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Forging Employee Morale, Trust, and Performance

This study combines case study and survey research methods to investigate the relationships among human resource and management practices, employee trust, and key organizational outcomes more deeply.

Executive Summary

Investing in employees builds business. Organizations that invest money, time, and effort in their people reap benefits to their bottom-line. They design innovative human resources and management practices that energize employees and raise their commitment and performance. However, corporation are discovering that just implementing the best policies, procedures, and practices is not enough to generate high performance—they can do all the right things but do them in a way that depresses rather than elevates motivation and performance. Corporations are learning that "best practices" need to be complemented by "best relationships" and particularly by relationships built on trust.

What is this research about?

In the earlier study, Whitener examined human resource practices in credit unions by surveying 1,733 employees at 185 credit unions. Also surveyed were human resource representatives. The present study builds on previous findings by examining three credit unions in-depth. The research approach included site visits and interviews with employees, supervisors, human resource professionals, and CEOs. This study examines two questions:

  •  What organizational structures, cultures, and human resource practices attract, motivate, and retain productive and satisfied employees?
  • Which human resource practices and what aspects of relationships between supervisors and employees build trust most effectively?

What are the credit union implications?

The key findings indicate that credit unions build greater employee trust, morale, and
performance if they conduct management and human resource practices using the following guidelines:

  • Strong commitment to human resources and employees from
    executive officers.
  • A functional organizational structure balancing centralized control with information-seeking and sharing methods.
  • Rigorous, valid, and professionally-designed human resource practices (e.g., selection, compensation, performance appraisal and training).
  • An organizational culture focused on member service, sales, measurement, and feedback; and one that values risk-taking, inclusiveness, people, and open communication.
  • Supervisor-employee relations built upon concern, support and two-way communication.
  • Regular use of and active response to employee attitude surveys.