Linda Nedelcoff
CUNA Mutual Group empowers its employees to turn ideas into solutions, says Linda Nedelcoff, executive vice president and chief strategy and human resources officer.

Turning ideas into solutions

Improved employee experience leads to improved organizational performance.

April 20, 2021

As much chaos and confusion as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic created, it also provided some clarity. For example, as retailers focused on the consumer experience, they also developed a deeper understanding of the relationship the employee experience has with organizational performance.

Linda Nedelcoff, executive vice president and chief strategy and human resources officer for CUNA Mutual Group, says employees with positive experiences can outperform organizational expectations. She spoke during a general session of the 2021 CUNA Human Resources and Organizational Development Council Conference.

In 2017, CUNA Mutual embarked on a journey to “remodel” itself into an employee experience-centered organization, Nedelcoff says.

The employee experience parallels the member experience in many ways, both as a reflection of culture and in its language. Like the member experience, employees have various touch points with the organization’s culture.

“I call these ‘moments that matter,’” Nedelcoff says. “They are moments of truth, and they have resulting connections, engagements, or responses. An integrated or improved employee experience comes from treating your employees as you would your members.”

Nedelcoff outlines a plan, built around the acronym V-O-T-E-R, for creating an experience-centered employee culture:

  • Capture VOICE. Tools for capturing the employee voice include surveys and employee resource groups (ERGs). To avoid the risk of “survey fatigue,” CUNA Mutual runs pulse surveys. The organization also conducts “stay interviews” to ask employees what compels them to remain with the organization for the long term.
  • Take OWNERSHIP as a leader. Leaders should adopt an employee experience mindset as they think about their leadership engagement. That mindset must resemble a member experience mindset. “That doesn’t mean always saying, ‘yes,’ but recognizing the voice and understanding that even in saying ‘no,’ experience matters,” Nedelcoff says.
  • TRUST the workforce. Trust reflects how much organizations are willing to share with their staffs for them to be successful. “An organization that has a foundation of trust will have individuals who will share their voices and ideas for solutions.” That is a key concept for CUNA Mutual, which views “solutions as the transformation of ideas.”
  • Build for the best EXPERIENCE. The building metaphor extends through physical space to policies, procedures, and performance management. Communication is key. “There are opportunities where the ‘scaffolding’ can start to fracture if the experience differs from what you’re trying to create.”
  • Nurture RELATIONSHIPS. Most credit unions do this well because they were founded on relationships. Nedelcoff emphasizes one point: Invariably, employees don’t want to return to a pre-pandemic experience.

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