In an effort to engage and inspire staff, Unity One CU has rolled out a new program called “Walk the Talk.” Erayne Gee Hill, assistant vice president of Community and Public Relations for the Fort Worth-based credit union shares details on the program with Leaguer readers.
Question; Can you explain what is Walk the Talk?
Hill: Walk the Talk at Unity One is our credit union's effort to nurture the internal culture and increase employee engagement. It is a three-year strategy that we hope will grow roots.
Question: What is the goal of this initiative?
Hill: The goal of Walk the Talk is to recruit, retain and recognize valued behavior that, we feel, will positively affect coworker and member relationships.
Question: Why did the credit union feel it necessary to have this type of program?
Hill: Often organizations and companies spend tons of time and resources externally but fail to address or recognize internal triumphs or challenges. This may sound cliché, but no house can stand without a solid foundation. It must be properly maintained. This is especially relevant to credit unions that place member service as a priority. When our staff is knowledgeable, confident, positive and responsive, the member experience is elevated. And, member satisfaction directly impacts the bottom line.
Question: I know it's a very new program for the credit union, but have you already started to see an improvement in internal communications?
Hill: Yes, we launched the beginnings of Walk the Talk the second week in July; however, we have seen lots of activity with our everyday recognition initiative--our Walkie program. At any time, employees can give each other a pat on the back when they see behavior that is "on brand." They simply submit a Walkie using a customized landing page. A Walkie is equivalent to a dollar, and they can be redeemed for Lands End logo wear or accessories, for right now. We hope to expand rewards as the program matures. We have had 40 submissions so far, which can be attributed to the program's novelty, but we are hopeful that the trend will continue.
We also redesigned our employee newsletter to be brand consistent and engaging.
Question: How has staff responded to it?
Hill: Staff has had buy-in from the beginning. In preparation for the campaign, lots of research and feedback were considered -- the good and the bad. In essence, Walk the Talk is really an employee project--it is a reflection of the group's needs and wants. Next month, a Task Force will be formed consisting of brand champions. This group will meet regularly and make decisions regarding culture for the future. Their first project is to reevaluate the dress code.
Question: Walk the Talk is an internal program, but what kind of impact do you feel this will have on the membership?
Hill: Training and communication components are definitely in the Walk the Talk campaign. For example, we have scheduled regular staff roundtables to reinforce product and service offerings, plus town halls and video conferences with the CEO are in the works. We, with no doubt, know that the success of Walk the Talk will have a direct correlation with quality member service. Confidence or self-assurance is one of our core values, and one way for that to happen is to be knowledgeable. We hope that by changing the format of our training and internal interaction, we can address different types of learners.
Question: What tips can you offer other credit unions to help improve internal communications?
Hill: I mentioned a few earlier, but regular town halls (in person and video), staff training roundtables, employee newsletters and our intranet will play large roles in keeping all staff connected. Unity One CU was selected as a Texas Best Place to Work in 2012 and 2013, and we are aiming for 2014 and beyond.