The Great Resignation Is Now the Great Renegotiation

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Executive Benefits Specialist
Cuna Mutual Group Executive Benefit Solutions

3 minutes

How credit unions can retain loyal employees and attract top talent

The Great Resignation—the name given to the enormous wave of workers quitting their jobs over the past three years—is still going. Don’t let the lack of media attention around the topic convince you that this trend is over; it just keeps getting a new name.

Today, the Great Resignation is no longer about resignation. It’s about employees taking back power from employers. Until employees feel they have come to an agreement on work-life balance, the renamed “Great Renegotiation” will continue.

On average, 4 million Americans quit their jobs each month in 2022, with a projected 40% of employees thinking about leaving their jobs within the next three to six months, according to Zippia.

Those in the credit union industry who have felt the impact of this trend are trying to figure out how to retain and attract employees. The best way to start is to understand why employees choose to leave in the first place. If credit unions prioritize listening to what employees want, maybe this trend can finally be put to rest.

Why Are Americans Leaving Their Jobs?

During the pandemic, employees’ reasons for leaving a job revolved around four main issues.

  1. Affordable childcare. This problem was exacerbated by unpredictable school closings during the pandemic.
  2. Early retirement. Older sometimes immunocompromised employees faced a higher risk regarding COVID-19, which may have pushed these individuals to retire early and permanently leave the workforce.
  3. Increased wages. Americans found that not all companies or industries were immune to the impact of COVID-19, which sparked the need to earn and save more in case they were laid off.
  4. A competitive job market. Employers’ desperation caused them to offer more competitive salaries and benefits, pushing employees to quit lower-paying jobs for something better.

Since the height of the pandemic, motivations for resigning have changed, but not much. For credit unions specifically, the top motives are pay, job titles, flexibility and increased costs of living.

  • Stagnant wages. Today, many Americans are still struggling with lower-paying jobs and know there are opportunities out there that pay better.
  • Professional growth. While the desire for more money is high, so is the ambition to grow professionally. Stagnant professional growth may spark employees to search for jobs that help them advance their careers.
  • Flexible working arrangements. Flexibility may be remote work or flexible working hours that better fit an employee's lifestyle needs.
  • The increased cost of living. Over the past three years, Americans saw the housing market skyrocket and inflation push up the costs of goods. With remote work options, many found that they could move to more affordable cities or states.

So far, the Great Renegotiation has impacted credit unions across the country significantly. Credit unions are experiencing branch staff shortages resulting in modified hours, increased use of interactive teller machines and challenges to offering personalized service, which could result in losing members.

How Can Credit Unions Respond to The Great Renegotiation?

Credit unions need to understand what matters to their employees and what they want. Then they need to act intentionally on this feedback and make changes that benefit both parties.

Now, we understand that not all credit unions can increase salaries and benefits or transition their teams to remote work. So, what can credit unions do to retain employees and attract top talent? The best answer is to get creative. Here are some suggestions on how credit unions can get creative to help retain employees.

  • Title changes. Focus on changing roles and structures to allow creative arrangements with titles.
  • Employee engagement. To create meaningful engagement from employees, prioritize their communities. Creating a more inclusive and diverse organization that reflects the members you serve may positively influence how comfortable and satisfied employees feel at work.
  • Office environment. Consider assessing employees’ office environment, and whether it meets their needs to feel comfortable and productive at work.
  • Flexibility. Credit unions may want to address the elephant in the room: more flexibility. Flexible hours or work environments aren’t always realistic, which is where creative solutions come into play.

Changes to employees’ working environments may have the greatest immediate impact on employee satisfaction. Making the office environment more appealing and fulfilling is a great place to start, but also consider being flexible with working hours. Employees have lives outside the office. Employers need to be flexible and understand that their employees have commitments that don’t fit in with the typical 9-to-5 working hours.

We understand flexible scheduling can be difficult given the nature of how credit unions operate, but it doesn’t have to be a dramatic change. Flexible hours can be as simple as allowing longer lunch breaks or giving employees the opportunity to swap workdays if they need to.

How Can Credit Unions Avoid Leadership Disruption?

Employers also need to understand that employees’ positions will influence their reasons for leaving or staying. Executive positions are not immune to the Great Renegotiation. Credit unions should consider adopting executive benefits that focus on mobility and loyalty to retain leadership, such as CUNA Mutual Group’s executive benefits program, which can be customized to your organization.

Ultimately, employers’ lack of flexibility is how the Great Resignation started. Employees wanted to take back their freedom and create a work-life balance for themselves that avoided burnout or feeling undervalued. As this trend continues, so will our coverage of the topic, including actionable steps to better understand and meet your employees' needs with creative solutions.

Danielle Scodellaro is an executive benefits specialist for CUESolutions provider CUNA Mutual Group.

The views presented here are the author’s alone and not necessarily representative of opinions held by CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. or any affiliated entity.

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