Making the decision to implement a core conversion can give credit unions a lot to deal with. Among the issues to reconcile is what—and when—to communicate to employees. Certainly employee engagement is important. Helping staff know what to expect can go a long way toward maintaining productivity and facilitating good, ongoing service to members.
Here are 10 things to tell credit union staff members when undergoing a core conversion:
Holding regular meetings is helpful so that you can keep employees updated in small chunks. Each week, let them know what key changes will be coming so they are not blindsided.
Focus part of your weekly meetings on the aspects of your conversion activities that will directly impact how your employees do their jobs.
Clearly identify what members will experience during each phase of the conversion. This is especially critical for people in member-facing positions.
Whether a change impacts employees or customers, let your staff members know how to work around any change or downtime in system functionality. Never just leave them wondering or sitting around with no options to get things done.
When telling staff about what things will change, also highlight what will not change. It can be reassuring to know that some things will be kept the same, but it will also prevent questions about changes that really are not even part of the process.
Any time that a part of your system will be unavailable, even just for a couple of hours, your staff must know. Be as specific as possible about when the downtime will begin so that employees can plan their work accordingly.
Similarly, let staff know how long any lack of system availability will last. Again, this can help team members plan their work and also communicate appropriately to members who may have similar questions.
If a delay occurs, let your employees know as soon as possible that the downtime may last longer than originally expected. Proactive notification goes a long way toward preventing additional problems.
Be as detailed as possible when giving instructions on new systems or features. This will get people working efficiently sooner and keep morale and member satisfaction up.
Your employees will have questions along the way. Make sure they know who to go to in order to get those questions answered.
There really can be no substitute for good communication when undergoing a major change like a core conversion.
Your employees are essential assets for your credit union, and keeping them informed goes a long way toward keeping them with you. When you cultivate engaged employees, you also cultivate satisfied members.
The differences between millennials and boomers, or even Gen X’ers, cannot be emphasized enough. One area in which this can be seen is consumer credit. Today’s young adults approach credit very differently than their predecessors did. In general, millennials shy away from credit and instead opt for the “pay-as-you-go” cash method.
Bankrate notes that only 37 percent of people under 30 have credit cards compared with 65 percent of people over 30. NerdWallet adds that 31 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 34 have never applied for even one credit card. There are several factors influencing young adults’ limited use of credit.
In 2009, Congress signed into law the Credit CARD Act, which placed firm limits on the marketing of new credit to college students. No longer could just anyone get a credit card. Persons under 21 must either verify sufficient income or have an approved co-signer.
One of the perks of a credit card is the ease with which items can be purchased. Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with debit cards, which offer them the same level of simplicity.
In general, millennials place less value on things like purchasing or renovating homes and more value on everyday health, wellness and enjoyment. They are content to spend more of their income on organic foods or local microbrews at hip grocery stores and less on new car loans. How this may change as millennials age will be an interesting trend to watch.
Certainly today’s young adults have heard more than their fair share of horror stories about consumer credit gone bad. Many of them have even witnessed their parents’ or other relatives’ financial disasters impacted by credit problems. As such, they are understandably more hesitant to get into debt than older consumers. This is akin to how people who lived through the Great Depression were averse to throwing things away or purchasing items they did not need because they had witnessed firsthand what it was like to not have enough.
While caution regarding credit can be a good thing, it is something that can actually hurt consumers in certain circumstances. When the day arrives that a millennial does finally want to buy a house, obtaining a good mortgage will be hard with little to no credit history.
Helping 20-something’s find the balance between just enough credit and not too much credit is something that today’s credit unions can and should focus on. They can simultaneously reward prudent behavior while educating consumers about how to protect their future creditworthiness.
As the face of a credit union to its members, employees play a direct and critical role in the institution’s success. Keeping employees motivated, happy and engaged should therefore be top of mind for credit union management. Following are some ways that this can be done.
By sharing company goals and status updates, credit unions can help employees see how their jobs and responsibilities play into the bigger picture. This can be a big motivator for employees who want to truly make a difference.
Let employees see that opportunities exist to grow within the organization. This keeps their focus on staying with the credit union rather than leaving in order to expand their horizons.
People appreciate knowing their employers believe in them enough to pay for training and education. This can strengthen employees’ loyalty and also better arm them with the skills they need to perform their jobs.
Instead of relying on outdated systems that are cumbersome and do not effectively address member or employee needs, credit unions should put time and money into newer systems and processes. When work can be made more efficient, employees can feel a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
Every employee in a credit union has a unique perspective on how things work—or don’t—and can offer valuable insights to managers. When looking for ways to improve, managers are encouraged to ask the opinions of their employees on what can be helpful. This simple act alone can empower people, but when their suggestions or ideas are used in some form in an actual change, the boost is even greater.
Managers should always be on the lookout for someone doing something right. Catching employees in the act and acknowledging right then and there does wonders for people’s morale. Casual “atta-boys” go a long way, as do other reward mechanisms, such as additional time off or recognition at a staff meeting.
Sometimes people do need guidance, but how that guidance is given can make all the difference. Any critiques should be couched in a guiding and mentoring approach and philosophy.
Employees who feel treated like real people by managers will be more engaged in their jobs. Managers should get to know employees on a personal level and let employees know them as such as well. These seemingly simple acts go a long way toward making employees feel like people, not just workers.
Credit unions still running on legacy systems originally built to meet the batch processing needs of in-branch transactions have to face the daunting task of completing a core conversion. This process can enable institutions to effectively handle the anywhere, anytime request for real-time transactional processing.
The benefits of a core conversion are clear, yet the path to achieving it is not always as simple. Before embarking upon this endeavor, credit union leaders should be aware of some common errors. This can help guide a more efficient transition and result in better outcomes. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid during a core conversion:
Business needs, not technology, should fuel and drive a core conversion while technology supports and facilitates it. Credit union leadership must first identify the processes and end results needed and then let teams, including IT, make it happen.
A full-blown core conversion will involve many stages. Completing these one at a time rather than simultaneously helps teams troubleshoot issues more effectively along the way. When too many changes are made at once, it can be near impossible to identify the root of a problem and to therefore fix it.
Akin to the point above, adding other changes or enhancements while also engaging in a core conversion increases the chance of additional problems.
Every change should be tested as it is implemented and before initiating the next change.
The level of documentation needed in a core conversion is immense but necessary. Skimping here will make solving issues more difficult.
A clear project plan must be put in place up front. This should identify the steps, teams and timelines and be updated in real time as the project progresses.
When it comes to informing members about changes, there is no such thing as too much communication.
No matter how well you communicate ahead of time, members will have questions, and your employees must be able to answer them immediately to avoid grave dissatisfaction issues.
Overloading your customer service and other employees with member questions when they are in the throes of learning a new system can seriously hamper employee relations and engagement.
Even the best system will have problems at some point. Every core conversion plan should include provisions for what to do when this happens.
It is possible to not just survive a core conversion, but also for a credit union to thrive from one. The right foresight and approach will make all the difference here.
CUProdigy is in the unique position to help Credit Unions ‘Advance Beyond’ by providing a core processing platform that puts the member experience first. CUProdigy empowers credit unions with a comprehensive solution that is both robust and scalable.