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Maximize HR investment with simpler human capital strategy
SAN ANTONIO (4/23/12)--Understanding the overall health and readiness of a credit union's human capital and effectively communicating the value of employee benefits can help attract and retain talent and favorably impact the bottom line, attendees at the CUNA Human Resources/Training and Development Council Conference in San Antonio were told Friday.

CUNA Mutual Group's Mike Roche, employee benefits specialist, discussed the employee benefits concept of "Human Capital Management" and how it can help organizations enjoy a stable, talented and energized work force during the CUNA Human Resources/Training and Development Council Conference in San Antonio Friday. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Mike Roche, employee benefits specialist at CUNA Mutual Group, and Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual human resources process leader, discussed the employee benefits concept of "Human Capital Management" and how it can help organizations enjoy a stable, talented and energized work force.

Human resources leaders in today's competitive marketplace are challenged by hard-to-reach bottom lines, job consolidation, technology changes, health care reform and a shrinking labor pool. Also, employees are often confused or not engaged when making benefits decisions. Roche cited a 2011 AFLAC Workforce Report that stated only 8% of workers strongly agreed they were fully engaged in making benefits decisions.

Simplifying human capital management acknowledges that your employees are not all the same, which forces you to provide them choices, Roche said. "It aids in analyzing work force strengths and vulnerabilities, and identifies opportunities and strategies to proactively manage employees," he added.

Roche suggested offering a good voluntary benefits program coupled with clear communications that articulate the personal benefit they receive. "These efforts will help your credit union attract and retain talent, which directly impacts the bottom line," he said.

Pricer said credit unions should get away from the traditional metric-based approach when analyzing the state of their human capital.

"Human capital is more than just the people in the organization; it includes an individual's ability, behavior, skills and tenure," Pricer explained. "The problem with using metrics to define and measure human capital is it doesn't necessarily create a clear picture of your current human capital state and how you should manipulate it going forward."

Too much time is spent identifying, measuring, and tracking human capital metrics. Instead, Pricer suggested creating a simplified approach to more easily define the strategy and identify needed resources. "This allows you to quickly explain human capital needs to C-level management or the board of directors and where resources should be targeted," he said.

Pricer discussed "heat mapping" as a means to quickly define and explain the state of a credit union's human capital.  Heat maps tell a concise story that can be told with just a few sheets of paper (or slides) instead of thick binders full of metrics.

Heat maps identify strengths and weaknesses within the technical functions of an organization by using a color-coded chart listing the different functional roles against the categories being measured within each role. Those categories should be: subject-matter expertise, capacity, and capability.

Pricer said creating a heat map offers numerous advantages that allow credit unions to: Put in place a succession-type plan at all levels;
  • Understand the overall health and readiness of the organization's human capital;
  • Engage the best employees to drive success;
  • Focus resources appropriately to improve the overall state of the credit union's human capital; and
  • Provide an easy explanation to C-level management and/or board of directors
"By employing a human capital strategy, your credit union can ease the challenges and burdens of tracking day-to-day human capital management and free up staff to pursue other initiatives to increase employee engagement and satisfaction," Pricer said. "Ultimately, this will help attract and retain key individuals."
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