Building awareness of credit unions starts with regularly educating your employees about the movement’s principles and mission, says Christopher Morris, communications director for the National Credit Union Foundation.
With 71% of young adults ages 18-24 professing little or no knowledge about credit unions, it’s not enough to offer new hires an overview at orientation and then count on the culture of your organization to offer reminders, Morris told a roomful of credit union training and development professionals at CUNA’s Experience Learning Live! in Las Vegas.
Rather, they should heed the advice of credit union pioneer Edward Filene: “Keep purpose constant.”
“Explaining the benefits of credit unions’ cooperative structure is critical to delivering high-level member service,” Morris says.
That’s because front-line staff—the segment which most often deals with members—generally is the least equipped to answer direct questions from members about the credit union difference, or spot opportunities to deliver that message.
Morris offered several suggestions for training and development professionals who want to inspire employees to embody credit unions’ core principles:
Develop an elevator speech. Prepare yourself to deliver a 30-second explanation of why credit unions differ from banks, and how they’re more beneficial for consumers.
Display the seven cooperative principles in your training or board rooms, wherever they’ll be seen most often—perhaps even the restrooms, a tactic one credit union shared with Morris.
Share the cooperative principles in your new employee orientations and staff meetings, relying on humor and creative vehicles. Share stories about how your credit union help members and the community.
Show videos that explain credit unions’ amazing impact globally. Perhaps even play a few tunes from Morris’ credit union rock band, “The Disclosures.”
Share the Foundation's mission, including its charitable contributions to disaster relief and financial education.
Schedule experiential learning experiences, such as field trips to local nonfinancial cooperatives.
Focus on workplace financial education, as highlighted in the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s “Financial Wellness at Work” report.
Attend Credit Union Development Education training, a seven-day boot camp in which 50 participants take a deep dive into credit union philosophy and practice.
“A better understanding of the credit union difference turns employees into ambassadors and even evangelists,” Morris says.