This is a guest post by Shea Ferland, PHR, SHRM-CP, SVP | HR Manager, FirstCapital Bank of Texas.
With millennials poised to outpace baby boomers as the largest generation and expected to represent 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, it’s more vital now than ever to prepare your millennial employees for the leadership roles ahead. The finance industry has long struggled to attract—and retain—this coveted generation, many of whom joined the workforce following the financial crisis and are less likely to remain loyal to finance employers as a result. In fact, according to a PwC report, a mere 10 percent of millennials currently working in the financial sector plan to remain in their role long term.
What can you do to appeal to future and current millennials? Deliver what motivates their job search most: The opportunity to learn and grow. A generation often considered a conundrum, they do expect more opportunities in less time than their counterparts, but they’re also willing to put in the effort required to earn it. The most pragmatic approach to this expectation is to put strategies in place that illustrate your company’s promise of upward mobility for those who want more from their career.
At FirstCapital Bank of Texas, we understand the power of our people. Named a “Best Bank to Work for in the U.S.” four times by American Banker, FCB Texas has invested substantial time and money into developing “YOUnique Leadership,” our integrated program for emerging leaders within the bank. Participants attend five to six sessions over the span of one year, which are supplemented with assignments and additional meetings that concentrate on specific facets of business ethics and leadership growth. When determining the strategies that will be most effective for your organization, it’s imperative that you don’t lose sight of who your target is and what they want to accomplish. Strategies like these will prepare them to not only lead, but to lead well:
- Lead by example: One of the best ways to prepare them for leadership roles that may seem distant now is to give them an insider’s perspective on the journey from those who are already there. We look to our company leaders to share their stories of the challenges, milestones, and successes it took to get them where they are today. In addition to providing participants with a clearer understanding of the path ahead of them, it also gives them a valuable opportunity to connect with industry leaders.
- Build the team they need: Great things are achieved in a collaborative environment: Effective team-building exercises that take employees beyond their normal work environment—and outside their comfort zones—have been proven to foster and help build one. At FCB Texas, our program includes our overnight camping trips and activities that foster relationships strengthened by shared experiences. Participants learn that the path to success is reached fastest with the help of others.
- Give them opportunities to give back: Effective leadership doesn’t end at the office—that’s just where it originates. It’s vital that tomorrow’s leaders understand the importance of caring for their neighbors, community, and nation. Luckily, giving back comes easily to millennials and almost two-thirds are more likely to work for a company that gives back too. We cultivates an environment of altruism by giving back to those who give to us by sorting and assembling care packages for our troops overseas.
- Remind them to mind their manners: Business etiquette is integral to the positive representation of your company, but it’s not always easy to discern the right way to behave in certain circumstances. We work closely with an etiquette expert to educate our emerging leaders on the finer details, from attire to dining and everything in between. A thorough understanding of proper etiquette can mean the difference between success and failure.
- Bridge the government gap: Early in their careers, millennials are unlikely to thoroughly understand the strong connection between the government—at local, state, and national levels—and the finance industry. We created an exercise in which participants are given a mock agenda to present for government approval to better prepare them for the interactions they may one day experience themselves. This training gives them the opportunity to understand our government’s challenges, not just their own.
- Put them to the test: Maybe the most important aspect of any training program is ensuring employees have retained what they have learned so they can use it properly in real-world situations. Our program concludes with a formal presentation from each participant to not only the rest of the class, but to the bank’s executive committee as well. By holding them accountable for the time you spent helping them grow, it puts responsibility for their future where it truly belongs: in their hands.
Millennials are a force to be reckoned with, especially in the financial sector. It’s only by understanding and meeting the growth opportunities they are looking for that you can secure this tech-savvy, altruistic, ambitious, and cautious generation—and the success of your institution.