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BirdsEye View

recruiting in the post-covid era

 The demand for unskilled labor has skyrocketed since the country starting opening up.  Hotels are staffing up for the summer tourist season, restaurants are opening up and the work force is in high demand.  Banks are having a difficult time recruiting tellers and similar entry positions into the branch network.

Our recent Retail Forum focused on the subject, and lots of good ideas emerged.

Employee referral bonuses.  These bonuses have been tried and true for many years.  Employees find others like them and, in effect, pre-screen them before referring them to you.  Many employees also know the candidates and are comfortable “endorsing” them via the referral.  This tool typically works well under most environments.  It is especially effective now, when job openings are abound and the job market is very tight.

Signing and retention bonuses to new recruits.  The highest turnover among employees (and customers) occurs during the first year of employment.  Generally, the longer an employee stays with you, the less likely they are to leave.  Give your new recruits a reason to stay.  Progressively more attractive retention bonuses (so long as the employee is in good standing) give new recruits a reason to go through the inevitable bumps that occur along the way and encourage them to get to know the organization and its people better.  Bonuses should be predictable and meaningful.  Put a significant amount of money at the end of the rainbow (say, two years’ hence).  Recruitment and training are so very expensive these days, not to mention the Customer experience disruptions and other less tangible costs.  Paying people to stay might be your less expensive alternative to building a strong workforce.

Conducting pay market analysis not just relative to other banks but also hospitality and similarly competing industries for the same workforce.  Traditional industry-specific market analyses might not be the best indicator for setting pay midpoints.  This is especially true for specific job families such as call centers, where the skill sets are readily transferrable from one job to another.

Increasing seasonal help, including college students, in the summer.  Use the time to get to know your temporary workers and introduce your bank to them.  This “dry run” period can be used by both parties to assess each other and their suitability to your work environment.  Summers are often a less intense time which can be used for training newcomers.

Building internship programs has proven an effective recruiting tool for many organizations over the years.  Some have built the programs to better connect with their community and build up employee sources.  Much like summer help, internships provide an excellent opportunity for mutual assessment of both skills and cultural fit which are more difficult to develop otherwise.  It might even be advisable to offer strong interns and summer workers a future job once the graduate while they are still working with you, i.e. establish start dates after graduation.

Using employment agencies and recruiters.  This can be an excellent recruitment tool, but success is highly dependent on the skills of the recruiters and their understanding of your company.  Some banks have tried-and-true agencies they work with, and others shy away from this source of new employees.  

An important tactical tool to ensure your recruiters are working hard on your behalf is to require regular pipeline reports from them.  This is a good tool to both remind the recruiters of your timeline and create a sense of urgency, as well as show you what results you’re getting from the work.

Conduct “stay” conversations with high performers.  I’m a firm believer in telling high performers how valued they are and what a bright future awaits them if they continue on their current path.  True, it might cause issues with their peers, but the likelihood of losing your best and brightest is meaningfully reduced when they know you realize how important they are to your company and are committed to facilitate their success.  A key question I like to ask during “stay” interviews is: what will make you say a year from now, “gosh, I’m glad I worked here this year”?  It gives your HiPo an opportunity to dream and provide a tangible answer to their aspirations and future vision of their role in the company.  It will also help you align expectations between you and your recruit, another critical element to retention.

Conduct virtual and branch-based job fairs.  Job fairs are not a breakthrough tool, and for a reason.  They can be effective.  Today’s virtual job fairs are less effective than the in-person interviews for many reasons, but may still be worthwhile, depending upon your circumstances.

Interview applicants purposely.  Come up with fresh questions they do not expect to help you assess their fit into your organization.  For example, one important element an interview should yield is to identify which of the typical main reasons for job switching is the central motivator for their application:

o A more challenging job (personal stretch)

o Location

o Advancement (career path)

o Money

o People (management or peers)

o Stability/security

Understanding the recruit’s motivations will help you meet their needs more effectively and improve their likelihood of long-term retention.

Build your recruitment brand (“sell” the bank to potential recruits).  Your brand as a potential employer, while consistent with your brand to the marketplace, is more specific and talks to a different audience than your marketing brand campaign.  Your goal is to become attractive to prospective employees by reputation and brand identity as a good place to work, which is somewhat different from your “go to market” approach.

Among the tools available to you as you develop your recruiting brand are:

o Slogan.  Example: “come grow with us”, “developing the next generation of leaders”, “we saved 100,000 jobs with PPP”, “we finance 35 companies that help address the climate change problem”

o Tell the stories of people who joined and made a positive change in their lives(videos)

o Customer testimonials (videos) talking to the type of service and product commitment you expect from your team

o Stories of how employees fulfilled the brand promise through service, community involvement and other paths

“It’s a career, not a job”.  Remind your entry position applicants that they can partner with you for longer-term success.  Spell it out and show the career progression others have taken and the array of opportunities available to them.

Upskill employees to help them build their own brand in the marketplace.  Demonstrate how working at your bank isn’t just about an exchange of output for money, but can also be used by each employee to better themselves as a worker, a marketable commodity and, most importantly, as a person.  Your talent development curriculum alone can assist your team members in taking themselves to the next level across numerous facets of their life.  Make it a point to share these resources with recruits, and make them available to the newcomers as they pass specific job tenure milestones.

Better explain benefits e.g. HSA accounts and others.  We understand those benefits well, but many of our employee prospects do not realize how generous banks are with their benefits, by and large.

DON’T SETTLE when hiring; it only creates a longer-term problem.  It’s a difficult line to tow when you’re stretched for resources and the work keeps flowing in.  Trading short-term relief for long-term stability is not an easy balance to strike, and yet it is essential.

Manage Glass Door and LinkedIn proactively.  Much like your website and phone app are your “face” to prospective customers, so are Glass Door and LinkedIn to prospective employees.  Manage your presence on these and other sites which recruits will use to check you out.  It’s the very first impression they will get of you, and it could make the difference between receiving a good application or missing out.

At the end of the day people want to belong to something worthwhile they can be proud of.  In addition to all the thoughts above, remind your communities of your key values, your contribution to the markets you serve and what you stand for as an organization.  Be that organization, and capture the hearts and minds of the people in the communities you serve.