Pay Plans Still Sluggish

CUs are exercising post-recession caution with compensation.

August 08, 2011
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CUNA is releasing a number of salary surveys designed to help you keep up with credit union compensation trends for all credit union employees from tellers to CEOs.

Our most comprehensive report—the 2011-2012 Complete Credit Union Staff Salary Survey—paints a picture of credit unions continuing to exercise caution with their compensation strategies (“Compensation Caution,” p. 30). Since the recession began in earnest in 2008, more that 40% of credit unions have frozen some or all of their employees’ salaries, and that freeze is expected to continue into 2012.

If credit unions are raising salaries, the raises are small—just over 2% for management and nonmanagement employees. Before the recession, it wasn’t uncommon to have about 95% of credit unions planning salary increases in any given year. Now, that number has dropped to about 75%.

Later this month, CUNA will release its CEO Total Compensation Survey. It will show some of the same recession-induced trends, with CEO base salaries increasing about 3% from 2010 to 2011. One-quarter (26%) of CEOs didn’t receive a pay raise in 2010, which is down from 31% in 2009.

About 60% of credit unions have CEO succession plans in place, and another 13% plan to do so by year-end 2011. And many of those credit unions will get a chance to put those succession plans into action, as 21% of CEOs plan to retire in the next five years. About 8% of credit union CEOs are age 65 or older, 20% are age 60 to 64, 24% are 55 to 59, and the remainder are age 55 or younger.

The CEO Compensation Survey also drills down into bonuses, incentives, benefits, retirement plans, and employment contracts.

And in September, CUNA will release its Senior Executive Compensation Survey. You can find out more about all these salary surveys, and the Complete Guide to Setting Salaries, at

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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