The millennial generation is the first to grow up in the digital age. From social interaction to shopping, the millennials are fully immersed in the digital world. Yet, there is also a disjoint between the maturity of the digital experiences they live and breathe as a consumer in the wider world, and the experiences they have with employers through their professional journey, i.e. brand engagement as passive candidates, through the recruitment process, and as employees once hired.

The Accenture Strategy 2016 United Kingdom University Graduate Employment Study surveyed 1,106 graduates who entered the workforce this year and found:

  • 75 percent of today’s graduates use mobile apps to look for jobs;
  • 14 percent view social networking as the most effective method of finding out about employers and post-graduate positions – more than Milk round (9 percent) or word of mouth (12 percent)

Many banks and insurers already have mobile apps and a strong digital presence to communicate with customers. But now is the time for FS organizations to align digital strategy with core growth strategy; increase digital touchpoints with graduates to ensure relevance; and pick up the pace of innovation in an age of rapid digital development.

Speak like a millennial

In order to engage with talent and remain competitive in the market, FS firms need to ‘speak their language’ and find innovative ways to use digital technologies. Leaders in FS organizations can use digital to communicate with university graduates through mobile searches and application processes, and social media campaigns. Digital can also serve a tool for candidate evaluation, i.e. assessing whether candidate behavior is aligned with your company culture through psychometric testing, video interviewing, and gamification. Employers should also consider using collaboration tools to increase engagement and retention once the new hires have joined the firm.

Competing for top talent

The Accenture Strategy survey also revealed an increasing trend towards graduates holding multiple offers and drop outs at the last minute, especially for the investment banks. Half of 2016’s graduates, who had accepted a job offer, will carry on job searching, aka, “Highfliers.” Renege rates are high, particularly in the FS industry, as employees although committed once joining a company, tend not to be committed up to this point, i.e. high performers like to have/and do have options as all the companies compete for the same top talent. So, clearly, ‘speaking their language’ is not enough.

Balancing the digital with the human touch

Just as financial services industry has had to find the right balance between digital and human interaction to attract and retain customers, the same goes for new hires. Even though the millennials are digital natives, finding the right balance of digital/human interaction with grads is just one consideration when looking to reduce back-out rates. In an industry where perception is that ‘all banks are the same,’ digital can be leveraged as a differentiator. FS organizations need to build loyalty between an employer and a future hire; and the best way to accomplish this is to build a relationship that meets millennials’ needs. Digital can be used to ensure engagement with future hires at the right time, in the right place, with the right content. But human interaction is required to build closeness in the relationship.

One approach to address this is increasing 1:1 contact between graduate candidates and a future manager throughout the process.

Whilst graduates are ‘digital natives’, they also understand that their choice of graduate employment is a big decision, and consequently they will need support through the recruitment process and during their onboarding and early years.

The key to building a succesful workforce of the future in FS lies in understanding that digital is a qualifier for millennials, but the human touch cannot be neglected.

Special thanks to Payal Vasudeva and Diana Barea for their work on the 2016 UK University Graduate Employment Study. To learn more, register to download the report: Great expectations: Redesigning the employee experience for the workforce of the future.

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