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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Stressed out, burnt out employees can cost credit unions a lot of money, so more and more CUs are getting more sensitive to employee needs and implementing some unique perks to make their workplace experience more enjoyable. Consider this; a new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health finds more than half the working people in the United States view job stress as a major problem in their lives-which is more than double the percentage in similar studies a decade ago. In addition, the number of people who called in sick due to stress has tripled in the past four years. The American Institute of Stress estimates that stress and its side effects including absenteeism, burn out and mental health problems, comes at a price tag of more than $300 billion a year. These increasingly stressed employees are looking for some sort of life/workplace balance and the “basics” suddenly get a little more complicated or fun-depending on your take. Experts agree that “perks” including above average compensation and a fun work environment go a long way to keeping staffers satisfied and lowers stress but to be effective it takes dedication and constant commitment from upper management and human resources. “Top companies make talent management a strategic business priority regardless of economic pressures,” said Emmett Seaborn, principal of human resource consulting firm Towers Perrin. “Companies that do it right understand what motivates members and the aspects of their business that drive value. And they tailor their talent management programs to get the right people to deliver it.” Boulder Dam Credit Union in Boulder City, Nevada has opted to position itself as “the” place to be employed. With no bonuses, a higher than average pay scale, paid health insurance, generous retirement package and an environment where everyone is treated equally and fairly BDCU has little to no turnover. “Besides the high pay scale, there really is no true `incentive’ other than just having the opportunity to work here and be rewarded on an ongoing basis with our credit union culture,” said BDCU Assistant Manager Eric Estes. “Thanks to our manager Bill Ferrence we’ve made ourselves such an integral part of the community that people here want to be a part of it and they view working here as a privilege.” Estes says it helps that the credit union is located in a small town, which happens to also be a beautiful place to live. Boulder Dam CU is in the enviable position of always having on file the resume of the most qualified people without advertising openings. “We hear the same thing from people interviewing for a position, `the reason why I want to work here is to be part of what I experience when I walk through that door’,” said Estes. “All you can do is care about people-now you can say it all you want but often there is a difference between what is said and done. Our caring comes across with every employee knowing they are valued especially tellers and compensating them appropriately and in our low turnover, high tenure, 95% member penetration rate and growth to a $300 million credit union.” Titles like everything else at BDCU are simple and straightforward Ferrence does not go by CEO or president just manager. Surprisingly BDCU doesn’t have a specific “career path track” per se since employees know they are hired for a specific position long term. Each position however has 4-5 levels with a corresponding salary scale. “We have some employees that have been here for 25 years and are making more than they ever did in any other job,” said Estes. “Bill makes sure to walk around and talk to employees and the public to find out what is going on, how they feel and get their input. We know he cares and that brings out the best in everyone and makes for a fun environment. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?” Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union puts a capital “P” in perks for its staffers and has recently been named “Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania” for the second year in a row. “Since we are a service organization we focus on member satisfaction. So in the same thought process how we view staff is that we need quality employees, employees provide service and if their needs are met then they can pass that high satisfaction on to members,” said PSECU Human Resources Vice President Cathy Tama-Troutman. “We think right off the bat everyone wants good pay and benefits and we lead the area financials with pay rates.” And what benefits they provide. From paying up to $3,000 in tuition reimbursement up front and carryover vacation days to providing a 5,000 square-foot fitness center, and $100 certificates to help employees interested in breaking their smoking habit or losing weight get started, PSECU takes a holistic approach to employee satisfaction. Twenty-eight percent of PSECU’s operating expenses is dedicated to staff salaries and 10.6% to benefits including tuition reimbursement. Other benefits such as the fitness center, ice cream days etc. comes to about .5% of operating expenses. Perhaps the greatest employee benefit given the rising cost of health care is the $1.7 billion credit union paying 100% of both employee and family health insurance coverage -employees make no contributions. “We have a strong interest in the health benefit and fortunately we’ve been able to make it work,” said Tama-Troutman. “We also recognize that people do have a life and major life events outside of work and we try to make sure they have the time to enjoy it. So if someone saves up their time they can take that three week vacation for their anniversary.” According to Tama-Troutman PSECU also just tries to make the workplace fun. The fitness center comes complete with treadmills, Stairmasters, cross-trainers, free weights, exercise balls and mats for stretching and offers classes in tae kwan do, yoga and kickboxing. In addition employees can rack up the balls for a game of pool or challenge each other to foosball matches during their breaks. During the annual health fair personal trainers are brought in and the local masseuse school offers their services and employees can participate in cholesterol, hearing tests and flu shots. “Being healthy is very important to us,” said Tama-Troutman. “We’ve noticed that employee energy levels are high, our absences rate is about less than 1.7% and our turnover is just 9.5%.” PSECU also offers various training programs to staff. “Our philosophy is that we want you to build a career here but we give you the benefit to build your own credibility and marketability so you can take advantage of other opportunities,” said Tama-Troutman. “Program participation has been great and it does benefit us because we’ve found that it builds loyalty and is very attractive to new hires.” To stay current on meeting staff needs the 10 member human resources team tracks the number of grievances and reviews submissions to a public folder part of the e-mail system and uses the suggestions as a springboard for new programs. All posted items are then brought to a weekly senior management meeting to discuss the possibility of implementation. “We are very lucky that our CEO, senior staff and board place a big emphasis on pay and benefits and they are definitely committed to it,” said Tama-Troutman. “And that is the biggest slice of our budget and that helps keep our programs and spending all in perspective and we get to provide our members quality employees.” Experts agree it pays to invest in your employees. “Leading organizations recognize that recruiting never ends, particularly for high-performing, high-potential employees,” said Seaborn. “Re-recruiting helps reinforce the employee’s decision to join the organization and, equally important, encourages employees to stay as their roles and careers develop.” [email protected]

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