September's New Role of Operations Workgroup focused primarily on the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing ability to disrupt payments on seemingly every level.
It was, in many ways, a continuation of the Workgroup sessions over the summer: an ongoing conversation about operations' evolving role in the COVID-affected workplaces-in payments and throughout the economy. The discussion this month centered largely on headhunting-which has been greatly affected, according to many of the group's members.
(For more of an overall perspective, please check out the "Great Resignation" article, which addresses how COVID continues to affect hiring across multiple industries.)
Options for flexibility
Employees want options to work from home, the group agreed, or to at least have more flexibility about their workplaces. This tracks with many news articles which indicate that work-life balance, which was always a "nice-to-have," is becoming a "must-have." For example, according to the Washington Post, workers are hesitant to return to jobs that require a fixed schedule with in-person work.
Workers and employers alike are questioning why they need to go back into an office, at least for five days a week. In fact, multiple members of the Workgroup added concerns that some employees, who are being brought back to the office after working remotely for the better part of the year, may be considering finding work elsewhere rather than return to in-person work.
But there are reasons employees want to stay flexible that aren't simply about quality of life. Some may have family members requiring extra care, such as elderly or people undergoing medical treatments. Employees who are immune-compromised or who may not be able to be vaccinated for medical reasons are also wary about any job that requires rigid in-person attendance requirements.
Where's the talent?
All these factors have joined together to greatly affect the talent pool, said Linda Carmichael, SVP, Operations, Fidelity Bank.
"People are applying for jobs who don't have banking experience," she said
She continued, "You used to be able to take the time to let someone get up to speed-but you don't have that luxury of getting someone and having the time to train them from the ground up. Baby boomers are retiring, and there's a limited bench to replace them."
And people are retiring earlier, said Patricia Mullin, CCM, SVP, Director of Treasury Management Cambridge Trust Company. Retirement age used to be 60s or above, she said, but now it's closer to 50-something. "People are re-evaluating their lives these days," she said.
"For the last 30 years, banking was a career you were proud to venture into. Now the pool is thinning because of retirement," said Linda Gary, Cash Operations Supervisor PayFlex. "Is banking one of those areas young people want to go into, when they can do gaming instead?"
The next generation of employees
Employees in every industry are reconsidering what work means, especially for millennials and Generation (GenZ).
Gary said, "A lot of us identify ourselves by what we do for a living. But younger generations are happier working to live the life they want to live-and to have it be a balanced life."
Research backs up what the Workgroup discussed. Even before the pandemic, research pointed to GenZ needing to feel connected to what they do and that their work has meaning and is part of a larger purpose. They're digital-minded, but they're also skeptical. Because having grown up during the financial crisis of 2007, they are especially motivated by finding a higher paid job that takes advantage of their abilities, rather than staying in the same place to simply bide their time waiting for opportunities. And a survey of 500 Millennial and Gen Z workers by Elements Global Services found 78% of respondents said the pandemic made them question what they want to do for their job and career.
No silver bullet exists to solve this issue, and research and analysis shows it's clear we can't go back to the way things were before the pandemic. Employment-in payments as well as throughout business in general-will continue to be an issue we're all going to grapple with for the foreseeable future.
AUTHOR: Joe Casali, AAP, NCP
Executive Vice President
As the EVP of Payments Innovation for NEACH, Joe focuses on exploring innovative solutions and technologies that will help position members for success, both now and in the future. Connect with Joe to read more of his blogs, articles, and posts.