Central Bank and Trust sees big return on employee engagement


As Central Kentucky's leading independent bank, Central Bank and Trust Co. wants to enable its customers and communities to grow and prosper. Step one in achieving this ambitious goal, is living up to the Bank’s pledge that no other bank will provide better customer service. To fulfill this pledge the Bank knows high performance is a must for its employees. To ensure that the organization is doing all it can to develop and give direction to its more than 500 employees, the Bank has adopted Halogen Software’s talent management system. The Bank’s investment in this new application has enabled it to:

  • Implement self-appraisals for the first time, expanding performance conversations;
  • Address employee dissatisfaction and have them engaged in the talent management process as a whole;
  • Improve the timeliness of appraisals and as a result, improve employee investment in the process; and
  • Approach employee internal training on the system in new and innovative ways to put the employees at ease.

Historically the Bank had used Excel spreadsheets to review and document employee performance. Not only was the process tedious, creating issues with formatting and formulas, but it did not effectively support an employee self-evaluation process, which was something the bank wanted to implement in its performance management process in order to foster greater employee involvement.

Finding ways to engage employees in performance

The need to have a self-review step in the process became evident following an annual employee opinion survey that rated the employee review process much lower than other areas. In response to the survey, the Bank tasked its Employee Recognition Committee with identifying how to address employee needs. The committee’s main finding was that employees wanted a voice when it came to their performance appraisals.

The Bank evaluated a number of systems for managing employees and their performance, looking for one that would be intuitive for employees to use, would provide additional tools that engaged the employees in the process, and would easily allow for the inclusion of a self-appraisal.

“Halogen was not only able to meet our need for self evaluations, but all of our other requirements," explained Rose Douglass, HR Director, Central Bank and Trust. “We were looking for a solution that could be easily configured and hosted in-house, along with being easy to use for our employees. Performance journals were a must-have as we wanted to ensure that employees were participating in their development activities all year around, not just at annual review time."

Making performance management easy… and fun

Douglass notes that during the implementation process Halogen Software provided excellent guidance and gave the Bank an opportunity to look critically at its process and identify areas that needed to change. As part of the roll out, the Bank has taken a very creative and effective approach to building employee engagement in the process. The Bank embraced open communication and accessible training, in addition to adding process steps, like performance journals, that directly involve employees.

“To build employee engagement and to ensure everyone was at ease using the new solution, we developed a class called PJs… why do I need them?" said Becky Young, Technical Trainer with Central Bank and Trust. “The class focused on what to include in a performance journal and how using the journal would benefit employees. Because some employees were apprehensive about the self-appraisal process, we made it a fun and interactive class. People left the sessions saying they loved the new system and they really grasped how much it would benefit them. To lighten the mood, I went out and got bath robes for participants to wear. It worked — employees were more at ease and very receptive. Since then there has been a lot of positive feedback."

Performance journals and self reviews have given employees a renewed sense of value within the organization. The process encourages them to take more responsibility and to be accountable.

“It's always a good thing when you have employees asking themselves what can I do better and where are my shortcomings?" said Douglass. “The response to bringing in the Halogen solution and including the new steps in the process has been overwhelmingly positive and it has definitely made things easier for all of our managers and employees."

An additional priority for the Bank’s performance management process was automated reminders. With Halogen Performance™, managers receive regular email reminders when they have tasks that are due. This has been a welcome change for the HR team, who until now had to chase down managers to make sure evaluations were completed on time — which also impacted the timeliness of pay increases.

“In the past employees had real issues with how long review cycles took, which resulted in disengaged employees who were not invested in their own review." said Douglass. “With Halogen in place, that has now changed. There are far fewer late reviews. It is an easier process for everybody."

The power of clear goals

The Bank recognizes that having an effective talent management system helps employees know and care about how they are doing. One of the powerful, unique features available to the Bank is Halogen’s organizational goal alignment capability that provides the organization’s employees a clear line of sight into how their individual roles contribute to the Bank’s business goals.

Having employee goals clearly and objectively laid out, and the ability to track their progress in real-time ensures that there are no surprises during the performance conversation between manager and employee. Employees know what is expected of them and this makes them accountable and the system becomes transparent.

“In the previous process, if the manager didn’t sit down and provide ongoing feedback to the employee, there may have been a disconnect between what the employee thought about their own performance, and how the manager actually viewed it," said Douglass. “By the time the employee received their review it was too late to do anything about it. The new system can prevent those kinds of nasty surprises and I also think it will enable and encourage employees to take more ownership of their own performance."

The Bank views providing its employees with effective coaching as being vital to its achieving its ambitious goals and ensuring that no other bank provides better customer service. It is not difficult to connect high-performing, engaged employees to outstanding customer service.

Employees have embraced the new process and a significant part of that is the way managers have handled the transition with the employees. Even if a manager does not agree with some of what an employee includes in their performance journal, or self-evaluation, they sit down and have conversations about where differences in perspective may lie.

“I would definitely recommend Halogen to another organization. It’s a great system. I just wish we had found the solution earlier," said Douglass.

Using Halogen to maximize talent management initiatives has enabled the Bank to increase employee engagement in the process. It has also helped HR to ensure that everyone’s goals are aligned with overall corporate goals — adding up to a renewed emphasis on high performance throughout the organization.