Banking & Finance

Take a bow, West Michigan credit unions

Gerber Federal, Consumers and United Federal honored at conference in Florida.

May 2, 2014
| By Pete Daly |
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Three West Michigan credit unions received three of seven national awards last week from the Credit Union National Association HR/TD Council at its annual conference in Florida.

Consumers Credit Union, headquartered in Kalamazoo, took one of two 2014 CUNA HR/TD Awards in strategic leadership, in the category of credit unions with $500 million to $1 billion in assets. United Federal Credit Union in St. Joseph won the other HR/TD Strategic Leadership award, in the category of credit unions with more than $1 billion in assets. Gerber Federal Credit Union in Fremont received the top award for employee engagement in the category of assets less than $499 million.

Two larger credit unions, one in Texas and the other in Florida, also won employee engagement awards.

CUNA is a national trade association, headquartered in Madison, Wis., that represents America’s 7,200 state and federally chartered credit unions.

Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by more than 98 million individual credit union members. CUNA has several councils for its members, including the HR/TD Council, focused on human resources and training disciplines.

Credit unions in New York, Washington, South Carolina and Utah won the other four national awards at the conference.

Shawn Premer, vice president of human resources at Consumers, accepted the award from CUNA, which liked the three-pronged approach to leadership succession planning that Premer had developed and implemented.

According to the CUNA website, Consumers had few programs to tangibly connect “natural leaders” throughout the organization until, focusing on retail employees, it launched a three-part approach to foster leadership skills with what it calls “integrity coaching” management training to enhance critical thinking. Another aspect, according to Consumers, is its Retail Management Development Program — 10-month in-depth training for “rising stars” in the credit union’s retail offices — which culminates in a final project.

Consumers also has a mentoring program that “fosters professional development through relationships between up-and-coming leaders and experienced individuals on the management team.”

“These programs cultivated the talent within the credit union and provided options for staff seeking to maximize their potential,” said Premer. “We are most pleased to have created a team that truly desires to advance their careers at Consumers because they recognize the opportunity for personal and career growth within our organization.”

Consumers said it is dedicated to a company culture centered around professional development and employee wellness, which has paid off with record employee and member satisfaction rates. The credit union’s most recent staff survey revealed employee engagement of 4.29 out of 5, and the 2013 member survey reported an overall satisfaction rate of 98.1 percent. Of members surveyed, a record 85.5 percent said they were very satisfied with the services Consumers provides.

“At Consumers Credit Union, our strategic goals center around team, because our focus on team camaraderie and support, staff development and robust training programs enhances member service. Engaged and committed employees provide top-notch service,” said Kit Snyder, president and CEO.

Consumers said that, in recent months, it has received numerous awards for its company culture and HR initiatives, including being named a National 101 Best and Brightest Company to Work For, Michigan’s Healthiest Employer by Crain’s Detroit Business, and a Best and Brightest in Wellness winner.

Consumers has more than 55,000 members, serving individuals and businesses through 14 offices and more than 200 ATM locations in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Lawton, Coldwater, South Haven and Holland.

United FCU was honored for its skill-based pay program. The challenge was to differentiate between the teller and member service advisor positions, so wages were set by measureable levels of KSAs (knowledge, skills, abilities) and performance. Feedback from applicants and new hires was overwhelmingly positive, and the transparency and self-paced nature of the program was compared favorably with competitors, according to CUNA.

At Gerber FCU, Ellen Davis of the HR department was promoted to assistant vice president of HR in 2012. CUNA said she has developed “innovative, out-of-the-box training for Gerber FCU staff for many years,” and worked with senior management to develop Teller Career Path – LIVE! and a Retail Services School.

GerberFCU has 14,562 members and assets of $102 million, according to creditunionaccess.com, and was opened in 1950. It serves employees at scores of companies in the region, including the Nestlé/Gerber companies.

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