Modernizing a Change-Resistant Trade Union Pension and Benefit Fund Office
This US-based workers pension and benefit fund office operates two funds providing member retirement and health and welfare benefits to members of its union. The fund office provides administrative support and resources to members, offering information about pensions and benefits fund operations, and promoting awareness on a range of health, wellness, retirement, and education topics.
An Incoming Wave of Modernization and an Outgoing Wave of Employees
The current HR Director arrived in their role at the fund office with several years of experience in similar roles in the corporate world. It became immediately apparent to them that the fund office lacked much of the training documentation and succession planning structure that they’d come to expect from corporate life.
They characterized the organization as being stuck in the 1980s—noting that the existing HIPAA training consisted of a four-hour video (followed by a period-appropriate paper-based quiz!). The organization was also on the verge of a modernization drive across other departments—a process that the current training structures were ill-equipped to support.
After hiring a former as Training and Communications Manager, the fund office’s HR Director set about assessing their options for acquiring training and performance management platforms. They also identified the need for several critical systems currently missing from the fund office’s toolkit, including engagement surveys and assessments.
Beyond the basic need for modernization of its training and performance processes, the wider organization’s current workforce throws up a number of further challenges. A majority of its employees are of retirement age—around 40% of the employee population are eligible for retirement. The HR Director felt that technology purchases must be easy to use, and the team also needs to be able to deliver computer literacy training to those that need it. These demographics also demand a greater focus on succession planning and knowledge transfer to cope with pending retirements.
A further challenge is that while the overhaul of training and (particularly) performance management is in line with modern best practice, it isn’t uncontroversial within a union context. The union itself was formed via the merger of several different unions, and current practice is already disparate. Furthermore, merit increases are built into many employee contracts regardless of performance, so the fund office requires the right messaging, as well as the right tools.
We looked at five systems altogether. We sat down and we were discussing the advantage of each of the systems, and Bridge was clearly the winner. I didn’t want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on three different systems for learning, performance, and engagement when one system can do everything that we really needed.-HR Director at The Workers Pension and Benefit Fund Office
An All-In-One Solution for an Organization Starting Afresh
Faced with this complex collection of challenges, the funding office found itself contemplating multiple technology purchases—that is, until it found Bridge, a platform capable of delivering all of the individual components in a single, straightforward package.
By offering a learning management system alongside a performance management system, Bridge addressed the organization’s two most pressing technology needs. Additional coverage of elements such as engagement surveys and assessments helped the team ensure all bases are covered.
After years of having little structure to their performance conversations, the funding office’s managers and employees now regularly meet for 1on1s administered by the Bridge platform’s continuous feedback solution. Uptake has been immediate among many managers, who are able to easily create agendas, schedule meetings, and document the conversations they have. The remainder are receiving assistance with integrating the platform into their management style via training delivered in Bridge itself—using Bridge to learn how to use Bridge! Meanwhile, employees are empowered to give feedback to their managers, and input on the agenda of their upcoming meetings.
This structure of “conversations around the conversation” has also helped the organization combat some of the reluctance that individuals have about talking performance in a union context. It helps to frame the dialogue in less individually critical terms and focus on the barriers that could be removed and positive actions that could be taken by both parties.
The organization is also utilizing Bridge’s goal-setting features to keep track of targets and action items discussed in 1on1s. These goals are specifically being used to steer suitable employees toward roles likely to be vacated due to retirement.
The Bridge LMS, meanwhile, is the new home of all of the funding office’s training resources and courses. It’s also an essential component of the organization’s succession planning, with retirement-eligible employees contributing materials describing different aspects of their roles and responsibilities. These materials, including video interviews, will live in perpetuity in the system, helping future employees in these roles to perform organizationally critical tasks well after the retirees have stepped away.
Our new CEO has made it very clear that every single department leader must assign 20- to 30-minutes of training every single week for every single person in their department. They’re really pushing compliance training and skills training, in part because our IT department is also going through a massive upgrade. We’re a very old company and we have a lot of old systems, and sometimes that holds our employees back.-HR Director at The Workers Pension and Benefit Fund Office
Newly Measured and Rising Engagement
Though in the early days of implementation, the funding office reports that its leadership team is already very happy with the new processes and possibilities that Bridge presents. Bridge is enabling engagement measurement, and as new development opportunities become available via the platform, the team is seeing their engagement metrics turn around—a fact that the leadership team is understandably happy about.
Before Bridge, compliance training response was a particularly slow burn—the team now reports that it’s reaching above 90% completion several days before due dates and meeting 100% compliance by its due dates.
Our most enthusiastic Bridge adopters are a multi-generational group and they’re really going all in on the platform. They see why we brought Bridge into the company because they can see how easy it is to use. Even the slower adopters, once we get them over that initial hump of, ‘this is new technology and I’m a little afraid to use it’. They always know that if they press the little question mark at the bottom of the screen, they’ll be connected to a Bridge customer service rep who’ll help them understand what to do.-Training & Communications Manager at The Workers Pension and Benefit Fund Office
Trade Union Finance
Bridge LMS, Performance, Engagement