With an understanding that better-informed employees feel more connected to the organization, $4.2 billion asset Michigan State University (MSU) Federal Credit Union in East Lansing bolstered its communication channels, creating an environment of transparency and increasing employee engagement.
“When you are open and honest with your employees, they're more likely to feel trusted,” says Chelsea Goodsell, human resources manager.
That drives engagement, she says. “It makes them feel valued by the organization.”
The credit union disburses information in several forms of media.
Its intranet, called “The Loop,” houses information ranging from policies and procedures to photos of employees’ pets.
Among the intranet’s most popular features is a monthly blog post from President/CEO April Clobes, in which she answers questions employees pose. MSU Federal has implemented many ideas from the blog to enhance the employee experience.
One question, for example, led to the implementation of quarterly orientation classes in the credit union’s on-site fitness center.
Staff have submitted many questions to the “Ask April” blog regarding the credit union’s dress code—particularly about wearing jeans on Saturdays—and requests for a business casual environment.
Clobes took the feedback to the executive team, which supported various changes to the dress code that had been brought forward on the blog.
Employees can now wear jeans on Saturdays in return for a charitable donation, they can dress in logowear every day, and ties are no longer a dress-code requirement.
The intranet also features a “Mission Moments” section where employees can post examples of how they’ve made a difference in members’ lives.
“We also spotlight employees and volunteers to show how they give back to the community, which is one of our core values,” Goodsell says.
For employees who like their information in an old-school format, In the Loop is a monthly paper newsletter that features current events, wellness advice, and employee news.
“One month we talked about stress awareness and self-care, hitting on the concept that staff are more than just employees and that they bring their whole selves to work,” Goodsell says. “We integrate those components into all communications methods to show employees we want to connect with them beyond their day-to-day roles as employees.”
CU View TVs located throughout MSU Federal facilities also communicate information to employees. Each month, CU View displays member feedback; announces recent marriages, births, and work anniversaries; and introduces employees.
It also highlights a different department each month. CU View is accessible in areas where employees congregate, such as lunch rooms or near elevators.
CU View often references intranet and newsletter articles so employees can follow up on topics of interest.
Each month, the resource highlights a “CU Celebrity,” with details about the employee’s job and personal life.
Every Tuesday, MSU Federal management hosts an all-employee meeting. The location of the meeting rotates between the credit union’s two headquarters, and is broadcast throughout the branch network.
Employees send questions to the presenter via text, and these questions are displayed on screen. Meetings are recorded and housed on the intranet.
Goodsell says the employee meetings allow staff to meet others outside of their work areas, share information, and ask questions in a collaborative atmosphere.
This multifaceted approach to communication aims to be both inclusionary and comprehensive.
“Everyone has different preferences, and that includes communication channels as well as informational needs,” Goodsell says. “With these channels and the resources that we’ve dedicated to them, employees understand they’re part of a community at the credit union and that we’re more than just a financial institution. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from both new and long-term employees.”
MSU Federal won an excellence award from the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council for its employee engagement efforts.
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