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Northeast Arkansas FCU HR Manager Shares Insight on Improving Productivity in the Workplace
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:00 AM

A new CareerBuilder study identified the top 10 productivity killers at work. Cell phone/testing, gossip, the Internet and social media topped their list. According to Cathy Hilfiker, HR manager with Northeast Arkansas FCU, employee productivity is a concern for many employers. Fortunately, she says, there are measures employers can take to combat the problem.

“Low productivity in the workplace has a lot to do with the environment,” says Hilfiker. “At Northeast Arkansas FCU, we have found that when our staff is happy and engaged, they are more productive.”

Hilfiker shares insight with Leaguer readers on improving productivity in the workplace:

  • Foster teamwork. “We have a culture of service. And when a staff person is interacting with a member, we want them to focus 100 percent of their attention on that member,” says Hilfiker. “If an employee has downtime, we encourage them to support another department. A teller, for example, might go help the lending team with filing. This promotes teamwork, as well as cross training.” 
  • Train your staff. Hilfiker says employees need to feel that their jobs have value and that what they do is contributing to the overall strategic goals of the organization. On the second Thursday of every month, Northeast Arkansas FCU holds a staff meeting where employees have an opportunity to hear from the CEO and department heads. Additionally, once a month, the credit union holds a staff training session in the morning and the afternoon, so that all employees are able to take advantage of it. Hilfiker says the credit union also encourages staff to take advantage of training programs outside of the credit union.
    “I find that most employees want to learn and grow their skillsets, and our staff of 40 appreciates that we invest in their training and development,” she notes. “A well-trained staff means better service to our members.” 
  • Coach. Performance reviews are important and necessary, but don’t forget about coaching. Performance reviews are just that, a review of an employee’s performance. Coaching, Hilfiker says, is an opportunity for a manager to offer employees constructive feedback to help motivate and enhance their performance. 
  • Accountability. Hilfiker believes that all employees should be held accountable for their actions and decisions.
    “We are fortunate in that our staff doesn’t really play the blame game,” says Hilfiker. “Our employees take ownership of what they do. And because we foster teamwork, offer training and coaching, our staff understands that they are part of something bigger than the title they hold at the credit union. Our staff takes pride in what they do and that is reflected in the level of professionalism they show.”
  • Micromanagement is a productivity killer. “There is a big difference between managing and micromanaging,” notes Hilfiker. “As a manager, you certainly have to oversee and follow up with your employees, but you also have to respect and trust your employees to be the experts that they are.”
  • Encourage, motivate, reward, and recognize. “So many times we get busy and forget tell employees how much we appreciate them,” suggests Hilfiker. “Believe me, a ‘hey, great job’ goes a long way in making employees feel appreciated.”

Hilfiker says at Northeast Arkansas FCU they will sometimes treat staff to a Sonic drink, and other times, they’ll offer kudos for a job well done. Once a year, they hold an awards banquet for all staff, and staff can bring a guest.

“It’s not about how big or small your recognition program is," she says. "It’s about acknowledging staff for what they do to help your credit union be successful.”