Helping Employees With This Most Unusual Back-to-School Season

two school girls in masks
By Lori Cauley

4 minutes

Knowing and meeting employees’ needs also assists the credit union with staffing.

Our C-suite began discussing the potential impact that the altered back-to-school plans could have on our organization a couple of months ago and, in the beginning, there were a lot of “what if” scenarios. Getting decisive information from our schools on their plans was tough, as many school systems in our area seesawed on their decisions up to the last minute. So while we waited for final plans from the schools, we decided to get a better understanding of what employees and departments would be most impacted across our credit union. 

We have been utilizing our HR information system, Paycom, to survey employees throughout the pandemic, so it made a lot of sense to turn to that tool for getting more information about the back-to-school issue. (Most of our employees use Paycom on a daily basis, which makes it easy for them. It is also simple for our HR team to use to create, distribute and monitor the surveys.)

We began by asking employees if they had children in school, the ages of their children and the schools those children would be attending. We tracked all of these responses and, as those schools of concern began announcing their official plans, we added that information to our master list. That allowed us to have a clearer picture of the potential impact to our staffing. 

From there, we considered what resources we could provide our employees. It became obvious that there is no “one size fits all” solution. Every family is different and every situation is unique. Again, we found that we needed a little more information from our staff. This time we sent out an all-employee communication explaining our concerns and desire to assist our employees, noting that flexibility and understanding across our credit union would be required to get us through this next phase. We asked all employees with children to fill out a form that walked them through their available options (such as employer-paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Act, credit union paid time off, etc.), captured which of those options they might need to utilize, and asked for their feedback on alternative options not currently in place that would be helpful for their particular situation. 

In addition, we asked that they share with us their A/B/C plans for childcare so we could better understand their situation. These forms funneled back up to the C-suite and gave us a much better framework for the employees who would be applying for FFCRA, those who needed flexible schedules or other solutions, and those who already had everything covered. 

We also put together a few other resources to assist our employees as well as gain valuable feedback. We hosted a virtual event for our ongoing professional women’s group, Women of Member One. This group is no stranger to tackling challenging issues facing professional women, so it was a perfect forum to collect feedback and concerns, while providing an avenue for our working moms to support one another. In addition, we created a page on our employee intranet to house resources and encourage dialogue so parents could help one another identify solutions available in the community.

For the C-suite, no option for how to assist our employees while fulfilling the needs of our credit union and its members was off the table throughout our many discussions on this topic. We considered everything from flexible schedules to job sharing to allowing employees to work from different offices if that proved to be more convenient. It came down to assessing the individual’s needs and empowering our managers to tailor personalized solutions to fit their departments and their employees. At the end of this process, we had a much better picture of the impact that schools have on our employees--and, ultimately, on our ability to serve our members! 

We received positive feedback from our employees on this and our other efforts to support staff needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our desire to get our arms around back-to-school plans is merely indicative of our overall culture here at Member One FCU. Our leadership team has long since established a culture of working hard to help meet employee needs, and this is just one example of many of our organization doing just that.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, clear, transparent, trustworthy communication along with flexibility has been–and will continue to be–of utmost importance. As the youngest member of our C-suite and the only member with a young child, I have felt strongly about helping the many other parents in our credit union sort through this very difficult back-to-school season. And our entire C-suite has understood just how important it is to not only provide that assistance, but to fully realize the potential staffing issues that could occur because of the unique challenges we face in this COVID-19 world. Things continue to change in our communities on a daily basis, and the work we have done up to this point may not be relevant in another week. But we have at least provided some peace of mind to our employees and our organization, and we will be even better prepared to handle the next set of challenges that face us!  

CUES member Lori Cauley is chief brand officer at $1.1 billion Member One Federal Credit Union, Roanoke, Virginia.


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