It still feels pretty surreal, working at this credit union. Not everyone there (mostly some conservative folks who come from working in banks) approves of the pep squad atmosphere. But they are in a very small minority.
The demographic at work is 90% female, and 75% of them fall in the 20-29 age range. The pace is fast and furious, but not frantic. Everyone seems to push pretty hard to not only do their job, but to do it well with genuine excitement.
Maybe it has to do with the whole philosophy of the credit union. Everyone who has an account at a credit union is a member. They have a vested interest in the profitability of the financial institution. Profitability here is measured not in how much the executives get paid, but in how many dividends can be paid back to the member accounts. Our members need to love their financial institution. And our tellers and member reps do all they can to make sure that happens.
There are a lot of training sessions going on here that create employee buy in and excitement. They are noisy affairs. There are programs to keep that feeling going through the day, week, & month. Our latest program has to do with Fish. Ever see the guys throwing fish at the markets in Seattle? The most famous of them have created a motivational speaking program and the entire company got to hear them speak last month. Now the admin building rooms are decorated like aquariums and we even have some gold fish and Bettas. We have posters, I created banners for our intranet page. At the teller stations, there are small flat foam fishes in bowls. There are signs saying "If our tellers have made your day, please deposit one of their fish up front." We are getting between 150 and 200 fishes deposited each day. I have a drive thru message that tells folks in the line to honk and wave if one of our Terrific Tellers makes their day so the line tellers can play too. I've walked through and heard these people and the excitement is palpable.
When you have a potentially stressing, fast paced, accuracy demanded job, there tends to be a lot of turnover if you can't manage keeping the staff motivated. And at my credit union, they've found a powerful solution. And it's contagious all the way into the admin building. I find myself working faster, harder, and longer and laughing all the time. I work with some incredibly entertaining, passionate people.
And a little side note to explain the difference in service from a bank and a credit union: If you get a credit card from a bank and you are late on a payment, your rates will go up. AmEx has raised a 17 year card holder's rate from 4.9% to 29% after only one late payment (due to a flubbed electronic payment). AmEx wouldn't rescind the rate hike. A month later, Chase Manhattan called the person and raised the rate and lowered the limit on a Platinum card because AmEx put a black mark on their credit report.
Now, if you get your credit card through a credit union, do you know what happens if you're late on a payment? We call you and ask how we can help. Right. Credit unions don't raise the rates for late payments.