From John: What Top Talent Wants

shoes on pavement near star in spotlight
John Pembroke Photo
Late President/CEO

3 minutes

People in high demand seek great compensation plus flexible work, wellness options and opportunities to learn.

In this time of continued pandemic uncertainty, credit unions have shown they are willing to pay to have top talent leading their organizations.

I know this because our annual survey shows that executive pay went up 3% to 7%, depending on the position, even as the economy struggled.

And offering great pay is a great start.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that the right mindset for attracting and retaining top talent must include more than just salary and benefits. A great compensation package today is likely to also include a plan for flexible work and wellness, plus development opportunities.

Flexible Work and Talent Development

Scott Hackworth, CPA, is president of Industry Insight, our partner in doing the CUES Executive Compensation Survey. In a recent episode of the CUES Podcast, Hackworth says that the power of your executives, employees and potential new hires to negotiate custom work arrangements has gone up significantly during the pandemic.

He says in the show that many people now feel empowered to say things like, “Hey, you know what? I’ve been working from home five days a week. I think I can still work from home three days a week …. Can we make that work? Can we do this flexibility?”

Staff may also negotiate for a wellness component in their compensation packages, Hackworth says. Flexible work, wellness options and other creative work arrangements “are all parts of that discussion that … would have been laughed at five years ago,” he adds. Now they are vital.

In my experience, talent development is also a critical tool for attracting and retaining top talent. We hear a lot about this from our members, both executives and employees. It’s not a surprise because we all know that when we are learning we are engaged.

Putting Your Expanded Mindset Into Action

So, board members, when you next consider CEO compensation—and executives and managers, when you next consider staff salaries and benefits—be sure you start with great data from reliable sources. Then look hard at the competitive marketplace for the talent you desire and consider how you should be paying to successfully compete for that talent. Finally, adjust as needed. CUES recently did this with compensation across our organization.

But again, offering competitive pay and benefits is just the ante. CUES was a pioneer of flexible work and has offered telecommuting options to all employees since the early 1990s. Long before the pandemic, many CUES employees were working from home for some or all of their hours. Now, returning to the office is completely up to the individual and, as a result, we’re reducing our office footprint.

Additionally, as an organization dedicated 100% to talent development, we keep adding to the learning opportunities available to our team members.

Are you ready to expand your mindset about getting and keeping top talent? Our upcoming Virtual Classroom course, “How to Bolster Retention Using Effective Leadership Development Plans,” which is free and exclusive to CUES members, may provide additional ideas.  When you get serious about talent, you will position your credit union for success, even in these uncertain times.

Since joining CUES in March 2013, John Pembroke has played a leadership role in developing and launching a new direction in CUES’ strategy, branding and culture. Under his guidance, CUES has revamped its membership structure and launched new institutes. Additionally, CUES has expanded its market further into Canada and the Caribbean. Pembroke’s experience includes 25 years in financial services, marketing and e-commerce. He also has served as chief marketing officer at PSCU Financial Services, St. Petersburg, Florida. Pembroke holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Marketing and Policy Studies from the Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago.

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