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7 Ways to Attract — and Retain — Talented Millennials

7 Ways to Attract — and Retain — Talented Millennials

By Kim Kreps, Executive Search Director

Flexible schedules, work-life balance, more growth opportunities … yadda, yadda, yadda. We all know Millennials want these things because … we all want these things.

Comprising 35% of the American labor force and growing, Millennial employees (those born between 1981 and 1996) pose some unique challenges to banks and credit unions, not to mention most other industries.

But it’s time to move beyond the obvious and start examining the nuances and outside-the-box ways that financial institutions can attract and keep Millennials.

7 Ways to Attract and Retain Millennials Image

View 7 Ways to Attract and Retain Talented Millennials Infographic


1.  Give Them What They Want

I’ve found that many Millennial employees have generation-specific ‘wants’ that banks and credit unions should consider offering.

  • Money Matters: Millennials look for competitive compensation and bonuses or incentive plans paid sooner versus long-term vesting salary continuation plans.

2.  Give Them What They Need

It’s not all about flashy perks for Millennials. Many seek benefits that help address the basics of successfully transitioning from college to the workforce.

  • A Foot in the Door: I’ve seen firsthand how successful internship-to-hire programs can attract talented students or graduates and build long-lasting loyalty to an organization.
  • Ease a Burden: 70% of college graduates have student loan debt, the average being $30,000. More and more companies now offer student loan assistance, which one chief marketing officer called, “as meaningful to graduates as 401(k)s.

3.  Emphasize the Local Angle

Millennials have a strong sense of community, often preferring to shop and support small businesses. As employers, community banks and credit unions have a great opportunity to leverage this preference to attract the best and brightest.

  • Keep it in the Community: According to Millennials, their top reasons to shop at a small business are to support local employment (48%) and to keep money local (47%). Working for a local bank or credit union is a natural next step in making this a reality.
  • Edge Out the Big Banks: Thanks largely to the economic recession a decade ago, Millennials voted all four leading banks among their 10 least-loved brands. This dissatisfaction gives smaller banks and credit unions an ‘in’ when recruiting candidates of this generation.


4.  Make Sure Your Values Align

The most accomplished Millennial candidate may not always be right for your organization. Define and market your company’s culture, and then hire individuals who would fit in from Day 1.

  • Know Thyself: When you create an irresistible culture marked by innovation, vibrancy, and growth, Millennials will take notice. A recent survey found that 78% of CEOs and CFOs thought culture ranks as one of the top five value-adding features of a company.
  • Focus on Fit: Finding the perfect fit greatly increases the odds of retaining a new hire. It’s often beneficial to consult a third-party recruiter who can objectively identify and screen candidates to match an employer’s needs.

5.  Reach Millennials Where They Are

Millennials like their technology, so it’s a must to be able to reach them that way: on mobile devices, via texting, social media, and the like.

Be careful when touting your innovation and other values, though. Tech-savvy Millennials will head straight to your Web site and research Google review and what employees have to say on Glassdoor to find supporting evidence. If they can’t, they’ll pass on your organization.


6.  Focus on Early Engagement

New employees often leave their jobs in the first six months of employment, regardless of their generation. Though many reasons factor into these decisions, early engagement can help quell Millennial turnover.

  • Make an Impression: In my experience, organizations that approach recruitment as a candidate engagement process can greatly increase retention past the six-month mark.
  • Introduce Opportunities: Start talking about career and professional development opportunities even during the interview stage, so Millennials can see a future for themselves within your company.
  • Start Off on the Right Foot: An excellent onboarding strategy, with touchpoints at 30, 60, and 90 days to check in, can give Millennials the tools and confidence to carve out a spot for themselves at work. Assigning a ‘buddy’ for the first month to help new hires get settled in has also been very effective.

7.  Involve Upper Management

Increase Millennial retention with leadership that engages with employees throughout the organization.

  • Start from Day 1: Having upper management participate in the onboarding process, including meeting new staff during their first days on the job, creates loyalty and meaningful relationships from the beginning.
  • Mix and Mingle: Whether it’s your CEO hosting a monthly meal with small groups consisting of various members of the institution or a full-blown mentoring program, this type of face-to-face engagement works. In a Sun Microsystem mentoring program, mentees had a 23% higher retention rate than non-participants.


Let’s all agree that flexible schedules, advancement opportunities, and work-life balance are givens when it comes to satisfying Millennials. Now, we need to start addressing the nuances of how to attract and retain this diverse, complex and highly skilled generation. 


For the past 38 years JMFA has been considered one of the most trusted names in the industry helping community banks and credit unions improve their performance and profitability. Whether it’s recovering lost revenue, uncovering savings opportunities, serving your account holders better, finding the perfect personnel fit or delivering a 100% compliant courtesy pay program, JMFA has the right solutions to help you not only meet, but exceed, your goals. We are proud to be a preferred provider among many industry groups. To learn more contact your local representative or call us at (800) 809-2307.


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