Combatting Talent Complacency

Nadia Edwards-Dashti, CCO - Harrington Starr

In this episode of FinTech's DEI Discussions, Nadia Edwards-Dashti, Co-Founder & CCO of Harrington Starr Group, dives deep into the critical importance of a robust people strategy for businesses, especially in the tech and fintech sectors. Drawing on her 20 years of experience, Nadia explores why hiring, staff retention, and career advancement should be top priorities for companies looking to scale and thrive in today's volatile market.

The Current Market Landscape

Nadia begins by painting a picture of the current job market, particularly within the financial services and fintech industries. The past few years have seen a dramatic shift:

  • VC Funding Decline: Venture capital funding to fintech startups has plummeted globally by up to 49%.
  • Job Market Fluctuations: In the UK, job applications in financial services surged by 43%, while unique job postings dropped by 27%. In the US, job applications skyrocketed by 237% in Q4 2023.
  • Automation Threats: PWC predicts that by the mid-2030s, 30% of jobs in financial services could be at risk due to automation.

This landscape has led to a phenomenon Nadia terms "talent complacency," where companies assume that the availability of talent will meet their needs when they are ready to hire, neglecting the importance of ongoing talent investment and development.

The Rise of Talent Complacency

With the increase in layoffs and job applications, companies have become overly confident, believing they can easily find skilled candidates when needed. However, this complacency overlooks the essential role of a well-thought-out people strategy. Nadia emphasises that despite the influx of job seekers, many candidates are looking to pivot and advance their careers, seeking roles that offer growth and new challenges.

Survey Insights: What Employees Really Want

Drawing insights from Harrington Starr's Financial Technology Salary Survey 2024/25 with over 8,000 respondents, Nadia highlights the key factors that drive employee satisfaction and retention:

  • Feeling Heard: Employees want their voices to be heard and feel part of something bigger.
  • Mission and Values: Aligning with the company's mission, values, and purpose is crucial.
  • Support and Innovation: Employees seek backing to learn, innovate, and pivot within their roles.
  • Psychological Safety: A supportive environment where employees feel safe to express their ideas and take risks is vital.

The Productivity Crisis vs. Happiness Factor

Nadia discusses the ongoing conversation around the productivity crisis and how it ties into employee engagement and happiness. Gallup reports show that employees are four times more likely to be engaged when recognition and career advancement align. This underscores the importance of fostering a culture that values and promotes employee growth and development.

Promotion and Forward Feedback

Promotion goes beyond job titles and pay raises. It includes giving employees opportunities to lead projects, innovate, and stretch their skills. Forward feedback, constructive and aimed at helping employees progress, is essential for building a culture of continuous improvement and empowerment.

Conclusion: Reject Talent Complacency

Nadia concludes by urging businesses to optimise their talent strategies, reject complacency, and invest in their employees' futures. She emphasises the importance of a clear employee value proposition (EVP), fostering an inclusive culture, and being agile and creative in talent management.

Key Takeaways for Business Leaders

  1. Prioritise People Strategy: Hiring, retention, and career advancement should be at the forefront of your business strategy.
  2. Understand Market Dynamics: Stay aware of market trends and how they impact your talent strategy.
  3. Listen to Your Employees: Regularly solicit feedback and act on it to create a supportive and engaging work environment.
  4. Promote and Recognise: Invest in your employees' growth and provide opportunities for advancement and innovation.
  5. Cultivate a Positive Culture: Ensure your company culture supports psychological safety, inclusivity, and continuous learning.

By focusing on these areas, businesses can build a resilient and motivated workforce ready to tackle future challenges and drive success.

About FinTech’s DEI Discussions: 

Nadia Edwards-Dashti is Harrington Starr's Chief Customer Officer and host of our longest-running podcast, FinTech's DEI Discussions.

This podcast brings together experts throughout the financial services industry to share how they 'Walk the Talk' for inclusion.

In addition to the regular episodes, Nadia extracts from her two decades of experience in FinTech recruiting and shares her knowledge and advice to promote inclusion.

Alongside this, the Harrington Starr Group hosts the 'Talent Equity List', a campaign to help companies promote inclusive hiring by highlighting underrepresented talent.

Watch more episodes here.

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