-suite need to see themselves as true leaders in every sense of the word, and set an example of behaviour, tolerance and practice others can easily follow. Simply instructing others to change will not have a lasting effect until senior management are seen to be setting the new standard themselves. This also has a positive impact on your image to clients, customers, employees, and regulators, as good working practices amongst senior leaders it is a tenet of any fair, ethical and modern financial firm. 

Everbridge says: Leadership communications are vital to forge employees’ connection to the firm’s goals and progress. The visibility and accessibility of your senior leaders also fosters organisational trust. 

  1. Implementa three-tier messaging approach 

Notoriously, people prove resistant to attempted change, which is why a one size fits all approach is unlikely to truly transform a company culture. Your workforce is made up of many individuals who each respond differently regardless of approaches and strategies. A three-level approach, however, targets the organisation, the team, and the individual – creating consistency and frequent reinforcement that drives change within your firm. Without these three simultaneous dynamics, it is easy for your message to get lost.   

Everbridge says: Use a variety of communication tools to create the awareness, desire, knowledge, and ability of your employees – as they embark on a programme of change. 

  1. Set guiding principles& goals 

A call to shift a company culture cannot be achieved with vague statements but needs to be outlined with strong principles to be adhered to. These principles need to be tangible, and easily recallable – these ‘sticky’ ideas have the potential to become the fabric of every company. Whilst a wide range of changes may need to be made, guiding principles should be snappy and few – so that people do not feel overwhelmed by a volume of new ideas.  

Everbridge says: Getting your principles to be front of mind for the whole business takes both effective management and appropriate communications. Craft, consistent messaging that your people can relate to. 

  1. Build long lasting habits

We are, at heart, creatures of habit. Once new changes have been made, they must be reinforced and remain top of mind to truly change the image and operations of a company. If changes are meekly introduced, and not fostered on all levels then sustaining your firms’ ethical core will be an uphill struggle. Ensure clear guidelines on new ways of operating are visible and accessible to everyone, and that they are insisted upon by everyone. After a while, new ways of thinking will become second nature to your firm. 

Everbridge says: By disaggregating your strategic and cultural aspirations into individual-level goals and behaviours to work toward, you can develop sustainable employee habits in a clearly defined and targeted way. 

  1. Have the right tools to hand 

Whilst a company culture shift begins and ends with people, it can be simplified and accelerated with right tools for the job. By implementing systems, and working groups dedicated to keeping the new habits alive and promoting a change in the company ethos, you can create a campaign-based approach to the cultural shift in your company. Undergoing this approach and arming yourself with the right communication tools, can not only drive corporate values and expectations for conduct, but also widespread change can be operationalised and strategised effectively.  

Everbridge says: Communicate culture-building initiatives using a range of vibrant, visual channels. Use feedback tools to gauge sentiment and close the feedback loop to improve morale. 

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