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Is Your Employee Satisfaction Level Making You a Target for Fraud?
Friday, May 13, 2016 6:30 AM

Pamela Blevins, Remote Financial Services Manager, Credit Union Resources

In 1999, the Hay Group did a survey of more than 500,000 employees employed at over 300 companies in various industries throughout the United States. This survey was to determine what matters most to employees. 

One of the most surprising results was that fair pay and benefits were determined to be one of the least important factors in an employee’s satisfaction level. Some of the highest-rated factors included:

  • Working for an organization that challenges them and is meaningful
  • Feeling like they are a valued member of the team
  • Working with good co-workers and leadership
  • Being recognized for their contributions
  • Learning more skills to improve advancement opportunities

In more recent studies and surveys, little has changed in what matters most, with the exception of adding working for an organization that is socially responsible or makes a difference. 

Many of you are probably wondering why I, someone who writes blogs on financial audits and compliance, would be writing a blog about employee happiness. The truth is, happy employees are less likely to conduct fraudulent activities. One of the contributing factors in fraudulent activities, according to the fraud triangle theory, is that three things have to occur for internal fraud to occur:

  1. The employee has a financial difficulty that gives them the motivation to conduct fraud;
  2. The employee has the ability or opportunity to conduct fraud; or
  3. The employee can rationalize the fraud because they are owed that money, in most cases, because they feel they have been wronged or are dissatisfied with their organization.

The theory behind the fraud triangle is if you remove or decrease one side of the triangle, you greatly reduce your risk for internal fraudulent activities. 

How can a credit union reduce the rationalization side of the triangle? Make your employees more satisfied by appealing to what matters most to them. 

How to Improve Employee Satisfaction Without Shelling Out the Cash

Be socially responsible or make a difference:  Credit unions have a huge advantage in this arena, since it is the mission and motto of the credit union industry to make a difference: “People helping People.” When credit unions get their staffs involved in this mission or share their personal passion about why the credit union movement makes a difference in the lives of the people and their members, you can feel that passion among the staff as soon as you walk in the credit union’s door. Employees want to feel good about what they do, and knowing they are part of this social mission to do good for others will do amazing things for their satisfaction rate. So, get them connected with the credit union philosophy. Every day, share how the credit union is contributing to the credit union movement. Live the credit union philosophy, and express how they personally are making a difference.

Challenge employees and utilize their skills: Get to know your staff on an individual level. Find out what interests them and if they have any special skills. Maybe you have an MSR that is a wiz with graphics. How could you utilize that person's skill? Maybe allow them to help develop a promotional flyer for a new loan product. Imagine how jazzed your employee would be to show off their special skills. The credit union wins because they just got an amazing promotional flyer. If your employee has an interest in another department, have them do some cross-training in that area. They will feel challenged and excited that you are recognizing their abilities and investing in their potential for advancement. The credit union wins because now you have a well-rounded and trained staff member.

Make them feel valued and part of the team:  Everyone wants to feel valued. You may be saying, well, of course I value my employees and think they are important and vital to the credit union. But do your employees know that? Sometimes recognition can take a back burner to daily responsibilities that fill your mind with to do lists. Once in a while, take a breather and reflect with your employees about the accomplishments of the credit union, individual teams, and, more importantly, the individual. A simple, “Wow, I really like how you handled that call with that member—great job!” will have your employee beaming. You can also involve them in the big changes to their areas. Ask for feedback or ideas on how to improve. In fact, don’t just ask, but really listen. They'll feel they have a voice that you value, and you might just get some innovative ideas you never thought of before.

Be a great leader: Often, managers lose themselves in the daily grind and focus only on the management part of their roles. However, part of being a great manager/leader is to move your employees forward. Being honest and transparent with them will gain you their trust and respect. Being able to adapt and open to new ideas will make your employees feel free to discuss their ideas. As the leader, it's your responsibility to set the tone for the credit union’s environment. If you want a culture of happy, passionate employees, you need to be the leader they look up to, trust, and aspire to be like. 

What do you stand to accomplish?

  • Increased production
  • Increased income driven sales
  • Happier members (remember, attitudes are contagious)
  • Less turnover (decreased new hire training expenses)
  • Less absenteeism
  • More innovation and ideas

The choice is yours. “The strength of any organization is a direct result of the strength of its leaders. Weak leaders equal weak organizations. Strong leaders equal strong organizations. Everything rises and falls on leadership.” ~ John Maxwell

Can you think of any other ways credit unions can improve employee satisfaction without increasing their expenses?