The coming year presents numerous opportunities and challenges for credit unions. Member engagement measures and financial performance are reaching new highs with credit union membership topping 121 million, the average member relationship exceeding $19,000 for the first time ever, and nearly 59% of members holding a checking account with their credit union. To boot, return on assets is approaching 1% for the first time in more than 15 years, and the net worth ratio has reached 11.4%.
The movement’s challenges, however, are just as prescient. Credit unions’ national share in auto and mortgage lending has fallen over the past year, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reports credit unions have fallen below banks in overall customer satisfaction for the first time ever, and competition from banks and fintechs is intensifying.
So, how are credit unions navigating this landscape? Callahan & Associates engages with industry executives throughout the year, and many echo the words of one leader who summarized their credit union’s prioritizes in 2020 as the “3 Ts:” Technology, Talent, and Telling Our Story.
CreditUnions.com has offered best practices and success stories for all three across the year. Here, five popular pieces from 2019 that cover a range of HR challenges, from bringing talent through the door to helping them work outside of it.
Hire: Think Outside LinkedIn
The national unemployment rate remains at historic lows, and credit unions across the country are turning up their recruitment efforts to ensure they can attract talented individuals any time of the year.
Managers at Day Air Credit Union ($413.0M, Kettering, OH) hand out specialized recruitment business cards when they experience exceptional service in their daily lives — for example, at a restaurant or in a store. This “always-on” approach to recruitment has helped the cooperative pull in the kind of talent that can deliver a credit union-quality member experience. Canyon State Credit Union ($184.1M, Phoenix, AZ) works closely with its local chapters of Future Business Leaders of America and DECA to connect with emerging leaders and entrepreneurs at nearby high schools and colleges. And, HUD Federal Credit Union ($44.1M, Washington, DC) sponsors an internship and management training program that helps college students and young professionals prepare for management positions in the credit union industry. The three-year program rotates students through every department and offers instruction on how to become a leader.
Learn more about these strategies in “3 Ways To Make A Great Hire.”
Incent: Show Them The Money … Or Not
It’s been nearly a decade since branch staff at Community First Credit Union of Florida ($1.7B, Jacksonville, FL) collected any form of cash incentive — not that anyone misses it.
Cash incentives didn’t align with the culture at the Florida cooperative, so it experimented with a gaming approach that assigns points to performance and rewards winning through experiences, not cash. The credit union garners 100% voluntary employee participation in its Community First Games, underscoring the staff’s preference for memories over money.
“These games do a great job getting everyone behind our initiatives,” says Chris Culpepper, sales performance manager at Community First. “Employees have fun while doing it, and they are tremendously engaged in what we are trying to do.”
Learn more about this gamified approach to incentives in “A Reward Program That Takes The Cents Out Of Incentive.”
Develop: Make The Time To Teach Your Talent
How long does it take a front-line staff member to become fully proficient at their job? Several weeks? Several months? A year?
At Michigan State University Federal Credit Union ($4.5B, East Lansing, MI), it can take several years, but the credit union’s approach to employee development has helped it achieve a turnover rate that is half the national average.
“Engaged employees provide a better member experience,” says Lea Ammerman, chief operating officer at MSUFCU. “They are ready to help and also have the organizational knowledge to know when and how to promote a product or service.”
Learn about job progression, career development, and skills training at the nation’s largest university-sponsored credit union in “How Career Pathing And In-Branch Training Create Better Retention.”
Retain: Future Leaders Are Already Here
Average turnover rates for banks and credit unions peaked at 19.7% in 2018, according to BalancedComp’s annual salary and incentive survey. The community-focused mission of credit unions does a lot to increase loyalty among employees, but these days, employee retention, training and development, and succession planning are front-burner issues for many HR executives.
“Employees, particularly younger employees, are looking for fast advancement, but there’s not always constant movement upward,” says Kathy Martin, senior vice president of development and support at Directions Credit Union ($884.6M, Toledo, OH). “We’re focused on investing in employees, giving them more depth in what they’re doing for the credit union, and getting them in front of senior management.”
Employee training and leadership development programs go hand in hand with succession planning — both help ensure a steady pool of future leaders. But whereas most succession activities are directed by the board and focused on the CEO, credit unions such as STCU ($3.2B, Liberty Lake, WA) have broadened standards to include other senior leaders.
Read more about the programs at these two credit unions in “3 Secrets To Employee Retention And Executive Development.”
Remove: Ready The Credit Union For Remote Workers
Greg Minnich managed a call center where the majority of his nearly 300 employees worked from home. That’s what made him a great fit for the role of vice president of customer service at Members 1st Federal Credit Union ($4.5B, Mechanicsburg, PA), a credit union that wanted to explore remote staffing models as part of an effort to modernize operations and overcome space constraints.
The credit union’s long-term strategy calls for 30% of Minnich’s workforce to eventually work from home. In the meantime, it tasked the mortgage department and call center with testing the viability of a remote workforce today.
Learn about the pilot program, how Minnich decided which employees could work remotely, hurdles in the testing, and more in “Remote Employees Answer The Member Call.”
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