What Financial and Tech Industries can Teach Us About Workforce Resilience

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June 28, 2023

The lessons learned in the tech and financial institution industries around workforce resilience can help other organizations navigate uncertainty.

Key takeaways:

  1. Workforce resilience will look different for companies depending on whether they are prioritizing optimization or growth.
  2. Given that circumstances are always changing, there is no end goal for workforce resilience — it’s a continuous work in progress.
  3. Workforce resilience is also not a check-box exercise but a holistic roadmap made up of interconnected actions.


Building a resilient workforce is one of the most important strategies an organization can take to weather future instability and maintain agility in uncertain circumstances. But while workforce resilience has been a frequent topic of conversation, some leaders are still uncertain about what actually goes into establishing workforce resilience. Ishita Goel, director of Human Capital Solutions at Aon, explains what leaders can learn from the different approaches that financial institutions and the tech industry have used for establishing workforce resilience.

This is part of a series of The One Brief articles on workforce resilience. Hear more from our experts in the On Aon Insights podcast series on workforce resilience. The following has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What do you see as the major challenges around workforce resilience?

Ishita Goel: Workforce resilience is a buzzword that many don’t understand. The challenge is to make clients understand that workforce resilience is not one thing or an end state. It’s a journey to build resilience, agility and belonging for the purpose of withstanding change, navigating that change and building a sufficient foundation to repeat the process of change.

How are companies discussing workforce resilience around the world?

Ishita Goel: The lenses that organizations use to look at workforce resilience can be placed on a spectrum, where they’re optimizing on one end and are growth-focused on the other. In sports terminology, it’s whether they’re playing defense or offense. We can place all industries and geographies on this spectrum depending on whether they’re more cost-focused or whether they are growth-focused.

When we look at industries, financial institutions have historically been focused on cost optimization, while technology as a sector has been focused on expansion — of course, not taking into consideration recent events.

What makes the finance and tech industries’ approach to workforce resilience so interesting?

Ishita Goel: Banks have been around for a long time. They’re a mature business and they’ve gone through many black swan events that test an organization’s resilience. When financial institutions essentially think about growth, they’re thinking about being more efficient while continuing to make an impact. That is where they start to think about building people capabilities to support their digitalization strategy, focus on their employee value proposition, provide different working options to attract and retain a diverse talent set, grow efficiently through acquisitions and so on.

What’s been interesting about banks is that they have started to think about workforce resilience as a holistic strategy rather than individual levers to action, which is starting to show a compounded return on investment for them.

On the other hand, the technology industry, until last year, was growing rapidly. Tech was the employee’s choice as the place to work with its focus on employee engagement and wellbeing initiatives. Tech employers were essentially focused on building agility to continue their expansion and build belonging for employees. However, the recent turn of events has brought to light the need to build resilience as well, which has certainly not been a focus area for them.

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic. How does AI fit into discussions in these industries and workforce resilience looking forward?

Ishita Goel: We have been talking about artificial intelligence for many years. AI as a tech capability has been heavily invested in over the past years and it is starting to have an impact. To take a use case, coders in technology firms that have been building AI will start to see shifts in their own jobs themselves — albeit creating more enhanced value by adding roles for them. Simple coding will now be done by AI and the skills and capabilities that will be needed in their augmented new roles will be different. That is where we will start to see upskilling and reskilling of the workforce becoming extremely important with talent pools shrinking and the war for talent. We’ve already started seeing this across many other skills in the marketplace as well, wherein a lot of shortages that financial institutions face as the roles themselves keep evolving to match how the external environment is changing.

What lessons could finance and tech companies teach other organizations in different industries?

Ishita Goel: Companies that get it right are not just focusing on building just resilience or agility or belonging, but focusing on it holistically. There is no silver bullet to get there; it’s a journey of actions. As an example, a large bank wanted to solve for upskilling. Sounds like a simple enough problem to solve, but it is actually a huge horizontal challenge that cuts across the organization.

What we did with the bank was identify the work streams that lead to upskilling:
1. Future skills, or skills that will be critical for the organization’s future success;
2. Talent strategy, or how to drive mobility across the workforce and are they hiring the right skills;
3. Optimizing rewards, or aligning incentives to mobility goals and building skills intelligence into reward approaches;
4. Job architecture, on providing a transparent and flexible structure to manage jobs; and
5. Performance through people, which is incentivizing personal growth and focusing on employee wellbeing at the same time.

The goal was to connect the workstreams. Future skills drive talent strategy, which needs to have aligned rewards. Job architecture is the structure and you need to incentivize people to upskill. This process helped them build an evergreen employee value proposition and not one that ended up as a PR exercise.

Are there any pitfalls when it comes to taking on the idea of workforce resilience?

Ishita Goel: The common pitfall for companies is to focus on pointed solutions for specific issues without looking at the interconnections. For example, many companies are used to dealing with turnover and performance issues. They lose people, they think about counter offers, but the simple fact is that their current approach may amount to a plaster that they’re applying to solve for symptoms rather than solving for the underlying issue. It’s imperative for companies to move from specific solutions to a more connected roadmap in order to exponentially increase not only their return on investment but return on value in the longer term.

What’s on the horizon for workforce resilience?

Ishita Goel: Everything goes back to workforce resilience. Organizations talk about cost optimization, employee wellbeing, pay transparency, skills, attracting the right kind of talent, how jobs are changing and so on. It’s all part of the whole, which is workforce resilience. There are a lot of new things being discussed but companies don’t need to do them all right away; depending on an organization’s situation, they can start with a small action, which then leads to the next action and the next.

Workforce resilience is a work in progress that continuously needs to adapt, because as we know, our external environment is constantly changing.

The new On Aon Insights podcast series explores workforce resilience further. Listen now!

To read more of Aon’s insights on workforce resilience, click here.

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