Credit Union Staff Engagement: How to Boost Your Work Environment

 

We recently talked about how the Great Resignation is affecting credit unions, and though we’ve seen a slowdown in the number of people quitting as we move further into 2022, most predictions show we’re in for some more hard days before things go back to any “normal” employee turnover rates.

It’s important to note that for credit unions, your employee experience and your member experience are inextricably linked. If people like their work environment, the people who pay for and subscribe to that business will be consistently satisfied as well. And since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, we wanted to share some of the ways you can boost your work environment and company culture through credit union staff engagement.

Start with Unbiased Data

No matter how amazing your credit union’s work environment is, your staff members may not always feel comfortable telling you the harsh truths – especially when those harsh truths could be seen as criticism.

To be able to create and improve credit union staff engagement, you need to have a way to collect honest (and typically anonymous) feedback about current and past efforts and issues.

Third-party engagement surveys can help you collect unbiased data. By putting the effort in to distance your management and executive leaders from the survey process, you will be able to collect more constructive feedback. Many survey providers even aggregate and sort your data and feedback.

This gives you a great place to start when you are considering which engagement strategies you want to implement.

Once you have received the data from your survey provider, you can include your staff in the discussion about how you want to move forward. Many employees around the country skip or disregard surveys sent out by their employers because they assume that nothing substantial will come of the feedback. Others are afraid they may say something that will get them in hot water with management later.

The collection of and discussion about how your staff feels about the engagement requirements and opportunities is a great way for you to show them you value their opinions and input. You can build trust by taking action when your employees come to you with concerns, rather than just dismissing issues with comments like “The management team is discussing how to best move forward” or “If you have questions or concerns, talk to your supervisor.”

That transparency needs to come from both the CU leaders and the employees. Engagement goes up when your employees feel like they’re part of a work environment that encourages feedback and does something to address the common problems people are facing.

Mix Up Your Engagement Efforts

If your idea of engagement is to have a pizza party or ice cream social every month or quarter, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Your staff has spent the past few years living and working in COVID’s America – people are tired, stressed, and restless – and it’s not enough to just add a few more “Casual Dress Fridays” to the calendar and call it a day.

CreditUnions.com shared an article including some of the ways different US branches have been spicing up their engagement strategies and events.

Here are a few of our favorites mentioned in the article:

  • Employee awards and recognition boards (both branch-specific and credit union-wide): you can create polls or solicit feedback about employee efforts. Did someone jump in to assist another staff member when things were hectic? Is there a go-to person who is always willing to help plan events or engage more with your members? Employees love to be recognized, but it has to be genuine.
  • Sponsor yoga or other fitness sessions or stress-relief classes
  • Using technology to reward your employees – using a corporate DoorDash account to deliver free lunches to remote teams, paying for Instacart groceries. There was even a credit union that bought the ingredients for a meal that the staff then cooked together via Zoom.

Another great way to mix things up is to use your community outreach to help your employees’ favorite causes. Charitable efforts that go to national organizations are great, but what fundraisers and philanthropic groups are based in the towns your branches do business in? Every month, you could let your employees choose a cause that is dear to them, and then extend some outreach efforts or pledge donations to these smaller, but more meaningful, charities.

Foster Credit Union Staff Engagement with the “Build, Buzz, Bake” Method

Another recent article, this one from CU Management, shared a unique perspective on company culture and how to create change that sticks in your credit union work environment.

Employee engagement and your credit union’s culture are two sides of the same coin. The “build, buzz, bake” framework is perfect for credit unions because your staff is already more invested in your business than other employees in the financial and banking industries. Many employees are stakeholders, and your credit union’s success is also their personal and professional success.

According to the article, the build phase is all about the prep work. To engage your employees, you have to give them a vision or inspiration that gets them excited. This inspiring idea can be specific or broad, but it must be unifying. For example, maybe sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives are gaining popularity, and this can be the theme that drives your engagement efforts. Or it can be something small or temporary, like creating a Community Discovery summer program where you partner with local businesses to boost engagement for members, staff, and the community.

