Culture has dominated the corporate conversation in recent years. The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (or DEI) has become more evident than ever. Many credit unions are looking for a recipe to make their workplaces more respectful and inclusive while also getting the highest level of performance from each person.
But the most current research from Gallup states that only 39 percent of all U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. As we in the culture world identify it, engaged employees are those who consistently go above and beyond to ensure their credit union succeeds. So why do only 39 percent feel engaged? Much of the reason can be traced back to the manager since he or she is most responsible for creating the team’s work environment. Think about it like this – two people can work at the same credit union and one might feel like it’s the greatest place in the world to work, while the other can feel like it’s the worst. The difference – the manager.
By my count, this is a percentage which can substantially damage our industry. Think about the difference we might see in our credit unions if we could increase that to 70 percent of employees giving their discretionary effort to support our members and each other. It would be a totally different ballgame, wouldn’t it?
If engagement is something you’re striving to improve among your employees, consider this formula:
EW + EC = GC
EW stands for Enjoyable Work. Think about the work you do which energizes you, where time flies and where you produce excellent results. The more people can perform work that they are good at and enjoy, the more their confidence and performance soars. That’s the type of work you can do for long periods of time relatively free from stress. Burnout is less likely, too. In fact, people who do more of the work that highlights their talents and makes them happy (i.e., plays to their strengths) are 57 percent less likely to become burned out, according to Gallup. People who play to their strengths every day are also six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and three times more likely to report a higher quality of life. Not much is better for your culture.
In most credit unions, though, a person is fit into a job. Almost always, that fit is forced. The job might include some work that plays to the person’s strengths, but likely not as much as needed. The key is to look for ways to mold the job to the person. Knowing what each employee excels at and then experimenting with ways to get the person more assignments that will leverage his or her best is one of the most important aspects of workplace culture. Along with increasing the person’s commitment, this is just good business, as everyone performs at a higher level when playing to their strengths.
EC stands for Enjoying Colleagues. If there is one thing that might equal the importance of positioning everyone to do enjoyable work, it’s creating an environment where everyone accepts, appreciates and admires people for who they are. Most workplaces are filled with people who put up with one another. Those relationships will never lead to a great culture. Instead, they lead to a culture of intolerance and backbiting, where errors are treated like termites in the rafters. Conversely, when people enjoy their colleagues, they support their needs, they partner up to solve problems and they celebrate one another’s successes.
When this feeling of fellowship is present throughout the credit union, it has a ripple effect. Many times, a team within the credit union can have this sense of camaraderie but it falls short when working across teams. Managers need to set the tone by promoting other departments. It’s easy to criticize another department’s mistake, but there might not be the same amount of applause when something is done well. By taking just a moment to praise fellow employees for their good work – whether they fall in the same department or not - these relationship-building behaviors establish the foundation for a successful culture.
Now, when you put those two things – enjoyable work and enjoying colleagues – together, you get the outcome of GC, which stands for Great Culture. When you think about improving your success and building a culture where people get to come to work every day, not have to go to work every day, concentrate all your efforts around positioning people to do more of the work they are good at and enjoy, as well as creating an environment where people accept and appreciate their colleagues.
This equation will lead to great things for your credit union!
Joe Bertotto has more than three decades of experience helping leaders improve their workplace cultures. He is the chief culture officer at Vizo Financial Corporate Credit Union and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. In 2014, Joe was named a Credit Union Rock Star by Credit Union Magazine. He also recently published his book, Pick Up the Gum Wrapper: How To Create a Workplace That Increases Performance While Improving Lives, which credit union leaders have been using as a guide to increase the effectiveness of their leadership skills and overall culture.