“How could you build for the future, owning any size company, if hiring youth is not part of your business model?” - Tara-Lynn Hughes, TD
Businesses know creating a strong brand around their product or service is critical to defining their unique selling proposition to reach their customers. But has your business ever considered the importance of creating a brand strategy for hiring youth?
“We're in the people business and attracting, hiring and developing great people at TD is a priority for our leadership team,” says Tara-Lynn Hughes, Senior Vice President, Atlantic Region at TD Canada Trust. “What can we offer students looking to start out in their careers? Career opportunities that exceed their expectations.”
Hiring youth is fundamental to TD’s business model and why it chose to be the presenting sponsor of the Halifax Partnership’s Game Changers Action Plan.
Articulating a brand strategy for hiring youth seems a little unconventional in a traditional industry. Tara-Lynn credits past TD CEO Ed Clark for seeing how critical diversity was decades before it became mainstream. “He asked, ‘How can you serve a community if you don’t reflect the values and people who live in it?’” That focus on diversity remains a core value at TD as the bank heads into its 162nd year under current CEO Bharat Masrani's leadership.
For over 20 years, TD has offered Scholarships for Community Leadership, offering up to $70,000 annually – four years of tuition and four full years of co-op employment – for 20 youth in their final year of high school who are making a difference in their communities.
“To TD, these community-minded students are tomorrow’s leaders. We have a responsibility as a company to invest in them and their communities.”
Not every business is able to provide scholarships, but companies of all sizes can make hiring youth part of their company’s growth strategy. Tara-Lynn shares TD’s approach and tips for attracting young talent.
Make hiring youth a priority
Tapping into the young minds of today is an essential part of TD’s daily operations and business strategy. “How could you build for the future, owning any size company, if hiring youth is not part of your business model?” says Tara-Lynn. “We place a leadership focus on hiring youth from diverse backgrounds, make it part of our culture, communicate about it all the time and work hard at it. Hiring youth will not happen all on its own.”
Let youth refresh your view
“Youth have innate curiosity and are always asking us, ‘Why do we do it that way?’ Hiring youth gives such a different perspective on your business and can broaden your customer demographics and grow your market opportunity,” says Tara-Lynn. “You need that diversity of thought whether you are big or small.”
Hiring young professionals also helps TD better serve their customers. “Customers love using mobile channels, banking online and the ATM. Youth bring an incredible perspective and expertise to this.”
Take time to mentor and coach
In the Atlantic region of TD Trust, 54% of their employees are millennials and 15% of them are in management roles, debunking the idea that millennials aren’t loyal or committed to employers long term. Coaching and mentoring is key. “We believe everyone contributes to good leadership. None of us are successful without the help and guidance from the people we work with, especially senior leaders who take the time to mentor, teach and explain things,” says Tara-Lynn.
Early in her career, TD executives gave Tara-Lynn many opportunities to be part of projects and to see how they were tackling issues or business challenges. That experience deeply shaped her as a leader and inspires her every day to pay it forward. “A lot of people invested in me and it’s my job to recreate that with youth in our organization.”
“We spend a lot of time making sure we have a cultural fit with the people we hire. Recently I walked into a grocery store to pick up supper and the young man at the cash said he would love to work at our bank when he saw my TD pin,” says Tara-Lynn. She saw his customer service skills were exactly what her company would want and encouraged him to apply. He joined TD soon after.
Engage with the Halifax Partnership
“Halifax has great opportunities as the third strongest performing Canadian city in 2016. Add to that a young, well-educated, international and diverse pool of people who could help be part of our future and you’re seeing a compelling story – one that every business can access through the Game Changers Program at the Partnership,” says Tara-Lynn. “It’s a fantastic program. We are so proud to support this initiative and help inspire other businesses to hire youth.”