NFU in 2022 – Three trends to follow
A new year often mean New year’s resolutions. It is the time to look ahead and plan the year to come. This is also the case for NFU, and in this blog you can find what we can call our resolutions for the year. Or at least the three trends and issues that we will put an extra spotlight on during 2022.
Let’s talk about digitalisation
The digitalisation of our society is happening quickly all around us and the financial sector is not excluded from this development. The financial sector is among the most digitalised sectors int the economy and especially in the Nordics. This is of course affecting the daily work of Nordic financial employees.
In 2021, NFU released the report Coping with Compliance – Experiences from 2021. One of the conclusions of the report is that the rapid automation of compliance work is changing the skill requirements of financial employees. Automation can bring enormous benefits to the daily work in reducing repetitive and administrative tasks. On the other hand, automation can be seen as a threat to employees and their jobs, or that the new needs for skills and training scares employees off, leading to them leaving the sector as a result.
Automation in finance is not limited to Compliance. We can see a increase in the use of Artificial Intelligence, algorithms and Blockchain technology all over the sector. Digitalisation and automation bring benefits and will have the possibility to, if properly implemented, increase productivity and wellbeing. But the key is in the implementation. Automation should be a tool to help, support and make the work easier for the employee, not replace the employee. A ground rule of digitalisation should be done with human in control, and to find the best combination of human + machine.
Another risk with digitalisation is connected to data ethics. The use of digital tools and algorithms are producing a lot of data on employees. This data can, if not controlled and regulated right, be a threat to employees’ privacy and integrity. Furthermore, the rapid digitalisation of work as an effect of the pandemic has raised awareness of surveillance and monitoring of employees. The extent to which this is happening in the Nordic context is not fully understood, but only the thought, that you might be monitored by your employer, is a cause of stress and an unhealthy work environment.
NFU will during the spring, explore the issues of digitalisation’s effect on work in the finance sector, and data ethics for financial employees in two policy papers.
The development of digitalisation in the finance sector has paved the way for new actors like Fintech and also Big tech to establish. During the year, NFU, in collaboration with UNI Europa Finance, will conclude the EU funded project on Fintech’s impact on the finance sector. NFU will also continue to follow Big tech’s enter into the financial sector.
The social dimension of Sustainable Finance
Sustainability is a true buzz word in today’s society, and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) has become a central term both in politics and finance. A lot of attention has been put into Environmental sustainability, a natural development following the climate crisis, and financial institutions play a major role in the green transition. The EU has made this clear in the Commission initiative on a Sustainable Finance package.
But there cannot be a real green transition without a fair transition. We cannot only talk about the E in ESG. We need to also address the social considerations in the environmental sustainability strategy.
By the end of 2021, NFU released the Position paper Mainstreaming the Social Agenda in Sustainable Finance . This paper outlined the position of NFU on where in the Sustainable Finance agenda social aspects can and should be addressed.
During the start of this year, NFU has published some infographics and tools that can be of help for trade unions to highlight and address the social agenda in Sustainable Finance. In all aspects of the Sustainable Finance package (taxonomy, disclosure, CSRD, Sustainable corporate governance, and the Covid 19 recovery plan and Green deal), there is a need to also address the S and the G.
Throughout the year, NFU will advocate for a holistic approach to sustainability that takes into consideration both the E, the S and the G in ESG. NFU will put an extra emphasis on addressing social considerations in the Environmental sustainable finance strategy. As trade unions, we need to always raise the fact that there cannot be a green transition without a fair transition. Find the infographics here
The wellbeing of finance employees
The Covid-19 pandemic has truly changed the way of work forever. Remote working, as a way of tackling the spread of the virus, has merged into a hybrid form of work where old ideas of the office space and way of doing work is challenged. This new way of organising work can bring new opportunities but also challenges to work-life balance, wellbeing, and mental health. The reshuffle and rethinking about work and offices is also a perfect opportunity to start a deeper discussion about how employee’s wellbeing is overall.
When the Health and happiness research foundation looked at what aspects that were most important to how employees’ function and did a good job last year, over-all wellbeing (physical and mental health) is in the top. This shows that there is a need to address and look deeper into the overall wellbeing of employees.
During the year, NFU will map the Nordic picture of the wellbeing of employees in the financial sector. A lot of the Nordic finance unions are already doing these kinds of mapping exercises connected to a wide range of topics (stress, mental health, workload, work environment, harassment, etc.) but there is a need for a summary of the joint Nordic picture.
With a joint picture of the overall challenges that employees in the sector faces, and a common view of their wellbeing, NFU can further advocate and influence European regulation and policies including European social dialogue initiatives that aim to define the elements of quality work environments, and initiatives from the European Commission on a non-legislative EU-level initiative related to mental health at work that assesses emerging issues related to workers’ mental health.
All in all, an interesting year has just started and NFU will continue its work on following the trends in the finance sector, developing its policies to an ever-changing environment, and always make sure that the perspectives of finance employees and trade unions are represented and heard.
Policy Advisor, NFU
 (NFU-Coping-with-compliance-Experiences-from-2021.pdf (nordicfinancialunions.org)
 NFU Position Paper: Mainstreaming the social agenda in sustainable finance (nordicfinancialunions.org)
 (2) Doing a good job: how to design work environments that enable great work | LinkedIn)