Employee Program Helps BFCU To SOAR

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Many credit union talk about not being "order-takers." Others say they want to create dynamic workplaces where employees can build rewarding careers. Still others seek to truly meet member needs.

Bayer FCU believes it has done all three through a program that seeks to exceed the expectations of both its members and employees. BFCU COO Christine Martin told The Credit Union Journal's Best Practices conference that the credit union believed that satisfied members would grow the business through deeper relationships, while satisfied employees would better serve the membership through a rewarding career at Bayer FCU.

"We have things the member needs and if we don't tell them, they won't know," Martin said. But first, employees have to know what's available to members and why BFCU's services are beneficial.

Seeking to become a provider of "financial life" for members and not just "order takers," BFCU has implemented a program it calls "Dare to SOAR," which stands for Successful Orientation Achieves Rewards." That program strives to indoctrinate new employees from day one through an extensive array of formal employee education, mentoring, various welcome aboard messages and gifts, all leading up to a 90-day evaluation. The credit union uses the ServiStar Administrative Program, which includes coaching, training, surveys and ongoing facilitation. To ensure all employees understand the CU's commitment, the senior management team visits all branches on a regular basis.

New employees receive a benefits package that is sent to the employee's home, and the credit union sends e-mails to all staff introducing the new hire who is presented with a welcome box full of stationery, clothing and office products with the BFCU's "Dare to SOAR" logo. To ease new hires into their jobs and offer peace of mind, Bayer created a Buddy Program that assigns a long-term employee as a mentor, an issue that was the subject of numerous questions from attendees.

As part of a rigorous application process, Martin said BFCU human resource interviewers make a special effort to identify front-line staff who will fit into a sales culture and know what the credit union is looking for. "They're going to be expected to ask members if they need products and services," she said.

After hiring, new employees are exposed to educational options, including the ability to earn an Associates degree, Bachelor's degree and even a Masters. Pay increases come with the additional education.

"Are we overdoing it?" she asked the audience. "When people get stuff like this it puts them at ease. I think we create a level of comfort. You can't just throw them out there."

The objective, said Martin, is to "consistently produce 'Super Service Providers' who feel their job is to improve each member's financial life, rather than just to process the request given."

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