On My Mind

The Sorry State of Engagement

Companies spend too much effort on low-performing, disengaged employees.

May 29, 2015

Workplace engagement is in a sorry state: Only about one-third of U.S. employees are highly engaged.

Further, most employers believe their staff decide to move on for more money. Surveys say just 12% actually leave for that reason.

Engagement, culture, and a robust onboarding process were among the themes at the recent CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council conference in Hollywood, Calif.

Conference speakers shared ideas that might change this reality:

1. Be the best. It takes a concerted effort to create an engaged culture. Employees might choose to work for you because you have a great credit union, author Jackie Freiberg says, but they leave because you have poor managers.

Are you aware of that cause and effect? Companies that are recognized as “best” have purposeful, strategic cultures, Freiberg points out.

HR leaders have incredible power to influence your culture, so your credit union “can rise from sameness” and have heart and soul.

2. Create value. Managing human capital is the No. 1 workplace challenge for CEOs, according to the Conference Board’s annual survey.

Jackie McClure, president, Unbridled Talent LLC, identified ways HR professionals can assist leadership with this challenge:

  • Appropriate recruiting. The Internet is the No. 1 way companies recruit— and it’s where employees first look. If that’s not your method, reconsider.
  • Retaining key employees. At any point, just 15% of your talent is completely satisfied with their jobs, she says. Always find ways to link employees’ work with your credit unions’ greater purpose.
  • Developing future leaders. Most companies don’t have a leadership development culture. In fact, businesses spend too much energy trying to get more from consistently low—and disengaged—performers, McClure says. “They’re hurting you more than helping you.”

3. Onboarding. The average cost of employee turnover and hiring mistakes is nearly $165,000. This amount includes both direct costs (advertising, signing bonuses) and indirect costs (loss of employee knowledge).

Your new-employee onboarding program likely includes a brief history of the credit union movement. That’s important, speakers say, but don’t forget to teach them your story.

Understanding where your credit union has been and who your members are will be important steps in developing an engaged workforce and a culture focused on service excellence.

ANN PETERSON is editor-in-chief of Credit Union Magazine.