New Normal in HR Management Includes Re-Recruitment and Re-Engagement
o A recent study found that the top recruiting trend has been the re-recruitment of current employees.
o SMART Financial Credit Union purchased talent management software that implemented a core competency model.
o UW Credit Union has had success with its version of cascade communication, where meetings are held at different levels throughout the organization.
Despite an overflowing talent pool due to rising unemployment, credit union recruitment and retention efforts have never been more important.
A recent WorldatWork study found that nationally, the top recruiting trend has been the re-recruitment of current employees.
"If you don't want your top talent walking out the door, be sure to re-recruit and re-engage them now," said Marcia Rhodes, spokesperson for the global HR association. "Compensation is no longer the big draw, total rewards are. By total rewards I mean the deliberate integration of pay, benefits, work-life, recognition and career development to motivate and retain top talent."
Rhodes added that the pay cuts and pay freezes of the past 18 months have left employees demoralized, and many studies indicate that a high percentage of employees plan to look for new jobs once the economy recovers.
Houston-based SMART Financial Credit Union has put a lot of time and effort into the recruiting process, particularly for the frontline staff. The $429 million credit union recently purchased talent management software that implemented a core competency model to identify the strategic leadership qualities of its staff to develop talent and promote from within.
John Greer, chief human capital/strategy officer, said the credit union now bases the interviewing process more on behavior than on knowledge or skills.
"What we found is that the top performers in the front line staff come from healthcare services and security backgrounds," Greer said. "They share common traits that we want--service oriented, at ease dealing with people and just a people-person overall who enjoys interacting with members. We didn't just want a body to fill a job but rather fill the position with a top performer."
From the core competencies, he added, HR was able to build a standard set of interview questions and preferred answers to serve as guidelines for managers, who also get trained on frontline interviewing.
"So far the managers are excited because they don't interview everyday and this has been another tool that helps them find the right people," Greer said. "Managers as so busy that when we can make their jobs easier in identifying what top performers look like it is well received."
He added that HR has also rolled out a new performance management system by which employees are evaluated on core competencies and a balanced scorecard model. Essentially, from senior management to frontline employees, goals are tied back to the organizational goal to facilitate communication of the credit union's primary strategic objectives. Greer said it is a work in progress.
UW Credit Union was recently recognized as one of Madison Magazine's Best Places to Work for its communication and employee engagement efforts. The credit union has had success with its version of cascade communication, where meetings are held at different levels throughout the organization to help ensure that goals and strategic messages are consistently delivered. According to Lee Wiersma, executive vice president/chief human resources officer, the president talks to employees on a quarterly basis and the cascade communication model has helped executives and managers refine the key messages and make them relevant to their direct reports.
"For us it was important that we have upfront communications with employees and at the beginning of the year we focused on two simple goals[:] We wanted to be in the black at the end of 2009 and we didn't want to layoff any employees," Wiersma said. "Our message was that this is a tough time for the community and our members so let's make it our finest hour in service to them."
That transparency went a long way when the credit union made adjustments in its employee benefits ranging from suspending the 401k matching program to cancelling off-site training and conferences. Staffers were not discouraged by the sacrifices, Wiersma said, since they applied to everyone, including the CEO. Instead, thanks to everyone's combined efforts, the credit union experienced an 11% membership growth in 2009.
He added that the commitment to leadership development makes a big impact on employee engagement.
"The reason why people leave their job is most often because of a poor manager," Wiersma said. "Studies show that employees will remain loyal to great managers even if they aren't happy with the organization as a whole. It's why management at any level has been made a priority here and we hold them accountable for their engagement levels."
In its third year, the continuous employee engagement program tracks and scores various levels of engagement activities such as improving recognition for each department. Engagement scores are then shared throughout the organization so that training can be provided in low-scoring areas.
"Everyone knows where they are and if someone didn't score well in one area others pitch in and offer suggestions on how to improve," Wiersma said. "It helps create a community of leaders across the entire organization."
Overall turnover for the credit union ranges between 8-9% and most of that comes from promoting from within, which Wiersma said has helped retention efforts.
"If high-character individuals can have a career with an organization that helps them to be successful at what they feel passionate about, they are more likely to feel loyal to that organization," Wiersma said.
When it comes to recruiting, the focus has been on Gen Y for Mark Arnold, senior vice president at Dallas-based Neighborhood Credit Union. Realizing he is facing a group that wants to have a life outside of work, Arnold stresses a fun workplace and hands-off supervision during the interview process.
"There is a fear in hiring Gen Y but credit unions should embrace them," Arnold said. "It's an amazing generation that is a blend of the best of all the other generations. They have a strong work ethic, great creativity and incredible energy."
To keep things fun during the interview process, Arnold actually plays a round of Jenga, a game that involves each player trying to remove small wooden blocks from a tower without causing it to collapse. He said it not only sets the tone for the work environment but also gives him a feel for how the potential staffer will interact with others.
"You get all these nonverbal cues from how they approach the game-are they brash or are they cautiously pulling out piece by piece?-and see their personality in how they handle stressful situations," Arnold said. "One of our strategic goals is to reach the Gen Y group and we can't do that if we don't hire them."