Sadly, we fear that hybrid working puts psychological safety at risk. Professor Amy Edmondson of the Harvard Business School says: “Psychological safety refers to a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up.” Given the systemic nature of Financial Services, (FS), and the high importance that regulators place on the ability to ‘speak up’, psychological safety is even more important for FS than for many other industries.
Hybrid working risks weakening trust between individual employees, between employee and employer, and between employee (representing the employer) and individual customers. If trust between individuals is weakened, this weakens psychological safety at a group level . Indeed, the lack of face-to-face interactions, despite video calls, eliminates a sizeable proportion of non-verbal communication gained from subtle facial expressions and body language. This, in turn, reduces the perception of “warmth”, a key feature of trust. Replicating the degree of trust and psychological safety felt with in-person working in a hybrid world is fraught with challenges. Moreover, in FS, this challenge is exacerbated by generational differences, with the coming generation – Gen Z – feeling much less psychologically safe than the ‘Gen Jones’ that typically runs banks.
Based on our survey of 2,000 UK financial services employees, we found some striking differences between Gen Z (i.e., under 25s) and Gen Jones (i.e., 55-65s). One of these differences is that Gen Z perceive their relationships with colleagues to be “less deep and meaningful during remote working” in contrast to Gen Jones (42 per cent vs 29 per cent). Another, related, difference is that Gen Z feels much less freedom “to speak up about ideas, questions and concerns and/or to admit your mistakes” than Gen Jones (36 per cent vs 66 per cent).
We will explore, through a behavioural science lens, what cultural safeguards FS firms can implement to maintain, through technology, connection among employees in a hybrid work context. This session will be conducted as a conversation between the two speakers and will also engage the audience to understand their challenges and emerging best practices around cultural safeguards in a hybrid work context.
1. Raise awareness about the specific cultural challenges that financial services firms face in the context of hybrid working.
2. Equip the audience with the latest behavioural science frameworks and tools to successfully navigate hybrid working in the financial services context.
3. Build a dialogue with the audience to cross-fertilise best practices, around hybrid working, across different industry sectors.
Based on our survey of 2,000 UK financial services employees : The future of banking: The employee experience (EX) imperative