Recent News

Converging Job Happiness with Brain Science

Jeffrey J DeWolf
January 28, 2015

Does being in a better mood translate to better performance on the job?

Absolutely, says positive psychology expert Shawn Achor*, CEO of GoodThink, Inc., who posits this view in book, “The Happiness Advantage.”

“If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage,” Achor says in a related video.

“Which is: your brain at positive, performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact we found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed.”

In that same video, Achor briefly references a technique sometimes called “Three Gratitudes.”

In short, it’s an exercise shown to actually “rewire” the brain. The exercise consists of the writing down of three new things one is grateful for, every day for 21 days.

At the end of that time, Achor says the brain “actually retains a pattern of scanning the world, not for the negative, but for the positive first.”

Can you imagine a workplace where employees came in every day and first wrote down a couple of things that they appreciate about their job, their employer, or even their boss? Can you imagine if every meeting began with someone saying something positive about someone else in the room?

In my current role as the guy responsible for people strategy and culture, I look for every opportunity to remind myself and employees of all the benefits of employment.

We work hard to not only provide a great place to work, but also to remind people frequently of our commitment to them through good compensation, strong benefits, growth opportunities, and a caring culture.

Without an intentional effort to highlight “blessings” like these, they tend to fade into the world of entitlement where they lose their happiness-inducing potency.

In addition, a focus on other core organizational principles like solving problems, resolving issues, communicating openly, making timely decisions, and providing clear direction also result in a healthier, happier work environment for employees.

*  Shawn Achor will be speaking on "The Happiness Advantage" at the 2015 CFO Council Conference in New Orleans, May 18th

JEFFREY J. DeWOLF is senior vice president of talent & culture at $1.9 billion asset CommunityAmerica Credit Union in Kansas City, Mo.

(Via Credit Union Magazine)

Avoid Workplace Turnover by Creating Emotional Ownership

John M. Floyd & Associates
January 26, 2015

In today’s competitive environment, the success of a financial institution is due, in large part, to the expertise and skill of its employees. And just as institutions constantly vie to capture the most profitable account holder relationships, astute organizations are also constantly looking to recruit the industry’s finest employees to bring new expertise and energy to their workforce.

Employees leave their jobs for many reasons – often due to family or health issues – where employers have little influence over their decisions. But in many cases, the decision to pursue a new employment opportunity is directly related to an ongoing workplace or relationship conflict. Often those conflicts can be resolved if someone in leadership is aware of the situation and sensitive to what losing a valuable employee could cost the institution.

Employee Turnover Is Costly

While the estimates of what employee turnover actually costs an organization vary across industry studies, when a qualified, well-trained individual walks away from an institution, the impact can be felt in the following ways:

Plus, the financial impact of losing an employee can include such things as recruiting and hiring costs, training, and overtime salary required to maintain work function continuity until a replacement can be hired and oriented into a vacant position.

Avoid Turnover by Creating “Emotional Ownership” among Employees

While there are situations where organizations cannot avoid turnover, it is possible to create an environment where employees share a sense of owner-like dedication and loyalty, regardless of their job title or level of responsibility.

Creating a culture where employees feel that their voices are heard and their opinions are valued results in a more cohesive work environment where individuals develop an emotional connection between their daily work tasks and the institution’s overall results.

To create this sense of emotional ownership, managers need to sincerely and objectively listen to all employee ideas and, more importantly, act on the ones that have merit. And by providing on-going communications regarding important, non-confidential institution milestones and challenges to everyone on staff, leaders can create a more cohesive team that is committed to focusing their efforts and expertise for the good of the organization.

Additionally, designating resources for training and mentoring programs can increase the level of employee dedication to the institution and help to build bench strength of potential management and leadership talent for the future. Conversely, when skilled, highly motivated employees don’t feel that they have meaningful, challenging work, they are more likely to look for better situations.

And finally, by showing employees that they are appreciated – through competitive compensation and an occasional pat on the back or verbal thank you – institutions can maintain an environment where the shining stars will have no interest in leaving for opportunities in competing organizations.

