Federal Shutdown Doesn’t Stop CU Member Service

CUs respond to help members left in the lurch.

November 01, 2013
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CUs that go above and beyond in looking out for members' interests demonstrate the principles of CUNA's national Unite for Good campaign—removing barriers, creating awareness, and fostering service excellence.

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The bad news is when a political dispute shuts down the U.S. government. The good news is the speed with which credit unions respond to help members left in the lurch.

Prior to Oct. 1, when the federal government cut off all but essential services, dozens of credit unions had plans in place to assist members. The shutdown left 800,000 employees furloughed, while more than a million worked without pay.

In response, credit unions large and small implemented the Unite for Good principle of service excellence, offering a range of assistance to federal employees.

Shutdown assistance typically includes emergency loans, payroll advance assistance, skip-a-payment programs, penalty-free share certificate withdrawals, and financial counseling or loan workouts.

Andrews Federal Credit Union, Suitland, Md., and Tyndall Federal Credit Union, Panama City, Fla., each serve more than 100,000 members including federal employees in the U.S., on military bases, and overseas. Their websites offers information on assistance options.

Beyond service excellence, credit unions offering shutdown assistance demonstrate another Unite for Good tenet as they create awareness in their communities.

“Please reiterate our mission,” Jim Morrell, president/CEO of $149 million asset Peninsula Community Credit Union, Shelton, Wash., tells his employees. “We listen, we serve, we educate, we care—always.”

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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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