How Do Credit Unions Cope With Staffing Difficulties?

Texas and DC credit union managers share how culture and flexibility help them hire in a competitive market.

 
 

Top-Level Takeaways

  • Job openings nationwide are at record high, but many credit unions report year-over-year staff increases.
  • Two of those shops say flexibility in hiring and work-at-home policies have been instrumental in their ability to compete.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Sept. 8 that nationwide job openings increased by 749,000 in a single month to a record high of 10.9 million at the end of July.

The credit union industry is hardly alone in feeling the pain of empty positions going unfilled as pandemic-fueled fears keep workers at home or out of the workforce. However, quite a few cooperatives have managed to keep up. According to data from Callahan & Associates, of the 1,799 credit unions with $100 million or more in assets in the second quarter, 918 reported positive growth in full-time equivalent employees from the same quarter last year, ranging from 0.09% at Mission Federal Credit Union ($5.0B, San Diego, CA) to 110.69% at Charlotte Metro Credit Union ($1.0B, Charlotte, NC).

TOP 10 CREDIT UNIONS FOR % GROWTH IN FTEs

FOR CREDIT UNIONS >$100M IN ASSETS | FROM 2Q20 TO 2Q21
© CALLAHAN & ASSOCIATES | WWW.CREDITUNIONS.COM
​ ​
Rank Name/State Assets FTEs Full-Time Employees Part-Time Employees FTE Growth
1 CHARLOTTE METRO CREDIT UNION (NC) $1.0B 305.5 304 3 110.69%
2 DEERE EMPLOYEES CREDIT UNION (IL) $1.7B 237.5 237 1 74.63%
3 PAHO-WHO FCU (DC) $237.9M 18.0 18 0 71.43%
4 CEDAR FALLS COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION (IA) $167.3M 26.0 22 8 52.94%
5 HORIZON FCU (PA) $135.4M 48.0 44 8 50.00%
6 PARTNERSHIP FINANCIAL CREDIT UNION (IL) $363.1M 52.0 49 6 44.44%
7 MAC FCU (AK) $168.0M 68.0 68 0 38.78%
8 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FCU (DC) $111.3M 22.0 22 0 37.50%
9 TEXAS TECH FCU (TX) $315.7M 133.5 129 9 36.92%
10 VOCALITY COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION (CA) $157.4M 49.0 49 0 30.67%

Data is from Callahan’s Peer-to-Peer software extracted from NCUA call reports; excludes growth by mergers.

Challenges Beyond The Pandemic

Texas Tech Federal Credit Union ($315.7M, Lubbock, TX) and Department of Labor Federal Credit Union ($111.3M, Washington, DC) have very different geographical challenges but both leveraged the opportunity to bolster their staffs during the pandemic.

“Currently, difficult,” is how DOLFCU CEO Thomas Domingue describes the hiring environment for his cooperative, whose two branches include one inside the Bureau of Labor Statistics. headquarters.

Thomas Domingue, CEO, Department of Labor FCU

“Pandemic aside, we are in secure government buildings with limited access and scarce parking,” Domingue says. “This creates challenges for attracting employees. And in the heart of DC, the salary demands are already at a premium compared to wider market.”

Domingue himself is a pandemic-era hire, taking the helm of his 6,963-member, 22-FTE cooperative in January 2020. Year-over-year, DOLFCU is up three FTEs as of June 30, but the leader says success is relative to perspective.

“We have a small staff, and DOLFCU has been staffed conservatively for a long time, to the point it’s held us back from executing some of our growth strategies,” Domingue says. “We hired three new employees, but we were only playing catch up to our needs.”

DOLFCU has three openings on its Career Page, two in lending and one “marketing trailblazer.”

The credit union now has lending, accounting, and call center staff working remotely; administrative and in-person member-facing staff are working in-house. The credit union plans to keep it this way.

CU QUICK FACTS

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FCU
Data as of 06.30.21

HQ: Washington, DC
ASSETS: $111.3M
MEMBERS: 6,963
BRANCHES: 2
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 11.5%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 36.8%
ROA: 0.66%

When it comes to finding quality talent and filling roles, Domingue offers a best practice that has worked well for his cooperative.

“My one piece of advice would be to broaden your perspective on who would be a good fit,” the CEO says.

A broader perspective includes downplaying credit union experience and instead focusing on the soft skills and attributes the applicants bring to the table.

“You can train technical skills,” Domingue says. “As long as an individual demonstrates empathy and initiative, I think you can embed the credit union philosophy into that candidate.”

Good Work Culture = Hiring Advantage

Chrissy Cozart, Human Resources Director, Texas Tech FCU

Texas Tech FCU has only one position available, content writer, on its career page as of this writing. But TTCU FTE count has risen considerably year-over-year, by nearly 37% to 133.5. HR director Chrissy Cozart says staffing up mortgage support to meet member demand has underpinned employee growth at the West Texas cooperative.

There’s less philosophical than physical distance between TTCU and DOLFCU when it comes to the new normal of pandemic hiring and workplace management.

“The pandemic has taught us all to reimagine the way we think about work,” Cozart says. “The best advice I can offer based on our experiences is to stay flexible. In this hiring environment, finding and retaining top talent will rely more on your ability to be creative and agile than it will on paying top of market.”

CU QUICK FACTS

TEXAS TECH FCU
Data as of 06.30.21

HQ: Lubbock, TX
ASSETS: $315.7M
MEMBERS: 27,327
BRANCHES: 6
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 25.9%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 16.7%
ROA: 1.77%

For example, Cozart says, her shop has learned several jobs can be done almost entirely from home. The credit union doesn’t hire specifically for remote positions, but it would embrace the opportunity if the best candidate is remote and applying for a position that lends itself to remote work.

That helps attract talent. So does TTCU’s reputation as a good place to work and grow a career.

“We’ve learned to appreciate the true connection and synergy of in-person interaction,” Cozart says. “Our culture is our advantage.”