Feb 21 '20

Building for Talent: Workplace Design Award

In the fall of 2019 Filene challenged credit unions to share how they are designing high-quality work environments to attract and retain their employees.

In today’s tight job market, the importance of workplace design is often overlooked as a competitive benefit in attracting, recruiting and retaining talent. Filene’s Center of Excellence for the War for Talent released the research report Workplace Design as a Strategic Human Capital Management Tool, Part 1 to answer this question: can the physical workplace impact talent retention and acquisition?

Short answer, yes. Longer answer, investing in flexible employee workspaces can pay dividends in employee recruitment, productivity and retention. Longest answer, we have an entire research report showing you how.

Not only does an organization’s physical work environment represent your brand but it is becoming increasingly important to job seekers. A flexible workspace design carries a positive association for attracting job candidates, sending a signal to prospective employees about the nature of working at your organization.

Workplace Design Award

In the fall of 2019 Filene challenged credit unions to share how they are designing high-quality work environments to attract and retain their employees. After being reviewed by industry professionals including Filene Fellow Sekou Bermiss and experts from Momentum Design Lab, Filene is proud to recognize Christian Financial Credit Union as the recipient of the Inaugural Workplace Design Award.

Design concepts for creating flexible and collaborative work spaces at Christian Financial Credit Union.

Three years ago, Christian Financial Credit Union began their journey to create a workplace that would exemplify efficiency and productivity, while providing an inspirational and energizing place to work. A project of this scope did not happen overnight. In fact, it took eighteen months to design their new facility and almost the same amount of time to build it.

This new building was an effort to both attract and retain talent, allowing the credit union the necessary space to grow. Prior to the building’s grand opening, the credit union’s teams were spread out among several different branches and the goal of the new headquarters was to bring all back-office staff under one roof.

A Grand Opening

On September 15, 2019, Christian Financial Credit Union opened the doors to their new headquarters.

“We are so energized by our new home.” said Patty Campbell, CEO of Christian Financial Credit Union and Filene Board Member. “We knew that our team had a lot of excitement around what we were doing but there is a whole new level of excitement now that our doors are actually open.“

Instead of choosing a trendy “open office” or more traditional cubicle/office environment, the credit union’s leadership chose a hybrid environment, providing each employee their own private space for heads-down, focused worktime supplementing with the freedom to work throughout the building and collaborate in teams in a number of unique open spaces. The building is designed as a neighborhood, with individual office spaces representing an employee’s home and then common areas that mirror areas you might find in a community.

“This may not be big for the Googles of the world but this is big for credit unions, especially for our credit union,” Campbell says. “Think about the credit union employee who is ordering debit cards who thought they would have to be tethered to their desk. Now think about telling those employees that they have a laptop that they can take to work wherever they want. Or consider a call center team member who can take calls from wherever they want in the building. They can now use their noise cancelling headphones or they can head to a quiet place that may not be their desk. We wanted our employees to have flexibility and be in control of their work environment.”

Sunny conference room at Christian Financial Credit Union. A quality physical working environment will help both current workers and prospective candidates feel connected to their credit union.
Compass Café at Christian Financial Credit Union. Investing in flexible employee workspaces can pay dividends in employee recruitment, productivity, and retention.

Applying the Research

After surveying their staff, especially recent college graduates, they knew they wanted to incorporate some important elements; flexibility in workspaces, natural sunlight and collaborative spaces – including a neighborhood concept with four unique collaborative spaces.

“What stood out to me was the use of creating inspirational spaces within their new workspace,” said Sekou Bermiss, Filene Fellow. “It really signaled to me that the CEO and the executive team were thoughtful in thinking about making sure people had spaces to be introspective and reflective, and that shows me that they really care about their employees.”

Christian Financial Credit Union intentionally incorporated many inspirational spaces indoors and out, including a walking path, theater, park, coffee shop, outdoor balcony and outdoor café seating.

“Filene’s research reinforced the decisions that we made to create a place that exemplifies efficiency and productivity. It has transformed the way we operate as a team and how we look at things as a financial institution.”
Patty Campbell, CEO
Christian Financial Credit Union

Recruitment and Retention

Christian Financial Credit Union created a space that employees can come to and feel proud of the place they work at every day, setting them apart from competition. Christian Financial Credit Union plans to incorporate their new space into a recruitment video because they know this will be one competitive factor that will set them apart when it comes to retaining their staff and attracting top talent.