What’s your return-to-work plan?

Virtual roundtable addresses employee talking points, telecommuting policies.

July 6, 2021

A recent CUNA Councils Virtual Roundtable explored how credit unions are preparing employees to return to work as coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations ease safety restrictions.

BCU in Vernon Hills, Ill., gauged employee willingness to return to work through pulse surveys, says Warren Iskowitz, director of talent management at the $5 billion asset credit union.

Survey results showed that while employees have mixed emotions about returning to work, many are excited about the prospect.

“Every situation is different,” Iskowitz says. “If you’re a parent with kids age 11 and younger who aren’t eligible for vaccination, your situation is different than a single person who is vaccinated.”

In preparing employees to return to work, BCU provided managers with a discussion guide and asked staff to come up with individual plans.

Among the discussion points covered in the guide:

  • Show appreciation to your employees, including for their willingness to come up with a workable return-to-work plan.
  • Acknowledge that the plan is a work in progress that will require adjustments and refinements along the way.
  • Set a specific date and time to determine if the plan is working.
  • Acknowledge that what works for one person may not work for another.
  • Reinforce that those with performance and/or technical issues will need to work at the office, and that some jobs don’t lend themselves to working from home.

Once employees had a written plan in place, they signed the document and verified they were comfortable with policies regarding their return to work.

“Once employees return to the office, they should be empowered to raise any concerns or questions to be sure they feel welcomed and safe,” Iskowitz says.

He says the credit union celebrated the return to work by hosting a cookout, hiring a barista, and bringing food trucks onsite.

‘Once employees return to the office, they should be empowered to raise any concerns or questions.’
Warren Iskowitz

Telecommuting policy

Remind employees who want to continue to work from home that telecommuting is a benefit, not an entitlement, adds Kameron Melton, an employment and cybersecurity attorney with Wood Rodgers PLC

CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council

Among the areas a telecommuting policy should cover:

  • Defining eligibility to telecommute.
  • Providing procedures for requesting approval to telecommute.
  • Explaining employee and employer responsibilities.
  • Defining compliance with all employer policies.
  • Detailing credit union-issued equipment and cybersecurity programs.
  • Establishing communication methods.

Melton says credit union telecommuting policies are a work in progress. 

“We’re still in flux in regard to the pandemic,” Melton says. “That will require you to continually adjust what you do at your credit union. Have mechanisms to check in with employees.”