Boldly expressing gratitude for essential workers – with a twist

How you can celebrate and honor people with one collective voice.

News not to miss: One credit union CEO’s sudden realization of missing a moment to share gratitude with all employees, members and community partners led to a partnership to give a simple, inspiring campaign away free to every credit union in the U.S. and Canada. Read on.

Shell shock is subsiding for thousands of credit union leaders as they make their way through their first phase of COVID-19 emergency response planning and execution. As the fog of crisis begins to clear, credit unions note their employees’ tremendous dedication and acts of kindness in helping struggling members and small business owners. It’s truly a defining moment for credit unions everywhere as their staff delivers essential help across their communities.

This new way of working is challenging for many credit union employees. Remote teams are less engaged and feeling connected is tough. Days of isolation can be stressful and people aren’t always appreciated as worried members vent frustrations and share their disappointment about economic losses and health, to a general fear of the future, and even simple day-to-day inconveniences.

In the midst of this unfolding crisis, stories of caring, responsive service and kindness are coming in from staff, generous members, and local community heroes stepping in—not just those on the front lines of the healthcare crisis. Essential help shows up in many places that are inspiring and encouraging in small ways.

This got one credit union CEO, Brice Yocum, at Tucoemas Federal Credit Union in Visalia, California thinking about the essential work being done by his team and so many others in their community. “I had to remind myself amidst the constant flow of actions we’ve taken, that our employees are among those resilient essential workers. They’re adapting, showing up every day and fighting to help our members in distress,” explains Yocum. “I am filled with tremendous gratitude watching them help members and each other. These acts of selflessness and can-do attitude encouraged me to recognize this tailwind of optimism and hope in our communities.”

Yocum decided he had to immediately do something to recognize people fighting to make a difference. “I called Karen McGaughey, the leader at Strum Agency who is managing our current strategic branding program to see what creative ideas their team might come up with to tackle this moment in time and help us honor deserving people all around us.”

This led to the development of a gratitude campaign our team called, “&Essential”. The goals were simple: no products, no selling, just pure gratitude. Yocum adds, “The word essential means ‘absolutely necessary; extremely important.’ At Tucoemas that meant to show up, get things done, make sure the front-liners can take care of our members and our community in this crisis, as we rise up together.”

Josh Streufert, Creative Director/Principal for Strum stresses, the &Essential campaign message and tone is built around the truth that essential workers, “are more than just their job. They are mothers and fathers, friends and colleagues, community volunteers, caregivers and much more.”

From the local restaurateur serving meals to healthcare workers, the church providing childcare for law enforcement, to credit union staff teaching senior members how to use the ATM and online banking, our communities are filled with essential workers deserving of our thanks. Yocum adds, “It means being the person behind another person and providing a critical backbone of support. As our design emphasized, it’s not just about us, but about the whole essential community, all across our state and our country.”

“What could happen if we gave it away to others?”

We called Brice after he launched the campaign and asked if he’d be willing to partner with us and share out the &Essential gratitude campaign with every credit union for free so others could take the idea and make it their own. We’re always better together.

CEO Brice was totally game. “It’s a great opportunity to share why credit unions are cooperatives who believe that people can truly make a difference together. We’re trying to unite people around us by showing how much we care about those making a difference,” he says.

Tucoemas FCU and Strum decided the idea was worth sharing with everyone to pay it forward.

To use the campaign, you can download the free artwork from Strum here. There’s a range of artwork for social media templates, t-shirt gift artwork, stickers and more. Use it any way it benefits your communities, members and your staff.

Karen McGaughey

Karen McGaughey

Karen McGaughey is passionate about helping business leaders align their cultures and brands and cultivate highly engaged employees. She is responsible for guiding overall strategy and large-scale change efforts for ... Web: Details