Leigh Brady, SECU's chief human resources and communications officer, says HROD leaders "have never been more valuable."

Facing the future of work

HROD Council Virtual Conference panel discussion addresses post-COVID-19 work options.

April 21, 2021

As business markets slowly find clarity from the head-spinning effects of coronavirus (COVID-19), one outcome from the pandemic appears: the workplace is forever changed.

Experts explored how credit unions will manage this new normal in a panel discussion during the 2021 CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Virtual Conference.

SECU in Raleigh, N.C., has instituted a Future of Work committee that will explore technology needs, employee preferences, and safety requirements for the credit union moving forward.

Subcommittees will dig deeper into such areas as employee surveys, work-from-home agreements, workplace configurations, and maintaining culture, says Leigh Brady, SECU’s chief HR and communications officer and chair of the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council.

Team morale affects culture, and SECU works to strike a balance among employees whose job requirements allow them to work remotely and those who work face-to-face with members.

Some face-to-face employees have left the credit union for positions at other organizations that offer remote work options, Brady says, while others have personal and domestic circumstances that don’t allow for remote work.

“Not everybody can work from home,” Brady says. “Some will be full time in the office and some will be part time. And for those who are here, there will be social distancing.”

‘Focus on successes.’
Paul Robert

Paul Robert, CEO of FI Strategies, advises giving employees choices whenever possible.

In a survey of credit union CEOs, FI Strategies found that credit unions are following SECU’s lead and reaching out to their employees through surveys and personal interactions to determine their personal preferences and provide options when possible.

“Making it personal is a real area of focus,” Robert says.

At the same time, Robert says CEOs focus on staying true to their credit unions’ mission in the wake of COVID-19 changes, a direct reflection of credit union culture.

He says credit unions should “focus on the successes” they’ve accomplished during the past year.

“Talk about how it works rather than how it doesn’t work, and point to ways technology makes this doable, how we can still collaborate, and how we can make that culture work,” Robert says.

Brady encourages HR and organizational development professionals to “think creatively.” At the same time, she acknowledges that a certain level of exhaustion is inevitable after a challenging but “seminal” year.

“HROD folks have never been more valuable,” she says, “and moving forward you will always have a seat at the table.”

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