With the recruitment and retention of top talent continuing to be a priority, credit union human resources departments have stepped up their training efforts.
According to a recent Society for Human Resources Management trends report, "Workplace Visions," there has been a growing realization that it is critical for a smaller, leaner workforce to maintain and improve skills. In addition, the top actions for HR professionals were increasing expectations of employee productivity and linking employee performance and its impact on the organization’s business goal. According to the report, higher productivity and improved employee performance will rely on employees having the right skills. Historical data from the SHRM employee job satisfaction survey report over the past few years show that employee job satisfaction has begun to depend more on issues like job security and the opportunity to use skills and abilities. At Salt Lake City-based Mountain America Credit Union buy in from the board and senior management has been a boon for the educational services department.
According to Suzanne Oliver, senior vice president of educational services, constant communication with a learning council of representatives across all departments has made a difference in how HR and training are perceived. The council meets quarterly with HR over lunch to discuss new projects and initiatives. Oliver said that it’s been a great way to not only showcase and pilot training initiatives and get feedback across departments, but the council also serves as a test group.
"We’re really very fortunate to have such a learning culture," said Oliver. "The benefit is that the training is enriched by having all departments weigh in from their different perspectives and it’s had a positive impact on interdepartmental relations. It’s not just training coming up with something or individual departments, everyone becomes stakeholders in the process, and all ideas and suggestions are welcomed."
A holistic approach to HR, examining everything from hiring to succession planning, has been the direction Seattle-based BECU has taken.
"We started a few years ago really looking at how we can better unify HR, training, employees and the overall organization," said Angela Ursino, vice president of talent management at BECU. "The shift in approach is more best-practice driven and more proactive on the HR side, and we try to use every touch point to help managers make the best decisions on how they manage performance."
She added that though in the early stages it’s changing how HR manages talent in terms of aligning talent and skill with the credit union’s values.
"An example of that is in recruiting and on boarding," said Ursino. "It’s helped expand and open the opportunity to do more work with them. Rather than just looking at skill sets, we’re digging deeper to help meet BECU’s financial needs."
According to SHRM, HR executives identified the top three challenges they anticipate facing over the next 10 years of retaining and rewarding the best people, creating a corporate culture that attracts the best people to the organization, and finding people with the increasingly specialized skills needed.
To help increase the value of training at MACU, a dedicated HR help desk line is available to employees to answer any questions.
"One person is always there to answer the phone. It seems so simple and basic a solution that is so valued by our internal customers," said Oliver. "Managers, front-line staff alike enjoy having another personal resource for a quick answer and it’s given them more confidence."
MACU has also made it easier for staffers to meet and keep track of mandatory education requirements with an online annual learning plan. All required courses are listed online in one location, employees then sign up for the online courses. According to Oliver it’s made it easy for different departments and with the online tracking examiners, managers senior management can pull reports.
"This way they can meet their requirements at their own pace, take the tests online and employees enjoy the flexibility it offers," said Oliver. "They can do self study or managers can incorporate it in staff meetings whatever works best for them. Everyone is kept in the loop and can rest easy."
One of the big changes made at BECU has been adding two HR business generalists to help more effectively deploy its products and services. Generalist provides support for front-line staff, branches and contact centers.
"We’ve heard from employees that they enjoy having a dedicated resource," said Jeffrey Duke, organizational development/leadership management at BECU and executive committee secretary/treasurer for CUNA’s HR/Training Development Council. "It’s been well received and having those single points of contact has helped to better prioritize work and be more proactive. It’s also allowed us to identify key areas we need to focus on working on and key in on training. Prioritizing has reduced frustrations and had a ripple effect that allows us to be more innovative."
He added that the business partners have helped change the perception of HR to more of an advocate for staffers and the organization as a whole.
"Usually when you speak with HR, it’s when something is wrong and we’re viewed as a sort of policing entity," said Duke. "Now, we’re able to leverage our resources better and spend more time on developing processes and understanding trends than fielding day-to-day calls."
A cross-divisional project team has helped boost employee morale and confidence by giving each area a voice in the process and development of projects over six month periods.
"We set a strong expectation that we want real input. It’s not for show. It’s a huge commitment, and there is a natural buy in," said Ursino. "The model has also helped show that every voice is valued while demonstrating the benefits of working together, out of your individual silo to get a better end product and organization.