The CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council's Award Program recognizes and honors credit unions that exemplify excellence in the human resources and training disciplines and serves to promote credit union philosophies through people leadership.

The distinction is reserved exclusively for the credit union HR & Organizational Development elite. Those who in all aspects of their chosen profession, consistently excel for the benefit of their credit union, uphold the standards of the HR & Organizational Development professional ethics and contribute to the credit union movement.

2018 Award Recipients

Best of Show

Best of Show:  Royal Credit Union, Eau Claire, WI, for their Exploring Leadership program. While Royal Credit Union has a strong leadership program for existing leaders, they recognized a need for developing future leaders internally. Since internal candidates did not have a way to acquire leadership training, many open leadership positions were filled by candidates from outside of the company, or were internal candidates who were selected because they were the best individual contributor in their department, but not necessarily based on their demonstration of leadership competencies. This resulted in an environment where many team members felt that there was no future for them within Royal if they wanted to move up in the company and contributed to a disruption of business continuity if a leader left unexpectedly due to a lack of ready replacements. This need led to the creation of their Exploring Leadership program. The objectives of the program are to build a curriculum to strengthen their bench of potential leaders within the organization, increase the leadership readiness of internal candidates for open leadership positions, and provide them with the tools necessary to make a successful early transition to a new leadership role. Royal’s Exploring Leadership program utilizes a holistic, innovative approach to leadership development. It is designed specifically for the audience, consisting of Royal team members who have the aspiration and potential to become leaders within 1-3 years, but have very little or no leadership experience. Priority is given to those who are on a succession bench, aligning Royal’s leadership development with its talent review process. This multi-faceted approach blends a variety of instructional methods: formal classroom, formal and informal mentoring, expert and peer coaching, experiential methodology, reading, presenting to and teaching others, and hands-on application. This helps to ensure the program addresses individual learning styles/preferences and engages the learners throughout the entire 2-year program. The future of Exploring Leadership looks bright. The program’s participants, their leaders, and the organization have seen positive benefits from the outcomes of this program. Due to its success, demand for the program continues to grow.

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Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement (Assets Less than $499M):  Heartland Credit Union, Hutchinson, KS, for their Cultivating Culture – It’s the Heartland Way! program. Defining the Heartland Culture was top priority for CEO Dan Springer when he took over in late 2016. The team focused on turnover, employee engagement  and member loyalty. They began an initiative to define and celebrate culture by exploring what makes up Heartland’s “Special Sauce”. Thru several channels they worked with their entire staff to write and re-write their vision statement and values. Once created, they developed a “Culture Book” which describes the Heartland Way. In addition, they gave swag bags that included swag that can be worn to tout the Heartland Way. Many other initiatives have grown out of the culture work and it is completely embedded in all that they do. After the year long process,  turnover, employee engagement and member loyalty metrics were all ahead of goal. Heartland is poised for continued success in 2018 and beyond. A strong, well-defined culture remains a top priority in Heartland’s new 5-year strategic plan. From investing in more employee development opportunities to supporting communities to just having fun, Heartland wants to shine for everyone it serves.

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Employee Engagement (Assets $500M-$1B):  iQ Credit Union, Vancouver, WA, for their "We" and Community! program. On the heels of some significant growth, change and a new CEO, iQ was determined to set themselves apart from all other financial institutions in their area. They realized the best way to set themselves apart was through employee involvement. Knowing that everyone has their own interest and ability to participate in community involvement they developed a multi-faceted approach. With the focus on two things, bringing employees together and taking a community first approach. The Community Time Off Program was created allowing employees a paid day off to participant in charities that are meaningful to them. The team at iQ volunteered over 575 hours in the first year. In addition, the team sponsored a major run cheering on the runners and handing out water. They raised money thru Spirit Week (Yup just like in school) and raised $50k for the children’s hospital, and they created a partnership with the local news station called Good things happen. They hop on their plaid truck and purchase coffee, ice cream, donuts, lunches, and give them out for free in the community. Their employees and members love what they are doing through these community involvement efforts. Many have said there’s a positive vibe that you just can’t describe in words, but it can be felt. While it might be difficult to articulate, the results are telling. In 2017, iQ was the highest-ranked financial institution in the mid-sized category for the Oregonian Top 100 Employers for the second year in a row!  And overall turnover decreased an astounding 6% in 2017!

