The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the credit union workplace will continue to be at the forefront for human resource (HR) departments in 2021.
This will entail “managing COVID-19 obligations while balancing resources, capacity, and bandwidth to also carry on regular HR activities,” says Pam Rasmussen, executive vice president/chief operating officer at $1.3 billion asset CoastHills Credit Union in Santa Maria, Calif. “This includes maintaining a caring environment and culture for employees simultaneous to managing the implications of COVID-19.”
Another issue will be determining which employees continue to work remotely.
“Formalized flexible workforce strategies will be critical as we move into 2021,” says Nicole Colgan, chief people officer at $1.8 billion asset TwinStar Credit Union in Lacey, Wash., and a member of the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Executive Committee. “We experienced a drastic and rapid move to formalized remote work in our organization as a result of the pandemic and now we ask, ‘Why can’t a position be remote?’ rather than ‘Why should a position be remote?’”
Since the pandemic began, TwinStar has expanded its talent pool due to remote work and now has employees in 11 states.
In addition to vaccine availability and distribution, safety requirements and guidelines that have evolved during the pandemic will continue to play a role in what the workforce will look like in 2021. Employees will have to balance returning to work with school protocols and personal considerations when deciding whether to return to the office.
It will be critical that credit unions support their workforce through the transition, Rasmussen says.
CoastHills’ HR department will continue to learn from COVID-19 to improve future contingency plans, she says. But it looks forward to “returning to a sense of normalcy,” including refocusing on staff motivation and improving the work environment.
“Credit unions may allow certain remote work situations to prevail after COVID-19, but CoastHills will lean toward bringing employees back to work,” Rasmussen says. “Our credit union believes being together in person ultimately is the most efficient and effective way to serve our valued members.”
Whether employees return to the office or continue working remotely, finding ways to create engagement will be a priority for HR departments in 2021. This priority has risen to the forefront during the pandemic.
“With quite some distance between our branches and our corporate location, we have always struggled with how we keep our staff feeling connected,” Colgan says. “A flexible workforce strategy, inclusive of remote workers, will continue to challenge us in this way.
“How we engage our employees and ensure they feel part of our culture no matter where they live and work will be top of mind for our organization.”