This article was provided by John M. Floyd & Associates, a Baytown, Texas-based consulting firm that provides services on earnings enhancement, expense reduction, organizational workflow, executive recruiting, account acquisition programs, and sales and service programs. Visit or call 800-809-2307.


What’s In Store for 2015: A Message from the Council Forum Chair

January 21, 2015

What Can You Expect in the Coming Year?
Advocacy: the Councils will continue to play an impactful advocacy role for credit unions. The Councils are instrumental in keeping our industry informed and members provide key insights to CUNA leadership as they represent credit unions in DC. For example, in 2014, over 500 RBC comment calls came from Lending Council member credit unions.
New Community Tools: Councils Connect and the list serves are being revamped to offer more flexibility and an easier way to connect with other members.
Six Outstanding National Conferences: premier events where 1,500+ credit union leaders connect in-person, along with access to more than 200 solution providers. Plus, we'll offer video and audio of conference content again in 2015, so you can bring dynamic content back to the office to experience again or share.
New Website: the new Councils website will feature a streamlined structure and custom access features to keep you connected like never before.
Resources, Resources, Resources: dozens of new Virtual Roundtables and White Papers, at least $150,000 available in education scholarships, and national recognition for excellence in Awards programs.
CUFX Momentum: the Technology Council continues to see results with (CUFX), a significant and industry-changing initiative.
Movers and Shakers: the six Councils are on pace to exceed 6,400 members in 2015, a record-breaking number of credit union leaders!
The Nussle Report: weekly regulatory updates and keen industry insights from CUNA CEO Jim Nussle delivered to your inbox.

Get Involved!

You benefit from your membership the most when you play an active role!

Questions about your membership
? The Council staff is eager to assist.

We're working diligently to ensure Council membership continues to provide a meaningful, valuable, and relevant experience. I’m glad you’ll be joining us as we drive positive change in 2015, making a difference for your credit union, the movement, and your professional growth.

Best Regards,
Heather Moshier
Chair, CUNA Councils Forum
EVP-Information Technology
San Diego County Credit Union
San Diego, CA

Employment Law Update

Michael Patrick O’Brien
January 19, 2015

The arrival of a new year allows the time and luxury for obtaining some perspective. Where have we been and where are we going? What have we done and what will we be doing? What happened and what might happen? This has been the recent focus of many of the employment law legal updates and commentaries that I regularly read. The contents of these various articles are very interesting, and some of them are summarized below.

 Loud Whistles in 2014

Believe it or not, someone actually kept track of and reported on the top ten whistleblowing and retaliation events of 2014. And no, we are not talking about the plot lines of “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men” or “Downton Abbey.” A couple of these big events involved legal issues, e.g. one court made claims easier for employees and one made them harder (and one made them more difficult for plaintiffs foreign to the USA). Some articles focused on the numbers, e.g. a $3 million dollar verdict here, a $6 million judgment there. One interesting piece discussed how outing (identifying) a whistleblower can be retaliation in and of itself. Others focused on firsts, such as the first claim under the Dodd-Frank financial reform statute or the first US Supreme Court decision under SOX- the Sarbanes Oxley law (this decision ruled that SOX applies to employees of a public company’s private subcontractors). The top development, however, was the award of $30 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to a tipster who led the SEC to a successful enforcement action. Whistleblowing was very popular in 2014, and we likely will hear more (and perhaps louder) whistles in 2015.

 Top Ten Safety Issues gave us the scoop on the workplace problems about which OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) issued the most citations last year. Here they are: (1) fall protection in construction; (2) labeling and communicating about hazardous materials; (3) construction platform planking access and railings; (4) respiratory protection; (5) lockout/tagout hazards, i.e. making sure equipment does not activate when an employee is in harm’s way; (6) safety requirements for operating industrial trucks; (7) electrical wiring issues, e.g. ensuring cords and cables are protected from damage during work; (8) unsafe use of ladders; (9) machine guards; and (10) the standard regarding the marking and guarding of electrical circuits and equipment. Let’s hope for a happy and healthy New Year, with fewer safety problems all around.

