How MSUFCU Develops Talent

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LANSING, Mich.-Michigan State University FCU has a unique approach to filling vacated or new positions that require member interaction-it draws from an internal talent pool of new hires trained to be ready to step in when a need arrives.

No member-facing employees begin their new CU career without completing the Credit Union Associate Program first. And some employees don't make it through-11 failed to make the cut last year or opted out on their own.

It is that kind of attention to making sure the employee and credit union mesh that's keeping member service high and driving growth at MSUFCU, said EVP April Clobes, who emphasized the CU is not looking to force out bad talent as much as it is seeking to develop skills and find the right fit for the department and employee when the new staffer begins working with members. MSUFCU likes to keep at least six new hires ready.

Staff As Differentiator

"The Credit Union Associate Program is very important to us because we differentiate our credit union through our staff," said Clobes, noting that the credit union's member satisfaction rate is 98%. Clobes said the training program, and products, are producing satisfied members, as well as a great deal of positive word-of-mouth advertising. MSUFCU has expanded from four to nine branches since 2001 and assets have grown by almost $200 million in the last five years. Capital is 13.7%.

The program, too, helps the $580-million credit union keep pace with growth that is also being supported by the addition of new SEGs and community outreach efforts.

In place since 2001, the Credit Union Associate Program trains a group of new hires for six weeks, schooling them on the credit union's philosophy, policies, procedures, and core software programs. After making it through that training the employees are allowed to apply for a posted position or can be sought out by a department. During training, the team gets exposed to virtually all the CU's areas and will do limited work at a branch during which they are shadowed by a supervisor. MSUFCU also has the group practice taking calls at a small contact center set up for training.

"After their six weeks, if they are not placed into a permanent position they go to the branches and rotate as a teller or in the call center," Clobes said.

Seeing Success In Deployment

A total of 63 people were deployed last year through the program, with the majority being tellers (24), contact center staff (8), and e-services specialists (7). Once new hires are permanently placed, they undergo their new department's training program, as well.

Thanks to a new branch and a large number of retirements, last year MSUFCU filled 27 new positions and hired 83 new people overall to increase staff to 380. The credit union's turnover rate is 15%, due in part to the fact many staff attend Michigan State and then move on, or have a spouse attending the school and eventually relocate.

Clobes said a firm emphasis on member service is especially needed when you serve a university. "Our members have high expectations from us. They expect our staff to be well educated and trained."

Clobes said MSUFCU understands it costs money to keep a trained talent pool ready, and while it does not measure that expense, the credit union is convinced the investment pays off through long-term business results. "Just look at our growth and you will see the value in the program. When you are growing fast it is nice to be able to draw on someone you know has the experience and knowledge to step right in, rather than scrambling to find someone and then throwing them out on the front line after only three days of training."

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