Article

Employee Universities for Credit Unions of All Sizes

female executive raising hand during training
By Maura Keller

2 minutes

With the right resources and leadership backing, training efforts can be scaled to fit any organization.

A great feature about “employee universities” is that credit unions don’t all have to follow the same blueprint, says Holly Baumel, director of staff development at $620 million Blackhawk Community Credit Union in Janesville, Wisconsin.

“The … resources dedicated to the development of the staff and support from leadership are bigger factors to its success than the actual size of the credit union,” Baume says. “The program could easily be scaled to fit the size of the institution.”

CUES member Erica Kemp, AVP/branch strategy at $1 billion Credit Union 1 in Anchorage, Alaska, suggests that once a credit union acquires a growth mindset and “has the numbers to support it,” it should be looking to expand the skill sets of staff with robust training programs.

“Fast-growing organizations cannot always wait to find already skilled talent when they need to expand,” she says. “So, utilizing a training program earlier can help to set up current staff to be prepared.”

Kemp advises that credit unions need to set up internal training programs from the very beginning, at a scale that is appropriate for their size and with technology they can afford that keeps them moving toward “the next step.” There’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration, such as number of staff, strategic plans, members’ needs and desires, location of staff, budgeting, etc.

And while larger credit unions may have the resources required to establish more robust training and “university” programs, all credit unions should consider incorporating a lifelong learning component into their operations.

“A smaller credit union may have the ability to conduct more one-on-one training and end up with just as strong of a result as a larger credit union that has built a robust training plan through e-learning or class experiences,” Kemp says. “Specific needs must also be tied to the strategic plans of the organization. Each needs to support the other. So, a fast-growing credit union with $500 million in assets may be able to strategically plan for a detailed in-house training plan that supports their growth—whereas another credit union may not be ready for that until they’re closer to the $1 billion mark.”

Based in Minneapolis, Maura Keller frequently covers financial, legal, medical and other topics for regional and national publications.

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