Motivating Employees During Merger

5 Ways to Motivate Employees During a Credit Union Merger

Credit union mergers are common. According to the National Credit Union Association (NCUA), there were  19 mergers in May, 25 mergers in April, and 12 mergers in March. That doesn’t mean all mergers are successful.  Most merger failures are due to poor integration and “people issues”. Cultural integration is a key to making your credit union merger a success.

The way to solve people issues is to build teamwork to promote confidence. Here are five tips to build teamwork and keep your credit union employees focused and motivated during a transition:

  1. Money – Financial incentives are a short-term but highly visible incentive for employees. The first thing you want to do is assure employees that their cash rewards are safe. Make sure they know that retirement funds, 401K investments, and their salaries are secure. Depending on the terms, bringing together two credit unions could even open the door to vesting and new rewards. It’s also a good time to restructure compensation, putting more control in the hands of employees by creating performance-based incentives. We have found that the total compensation package improves for the vast majority of employees of merged credit unions.  However, it is critical the effectively communicate these benefits.
  2. Positive reinforcement – For most people, acknowledgement is more rewarding than just money. Employees need to know that management cares about their well-being as well as their performance. Praise from immediate managers and recognition by peers is an important motivator.  Providing a feedback loop as part of a merger integration gives management the opportunity to assess employee performance and offer valuable and reassuring insights.
  3. Empowering employees – In addition to praise it is essential to instill a sense of empowerment. Employees need to feel they control their part of the organization in order to take pride in their work. Empowering employees to take charge and show their abilities is a great motivator. Consider giving key staff members a strategic role in the merger, even if it’s only reporting on their department, and make sure they understand the importance of their role in the overall success of the deal.
  4. Advancement – The bringing together of two credit unions is also a good time to offer employee growth.  Employees want their contribution to the credit union and its members rewarded with new responsibilities or promotions.  Promotions don’t have mean new titles with more money. In a merger, there are other vital roles, such as leading a transition team or helping smooth out integration hiccups. Reward employees with new responsibilities, being careful to delegate some of their old responsibilities so they don’t feel overburdened.  We have found the credit union mergers often result in credit union employees accelerating their career growth after mergers.  New positions open in a larger thriving credit union that would not have been available to the employees in their former credit union.
  5. Process improvement – A merger also is an opportunity to improve business processes using employee guidance. Every business can find ways to improve operations and those with hands-on responsibility know where the problems lie. Use a merger as an opportunity to review protocols and procedures. Get employees to share their insights and suggest more efficient processes so they feel invested in the credit union and its success.

When considering how best to motivate credit union employees during a merger remember the power of communication and engagement and make your merger an employee win.

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