In Search of Gen Y

Many CUs find it difficult to attract this elusive age group.

December 30, 2011
KEYWORDS banking , mobile , online , young
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Attracting the next generation of members requires interacting on their terms and on their turf.

Credit unions that engage the young adults who make up Generation Y share a willingness to provide valuable financial information in unconventional ways.

Equally important, they take fresh approaches to designing and delivering financial services that appeal to young, tech-savvy members.

Engage Gen Y

Credit unions spend too much time reading about Gen Yers and too little time actually engaging with them to learn about their culture, needs, motivations, and behaviors, says Brent Dixon, Gen Y adviser to the Filene Research Institute and founder of The Cooperative Trust, a credit union youth network.

Dixon suggests forming an advisory group to gather information about young members’ psychographics: their attitudes, lifestyles, and values.


CUs spend too much time reading about Gen Y and too little time actually engaging with this group.

CUs must develop self-service technologies—online and mobile banking, remote deposit capture, online account opening—to reach Gen Y.

Board focus: Consider forming an advisory group to gather information about young members’ attitudes, lifestyles, and values.

Credit unions must also develop products that overcome the barriers created by Gen Yers’ scant credit experience and respond to their preference for using technology to accomplish financial tasks. Dixon recalls contacting a credit union because it offered a compelling loan product, only to be discouraged by a complex loan application and payments made by snail mail.

“Developing the self-service technologies—robust online and mobile banking, remote deposit capture, online account opening—and product and service efficiencies young people expect can be a costly, complicated venture,” Dixon says. “But it’s necessary to attract younger members.”

Efforts to engage Gen Y should extend to the credit union’s internal culture to tap young employees’ ideas and opinions and offer mentorship and training opportunities, Dixon says.

Next: 'Young & Free'

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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 ( 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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