CUNA Resources

Inclusivity and Upskilling Your Team

June 10, 2021

The credit union movement’s principles of democracy and member economic participation as well as its philosophy of “people of helping people” are based on the idea of including more people to have access to capital and ownership of their financial institutions. This credit union difference is a natural fit with creating an inclusive work environment. Whether your employees are just starting out, switching careers or taking the next step at your credit union, embracing inclusivity in training and onboarding for your team can have a long-lasting impact on the careers of your staff and the culture of your credit union.

“Providing all staff with opportunities to grow and develop is a win-win for staff and credit unions. Not only can staff advance in their careers, credit unions are also able to retain and grow their talent while building inclusive talent pipelines that are highly engaged and motivated,” said Samira Salem, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Credit Union National Association. “The challenge can be to ensure that training offers the learner what they need to learn, not just a one-size-fits all approach.”

Upskilling focuses on individuals within your organization.

“Upskilling is the process of learning new skills or teaching workers new skills. It is an intentional means of growing your staff from within your credit union.” said Alicia Steindorf, director of online learning strategy at CUNA. “Upskilling allows new opportunities for staff without the high cost to the organization of hiring new employees. It can involve training people for a completely new role in a different department.” continues Steindorf. “2020 was a huge year for credit unions to upskill and reskill their employees. For example, when branches closed their lobbies due to the pandemic, many of those staff members went to remote contact center positions—including those who had not worked in those positions previously.”

“As you upskill, you need to have a plan for how you will train employees, what kind of training they need and will receive to obtain enhanced skills. That plan should take into account the existing skills and learning needs of your individual learner,” Steindorf said. “Part of that plan can be creating a learning path in your learning management system. Learning paths provide staff a clear list of activities to complete that will teach the skills needed for a particular role. Planning in this way helps to offer learning opportunities to all staff—not just those that are already in the pipeline. When the training team creates learning paths, they should reflect on the skills and competencies that are needed for the role and the content that will provide those skills—this is part our instructional design strategy that drives CUNA Professional Development Online (CPD Online).”

Steindorf continues, “Now as branches are re-opened, credit unions are facing similar challenges as they need to reskill team members for post-pandemic positions. As credit unions look to fill new positions, it’s critical that they offer those opportunities to all qualified individuals and create learning paths for their staff to become qualified.”

One-size-fits-all training may leave some trainees feeling overlooked.

“People come to learning with a whole set of different experiences, abilities and backgrounds,” said Jenny Saucerman, online learning instructional design manager at CUNA. “Considering culture, language and whether people have disabilities whenever you are designing training is essential to be inclusive.”

“It’s a consideration especially for CUNA because our training is taken nationwide, so we are very conscious of the language that is used,” Saucerman said. “We look to identify our audience when we’re developing content, and we work to optimize for that audience.”

An example is to consider those people who may be color blind who are taking the course.

“If I’m indicating something is right or wrong, it would be easy to use green or red,” Saucerman said. “That’s difficult to distinguish for people with color blindness. So text is added to avoid relying solely on color to relay the message.”

It’s also important to identify the learner population. Some people have expertise in the learning topic and others are complete novices.

“Any content for a novice is going to be very different than for someone who has been at the credit union for 10 years,” Saucerman said. “It’s very important to fit the task and the learning tool to the problem. If you are learning how to ride a bike, you could have written instructions, but that’s not a great learning intervention. The best way to learn how to ride a bike is to get on it and have help to learn while doing it.”

Learning with guidance and intentional strategy is the foundation of inclusion in training. Embracing this foundation and continually investing in upskilling staff expands the opportunities and includes more people in your pipeline of talent to grow within the credit union industry and become people-leaders.

CPD Online can help credit unions ensure they are creating opportunities for all. Fill out this form to request a demonstration.