CU Uses Social Media to Bring Staff Together

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PENSACOLA, Fla.-It's not hard making friends at Pen Air FCU-distance, departments and job levels don't get in the way of an internal social networking site the credit union says has brought staff much closer together, boosting morale and productivity.

"The Hangar" social networking site is the "Facebook of Pen Air," according to EVP/CFO David Tuyo, who has "friended" 287 of the CU's 296 employees. "I am still working to friend our newest hires. We have virtually 100% of our employees participating in The Hangar."

The name of the site is an obvious reference to the credit union's field of membership.

Tuyo said the website has boosted employee morale ever since it was introduced in August 2009, contributing to Pen Air's steady growth in a Sand State economy made significantly worse by the BP Gulf oil spill.

"We have 16 branches covering two states (Alabama). We are doing more with less and employees are moving a mile a minute," said Tuyo. "A lot of times people don't get the opportunity to know each other. The Hangar gives employees the chance to get acquainted whenever they have five to 10 minutes of downtime."

The Hangar has established a much greater sense of community within the $1.1-billion CU following a period in which many tenured employees felt too much distance was being created between branches and departments. The Hangar also plays a key role in a lofty objective of the credit union, Tuyo explained. "We want to become the No. 1 place in the world to work. I know that is an outlandish idea, but we like big ideas."

To become a great place to work, Tuyo said it takes happy employees who are productive and great centralized communication. "These things contribute a great deal to lowering employee stress levels."

The Hangar is simple to use, functioning much like Facebook-employees can load pictures, get to know each other, and learn a great deal about what is happening in the credit union. The Hangar includes employee and credit union success stories, a suggestion box, and blogs run by marketing. SocialGo is the site's platform.

Getting Back In Touch

Since The Hangar is popular, the credit union uses it to alert employees about important company matters or events. But Tuyo said it does not take the place of the organization's intranet, which houses all of Pen Air's forms, files, and information. The Hangar is managed by a marketing team member who picked up the duty, which includes monitoring postings to make sure they are not inappropriate. "We never have had to take anything down yet," noted Tuyo.

"Our organization has grown so quickly over the last 10 years that people felt they were losing touch with each other," explained Tuyo. "The Hanger has brought people back together. It can't do much about the distance, but it can build closer relationships."

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