Employee engagement: Is it possible to focus on and achieve in today’s environment?

Employee engagement: is it possible for credit unions to focus on and achieve this in today’s environment?

Let me kill the suspense: YES it is! In fact, here a few important insights from a recent Gallup article:

  • “Remote workers can have higher engagement than in-office workers — when they receive frequent feedback from their manager.”
  • “Employee engagement is an even stronger predictor of performance during tough economic times.”
  • “Management has a stronger influence on burnout than hours worked.”
*Source: Pendell, Ryan. 11 Dec. 2020/ 7 Gallup Workplace Insights: What We Learned in 2020

If I feel a strong connection to the credit union, understand how my role contributes to success, enjoy the environment and team I work with, and feel I have a voice and am valued and appreciated by my leader, my engagement level is most likely fairly strong. This is when we see discretionary effort soar. I’m not doing things because “it is my job” or “I have to.” I am feeling energized and committed because I am engaged and excited to be a part of the team.

Achieving high levels of employee engagement fits with the credit union industry, it is doing the right things for the right reasons. While our level of engagement sits squarely with each of us as individuals, creating an environment that allows people to be fully engaged is an intentional organizational decision. Achieving and sustaining a highly engaged workforce is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can have.

If you are trying to give meaningful attention to employee engagement at your credit union here are a few tips of where to focus your time and resources:

  • Data – There is no shortage of data and analytics to help us make business decisions. What products to invest in, what campaigns to run and when, what segment of our membership to market to, and on and on and on. Getting solid data and a deep understanding around where employee engagement is in your credit union today is essential. For most credit unions your team and their engagement level is a significant factor in success. You need a benchmark and then you can build a road map. If you do not have internal resources for this work there are a plethora of vendor partners who can provide resources and support. 
  • Intentionality – Many organizations make the commitment and do the work to get the above mentioned data. And … then … they … do nothing with it. In order to help and not hurt, there must be an intentional plan around the data received from an engagement survey, and resources committed to it. If you ask your team for their feedback and then do nothing with it you most likely just lowered whatever employee engagement levels you had.  
  • Analysis and Communication – Prior to deploying an employee engagement survey, have a detailed plan in place about: how the data will be analyzed; creating targeted initiatives based on the data; and where, when, and how the data will be shared. Ensure your full leadership team is informed and prepared to support the initiatives, prior to a company wide roll-out.
  • Sustainability – These efforts must stay at the forefront and not be a momentary focus. Just as with the organization that does nothing with the data, those that make it a short-term conversation that is then forgotten about can suffer negative impacts to overall engagement levels.
  • Leadership – There can be a variance of 50-70% in employee engagement levels between work units that can be attributed to leadership. Think of a time when you were most engaged and excited about your work. More than likely the moment you just thought of included a leader who was intentional in their leadership, and was someone that you felt connected and committed to. Do not side-step or work around this component of employee engagement. Ensure your leaders are committed to their teams, their team members and the organizational goals around employee engagement. Ensure they have the development and resources they need to lead well and effectively. This is not easy work, but it is valuable and impactful work. Leadership matters.

High levels of employee engagement is achievable during and despite difficult circumstances. A methodical, intentional, and sustainable focus is necessary. If you create an environment that allows for high employee engagement, you can attract and retain the best talent for your credit union, and your members. You will create a positive impact for the team that works for you and the members you serve, and a competitive advantage that is hard to duplicate.

Linda Lafortune

Linda Lafortune

Linda is the Director of Learning & Client Support at CUInsight.  She has an extensive background in the credit union industry having worked in both large and small credit unions, ... Web: https://www.cuinsight.com Details

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