Credit Union Magazine Article.

By Jeremy Baumruk, Director of Professional Services at Xamin.

In the past, financial institutions have been hesitant to allow employees to work remotely due to the challenges associated with that decision, such as security risks, reduced oversight, fewer management capabilities, mental health impacts and more. However, as the pandemic swept across the nation, credit unions rapidly made the decision to send most – or all – of their employees home to work remotely.

Credit unions had to adapt quickly in order to prepare their new remote workforce and to continue meeting the ever-changing needs of their members. Keeping their employees as a top priority, credit unions across the country are working to support their teams as they navigate the shift to a remote workforce. While technology is a vital part of deploying any successful remote workforce, many credit unions were not prepared for the impact this change would have on the mental health and productivity of their employees for months to come.

Historically slow to make the switch, credit unions that had already moved to the cloud are now reaping its benefits, from scalability and easier updates to business continuity and disaster recovery and are able to continue serving members without major interruptions. However, other institutions had to make rapid decisions, introducing their employees to new systems, such as remote desktop or virtual private networks (VPN), in order to securely connect their workforce to the programs needed to complete their daily tasks.

After connecting team members to a secure, remote solution, executives and managers need to measure employee productivity. And, “while there are many reports that suggest employees working from home are more productive than those working in office, how do you know if your remote employees being productive?”

Of course, gauging productivity is not only an ongoing measurement, but is also a key factor for determining the success of a remote workforce. Keep in mind, this change is new to most employees, which means credit unions must recognize differences across teams and team members, facilitate remote work trainings, manage synchronicity, and value communication – through team management platforms, professional social networks and phone calls.

Furthermore, investing in behavioral assessments should be carefully considered as these assessments can help credit union executives understand the impact of their daily decisions on the overall mental health of their employees and the culture of the credit union. These assessments can be beneficial for both the employee and the financial institution, helping managers understand how best to motivate, teach and oversee each employee while also helping employees learn to better understand their role and day-to-day tasks at the institution.

In fact, when employees are working remote, you need a system to measure their productivity, according to HiveDesk, which is why some behavioral assessments platforms, such as Culture Index, provide resources and materials needed to help management understand each specific employee and effectively apply the information gathered. Using this type of platform, credit unions can anticipate the cognitive effects of the decisions made by their executives and managers and develop a situational management strategy that benefits and assists employees, especially during times of crisis and uncertainty.

Additionally, pre-pandemic studies reflect higher levels of happiness and satisfaction and lower employee turnover as a result, which is all the more reason credit unions should continuously check in with their employees and consider their mental health. Keep in mind, even though working remotely can be a benefit to some employees, it can be a challenge for others, especially when its accompanied by the stress of a global pandemic.

Many employees have felt unexpected mental health consequences with isolation and burnout as the two main causes for concern, according to Forbes. And, due to the rarity of today’s environment, even employees who work remotely on a regular basis can be impacted by unprecedented isolation. Financial institutions should be cognizant of this reality and ensure that regular communication continues – throughout all employees at the credit union – because “the most important organizational factor for remote work is communication.”

Whether all your employees are fully remote, or this pandemic is the first time your financial institution experienced a remote workforce, credit unions need to invest in employee success by keeping them connected, assessing employee productivity, and communicating regularly. Supporting team members with these investments will not only make the employee’s work life more enjoyable and productive, but also provide the management team confidence that their employees will get the job done no matter where they are working from.

Jeremy Baumruk is the director of professional services at Xamin, a leading provider of IT solutions provider for highly regulated and reputation-sensitive companies.