By Jessica Jones
“Attracting and retaining talented employees, especially top-level executives, has always been a challenge for credit unions. But arming yourself with data and knowledge will give you an edge over other institutions that your credit union competes with for the best talent,” says Sarah O’Brien, EVP/Controller of Navy Army Community Credit Union in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Recruiting the best employees available is especially crucial in periods of growth, as Navy Army CCU experienced.
“We’ve been in a huge growth mode since we became a community FOM, growing from a $220 million credit union to a $1.4 billion credit union,” she says. “Now, as a billion-dollar credit union, we need to make absolutely sure we are competitive.”
As her credit union continued to grow, O’Brien found in order to recruit the “cream of the crop” employees, she needed to understand what her credit union was up against. Data became her best tool for estimating acceptable starting salaries.
“We’ve begun recruiting nationally from places like Houston, Florida and Colorado,” O’Brien says. “While the cost of living in our area is lower than some of these other areas, we need to still be in the ballpark. We need to be sure our salary levels are commensurate with what other top institutions across the country are offering.”
Retention is just as key to Navy Army CCU’s success. O’Brien has retained the majority of her employees since she has been at the credit union—a feat made possible by a number of factors, including a positive work atmosphere, but also salaries that match those of competing institutions. She reviews Navy Army CCU’s executive salaries annually, benchmarking them against regional and national data.
“Our president has been with us 23 years, and we recruited our CFO, who has been here for 2 years, from another state, using salary data to offer a highly competitive salary,” O’Brien says.
Maintaining competitive salaries has proved to be a vital strategy in pre-empting head hunters who may target Navy Army CCU employees.
“There are other organizations who have tried to recruit our best employees in the past,” she says. “Anytime you are running a credit union of this size, other organizations will be impressed with your employees’ abilities and will want to recruit them.”
“I have frequently used data to stay competitive, and I will continue to do so,” says O’Brien.
Jessica Jones is a freelance writer.
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By Jessica Jones