Credit Union Crisis: 5 Ways to Save Your Employee Experience

Credit Union Crisis: 5 Ways to Save Your Employee Experience

Table of Contents

For the first time in history, Americans are happier with banks than they are with credit unions.

That leaves many credit unions, whose entire business depends on the satisfaction of its members, wondering: What now? 

Finding a competitive advantage within an industry undergoing such rapid change isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible. 

The truth is undeniable: Companies that lead in customer experience also lead in employee experience. Kazoo (now WorkTango’s) Employee Experience Platform has helped more than 130 financial institutions, and specifically 34 credit unions:

To help your credit union achieve similar results, we’re breaking down the 5 HR tactics you can use to revamp your employee experience and drive real results.

5 HR tactics to boost employee experience at credit unions

1. Double down on recognition

66% of employees report they would likely leave their job if they feel unappreciated or undervalued. So instead of losing staff to big bank perks, credit unions have a real opportunity to offer employees what matters most.

The simple act of giving recognition not only increases employee retention. It also leads to a higher performing, more connected workforce. 

Ready to build your own culture of recognition? The best ways to do that are to: 1) make it public and 2) make it peer-to-peer (not just leader or people manager to employee).

Public recognition: The warm fuzzies people feel when they’re shown appreciation are amplified when their wins are shared and celebrated organization-wide. In addition to feeling seen by their manager, they also feel valued by colleagues and leadership. And when that happens, top performance is bound to follow.

Peer-to-peer recognition: Many organizations are filled with employees from different generations, various backgrounds, and diverse lifestyles. Peer-to-peer recognition encourages employees to share what they value about each other’s contributions; and in doing so, breaks down communication barriers, improves collaboration, and increases engagement.

2. Create a culture of feedback and growth

As the largest credit union in the United States, the Navy Federal Credit Union also serves as a great example of culture-focused feedback and growth. By consistently providing their employees with opportunities to gain new skills, Navy Federal reports seeing a more agile workforce, as well as more loyal employees who aspire to build a career within the organization.

So, what are some actionable steps your credit union can borrow to encourage a culture of feedback and growth?

Revamp old-style performance management tactics
Individual goals and continuous feedback  keep employees aligned to organizational goals year-round. By using WorkTango’s Check-In feature quarterly (instead of outdated annual performance reviews), to discuss successes as well as opportunities for growth, managers can then use 1-on-1 Sync-Up meetings to build connection with their team members.

Career pathing and development opportunities 
Motivate employees to look for career opportunities within your organization, instead of elsewhere. How? It’s important to proactively communicate what those opportunities are. It’s as easy as mapping out and sharing internal career paths with new employees, then encouraging them to apply as open positions arise. Also, don’t forget to invest in professional certification courses, workshops, and mentoring programs to help your team build the new skills they need to move up.

3. Incentivize and reward great member service

Member scores are the lifeblood of a credit union. To ensure you’re building a culture centered around continually improving those scores, measure, track, and reward employees who regularly receive high scores. Incentivizing customer experience not only drives business; it also creates opportunities for employees to excel in their role and reap the benefits of those successes. 

Here are some specific incentives and rewards to consider:

  • Experiential rewards (i.e. day trips, dinner delivery)
  • Help with home tasks (i.e. laundry service or TaskRabbit or DoorDash credit)
  • Half-day Fridays
  • Wellness benefits (i.e. membership to a gym or virtual wellness community)
  • Educational support
  • Extra paid time off / flexible scheduling

4. Live out your mission, vision, and values

Execution of an organization’s core values can make or break success. But according to Gallup, only 27% of employees strongly believe in their company’s values. 

At credit unions, organizational values are often community-focused, which can be reinforced by volunteering in local neighborhoods together, giving to local causes, and hosting community events. Here are some examples:

Alabama Credit Union created Secret Meals for Hungry Children. This program aids in decreasing the number of children in Alabama and Florida facing hunger over the weekend. ACU also hosts community-driven fundraisers year-round, and works with local university public relations students to increase awareness of the program. Bonus: Employees are given opportunities to participate in all events, which continually reinforces the organization’s mission, vision, and values. 

Likewise, California-based Arrowhead Credit Union started rewarding employees whose behavior was aligned with organizational values by offering fun experiences and charitable contributions through Kazoo (nowWorkTango’s)  Recognition &  Rewards engine. The best part? In addition to strengthening culture, Arrowhead also cut their quit rate in half. If you want to learn more, check out this case study.

“If our employees like it here, Kazoo (now WorkTango) helps us keep them. It enhances that experience.”

— Valerie Hopkins, SVP of Human Resources at Arrowhead

5. Check your pulse (survey)

According to Qualtrics, 77% of employees want to give their employers feedback more than once per year. So instead of the traditional annual engagement survey, give its cousin, the quarterly pulse survey, a try.

Because they’re frequent, pulse surveys work to keep communication lines open all the time. They also make employees feel heard, valued, and engaged.

Especially during times of change and uncertainty, it’s imperative to keep your finger on the pulse of your team’s well-being, both personally and professionally.

Improving your employee experience

Remember, a good employee experience is the driving force behind a good customer experience. And in order to compete with other innovative financial institutions, it’s critical for credit unions to attract, retain and develop the most talented financial professionals.

When it comes to the rising importance of the employee experience, The American Banker put it best:

“The demand for healthy workplace culture isn’t just a trend that will pass. Millennials and Gen Z are driving a fundamental shift in expectations that is quickly becoming the status quo for all workers.”

Credit unions are not immune to this shift. Improving your employee experience is the key to member retention, and ultimately, your bottom line. And if you like what you hear, maybe it’s time for us to talk.