Next is the buzz phase. A quick email outlining the new company culture or engagement project isn’t enough. You have to generate some excitement and momentum.

Set aside time to converse with your staff about the new initiative. What inspires them to want to participate? What stops them from wanting to participate? This can help you tailor events and meetings that increase credit union staff engagement.

And the final phase is to bake. Credit unions are primed for creating and sustaining great and powerful company culture, you just have to allow your employees the space to explore and interact. Whatever your new or improved direction is, once you’ve gotten some buzz going, you need to continue feeding into that culture so the positive aspects of it grow and become second nature.

Streamline Complex Functions with Infuzion – IMSI’s Powerful New Tool

Another tip for staff engagement involves leveraging technology to keep menial tasks to a minimum. IMSI’s Infuzion tool allows you to streamline complex functions without developing scripts or building Java.

You can run rapid file search queries, batch file inputs, and script modifications, which can free up your staff members to work with members, develop new product lines or marketing campaigns, and do other strategic work that fosters growth for your credit union.

Contact us today to learn more about how Infuzion and Keystone solutions can help increase productivity and credit union staff engagement.


Credit Unions & the Great Resignation

 

The Great Resignation has not been easy for credit unions. And much like the rest of the country, your credit union must be looking for some explanations and solutions to the problems caused by the Great Resignation.

Your credit union staff is quite often part of the “face” of your CU’s brand. And as the Great Resignation and its effects linger, it can reflect poorly on that brand if you are unable to keep your branches staffed well. As inflation and cost of living expenses rise, it is less likely that your credit union is a “bad employer” and more likely that you aren’t marketing your positions in an optimal way, among other things.

Let’s talk about what the Great Resignation is and how to create targeted solutions to keep credit union staff issues to a minimum.

The Great Resignation: What It Is and What It Taught Us

In 2021, nearly 50 million people left their jobs voluntarily. This number is 12 million higher than the previous year.

What caused this mass exodus? Here are some of the top reasons cited by those who quit:

  • Burnout (40%)
  • Organizational changes (34%)
  • Lack of flexibility (20%)
  • Instances of discrimination (20%)
  • Contributions and ideas not being valued (20%)
  • Insufficient benefits (19%)

The stress from the pandemic – including many companies calling their staff back from remote work to in-office, loss of employees due to COVID, increased responsibilities, etc. – are all contributors to the burnout that many people are feeling in their workplace.

And credit unions are not exempt from these things. Like many businesses, most CUs can’t support 100% of their workforce going full-time remote, and it’s up to individual institutions to decide how to handle cost of living hikes and inflation issues.

However, when you look at the list of reasons why people are leaving in droves, a lot of it comes down to employees not feeling supported by the businesses they work for and support.

And while this information may seem negative, it’s also worth noting that the financial services sector actually experienced the Great Resignation less significantly than other industries. However, the number of resignations is still outweighing the number of new hires, even now, though that trend seems to be slowing the further we get into 2022.

Hiring & Recruiting: Jumpstart Your CU’s Search

If you are looking to increase your credit union staff numbers, or you have vacant positions to fill, we’ve got some tips.

Right now, posting your open positions on your website and your favorite job boards isn’t enough to attract the candidates you’ll want. Your hiring approach has to be more active.

You can use those same job boards to seek out specific people or to search for individuals who may be gainfully employed but looking for other opportunities. For example, LinkedIn lets people note on their profile if they are open to other job opportunities, even if they aren’t actively looking to change jobs.

You also need to expand your search. Though each position may have preferred skills, it’s important to seek out and evaluate potential candidates who don’t fit all the criteria on your list.

When you think about the ideal person you’d like to fill a specific position, what sort of attributes are most important? Do they need to be personable? Should they have high problem-solving capabilities or be great at written communication? Many of these attributes are tantamount to, say, their experience working in the financial sector, but they are often overlooked until after the interview process has already begun.

Offering sign-on bonuses or other perks including higher wages that are consistent with or better than your area competitors is helpful, too. But these things are only so important to prospects, especially for businesses with staffing issues based on workload, company culture, or other more systemic problems.

