Recruiting and Retaining Young Talent

Why Millennials Must Be One of the Credit Union Industry’s Top Priorities

Get a room full of Credit Union professionals together and ask them to hypothesize about future trends and what the Industry needs to do to be prepared and you’re guaranteed a lively discussion. Some things are easy to see coming. Other changes will, inevitably, take us by surprise. But, the one thing we know for certain: The future of the Credit Union Movement belongs to our young people.

Knowing this fact, attracting new graduates and young talent should be a top priority. Working to hire employees under the age of 30, can help Credit Unions acquire new skillsets, keep expenses in check, and keep abreast of new technologies. And yet, many Credit Unions struggle with attracting and retaining young professionals because it requires a different approach to recruiting.

To recruit young professionals, it helps to know who they are, what they want, and why they’re good for Credit Unions.

While there is much variation in the talents, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses of young professionals, there are certain consistencies that are useful to understand – especially the ways in which they improve our industry.

  • Millennials give Credit Unions a creative advantage. Young professionals bring a “beginner’s mind” to processes, strategies, challenges and cultural elements that can help everyone see solutions and new ways of doing things. Because they haven’t yet learned how things are done, they are more open to innovative ways of doing things.
  • Millennials have a firm grasp on technology. Younger professionals have grown up with technology that still seems a bit foreign to older generations. They aren’t afraid to test and learn new technologies and are significantly more likely to be early adapters than those older than them.
  • Millennials are team players. Integration and collaboration has been built into everything young people do. Today’s young professionals are not only willing and able to work together in groups – they expect to, and understand how to do it well.
  • Hiring millennials will save your Credit Union money. In many cases, Credit Unions can hire two entry level professionals for the same amount as one senior level professional. While this is certainly not always the best strategy, there are plenty of times when twice the output for the same salary is the wise choice.
  • Managing millennials is not as scary as many make it out to be. Today’s young professionals aren’t any different from the rest of us in that they want to do meaningful work for an organization they are proud to be a part of. They value security, a reasonable work/ life balance, and want to be challenged. Give them a chance at achieving these things and they’ll work just as hard for you as anyone else.
  • Money is important to millennials, but not all important. Just like everyone else, salary is important to millennials. It’s just not the most important More important to most of them are working with good people in a healthy, supportive culture, the amount of career potential available to them, and work/ life balance.

Today’s Young Professionals Want to Make an Impact

Millennials give social causes and meaningful work a very high priority. They want to make a difference and won’t stay in a position that feels meaningless to them, regardless of the monetary compensation. This is GREAT news for Credit Unions. Unlike many industries, Credit Unions are service organizations dedicated to helping and supporting the people in our communities and in making our world a better place. When working to recruit young talent, emphasizing the core purpose and values of the Credit Union movement is critical. They are considerably more likely to get excited about going to work for an organization with a higher purpose than about many other aspects of the job.

On the job, it’s important to understand that young professionals find purpose in working with others and in connecting with their coworkers. They are natural networkers and open to learning from smart successful people. Credit Union executives can leverage this characteristic by assigning them to work with coworkers on projects for which they can both learn and contribute.

Don’t believe the rumors.

 Millennials are often accused of not being hard workers, but this isn’t true. Today’s young professionals do want their work to have immediate impact. But, they’re not necessarily expecting to be placed on a fast track for career advancement. They want interesting, meaningful work and respond well to environments that offer them a lot of variety. Moving up the ladder isn’t necessary for them to feel like their career is moving forward; feeling that they are growing and making a meaningful contribution is.

Millennials also want flexibility and a healthy work/ life balance. This doesn’t mean they won’t work hard at work. It just means that they take their life outside of work as importantly as their work. For Credit Unions to respond to this demand, we must be willing to look at new ideas when it comes to scheduling and how we can utilize technology to create workplaces with greater flexibility. Young professionals are willing to put in the hours (some research suggests they are putting in more time than generations before them. They just want the flexibility to manage their personal and professional life more effectively.

Millennials will run away from micromanagement, but welcome feedback.

One hesitancy of hiring young professionals is the concern that they’ll need more training and oversight than more experienced workers. To a certain extent, this will always be true. But, millennials don’t need, or want, to be micromanaged.

What attracts, and keeps, young professionals is the opportunity for mentoring. They welcome consistent informal feedback that goes above and beyond the traditional annual review. When executives make a point to engage young staff members with constructive feedback during weekly one-on-one meetings, they’ll likely be rewarded with extremely high levels of engagement. It’s important for millennials to have regular opportunities to voice concerns and share ideas, but they are also hoping for mentors who will help them assess personal goals and contributions.

How to recruit competent young professionals.

Now that we understand more about what millennials want from Credit Unions, here are some ideas for recruiting them…

  • Referrals from other millennials. Perhaps the best way to recruit competent young professionals is to ask the young professionals already working for you.
  • Social media and mobile ads. Young job hunters are on social media, so it makes sense to recruit them there. Technology gives us the targeted ability to use mobile ads to reach them directly. In addition, more and more young people are using LinkedIn and About.me profiles in lieu of sending out traditional resumes, making it easier for Credit Unions to scout out prospective employees online.
  • Millennials crave creative work. In interviews, give them the opportunity to show off their creative thinking. Ask them to walk you through past projects or show off recent work. You’ll get to know them and their abilities better through real life examples than you will through traditional interview questions.
  • Offer benefits that appeal to younger generations. Just like everyone else, millennials are interested in healthcare and 401(k) plans. But, they are also interested in flexible schedules, sabbatical and professional growth opportunities, and student loan assistance. Take a cue from emerging tech companies that offer paid time for project work outside their job description and opportunities to collaborate with senior level professionals.

Take the first steps

  • Analyze your culture. Are you appealing to young talent? If not, take small strategic steps to a more inclusive and open culture.
  • Ask your employees. Talk with your existing young staff and hear their feedback.
  • Where possible, build flexibility into work schedules.

Join us

Plan to attend our breakout session at the Mountain West Credit Union Association’s Annual Meeting and Convention on April 27, 2018 to hear from industry insiders and experts on how we can ensure our movement will thrive well into the future!

Tyler Valentine is the President/CEO of Laramie Plains Federal Credit Union. He serves as the Mountain West Young Credit Union Professionals Committee Chair, serves on the Board of Directors for the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation and is a Steering Committee Member for the World Young Credit Union Professionals Committee.

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