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Three Innovative Searches for Better Incentive Programs

Reports from the views of three experts in the field of incentive compensation with added architecture and operation of incentive programs as practiced by three innovative credit unions in the field. 

Executive Summary

To explore ways in which credit unions can use incentive programs to maximize their investment in human resources, the Filene Research Institute co-sponsored a colloquium at the University of California-Berkeley. The event brought together experts in the area of reward systems, along with senior credit union executives and human resource specialists. The results of the presentations and discussions are included here. As the American workforce becomes more sophisticated and technically competent, employers need to pay increasing attention on rewards that will attract and retain qualified staff. At times of relatively full employment, that challenge becomes even more critical.

What is the research about?

The three presenters were: 

  • Gary Oakland, CEO, Boeing Employees Credit Union.
  • John Tippets, CEO, American Airlines Federal Credit Union. 
  • Barbara Davis, Executive vice president, Public Service Credit Union.

Each of the presenters focused on three main issues: 

  • What is the underlying philosophy behind the credit union’s incentive plan? 
  • How does the plan work? 
  • How does management and the board of directors assess the plan?

What are the credit union implications?

Pay is not the exclusive consideration in designing and implementing incentive programs. Pay is just one component of a more complicated system of encouraging superior performance. The credit union's starting point is a viable vision and strategy. Management and the board of directors need to determine why the organization exists, and how it can best serve its members. Employee line of sight linking behavior and the rewards it generates must be clear and concise. Employees need to have the power, the information, knowledge, and the rewards in order to solve member financial problems. 

This report is sponsored by the Center for Credit Union Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Center for Organization and Human Resource Effectiveness, Haas School of Commerce, University of California-Berkeley.