Eight Steps to Make Your Credit Union a Stress-Free Work Environment


Workplace stress… it’s the worst. Employees with no smiles, glom looks on their faces, or extra quiet or nonresponsive to co-workers makes everyone feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t give your credit union members and owners the best idea about what is going on behind the counter. With Covid-19 having become an everyday topic for workplaces, I believe employee stress has jumped drastically more than any other year in my professional career.

With that in mind, I wanted to offer some ideas to help our credit union partners promote a better no-stress environment for their employees. With this better environment you will find that servicing your members and building your business will be better than ever. Here are my top 8 tips for changing your stressful culture.

1. Take an active interest in your employee’s lives

When you think about your day, for most of us, we spend more of our waking hours with our co-workers and staff, than we do with our families. Take an active interest in their lives. Understanding the stresses at home can help you understand their behavior at work. While we all want to “check it at the door,” let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen. I am not saying tolerate bad behavior, but opening the door to a conversation can let the employee feel safe and respected. Or it may identify a need that you can help your employee with that will change their mood or behavior.

2. Help your employees understand their job and who their direct report is

There is nothing worse for an employee than thinking they have three different bosses, who are asking for three different things, and have no idea what priorities they need to follow. Help them out by having clear lines of leadership and expectations.

3. Talk to your employees about job performance often

Make giving feedback on performance something you talk about with your employees often rather than an ambush once a year at the annual review. Staying in touch with what leadership wants in the future and what’s expected allows your employees to give better results.

4. Help employees see value in the company and what you are doing

There is nothing better than having employees who love where they work and what they do. It is the best way to drive employee productivity and bring in new talent. Make sure employees know they are important and that every job, no matter how small, makes your credit union competitive and gives the best value for member-owners.

5. See the signs of unhealthy work loads

Make sure your employees have healthy workloads. Some signs that your employees have too much on their plate is irritability, poor memory, making newbie mistakes, and calling in sick often. If you can spot the signs early, sit down with your employee and help reorganize their tasks and see where they are struggling, this may eliminate the stress and feelings of being overworked without adding to your staff.

6. Encourage breaks and lunches

Not many people can sit at a screen all day and give out perfect production. Promote breaks and lunches so staff can take care of themselves so when they are on the job, they are in tip top shape.

7. Let your employees help build tasks and processes

Promote accountability and encourage your employees to be part of the planning for how processes and tasks should be completed. Let them help you build solutions, not just identify problems. Building new processes or polices with your staff helps them understand why you are asking them to go the extra mile. It also gives them a sense of ownership and promotes them to eat their own cooking.

8. Your environment should welcome cooperation and respect

This one is probably the toughest tip as it requires that you’re hard but fair on employees who are disrespectful. Hold your staff accountable. Don’t allow people to disrespect other employees even if they are your rock stars. Address problems head on, even if that means you may lose a staff member to create a better environment in the long run. Pull negative or problematic employees aside and make sure they are promoting an environment where cooperation and respect can flourish.


  • Amber Overla

    Amber Overla is an HR professional with over 20 years’ experience in a variety of different industries. She serves as Vice President of Organizational Resource Development for CU*Answers. She is responsible for leading CU*Answers’ overall human resources strategy, talent acquisition, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, organizational design and cultural development, employee education and development, compensation and benefits, HR operations and technology, employee relations, and security.

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