Employee Survey Engenders Engagement

This Bay State cooperative listens to and acts on employee feedback. And its staff knows it.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • An employee survey highlighted insitutional pain points at DCU.
  • The Massachusetts cooperative is now addressing communication, compensation, career development, and more.

Digital Federal Credit Union ($8.3B, Marlborough, MA) got mixed news from its first-ever employee engagement survey.

We found out our employees are dedicated to the DCU mission and are exceptional in their member focus, says Jane Fontaine, the credit union’s senior vice president for human resources and training.

The large cooperative also found out it had challenges in such areas as communication, compensation, and career development.

Now, DCU is addressing these pain points to build on its excellent record of member service.

DCU scored 99.29 out of 100 in the member service usage category of Callahan’s Return of the Member index, a proprietary measure of member value. Find out where you rank.

Jane Fontaine, SVP Human Resources & Training, Digital FCU

Using an online survey crafted by Quantum Workplace, DCU conducted an optional employee engagement survey in August 2016. A full 94% of employees participated in the survey, and their answers shed light on four areas that required more attention: compensation, career and professional development, communications, and employee empowerment.

Armed with data from the survey, the credit union set to work developing a plan to show employees it appreciated them sharing their confidential opinions and, more important, was addressing the pain points they identified.

The greatest risk to conducting these surveys is to not do anything with the information, Fontaine says. Nothing will derail the integrity of this effort like the staff not seeing any viable results or changes.

DCU has taken several actions so far. Chief among them include:

  • A full-scale compensation program review that resulted in the adjustment of some wage scales to better reflect the local labor market. The credit union also increased hourly starting wages.
  • The addition of an organizational development specialist to the human resources department. Fontaine says this staffer focuses on leadership development, career pathing, and employee engagement.
  • The creation of a communication task force as well as investments in additional methods of communicating, such as lobby and lunch room monitors.

Read the organizational development specialist complete job description in our Policy Exchange today. Don’t have access? Learn more here.

We’re now spending more time on deciding how best to deliver a consistent message throughout the organization, the DCU HR chief says.

Post-Survey Plans

DCU’s staff of nearly 1,200 employees is a productive bunch. They manage more accounts per employee than most billion-dollar credit unions, and they generate more income per employee, too. To be sure, DCU gets a lot from its employees.

Click through the tabs below to learn more about the productivity and efficiency of DCU’s staff.


DCU had 597 members per employee at the end of 2017, while the average $1 billion to $10 billion credit union nationally had 395 members per FTE and the average Massachusetts credit union had 433.


DCU has the highest number of accounts per employee (1,622) among the 166 credit unions in Massachusetts, and the 13th highest among the 283 credit unions of $1 billion to $10 billion in assets nationwide.


Each of DCU’s 1,192 FTEs represented $63,935 in net income in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with $44,663 per employee on average for the 283 credit unions of $1 billion to $10 billion asset class nationwide and $36,331 on average for the 166 credit unions based in Massachusetts.


DCU used only 58.8 cents to generate a dollar of income in the fourth quarter of 2017, giving it an efficiency ratio of 58.80%, compared with 69.93% for its asset-based industry peer group and 75.81% for the average Massachusetts credit union at year-end.


DCU’s operating expense per member was only $236 at year-end 2017, compared with $336 per member for all Massachusetts credit unions and $386 for all $1 billion to $10 billion credit unions nationwide.

And to ensure they get as much as possible from the survey-and-response strategy, a follow-up survey ? a shorter version called a pulse survey ? was taken last summer. It’s kind of a check-in, Fontaine says.

The results: We found that we need to continually evaluate our methods of communicating throughout the organization, and that we need more career development on the supervisory level, the DCU SVP says.


Digital FCU
Data as of 12.31.17

HQ: Marlborough, MA
MEMBERS: 711,139
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: -0.9%
ROA: 0.96%

To ensure the Massachusetts cooperative derives as much as possible from its survey-and-response strategy, DCU conducted a follow-up survey ? a shorter version called a pulse survey ? last summer.

It’s kind of a check-in, Fontaine says. We found we need to continually evaluate our methods of communicating throughout the organization, and we need more career development on the supervisory level.

Those two pain points became more evident during a manager meeting, when it was discovered not all the managers were sharing important information with their own staffs.

We’re now devoting time to working with our managers in improving their communication skills, Fontaine says.

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But, according to the DCU SVP, communication is a challenge at all levels. And for that, too, the credit union has a plan. It is bringing in an outside vendor to conduct training titled Bridging the Communication Gap.

As for employee engagement, Fontaine says DCU is considering how often to conduct its surveys for example, perhaps alternating year-to-year between the larger survey and pulse survey. Although how often to survey employees remains to be settled, the tactic will remain central to DCU’s management and communication strategy.

Whether the news is positive or shows where improvement is needed, having open dialogue is crucial, Fontaine says.


May 21, 2019

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