Lindsay LaNore: Creative retainment

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In this challenging labor market, how do you make sure you retain new talent? Employee retention starts with powering up engagement, and here are some key issues to consider.

By Lindsay LaNore, ICBA


Last month, we dove into the subject of talent acquisition and retention by exploring the first of the three Rs, Recruit. This month, we look at the second, Retain, with more advice from Valerie Utsey, ICBA’s chief human resources officer.

Thanks to high levels of engagement, community banks are well known for having long-standing employees. But, in this challenging labor market, how do you make sure you retain new talent? Employee retention starts with powering up engagement, and here are some key issues to consider.

Focus on your onboarding experience

Make new employees feel welcome by helping them build relationships within the team. Setting them up with a mentor is a great first step, and mentoring programs have a twofold benefit, as they also make the more senior team member feel recognized as a leader. Take the time to make new hires comfortable and get to know them. Give them a clear idea of your expectations and ask them about their goals.

Revisit your processes

Do you make it easy for team members to get what they need, both personally and professionally? If an approval process is like jumping through endless hoops, rethink it. If it takes weeks for an employee to book time off, make that process simpler. If some processes just take time, be transparent about that.

Values and ownership matter

If you’re hiring millennials or Gen Zers, remember they want to work for organizations that give back to their communities. Let them represent the bank at events and allow them some input on which organizations to sponsor. Everyone wants a sense of ownership, and that’s critical across all aspects of their work. Empower your team and help them build camaraderie within their branch and across the whole bank.

Allow for growth

Think about roles differently. Do you have a rotational program at the bank that allows a junior employee the chance to learn something new? If a teller is interested in learning about lending, don’t wait for a job opening. Enroll them in a training course or give them a special lending project. When they’re finished, they may not move straight into a lending position, but they’ll be able to better articulate lending issues to customers.

Consider nontraditional benefits

These could include parental leave for both mothers and fathers, a stipend that could be used for wellness equipment or gym membership, local restaurant gift cards, or personal days that can be taken for birthdays or at short notice for any reason.

Finally, whether it’s financial rewards, a plaque on the wall or a parking spot, make sure you have a recognition program. You don’t want to think about how well a new employee is doing but forget to tell them. But more on Reward next month!


Lindsay LaNore (lindsay.lanore@icba.org) is ICBA’s group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer