Christine O'Brien, senior vice president and IT chief administrative officer at Bank of New York Mellon, sees her IT organization of 4,500 employees aging and is not going to let them retire without a plan to replenish the workforce with employees well-trained on the traditional and reliable systems that keep it in business.
The firm this year launched an aggressive entry-level talent-acquisition program that will recruit 40 new college graduates with computer science and other related degrees--such as mathematics--to work in BNY Mellon's IT shop. For nine months, the recruits will shadow existing employees in an intensive study of the technologies created and managed by the departing baby-boomer workforce: computer operations and the IBM mainframe infrastructure. "Mainframes haven't gone away the way people thought they would," O'Brien says. "We anticipate that they're going to be a part of our organization for a while, and we need to develop the skills sets around that."
A handful of recruits, meanwhile, will be placed in a leadership-development program, a two-year training process that rotates the employee through different technical positions across the business lines, so at the end, BNY Mellon will have IT employees with close working knowledge of the technology and the business across the organization in functions as diverse as technology development, project management and business analysis.
Recruiting alone is not enough. Retention of existing employees will be imperative for weathering any future labor crunch. Recognition programs that reward daily accomplishments with gift cards and larger victories with paid time off and cash rewards are part of the plan. Internal networking events and a formal mentoring program that give employees opportunities to learn about career advancement within the organization have been overwhelmingly positive.
With such a large staff, O'Brien needs to be sure managers understand the intellectual capital available within the workforce, and the staff needs to see where they fit in the overall organization. She recently created a "job-slotting" process, which lays out for all staff members the exact requirements and responsibilities of their own job as well as all the other positions in the organization. Simultaneously, an internal certification program gives the employee and manager a tool to gauge their capabilities and skills. "If I'm a business analyst and I'd like to be a project manager, I can now see what skill requirements I need to meet and the path I need to take to get to the job I want," O'Brien says.
BNY Mellon has just started the recruitment and retention crusade aimed at warding off the seemingly inevitable labor shortage. In the near future, the firm will be looking at ways to retain retirees either in part-time or home-office positions to ensure there are knowledgeable employees available to protect and maintain existing IT systems.
Meanwhile, reaching out to new avenues of hiring will help fill the vacant slots in the workforce. These new avenues include inner-city career-development programs, hiring people with disabilities who are having trouble entering the work force, and further training existing employees and new graduates.
It's a developing process. "But if we don't start acting proactively before the shrinkage takes place," O'Brien says, "we're going to have a problem."