Evaluate Your Expenses

Much of the effect of the Great Resignation for credit union staff was seen in the resignation of frontline workers including tellers and other employees who work directly with your members. And while this can be frustrating, it also offers a great opportunity for your credit union to see what improvements can be made to ease the burden on front-facing roles by implementing new processes or investing in new technology.

The Great Resignation is also a great opportunity for your branches to evaluate other expenses. There are likely ways to reduce costs without reducing your staff. For example, IMSI has a host of credit union solutions that take some of the more repetitive or preliminary member-facing tasks and creates online solutions that you can build directly into your CU’s website or app offerings.

Web Solutions for Busy CU Leaders

When you are having staffing issues, the last thing you want to do is make things harder for yourself or your current credit union staff. That’s why IMSI concentrates on bringing you customized, high-quality solutions for your online forms.

Our online self-service forms can collect information for you and even enable member-led self-service request fulfillment. IMSI can build dozens of forms that can ease the burden on your staff and place some of the power back into your member’s hands.

Are you interested in learning more about IMSI’s self-service forms? Reach out to us today and request a consultation.


Preparing Credit Union Employees for the Holiday Season

 

Like last year, 2021’s holiday season is going to present some unique challenges, many of which are – at least in part – caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Labor shortages and supply chain disruptions are going to make for some challenging interactions, and your credit union will not be immune. Here are some ideas for preparing your credit union employees for the holiday season.

Upgrade Your Tech Game

The 2020 holiday season was a record-breaker in terms of tech use. More people than ever turned to online solutions to shop for gifts, check in with family members, and so much more.

IMS Integration is dedicated to creating top-of-the-line tech-based solutions to help keep your credit union ahead of the curve. With items like web loan applications, online account opening, and Skip a Pay, your members can manage their funds at their convenience and adjust their financial plans to accommodate holiday spending and income changes. Our new Infuzion offering is an extremely powerful tool, developed to streamline complex functions without needing to develop scripts or build Java.

What does all this mean? Your employees will have more time to help with other member needs during the holiday season.

Acknowledge Changing Trends in Member Habits

According to PCSU, there are several trends to be aware of so you can meet or exceed holiday goals. These are great initiatives you will want to make sure your employees are aware of and working to educate your member base about.

The first is that October and November are great months for credit line increases, providing members with more flexibility and larger scope and volume of purchases, including lines of credit with the purpose of finishing

The second pertains to top-of-wallet behaviors. November and December are good months to run promotions and campaigns that bring certain cards and programs back as top priorities.

And the third trend is more geared toward the first of the year. In January and February, your employees should turn their attention and focus to offering balance transfers and convenience checks, helping members to find and take advantage of lower rates once the holidays have ended.

Plan Ahead

Many sources across industry disciplines are reporting that the “holiday season,” rather than being contained to November and December, is actually becoming a 3-4 month endeavor that starts just as August ends.

To help your employees have the tools and resources they need to succeed through these busy months, it’s important to plan ahead.

Auditing past years’ activities, brainstorming new and modified ways to handle the increased demand for products and services, and even hiring seasonal help can be beneficial as you prepare credit union employees for the holiday season.

Don’t Dismiss Team Morale Checks

The holidays, while often touted as the most wonderful time of the year, are often harder for many people, especially those who deal with customers face-to-face (or screen-to-screen). While it’s important to prepare your credit union employees for the holiday season by giving them the professional tools and insights they need, you also need to be aware of the state of team morale and mental health.

While it’s important to celebrate with your team, it’s also a good idea to check in with your teams. If someone isn’t feeling particularly cheery, allow them to take the space they need, even if it means they won’t be attending the company Christmas lunch or holiday dinner. You can even move the celebration to after the new year, so your staff can enjoy the festivities outside of the stress that comes with the frenzy of holiday activity many industries are affected by.

Give Your CU a Great Gift, Too

IMS Integration has a range of professional services that are customized to you. UI and Batch Scripting in Keystone, custom web development, and custom electronic forms are a great gift to give your credit union for the new year. Let our expertise make things easier for you and your employees in future holiday seasons. Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


How to Improve Your Credit Union’s Employee Experience

 

As a credit union leader, you spend a lot of time working on ways to improve the member experience. But what about the employee experience? 

