February 13, 2017

As we move through 2017, it’s still somewhat surprising that for large and established finance companies, finding the right ways to keep employees happy, well and healthy can be elusive. There’s no longer any doubt that the answer is flexibility. However, being agile and adaptive is no easy feat, especially when large finance firms can be stuck in decades of tradition and rigid hierarchy.

Here are five ways for finance companies to move towards flexible ways of work:

Rub Shoulders with Entrepreneurs

To inspire new ideas and move forward, finance companies are shifting away from traditional company hierarchies. This is proving especially important with their digital teams, which have little to gain from corporate structure. HSBC recently put their Hong Kong-based digital and innovation teams in a flexible office space, in order to communicate and collaborate openly in an agile environment that was brimming with new ideas. Rubbing shoulders with entrepreneurs is becoming key for finance companies to move forward in today’s competitive environment, helping to create new ideas and stay aligned with latest trends in both finance and technology.

Blend the Workforce  

With the boom in the millennial workforce, many younger employees prefer to work as freelancers—supporting the rise of the so-called ‘gig economy’. But finance companies still need to attract this talent, which, despite being untraditional, is often top talent. These younger, often more flexible workers also tend to be better at being agile, exercising more creative judgment, and like entrepreneurs, bringing new ideas into the company. By blending the workforce between traditional, full-time employees and freelancers, a finance company can capitalise from the best of both worlds.

Find Balance with Health

It’s a proven fact that employees work better when they’re healthier. There are manifold ways to bring health into the office that goes beyond traditional methods, such as an in-office gym and good health insurance. One is an emphasis on mindfulness: how to “be” rather than “do”. Meditation can reduce stress and boost well-being and productivity. Another is something as simple as rest: ultra-tech nap and energy pods are working their way into Asian companies so that employees can charge up when they need to. Try wearable devices too, like a FitBit, so that employees can keep track of their steps and heart rate—the Healthcare Trends Institute finds wearable devices are booming for millennials and Generation Z. 

Create a Space for Creativity

It doesn’t just stop at health—finance companies also need to make sure their employees are well and creative, too. This means that they’re both happy and actively engaged with their work. But this is easier said than done—and the best ways as we move into the future is to use technology. Take Alibaba—makers of Alipay—for example. Their office campus has transformed the Chinese city Hangzhou into an entrepreneurial hub, now with more than 1,000 startups. The offices are known for a campus that is so flexible to its employees and open to incubating business ideas, that one successful startup was even born out of Alibaba’s cafeteria.

Move Away from the Traditional Floor Plan   

According to a study by Steelcase, which looked at nearly 13,000 employees from across 17 countries, those who had the option of choosing where and how they worked were 88% more engaged than those employees who could not. Unfortunately, making finance employees stick hard and fast to the traditional open floor plan without the option of taking work somewhere that fits their needs is driving down engagement. Employees need to be given more choices when it comes to where and how they work—finance companies can’t just look at space as the office building anymore, as industry competitors begin to adopt a more agile working environment.