Serving Those Who Serve

CUs face many challenges as they serve members deployed around the world.

August 10, 2011
KEYWORDS family , services , troops
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Maintaining relationships

Military credit unions work hard to maintain close relationships with bases, where military personnel are typically reassigned every two to three years. At F. E. Warren Air Force Base, $387 million asset Warren Federal Credit Union, Cheyenne, Wyo., partners with the Airman & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) to support events and link airmen to financial resources when needed.

Marketing Manager Michele Bolkovatz says about half of the credit union’s members are linked to the military, with a field of membership that includes the Air Force, Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and civilian employees.

Warren FCU, which operated for its first 50 years in the base’s former jail and still has an on-base branch, introduces its services to new military members on the base on Wednesday mornings with its “Right Start” financial education program. 

Active-duty military that need help with their finances can join the “Combat Debt” program that runs in conjunction with Military Saves Week annually and is offered by Warren Federal and the A&FRC. Participants agree to spend three months working to reduce debt, set a savings goal, and work with the A&FRC’s financial coach. The team that makes the greatest progress wins $1,000. 

The credit union often steps in to offer services after the A&FRC makes a referral. For example, one active-duty military family was “underwater” when they sold their home by owing more than the home was worth. This meant the family had to bring $7,000 to the closing. The A&FRC suggested the family contact Warren FCU, which provided a signature loan to fill the gap.

Building loyal members is key so Warren FCU offers:

  • A Visa Rewards credit card with a variable interest rate of prime plus 3%, which currently translates to 6.25%. 
  • Free checking that pays up to 3.5% interest on balances up to $25,000 and refunds ATM fee charges when qualifications are met.
  • An “Accelerated Savings Account program” with a 5% interest rate on deposits up to $1,000 for airmen who set up an automatic allotment to savings.
  • Technology-based services that include mobile banking, text banking, online banking, and online account aggregation.

Bolkovatz says 40% of Warren FCU’s 38,000 members live out of state. Many of these remain active members of the military. Cheyenne is a popular retirement area, so some military members retain their memberships as part of their plans to return.

Next: Delivering value

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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