Why 1 Mich. CU Was Named A Good Workplace

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When E & A Credit Union received honorable mention in the area's Thomas Edison Business Award competition last year, the staff used it as a motivator to make some positive changes.

They started with a satisfaction survey that allowed employees to rate their working conditions and make suggestions for improvement. Those suggestions were then used to "fine tune the existing system," said Andrea Serra, E&ACU Foundation Development Facilitator for human resources and marketing.

One year later, the CU with $150 million in assets and 35,000 members from a variety of SEGs, accepted the top honor by the Port Huron Hospital Foundation for "creating an exceptional working environment and encouraging individual work life balance."

Competing against other large, non-profit businesses in the Blue Water Area of Michigan's northern region, E&ACU received the highest total marks in human resource management, employee involvement and partnering, education and training, employee performance and recognition and employee well being and morale.

"Within each of those categories, E&A demonstrated the different programs in place that help us sustain a quality work force," Serra said. "We show that people genuinely care about their team members with their own departments and cross functionally. It's a very close-knit group."

She said among the things that impressed a panel of judges (particularly during their onsite visits to the CU) was seeing employees step in to help wherever they were needed. And, they particularly liked the fact that employees have many opportunities to experiment with the different jobs to find their niche and that, once there, they have a lot of say in how the job gets done.

"The management style here is not traditional," Serra said. "We empower employees at all levels by asking them how they feel their job should be done."

Executive staff excluded, staff also hold titles that they think are more descriptive and less authoritative.

For example, front line staff are called relationship navigators. Managers are facilitators and senior managers are senior relationship navigators. Instead of branches, the CU has satellites.

And no one is out of reach, Serra said, noting that CEO Janice Rose, takes 10 employees to breakfast each month to hear their ideas and share hers.

When Rose accepted the award, she called it an incredible honor that could not have been accomplished without the staff and supportive members that surrounds here

"Without all of you, there would be no E&A Credit Union."

Serra said a site map of the company's employees and their duties would show clusters of people who work together rather than definitive lines and boxes.

"It would show the freedom that we all have within our environment."

In addition, E&ACU offers what judges felt was a competitive total benefits package that includes salary, benefits and intangibles such as incentives and bonuses.

With insurance, for example, employees can choose among several plans the one that best suits their needs. If they want more life insurance and no dental coverage, that's what they get.

Incentives include money, as much as 36 hours of paid time off and weekend trips to places such as Toronto.

Serra said another great benefit for long commuters such as herself-"I commute 50 miles to work each day"-the company provides laptops and other equipment that allows them to work from home. For those who do work in the branches, getting time off to attend their son's soccer game or go to a doctor's appointment is no hassle either.

She also said the CU has ample funding for employee appreciation parties and gifts.

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