European bank gets “total make-over” to attract Gen Z

Atmosphere and amenities in the workplace have become increasingly vital for European banks in their pursuit to obtain talent among youth who give more importance to workplace environment than a juicy paycheck

453
Photo: You Tube screengrab from 24H BEWEGUNG

Chief Operating Officer Troels Bjerg at ISS, a top facility services firm whose customers include most of Europe’s 25 biggest banks, confirmed that “Seventy-seven percent of millennials say that the workspace is more important than salary.”

As a result of this perceived preference by today’s generation of workers, the usual gray-suited bankers at Nordea Bank’s Copenhagen headquarters have now been substituted with tattooed models in mustard robes as the Danish bank carried out its recent effort to entice young talent.

Companies like Nordea, the largest financial group among the Nordic countries, now hosts a fashion show as one of the ways to attract twenty-something and thirty-something employees.

These companies believe that as financial services have moved online, banks also have to battle with tech giants like Google and Amazon, which boast offices housing features such as massage rooms, to sign up tech-savvy millennials proficient in areas like artificial intelligence and programming.

“Banks today are not really banks like they were years ago,” Danske Bank’s head of real estate, Christian Ronn Osteraas, said in an interview. “Banks are more and more IT companies, so the fact that we compete for the same talents also means that we have to offer the same or better physical benefits and services.”

Chief executives view attracting and retaining talent as their no. 1 challenge, and Nordea is looking at places like Disney and Silicon Valley for inspiration to shed off the banking industry’s dusty image.

“It is important that you have something you can talk about when you get home,” said Trine Thorn, Nordea’s head of workplace management in Denmark. “We have to create something attractive and different. I want to have this start-up feeling.”

For example, at Danske Bank in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital where it has 700 IT employees, you can nap in a booth in ‘The Library’ relaxation area or challenge colleagues at ping pong or PlayStation in another room.

Nordea has been working closely with ISS to create a workplace that feels both like a bank and a tech start-up.

“My role is to help create a culture that’s more relevant to generation Z,” said Dino Portelli, an ISS experience manager contracted by a big global bank in New York. “They arrive in their suits on Monday. By Wednesday they’re in slacks. And by Friday they’re playing ping-pong.”

Gen Z and what they want
A 2016 study showed that 25- to 35-year-olds are willing to give up an average of S$7,600 in pay for a better situation at the office, such as more career development and a healthier work/life balance.

“It’s a cultural shift,” says Scott Dobroski, spokesman for workplace review site Glassdoor. “If they do not see work/life balance where they can go out and learn about the world, a better salary does not interest them enough. They want to go and work somewhere where they are going to feel valued.”

Data culled from different surveys (as compiled by Access Perks) showed the following trends and illustrate that compensation is no longer the key factor for workers to stay in a company:

• 36% of workers and nearly half of millennials would consider quitting a job that didn’t provide learning opportunities (Docebo)
• About 40% of millennials have taken one job over another because of a company’s sustainability (Swytch)
• 87% of U.S. workers ages 18-34, 70% ages 35-54, and 44% ages 55+ factor in health and wellness offerings in their job decisions (OfficeTeam)
• 62% of millennials who would willingly leave their employers within the next 2 years regard the gig economy as a viable alternative to full-time employment (Deloitte)
• If a job lacks growth opportunities and avenues for leadership development, 67% of millennials would leave that position (Bridge)
• Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position (Bridge)
• Workers ages 18-35 rank career advancement opportunities (32%) and work-life balance (34%) as most important to them at work (Comparably)
• 95% of millennial employees report that work/life balance is important to them, with 70% saying it’s a very important aspect of their careers (Deloitte)
• Millennials who feel they’re at a great workplace are 25 times more likely to plan a long-term future at that workplace (Great Place to Work)

Gen Z, born between 1980 and 2000, will shape the world of work for years to come. Attracting the best of these millennial workers is critical to the future of businesses. Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace.

Millennials matter because they are not only different from those that have gone before, they are also more numerous than any since the soon-to-retire Baby Boomer generation.

A defining characteristic of GenZ is their affinity with the digital world. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media being the norm and expect instant access to information.

Their behaviour is coloured by their experience of the global economic crisis and this generation place much more emphasis on their personal needs than on those of the organisation.

They are uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and turned off by information silos. They expect rapid progression, a varied and interesting career and constant feedback. Gen Z want a management style and corporate culture that meets their needs.

Their ambition and desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards through an organisation, as well as their willingness to move on quickly if their expectations are not being met, demands a focused response from employers.

Regardless of the long-term targets and objective of a business organisation, the ability to attract and retain Gen Z talent will be a vital step to achieving it.