In A Nutshell
Credit unions and intranets used to have somewhat of a tumultuous relationship; on paper they worked great together but in practice, well, not so much. Today, that scenario has reversed and a modern day credit union operating without a modern day intranet is committing a modern day communications crime: failing to fully engage a keen and committed workforce. This piece looks at the key benefits a credit union can expect to glean from a (preferably social) intranet.
Intranets used to suck. Like, really suck. They were content-heavy, cumbersome, and counterintuitive. They had a top-down, centralized structure that made everyone feel like they were being talked at rather than with. The intranet held the megaphone, turned up to 11, while everyone else had to just watch and listen.
In many ways then, intranets seemed to stand against the very thing credit unions stood for: transparency, openness, and a sense community. This, ironically, was in spite of the fact that credit unions were the exact type of organization that intranets were originally designed for.
I experienced this real-life contradiction first hand. I used to work on the communications team of a (really large) credit union at a time when we were having difficulty engaging employees. We were experiencing typical growing pains: Internal communication had become a one-way street. Collaboration could only happen in-person. Culture lived in a mission statement that hung on a wall somewhere.
So, we set out on a mission to right those wrongs. And while we did right those wrongs, we were genuinely surprised to discover that the solution was found in the one thing most people didn’t like: an intranet.
So, if your idea of an intranet looks similar to the intranet I discussed at the beginning of this piece, I can tell you that it’s time to update your opinion. And I can also tell you that if your credit union isn’t using an intranet, it’s not working at full capacity. Let’s talk about all the things you’re missing out on by not having a well-executed intranet.
1. Experiential Experience
Credit unions are laser-focused on member experience, we all know that. They’re co-operatives that put people before profits and support members beyond their day-to-day banking needs. Again, we’re all about the experience. Since front line employees—tellers, mortgage officers, branch managers, etc— are the face the company, they are the ones responsible for shaping those experiences. Now, without easy access to essential resources such as policies and procedures, not to mention products and services, it can be difficult for front-liners to provide the type of superior service we’re known for. Intranets to the rescue! Intranets help folks find information faster, like interest rate sheets and account types, which enables them to better meet their targets and contribute to member satisfaction.
2. So Long, Silos
As we know, credit unions are often organized into branch locations. Awesome for our clients, not-so-much for internal teams. You see, an unfortunate upshot of multiple branches is that teams are often spread out over multiple offices. This means things like sharing ideas, collaborating on projects, or building a culture are more difficult than they need to be. An intranet can break down barriers to communication by providing employees with a place to share resources and exchange information in real-time. They enable cross-functional collaboration by helping project teams communicate freely around ideas or processes, reducing time spent reading emails, or attending meetings.
3. Singing From The Same Hymn Sheet
Consistent branding across branch locations is critical in reinforcing a credit union’s mantra. In fact—let’s be honest here—it’s critical to reinforce any company’s raison d’etre. What kills that consistency is brand collateral and guidelines living in and across multiple locations. An intranet can mitigate that risk by helping staff access current branding guidelines and marketing collateral on-demand. Furthermore, intranets help marketing and communications departments manage and update brand resources, so employees can be certain they have the right resources for branch displays.
4. Community High Fives
Credit unions are dedicated to the people they serve. Active involvement in their community is what sets them apart from other financial institutions. An intranet is a great tool to employ when organizing events and promoting employee participation. When an event is over, attendees can share photos and videos with the organization, giving those who missed an extra incentive to join next time. Win-win.
5. Total Transparency
Transparency and a sense of ownership are what draws people to join—and work for—credit unions. But without a central communications channel, communicating openly with employees can be challenging. Have a big organizational change on the horizon? Make the announcement over the intranet and leave commenting open. This gives staff the ability to raise questions or contribute to the conversation, making them feel heard and valued.
I’ll be back next week with a whole new piece on credit unions and intranets. Specifically, I’ll be taking you through the buying process, from understanding your company’s needs right through to onboarding. So, if you work for a credit union and are thinking about purchasing an intranet, are an intranet user, or you just really like my writing, make sure you come back next week, or you can sign up to our mailing list below in case you forget!