Help Your Bank Attract Top Talent

By Anne Ryan

How banks can attract—and keep—better talent.

While economies of all shapes and sizes have been looking up, the job economy has followed. It’s a candidate’s market out there, and candidates are shopping jobs just as homebuyers shop properties and mortgage rates. If you’re in HR, you’ve most likely felt this shift and experienced your fair share of the challenges that come with trying to attract the best talent.

In the past, a good salary and benefits were enough to attract good candidates.

For today’s emerging workforce, the conversation has shifted from salary and benefits to career paths and purpose. This makes the recruiting process more complex, particularly for banks who wish to engage this new workforce.

Many banks—especially community banks—don’t have the resources or appetite to deliver sought-out culture, modern career development programs, and employee engagement initiatives that this new workforce seeks. Add to that the struggle to overcome the negative perception imprinted on banks as a result of the Great Recession, and it seems impossible that top talent will want to come work for you.

So what’s a bank to do? When resources are tight and HR needs a better book of goods to attract top talent, there is always one thing towards which a bank should turn its attention: its talent brand. Large or small, every company has a talent brand—whether it intends to or not.

Quite simply, your talent brand is how your company is perceived as a place to work. It’s dictated by current employees and their experience, but is also dictated by former employees’ experience. It’s the good and the bad—past, present, and future. While an employee’s experience is influenced directly by workplace pillars like culture, employee engagement, and performance management, improving them takes time and resources. The good news is that banks can take more immediate control over their talent brand through the messaging they put out into the world. The key messages that most influence a talent brand are the ones that showcase culture and cultivate purpose.

Talent brand messaging often includes:

  • Brand values
  • Vision and mission
  • Workplace culture
  • Employee empowerment
  • Growth opportunities
  • Perks and purpose
  • Performance management

It may sound like the concept of a talent brand is too intangible to produce results, but rest assured it will pay off in dividends. According to LinkedIn’s Talent Brand Index, HR will see a 50% boost in the qualified pool of applicants. That means less time spent recruiting. HR will also see a 40% increase in employee retention, and that means less costly turnover. Added up, HR can become a cost savings machine and contribute to the company’s overall revenue growth nearly two times over.

The case for a talent brand is strong. To get started, HR and marketing must embark on this process together. The reason is that your talent brand should be an extension of your company’s master brand, which marketing typically owns. If you’re a smaller bank or you’re just not sure what you need from marketing, here are the tenets of a master brand from which talent brand messaging is derived:

Tenets of a master brand:

  • Brand DNA: the foundation of who your bank is
  • Value position: defines and differentiates your bank
  • Brand values: fundamental beliefs
  • Brand promise: what the audience can expect when interacting with your bank
  • Reasons to believe: proof for our audience
  • Single main thought: guiding principle
  • Brand essence: the feeling your bank evokes

Once you understand the tenets of your bank’s master brand, you can work with marketing to translate them into key messaging for the purposes of recruitment and employee engagement.

What does your bank offer employees?

Candidates and employees have greater needs, though, than simply learning about the bank’s beliefs and values. They need to understand the role they play in the bank’s brand and what’s in it for them. This is where HR and marketing need to schedule some time together to whiteboard everything the bank offers to employees.

First, list out the hard benefits your bank offers. This includes salary, medical, dental, 401k, paid time off, flexible scheduling, career development, health and wellness benefits, maternity leave, etc.

Then list out the soft benefits you offer, which could include perks such as “free lunch Fridays,” time off for community service, employee appreciation month, spot bonuses, theme days, birthday cash, etc.

Lastly, parse out the benefits from both the hard and soft benefit sets that you believe make your bank truly unique, either as it relates to what you know other banks in your region offer their employees or what other companies in your region offer that might be vying for the same talent.

Now it’s time to put pen to paper and put all the pieces together. The best exercise to put your talent brand to the test is to rewrite an open position. Write an introduction to your bank that conveys who your bank is and what your bank values—these are the tenets from your master brand. Then add the messaging you developed with marketing, using the tenets of your master brand as recruitment language. Just before you list out the position requirements, state the unique benefits your bank offers. Here’s an example:

  • Without talent brand messaging:
    Heritage Bank is Virginia’s oldest bank. We offer competitive salary, benefits, and programs for all employees. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. If you’re interested in an open position, apply online or stop in one of our 16 branches and complete an application.
  • With talent brand messaging:
    Heritage Bank is Virginia’s oldest bank. Because we value integrity, relationships, and community, our employees can always expect to be given opportunities to forge their own career path and make an impact in our local community. Just as we help our customers reach their financial goals, employees of Heritage Bank thrive in a culture where they are encouraged to reach their goals, too. That’s why we offer career development tracks, mentorship programs, performance bonuses, and paid time off for volunteering.Help Heritage Bank continue its rich history by creating your own path forward that will enrich your own life, the life of our customers, and those in our community. Apply online today or in your local branch.

With your talent brand in place, HR will be equipped to update all channels used for recruiting, from open position language and content on your website’s career page, to the talking points used during phone screeners and in-person interviews. It’s important that every touchpoint throughout the recruitment process reinforces your talent brand in order to leave a lasting impression and convince a great candidate that your bank is a truly a place for them.

The same is true for employee engagement and retention. Whether it’s break room posters, intranet banners, or internal newsletters, it’s critical that your talent brand is reinforced through messaging that evokes vision and purpose, showcases culture, and expresses appreciation for the role employees play in the success of your bank.

If you craft a successful talent brand, you’ll create an HR department that is a cost-savings machine.

Anne Ryan is director of brand strategy at Brownstein Group, the longest-running independent advertising and public relations agency in Philadelphia. Email: [email protected].