Every growing and successful entrepreneur and small business owner will tell you that having an excellent staff is key to their success. The same holds true for the banking industry in Nebraska. NBA-member financial institutions have identified workforce development and strategy as a priority for their institutions, particularly as it relates to banks’ ability to successfully recruit and retain talent within their respective organizations.
Surveys completed by NBA members during the association’s Fall Group Meetings in September and October, as well as additional interviews conducted by the NBA’s strategic planning consultant, clearly reflect the level of member concern regarding this issue. When asked, “Excluding regulations and regulatory compliance matters, what is the one issue that is negatively affecting your bank,” an overwhelming number of participants responded with “recruiting and retaining qualified employees.” Similarly, when asked, “What areas, if any, do you feel your bank is at a competitive disadvantage,” the top response was “employee recruitment” followed closely by “technology skills” and “talent development.” These responses crossed all geographic and institution size lines.
As your institution develops and refines your workforce strategy, I encourage you to think beyond your traditional efforts and begin to develop a more long-term view. Continue to take advantage of opportunities like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Ag Banking Internship program. I also would encourage you to join the NBA at one of the upcoming career fairs scheduled at various university campuses. Likewise, make sure to post your jobs on the Careers section of the NBA website. Website analytics indicate the Careers page continues to be the top landing spot on the NBA site.
To achieve continued success, however, the banking industry must proactively promote the myriad career opportunities available in the banking industry to younger students and also must incorporate new and creative communication channels. Your NBA leadership guest lectures each semester at the banking classes on the UNL and UNO campuses. Unfortunately, most of the students attending this year’s lectures expressed little interest in a banking career. In addition, student attendance at career fairs were below last year’s levels.
To increase interest in the industry, please take time to talk with students at your local middle schools, high schools, and community colleges about banking careers and how banks positively impact the lives of consumers and communities. Consider speaking to local high school classes about the importance of financial literacy or invite students to spend a day at your institution. Engage employees at all levels of your organization to make these types of presentations and to facilitate discussions about the industry. Ask yourself, who on my team has the highest probability of establishing a connection with these young people?
Today’s employees communicate and interact in uniquely different ways than previous generations. Placing a help wanted notice in the newspaper may not generate the success you are seeking. Ask existing employees about how best to promote your organization as a place to work. When posting a job opening, use multiple social media channels. It should go without saying that your business Facebook and LinkedIn sites should have a professional feel and convey your company culture in a modern and attractive layout. Also, don’t overlook nontraditional candidates in your local region. One bank president confided in me recently that his staff seeks out potential employees who are currently working at local restaurants and retail establishments who have exceptional customer service skills. Look for talent in unusual places and talk to these individuals about opportunities within the banking industry.
Finally, don’t neglect the opportunity to train and grow your existing staff. The knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics that define a successful employee often may be learned. The NBA offers a wide variety of educational and training programs to foster the professional growth of bankers, including the Young Bankers of Nebraska (YBON) Conference, the NBA Leadership Program, and numerous other conferences, workshops, and webinars. We also work closely with the KBA/NBA Schools of Banking as well as the Graduate Schools of Banking at both Colorado and Wisconsin. The NBA currently has scholarship opportunities available for these programs. It is never too late to increase the knowledge base of your future leaders!
As the NBA works through our strategic planning process, we will continue to evaluate ways in which the Nebraska Bankers Association can support and improve your efforts to attract and retain the next generation workforce.
Richard Baier, a proud husband, father of two, and the president/CEO of the Nebraska Bankers Association (NBA). Avid about growing the Cornhusker State's banking industry.