Truity FCU Takes A New Approach To New Hire Training

When the pandemic grounded travel, the Oklahoma credit union had to change its week-long, on-site onboarding program. Here’s how it broke beyond video conferencing.

 
 

Top-Level Takeaways

  • In the past, new hires at Truity FCU have attend a week-long orientation at the credit union’s headquarters.
  • Training couldn’t stop when travel did, so the credit union brought the training to the trainees.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a halt, Truity Federal Credit Union ($935.4M, Bartlesville, OK) brought all new hires to its corporate headquarters for orientation and training.

CU QUICK FACTS

Truity FCU
Data as of 09.30.20

HQ: Bartlesville, OK
ASSETS: $935.4M
MEMBERS: 70,142
BRANCHES: 8
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 13.9%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 6.4%
ROA: 0.59%

The Oklahoma-based credit union — which also operates branches in Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas — hosted new employees in its Bartlesville corporate facility for a week of job training and culture building, but when the pandemic grounded travel, Truity had to rethink its new hire training.

In this Q&A, Andria McCollough, Truity’s senior vice president of people development, discusses the credit union’s remote training efforts across 2020, what’s been lost, what’s been gained, and what comes next.

Before the pandemic, what did new hire training at Truity look like?

Andria McCollough: Every new employee from our four-state footprint would come to our corporate office in Bartlesville and complete training. We’d put them in a hotel, and they’d come in on Sunday, train all that week, and go home on Friday. Approximately one month after that, they would come back to for two or three additional days, depending on their position, for further training. There was a video element to it, but 99% of their training was in person.

What did that new hire training entail?

AM: They would go through systems training on our core system and complete compliance training as well.

There was more to it depending on the role and responsibility. For example, a teller would sit in a classroom with a fake cash drawer. We’d pair them with a trainer to work through various scenarios, what to do and why. We try to create a uniform experience among all of our physical locations, so having new hires understand not only the systems and regulations but also the service requirements and rationale is critical. They take that and apply it in their daily work.

From the trainer’s perspective, what was the most valuable part of this in-person training setup?

AM: Culture. We met the employee in person, showed them what our corporate office looks like, and introduced them to our senior staff and others. When they went back to their branch in Arkansas or Texas, they had connections to any number of our team members at the corporate office. We asked various managers in the corporate office — not just from their own department — to take the new hires to lunch and tried to create connections. That was the favorite part of training for new hires — connecting with managers.

When the pandemic hit, did you freeze hiring?

AM: No. Early on, we thought we might be back to normal in a few weeks. Obviously, that didn’t happen. However, we didn’t stop interviewing for new hires. We didn’t stop recruiting. We needed people, and we needed to get them trained and up-and-running.

We did stop travel. We no longer bring new hires to our corporate office to train. That’s been a huge challenge for us trainers — to accomplish what we need to accomplish in a completely different way than we did before.

What did you do?

AM: We asked ourselves what training we could do by video conferencing and what couldn’t.

We had each new hire essentially take over a branch conference room for a week, watch us present a systems tutorial over video, and practice in a limited way based on the training.

At first, we pared down training to fit the situation. But, after the first two months of the pandemic — when it became clear we were in a long-term crisis — we expanded things. We set up workstations in branch conference rooms that mimicked our setup in the corporate office. The branch conference room became a full training facility. It’s not the same as what we have in our corporate office — because it’s a conference room setup — but they have all the same pieces around them.

"That’s been a huge challenge for us trainers — to accomplish what we need to accomplish in a completely different way than we did before."

Andria McCollough, SVP of People Development, Truity FCU

Did you set up training facilities in each of your eight branches? Or in certain locations only?

AM: We set up less than a handful in certain branches that had the most need, but we might have to tweak that based on employee turnover.

Do you now provide all training in the new branch set up? Are there at-home elements?

AM: We have a two-pronged approach. For the first week of training, they’re in the branch learning physical systems. Then — because we operate our branches with a week-on, week-off schedule — we make use of the time they’re home on their second week. While they’re working from home, we have them complete compliance courses and other self-paced forms of training that introduce new things and also reinforce the skills taught by their trainer.

How many people have gone through new hire onboarding during the pandemic? What has their reaction been?

AM: We’ve had 33 new hires go through orientation since COVID-19 started.

They don’t know what our traditional training looks like, but they’ve had conversations with others who did come to Bartlesville for new hire orientation and who’ve talked positively about that experience from a cultural perspective. In our new hire surveys, they are saying they wish they could be here in person because they feel as though they are missing out on certain cultural touchpoints.

But are they getting the information they need to be a successful teller, consultant, or whatever role? Yes, they’re getting that.

Will you add a cultural component at some point for those new hires who missed it?

AM: As far as the training component goes, it’s complete. We certainly miss having that cultural component, but we can catch up everyone as they continue their employment with Truity.

Were any other elements of the new hire orientation lost by going virtual?

AM: We are watching to ensure procedures are maintained from branch to branch. Because training occurs more decentralized than it has in the past, we need to ensure we are still exhibiting consistent service.

Is there anything you will keep from this virtual approach once travel is permitted again?

AM: I think it’s opened up questions: Do employees really need to be in Bartlesville when they go through their compliance training? That’s one example, but are there are things that make more sense for them to complete in the office later on?

It might be OK to have employees complete a certain amount of training from their branch, but we will have to consider the importance of culture in the new hire orientation process. Ultimately, it’s something we don’t want to lose.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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