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Employee Engagement (Assets More than $1B):  MSU Federal Credit Union, East Lansing, MI, for MSUFCU Connect. At MSUFCU, they wanted to create a transparent and inviting culture. They chose several different methods to share information. They created the Loop, a monthly newsletter and website. The CEO has a blog on the employee intranet where she answers questions from the employees. A lot of the questions that are brought forth from the employees have sparked changes in the environment and culture. They additionally have All Employee Meetings and CU View TVs located throughout the buildings to communicate important information to employees. In addition, they have an interactive feature via their intranet that works like Facebook and connects employees together where they are able to share their milestones and learn more about their families.  At MSUFCU, they give the reason why behind decisions and keep employees informed on all decisions that are made. The knowledge and passion of the team is what makes MSUFCU such a great place to work and communication is essential in that relationship.

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Innovative Staff Development

Innovative Staff Development (Assets $500M - $1B):  Verity Credit Union, Seattle, WA, for their Verity University program. As Verity looks to grow as a credit union, ensuring they develop and keep top talent is paramount to their success. By developing staff internally, Verity can promote from within, create talent benches, and build out a succession plan, all necessary components to grow. A total revamp of the Verity University was at the forefront of the teams mind. The new program focuses on four specific areas of learning: Learning Foundations for Verity, Core Interpersonal Competencies, Job-Role Competencies and a final experiential piece. By focusing first on the structural changes to the program, they were able to create a blank major template. This provided guidelines and organization for various departments to create new majors or rework the current majors within the framework of the updated program, with a goal of consistency and clarity around what, precisely, is expected. This also ensures each major contains the same level and quality of work, which helped eliminate the feedback that certain majors seemed less intensive or more intensive than others. These templates also help them with future organizational changes as they are able to produce new majors more quickly as new departments and functional areas continue to emerge. In 2017, they graduated the most students in any year and have several trending towards graduation in 2018. Also, Internal promotions increased 10%.

Innovative Staff Development (Assets More than $1B): Clearview Federal Credit Union, Moon Township, PA, for their Management Development program. Clearview was experiencing tremendous growth and expansion of their branches. Although their Assistant Branch Managers and Supervisors expressed interest in advancing into branch manager opportunities when they became available, at times they fell just short in skills and experience as compared to those outside candidates interviewed who had previous or current branch manager experience. So they developed The Branch Manager Development Program, which would allow them to be more proactive in helping interested and qualified internal candidates increase their knowledge and gain more branch and management experience. This program was designed to help internal candidates stand out and compete with outside candidates already working in a branch manager role. The program included the four Training Tracks consisting of 38 courses and many learning objectives to develop necessary competencies for the branch manager role. They additionally redesigned their Manager Development Program to make it less specific to branch managers and add learning objectives appropriate for all managers. They celebrated 9 promotions among the group of 11 participants throughout the 12 month program.

Management Practices

Management Practices (Assets More than $1B):  KeyPoint Credit Union, Santa Clara, CA, for their Tackling Employee Student Loan Debt program. Attracting and retaining talent in the Silicon Valley is a challenge. Aside from being in one of the most expensive areas to live, the battle for talent with companies like Google, Apple, Netflix, and more is a bit of a challenge. Keypoint does already offer some creative benefits in place like a Sabbatical Program, but they were finding that they needed to help offset the high cost of living. The goal – to improve the financial lives of their current staff as well as develop new programs to help attract new candidates. They expanded their tuition reimbursement program to include student loan reimbursement as well. They found that there were more employees who were already carrying the burden of student loan payments than those currently in school who were paying tuition. They didn’t want to just offer the opportunity for employees to take out smaller interest loans (though that is an option as well). They wanted to help them get rid of student loans and increase their take home pay. For each employee with student loans, the credit union will reimburse up to $5,250 per calendar year (based on tenure) and up to $25,000 per employee for a lifetime benefit. For 2017, the credit union reimbursed over $28,000 to employees. That is direct cash that the employees saved that they can use for other purposes such as month to month living expenses. The addition of student loan reimbursement has been well received and also assists when talking with potential candidates about the value of working at KeyPoint. There is a good reason they received some “top workplace” awards and one of those is because they are actively trying to find ways to enhance the financial aspect of their employees lives.

Archive of Past Winners