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CU System
Employee perceptions of CUs have operations implications
MADISON, Wis. (12/4/08)--A Filene Research Institute study concludes that employees' perceptions of their credit union may have implications for management about the credit union's operations in six areas. The study, "Employee Perceptions of Credit Unions: Implications for Member Profitability," was the topic of a News Now story Sept. 24. Further implications of the study's findings for senior management are also discussed, according to a review by the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer Dec. 3). The six implications are:
* Credit unions are different. If employees commit to what a credit union is, member outreach should be more successful. "It is one thing to claim, 'We have low interest rates on loans,' but is quite another to be able to say why." * Employees are "almost there." They are fairly committed to the idea of a credit union, and they almost unanimously agree that knowing about credit unions is important. Still, the shared understanding remains mostly implicit and is not readily articulated. When asked to explain credit unions in a face-to-face context, employees generally offer only small parts of the whole. * "Ours is not to reason why." Most employees do not see the credit union's characteristics as logically or causally connected. They associate different features with these but not in a clear fashion. The study suggests embedding causal ideas within a story or mythic framework to reach rank-and-file employees. This would give them a template for explaining credit unions to nonmembers. * Trust may be a hidden strength. "Trustworthiness" describes a credit union, but it did not figure prominently in the way employees talk about credit unions in face-to-face interviews--a missed opportunity for credit unions to build on trust as a primary differentiator. Trust may be a feature best expressed tangentially but it is an asset that should not be ignored, the study said. * Some employee groups are not as 'on board' as others. One such group is the most educated group. Many of these employees may see credit unions as substituting ideology and emotion for performance. They are more negative about credit unions' future, see more "dead wood" among fellow employees, and see deficiencies in efficiency, competence and professionalism. * Local institutional cultures matter. Employee commitment, consensus score, degree of trust and wanting to know about credit unions vary significantly by local credit union. That means local management styles and education programs can make a difference; these indicators rise and fall together, suggesting each influences the rest; and all are to some degree contagious in the sense that levels of commitment, trust and so one are self-propagating among employees.
The study is available at the resource link.
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