Going Back to the Office Is Hurting Employee Satisfaction

Respondents from firms likely to adopt either a remote or hybrid policy were more likely to report that their workplace culture had strengthened.

Illustration by II

Illustration by II

Amid the “great resignation” and increased turnover across industries, including financial services, asset management employees have become increasingly difficult to retain. For executives hoping to hold onto their people, the answer could be threefold: flexibility, purpose, and education.

Asset management employees want more flexibility. At firms with more rigid in-office workplace policies, overall satisfaction in workplace culture has slightly decreased in 2022, according to a Deloitte survey of 300 senior investment management executives released Friday. For example, of the respondents who said their firms were likely to adopt an in-office workplace model, only 13 percent reported that their workplace culture had become stronger since the beginning of the year.

Respondents from firms likely to adopt either a remote or hybrid workplace policy, however, were more likely to report that their workplace culture had strengthened. Of the respondents who said that their workplace was likely to be remote, 24 percent reported that overall culture had improved, while 32 percent of respondents working in a hybrid structure thought the culture had strengthened.

These results vary from 2021’s responses, in which in-office firms touted higher cultural improvements than their hybrid counterparts. In last year’s survey, 38 percent of in-office respondents said their firm’s culture had become stronger over the previous year, compared to 25 percent of hybrid respondents.

Beyond the workplace model, the survey suggests that asset management firms may be able to retain talent and promote better employee engagement and productivity by defining the firm’s “purpose,” which Deloitte defines as environmental, social, and governance initiatives and diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.

For example, respondents from firms that made “significant progress” in their DEI initiatives over the past year were 44 percent more likely to report stronger team collaboration. The same respondents were also 29 percent more likely to report stronger engagement and productivity at their firms.

Asset management executives also believe that their institution’s ESG initiatives are part of what attracts talent to their firms. These executives were 69 percent more likely to report a “much stronger” overall culture at their firms, while 50 percent were more likely to have better revenue expectations for the following year.

Robust training programs are another key element of employee retention. Respondents at firms that placed an emphasis on training and education reported a larger likelihood of increased collaboration and teamwork in and across functions, employee well-being, and overall culture.

“Firms looking to measure the ROI of employee training should note that a focus on personal growth may contribute to employee retention, and an emphasis on learning may help foster the attitude and softer skills that often lead to success on the big efforts that require commitment and collaboration across the organization,” the report said.