The economics of engaging employees
By far the best marketing tool that a credit union has is their members. People are more likely to trust close friends or family when it comes to financial decision making. Nielsen reports that not only do 84% of people surveyed trust recommendations from people they know but 68% of those surveyed also report confidence in reviews from complete strangers1. This data is driven by the experience members get while using a credit union; studies also show that organizations with high employee engagement are more productive and efficient. This causes these companies to boast higher retention numbers, which avoids the costs of training new hires when employees leave2.
Taking into account that bad experiences are more likely to be published online, the importance of having an engaged staff is critical to the success of the credit union because, simply put, the more the staff is engaged, the better the member experience will be. A positive + positive = positive. A study done by Pepperdine University3 explains the most successful seven ways to keep staff engaged:
- Set a time and method for regular updates – Communication is critical, everyone has a unique communication style and successful leaders need to understand what works best.
- Give employees what they want and need – Everyone’s learning curve is different, nobody should work with the uncertainty of what are he or she are doing. It is recommended that managers should give clear advice and constructive criticism.
- Blend work and play – Make it fun to engage – Encourage employees to think big, have them involved by asking them to provide solutions, ideas and activities to do better (Maybe, play a game)
- Implement incentive programs to recognize great work – These could be individual and team goals
- Set attainable short-term goals – Have them develop confidence by setting easy target goals and grow then gradually
- Clearly define the long-term goals and vision – Employees should understand the mission and the strategic plan of the year/quarter/month.
- Be transparent – Manager’s actions should back their words
Engaged employees create referrals. Referrals create highly profitable new relationships for credit unions and a well-designed referral strategy is one of the cheapest forms of member acquisition. Credit unions have strong proponents of their services already at the credit union and a properly designed member referral strategy can help credit unions to increase membership, member retention and profitability. But credit unions must formulate and then implement an effective referral strategy and not simply rely on staff using ad hoc referral methods.
In my opinion, I have seen a considerable boost of engagement between members and credit union employees when they fully understand the values, mission, and vision of the credit union. Because of my understanding of the industry I have to confess that I gain more members through attending networking events rather than through the branch. We should not assume that everyone should know what the industry you are working is all about. By spending a considerable amount of time during training on credit union principals, the employee will be impacted by the credit union culture instead of only a paycheck.