Chat covers remote work, pay, and leave

CUNA Council members share ideas of what’s happening at their credit unions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 3, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left human resources professionals trying to figure out ways to deploy a remote workforce and keep these workers engaged while still making sure they’re paid, have time off available in case they’re personally affected by the virus, and remain in good spirits.

“This is an opportunity to bring some creativity in and demonstrate the power of showing you care,” says Cindy Swigert, vice president human resources at $1.02 billion asset UVA Community Credit Union in Charlottesville, Va. “It’s a unique and scary time, but it’s exciting to have these opportunities.”

Swigert and Jan Johnson, executive vice president of organizational agility at $2.84 billion asset Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wis., moderated a CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Chat Thursday, presented by CUNA Councils.

“It’s not a secret that we’re in a crisis situation in the United States,” Johnson says. “We’re doing the best we can to serve our members and take care of our own teams.”

Key topics addressed during the chat include:

Enabling staff to work, either remotely or in the branch. Many of the participants in the chat had already closed their lobbies and have shifted to drive-thru, mobile, and online banking options for members. Some credit unions were offering appointments at closed lobbies.

The percentage of staff working remotely varied for each credit union and some organizations had implemented rotating schedules for those employees who were unable to perform their job duties at home.

Engaging and motivating remote staff. Efforts ranged from virtual coffee breaks and happy hours, team chats or video meetings, increased communication from the executive team, and encouraging staff to send in photos of their at-home work environment.

Some HR leaders have discovered that technology—including being able to have a dual-monitor setup—plays a role in how satisfied employees are with their new work environment. Video capabilities are also key. “That’s done a lot for our team members,” Johnson says. “Plus, it adds a source of lightness and humor since you’ll sometimes see [team members’] kids or pets in the background.”

Addressing pay, PTO, and leave for staff. Many credit unions are creating policies that allow them to continue to pay their employees in full, even if they’re working reduced hours or unable to work, and these policies often do not require the employee to use PTO, vacation, or sick pay.

Some credit unions are paying employees who are required to work in the branch “hazard pay.” Some have considered this option but have chosen not to implement hazard pay because of the uncertainty of how long the pandemic will last and the desire to continue paying employees in full for as long as possible.

Addressing morale and mental health. Many credit unions are trying their best to alleviate the fears of those employees who are afraid to come to work—they are high-risk, live with someone who is high-risk, or are simply afraid—by trying to get them into a remote work situation.

Credit unions are reminding employees about employee assistance programs, putting out feel-good stories about how the credit union has assisted members, and reminding employees it’s OK to laugh, while others have taken creative approaches, including offering online yoga.

CUNA Council members have been joining together for unique, live chat events to discuss ideas and responses to the current coronavirus situation. Topics are gathered from discussions in the Councils Community and members are encouraged to provide topics or questions upon registration. Council members can register for upcoming sessions, and receive chat transcripts and slides if they are unable to attend live.

Read about more CUNA Councils chats here.