More Cooperative than Cutthroat?

More Cooperative than Cutthroat?

4 Teambuilding Traits of the Best Workplaces in Finance

In an industry typically associated with competitive personalities and bonus-driven cultures, the terms "friendly", "caring", and "cooperative" may seem out of place. However, even in the most competitive of settings, navigating complex projects and running a business still requires the work of a team, and cooperation is essential to strong performance.

At this year's 30 Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance—where the average annual revenue per employee is an astounding $563,940—cooperation among employees goes hand-in-hand with business success. As we look to these companies for valuable insights for inspiring collaboration in this competitive field, we find:

  1. They're Collegial

    Among the 41,000-plus finance industry employees surveyed by Great Place to Work, those who described their organization as friendly were 12 times more likely to report consistent cooperationat the office. And, at the 30 Best Workplaces in this industry:

    • More than nine in ten employees describe their organization as caring
    • A whopping 97% said they can count on their colleagues to cooperate
    As one surveyed co-worker put it, "I feel like all employees are one unified team with the same goals and focus in mind."
  2. They Encourage Trust

    Employee errors can cause real consequences for a business that handles other people's money. At the Best Workplaces, though, team members still feel they can make decisions in good faith without fearing for their livelihoods if something goes awry.

    On average, 93% of employees at the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance said their managers recognize that honest mistakes are a part of doing business. Employee surveys also confirm these leading firms were substantially more likely than their peers to minimize office politics, handle promotions fairly, and avoid management favoritism. All of these traits encourage a high-trust workplace where collaboration and ambition can easily co-exist.

  3. They Inspire Loyalty

    Employees aren't the only ones who benefit from a supportive, high-trust workplace. Their organizations also see returns in the form of retention and commitment. Turnover among the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance is about 8%, which is roughly half the rate among all financial services firms surveyed by Great Place to Work.

    At the same time, more than nine in ten of their employees said co-workers are willing to give extra to get the job done. What's more, these motivated colleagues don't just work hard for their own sake – 96% of them said they believe "We're all in this together."

  4. Leaders Set the Stage for Collaboration

    At the Best Workplaces, 90% of employees said their leaders involve people in decisions that affect their jobs; and 80% said their leaders actively seek out suggestions and ideas. ACUITY Insurance, for example, reinforces the value it places on honest discussion through its "Lunch with an Officer" program. Every few months, co-workers at every level have a chance to pitch ideas and have their concerns heard by leaders overseeing different parts of the company. In fact, someone who works at ACUITY will likely have had the chance to dine with the entire executive team by the time he or she has been employed there for two years.

    As one employee from a winning company shared: "I enjoy the overall positive atmosphere of the organization's culture as a whole. The firm encourages associates to work as a team to achieve their goals, instead of the typical boss-employee relationship."

Nice Guys Don't Have to Finish Last

These findings demonstrate that even in a notoriously cutthroat industry, employees can have a positive experience of the workplace marked by a strong sense of friendliness, cooperation, and care. That said, we are also conditioned to believe that being nice is akin to being vulnerable, and thus is a threat to the well-being of a business. However, given Financial Services is currently the least-trusted sector in the world, it may be time to re-examine the status quo as this industry struggles to regain the public's confidence. Adopting the cooperative and trust-based practices of these successful Best Workplaces could be your firm's next worthy venture.