Demonstrating Employee Appreciation Cuts Turnover

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Arsenal Credit Union knows what it takes to keep employees happy-food, gifts and simple thank-yous.

OK, so showing them a good time isn't the only change this $108-million credit union has done in recent years to decrease its turnover rate, but it's sure been fun.

For the third year running, ACU celebrated Employee Appreciation Week, treating its 61 employees to breakfast, lunch, a chance to win one of 65 items that included vacation time, a DVD player, gift certificates to local stores, a digital camera and a television set. There were also surprise visits from managers bearing caramel apples, popcorn, cookies and pretzels.

Lori Crutchley, assistant VP of Human Resources/Administration, said the event was born in 2001 when businesses-including ACU-were experiencing high turnover.

"Ours was at 47%, which was pretty much what other credit unions were experiencing,'' Crutchley said. "There were a lot of good jobs out there.''

Crutchley said staff started looking at the many areas in which the credit union could become more attractive and lower the rate of turnover by letting employees know their work was appreciated.

In addition to improvements in its benefits package that included adding an Employee Assistance Program and more time off, the CU added flex-time and telecommuting to its policies. For non-exempt employees, staff added "life friendly time,'' giving them four hours of time off every quarter. There are occasionally free tickets to sporting events.

In addition, said Ken Moser, VP of Marketing, the company made sure its salary was competitive and continues to do so on a regular basis.

Besides all that, they decided to lighten up the environment to let employees feel good about their work. Administrators served breakfast and took turns visiting each of the five branches to shake hands with their staff.

Since the first Employee Appreciation Week, turnover is down to 11%, Crutchley said, adding that other businesses in the area are experiencing anywhere from 15 to 17% employee turnover.

"It was fun waiting to see what little surprise we would get each day,'' said employee Jeanette Heisler. She added that she appreciated being able to dress casual all week.

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