by Chris Steffes, Remote Services Consultant, CU Solutions Group
The experience you offer members – within branch, online, and mobile – can either build loyalty or shatter it. For credit unions, high quality member experiences start with your front-line staff. But according to Gallup’s 2013 study, “State of the American Workplace,” 70% of employees are not engaged at work. So the question is, if employees aren’t engaged at the teller line, call center or the chat room, how can you expect to achieve high member satisfaction?
Successful credit unions understand that when employees feel valued for their knowledge and experience, members benefit. The fastest path to providing a great member experience starts with developing and rewarding your front-line team. Here’s three easy steps to get started:
- Create. First, enlist your front-line staff to design a member experience program by asking, “How do we want our members to feel when they interact with us?” Encourage your team’s creative side to shape their ideal vision of an extraordinary member experience, from conversations to follow up actions, taking cues from the hospitality industry. Ideas can be as simple as sending an alternative “thank you” to a heavy mobile user after account opening, such as a quick video using your smartphone. Or, promote a quality lending experience by offering a phone charging station at the loan officer’s desk for members to use while discussing loan options. Your plans don’t have to be costly to make a difference, but they should be original. Be ready to try something new and different to please members.
- Practice. Got an extra 15 minutes before you open the doors? Plan weekly practice sessions for staff to hone their communication skills with one another. Weekly role play of member greetings, rapport-building, listening and showing empathy will reinforce your plan to achieve high quality interactions and grow staff confidence. Also, you can quality control staff performance and provide quick, positive coaching.
- Reward. Your member experience program is not a one-time event, but requires ongoing coaching and staff development. Reinforce individual success with rewards and opportunities, like representing the credit union at a community event.
Every worker wants to be part of something great. By creating an environment where your team members feel valued and empowered, your staff will project their energy and enthusiasm within their work, and outwardly reflect your credit union’s values, brand, and success to your member community.
If your credit union needs a hand with staff or management training, HR Performance Solutions can help.
by Joyce Marsh, SPHR
When is social media free speech not free speech? That’s just the question the Supreme Court has been wrangling with this month. Due to a Pennsylvania man’s 2011 conviction from comments he made against his wife, law enforcement and local elementary schools on Facebook, the Court is now debating the question of when a social media comment can be considered a criminal threat.
The reason the case went to our nation’s highest court is to decide what prosecutors must prove so they can win a conviction if someone is charged with making criminal threats on social media. Each side of the debate have plenty of precedents and gray areas they’re presenting, and Facebook is not a party in the case.
What does all of this have to do with your organization? If you don’t have a staff social media policy in place – now is the time to get one. And if you have one, it might be time to refresh your memory on what it covers and see if it needs to be updated given the current social climate. In the meantime, think twice about what you post or tweet, your right to free speech may not be free after all.
by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant
Employers and HR Professionals face “difficult” employees all the time. We know who they are, they are those employees who are considered intimidating, demeaning, or even threatening to co-workers. The question is, can these employees, with an ADHD diagnosis, be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act? The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says no, overturning a jury verdict that awarded a former police officer more than $750,000 in damages, back pay, front pay, and attorney’s fees. The court stated that although the ADA forbids discrimination against “a qualified individual on the basis of disability”, the evidence presented in the case showed that the plaintiff’s interpersonal problems with co-workers did not amount to a substantial impairment of his ability to interact with others within the meaning of the ADAA. The court ruled that a cantankerous person who merely has trouble getting along with others is not disabled under the ADA. The court’s opinion also stated that one who is able to communicate with others, though his communications may at times be offensive, is not substantially limited in his ablity to interact with others within the meaning of the ADA.
The lesson in this case is that all employers must take all requests for disability seriously before making the determination that the employee or candidate is no longer “qualified” to perform the essential functions of the job. Simply arguing that an employee has no disability may no longer be applicable under the ADAAA interpretation. As always, be sure to consult with a labor law attorney before taking adverse actions against an employee who has requested accommodation under the ADAAA.
