The war for talent is nothing new.
Steven Hankin from the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. coined the term in 1997 to describe the fierce competition for recruiting and retaining top employees.
But this war has escalated. “We’re seeing an unprecedented battle for talent. If you don’t think your top employees are being recruited, you are mistaken,” says J.T. Westendorf, executive vice president and managing director for Angott Search Group.
The Filene Research Institute recognizes the importance of this issue and has created a research center dedicated to the war for talent.
University of Texas-Austin researchers Y. Sekou Bermiss and Samantha Darnell explored the challenges credit unions face with recruiting and retaining in Filene’s 2017 report, “Laws of Attraction: Credit Union Recruitment in a Competitive Labor Market.”
“With leaders overwhelmingly comprised of soon-to-retire baby boomers, what can credit unions do now to avert an ensuing leadership vacuum with the timely placement of highly qualified workers?” they asked.
What sets credit unions apart from other financial institutions is part of the solution.
According to U.S. Census data, millennials—which represent 35% of workers—are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. A 2018 Deloitte survey found there’s a negative shift in millennials’ feelings about business’ motivations and ethics.
Today, 48% of millennials believe businesses behave ethically and 47% believe business leaders are committed to helping improve society. That’s down from 65% and 62%, respectively, in 2017, Deloitte reports.
A stark mismatch exists between what millennials believe responsible businesses should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities are. But when these perceptions match, the Deloitte report indicates those are the companies that are more successful, have more stimulating work environments, and do a better job of developing talent.
“Credit unions embody purpose-driven ethos,” according to Bermiss and Darnell, “and thus can attract millennial applicants by signaling they can teach applicants how to engage in purposeful work and, more importantly, how to measure the impact.”
But that assumes potential applicants understand what a credit union is. While there’s evidence the credit union difference can attract talent, Filene researchers have found little to differentiate credit union websites from one another and from other financial institutions.
Some even display the same stock photos, says Taylor C. Nelms, Filene’s senior director of research.
“Typically, a website is the first place potential applicants go to find out about an organization,” Nelms says. “What does your website say about you?
“Don’t be afraid to promote the difference,” he continues. “Our research suggests it certainly won’t hurt to wear the credit union difference on your sleeve–whether it’s highlighting values, social mission, or cooperative structure—and it may actively help.”