Your employees have taken on the brunt of the chaos of 2020 alongside you and your leadership team in an effort to support your members through the challenges of the year. As we prepare for 2021, it’s time to reevaluate how we create the employee experience. 

Build the Company Culture

The best way to improve the employee experience is to build the company culture. 

According to Built In, “Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize an organization.” 

By definition, a company’s culture is not something you can change overnight because it occurs naturally, whether you are part of that culture. This means that to build the company culture, you must first understand the company culture. Your employees are creating a culture around you, so it’s important that you are part of that culture. 

If your company culture does not align with your company’s core values, then you and the rest of the leadership team have work to do. Change comes from the top, so if your culture does not align with your values, change starts with you. 

The key to building a company culture starts with living out your company’s core values. When your employees see these values in action and they agree with these values, your culture will improve and become healthier. 

Focus on Employee Development

Another way to build your company culture is to provide managerial support and flexibility to your employees. Navy Federal Credit Union does this by prioritizing employee development. This often looks like encouraging employees to pursue their goals and dreams within your credit union, which may include transitioning to different departments and positions, and providing them with the opportunities and training to do so. 

This internal mobility is critical to maintaining employee retention and satisfaction. Employees feel more valued and passionate about their roles with a company when they know that they are not stagnant in their current position. Managers need to encourage employees to dream and make goals – and leadership needs to enable these opportunities. 

Get Personal

Another way you can improve the employee experience is to focus on the little things, such as learning the names of all of your employees and listening to details about their lives. Short conversations can improve the employee experience because when employees feel heard, even if you cannot change a situation for them professionally or personally, they feel valued in both respects. 

Another way you can get personal with your employees is to share stories with them. Humanize yourself with your staff by sharing anecdotes about your professional and personal life – the opportunities are only limited by your comfort zone. But these conversations, in groups or in private, can help you connect with your employees, which can make them feel like they are more of a part of the company.

Depending on your role and your credit union, this may be very challenging if there are silos in your organization. It is up to the leadership team to break down those silos in order to improve the company and employee experience. 

Encourage Feedback

If you’re unsure where you stand with your employees or are unsure where to begin to improve the company culture, start with gathering feedback. This can look like anonymous employee surveys, informal group discussions, or personal conversations between yourself and employees or between managers and employees. 

Encouraging and gathering feedback on a consistent basis is critical to improving the employee experience because oftentimes, employees don’t want to be a “squeaky wheel.” So if your credit union is heavily siloed, start searching for feedback indirectly. Watch for signs of a poor employee experience, including:

  • Employees showing signs of burnout
  • Low retention rates
  • High rates of sick days
  • Poor work quality
  • Regular tardiness
  • High customer complaints

Identify Biases

Improving the employee experience starts before the hiring process. Leaders must identify their own personal and professional biases, scrap them, and implement changes to the hiring process. This not only helps focus the hiring process on adding value to the culture rather than finding applicants that already fit into the culture, but it also benefits diversity and inclusion efforts. 

According to CUInsight, “By fostering an inclusive culture, we begin to breakdown these biases. Too often we hear about organizations that look to increased diversity as the answer, by hiring diverse talent, without ensuring there is a culture of support and inclusion in place. This sets organizations up for failure in this critical area.”

This ongoing process is very intentional. To improve the employee experience for everyone, leaders must hire people who are different than themselves in order to add value to the company as a whole. To only hire applicants that share your personal values is to pigeonhole the credit union and limit its connectivity to the community as a whole. 

Upgrade Your Technology

Another way to improve the employee experience is to upgrade the technology they use to do their jobs. Using the right technology tools and platforms can provide these benefits:

  • Improve employee collaboration
  • Save employees time
  • Improve employee productivity
  • Optimize the member experience
  • Improve employee engagement

If you use KeyStone by Corelation in your credit union, then upgrade your technology and streamline the employee experience with our KeyStone Solutions