7 key factors for CUs to retain top talent

Carly Wilhelm

Jan 16, 2024

It’s hard enough to recruit the right talent, so how do you retain them? Having solid staffing and retention practices are crucial to the successful operations of your organization. In this article we will cover retention as it will apply to your entry level employees up to your executive suite, including resources and links in each area.

  1. Company culture – Understanding your company culture and constantly having a pulse on employee engagement and their happiness is important to maintain a positive work environment. Employees should feel they are supported and have resources and encouragement to succeed. Employee surveys help leaders understand gaps and there should be an easy way for employees to share both positive and negative feedback to review and implement changes. Some organizations may choose to create a committee or hire a position that increases company culture through planning events, recognizing employees, and other ways to increase employee morale.

  2. Compensation – Another important factor in employee retention is commensurate pay. You need to know if what you’re paying your employees is competitive or not. Many organizations will bring on an independent compensation consultant that is an expert in the space and have nationwide and local data to help you build or restructure compensation programs. It’s important to review compensation at least on an annual basis.

  3. Recognition – Acknowledgement for your teams’ success and efforts is not only free, but one of the most effective ways to encourage your team and keep them motivated. The most popular love language is words of affirmation, so making an effort to write an email or handwritten note goes further than you may think. A great company that is digitizing this beyond an email is Motivosity, a web based toolbar where your employees can send claps, cheers, and a cup of coffee for doing a great job. In the end, the small things usually mean the most, and people desire to stay connected amidst remote work environments.

  4. Mission – Increasing volunteerism with local nonprofit partners not only develop a deeper connection with employees but reconnect them with the mission and the needs of the community. Bonus points if you invite families and spouses. CBC Federal Credit Union is a great example of this, not only partnering with local Boys & Girls Clubs as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, but taking it a step further through offering 0% interest impact loans to all the employees of those nonprofits, through the Community Impact Fund. This has created more transparency, a larger impact, and most importantly a deeper sense of meaning and connectedness between the organizations and their employees.

  5. Education – Is your organization currently offering programs, training, or mentorship to develop your team in their professional journey? If you see long term potential with your team members, it’s wise to empower them through furthering education leadership programs to further growth. Encouraging them to get plugged into leadership groups like the Emerging Credit Union Leaders Council who hold webinars on different topics to develop leaders in the credit union space. Other options include CEO institutes.

  6. Benefits – Standard benefits across organizations include healthcare insurance, PTO policy, and 401k with a % match. There are also supplemental benefits you can provide for individuals including disability insurance, down payment assistant programs, or 0% interest impact loan programs like the Community Impact Fund mentioned above. There’s also supplemental health insurance like Armada Care, which provides up to $100k in reimbursement for anything from OTC meds, eyecare, egg freezing, chiropractic care, and more. Another company helping promote health and wellness among employees is Liberate, a Shark Tank featured mental fitness studio that offers workshops and events for employees to destress and increase productivity, goal setting, and overall wellbeing and satisfaction in their role.

  7. Executive retention – For the C-Suite executives, it’s industry standard to offer some type of additional executive benefit. Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans or SERPs are implemented to recruit, retain, and reward top talent. There are three main SERP types, with different benefits and tax implications. There are short term retention tools like a 457(f). These are usually based on a 3- 5-year retention period, and the benefit is taxable to the executive. Though these plans can be an effective retention tool, be aware, they may cause an excise tax penalty for the employer.

Other SERPs to consider for key executives are Collateral Assignment Split Dollar (CASD) and Restricted Bonus plans. Collateral Assignment Split Dollar is a legal arrangement where the institution is giving the individual a loan to cover the premiums of a life insurance policy, which the death benefit is split between the organization and the individual. The retention period for these plans range from 7 – 10-years, or even out to retirement.

These plans are very flexible, and structured so the benefit is received tax-free for the executive. Unlike other SERPs, the benefit can be taken either as a lump sum or annually, similar to a pension. The positive for the Credit Union, is not only do you retain key staff, the Credit Union gains back its entire contribution plus interest, making this a hugely popular executive retention choice for Credit Unions Nationwide.

In summary, it’s important to analyze and review each area for retention on an annual basis on a minimum to enhance retention at each level. Also try to customize their experience as much as possible. Giving additional PTO to someone who’s money motivated will not resonate. Do as best you can to provide an above average competitive offer, and then create a home, culture, and connected team that they would never want to leave.

For any additional questions or resources about your organizations retention plans, please visit www.moderncap.com or email directly cwilhelm@moderncap.com.

Contact Us

A Modern Approach to Executive Compensation & Retention

791 East 3rd Street Suite 200

Boston MA 02127