Learn What It Takes To Recruit and Retain Top Talent At CUs

Jess Noelck

Rick Uhlmann

CUNA Mutual Discovery Session Provides ACUC Audience with Business Case for Employee Engagement

SAN DIEGO – Acquiring, retaining and motivating talented employees is not the sole job of human resources, it is imperative credit union leadership is involved too, CUNA Mutual Group’s Randy Kohout told an America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC) Discovery breakout session audience today.

Despite a volatile economy and high unemployment, a Towers Watson 2011 Survey found the majority of companies struggle to attract critical-skill employees. At the same time, organizations are squeezing merit increases and expecting longer hours, which have led to 57 percent of female and 59 percent of male employees being dissatisfied with one-third having plans to seek other opportunities as the economy improves.

“The good news is that there are tools credit union leaders can use to engage current employees and create an environment that is attractive to potential employees,” said Kohout, vice president, organizational capability.

To start, credit unions need to understand there is value in integrating their engagement, retention and acquisition processes, Kohout said. By integrating these processes, it will be easier to attract the right talent, retain your top performers, and have a better chance of being known as a high performing credit union.

“The trouble is many credit unions not only have separate engagement, retention and acquisition processes, but they treat all generations of employees the same, which is not wise.” Kohout said.

Kohout emphasized that employee demographics are not in credit unions’ favor either – demand will exceed supply. More baby boomers are reaching retirement age and younger generations are smaller in size. Plus, immigration will not plug this demographic hole with many skilled immigrants returning to their country of origin after earning a degree or experience in the U.S.

There are three generations of employees: Gen Y (under age 30), Gen X (ages 30-46), and Baby Boomers (ages 47-66), Kohout explained. “Each generation is somewhat unique in what they expect from their employment deal,” said Kohout. “You need to be prepared to accommodate different needs,” he added.

“As credit union leaders, we need to re-think the key skills we need to run our credit unions and differentiate our value proposition based on generational considerations,” Kohout said. “We need to arm ourselves with being in the business of talent.”

Kohout went on to explain that credit unions must look at their talent from three perspectives: engagement and productivity of talent already in the organization, attraction or recruiting of new talent from the market, and the retention of the organization’s most talented employees.

From the Towers Watson 2011 Survey, we learned what engages employees may also help to retain them, and investing in career development can positively impact attraction, retention and engagement of employees, Kohout said.

Kohout continued explaining that market-based pay is a plus for attraction of employees, but for retention and engagement, it is more than base pay and includes bonus or performance pay and other rewards. Also, a company’s image includes not only its financial performance but also how the company is viewed by its customers, employees and community. These varying factors make it necessary for credit unions to develop an integrated approach to managing talent.

“The trouble is most credit unions view it as HR’s job to make these changes,” said Kohout. “This mindset must change. As leaders in the credit union business, you must get involved,” he added.

Kohout suggested credit union leaders get involved in their credit unions’ talent management process by speaking with new hires about why they joined the credit union, conducting an engagement survey to help identify areas of focus, and taking time to talk with key employees on a regular basis to encourage retention.

“The best thing you can do for your credit union is to understand the true talent needs, and then adapt your current talent management processes to fit those needs,” said Kohout. “This will take time. Don’t expect perfection. Be willing to learn and continually improve,” Kohout added.

Kohout wrapped up the session by reminding attendees that while employees are often the largest expense they are also a huge asset, particularly, in customer-focused businesses, such as credit unions.

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Life, accident, health and annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company. Property and casualty insurance products are issued by CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues. Corporate headquarters are located in Madison, Wis.

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