Closing The Purpose Gap

Credit unions have been making decisions based on perceived outcomes rather than purpose. That needs to change.

 
 

When your employees understand and embrace your organization’s purpose, they are inspired to do great work and are more committed to delivering on your credit union’s promise. Credit union’s embracing the people-helping-people mantra are, by design, purpose-driven, right? So, in other words there is no purpose gap in credit unions. 

I challenge that notion — I believe, that, as a movement, we have been leading with our outcomes not our purpose and this has created a purpose gap.

Please allow me to prove my point. If I were to review 10 credit union homepages — what will I find? Most likely it will be product promotions featuring rates and fees front and center. If I were to interview your frontline staff and ask them “why should I join your credit union?” I suspect I’ll hear because “the credit union will save you money.” These are outcomes, these are not purpose-driven responses. This means we have a purpose gap. And that’s why, we chose Purpose as our first Imperative for 2020.  

Research also supports this purpose gap. PwC’s Strategy& recently conducted a survey with 540 participants from across industries, regions, and levels. The goal of the survey was to better understand how people feel at work and how to better engage and motivate them to bring their best to work every day in order to further the company’s agenda.

The survey found that only 28% of respondents reported feeling fully connected to their company’s purpose. Just 39% said they could clearly see the value they create, a mere 22% agreed that their jobs allow them to fully leverage their strengths, and only 34% thought they strongly contribute to their company’s success. Clearly there is a gap in America. 

At companies that have clearly defined and communicated how they create value — their purpose — more than 90% of them deliver growth and profits at or above the industry average, according to Strategy& research and analyses.

Furthermore, the survey found that employees consider purpose to be more than twice as important, on average, as motivators like compensation and career advancement. Now we’re talking! Lead with purpose and accomplish great things — personally and professionally. 

Leverage Your Purpose For Greater Impact

Organizations that are purpose-driven out-perform the market, have an easier time attracting and retaining employees and are changing the way business think about their roles and responsibilities to communities and society as a whole.

Sustainable Business Strategy with Rebecca Henderson teaches credit union leaders that being purpose-driven is more than being a community-forward organization and helps them rethink their roles and responsibilities to members, employees, communities, and the environment.

Learn More About This Course

If you love what you do, understand how what you do positively impacts your stakeholders, and are empowered to act on needs with a purpose imperative, that’s motivating. That’s creating a bridge between today and tomorrow and bridging the purpose gap.

Credit unions are operating in an increasingly competitive and challenging environment. There is a war for talent and a battle for business every day. It’s critically important credit unions lead with purpose in every activity performed. From recruiting, to onboarding, to policy-setting, and operational execution. Your purpose — the why your credit union exists — needs to be the driver for every decision you make. 

This is easier said than done and it’s easier to believe you’re already done, than continue to push for improvement. As credit unions, our purpose is to help members live their best financial life — this isn’t one size fits all, neither at the institutional level nor the member level. Furthermore, this may not be the same from day to day. Being purpose-driven means slowing down to understand and explain the why behind each decision/action; it means taking the long view on investments and being laser-focused on resource allocation to support and enhance purpose.

So, what’s your purpose? Why do you come to work each day? Why have you dedicated your career to credit unions? I suspect it is NOT to save members money — it’s bigger than that. It’s imperative that all your stakeholders — your employees, your members and your community know the answers to these questions — know your credit union’s purpose. If not, you have a bigger challenge then finding the right talent and growing your balances — you are challenged with why your credit union exists and more importantly, if your credit union went away tomorrow, would anyone notice?

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