Five minutes with…Susan Doerksen – VP of HR at MSCU

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Mennonite Savings and Credit Union is recognized as one of the best small–medium sized employers in Canada – here, VP of HR Susan Doerksen talks industry troubles, increasing engagement and implementing the living wage.

If you had to give one piece of advice to other HR professionals looking to improve, what would it be?

Learn about, and gain a deep understanding for, the business and industry sector you operate in. Get to know your customers, in our case as a credit union - members, really well.

Is there anything exciting in the pipeline for MSCU’s HR department?

One exciting new initiative for us has been signing on as a Living Wage employer. Not only have we made a commitment to pay a Living Wage we have also played a large part in moving this forward in our Region. 

A Living Wage is defined as; a wage that can meet the basic needs of an individual to maintain a safe, decent standard of living within the community and have the ability to save for future needs and goals.

Our full-time staff compensation has already been adjusted to meet this standard.  Within the next year we are committed to bringing our part-time staff up to a Living Wage; our next step will be to look at our contract workers; for example, our cleaning staff.

What has been the biggest achievement for MSCU’s HR department – how did you achieve that?

Making the top employers in Canada list! (And sustaining our focus on the internal changes that cause us to be included). When we originally started participating, we were not included on the list.

We took a closer look at the survey reports and made changes based on what our staff were saying.

The next year we were included on the list and were very excited; but we didn’t stop there, we continue to take what we learn from the survey each year and make improvements in order to keep that momentum going.

Are there any specific goals the HR department is working towards in the near future?

We are currently in the process of moving our Performance Management to an online system which includes an expectation that performance conversations are not just an annual occurrence; but are instead monthly, meaningful conversations with each staff.

Alongside this, we are introducing a new Competency Model to staff.  This year staff will only be measured on their engagement in learning the new competencies with the competencies themselves being used for measurement in coming years once staff have a chance to fully understand them.

Another important goal we are working towards in the near future is more awareness around mental health and accommodation, as this becomes increasingly prevalent.

What’s your biggest industry worry or concern right now? 

As a financial institution, low interest rates have a significant impact on our bottom line. As a Human Resources Department I think that succession planning is an area of concern for us.

What the most rewarding thing about being in HR?

Hearing from staff, managers, and leaders through the BSME survey that our employees are so highly engaged with our organization is the single most rewarding thing.

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