Founded in 1868, Gorham Savings Bank in Gorham, Maine is deeply rooted in the communities it serves. The Bank is successful — and growing — and dedicated to becoming the “premier community financial service provider” in Southern Maine. To realize this vision, the company is focused on developing and delivering quality financial products and services, and establishing a workplace environment that attracts and retains highly motivated, high-performing employees across its 10 branches.
For help in establishing such an environment for its customers and employees, Gorham Savings turned to Halogen Software. Since implementing the Halogen Performance™ and Halogen Compensation™ solutions, the Bank has realized several benefits, including:
- Greater accountability among employees and managers in completing reviews
- Helping to make it a day-to-day priority to managing employee performance
- Increased competitiveness through a streamlined goal-management process that better manages and measures customer-service-related goals
- Improved support for recruiting efforts by providing new, entry-level employees with consistent and timely feedback
- Higher retention rates (50% reduction in turnover), driven by improved employee feedback and development opportunities
Wanted: fresh approach to talent management to support business growth
Lisa Cormier-Smith, Vice President and Director of Human Resources, remembers the challenges facing the Bank 12 years ago, when she first began her tenure there. “HR-related processes such as payroll and employee reviews were paper-based, manual and cumbersome. Without an automated and centralized system in place to store human resources data, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to grow the business,” says Cormier-Smith.
Over time, the Bank began to modernize its processes by implementing a variety of technology solutions; however, the processes for managing employee performance and making performance based compensation adjustments remained paper-based.
“As we grew, these processes became more difficult to manage because there were increasingly more employees to cover,” explains Cormier-Smith. “Managers would fill out the forms, we would do paper reviews and, if changes had to be made, we had to update them manually, creating even more paperwork.”
The manual processes also made it increasingly difficult to directly link performance scores and compensation. Managers couldn’t easily identify disparities when assigning pay increases or easily track budget overages. With growing volumes of paper and no central location from which to access, search and retrieve important HR information, Cormier-Smith knew that processes had to change. “We needed a solution that would make it easier to manage and leverage appraisals and our compensation program to support business objectives and meet employee needs,” says Cormier-Smith.
With an eye on eliminating paper and starting to focus on what really matters to the Bank’s success including reducing employee turnover, managing and addressing generational differences and supporting customer service objectives — Gorham Savings Bank started to look for a solution to bring its talent management processes online.
Identifying talent management software needs
For the Bank, the winning talent management solution would have to address two key requirements: deliver a user-friendly experience to employees and integrate seamlessly with the Bank’s ADP payroll solution. Based on Cormier-Smith’s experience with modernizing other HR systems, the solution would also have to help streamline an antiquated process, and move that process online to centralize a significant amount of employee data.
Although the Bank’s paper-based appraisal system was in dire need of an upgrade, it was important to Cormier-Smith to minimize the “pain” that can sometimes be associated with the introduction of a new system. Therefore, it was vital that the solution be able to replicate existing HR forms to increase user acceptance.
Vendors go head–to-head in rigorous vendor management process
Gorham Savings Bank employs a rigorous Vendor Management Program in line with the stringent compliance and security requirements that touch all aspects of its business. Every potential vendor must undergo a due diligence review, and for Halogen Software and its competitors it was no different. The Bank compared the Halogen feature set and cost against offerings from other talent management solution vendors including Taleo and SuccessFactors.
Gorham’s internal steering committee, which included members of the senior management team, was on point to ensure compatibility with existing processes while ensuring the Halogen solution would help the organization grow as envisioned.
In the end, Halogen emerged the clear winner, with strong differentiation on several fronts: ease of use, the ability to address industry specific needs with its financial services competencies and tools, and the excellent customer service for which Halogen is widely known.
With the selection process complete early in 2008, implementation took place in the summer of the same year. Prior to rolling out the solution to employees, Halogen helped make the transition experience easier by offering a series of trial runs that enabled the Bank’s implementation team to “play with Halogen, to see how the system worked and what they could do with it.”
New system brings accountability
With Halogen’s online talent management system in place, Cormier-Smith is unequivocal about the reception it received. “Managers love it. We’ve only had positive feedback. It’s easy for them — they have fingertip access to critical data on each employee, which enables them to make staffing decisions, compensation decisions and focus on employee development. Furthermore, the HR department is no longer bogged down with copious amounts of paper for every employee, when it comes to performance reviews, or new hire approvals.”
As a result of the automation, managers are now more accountable, and employee performance is easier to track. Employee information such as performance appraisals, goals, development plans, and pay adjustments — is centralized and the rules and guidelines set for compensation are clearly defined and accessible.
“Everyone is aligned to the same corporate goals, and everyone knows what is expected of them, at every level of the business, across all branches.”
Raising accountability across the organization has helped the Bank foster a performance-oriented culture — a culture where employees are focused, productive and appropriately compensated.
Goal management results in renewed focus on customer service
Cormier-Smith notes that this has been a definite cultural shift across the Bank, especially in respect to goal setting.
“Much of our goal setting takes place from the top down. When it’s time to set goals for the year, objectives trickle down into the branches and then on to the managers, who then divide tasks among employees. Now that we can actively track these goals, our managers and employees are able to align with them — from entry level all the way up.”
The goal-setting process and Halogen Compensation are foundational tools to support the Bank’s pay for performance program. The appraisal score and goal achievement from Halogen Performance help drive merit increases via Halogen Compensation. The Bank also leverages the tools to track their corporate referral goals and incentives program.
Furthermore, the Halogen solution now enables the Bank to place even more emphasis on customer service, which is an integral part of the Bank’s employee performance plans and also figures prominently in the employee appraisal process.
“We now spend less time aligning goals because the Halogen solution makes the task far more straightforward for everyone,” explains Cormier-Smith. “As a result, goals and performance ratings are known and this helps ensure we are all pulling in the same direction. With the time saved, we can focus more on serving customers and helping them to grow their businesses. Our employees are actively coached in all aspects of customer service, and have a better understanding of the value they deliver through referral goals.”
A valuable tool for attraction and retention
When it comes to recruiting, Cormier-Smith believes that the Halogen solution also plays a positive role in talent attraction and retention. By providing a vehicle through which managers can offer employees timely and consistent feedback, the Bank is addressing the needs of today’s younger and more computer-savvy workers who look for and expect instant, online access to information.
“With Halogen Performance, new employees can also add their own notes in a way that’s comfortable to them,” says Cormier-Smith. “And since the system is centralized, employees have a view of everything they’re working on as well as what they’re being measured on.”
The Bank is also using Halogen software to roll out a new staff-development program to help reduce staff turnover: especially important with entry-level positions, such as tellers, who are the public face of Gorham Savings Bank. “We’ve realized a significant improvement on the retention front,” says Cormier-Smith, “Reducing turnover from previous highs of between 20 and 25 percent to rates of 12 to 15 percent.”
By using Halogen solutions the Bank has been able to improve retention and become more competitive as an employer. New hires and long-standing employees all receive consistent feedback and have a clear understanding of our overall goals and expectations. Additionally, the Bank has an even greater focus on customer service. “With Halogen in place we’ve been able to figure out what motivates people, how we can keep them engaged, and subsequently, how we can keep them as productive, customer-service-focused employees. All of which benefits our customers and our bottom line,” says Cormier-Smith.