How Vantage West Reduced Turnover by 27% by Investing in People With Lattice

A conversation with:

Jennifer Robertson
AVP, Human Resources & Talent Management
Vantage West Credit Union
What I liked about Lattice was that the goal-setting was just really, really good, and easy for our managers to do.
Jennifer Robertson
AVP, Human Resources & Talent Management
Vantage West Credit Union

Vantage West Credit Union’s mission statement is right on point: “Invest in people today to have a prosperous tomorrow.” Their VP of Human Resources & Talent Management Jennifer Robertson explains, “That means our members, but also our employees.” 

Robertson points out that credit unions operate uniquely from other financial institutions when it comes to company culture:

  • They’re in the financial sector, but tend to be smaller and therefore more agile than a giant retail bank. 
  • They’re non-profit and often mission-driven, meaning company culture is key for attracting and retaining the right people. 
  • They’re service-oriented organizations, so employee engagement is especially crucial — happy employees are far better at providing outstanding customer service

Vantage West has an industry-leading NPS score, and Robertson links it directly to the moment that “we started to take people development seriously.” 

We sat down with her to find out how she and her team have reduced turnover by 27% and fostered employee growth in a credit union environment. Here are her six steps for using Lattice to implement her people strategies: 

1. Align on strategy with clear goals.

For Robertson, having the company’s objectives “front and center” is crucial to building an effective HR program. Vantage West has a one-page strategy document that is “really wonderful because we can all go back to it.” She told us that being able to link employee goals up to company objectives with Lattice’s Goals module has been a “big factor” in helping employees see how their work fits into the bigger picture, thus increasing engagement. It helps show employees “what they should be working towards,” explains Robertson.

An overview of a company’s objectives and key results, including goals and their progress toward completion.
Lattice provides an easy way to connect individual goals to department and company-wide targets.

2. Take employee development seriously. 

Vantage West “really takes development seriously,” says Robertson. This has been transformational in terms of retention and engagement. In practical terms, that looks like: 

  • Being proactive about promoting talent. “We’re around 40% or more of internal promotions, instead of external hires.” She says their internal mobility has succeeded due to providing psychological safety, clarity on goals, and the tools employees need to excel in their roles.  
  • Keeping a close eye on performance data, so they can easily confirm when employees are “really crushing it.” “One-on-ones have the most impact,” she said. “They really create that dialogue and those data points throughout the year.”
  • Putting employees at the center of the development conversation. “We like to have our team members think about what they want to do next,” explains Robertson. “Hopefully, that’s something they will do at Vantage West. But we’re very comfortable if that takes them in another direction, as long as they’re reaching their career goals.” 
A manager’s view of their team’s IDPs, which shows career goals, motivations and strengths — all formatted by a template embedded in Lattice.
Our easy-to-launch Individual Development Plans help employees achieve meaningful, continuous growth.

3. Set mindful individual goals. 

Speaking of goals, Robertson told us that goal-setting is a major component of her people strategy. “I don't know how organizations work without goals,” she said. In fact, before moving to Lattice, Vantage West was using a different goal-management system, but “the goals hadn’t been looked at in years when I came on board.” Robertson told us, “What I liked about Lattice was that the goal-setting was just really, really good, and easy for our managers to do.” She also likes it from an analytics point of view. Her team can quickly run reports to see “who has achieved their goals, who’s updated their goals,” and so on. This makes it easy for HR to monitor performance across teams and branches, and quickly triage any problem spots. 

4. Level up your one-on-ones. 

According to Robertson, creating more effective one-on-ones has been a major driver of improved retention rates. Her pointers for better one-on-ones include: 

  • Set a regular cadence for one-on-ones, rather than relying on a quarterly or biannual performance review. 
  • Make it easy for managers to make and store notes during one-on-ones, so they have data to draw on when it comes to the annual review cycle. “There's nothing worse than having a performance management program or review where the manager is trying to remember what that person did in December, instead of knowing how that is throughout the year.” 
  • Make your one-to-ones actionable. Robertson loves the action items feature included in Lattice’s 1:1 tool because it guides managers to communicate more clearly and get “really specific about what the employee needs to do.” 

 An overview of a one-on-one in Lattice, including agenda items, action items, and employee sentiment scores from previous weeks. 
Make meetings more effective by getting the context you need for a productive conversation.
  • Make them a two-way process. For instance, Robertson mentioned that she loves that, with Lattice, “employees and managers can both submit agenda items.” 
  • Combine your in-person check-ins with a more impersonal medium, to get a full picture of how your employees are doing. Robertson is a big fan of Lattice’s Updates tool, which lets employees answer questions about what they’re working on and keep the rest of the team informed. 

At Vantage West, managers will bring up feedback from the Updates during their one-to-ones with employees. They’ve found that people will be more upfront in their updates than they are in person, and so without this additional information, many issues would go unaddressed. “There's something about writing it down in an update that just creates a little bit more courage for someone to say, “Hey, I am really struggling with this.” 

4. Integrate your HR toolkit.

One thing that Robertson and her team understand is how interconnected the different components of the people program really are. While we were speaking, she frequently mentioned tying goals into performance, tying individual goals into company objectives, tying updates into one-to-ones, bringing data from one-to-ones into annual reviews, and so on. We’re big fans of this holistic take on people strategy at Lattice, and that’s something that Robertson told us she really values about the platform. “There’s something to be said for a simplified tech stack, right? I've been in organizations where [all the tools] were there, but they were kind of in different pieces. And so you'd have some people really adopting one but not the other. Lattice just pulls all those things together.”  

5. Give people the tools — and then insist on adoption.

Of course, it’s not enough to give people an integrated HR toolkit and hope that they’ll use them. You need to keep a close eye on adoption, Robertson explains. Her team has taken a combined approach to encouraging employees and managers to start using the full Lattice toolkit: 

  • Provide support first — not scolding. Vantage West implemented Lattice for a full year before they added accountability around adoption. Instead, if a team wasn’t adopting Lattice, an HR business partner would “start having conversations with those teams and helping them get up to speed.” 
  • Use analytics tools to identify teams that are struggling. Robertson mentioned that the heat maps were particularly useful, as a way to track what was happening and where they needed to make changes or reach out. 
  • Lead by example. Everyone, from directors down, is expected to adopt and use the Lattice system. “Our CEO gets the analytics,” explains Robertson. “She will distribute them to the executive team, and then they're tasked to have that go down into their teams.”

The Result:

Dramatic Reductions in Turnover with LatticeSince introducing Lattice and investing in their people, Vantage West Credit Union has seen a whopping 27% reduction in turnover. And that’s not all — Robertson told us they’ve seen fewer employer relations issues, higher engagement, more consistent goal setting, and more frequent one-to-ones. 

If you’d like to start seeing similar results, we’d love to hear from you! Schedule a demo with Lattice today. 

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