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INVESTING IN BANKING’S FUTURE As manpower shortage looms, industry adapts to lure millennial workers

Members of Fulton Financial Corp.'s management training program meet with experts from throughout the company's various departments. Clockwise from bottom left are Kara Newcomer, digital marketing associate and graduate of the management training program; Tu Ngo, management trainee; Lisa Johanning, director of talent acquisition; and Wilson Garcia Moreno, management trainee.

How does a 9-to-5 weekday stint in a bank appeal to young adults after the rise of working from home, job sharing and virtual office gigs?

How does a 9-to-5 weekday stint in a bank appeal to young adults after the rise of working from home, job sharing and virtual office gigs?

On the surface, it doesn’t appeal at all – making the industry a tough sell for bankers who soon could face a manpower shortage thanks to an aging baby boomer population.

And it’s why banks are fighting back to lure and retain millennials to the industry. Bankers are tapping into causes that young adults care about, such as community service and engagement, while attacking an outdated industry image to make banking more attractive as a career.

“If you want to help others every day, consider a career in community banking,” said Gary Olson, president and CEO of ESSA Bank & Trust in Stroudsburg.

Banking professionals acknowledge the need to reconsider a work culture viewed as dry or old-fashioned, a key to enticing the next generation.

That generation needs more feedback and more interaction with its supervisor, as well as educational opportunities and a good work-life balance. Banks, in turn, would do well to apply the expertise of millennials as the industry makes a technological and digital transformation.

“We [need to] change aspects of our culture to be more millennial-friendly,” said Jeffrey W. Snyder, vice president, human resources director for Merchants Bank, based in Bangor.

Olson said ESSA is doing a good job of attracting talent through internships and leadership programs, although hanging on to new staff is another matter.

“After about 12 months, many who have become successful make a move to another industry,” he said. “We do a good job of identifying talent but not a good job of retaining them. We need to do a better job.”

Olson said he’s kept in touch with many who’ve moved on to other fields, but he can’t identify a common theme for why they’ve left.

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