With more than 10,000 baby boomers projected to turn 65 every day for the next 19 years, HR managers and their recruiters are in full swing to hire a new generation of workers. With a large percentage of jobs going to tellers, member service reps, and other entry-level positions, credit unions are hiring more millennials than ever before.
Defined as the generation born roughly between 1982 and 2000, millennials are both widely praised and maligned as energetic, inexperienced, technically savvy, overly pampered, detached, narcissistic, and civic-minded. They’re optimistic about the future, though many are saddled with college loan debt.
Plant closings, foreclosures, economic recession, and layoffs of family members make them less loyal to employers and more suspicious of established institutions. Many millennials are ready for change, and author David Burstein calls their approach to change "pragmatic idealism" — a desire to make the world a better place and build new institutions by changing the existing ones.
That restlessness and desire for positive change are creating both challenges and opportunities for HR managers and recruiters across the credit union industry. To connect with millennials, credit unions are trying new approaches, such as streamlining the application process, engaging with potential applicants on social media, and offering the potential for flexible schedules.
But hiring is just one challenge. To retain these new hires, organizations are investing in ideation programs, career development, and community service.
CU QUICK FACTS
CREDIT UNION 1
Data as of 03.31.16
HQ: Anchorage, AK
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 5.10%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 7.47%
The extra effort is worth it, according to Lesley Pierce, senior manager of human resources at Credit Union 1 ($969.9M, Anchorage, AK). She estimates that 80% of the credit union’s staff are millennials. That includes everyone in her department except her.
“They’re all like sponges right now,” Pierce says. “They want to learn as much as they can so they can help the employees, and that’s what I remember being like when I first started. That kind of enthusiasm is a great reason for anyone to want to work with millennials.”
The Millennial Problem?
The real question is: Do millennials want to work with credit unions? Over the past year, several Callahan Roundtable meetings have brought together executives to discuss key issues facing credit unions. Invariably, the discussion leads to what some describe as the “millennial problem.” Some of the observations about millennials gathered at these sessions include:
“They constantly need to be told how amazing they are.”
“They’re always on their phones.”
“They want to be promoted quickly.”
In fact, many credit union executives say they feel like sometimes they’re the ones being interviewed for the job, and millennials seem more interested in, “What can you do for me?” Few of these new hires view credit unions as part of their long-term career goals.
In fact, globally two in three millennial hires expect to find another job in the next four years, according to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Winning Over the Next Generation of Leaders. Unlike their parents and grandparents, only 16% of millennials surveyed expect to be working for the same company 10 years from now.
CU QUICK FACTS
LAKE TRUST FCU
Data as of 03.31.16
HQ: Brighton, MI
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 3.40%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 8.11%
At Lake Trust Credit Union ($1.7B, Brighton, MI), where millennials account for 40% of the credit union’s 410 employees, the task of recruiting recent college grads can be daunting.
Lake Trust covers a wide swath of Michigan, from Detroit to Lansing. Interest was slim at a recent job fair in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, with most students interested in hotter fields such as technology or medical research.
“These students might be on other career paths or journeys, but it’s an excellent opportunity to see if they know other individuals who might be interested,” says Brandalynn Winchester-Middlebrook, vice president of culture and engagement at Lake Trust.
Let’s Make This Easy
Although not specifically aimed at millennials, new hiring practices at Lake Trust are helping to make it as easy as possible to apply for a job there. For example, applicants can simply submit a resume instead of filling out a standard application form. And the credit union posts some job openings on LinkedIn, where applicants can click a few buttons to apply.
“If they upload their resume, that’s all the information we need to get them through the first screening process,” says Winchester-Middlebrook. “We recognize people don’t have a lot of time of their hands, and they’re used to using social tools on a regular basis so we looked at how to avoid making the process cumbersome.”
Lake Trust streamlined its online application process, too.
“We minimized the number of fields to the most critical for us to understand if [the applicant has] the skill set we’re looking for,” Winchester-Middlebrook says. “As we move further in the selection process, we can fill in details, but we try to keep it to a minimum so we don’t discourage people from applying.”
As with the application process, so, too, has the interview process changed. Today, it’s closer to a team orientation than a sit-down interview with the hiring manager — an approach Lake Trust deemed likely to appeal to millennials.
The Deloitte survey, in fact, found that millennials are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction where there is a creative, inclusive working culture (76%) rather than an authoritarian, rules-based system (49%).
Lake Trust includes telephone interviews and up to two visits to the credit union involving a series of interviews with personnel at all levels. Some positions include an on-site test to demonstrate specific job skills.
“It’s important to us to involve not only the hiring manager but also the people who would work alongside this employee so we can assess the collaborative nature of the candidate,” Winchester-Middlebrook says. “It might lengthen the process, but it’s absolutely critical for us to make the best talent decisions.”
Watch Them In Action
CU QUICK FACTS
SHELL GEISMAR FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
Data as of 03.31.16
HQ: Geismar, LA
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: -0.43%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 17.52%
The senior team at Shell Geismar Federal Credit Union ($29.6M, Geismar, LA) has varied from experienced managers to mainly millennials to a blend of both.
CEO Ronaldo Hardy also takes a collaborative approach to the interview process. He invites all job candidates to the office at the same time and on the same day in a process he describes as, “American Idol meets the Next Top Credit Union Executive.”
“We might have up to six candidates all come in on the same day so they can meet their competitors," Geismar says. "We treat them to breakfast and then they work on a group project. We want to see how they interact with other people. How do they build a relationship with someone they might compete with in the future?”
In addition to the ability to collaborate and work in teams, some credit unions want to know how candidates come across on a video screen, especially those credit unions using new teller technology.
