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4 Ways to Reduce Turnover in Your Bank or Credit Union Staff

Justin Smorawske

So your financial institution has concerns about employee retention—banks and credit unions can see a great deal of turnover for a variety of reasons, but most of them are entirely avoidable. With the right involvement and steps taken from leadership, turnover can be reduced significantly.

Here are four simple ways you can stem the tide of employee churn in a bank or credit union.

Get Involved

The larger your organization gets, the more it takes on a life and culture of its own. That's why bank and credit union leadership would do well to stay on the pulse of employee happenings, from team outings to traditions to extracurricular interests and activities. When C-suite and managerial team members spend too much time in their offices and not enough time in the trenches, it creates a divide that can lead to resentment (or retention problems). Give your FI team the flexibility to build this camaraderie and make sure that you partake in it. Don't make yourself scarce, unless you want to see eventual turnover.

Invite Variety

What's one of the biggest calling cards of branch staffs at banks and credit unions the world over? They tend to do the same series of tasks, functions and routines on a daily basis. (And this isn't necessarily relegated to just the finance industry.) But variety is the spice of life, so they say, and your brick-and-mortar location teams can benefit from it. Rather than insisting on tellers standing behind the counter managing deposits, withdrawals, account openings and the like day in and day out, provide opportunities to change up the setting and circumstances on occasion. Offer up a concierge position that is occupied on a rotating basis (a.k.a., a teller who floats around the lobby, offering beverages and one-to-one account-management service to arrivals with a tablet in hand). Or consider giving service reps the opportunity to learn new specialties and vary up their daily functions—whether it's a teller learning the ropes of walking through a mortgage or a personal loan officer trying his or her hand at the drive-up lane. Don't force it—some people enjoy routine. But present opportunities—it'll help retention in the long run.

Do "With," Not "To"

One common misstep in management at banks and credit unions is to assume seemingly minor changes to day-to-day operations will be met with little to no pushback. In fact, many leadership teams might decree a change of routine and implement it without any sort of input process from the team members who are directly affected by it. A little bit of involvement can go a long way—focus group the affected parties before considering undergoing a major operational change. The more you can make your frontline staff feel a part of their own destinies, the more buy-in you'll receive (and the better retention will result). It's a simple step that can be easy to forget. From mergers to hours changes to account-opening process streamlining, your staff not only value feeling valued—they also might point out flaws or inefficiencies in your plans before you implement them.

Communicate Top-Down

One major complaint amongst employees from entry-level to management is a lack of transparency from the top-tier, C-suite team. This is evident in banks and credit unions, as well. In fact, a study from Novarete found that 46 percent of those surveyed intend to seek new employment due to a lack of communication from company leadership—the same study found that trust and confidence in a company's mission and management team directly correlates with communicative engagement. If you're in a leadership position, get to know your team members on one-to-one levels, and get in front of them often. Depending on the size of your organization, this may mean regular "townhall"-style forums to present updates, goals, wins, opportunities and an open door for questions and ideas. No matter how big your banking system gets, you should never lack for openness.

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