There are banks engaged in newsworthy initiatives all across this country. Maine’s Bangor Savings Bank caught my eye recently, not only because it provides tuition reimbursement, but because it has partnered with Husson University to allow its employees to earn undergraduate credit for work done at the bank. The credits are earned through the university’s College Level Examination Program, which uses proficiency tests to convert experience into educational currency. This is a helpful way to lighten the load for non-traditional learners who might not finish their degree once life puts an obstacle in front of them.
Peg Scott, a Midwestern community banking leader — and one of six women to be honored this month as an Outstanding Woman in Banking — walked the path of a non-traditional college student, studying at night alongside her college-aged daughter in order to improve her prospects at the bank. Working all day and studying all night is a hard row to hoe. But as I tell my children often, it’s the hard tasks, once completed, that bring us the greatest satisfaction.
As a former non-traditional student and self-proclaimed life-long learner, I get excited about companies that see the value of an educated workforce and invest in their people in creative ways, from apprenticeships to in-house leadership academies.
Experts tell us that younger workers want to continually expand their knowledge and skills. I see this in our office (where everyone is younger than I am). My colleagues are hungry to learn. A workplace that will attract voracious learners provides educational opportunities in a number of ways:
Formal learning. Traditional classroom experiences are important and can continue to be made available through tuition reimbursements or scholarships to banking schools.
Non-formal learning. Look to workshops and seminars, even mentoring sessions, to provide important growth opportunities.
Informal learning. Sometimes called experiential learning, informal learning occurs when workers are challenged to master a task or situation that requires growth, or are exposed to situations that require them to gain knowledge or a new skill.
A report published by Gallup titled, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,” reveals that 59 percent of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job. This desire to learn doesn’t dissipate once the HR paperwork is signed. Of course, not all learning opportunities fit all employees. Your challenge is to match opportunity to desire — and not wait until the employee has earned their right to be developed. The time is always right.