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Collaborate for the Common Good

Successful collaborations make our jobs easier and more rewarding.

March 01, 2012
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Collaboration on projects requires honesty about budget and preferences, in addition to communication and respect, to create a win-win situation.

Does your credit union collaborate? Do you acknowledge expert input can solve problems? Do you partner with other credit unions to facilitate meeting common goals and create efficiencies? What benefits can you realize long term with such arrangements?

Research this week will get you thinking about how to meet your match.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) leads the charge with “Innovative Collaborations Between Workforce Boards and Employers Helped Meet Local Needs.” 

Examine this report for an interesting glimpse at “a range of factors that facilitated building innovative collaborations,” plus challenges to collaborations that were overcome.

Collaboration is good but sweetheart deals aren’t always the best, as outlined in the Journal of Marketing’sService Sweethearting: Its Antecedents and Customer Consequences.” 

In this report, “Sweethearting occurs when frontline workers give unauthorized free or discounted goods and services to customer conspirators.”

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

Sweethearting costs companies billions of dollars annually. This study examines the factors that motivate this practice, revealing “several measurable employee traits suppress its frequency.”

Consider the psychological and practical facets of collaborations these reports describe.

In “Expenditure Patterns of Older Americans, 2001-2009,”   the Employee Benefits Research Institute reveals that house and home expenses account for 40% to 45% of older Americans’ budgets, and long-term care and health insurance “have significant effect on increased spending by older households.”

Meanwhile, the Society of Actuaries provides 11 issue briefs “examining the major decisions encountered in retirement… [and tackling] a variety of retirement decisions with practical considerations and advice.”

These issues include finding financial advice, addressing women’s issues, and deciding when to claim Social Security and where to live.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) examines price trends, social security benefits, and other topics of concern for the aging in “Current Price Topics: The Experimental Consumer Price Index for Older Americans.”

Here we learn, “There are several reasons that older Americans faced slightly higher inflation rates over the past 29 years,” including larger budget expenditures on medical needs.

For the younger set, BLS also examines “America’s Young Adults at 24: School Enrollment, Training, and Employment Transitions Between Ages 23 and 24 Summary” 

Discover the experiences of young adults with regard to schooling and employment, and consider how your credit union can help meet their various financial needs at this age. What needs lie ahead for the younger consumer—and do you incorporate practices to collaborate with various age groups?

Economic unease

The economy continues to be burdensome. GAO poses “Economic Circumstances of Individuals Who Exhausted Benefits,” revealing there are two million “displaced workers who exhausted (unemployment insurance) as of early 2010…Labor estimated that about an additional 3.5 million individuals exhausted benefits in 2010 and 2011.”

See also “Understanding and Responding to Persistently High Unemployment” by the Congressional Budget Office. Here we learn that the U.S. “is experiencing the longest stretch of high unemployment since the Great Depression” and there are some policies that could increase demand for workers, while others could lessen unemployment.

Could you join forces with another credit union to help those still suffering from our economic malaise?

Successful collaborations happen every day. They make our jobs and personal quests easier.

Credit unions can work together for the benefit of members and each other as they realize efficiencies in the process

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 ( 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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