By Merry Pateuk
Imagine a world in which every employee of every company has an emotional commitment to the industry their employer serves. Seem unlikely? What about this: Envision that those same employees have an emotional commitment to the industry they serve instead.
As it turns out, the human capacity for engagement may have more to do with relating than reward. It is one thing to incentivize employees for a job well done, but it is another to show the crucial importance of their roles by placing them squarely in the shoes of those they serve.
So, how do we shift perspective and help employees feel a palpable and personal presence in the lives of the complete strangers they invariably influence on a day-to-day basis? PSCU has been working steadfastly on a major initiative to give all 1,900 employees a chance at a change in perspective for a better industry outcome. Focus is placed on employee access to industry-leading resources, such as a recent visit from John Pembroke, President and CEO of CUES, and a poverty simulation exercise that helped employees align with the reality many credit union members face every day.
Fortunately, the secret to industry engagement is not all that secret, but it does require a bit of extra work. For the credit union industry, that means the development of programs and resources that help employees understand what it means to be a credit union member. Contributions to charitable causes, involvement in advocacy and lobbying, and participation in advisory groups are other ways in which credit unions and Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSOs) alike can foster engagement from an employee starting point.
As the evolution of credit unions continues, we must look collectively at the value we are delivering and ensure that employees throughout the industry have access to multichannel experiences that bring them closer to the communities and members of credit unions they serve.
'Elevate & Thrive'
In much the same way that anonymity can free us to say things to strangers online we would not say to them in person, it can be the catalyst for disengagement between employees and their affiliated industry. However, when collaborative techniques are in place that drive employees to find common ground with the people on the receiving end of their work, an entire industry can be elevated and thrive.
Last spring, PSCU opened a state-of-the-art Member Experience Center to provide just such a collaborative environment where credit unions can build and test new PSCU products and solutions. Of equal importance, however, is the Member Experience Center’s role in industry engagement. An epicenter of augmented reality, this is a space where PSCU employees are encouraged to walk in the footsteps of members and see how the work they do impacts every transaction and interaction a member has with their credit union.
Recent research from Gallup points to a clear link between highly engaged employees and highly engaged clients or members. Those companies scoring in the top quartile in engagement score 10 percent higher in their client/member metrics than those scoring in the bottom quartile. Unquestionably, the more well-engaged employees are, the better they will service their business and its clients.
Since launching its industry education and collaboration initiative two years ago, PSCU has seen a meaningful increase in year-over-year employee engagement. Additionally, leveraging its role as one of the nation’s leading CUSOs, PSCU actively partners with both external and internal groups and stakeholders that have potential to further the credit union movement.
It's Only Natural
It is only natural that as people learn about others, they discover something about themselves. We ask employees to show up at work with good attitudes, a commitment to the team and a willingness to help, but how often do we ask them to bring along their heart and then give them the time needed to get familiar with credit union members? There is a universal truth that binds us all, and yes, it exists ostensibly in the workplace; relevancy through relationships matters.
The credit union industry as a whole shares a belief in the benefits of community and cooperation. With that shared mission, all credit unions, affiliated state and federal associations and the CUSOs that serve them must work together to protect and advance the well-being of more than 100 million credit union members. When we give our employees the opportunity to get to know those members in a more personal way, we can have a significant impact on the industry as a whole.
Merry Pateuk is vice president of industry engagement at PSCU. Since 1989, Merry has served in a wide range of senior leadership roles, each of which was critical to building the company’s reputation, brand and industry stature. Her efforts in various roles have helped take the company from a startup with a single line of business to an industry leader, servicing hundreds of credit unions nationwide with multiple product lines.