Tackling the ‘Great Attrition:’ 3 strategies

Tackling the ‘Great Attrition:’ 3 strategies

Join forces, create opportunities, and embrace culture to find and keep staff.

April 20, 2022

While not immune to the “Great Attrition,” where employees have resigned in record numbers, credit unions have a secret weapon to counter hiring and retention difficulties: the credit union movement and its “people helping people” philosophy.

According to trends uncovered in the Raddon Employee Viewpoint Survey, the best way to elevate employee engagement is to connect with employees emotionally and actively demonstrate commitment to their well-being. This approach is a natural fit for credit unions because, as not-for-profit organizations, their mission is to serve members. 

Building on the credit union movement, here are three strategies credit unions are using to engage employees and stem the tide of attrition:

1. Join forces 

No one understands the nature of credit unions better than the people who work there. Credit unions that rely on employee referrals as a primary way to recruit new team members are seeing success with this tactic. 

“We strive to have a culture where people enjoy coming into work and want to be here,” says John West, CEO at $528 million asset Call Federal Credit Union in Richmond, Va. “Referrals are important because they bring in the right people.” 

Azura Credit Union in Topeka, Kan., is realigning internal resources to focus on recruiting and shifting marketing resources to recruit new talent, says Brentt Moon, chief information officer (CIO) at the $683 million asset credit union. “We have marketing now working with our HR department to come up with campaigns that attract and entice potential employees. That’s a big shift.”

2. Create opportunities

By shifting resources to focus on recruiting, Azura is creating new opportunities for growth and learning, another strategy credit unions are using to engage employees.

Moon points out that providing growth opportunities is vital for retention. 

“We give educational opportunities to our staff, let them grow, and encourage them to pursue opportunities,” he says. “Even opportunities outside the credit union are important.” 

At $253 million asset First Alliance Credit Union in Rochester, Minn., interactive branch kiosks (IBKs) are creating opportunities for current employees and new hires, says CIO David Schouten. 

“We’ve all heard about the Great Resignation trend. We’ve seen some of that, and what’s been great is to have higher-value jobs available for people,” he says. 

This allows First Alliance to use technology for transactions and hire more loan officers, Schouten adds, which boosts the bottom line.

3. Embrace culture

While a variety of strategies can enable credit unions to attract and retain employees, the importance of company culture rises to the top.

“We compensate competitively, and we’re also very family oriented,” says Jill Peterson, CEO at $256 million asset ABCO Credit Union in Willingboro, N.J. “We also make it easy for people who want to stay with us by providing great benefits, flexibility, and understanding, and by demonstrating how much we really care about the people who are part of our ABCO team. We say ‘thank you’ as often as we can.” 

Clare Fowler, senior vice president of operations technology at $3.9 billion asset NavyArmy Community Credit Union in Corpus Christi, Texas, says empowering associates is important.

“We encourage and empower our staff to make our members’ day,” she says. “So, with that empowerment and autonomy, our front office can help members understand what’s going on and educate them. It’s great to see the impact our staff has with members.” 

From collaborating with employees on recruiting efforts to providing growth opportunities and embracing the concepts of family and service, credit unions established a culture of connection long before the great attrition began. 

In doing so, they’ve been able to weather the challenges of a changing market and, once again, demonstrate the value of the credit union movement.

Hear more from these credit union leaders and others about how they are tackling the Great Attrition in this video.

THEO CUREY is president, Credit Union Solutions, at Fiserv.