4 Credit Unions Share Their Secrets to Recruiting and Retention

More than three-quarters of U.S. executives (77%) view hiring and retaining talent as their most critical growth driver this year, according to PwC. However, the labor market faces ongoing headwinds in the form of wage stagnation, job dissatisfaction and other pandemic-era concerns that make it difficult to attract and keep skilled workers. With this economic backdrop in mind, credit unions are taking creative and proactive measures to meet the challenges head-on. 

Four success stories out of credit unions across the country demonstrate the positive impact of such efforts. By adding an extra focus on culture, expanding the scope of onboarding programs, revisiting compensation and restructuring recruiting, the following CUs are seeing tangible hiring results and happier employees.

iQ Credit Union Doubles Down on Culture

Like many employers during the Great Resignation, Kari Stansberry, chief administrative officer at iQ Credit Union, says her Vancouver, Washington-based CU went from its lowest turnover in 25 years in 2020 to nearly double that number in 2021.

Stansberry says iQ recognized the need to better promote its unique culture to team members, instituting an “inclusion and belonging” task force to focus on a better employee experience.  

“If you check out our marketing, it’s a very strong, fun brand,” she says. “We have inclusion as an operating principle at the credit union. We’re trying to figure out, as folks reevaluate their lives, what is important to them, and we’re making sure that folks can show up as their true, authentic selves here at the credit union.”

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Improving Retention with Employee Benefits

The strategy is paying off, as the credit union’s internal promotion rate rose from 21% to 31% from 2020 to 2021. Stansberry also credits the value of improved competitiveness efforts, including higher merit increases, more 401(k) matching, adding fully-paid dependent care to its existing fully-paid employee healthcare plan and providing “enrichment days” for team members.

By clearly emphasizing better opportunities within the organization, Stansberry says iQ’s staff are happier. “It’s a renewed sense of family and collaboration that we’ve all been looking for,” she says.

Maps CU Extends Its Onboarding

While many credit unions confine their new-employee onboarding programs to a single day, others recognize that a more immersive onboarding experience can help build teamwork and fuel long-term retention.

Tami Mack, HR director of Maps CU, based in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, is developing a multi-level system for new workers that blends big-picture overviews of the credit union’s culture with daily encouragement and career development.

“Our new hires go through a year-long program that will really focus on mentorship and understanding who Maps is the culture, why we exist, what we do in the community and how they fit in, so they can see that connection and the value that their role plays,” she says.

The credit union’s program will include Destination Maps, a day-long educational event for employees to be held three to four times per year so that new hires will not have to wait long for the next session. Participants will learn about the CU’s business model, interact directly with executives and network with other new workers. Another all-day session in development, Inside Maps, will focus on the member experience and give employees touchpoints with all customer-facing business elements within the credit union.

Also upcoming is Maps’ Navigator program, where new hires are assigned a current employee to be their “work buddy,” a go-to connection for questions, concerns and on-the-job advice. “It’s a way for both the new employee to have someone to connect with, but it’s also a wonderful thing for an existing employee who is looking for a way to expand their skills or a way to give back,” says Mack.

Teachers Federal Credit Union Addresses Compensation

Employees across the country know that compensation is not keeping up with inflation and cost-of-living spikes, and many are jumping ship to find better pay. To attract and keep workers, credit unions need to emphasize wages and overall benefits, says Brad Calhoun, president and CEO of Hauppauge, New York-based Teachers Federal Credit Union.  

“I look at it more as the Great Competition,” rather than the Great Resignation, he adds. “Credit unions, in general, are still playing catch-up on compensation. We already had that hurdle … pre-2020. So, it just widened and became more of a challenge.”

Calhoun says Teachers Federal has stepped up efforts, including employee referral incentives, and been far more aggressive in marketing the many existing financial and professional opportunities that come with working at a credit union. He also suggests devoting serious time to a credit union’s profile on employer-rating sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed to help promote those compensation benefits.

“Part of your broader recruiting strategy is the story you’re telling,” Calhoun says. He encourages executives to be more active in ensuring that online messaging is both accurate and appealing.  

Teachers also boosted recruitment efforts such as contracting with professional recruiters to source candidates, partnering with regional colleges and hiring interns from local organizations. The results, Calhoun says, are helping to find and keep credit union employees on the job.

“It’s great to see many people progress that may not have otherwise progressed or been promoted,” he says. “You’re taking some risks on some folks, but they’re stepping up to the challenge. That’s been cool and refreshing to see.”

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Navigating “The Great Resignation”

Texell Credit Union Invests in Recruiting

In many smaller credit unions, the process of finding and hiring new workers is a task delegated to department managers busy leaders who may not have a background in the recruiting process.

Michelle Dudas, HR specialist with Temple, Texas-based Texell Credit Union, recently took on her role specifically to help streamline and strengthen the CU’s hiring procedures. Chris Haynie, HR generalist, says Texell previously took 40-50 days to hire for its vacancies, but with Dudas in place, new employees are on the job in half that time.  

In addition to organic recruiting and marketing using tools such as Linkedin and Indeed, Dudas uses a candidate tracker to help pool applications and keep a steady pipeline of potential employees. “Anybody who may be a good fit, we’ll make sure to save their application for later and try to re-explore them if that role becomes available again or if we’ve identified that they might be a good fit for a different position,” she says.

Dudas says Texell Credit Union is streamlining recruiting and building a better staff by freeing managers to focus on their jobs. “Our culture is really what makes us such a great company to work for and people to work with,” she says. “We try to hire like-minded individuals. We want to make Texell a happy place to come to work and grow a long-term career.”

The Right Steps to Build a Loyal Workforce

As these success stories demonstrate, improved culture, compensation, onboarding and recruiting are all part of a credit union’s strong HR program. Offering a better package of benefits further incentivizes new employees to join forces with a credit union, especially in a market filled with options for job-seekers. 

The right benefits package will also help credit unions reallocate funds saved from lower healthcare costs toward efforts like higher compensation and other employee-centered incentives. 

To learn more about how CU Benefits Alliance can help your credit union develop a powerful benefits program that combats the challenges of the Great Resignation and beyond, schedule a free consultation with us today.