NextGen Know-How: Does your credit union have contented cows?

Just as happy bovines produce more milk, happy employees help companies out earn competitors.

by. Laurie J. Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR

The best gift I ever received from my husband is a letter he wrote me after we got engaged. It didn’t cost a penny and it didn’t take much effort, but it was meaningful and had a lasting impact. It’s an item I treasure and will keep forever.

All successful relationships, including our relationships with our employees, need to be nurtured and cultivated. Especially during challenging economic times, your employees need to know they are appreciated and valued by their manager as well as the organization as a whole. Sadly, many organizations spend more time on policies and tactics than they do creating an organizational culture that engages and inspires their employees.

Did you know that dairy farmers will tell you that for as long as cows have been milked, methods of care have been employed to produce healthier, more contented, and higher-yielding cows? In the book Contented Cows Give Better Milk, authors Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden apply this concept to business by providing proof that organizations with employee engagement as a core strategy are more profitable. Notably, over a 10-year period “contented” companies out earned the “common” companies by nearly $40 billion and $384,000 per employee, and generated a net difference of better than 80,000 jobs.

Engagement needs to be a strategic initiative, not just a human resources initiative. It should be scrutinized and focused on just as much as the financial health of the credit union. Small tactics and recognition are not enough; organizations need to take a holistic approach to engagement by building it into their job descriptions, performance evaluations, and balanced scorecards so it reinforces to managers the importance and expectation of engagement.

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