Loving Their Jobs

coffee with a heart in the milk on a teal table next to a notebook and a laptop
People Perspectives LLC

6 minutes

Campus USA Credit Union employee satisfaction keeps going up.

People who say things like ‘You won’t stay at your first job’ obviously did not work for Campus first.” This was a response from a Campus USA Credit Union employee from the CU’s 2016 employee engagement and satisfaction survey.

Responses like this one, plus stellar engagement and satisfaction rates, are why Campus USA CU, in Gainesville, Fla., is my company People Perspectives’ 2016 Distinguished Credit Union of the Year. The CU had some of the highest engagement and satisfaction averages of all our clients last year, and had the highest average on compensation satisfaction in particular.

By any measure, Campus USA CU has had a successful few years. From 2014 to 2016, membership grew 18.4 percent, and assets grew 19.4 percent. Also, in just the past year, loan growth was 13.1 percent; savings and checking growth were around 11 percent; and return on assets approached 1 percent.

These numbers don’t happen in a vacuum; among other variables, the CU relies on employees to drive the growth. Countless studies have shown that the levels of employee engagement and satisfaction have a direct impact on company growth and success. Campus USA CU is a perfect case in point.

Employee Compensation:  It’s all about Communication!

The credit union sticks close to the market with its salary levels and pay increases, explains CUES member Jill Harper, CCE, chief human resources officer at the $1.5 billion CU ( with 330 employees. The key to the higher satisfaction levels is at least in part due to the high level of communication. 

“Campus USA is very open with employees regarding our compensation philosophy, and salary ranges are posted internally,” says Harper. “In addition, we provide employees with annual compensation and benefits statements with their W-2s. This is very effective, and employees are always surprised when they see what their total cost as an employee is.”

Further, Harper states that after the CU conducted its employee engagement and satisfaction survey in 2016, it held a training session for all employees on the CU’s compensation philosophy, and how it works and impacts them.

In addition to pay, Campus USA CU is very generous with its benefits package, including a fully funded health reimbursement account to offset the CU’s high-deductible health insurance; a 401(k) plan with a 5 percent match (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average 401(k) employer match is 3.5 percent); and a financially sound, well-funded defined benefit pension plan. (According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, in 2013 only 2 percent of U.S. workers had a defined benefit plan, down from 28 percent in 1979.)

One of the CU’s strategic objectives is to be an employer of choice, which is why it places such an emphasis on employees’ total compensation package.

Opportunities for Growth:  Invest in the Employees!

Campus USA CU employee ratings on the employee advancement and growth dimension were also very high. Several of the CU’s practices contributed to this.

Its intranet site includes an area where employees can learn about all the operational areas of the CU. There, they can find a list of departments and positions, along with summaries of each job description, skill set for the position and the education or experience needed. 

Employees can click on links to see a full job description and salary data for every position. This means employees can see information for their boss and positions above them. “We feel it is important for employees to have as much information as possible to ensure they choose career path opportunities that align with both their personal and career objectives,” says Harper.

Also advertised prominently is the statistic that 66 percent of internal candidates were selected for open positions within the past 18 months. Indeed, a few current Campus USA CU managers, including a vice president, started as part-time tellers.

In developing in-house talent, the CU offers an internal corporate university (developed in-house) and tuition reimbursement to its staff. And while two-thirds of positions were filled internally in the past year and a half, the credit union does communicate to staff that it is important to have a mix of hiring both externally and internally.

Overall, Campus USA CU works hard to develop in-house talent. “We invest in onboarding, development and mentoring plans for the employees’ first 90 days, a corporate university, certification reimbursements (for CPAs, IT certifications, etc.) and tuition reimbursement,” says Harper. “With the corporate university, employees receive a 3 percent pay increase upon completion, plus they are recognized at our quarterly breakfast meetings.” This is consistent across all groups at the CU and feasible for each employee to complete.

Overall Findings

“Campus goes above and beyond to satisfy their employees. I can’t think of how it could get any better.”­—Campus USA 2016 Employee Engagement & Satisfaction Survey Respondent

Here are some impressive statistics for Campus USA CU from its employee engagement and satisfaction survey project:

  • 84 percent of respondents reported that Campus USA CU was a great place to work—almost 40 percent higher than the normative data. (Normative data is the average of all of People Perspectives CU clients from the past five years.)
  • 79 percent of employees indicated that they were “very committed”—21 percent higher than the normative data.
  • Moreover, 57 percent of employees indicated that their satisfaction had increased over the past year, as opposed to staying the same or decreasing. This was about 15 percent higher than our normative data.

CEO Jerry Benton cites the implementation of a formal strategic plan as a primary reason for this overwhelming satisfaction increase.

“We have communicated the strategic plan continuously with all employees. We tie and communicate our annual goals back to the strategic plan and we share our success and shortfalls every quarter. Employees receive a bonus based on the credit union’s overall success, so they are interested in company goals and how we are performing.”

After receiving the impressive employee engagement and satisfaction survey results last year, the Campus USA CU senior managers continued to take action. “The senior management team really invested ourselves in the survey results and shared the results with the board, management team and employees,” explains Harper. “Based on comments and scores, we selected four areas of the survey results that we wanted to address with our employees.” The four areas were: communication, compensation philosophy/structure, training enhancements, and upcoming technology changes.

“Last November, at our annual training day, senior managers conducted two interactive classes and two educational classes. We explained why and how things are done in the educational classes and in the other classes, we asked the employees to come up with solutions on training and communication. Employees participated in all four classes, and we received positive feedback from our staff. The interactive classes were great, and we have implemented a few employee suggestions.”

One example: The CU updated the policies and forms page on its intranet and created streamlined layouts and information that resulted in a uniformity and consistency for employees.

I’m excited to see what the Campus USA CU employees report on their next employee engagement and satisfaction survey. Given the level of importance that Campus USA places on employees’ engagement and satisfaction, I am confident that the results will be just as positive.

Kerry Liberman is president of People Perspectives LLC a consulting firm that specializes in conducting employee engagement and satisfaction surveys for credit unions. She can be reached at, or 206.451.4218.

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