 Regulators Then, Regulators Now

There was lots of 2014 action from national agencies that regulate employers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took on severance agreements and also concluded that sexual orientation and gender identity are already largely covered by the protected class of gender. The EEOC also issued a guidance indicating employers have affirmative obligations to accommodate pregnant employees much as they must/do already accommodate disabled employees. The Department of Labor (DOL) started drafting new regulations to make it more difficult for employers to exempt employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and to give same sex married partners more widespread protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). DOL also was busy implementing President Barack Obama’s new executive orders, including one establishing a minimum wage of $10.10 for certain contractors and another barring contractor employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continued to issue worker-friendly rulings on employee rights to discuss working conditions even in non-union settings. This trend is certain to continue in 2015. Congress and the President agree on very little and thus the President is implementing his agenda for employers as best he can without Congressional involvement.

What Was the Number-One Headache for Employers Last Year?

According to one survey and article, the number-one headache for employers last year was lawsuits under FLSA seeking overtime pay. The report predicts that FLSA suits will continue to increase in 2015. The article about the report predicts that there also will be continued litigation for employers (and more headaches thus headaches) regarding these types of issues: independent contractor classification; joint employer liability for claims; breaks; and “aggressive litigation approaches” from agencies such as the EEOC and DOL. The report also predicted increased litigation (and still more headaches) on state laws, including failure to comply with increasing state minimum wage requirements. My advice for 2015 based on this article/report? Keep your Tylenol and employment lawyer close at hand.

Employee Relations—A Lot Going On

One article, from national SHRM, listed the top-ten employee relations articles of 2014, i.e. the best-read of SHRM’s many wonderful offerings about this broad topic. One article focused on workplace romance and another on workplace gossip. Sometimes, the two go together, eh? Two of the top-ten articles dealt with dress code issues but with attention-getting angles. One analyzed an employer’s ban on engagement rings and simultaneous relaxed attitude about tattoos. The other talked of summer wear and included words like “flip flops” and “spaghetti straps” in the headline. Yes, of course, I am going to click on that article. Another top-read article discussed performance reviews without pain. I respectfully ask, is that possible? Other common themes were “bad guy” bosses, detecting “liars” at work and “toxic” personalities at work. Read too much about lying toxic bad guys and you may long for a trust fund and economic independence. Last but not least, a news piece managed to cover convicts, marijuana, and social media all in just one article. No one ever said HR or employment law were boring fields, but wow people, there is a lot going on! What will 2015 bring?

Michael Patrick O'Brien is an employment attorney with Utah law firm of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough ( He also serves as the Legal and Legislative Director for Utah’s Society for Human Resource Management chapter. Contact him at 801-534-7315 or


Part-Time Employees: Smart Play or Added Expense?

Philippe Asselin
January 12, 2015

Recently someone shared with me their teenage son averages over $20 an hour working part time bussing tables at the local BBQ place—and he receives some optional benefit offerings plus half-price food (I hear they even have fried corn nuggets!) Oddly, they are still taking applications even though they pay at that rate. I can meet you there later today . . . PM me . .  .

Does $20 an hour to bus tables sound like a lot of money—or maybe too much money? More than your part time or even full-time employees are making? Perhaps so—but more interesting to me is that they are still hiring in a town with moderate to higher unemployment levels and low overall wages compared to the national averages for financial institutions. (89% of the average to be exact) So is $20/hour actually high enough if they are still looking for more help? Will he quit and go to work at a financial institution for $12 an hour? Maybe after he graduates? Probably not, as this all-star athlete and student maintains the same “show me the money” mantra as many of his peers. It’s great to be at the age of perceived invincibility!

It would seem the best scenario would be to have all full time employees with full benefits, as many companies with a sound compensation philosophy experience lower turnover with full time employees (part time employee turnover is almost three times higher, as noted by the Hay Group Study in an article published by Fortune in September of 2013 titled “How Costco Saves Taxpayers Money.”) Typically the full-time employees are career-minded and seek long-term, stable employment, especially during economic downturns as fear grips their hearts. Often the most marketable employees consider trading up for more compensation and benefits, as they believe and typically can find employment anywhere. If this is true, would all employee turnover be detrimental? Or only when we lose the “playmakers” on the team?

