Credit union nets high-performance culture with compensation best practices

With the Halogen Performance™ and Halogen Compensation™, the UW Credit Union has been able to better align its workforce, consistently drive higher employee engagement and realize top customer satisfaction scores.

Founded in 1931, the UW Credit Union is a growing, federally insured financial institution committed to the financial well-being of the customers it serves. Today, UW Credit Union has 20 full-service branches and assets totaling more than $1.6 billion. The company is committed to its guiding principle: Your best interest always comes first.

UW Credit Union recognizes that putting members' interests first, is closely linked to the level of service it provides its more than 171 000 members. The company also understands that great service begins with a committed, service-minded, performance-oriented and engaged workforce, which it currently has, thanks in part to the ability to automate and integrate its employee performance management and pay-for-performance processes.

Since implementing Halogen Performance™ and Halogen Compensation™ solutions, UW Credit Union has:

  • Realized higher than average member satisfaction scores (91st percentile in customer satisfaction among U.S. credit unions)
  • Consistently improved employee engagement scores year over year for the last five years
  • Reduced the time required for HR to manage employee appraisals from 120 to 20 hours per year
  • Decreased the administrative time managers spend on employee evaluations by more than 60%
  • Been able to better align individual goals with overall organizational goals, resulting in greater accountability and transparency

UW Credit Union is enjoying continued growth, financial strength and market-leading customer satisfaction scores, successes it can attribute to having a high-performance culture. According to Kate Adametz-Jenkins, Compensation Analyst, UW Credit Union, building such a culture begins with implementing, and maintaining performance management best practices. It's only through these proven practices that organizations can drive the elevated employee engagement levels needed to build a high-performing workforce.

The company's commitment to providing a favorable and sought-after place to work has been validated by external parties, including Madison Magazine, which recognized UW Credit Union as one of the Best Places to Work in 2012. In 2011, UW Credit Union also received the CUNA Human Resource Training and Development Council (CUNA HR/TD) Excellence Award for Employee Engagement.

Performance management defined

UW Credit Union defines performance management as, "the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. It is a process that begins when a person is hired to work at UW Credit Union and ends when an employee leaves our organization."

Defining an ideal is one thing, making it a way of life is quite another. Adametz-Jenkins believes that a fundamental building block of performance management is organizational goal alignment — ensuring that every employee uses and develops his or her talents, skills and experience to help the organization meet its overarching goals. "Setting the right goals is part art and part science," says Adametz-Jenkins. "It may take a few business cycles to get it right, which is why it's critical for organizations to have the processes in place to easily review, to measure and then adjust goals as necessary."

'Ease-of-use', was a deciding factor when UW Credit Union selected the Halogen TalentSpace™ to replace its cumbersome, spreadsheet-based performance management and pay-for-performance systems in 2008. "Beyond the fact that managing performance appraisals on paper was an administrative burden for managers and HR, our existing system was unable to provide us with the fingertip access to the data we needed to make smart pay decisions," explains Adametz-Jenkins.

"The Halogen solution provided us with exactly what we had been looking for," says Adametz-Jenkins. "A user-friendly, automated system that would support our existing processes, create greater efficiency and reduce paper work."

Halogen Performance: performance management that drives engagement

With Halogen Performance, managers and employees are able to set clear, measurable goals that align with the credit union's strategy and business objectives. The system makes the performance review process fairer and more transparent. Employees are clear on what is expected of them (goals) and how they will be rewarded (compensation) for their performance, which is critical for motivation. Furthermore, the process requires every employee to complete a self-appraisal, resulting in individuals feeling more connected, engaged and accountable.

According to Adametz-Jenkins, managers were quick to embrace the Halogen system and its many benefits. "Halogen automated our process so well, saving managers time and making it easier to write appraisals, that I actually received applause from leaders during the training!" Adametz-Jenkins believes that managers spend 60 percent less time pushing paper. For Adametz-Jenkins the time savings have been equally dramatic, "Thanks to Halogen, I've been able to replace 50 spreadsheets with one, simple-to-manage automated system, and I've reduced the administrative time I spend on employee appraisals from 120 hours to 20 hours a year."

With the time saved through the Halogen solution, leaders and HR managers have been able to focus more on other higher value activities, including coaching, and building and reinforcing relationships with employees, which are critical for driving engagement. And, according to employee satisfaction numbers, staff members do feel engaged. In fact, since implementing the Halogen suite, the company has seen steady increases in employee engagement scores. Based on a five-point scale, scores have risen consistently, from 3.88 (2007) to 4.19 (2011). But the impressive numbers don't stop there.

"Our members are very satisfied," says Adametz-Jenkins. "Each year, we hire a consulting firm to measure customer satisfaction. In 2011, our 70 percent 'very satisfied' score was in the 91st percentile among credit unions. Although Adametz-Jenkins can't prove the direct correlation between these metrics and the Halogen solution, she strongly believes that Halogen Performance has contributed significantly by helping the UW Credit Union to take its already-strong coaching culture to new levels.

Halogen Compensation: pay-for-performance made fair and easy

Defining and refining the right compensation management program is critical for employee motivation and retention. Properly rewarding top performers and fairly allocating pay adjustments across an organization can be a complex, laborious and error-prone task. But this is no longer the case for UW Credit Union. "We've had a paper-based pay-for-performance model in place since 2002 but since implementing Halogen Compensation in 2008, we've been able to enhance our processes," says Adametz-Jenkins.

Halogen Compensation provides the company's management and HR teams with ready access to data such as employees' salary history and performance history, and how their pay compares to that of other individuals in the group. Using this at-your-fingertips data, management can distribute compensation fairly and objectively. According to Adametz-Jenkins, "Halogen Compensation also gives leaders the flexibility to 'play around' — spreadsheet style — with various options, while ensuring they don't go over budget or violate any of our company guidelines."

Any aspect of a compensation system requiring entry of data off paper forms creates concerns about data integrity, as mistakes can easily creep in from transpositions or other keying errors. Automating the process with Halogen Compensation solves the lion's share of these pains because it saves time and reduces the opportunity for error.

Summary

Halogen Performance and Halogen Compensation have been instrumental in helping UW Credit Union build and support a high-performing culture that supports the company's mission statement: Your best interest always comes first. With the Halogen suite, the UW Credit Union has been able to better align its workforce, consistently drive higher employee engagement and realize top customer satisfaction scores. In the future, the company intends to use the Halogen solution to define and capture key metrics that tie directly to the organization's high-level goals.