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Water, Water Everywhere

How is a flood of retirement issues and the changing American family affecting your members?

December 19, 2011
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My Dear Old Dad is a bit of a philosopher.

When I was a kid, he found the use of analogy instrumental in good parenting and the imparting of life lessons. My brothers and I remain his captive audience in this practice, even as adults.

Dad speculates that we all carry with us an imaginary receptacle of water. In our daily interactions with one another, we each share from our supply of this elixir of life and thus learn from not only each other, but those with whom each party has previously interacted.

We all make an impact, and likewise others impact us and help define who we are.

Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.
Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.

As I consider this idea in a professional setting, it helps to illustrate the value of cooperation, collaboration, and information-sharing to achieve common goals.

Think about your credit union’s departmental interactions. Does your HR department work with the finance area to understand how each affects the other? Do your front line staffers share unique member insights about desired products and services and their satisfaction with service? Does the compliance area expeditiously inform others about new regulations?

With this week’s research findings, perhaps you can consider who at your credit union might benefit from a sharing of your insights in order to reach your common goals.

To begin: a trickle of data from Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. “According to LEAP, Asian and Pacific Islanders Remain Absent from Foundation Boards,” less than a quarter of the largest 100 foundations in the United States have Asian and Pacific Islander representation on their boards.

With this revelation, consider your own board’s composition. Does it reflect your membership? Is your community’s diverse population appropriately represented on your board?

Let’s slosh around some thoughts on retirement issues. “Do Low-Income Workers Benefit from 401(k) Plans?

This study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College challenges the assumption that “...Employer contributions to 401(k)s do not affect the total compensation that each worker receives—that is, every worker ‘pays for’ employer contributions in the form of lower wages.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures examines how the aging population can maintain their current lifestyles in “Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices.” 

The report identifies “land use, transportation, and housing policies as well as promising state practices that enable aging in place.”

The MetLife Tips for Types Workbook: Real Life Strategies for the Retirement You Want” looks at personality types and how they differ in making retirement planning decisions. It also helps consumers make choices based on these examinations.

What’s the experience of your members? How do they feel about planning for retirement, and have you considered individual personality factors that might be important?

Are lower-income members getting what they need from their 401(k)s? Do they earn a living wage?

Will your aging members be financially able to “age in place?” How might your credit union address financial planning or retirement needs for this group?

Family matters
A swim through American demographic data turned up some pertinent information. Pew Research announces that “Barely Half of U.S. Adults are Married—A Record Low.” 

Reported here: “The number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5% between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop that may or may not be related to the sour economy.”

Further, “Custodial Parents Becoming Less Likely to Receive Full Amount of Child Support, Census Bureau Reports”  notes that “Child support income is especially important to families in poverty.” The report shows that increasingly, custodial parents find themselves below the poverty level.

Grandparents in Kinship Care: Help or Hindrance to Family Preservation” indicates, “Debate continues on how kin who act as foster parents should be financially assisted, how they should be assessed as caregivers, and how child welfare agencies should approach permanency planning when children are placed with kin.”

Do any of your members face these issues with their children? How does the delay in marriage or downturn of those entering this institution impact personal finance?

Which departments in your organization might address these concerns? How are the children affected by such situations?

A final sprinkle of tax statistics will be refreshing. According to the U.S. Treasury Department in “A State-by-State Look at the President’s Payroll Tax Cuts for Middle-Class Families,” the “2 percentage point payroll tax cut for 2011 provides a tax cut of about $1,000 for the typical American working family and a total of $109 billion in tax relief to support economic growth and job creation in 2011.”

What’s happening in your state with tax cuts? What are your members doing with this potential savings?

To be truly effective, we must work together to accomplish our goals with productive communication, collaborative efforts, and mutual understanding.

Credit unions of America, let us raise our water glasses in a toast! We could have a flood!

LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.

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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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