CU QUICK FACTS
SUNCOAST CREDIT UNION
Data as of 03.31.16
HQ: Tampa, FL
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 14.79%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 18.23%
Suncoast Credit Union ($7.3B,Tampa, FL) is installing and retrofitting more than 60 branches with interactive teller machines over the next two years. To staff a centralized teller operations center, where tellers will interact with members in the branches by video, the credit union is using Skype to evaluate candidates' on-screen presence during video interviews.
“We want to make sure they have good eye contact and a welcoming personality,” says Sheri Eaton, senior vice president of service center operations at the Florida credit union. “We are going to offer our members someone who is fully engaged and comfortable with the technology so it truly functions as a tool for efficiency while still offering personal interaction.”
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Flexible Schedules And Better Technology
One desire of millennials that might be a struggle for a credit union to meet is the option of a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home. According to the Deloitte survey, 88% of millennials reported wishing they could, within certain limits, have greater opportunity to start and finish work at the times they choose, and 75% would like to work from home or other locations where they feel more productive.
Hardy says flexible schedules have improved staffing conditions at Shell Geismar. With a limited staff covering two branches, employee absences can seriously impact services, he notes.
“We’ve found employees miss work less,” Hardy says. “If they have a problem with child care and they’ve exhausted all other resources, they can bring their children to work. Our staff really appreciates this.”
In addition to a new workplace model, millennials expect access to the latest technology, with 77% of those surveyed by Deloitte wanting greater mobile connectivity to do their jobs through tablets and smartphones.
Lake Trust is moving its in-house education programs to video-based learning modules and the credit union recently implemented Skype to enable real-time video chats with co-workers and managers. And the credit union's new headquarters building includes an open office environment that promotes fluid conversations and faster problem resolution.
“We’ve taken a lot of things that only existed in paper format and made those electronically available,” says Lake Trust’s Winchester-Middlebrook. “We have lot of new technological capabilities where people can take their laptops with them, connect through Wi-Fi throughout the day, work next to one another, and collaborate on different projects.”
My staff would like a ‘thank you’ every five minutes or a certificate that shows they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re millennials!
A Sense Of Purpose
Another key characteristic of millennials is their desire for positive change and a heightened level of civic-mindedness that America hasn’t seen since World War II. Deloitte found that 80% of older millennials — and 70% of all millennials — believe their employer shares their personal values, and 56% have ruled out a potential employer “because of its values or standard of conduct.”
The credit union story of member-owned institutions providing badly needed services to underserved areas should appeal to millennials, a majority of whom (54%) believe businesses around the world have “no ambition beyond making money,” according to the survey.
“We strive to find people who want to come in and make a difference, be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves,” says Winchester-Middlebrook. “We know that’s important for lots individuals of all generations and that’s what we’re hearing about millennials, too.”
Hardy adds, “People in the millennial generation want to be connected to a cause. Our tagline is ‘Achieve More,’ and we look at how we help both the employees and the members achieve more. How can we build an organization that’s progressive and innovative so we keep more minds challenged, which keeps them at the table?”
Both Lake Trust and Shell Geismar have implemented ideation programs that allow employees to suggest ideas for improving any aspect of the credit union. Nicknamed “Gather” at Lake Trust and “The Innovation Center” at Shell Geismar, these ideation tools enable employees at any level to have their ideas evaluated, and if accepted, actually participate in the planning and execution of the project.
“The best ideas come from anywhere, so we provide our team members with an opportunity to contribute those ideas and see them through to the end,” says Winchester-Middlebrook.
In addition, she said, Lake Trust encourages employees to be active in the community and provides eight hours of paid time off for service work. Recent projects employees have participated in include repainting a barn for an organization that cares for blind horses, raising money to fight breast cancer, and restocking a local food pantry.
Hardy said Shell Geismar looks for that type of service work on the applications.
“To us, that service signifies they're willing to give up some time and make a commitment to something,” Hardy says. “There are seasons in our organizations where we need stronger time commitments from our management team. If I have a person who simply wants to be here from 9 to 5 every day and is not motivated to stay longer when necessary, then it’s going to be difficult for us to accomplish what we need to accomplish.”
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Employee Of The Day!
Millennials say they want to be connected with the organization, and the more connected they feel, the more likely they’ll stay.
According to the Deloitte study, 63% reported their “leadership skills are not being fully developed” and 72% said their employers were not “making ‘full use’ of the skills they currently have to offer.”
It’s no surprise mentoring these new hires is key to retention. Millennials intending to stay with their organization for more than five years were twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).
Pierce, the senior HR manager at Credit Union 1, likes to joke, “My staff would like a ‘thank you’ every five minutes or a certificate that shows they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re millennials!”
Instead of that, Pierce schedules a 30-minute weekly call with all members of her department.
“I have a 30-minute weekly meeting with each of my staff members. Ten minutes is on what they see in their future and 10 minutes is on what I see. The last 10 minutes is action planning for the goals we’ve just discussed.”
Hardy advises looking for these characteristics in millennials:
Can the candidate work with minimal guidance?
How does he or she build and manage relationships with others?
Can the candidate analyze a situation or case study in a short period of time and respond strategically?
“I think it’s a mistake when we put new or younger employees in a specific role and expect them to be a specialist in that area overnight,” Hardy says. “If you’re going to lead a team that has millennials, I advise you to work on your patience, make sure you create time and space for the feedback loop, and spend time developing these employees.
“We as employers have to be just as happy to have good talent as they are at having a good job," Hardy adds. "That requires reshaping our mindset on those employees.”