Publisher’s Note: CUInsight is hosting a free webinar Wednesday, January 31 titled, “Fostering a Culture of Inclusivity: People Helping People Starts in the Office”. We hope you’ll join us! Register here.
For nearly nine decades, U.S. credit unions have set themselves apart by embracing a mission of People Helping People. We aren’t like the for-profit banks: We are here for the people—our members—who use the credit union. We focus on the rates, the service, the products we deliver with only one thing in mind: How do we create value for our members? As credit unions, by definition, these people are central to everything we do, and it is for their benefit that we make every decision.
What about the other people in that phraseology though? The people who help the people: Us. Our team members. Those employees who we often claim are our most valuable asset or our biggest differentiator. What is our obligation to them, how do we honor it, and how do we know if we are effective?
When we think about the second group of people (the ones we help), we can measure our success in numerous quantitative and qualitative ways: What is our product per household penetration? What percentage of members are borrowing from us? How many of our members are financially vulnerable compared to those in the population? How many have we assisted with credit migration? It may not be as straightforward to measure the value we create for our people helping the people, although some may contend that it is at least equally important to deliver an exceptional experience for our employees as it is for our members. Often, when attempting to measure that employee experience, organizations look to their culture and struggle to even define what it is, let alone if it is what we want it to be.
Company culture is viewed as the personality of an organization. According to Bamboohr.com, “It encompasses a shared set of workplace values, attitudes, standards, purposes, processes, beliefs, and behaviors, reflecting both written and unwritten rules followed by individuals within the organization.” Entrepreneur Magazine takes this one step further to state this is defined by the employee perspective, and includes the mission, work atmosphere, and expectations within a company.
While a global definition of corporate culture seems easy enough to agree on, articulating specific corporate culture can be challenging. Employees who speak about it often highlight what is missing or perceived as incorrect, while leaders or the official voice of the organization may focus more on what they want the culture to be (rather than what it actually is).
At Humanidei, we also align with the enduring credit union motto, “People Helping People.” In our case though, it is the people of credit unions who we are here to help. Our firm was founded on the understanding that credit unions have a unique value proposition that is best leveraged when we have the right people guiding our credit unions and helping our members. We believe this People Helping People ethos should manifest in the workplace so that credit unions will thrive.
Boosting up the people of credit unions is critical. When employees do not experience a supportive environment, they may seek other workplaces where they do feel uplifted, leading to disengagement in a culture that is lacking inspiration. Failure to address these issues may result in adverse selection, where high-performing and engaged employees depart, leaving behind a less engaged, lower-performing population that struggles to fulfill its mission and potential.
Though defining and building corporate culture – understanding how employees perceive it compared to management and how to close any gaps – may seem akin to “nailing Jello to a wall,” there are intentional ways to shape it. All it really takes is listening to our employees, investing in their achievement of important goals, showing appreciation, and caring for them as whole humans. Simple, right? It is a philosophy that is easy to embrace, but may be difficult to activate. Humanidei is privileged to guide clients through these key areas as they build out cultures that live People Helping People, for all the people who matter to credit unions.
If your credit union is ready to activate your culture, learn more on January 31, when Tracie Kenyon, Executive Development Partner at Humanidei, will share tips and strategies for inspiring and engaging employees during her webinar titled, Fostering a Culture of Inclusivity: People Helping People Starts in the Office.