Rebeca Romero Rainey: Engaging with talent

Rebeca Romero Rainey
Photo by Robert Severi

The people we employ embody our banks, and the personal relationships our teams forge with our customers make us unique in the industry and keep our customers returning.

COVID-19 was an experiment in forced change, and now that we’re transitioning into a new norm, we’re grappling with what’s next. We know we cannot just backtrack to where we were in early 2020; we need to develop a new, post-pandemic mindset. And that means that as employers, we have a brave new world of hiring to navigate.

Because the community bank business model relies on our employees as our strongest assets, recruiting and retaining top talent has always been a chief priority. In fact, having the right staff on board is a primary driver of our profitability. The people we employ embody our banks, and the personal relationships our teams forge with our customers make us unique in the industry and keep our customers returning.

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What you need to know

Want to assess how your compensation measures up in the industry? Take a look at the recently published results of the 2021 Crowe ICBA Compensation Benefits Survey.

But in this new era, what does it take to bring the right employees into the fold? Certainly, job flexibility is a key component, but for community banks, that historically has been challenging. Yet, we learned during COVID-19 lockdowns that we can run our businesses in ways we never might have imagined before, so we now have the opportunity to apply these lessons to new staffing models.

We also have to rethink how we position community banking as a career. Hiring is a lot like business development; we have to tell our stories, put our best foot forward and pitch what we offer in a way that resonates with the audience. This is where we can be proactive in identifying potential employees by thinking outside of the standard candidate pool. Taking the time to look for community members who would make good teammates can yield exciting results.

But reaching out alone won’t seal the deal. As the minds and hearts of the workforce continue to evolve, we have to demonstrate how we are meeting them where they are. For example, this generation of employees wants meaningful work they can believe in, as well as career advancement. It’s up to us to demonstrate how we meet those criteria; for example, showcasing our community impact through the Paycheck Protection Program and sharing stories of how community bankers can start out as tellers and rise to leadership levels over the course of their careers. We need to emphasize community banking’s mission and professional growth opportunities.

The work is on us to recruit and retain the best and brightest, and as you read this budget-focused issue, I invite you to consider how hiring plays into your strategy. At its core, community banking is all about people, and engaging the right talent makes all the difference.

Rebeca Romero Rainey
President and CEO, ICBA
Connect with Rebeca @romerorainey