Source: Weaving v. City of Hillsboro, No 12-35726 (9th Circuit Court of Appeals 8/15/2014)
An employment lawyer who typically represents employees against employers recently published this list (on HR Daily Advisor) of the top fourteen things employers do that make it easier for a plaintiff’s lawyer to sue them and win. Here is the list:
1) the employer gives no reason for termination or relies on at-will employment;
2) the employee is fired for performance but recently got a good evaluation;
3) the timing of the termination is bad, (e.g. an internal protected complaint is followed closely in time by termination);
4) the employer ignored prior notice of a legal issue;
5) the company had prior complaints about the same issue or person;
6) the employer did an internal investigation that was superficial;
7) the employer believed the employee was just trying to get in the retaliation protection bubble, (e.g. “She’s only bringing up her complaint because she just got written up.”);
8) the employer submits an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge response that is not well written;
9) the employer does not follow its own policies;
10) the company issues a gag order once a charge is filed;
11) the company ignores a pre-lawsuit letter from a lawyer, thus missing a chance to make a lawsuit go away;
12) company witnesses seem ill-prepared, too clever, or even clueless while testifying about what happened;
13) the employer humiliates or dehumanizes the plaintiff; and
14) the employer documents are missing or inadequately prepared.
Employee handbooks serve many purposes in an organization. They can be considered tools for risk management, communication of expectations, and a guidebook of general rules for the workplace. Employees are not the only ones to benefit from handbooks, but managers and employers also gain an advantage from a well-written and professional-looking handbook. Here is how:
- Employees – The handbook should outline how employees are to behave and what the consequences are if they don’t. It will teach them what needs to be done in their job to be successful in the company. The handbook should serve as a protection to employees by outlining a process for complaining about possible harassment, reporting an on-the-job injury, and promoting awareness of workplace violence. Other areas that should be covered are the absence reporting process, how to request time off from work, what dress is appropriate, and how the company feels about complying with all employment laws.
- Managers – Consistency is key for managers. They must have a set of standards for how to handle organizational issues. This should not be step-by-step instructions they must follow, but should consist of principles they can apply consistently in employee relations, performance management, and other areas within their scope of responsibility.
- Employers – The handbook is a mouthpiece for employers to openly communicate their behavioral expectations for employees and managers alike. It gives clearly defined parameters for personal conduct, acceptable behaviors, and company expectations. It is also an effective tool for communicating a summary of the benefits of employment with their organization, (e.g. paid time off, medical and other insurance coverages offered, tuition reimbursement, retirement planning, etc.).
Ensuring employees have easy access to the employee handbook and have acknowledged its receipt can go a long way to protect an employer in a lawsuit. Sometimes copies of the policy violated and the acknowledgement of the handbook receipt are all that is needed to dispute an unemployment claim. Now is the time to minimize your risk by having an up-to-date, legally compliant, and tailored to your company handbook. It conveys to your employees you care about them and their success!
Source: Brannen, D. Albert. “Why Your Company Needs a Handbook.” Fisher & Phillips Attorneys at Law. Available here.
In the last decade traditional leave programs have been replaced with Paid Time Off (PTO) programs. PTO is believed to reduce unexcused absences, since employees may use their time off for vacation, sick, or personal reasons. Employees have welcomed the added flexibility of using PTO as they want to or need to in their quest for work-life balance.
A new trend, though, is taking hold for a few companies. Some may explain it as an experimental leave program that employees would take advantage of, but those who have adopted it report increased productivity. It is called Unlimited Vacation time. Most recent to join the ranks of those not tracking vacation and time off is Virgin. Founder, Richard Branson, announced that his company would be offering unlimited vacation following suit with Netflix and a handful of others.
An unlimited vacation program is designed to give employees the ability to decide when they will be gone as they need to recharge and avoid burnout. However, they are held accountable for completing their work, meeting deadlines, not leaving their team in a bind, and coordinating with other employees to cover for them. The program encourages autonomy, which boosts morale and creativity, fostering satisfied employees. And, we all know that happy employees are productive employees!
Is unlimited vacation time for your company? We’d like to hear your comments.
Read more about this unique time off initiative here.
The national average of time to fill an open position in June reached 24.9 working days, including the time to post, source, and hire. Compared to the recessionary period in the summer of 2009, the time to fill has increased by nearly ten days, when the average was 15.3.
During the recession the talent pool was overflowing with applicants. Hundreds of résumés flooded recruiters in response to a single job posting. The response left recruiters thinking they could be choosy and wait for the top talent to show, which generally during the recession worked. Now, other problems are factoring in to the long time-to-fill open positions, such as:
- Waiting too long to make an offer risks the loss of the top candidate.
- Unable to find skilled workers in the talent pool.
- Expecting no learning curve, thus fostering an unwillingness to accept candidates that may need only minimal training.
