By Shairaj Shaik
Building a collaborative culture at your credit union as it adopts new technologies takes work – sometimes, very hard work. Industry veterans holding onto a “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset can be particularly challenging, as the fear of change is often derived from a lack of confidence in their technological prowess.
As the workforce inevitably grows more diverse, it is essential that everyone – Baby Boomers and Millennials alike – works together to implement forward-looking changes.
In order to assure cohesiveness and encourage all credit union employees to master new technologies, here are four ways CU leaders can help bridge the generational gap:
1. Bring everyone together. If big technology changes are coming, set up a meeting to communicate updates and host a Q&A session. It’s also important to encourage socialization among employees as a matter of practice, so they feel comfortable working through challenges together. “Lunch and Learns” on new technological initiatives can be extremely helpful in both educating employees on changes as well as building rapport. Corporate culture initiatives like birthday lunches or happy hours where everyone can get to know each other also go a long way in fostering employee relationships.
2. Develop a mentorship program. Assign mentor and mentee pairs with one Boomer and one Millennial in each pair. Uniting an employee with more credit union experience with one that may be more suited to learn new technologies quickly allows for both to learn something new. It also creates a relationship between older and newer employees. Seasoned employees bring a lot to the table regarding managing client relationships and knowing the ins and outs of the industry, and they can help newer employees navigate it. In turn, Millennial employees can bring a fresh perspective.
3. Communicate across multiple channels. Although the stereotype of Millennials’ disdain for face-to-face communication is incorrect, it is important to communicate technological updates across multiple channels. An email to the entire team detailing any updates is essential. More seasoned employees may want an in-person meeting and training session. Provide both so everyone is on the same page and getting the message.
4. Show both that they’re valued. As stated earlier, years of experience are extremely valuable to a credit union. However, so is being a digital native – someone who grew up using evolving digital platforms and views it as second nature. Both are beneficial. Your credit union must communicate the benefits of both perspectives so employees see the value in building relationships across generational gaps. Mutual respect is key.
Bridging the technology gap is all about creating a work environment where employees know that open communication is valued. If younger employees feel that they can’t have a conversation with older ones, the opportunity for mutual learning is lost. Technology should be one of your credit union’s greatest assets, making everyone’s job easier and more efficient. Commit to evolving with it so old patterns don’t stand in the way of progress.
Shairaj Shai is vice president of software development at EPL, Inc.