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When your credit union prepares for the annual offsite strategic planning session, is your Human Resources Department included? Does your succession plan include Human Resources? If not, you are not alone. Until recently, many companies and credit unions have typically considered Human Resources as the department that hires and fires employees, administers benefit plans, and in some cases, is responsible for payroll. As well, the department manager has been considered a non-financial manager. But things are changing. The most successful companies have restructured the organization to include HR professionals on the Senior and Executive Management Teams. Charged with the responsibility of aligning the company’s greatest asset – its employees – to the strategic goals and objectives, a successful HR Department must also: * concentrate on multi-tiered recruitment and retention programs * navigate the complex minefield of legal compliance. Recruitment – A talented, creative and productive staff is the foundation of excellence. The success of any organization rests largely with the qualities and abilities of its staff and their commitment to its mission. Effective HR departments utilize pre-employment assessment programs to attract and match enthusiastic team members to the best-suited position. Recommended components are detailed job descriptions, skills and personality assessments, drug and criminal background screening, interactive interviews and reliable reference checks. How many times have you heard the adage “Hire them for who they are, not for what they know. We can teach them to be a teller.” While companies are searching for high caliber applicants, the job seekers are looking for companies offering a well-rounded, competitive wage and benefit plan. HR staffers are responsible for knowing the job market and as well as their competitors to ensure that their respective company will attract the highest caliber applicants. Retention -According to most employee satisfaction surveys, salary is rarely in the top three reasons an employee remains with their employer. The top three reasons are usually recognition, opportunity to advance, and flexibility. Human Resources is tasked to develop and administer multi-tiered programs to meet the needs of both the credit union and employee. Recognition: Recognition programs do not have to be monetary. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” One of the most successful methods is a personal note from the Supervisor/Manager. Staff Development: Programs should include continuing education, internal classroom environment along with practical experience. On-line computer programs are also effective. Identify managers to serve as coaches and mentors. Flexibility: Flexible schedules may include a core schedule with the flexibility of adjusting start and stop times, four-day workweeks, job sharing and telecommuting. Empower employees to take responsibility for accomplishing their job responsibilities within the flexible time frames. Providing this support system requires managing two of the company’s largest budgets, compensation and benefits. HR professionals have moved from a non-financial manager to a manager who contributes to the profitability of the organization. With the increased responsibility of the HR department, how do you ensure a smooth transition in the event your HR professional leaves unexpectedly? Most CUs have formal succession plans for the Board of Directors, as well as the top two or three senior management positions, but how many are prepared with a succession plan for the HR professional/manager? The general guidelines for other succession plans will also be suitable to formulate a succession plan for HR. Some of these guidelines include: * Clearly understanding the Credit union’s Strategic Plan * Identifying key positions to include in succession planning * Integrating a personal development plan into the annual performance review process * Identifying the potential leaders who have the potential for advancement * Developing clear criteria for advancement * Developing the employees through training and job experience When communicating the potential of advancement to the candidates, be careful not to guarantee promotions. Guarantee of a promotion could create legal issues in employment-at-will states or be perceived as an employment contract. It is important to stay abreast of changing legal requirements. Some ways to accomplish this include: becoming a member of a professional organization like SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), reading periodicals, attending relevant seminars, and networking with your industry peers. The importance of the HR professional and the role they play cannot be taken for granted – Especially in a service industry like credit unions. Because people truly are our greatest asset – and our HR professionals are the facilitators ensuring the success of the employees and ultimately, the success of our credit unions.

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