Register For Our New Online Classes!

How credit unions can retain employees

To increased employee retention, credit unions should consider competitive salaries, flexible work schedules and creating a motivating work environment.

Credit unions place value in many things: their members, their board, their community. One of the most valuable assets a credit union has is its employees. Everyone from the tellers to the CEO plays an important role in a credit union's success. Baby boomers, a generation that believes in job loyalty, have begun to age out of the work force. As the millennial generation, which has been known to job hop, take it over, it's important that credit unions focus on retaining talent.

While every employee might value different forms of compensation, many can agree on a few that they look for in an employer. A good salary, some flexibility and a relaxed but motivating work atmosphere are three things that can encourage talent to stick around.

"Every [employee] plays an important role in a credit union's success."

Investing in talent
Offering a competitive base salary is an important first step toward retaining talent. However, every credit union faces its own unique challenges. Dr. Loretta P. Dodgen​, a managing partner at NCSGroup, a human resources firm, told Credit Union Times that when determining a salary, several factors should be taken into consideration. The health of the credit union, its size, what is best for the members, how much experience the talent has, and the normal range of salaries for the position all affect a salary.

"When you start looking at pulling a number, what I would encourage you to do is to think more of a competitive market range that fits your credit union," Dodgen told Credit Union Times. "And within that range, based upon other elements of the compensation package, determine where that individual would fall based on his or her success and experience."

While it might be intimidating for a credit union to offer a bigger salary, it's important to look at the salary as an investment in the credit union's leadership. Many credit unions require a consistent executive team to continue to grow and expand their business. Offering a good salary within the budget of the credit union will encourage talent to stay with the credit union for the long haul.

Making work weeks more flexible
The typical desk job is becoming rarer. Employees value a work-life balance that allows them to spend time with their family or fulfill personal goals during the week. According to Staples Advantage's 2015 Workplace Index, 59 percent of people say flexible work schedules lead to greater productivity. Additionally, Staples Advantage found that 46 percent of people value a good work-life balance as a top priority when looking for a job.

Different companies offer flexibility in different ways, depending on the company's abilities and how comfortable with increasing flexibility they are. According to the New York Post, many companies are beginning to allow four-day work weeks and granting work-from-home days to employees. These incentives have helped some companies that don't have the resources to offer competitive salaries give talent something else of value. It has also allowed employers to develop trust in their employees. Once a company adopts more flexible schedules, employers notice employees staying dedicated to their work. Meanwhile, employees feel valued and enjoy having more control over when and where they can work.

Another way companies can offer greater flexibility is through a results-only work environment, or ROWE.  Linda Skoglund, owner of Wisconsin-based insurance and investment advisory firm J.A. Counter & Associates, adopted this strategy when some big changes she made in the company lowered morale. According to Inc. Magazine, ROWE allows an employee to leave work for any reason. No notice or explanation is required; they can just leave.

She noticed the positive effects ROWE was having on morale right away. Another outcome of ROWE's implementation pleased her even more. Since she started ROWE at J.A. Counter & Associates, productivity increased.

When employees have flexible schedules, they can spend more time with family.Flexible scheduling allows employees to focus on family or personal goals, and it leads to higher productivity in the office.

Because the firm only employs 15 people, when one person takes some time off, another person will likely have to take on extra responsibilities. At first, people were skeptical of this. But after a couple times covering for the receptionist, Senior Investment Adviser Mark Devereux told Inc. Magazine he started to see the benefits of it.

"At first I thought, Where is the payback doing that?" Devereux explained. "But then I began to realize the value of becoming more aware of each other and what we contribute to the overall success of the company. And when I answer the phone, it gives me the opportunity to explain ROWE to our clients. They think we're cutting edge."

Creating a positive work environment
At Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliate's last convention and exposition, HR Performance Solutions Vice President of Operations Russell Gerrard spoke about employee retention. He pointed out that, when employees feel valued, they become motivated to do their best work. He explained that through goal systems and rewards, employees will be motivated to work hard and produce results. According to a 2013 study by CareerBuilder, 50 percent of people said increased recognition would convince them to stay with a company. Feeling like an important part of a team boosts morale and gives people incentive to do their best and try hard. As a community-focused organization, it's important that credit union employees feel tied to their mission and that they are contributing to it in a positive way.