Developing and implementing a strong internal communications strategy (ICS) is one of the most important steps a credit union can to take to ensure a happy, engaged, and committed workforce, according to “Creating a Dynamic and Informed Workplace,” a white paper prepared by the CUNA Human Resources and Organizational Development Council.
An ICS is a written document that outlines a credit union’s journey and goals. It’s a roadmap that tells where a credit union is in terms of its current internal communication, where it wants to be, how it will implement the strategy, and what the goals are.
The document also outlines a timeline for implementing and maintaining this strategy.
The strategy should be based on research and evidence, have employees at its center, and be easily understood by everyone at the credit union, from the CEO to the tellers.
It should clearly indicate how everyone fits into the strategy, what the goals are, and why this approach is best for the credit union.
“It is vital for everyone to understand the credit union’s goals and how they personally fit in to fulfilling those goals,” the report states.
Implementing the ICS begins with the CEO, whose job is to be open and forthcoming with the information provided to employees. The CEO must also gather thoughts, opinions, and ideas from employees.
Input can be gathered several ways, including sending monthly all-employee emails with updates on key projects, enacting an open-door policy, and holding annual or semi-annual meetings with all departments or branches—without managers present—so employees feel comfortable sharing information.
Employee buy-in is critical to the success of an ICS.
“One of our core values has been ‘valuing employees as a primary resource,’” says Kelli Blair, senior vice president/chief development officer with $700 million asset Truity Federal Credit Union in Bartlesville, Okla. “We identified that in order to achieve success we would need to involve all employees in executing the plan, and that failure would occur with a lack of effective communication throughout the organization.”
To develop engaged employees:
Employers can measure how engaged employees are by looking at absenteeism, retention, financial performance, and member engagement levels. This information will help identify what’s going right with the ICS, but also what areas need improvement.
Credit unions that implement an ICS can see many benefits, including increased productivity, more effective and responsive member service, empowered employees, smarter decision-making, and higher employee retention.