Spokane Teachers Credit Union ($1.7B, Spokane, WA) spends extra time nurturing new hires, provides ample educational opportunities for staff, and tries to promote from within. The extra focus on employees has likely contributed to its strong financial performance in recent quarters as motivated staff connects with members.
The credit union recently reorganized after two long-term senior officers retired. It replaced, combined, and expanded jobs and responsibilities, creating more than 40 positions in the process. In all, the credit union filled 85% of the new positions with current STCU employees.
“It’s important to hire from the outside,” says Tammy Fleiger, vice president of operations. “But when we’re able to promote from within, that shows our dedication and support for building leaders and growing individuals here in the organization. It’s an advantage when someone moves into a new role and they already understand the credit union’s culture.”
The credit union’s focus on members through employee development appears to be having a positive impact on its financial performance. The credit union’s members held an average 0.62 loan accounts as of first quarter 2012, according to Callahan & Associates’ Peer-to-Peer data. That’s eight basis points higher than its asset-sized peer group ($1+ billion) and 13 basis points higher than all credit unions.
STCU’s average loan balance was nearly $20,000, exceeding its peer group’s average by $5,000 and the average of all credit unions by $7,000. It earned $222 in revenue per member, which was $60 more than its asset-based peer group. Finally, STCU was more efficient than its peers as of the first quarter. With a 63.25% efficiency ratio, the credit union trumped its peer group’s 72.23%.
Spokane Teacher’s field of membership extends well beyond its occupational roots of local educators and their families. Founded in 1934, the credit union operated for 30 years out of a shoebox in high school teacher Ernie McElvain’s classroom closet. The nearly $2 billion, state-chartered credit union has come a long way since then. It’s expanded from a teacher-based organization to one that serves anyone living, working, or worshiping in the state of Washington or Northern Idaho.
STCU invests in its employees with the belief that, if it treats employees well, they will treat members well. The credit union has a robust training department that reaches all areas and tenures of the credit union. A Welcome Party for new hires provides a general overview of the credit union’s culture and pairs older employees with newer ones. From there, training varies depending on the position. For example, tellers participate in week of concentrated teller training to learn their job functions in-depth. Member service representatives can spend up to two weeks learning the ropes of their positions.
Additionally, every employee has access to dozens of classroom training sessions and hundreds of online modules. The credit union even offers developmental assignments, where employees can take a position on a temporary basis with another department to learn about its functions and operations. Outside the credit union, STCU offers tuition reimbursement to assist employees working toward associate, bachelor, or master degrees.
“It took me 14 years while at the credit union to earn my undergrad,” Fleiger says. “Between working and raising a family, I took a class at a time.”
STCU offers assistance based on tenure, and employees can receive 50%, 75%, or even 100% reimbursement depending on how long they have been with the credit union.
“We invest in training in significant ways for our employees,” says CEO Tom Johnson. “We try to help employees develop a plan and map out with their supervisor where they might want to go in their own career, how they will get there, and what tools they will need. We are constantly looking for talent and for people who can rise to the next level.”