Unfortunately most businesses do not have a constant and consistent rate of work coming in, especially businesses open to the public, as they are at the mercy of those they serve. Technology investments that theoretically increase efficiencies often compound the challenges. This makes the need for part- or peak-time employees paramount to some successful businesses, as the down time for full-time employees can be very costly if they are left to invent work on their own.

Still, some companies are switching part time to full time as the Affordable Healthcare Act shifts thinking of company giants like Wal-Mart, who recently converted 35,000 jobs from part time to full time. Other companies seek to recruit part-time employees to work less than the 30-hour threshold established by the Affordable Healthcare Act in efforts to avoid the rapidly rising cost of benefits. Some teams have challenged stodgy benefit plan offerings to mitigate rate increases often passed on to the employees. The hope is to find plan choices to meet employee needs in a variety of settings, without reducing the quality of healthcare plan offerings.

Many that choose to recruit part time employees share their stories with me, and they all have legitimate concerns. Part-time employees are tough to find, have the highest turnover, aren’t always committed and just wait for a full-time opening. They are too young or inexperienced, harder to train with limited availability, and require additional monitoring to make sure they do not go over the hours (and yet it still sometimes happens). They are always looking for something else if they are in college, or will leave as soon as they graduate. The supervisors don’t like to work around the limited availability of part timers. The list continues to grow, as the challenges with hiring and retaining part time employees continues to increase.

All the concerns are valid and tough to overcome. Have others found a way to make part-timers work for them? The answer is a conditional yes, as those finding success have had to be very creative to make it work, and adjust to a new normal in staffing metrics. The conditions are going to be different for every organization. Population demographics and unemployment rates can make attracting part-time talent more challenging—but not impossible. Some employers have come to the realization that having part-time employees will be more of a challenge and require more effort, but they found the returns on their efforts are deemed worthy. They understand it is just the new way of doing business and have modified their roles to accommodate the extra work involved with part-time employees.

I have seen many successful companies with mostly part-time employees, and with lower turnover than their industry counterparts. Some of these employers chose to pay benefits or higher pay to part-time employees across the board, even though they didn’t have to do so. It was what worked for them, but may not work for everyone.

Others chose to give employees a choice of higher pay and no benefits, or benefits plus pay similar to full-time employees doing the same job. Some companies had full-time employees transition to part time as the pay change was significant enough to persuade them to choose making more in less time, which also worked for the companies in effort to reduce costs and improve service during peak times. This was pivotal in finding the tipping point to recruit and retain part-time employees for those organizations.

I have also seen successful companies with mostly full-time employees. They choose to fill down-time gaps with other duties such as business development, and try to avoid “making up” new and often less efficient or effective work duties in the process. Technology investments have enabled many financial institutions to increase efficiencies, allowing some to choose to develop cross-functional teams in lower volume markets as transactional flow and transactional types begin to change. A majority of financial institutions are noticing transactional declines, as referenced in the recent teller line study from FMSI.

The ultimate measure of costs with this model must also include additional recruiting, training, sales effectiveness, and accuracy as all employees are not always fulfill multiple roles effectively and transition from strengths in one competency to other more complex and extroverted roles like business development and sales or account holder consulting. Moreover, hybrid roles are often sought after by competitors in the market and may increase potential losses in what is typically the largest expenditure for financial institutions.

The challenge always seems to be in determining how the changes will affect their strategic goals, core values, and compensation philosophy. Many may consider part-time employees in a perfunctory fashion, yielding undesirable results. Proper planning and comprehensive understanding of your market can establish the proper foundation for success in any mix of part- to full-time employees.

Philippe Asselin is a compensation and performance management consultant with BalancedComp, a business management consulting firm in Wichita, Kansas that specializes in helping credit unions with salary administration. Reprinted with permission.


Home News Archive