- There is simply more job openings, 4.7 million at the end of June, compared to 4 million in June, 2013.
Employers should examine recruitment and hiring processes to ensure they are streamlined and efficient and make changes wherever they find obstacles. Performing this self-audit will clearly define the company’s acceptable standards for recruitment and hiring and will help find and hire a solid, talented workforce quickly.
Source: Zappe, John. “Employers Find That Time-to-Fill Job Rates Are Growing, Hit 13 Year High.” Available here.
Home furnishings retailer, Ikea, recently announced an overhaul to their wage structure that will increase their average minimum wage to $10.76 per hour by January 1, 2015, which is a 17 percent increase, and is well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The increase will not be adjusted across the board, but will be a market-based adjustment from $8.69 per hour to $13.22 per hour depending on the cost of living in the city in which the store is located. Ikea estimates that about half of its United States workforce will benefit by the increase which will be based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator.
Rob Olson, Ikea’s acting president for the United States and its chief financial officer was quoted as saying, “We are of course investing in our co-workers. We believe they will invest in our customers, and they will invest in Ikea’s stores. We believe that it will be a win-win-win for our co-workers, our customers and our stores.” Ikea’s goal is to promote a “better everyday life” for their people.
Gap is another retailer that will be increasing its minimum wage to $10 per hour January 1. This specialty retailer had set its minimum wage at $9 per hour in February. Their new wage policy will benefit more than two-thirds of its 90,000 U.S. employees. Gap reported more than a 10 percent increase in their applications for employment after they announced the increases.
Both retailers have a great desire to help their workers, and even though the minimum wage increases are a large investment, it is one they feel will help them reach their organizational goals and have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Source: Greenhouse, Steven. The New York Times. “Ikea to increase Minimum Hourly Pay.” Available here.
As HR professionals, we are always trying to make sure everyone is treated the same – that no one feels slighted or left out; that everyone is treated equally. In certain instances that is a really good idea, especially if it keeps you out of legal trouble, (e.g. male/female, old/young, black/white). But, are our HR practices becoming a one-size-fits-all?
Let’s take a step back. Examining our motive for treating all employees the same should give us some insight as to whether this is a constructive practice. Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly:
- Am I afraid of a claim of discrimination or retaliation?
- Am I trying to avoid conflict by applying policies the same way to all employees?
- Am I ignoring an underlying employee performance issue that needs to be addressed?
- Is treating all employees the same taking the easy way out?
If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be practicing HR neutrality. Obviously, some policies must be applied the same way to all employees, like no smoking in the office. But, must our top performers be treated the same as our mediocre or low performers? No, but we must treat them fairly. In fact, our treating employees fairly sometimes mean we treat them differently. How? A high performing employee doesn’t want to be treated the same as one they view as a slacker. They want to be treated differently, because they deserve it. There is nothing illegal about treating a high performer better than you treat your employee that is not meeting your expectations. So next time you encounter a situation that previously the one-size-fits-all HR neutrality has been applied to, examine your motive for doing so, use empathy by putting yourself in your employee’s shoes, and always keep the human in Human Resources. Oh yes, and you must deal head-on with the perceived slacker; they may just need clearer expectations, but you won’t know if you don’t ask!
Source: Sackett, Tim. “HR Neutrality: Everybody Seems to Hate It – Except, of Course, HR.” Available here.
Raise your hand if you think there are entirely too many meetings in your office! You can put your hands down now. Why do we feel this way? Because many times, meetings become so routine that the focus is completely lost on why the meeting is being held and what it is supposed to accomplish. Let’s face it, sometimes meetings are just simply time wasters!
To avoid having mechanical meetings, we have to plan better. Following these tips will help re-engage and to re-focus your attendees so that meetings add value and achieve a specific goal.
- Create an agenda – Agendas set the rules for the meeting and answer critical questions. Who (should attend)? What (is the topic)? Why (are we meeting)? Where (will we meet)? When (will we meet? How (are we to prepare)?
- Stay on track – Keep the goal of the meeting at the forefront and steer the discussion back to the agenda as needed. If the meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes, then end it promptly.
- Limit attendees – Invite only those individuals that need to be there. Don’t waste others’ time, unless they are critical to the mission.
- Summarize the meeting – Follow up the meeting with an email detailing the project, timelines, and assignments. Make yourself available and hold employees accountable for reaching the goal. Inform the attendees if additional meetings will be necessary.
Giving meetings focus will help you and your team to accomplish much more in less time.