Long hours, high stress and what appears to be a constant pursuit of money can put a lot of stress on bankers. A third of bankers admit to hating their jobs, according to a survey conducted by eFinancialCareers.
Large financial companies are often criticised as being greedy, impersonal institutions that demand a lot from their employees and give little in return.
They pay well, but they’re not considered especially great places to work. In fact, very few financial institutions made our list of the Best Employers in America, which was based on exclusive data from PayScale.
“Browsing through the banks [we] noticed that there was a trend of having below typical satisfaction, flexibility, stress and job meaning scores,” PayScale’s data team told us.
Employees at financial companies just aren’t as satisfied as those in other industries.
However, not all finance companies are bad. One of the companies that made our list of Best Employers was asset management firm BlackRock, which ranked number 30 out of the 200 companies, with 73 per cent of its employees reporting high job satisfaction.
The independently-run public company is now by far the fastest-growing asset manager in the world with approximately 10,500 employees worldwide. The company’s website says that in the “latest employee survey, most employees rated [the] culture as strong and meaningful, and most rated themselves highly engaged.”
We decided to reach out to Jeff Smith, senior managing director at BlackRock’s Head of Global Human Resources Group, to find out about the company’s culture. Below is a transcript of the interview, edited slightly for clarity:
BI: Can you describe the corporate culture at BlackRock?
JS: It’s an incredibly passionate place with a very clear sense of purpose and that goes from Larry Fink, our founder and CEO, to everyone else in the organisation.
It’s pretty special in that it doesn’t feel like a place where people are just doing their jobs. Instead, we’re heavily oriented toward constantly innovating.
The people are heavily focused on the firm and it’s not just about their individual accomplishments. It’s not a place for egos. We have company principles that we have built into everything we do. The senior leaders are committed to them and embed them into their everyday work.
BI: How do you grow your leaders?
JS: It’s a company that grew through acquisitions. People really had an opportunity to grow in different spaces.
Around three years ago, we really started to focus on formalising development and every person that manages someone else throughout the firm got the opportunity to go through management programs.
We spend a lot of time making sure we’re teaching one another.
The most important things here are the people leadership, thought leadership and investment leadership.
BI: What do you think people value the most in a workplace?
JS: People want to have challenging work that uses their skill sets. People want to do well and have opportunities to grow professionally.
Also, who you work for and who you’re led by is one of the most important things when it comes to employee satisfaction and performance.
When we conduct our surveys, 90 per cent of employees say they have confidence in the global executive committee. We have really highly-engaged employees. The company certainly tries to engage you, but I think it’s the leaders who really engage employees.
BI: How often do you conduct your surveys?
JS: We do it every year.
The surveys are designed to focus on two main things: Employee engagement and employee enablement, which means “Does the work environment allow people to use their skills in their best way?”
BI: How do you think BlackRock sets itself apart from other companies in the industry?
JS: I think one of the things that’s great about this company is that we’re focused on our clients. We don’t spend a lot of time focusing on what other financial service companies are doing.
The public has a different perception on financial services in general than it did in the past. I think our values and integrity really stand out in a positive way and we are well-positioned and I think people see that.
BI: Do you have any perks that you offer your employees?
JS: Our objective is to serve our clients and pay people for performance. Our benefits are incredibly competitive and we focus on leadership and management development and training.
BI: How do you maintain employee engagement?
JS: I think people think it’s a company that challenges them and helps them learn.
We bring our top 150 to 200 leaders together at regular meetings and rotate attendance so that people are connected. We do it globally, regionally and we do that a lot to bring people together.
We also do a lot of volunteer work as a group.
BlackRock has several employee networks that encourage connectivity and communication across business, such as VP Village, Employee Diversity networks like WIN — the Women’s Initiative, OUT — a community for LGBT employees and their allies, a multi-culture network and veterans network.
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