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While workplace technology abounds, true team engagement comes from enabling employees to be their authentic selves at work, which in turn leads to a better member experience.
Workplace culture goes a long way in allowing employees to feel comfortable, whether they’re working from home, in the office, or a mixture of the two.
“The true impact comes from our connections,” says Connexus Credit Union Product Manager Olivia Buell, who participated in a team engagement panel Friday at the 2022 CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council and CUNA Technology Council Conference in Las Vegas. “As we continue to move into this virtual environment, we have to be intentional about building these relationships. I want conversations to leave people feeling energized, heard, and valued.”
That means truly caring about how people are doing, says Laura Eblen, vice president of member engagement and governmental affairs at Mazuma Credit Union. Rather than asking,” how are you?” and moving on, she suggests pausing and showing vulnerability to encourage people to open up.
“We have to understand where our teams are on their own mission and journey,” she says. “How are things in their world? Being focused on that builds trust and a safe environment.”
Increased trust improves workplace efficiency and accountability. Eblen says workplace leaders can’t assume employee performance issues are due to a lack of knowledge or a poor fit with the team. It could just mean they’re not in the right place emotionally.
“The more you can connect to your team emotionally when issues pop up, there’s less finger-pointing. It’s a safe place to say, ‘I missed it,’ or, ‘I thought we were going to see result X and we saw Y.’ Being empathetic with your team is vital,” Eblen says, stressing it’s just as important to celebrate team success.
Workplace engagement isn’t just about being more conversational in meetings. BECU Senior Program Manager Verity Swearingen suggests credit unions create employee resource groups (ERGs) to give people dedicated places to be themselves.
“We have a lot of ERGs in place for employees to be their true selves with their work family,” Swearingen says, noting that BECU’s ERGs include groups based on race, sexual orientation, and disabilities.
They’re not only for people who identify with these groups, they’re also for allies, she adds.
Similarly, BECU has a mindfulness group that provides a place for employees to talk about how they’re doing mentally. The dedicated space allows them to get deeper than they might if they ran into someone in the hallway.
Increased connectivity can lead to happier, more engaged employees.
“Burnout is a real thing, and I think sometimes technology enhances burnout,” Buell says. “We can encourage productivity, collaboration, and engagement, but we also need to encourage people as much as possible to truly check out during their PTO, evenings, and weekends. Enhancing work/life balance allows us to be our authentic selves in the workplace.”