To put it mildly, the year 2020 has and continues to be a real humdinger. While the optimistic personality can (and should) always look for the silver lining in any situation, credit unions are ill-advised to turn a blind eye towards the ongoing pressure cooker that is the first year of this new decade.
Your employees, while still expected to deliver high levels of member service and experience, are also human beings and dealing with the same ongoing pressures as the rest of society. It’s a political year. Some regions of the country have dealt with ongoing natural disasters (hurricanes, wildfires, etc.). Civil tumult and economic uncertainty hang over many heads. And, of course, there is the ongoing pandemic. In fact, an increasing number of studies identify “pandemic fatigue” as a very real and impactful element in the lives of Americans.
The questions then become: how can my credit union continue to deliver on the brand promises we’ve made to members over the years? How can we not only maintain but increase our level of member experience so we stand out and differentiate from the sea of competitors? How can we best prepare and nurture our staff to thrive in this environment? The answer to this member experience riddle in many ways, comes down to the employee experience.
A recent study indicates almost 80-percent of business and human resources leaders believe the employee experience is an important trend. Interestingly, of that high percentage only 22-percent believe their companies are doing a good job delivering on that differentiated employee experience. However, the investment in employee wellness and experience is definitely there. Research from MIT shares organizations that make employee experience a priority realize double customer satisfaction rates, double the innovation and 25-percent overall greater profitability. Taking care of people not only helps your people, it also helps your bottom line.
What are a few ways credit unions can make this investment in people? Consider the following:
- Ramp-up your training budget. Yes, I said it. In a time when many organizations are either tempted or actively slashing training budgets, now is actually the time to increase them. Increased training in brand, member experience and wellness help your staff take better care of members and each other. It also shows them you truly care and that when times are tough, your credit union has their back. This, in turn, enhances trust and helps retain top talent.
- Enhance your culture of celebration. In tough times, you’ve got to celebrate even the little things and victories. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to do this, either. A great deal of it comes down to sharing good news (both personal and professional) on a more consistent and higher-level basis. Marriages, births, graduations, new hires, tenure anniversaries, National Cat Day (yep, that’s a real thing) – you name it. Look for the little things to share and celebrate and let that good vibe trickle out to all staff. Laughter, levity and love go a long way towards maintaining a great employee experience.
- Look for flexibility opportunities. Yes, the ultimate goal of providing amazing member service still must be achieved. However, this expectation must be paired with the fact that for many of your employees, the world is upside-down compared to a year ago. The push to virtual learning at schools, difficulty accessing daytime childcare, remote workplaces for some and lockdowns represents major changes. Are there ways your credit union can recognize this, offer flexibility and still take care of members? Absolutely. Many individual workers, especially those working remotely, now have greater autonomy when it comes to their schedules. Critically, you should also allow your employees time to take care of themselves. Self-care, always an important (and often neglected thing) is now essential. Flexibility when it comes to time for breaks, professional development, health, family time, simply unplugging for a few moments – all matter and all can help maintain higher morale during challenging times.
As this year draws to a close, we’re all hoping 2021 offers much greener pastures. However, calendars are not light switches and simply flipping one to the other is no guarantee of anything. Absolutely be optimistic about 2021. Definitely approach it from an abundance mindset. Certainly, however, put plans in place now to help provide as nurturing and supportive an employee experience as possible. Taking care of your staff helps them take care of your members. We’re all in this together and your bottom line will appreciate that symbiosis.