The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is escalating pretty quickly, both nationally and abroad. Between Ongoing Operations and CU 2.0, we’re seeing the challenges that credit unions are facing—and we’re getting ideas about how to fix them.
Now that COVID-19 is officially a global pandemic, businesses and entire industries are taking precautions. Schools are closed, events are canceled, and some cities are even enforcing lockdowns. Credit unions are also feeling the pressure.
But leadership and support in times like these are crucial. Yes, the credit union must stay safe… but it must also continue to serve its members—especially while their usual resources and support network are compromised.
In conjunction with the business continuity planning experts at Ongoing Operations, we’d like to share ten new ideas to help your credit union handle COVID-19.
Coronavirus Ideas for Credit Unions
Enacting just one of these ideas could make a major difference in your credit union. Going after two, three, or even more may significantly limit the spread of COVID-19 and streamline operations for your members throughout the outbreak.
- Put your kids to work. No, no child labor. Think about it more like a babysitting exercise. If schools get canceled, figure out how teenage children of employees can look after younger children of employees. Have the credit union pay for it. It would help all of your employees afford childcare while the kids are home from school.
- Reallocate offices. People who can work from home are more likely to have their own offices. Consider reallocating those offices to call center employees so that they can enjoy better social distancing on the job. (Also, make sure they disinfect surfaces throughout each day.)
- Put call center employees on a swing shift. Half can work two days on-premise per week while the other half works three. Whoever’s not on-premise can work from home. This also promotes social distancing (though it’s less viable if you have an outsourced call center).
- Extend drive-through hours. If you want to close your branch through the outbreak, that makes plenty of sense. It also makes sense to increase your drive-through hours to compensate. If you have your tellers change their shifts to meet the new hours, then problem solved.
- Social distancing in branches. If you don’t want to close your branches, you can still take part in social distancing. Put line control devices, tables, chairs, or other furniture in front of the teller line. Adding a couple extra feet of distance between your employees and your members can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 at your credit union.
- Stay clean and sanitized. Set a reminder on your calendar to wash your hands every few hours. Also, wipe down your area, common areas, and frequently-touched items with a disinfectant like Lysol.
- Encourage cashless banking. Dollars are already very dirty. And now that there’s a pandemic loose, they’re also vectors for infection. Encourage cashless finance among your members.
- Give your members a break. Many people, especially in the food service industry and in entertainment have already lost large portions of their usual monthly income. Offer to skip a loan pay to them and consider softening your overdraft policy for the duration.
- Give your members a bigger safety net. When was the last time you looked into who qualified for a credit line increase? You could probably get away with increasing credit card limit by $1k for members in good standing. That may extend to others as well. Also, you may want to look into providing small-dollar loans for your most vulnerable members.
(If you’d like to see how to provide $1k, 18–month, 6.25% interest loans to eligible members, simply reach out to us.)
- Promote digital banking channels. In addition to encouraging adoption of digital and online banking, increase your remote deposit capture (RDC) limits in your mobile app. It may get a few more people to adopt your digital services.
Bonus point: Prepay your critical vendors. Everybody is feeling the pinch. And if you value their service, you’ll want to make sure it’s still there while everyone else recovers—and after, too.
Double bonus point: Review your credit union’s business continuity and pandemic plan. There’s a good chance that this incident has exposed some weak points in your current plan. Now’s the time to strengthen them—and to ensure they continue working no matter what happens next with credit unions and COVID-19.
That’s all we’ve got for now. If you have additional ideas, please let us know so that we can get the word out to other credit unions. Stay safe, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face!