June 17, 2020
Responding to Change

Covid-19 has changed the way Katie Wahlquist and her team at $297 million Star Bank think about the workplace.

This extends to how Wahlquist talks about work. To bridge the cultural gap between office staff, who transitioned to remote work, and branch workers who continued working in the bank’s 10 locations, the Maple Lake, Minnesota-based bank’s chief administrative officer told me early last month that she no longer says she loves going to work. Instead, she says “I love the work I do.”

This subtle change in mindset, she told me, communicates that the bank is focused on results — not the location of its staff.

The crisis has also reinforced how important it is for the bank to attract, retain and effectively train employees who fit into its culture.

We’re living in a unique moment in time that we quickly recognized as an inflection point for the banking sector, much like the 2008-09 financial crisis and the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

As essential businesses, bank leaders had to quickly work out how to keep branch staff safe and shift office staff to remote work arrangements — and how to respond to surging demand for Paycheck Protection Program loans for their small business customers.

The result, Wahlquist told me, could be the greatest workplace transformation the global economy has undergone in decades. “How we shop and how we learn, how we communicate, and how and where we work — it could forever be changed.”

Bank Director’s 2020 Compensation Survey, sponsored by Compensation Advisors, explores the early stages of this shift. It also covers the ongoing issues faced by the industry — talent and culture, the transition of baby boomer CEOs out of the top spot, and trends in board and CEO pay.

The U.S. is still in the first wave of the coronavirus; another could come in the fall. Informed by our mission to provide strategic insight to bank boards and senior executives, Bank Director will continue exploring this changing environment in our upcoming surveys.

We’re not out of the woods yet.

Emily McCormick / vice president of research for Bank Director
/ ideas, insights and perspectives on BankDirector.com
The current crisis reinforces the need for talented employees who fit into a bank’s culture and can move the bank forward.

"As the industry emerges from this crisis, how will this impact corporate culture moving forward, as well as expectations from prospective employees?"

Emily McCormick / vice president of research for Bank Director