Having a resilient workforce is crucial to enhancing organisational competitiveness in an era of intensifying global competition. However, few organisations see resilience as part of the soft skills and attitudes that can be developed strategically.
- Examines nine dimensions of resilience of more than 1500 banking employees and 310 university students being trained for the industry.
- Shows that gender, age and education affect the level of resilience.
- Reveals that performance pressure does not seem to have a detrimental effect on the bank employees’ resilience.
The changing nature of the business and customer services in the banking industry has led to an increased emphasis on a higher level of education qualifications. However, despite the growing needs for soft skills for productive performance at work, the development of soft skills has yet to feature more predominantly in business education curriculum and in organisational training programs as part of strategic human resources management (HRM). Meanwhile, heightened global competition and the often aggressive competitive strategy adopted by banks are subjecting their employees to a growing level of performance pressure and requiring them to be resilient to withstand the pressure.
Data was from a larger study of HRM in the finance sector in the southwestern region of China, with a focus on two major cities: Chengdu and Chongqing. For the survey, a questionnaire was designed to measure the resilience level of employees from the banking sector and students majoring in finance and economics, two-thirds of whom will become employees in the banking sector, for comparison.
For bank employees:
- Hard copies of the questionnaire were distributed to senior managers in 23 branches in 14 banks in Chengdu and Chongqing City.
- A total of 2300 copies of the questionnaire were distributed, 1527 completed questionnaires were returned, and 1501 valid questionnaires were used for data analysis.
For the students:
- We selected students from SWUFE because the majority of them will be working in the banking sector upon graduation.
- A total of 310 copies of the questionnaire were collected, representing a 100 per cent response and usable rate.
- For both samples, ‘organisation’ as a dimension scores the lowest, indicating the need for further development.
- For bank employees, the relatively low score of organisation is perhaps to do with their work intensity.
- For the student sample, ‘organisation’ scores far lower than other dimensions.
It is interesting to note that both samples score relatively high in ‘vision’ and ‘determination’. By comparison, sampled students display a significantly higher level of vision and determination than the sampled employees on average. By contrast, sampled employees seem to be more confident than sampled students in general.
Age as a factor
The majority of the sampled employees are aged under 30, which reflects the demographic profile of the banking workforce. Younger employees generally display a higher level of resilience on most dimensions than their older counterparts. In particular, the younger subgroup seems to have a significantly higher level of vision and relationships. By contrast, the sub-sample of older employees seems to possess more problem-solving skills and are better organised. For the students’ sample, the average age of the undergraduate student respondents is just under 20. The average age of the masters student respondents is just over 24. Compared with their undergraduate counterparts, postgraduate students in the sample have a higher level of resilience. This may be to do with the fact that they are a few years older and more highly educated.
Effects of education
The effect of education is probably most evident in the finding that masters students and employees with bachelor or masters degrees scored higher in all of the resilience dimensions than the other two subgroups. This can be explained by at least two main reasons.
- One is that the education process does help develop the soft skills and other attributes exhibited in individual resilience.
- Another reason may be that those who possess higher-education qualifications are the stronger individuals.
Both samples contain a higher proportion of female than male respondents. Female employees score marginally higher than their male counterparts in only one dimension – relationships. Female students demonstrate a lower level of vision, relationship, problem-solving ability, self-confidence, flexibility and adaptability, and proactiveness. Comparatively speaking, the difference between female and male students in their resilience level is significantly smaller than that between female and male employees.
What’s needed next?
Female respondents in the older age group (30 or above) appear to have a lower level of capability to interact and deal with relationships than other sample groups. Similarly, female respondents who have a lower level of education qualifications seem to lack interaction, flexibility and adaptability, and are less self-confident than others. This suggests that employers may need to provide additional HR support to female employees who are relatively older and less well educated.