It’s been said so many times it’s almost clichéd: “Our people are our most important asset.” However, just because something, by repetition, may be clichéd does not mean it isn’t true. The year 2020 taught us many lessons, a pillar of which is, indeed, the quality of a credit union’s employee base is absolutely critical.
This year put everyone, including credit union employees, through the wringer. Ultimately, the credit unions that continue to focus on the employee experience are those which will continue to reap the benefits of this investment in people. Consider the three key concepts for your credit union employee experience in 2021.
Be visible and greet your team.
This can be a challenge for credit union leadership in the best of times. We can wall ourselves off from the rest of the credit union and run the risk of developing a “silo mentality.” Credit union leaders must work hard to overcome this, especially during adverse times. Your team is looking to its leaders for inspiration and the high-bar which is set. This means finding ways to be visible (even if that is increased digital visibility with off-site/remote staff) and keeping a high profile. Important elements of visibility like greeting, eye contact, and even a friendly smile can show through lingering elements of the pandemic including social distancing and facemasks. When you are visible to your staff, so is your brand and culture.
Deliver and focus on praise over correction.
All proactive credit union leaders with an eye on the employee experience should look for ways to “catch people doing good” and not just the gotcha that comes with correction during challenging experiences. While correction and redirection will certainly continue to be a part of developing employees, credit union leaders that think the bigger picture will find ways and opportunities to deliver and focus on praise much more often than correction. Praise is contagious and not only impacts the individual receiving it but the teammates around them. When you develop and deliver a culture of praise, your staff and members reap the benefits.
Demonstrate the link between work and fulfillment.
The majority of staff look for ways to link the time they put in and the paycheck they earn with a greater sense of fulfillment. Credit unions that work on developing brand and member experience are particularly engineered for this type of emotional connection. Your staff need and are looking for ways to connect the time and effort they put in at work with a larger benefit; something that flows out into the people and communities you serve. When staff realize their efforts have a greater impact than merely transactional and that the work they do has a positive ripple effect on human hearts around them, they are much more likely to buy long-term into your brand and member experience. Find ways, through member and employee stories, to illustrate this link between work and a greater sense of life fulfillment. Make sharing and celebrating these stories a regular part of your internal and external culture.
While there are plenty of additional important elements in developing an overall powerful and rewarding credit union employee experience, focusing on visibility, praise and work fulfillment is a great trio on which to start. Your credit union employees, brand and member experience all benefit from this focus on your people. An internal culture of wellness is an overflowing cup that eventually spills out into the members and communities your credit union serves.