It doesn’t get much more experienced than the executive team at Texoma Community Credit Union in Wichita Falls, Texas. Its five executive officers have more than 131 combined years of credit union experience, including 121 years at the $300 million asset institution.
That experience gives the leadership team a strong feel for the credit union space. What they’ve found is that Texoma Community is at its best when its 75 employees are engaged.
“Employees want to feel part of the bigger picture and that they play a significant part in the overall health of the workplace,” says Tara Neal, who has been with Texoma Community for almost 20 years, including the last seven years as chief human resources officer. “More than anything, employees want to know that they’re treated as a person, not a number.”
How does an organization foster that feeling among employees? Neal says it starts with providing support, development, and communication; prioritizing employees’ families; placing importance on mental, physical, and emotional health; and giving employees everything they need to be at their best.
Credit unions have long been part of Neal’s life, as her mom worked in HR at the same credit union that her great-uncle ran for more than 50 years. That naturally instilled a belief in credit union philosophy, which Neal passes on by ensuring every Texoma Community employee is committed to the credit union’s vision, mission, values, and corporate objectives.
She says credit union leaders can encourage commitment by setting clear expectations, “genuinely showing enthusiasm for every employee’s desire for growth,” and offering tangible opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Texoma Community has offered mentorship programs, development courses, leadership training, departmental training, book studies, and more to encourage employees to be lifelong learners.
While one of the biggest challenges of employee engagement and retention is not being able to promote employees as fast as they want to advance, Neal says back-and-forth communication shows employees that the organization values their careers and well-being.
“We do our best to address this challenge by openly communicating what we have upcoming and ongoing with the credit union, and by always being truthful,” Neal says. “We rely on face-to-face communication and roundtable discussions so employees know their voices are heard.
“Each employee is encouraged to give ideas,” she adds. “And we encourage employees to be ‘yes’ people because we want them to feel empowered to make things happen for members.”
Neal aims to erase the stigma that HR is only a function of the “not so fun” areas of the workplace. While companies can increase employee engagement by offering higher salaries and better benefits, they can also offer flexible schedules, a hybrid work environment, growth opportunities, staff recognition events, and the opportunity to serve the community.
“Human resources has an opportunity to build and grow employees,” Neal says, asserting the tenure of Texoma Community staff is a “testament to the values and commitment we have to this amazing organization. That love and desire to see the credit union succeed are organically displayed to our employees, and they genuinely want to stay and be a part of the growing success.
“Open lines of communication and our commitment to core values set us apart and help with retention and engagement.”