More than just medical: Credit unions get creative with benefits offerings

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Major medical, dental and vision insurance coverage are one thing, but that only scratches the surface of the benefits that many credit unions make available to their employees.

Beyond just the standard offerings, some credit unions provide their workers – and occasionally their members – with a slew of unusual and eccentric perks, part of a larger shift among employers as they recognize the need to constantly tweak benefits offerings.

One example of that is TruChoice Federal Credit Union, a $119 million institution based in South Portland, Maine, which celebrates the unusually named “Farkle Friday” as part of its “TruSpirit” program.

“On Fridays, staff may donate $1 to wear jeans, the donations go to support causes that are near to our hearts,” Human Resources Manager Theresa Mercier told Credit Union Journal. “Staff have logo-wear, which we call ‘TruThreads’ – these are in our brand colors.”

But what does “Farkle” mean? According to Mercier, it all ties back to a set of TruChoice-branded dice the credit union created and the credit union’s internal currency that staff can trade in for prizes and gift cards.

“On Friday morning we roll the dice and call ‘Farkle!’” she explained. “If the color you are wearing matches one of the die, you will receive one Ken Kash; if the color you are wearing matches both dice, you will receive five Ken Kash.”

CUs go to the dogs (and cats)
At Bethpage Federal Credit Union, a $7.6 billion institution based in Bethpage, N.Y., healthy living is incentivized. As part of a push to encourage good dietary habits, health and exercise, the credit union a weight-loss reimbursement program, under which Bethpage will subsidize a weight-loss program for a maximum of $60 per quarter ($240 annually). This is available to both full and part-time employees after they complete six months of service at Bethpage.

The credit union also offers its “Pet Discount Care Program” which covers veterinary care, pet care services and products for full-time employees – and Bethpage is one of many CUs to put policies in place that treat furry members of the family like, well, family.

For example, Redwood Credit Union, a $3.5 billion institution based in Santa Rosa, Calif., also offers pet insurance products to its members. Under the program, offered through its wholly owned subsidiary, RCU Insurance Services, pet owners are given assistance in paying for their animals’ medical bills through a pet health insurance plan. The plan covers everything from regular exams to treatment for injuries and illness

Bay Federal Credit Union, a $908 million institution based in Capitola, Calif., also offers its employees group-discounted pet insurance as a benefit through Trupanion Pet Insurance (a separate insurance company that specializes in pet insurance).

Amy M. Ivey, VP of marketing and development at Bay FCU, said the credit union will contribute $5 per pet, up to a total of $10 per employee. “The remainder premium receives an 11 percent discounted rate, and are paid through payroll deduction,” she said.

Employees can adjust their deductible amount which allows them to customize their monthly premium to fit their budget, Ivey added. Trupanion, she noted, is available for dogs and cats between the ages of eight weeks and 14 years. “We consider all employees and their loved ones part of our Bay Federal family,” Ivey added.

Meanwhile, Verve, a Credit Union, an $840 million institution based in Oshkosh, Wis., not only welcomes dogs into its branches, but even offers licensed therapy dog visits – and the members love it as much as the staff.

On Verve’s Facebook page, a member named Kevin Petersen wrote: “Verve is awesome. I've even been able to take our dog into their different locations.” In response, the credit union wrote back “You sure can still bring your dog into our branches. We actually have a therapy dog that visits our [Universal Street, Oshkosh] location once a week or so.”

Another member, Eugene Reeser, declared: “We bring our dog in regularly and when she had to have surgery – we received a get well card that everyone signed. Some even know her by name.”

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