COVID-19 continues to disrupt and transform the workplace. The impact on employees is serious because it concerns member relations, expectations and the culture of an internal organization. After more than a year of working remotely, many of the changes COVID-19 brings will become permanent. Central business districts are gearing up to reduce the office population as a significant portion of employees continue to work remotely.
CEOs focus on how to maintain and manage an efficient and healthy culture when the workplace undergoes such dramatic change. Culture starts at the top, where leaders design and manage it. The leaders are the engineers of culture. They make sure the organization has the right structures to support the productive behaviors of employees. In addition, they must become champions of culture through their role model and relentless communication.
Smart credit union leaders understand that member satisfaction is directly related to employee safety and engagement. Many are looking to reconfigure the culture to maintain and strengthen engagement with a disbursed workforce. Employee engagement and therefore member satisfaction is essential in such a competitive financial services landscape. These days, a person’s perspective on an organization seems to be as good as their last interaction, whether in person or digitally.
The IBM Institute for Business Value has released data focused on employee and consumer expectations. These data indicate a dramatic shift in expectations. For example, to ensure a sustainable future, 54% of consumers are now willing to pay a premium for sustainable or environmentally friendly brands. Recruiting workers will be a critical differentiator going forward. Remarkably, 48% of respondents to this current survey indicated that potential employees will take less pay to work for an environmentally friendly organization. To punctuate the profound impact the pandemic has had on all of us, 93% of respondents said the pandemic has increased their focus on the critical nature of environmental sustainability.
Larger credit unions have abundant resources to invest in people and technology. They can invest in enhanced workforce development, which complements targeted use of artificial intelligence and massive attention to cybersecurity. Likewise, smart credit union leaders are focused on providing these tools to give their employees everything they need to serve members in an unprecedented environment. They manage changes in the way employees approach work, create new management techniques, use improved technology, and improve the capabilities of managers and staff.
This disrupted environment requires strategies that combine technology with employee learning and development. Both are necessary to engage employees and empower them to serve members and communities. More tech-savvy organizations have integrated the strengths of technology and people, and most importantly, they outperform their less tech-savvy counterparts. Technology is more than just a tool for them. It offers forward-looking opportunities to develop new relationships with secure technology platforms that reflect members’ 24/7 access needs.
Making a major investment in people and technology to “delight” members is no small feat and no organization can do it all. Leadership should focus on core internal skills and rely on outside organizations for other skills and needs. IBM reported that for outperformers, expertise exists in an ecosystem that plays on strengths, using internal capabilities and external companies that provide the additional expertise needed. Advanced technological capabilities can solve cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and other hardware and software issues. Likewise, managers are looking for external expertise to support them in the design and management of organizational culture in this fluid environment.
External experts can support leadership by ensuring that the culture of the organization has the right structures and procedures to support the productive behaviors of employees. What is more difficult to manage, however, and where external partners can particularly help, is understanding how the pandemic is changing the dynamics of the informal networks and unwritten rules that form the basis of an organizational culture. A workforce that continues to work remotely must always feel empowered to serve the member, and all aspects of the culture must work together to achieve this.
Whether resources are internal or external, all ecosystem entities must lead with purpose and values. Indeed, for IBM’s outperformers, a culture based on the values of ethics and integrity engages employees and external partners to deliver innovative business solutions, stronger member relationships, and efficiency and resilience. improved in these uncertain times.
Stuart R. Levine is President and CEO of Stuart Levine & Associates LLC in Miami Beach, Florida.