Why Employee Engagement Matters For Credit Union Growth

Why Employee Engagement Matters For Credit Union Growth

Why Employee Engagement Matters For Credit Union Growth
By Cheryl Middleton Jones 
Chief People Officer, 
CO-OP Financial Services 

When employees are engaged, companies thrive – and lack of engagement comes at a cost.  

Industry research published by TechJury reveals that companies with a high level of employee engagement are more profitable by a factor of 21 percent. By contrast, disengaged employees cost their employers $450 to $500 billion in the U.S. each year.  

Employee engagement translates into better customer experiences, too. When surveyed by Gallup, companies with the most engaged teams experienced 10 percent higher customer metrics than those with the least engaged teams. 

But now, with a pandemic that has impacted employee morale and separated departments and teams through new work-from-home paradigms, keeping employees connected and engaged remains a challenge. 

That’s where “inclusiveness” comes in.

Credit unions promote inclusiveness by their very nature and mission. However, having structured employee engagement programs in place can take that sense of belonging to a whole new level for employees.

Recently, CO-OP Financial Services launched several new employee engagement initiatives that are yielding positive results enterprisewide. So much so that we were named one of 50 “Most Engaged Workplaces” for 2021 by Achievers, an honor we share with our friends at VyStar Credit Union of Jacksonville, Florida, and SchoolsFirst FCU of Santa Ana, California, who were also selected. 

As we continue on our own journey toward inclusiveness, we wanted to share what we are doing today – and what we’ve learned.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Programs 

In February 2020, CO-OP reinforced its commitment to workplace equity by launching a DE&I Council. Through this initiative, we are proactively promoting awareness of DE&I issues and best practices for our employees. For example, we’ve removed gendered pronouns from our employee handbook, amended our company dress code to allow for tattoos and piercings, and welcomed our employees to include their preferred pronouns in their email signatures. 

We also invite employees to learn and grow through our cultural celebrations, such as a program recognizing Latinx Heritage Month. We are hosting open forums on difficult topics such as racial injustice as well. Many of our employees have openly shared their own painful personal experiences, comforted each other, and discussed productive steps forward to ensure racial equity at the company.  

Cultivating Leaders that Communicate, Engage 

We are also focusing efforts on advancing leadership skills throughout our organization. Each month, nearly 200 members of CO-OP’s management team meet to learn, connect and provide updates. These meetings ensure that all managers are informed and have a forum to share important information with their peers.  

CO-OP’s Intranet provides a hub for communication, resources and collaboration as well. Employees, Managers and Executives alike regularly post articles and resources on the site highlighting organizational and employee activities and successes. E-learning courses are also available to employees on topics such as “Leading and Managing Teams,” “Rewards and Recognition for Leaders,” “Effective Business Communication” and “Unconscious Bias.” 

Nurturing Employee Growth and Success 

Helping employees grow and achieve has always been a top priority at CO-OP. Today, every CO-OP employee receives a comprehensive, individualized “Learning Plan” through Knowledge Center, our learning management system. Employees can help design their future career paths as well by selecting “My Areas of Interest” in Knowledge Center. 

As employees rise into new leadership positions, additional growth and development options are available to them. Live webinars on impactful coaching and feedback techniques help leaders successfully promote a supportive, engaging environment for team members.  

We are also recognizing excellence formally through a digital platform that highlights employee accomplishments in areas like innovation, execution, contributions and creativity. “You Rock” awards are given to employees as well, which are entirely based on nominations from their peers. These acknowledgements tell stories of impact, gratitude, collaboration and connection throughout our organization.  

Work-Life Balance 

To promote work-life balance, CO-OP recently initiated a wellness program called Balance 360, offering a variety of resources, including quarterly challenges involving physical and mindfulness pursuits. This program also offers forums for employees to communicate openly about difficult topics, such as how the pandemic is impacting them.  

We also recognize the need for time off, especially with the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Our new “Paid Not-Worked Time” program addresses this need by allowing any employee nationwide to take up to 40 hours of time off with pay due to COVID-related absences, without impacting their earned PTO.  

Appreciation Equals Engagement 

Perhaps one of the most gratifying aspects of our new employee engagement programs has been hearing directly from employees on their impact. In the words of one employee, “Several months ago I scheduled a 30-minute standing meeting on my calendar for every Friday, when the first thing I do is reflect on my week and send kudos to the people who made a difference. These were people who did something to help me, a client, a meeting, etc. Things I have learned from this is that I can always find at least one person who had a positive impact on my week. I love how it makes me feel to end my week on a positive note and share my appreciation. The impact it has on others around me is priceless! Motivation, appreciation and positivity are contagious!”  

They certainly are. And, they are making CO-OP a more positive, inclusive and connected place to work.