Flexible Benefits Attract — And Keep — Top Talent

At Advancial, $750 goes a long way in helping employees manage surprise expenses.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • Advancial offers employees an 8% 401(k) contribution, a minimum of three weeks of vacation, and competitive health, dental, and vision plans.
  • Via the cooperative’s Life Rewards benefit program, employees have $750 they can put toward car repairs, new tires, home goods, and other eligible expenses that cover life events.

Job openings in the United States edged slightly lower in October 2022, dropping from 10.6 million to 10.3 million, according to Reuters. But recruiting and retaining talent remains a challenge for many employers. In fact, “hiring and retention” was identified as a major focus for credit unions in a recent Callahan survey, and a Gartner survey found “hiring and retaining staff” is the most difficult task CFOs face in the next 12 months, with 54% ranking it their top challenge.

Advancial Federal Credit Union ($2.2B, Dallas, TX) is serious about offering fulfilling and rewarding careers for its employees. The cooperative has been named a Best Company to Work for in Texas for 12 consecutive years thanks to its positive work environment, familial culture, and a benefits package based on employee feedback.

Non-traditional highlights include two company vacation homes in Destin, FL, and Breckenridge, CO, that are available for free (excluding taxes) to employees, their friends, and their families. Other highlights include monthly socials, hybrid work opportunities for eligible positions, and Celebrate Advancial — an annual event for which the credit union flies all employees to the same city for a weekend of activities and the announcement of the Employee of the Year.

Here, Olivia Mitchell, vice president, human resources for Advancial talks about the origins and inner workings of the credit union’s Life Rewards program, a flexible $750 benefit that 98% of team members take advantage of every year.

Olivia Mitchell, VP of HR, Advancial

What is Life Rewards? How does it work?

Olivia Mitchell: It is a $750 fund that each employee can tap into annually. The idea behind it is that things happen in life that add stress. Our goal is to make life a little easier.

Whether your car needs servicing, your refrigerator breaks, or you have guests coming to visit and no time to clean or do yardwork, this program covers things not covered by a typical health plan but that could make life a little easier for you.

Where did the idea come from? When did Advancial launch it?

OM: Through our Bright Ideas program, employees have the opportunity to submit ideas. Several mentioned they’d like a more flexible benefits option where they can choose where to spend their money based on the things they need most. So, this idea really came from them.

Instead of the credit union deciding how to allocate all of the benefits dollars, this program is flexible enough to address many barriers that can happen in life and eliminate stress for our team. We’re on our third year, and we’ve increased the benefit over time from $350 to $750.

How does Advancial promote Life Rewards to current and potential staff?

OM: We have it on our careers webpage, and we talk about it when we recruit new hires. When interviewing, this is one of the highlights of our benefits package we share. We also educate new hires about all their benefits, including Life Rewards, during orientation.

Advancial has a long track record of being named one of the best companies to work for both nationally and locally, and our benefits are a factor in driving that recognition.

CU QUICK FACTS

Advancial
DATA AS OF 09.30.22

HQ: Dallas, TX
ASSETS: $2.2B
MEMBERS: 107,875
BRANCHES: 12
EMPLOYEES:243
NET WORTH: 8.3%
ROA: 0.90%

What impact does this program have on Advancial’s recruitment and retention?

OM: This program has assisted with our retention goals, and our benefits package is a great way to attract new employees. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on all our benefits, including Life Rewards, from candidates — they are always amazed at what we offer.

As far as current employees go, we have a 98% participation rate in Life Rewards. We also consistently receive high marks on our engagement survey for our benefits package.

Looking forward, are there any changes in store for Life Rewards?

OM: Yes, employees make recommendations on additional things we should cover, and we continuously evaluate and add those as needed.

For example, in 2021 we added storm-related expenses after Texas experienced a severe winter storm. Now, when there is a major disaster, employees will have access to these funds to assist with that particular situation.

What advice do you have for other credit unions?

OM: The voice of your employees is important. Listen to what employees are asking for and let that guide you. In the world of human resources, a lot of time can be spent thinking about the traditional benefits line-up without necessarily considering the additional day-to-day challenges employees might go through.

This is especially true for our front-line staff, who must physically be in the branch every day even as many other positions might have hybrid work options. Listen to what your employees have to say and figure out how to accommodate some of those requests.

Last Chance To Register For The January Cohort

Why does your credit union exist? Do you serve your members and community in ways that set you apart from other financial choices? Rethink your role and responsibility to members, employees, communities, and the environment with Sustainable Business Strategy, a learning experience Callahan & Associates offers in collaboration with Harvard Business School Online.

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Ampersand
January 2, 2023

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