As a millennial working at ConnectOne Bank, I've seen first-hand that even the smallest banks can offer entrepreneurial cultures and working environments that are on par with hip tech startups of Silicon Valley. But too many banks, long known for their conservative and traditional workforces, are out of touch with the needs and desires of today's young talent.
There are many things employers can do to position their banks as exciting places for millennials to work and grow. Here are a few:
Show that your bank is in the 21st century.
Millennials want to work at a place where we can grow along with our employers. Banks can signal this possibility to millennials by showing they have the technology, accessibility, and transparency that today's connected customer demands.
This means having easy-to-use online banking platforms and mobile apps and using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to connect with young people about job opportunities and the broader economic and societal issues we care about. Make your bank known as an organization that understands our generation as well as each person's unique needs.
Go beyond ping-pong tables and beer carts.
Attracting millennial talent should transcend trivial perks. While free snacks and nap pods may be attractive in the short term, they're not enough to foster development and inspire dedication in employees. Tout the intangibles that make up your bank's culture, values, and mission.
Millennials are looking for certain qualities in an employer that will motivate us on a daily basis. An entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to be flexible and collaborate are high up on the list. So is giving employees the chance to accelerate their professional growth via access to senior leadership and offering them the opportunity to contribute to a greater cause. Millennials also want to know they have the ability to change job functions within your organization.
Give millennials room for mobility.
According to a 2014 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average young adult has held an average of 6.2 jobs between the ages of 18-26. Given that this generation grew up in the wake of economic instability and a new normal of lightning-speed technological change, our tendency to frequently jump ship is unsurprising.
But young people's desire to explore different job opportunities can be quelled if they have the flexibility to grow within an organization. Banks should create a transparent, open environment where it's normal for a low-level staffer to walk into the chief financial officer's office to ask a question; where someone on the banking side can learn from someone on the marketing team or in the IT department; and where there is a clear path by which a teller can become a loan officer.
All this will not only satisfy millennials' craving for diverse experiences, but also increase creativity and productivity at your bank.
Let us make an impact.
While money is an incentive, it ultimately gets trumped by meaning. We want our work to have a purpose and we want to make an impact on the company we work for. While we may challenge the normal process of working our way through the ranks, we have a unique skill set to bring to the table that can help create solutions in your organization. Give us the chance to do so.
Start by giving millennials the opportunity to take ownership of a specific project or initiative. For example, during ConnectOne's recent merger, we gave some of our millennial employees the responsibility of overseeing a branch transformation from making sure that every object and process successfully made the transition to ensuring that every employee was trained on ConnectOne's operating systems. Define your expectations and goals, and then let us come up with creative ideas for your bank.
Recognize a job well done.
Contrary to popular belief, millennials aren't looking for constant praise or a trophy to acknowledge their good work. We're looking for true autonomy that allows us to make our mark. We don't want to be a cog in the wheel.
Recognition at your bank can come in the form of letting millennials earn a seat at the table. In management or steering committee meetings, the voices of young people should be central to the dialogue and executive decision-making process.
Consider how your bank can recognize and reward hard work not necessarily by giving out awards or gift cards, but by providing opportunities for millennial employees to contribute their ideas and opinions and translate them into strategic business decisions.
The reality is that millennials are going to disrupt your bank whether you're ready or not. Our generation has the skill set, drive, and desire to create change. And we've arrived at a time when the survival of the banking industry depends on it.
Siya Vansia is executive marketing coordinator at ConnectOne Bank. Follow her on Twitter @Siya1014.