I have to admit I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, not sure why. And had a bit of writer’s block to boot. But now that Christmas is over and New Year’s Eve is just ahead I decided to reflect on what an amazing year we just had.
On Friday the 13th it began. Just 5 days after my birthday on March 8th. The greatest gift of all, complete and utter disruption on planet earth. It’s as if God said, “Okay, enough of this business as usual, rinse and repeat, we’re good enough, cruising into retirement state of being. Let’s shake this up and see how creative, collaborative and compassionate mankind can be.”
I am very proud to be a part of the CUInsight Community of bloggers. They represent the movers, shakers, thinkers, destroyers, preservers and creators in my opinion. This year’s community showed us all of the opportunities this global pandemic has afforded us. If you weren’t paying attention, here are some of the highlights.
It has been said that if you take care of your people, they will take care of your members. Our employees are our greatest asset, right? And yet we had no plan in place to close our lobbies and require most of our employees to work from home, forcing members to use remote services, or clog up the drive-up window. Who could have predicted at the same time school aged children would also be “sent home” to finish their school year remotely? Most of your employees are not okay was a piece written by Jill Nowacki, President/CEO of Humanidei. She shines a light on the disparate impact COVID has had among working women and with the majority of credit union employees being women, this is something we needed to pay attention to.
The credit union mantra from the beginning has been “People helping people,” and Susan Mitchell, of Mitchell Stankovic and Associates, wrote an amazing article on “Activating Maslow’s Hierarchy in the people pandemic through vulnerable collaboration.” Currently 75% of Americans have less than $400.00 in savings, their most basic needs were already at risk, and credit unions all over the country had to scramble to provide Americans with the essential services needed to survive. A great example was Vancity Credit Union, who set up a Unity Term Deposit program, which takes savings invested by members and turns them into loans to support people and businesses struggling due to coronavirus. If you want some inspiration on how you can create a deeper connection with others for increased collaboration, productivity, and cohesiveness, check this one out.
One of the most creative marketing teams I’ve ever met are the folks at CRMNEXT and Victoria Weber, Marketing Specialist, joined the CUInsight community this year. Instead of the typical marketing, promoting their CRM products, they recognized this year was a year to focus on solving problems and they saw so many credit unions doing just that as they launched a competition.
Victoria asks “Are CU heroes born or made?”
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles,” – Superman
They launched the Right on the Money Championship and received an overwhelming 50 submissions. The panel of judges (full disclosure, I was one of them and so was Lauren Culp, CUInsight CEO) had a tough time deciding the top three winners. The Grand Prize winner was State Employees Credit Union of New Mexico. Their crowning achievement was the creation of “learning labs” for their employees’ school aged children at each of their branches, along with providing equipment for tutors for the students. As I already mentioned, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on women, as childcare falls more heavily on women in the household. Although the initiative was not specifically highlighted as a diversity, equity and including initiative, the learning labs were just that. They ensured that all of their employees, especially women, were able to bring their whole selves into work because they could bring their kids with them.
This month, Business Development guru Julie Ferguson wrote an amazing article on getting back to business. By now we have had time to take care of our employees, retool our business model and now we need to get “back to business” but in a different way than we are used to. She believes that “Business development needs branch managers.” She sites three simple steps to help engage and leverage them:
- Own a mile. Ask for responsibility for SEG groups within a mile of your branch.
- Deep dive participation. Take ownership for a few community partnerships.
- Be genuinely curious. Instead of talking about all the great things the CU can do for their employees, find out what specific challenges they are facing.
Julie states “The reality is people in our communities need our help. To make a real difference, we must be proactive in building more relevant relationships. Choose to position yourself to find more communication channels to share your credit union story, build more raving fans, and connect to the community in meaningful ways.”
These four amazing women shined a light on just a few examples of all the great things the year of COVID brought us. It’s definitely been a rough one, but I for one can now see what a gift it has been. When we look back at this time I hope credit unions can see that this is something we desperately needed. It rocked us back to our core values and showed us that we are truly better together.
Here’s to a happy NEW year. Stay safe. Wash your hands.