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Michigan Credit Union League

The Benefits of Recruiting Millennials to the Workforce


Credit unions and marketing experts are constantly trying to figure out how to effectively market to millennials, but maybe concerns about adding them to the field of membership are overshadowing how important it is to add this desired demographic to the credit union workforce.

By inviting ambitious, talented millennials into the workplace, credit unions can add a point of view that can not only energize the culture, but relate to fellow students and young professional members. Then why, if 18-34 year-olds have so much potential, are some credit unions reluctant to hire young professionals?

One legitimate worry is a lack of real-world experience. Some hiring managers might wonder, “If millennials don’t have much financial experience, how are they going to be smart consultants for our field of membership?”

Michigan First Credit Union approaches recruiting differently. They see a lack of real-world financial experience as a challenge they’re willing to take on. “I think it’s exciting to find them and grow them through the credit union, giving them experience,” said Michigan First’s chief marketing officer Sue Postemski.

One of Michigan First’s young professionals is showcasing the kind of innovation this demographic can bring to a workforce. They created a career for Erin Winters, the Michigan First Young & Free Michigan Spokester. Winters makes videos and blogs about a variety of subjects, but the spokester’s goal is to help 17-25 year-olds make sense of their finances, according to Michigan First.

“Our Young & Free program started as an initiative to get younger members. We wanted to reduce the average age of our members, and when you’re trying to reach young adults you need a younger voice,” said Postemski.

Winters’ blog doesn’t just cover financial strategies and topics, but acts more as a lifestyle blog. Advice about earning money online or paying off student loans is mixed in with posts about the best coffee in an area and other shopping tips. Winters is trying to connect with other Michiganders her age, and in turn, the Young & Free program highlights how unique an organization Michigan First is…“even though we’re a credit union,” as Postemski puts it.

In the wake of the program, the credit union found their average membership age went from 50 down to 44.

Postemski’s advice for other credit unions who are looking to start a program that will lower their average membership age was to “jump right in.” “Don’t be hesitant,” she continued. “One of the largest challenges is making that commitment, to have a face or a voice. It takes resources, but you need that relatable voice.” Specifically, she added that credit unions do not need to emulate Michigan First’s Young & Free program, but said it’s wise to start a youth initiative that routinely reaches out to the public and is present in the community.

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) also views millennial hirings as an opportunity to benefit the industry and their membership. This East Lansing-based credit union, recently named one of Fortune’s 50 Best Workplaces for New College Grads, has good reason not to shy away from bringing aboard young professionals.

“Coming out of college, their knowledge and ideas are fresh and at the forefront of their minds, resulting in a new way to view their professional work and offer innovative ideas,” said MSUFCU vice president of marketing & communications Deidre Davis. “Because a large portion of our membership falls in the millennial category, 35.54 percent, having employees that are able to relate and understand their financial needs is a valuable asset.”

“Recent graduates are an integral part of the workforce at the credit union,” said MSUFCU CEO April Clobes. “By offering competitive benefits, engaging employee programs and a positive work environment, we are able to attract and retain top talent and provide them with the opportunities needed to advance their professional careers.”

Clobes sees the partnership between credit unions and young professionals as one that is advantageous to both parties. Not only do recent graduates offer a unique addition to credit unions’ culture, but the CEO also believes the credit union movement is an excellent place for young professional to jump start their career.

Diedre Davis agrees, “Working closely with the university and its students benefits the credit union with fresh perspectives from younger generations as well as benefits students with tools and resources to succeed financially and professionally.”

This past May, MSUFCU opened the Financial Innovation and Education Center (FIEC), which provides workspaces for 22 interns and 12 full-time employees in the credit union’s member relations and financial education departments. Its close proximity to MSU’s campus allows for convenient access to those who live on campus or commute to East Lansing.

The FIEC will also allow MSUFCU to expand its financial education presence on campus, providing space for employees managing its Financial 4.0 website and app for college-age students and the Financial Peer Education Program. Financial 4.0 houses blogs on financial topics, financial education videos, free financial resources and contests. This program offers students an opportunity to improve their financial literacy.

“In opening the FIEC, we are able to offer invaluable learning experiences to our student-interns, preparing them to become future leaders,” said Clobes. “The FIEC is designed to prepare students for full-time positions after college, possibly with the credit union. Retaining top talent at MSUFCU and within the Greater Lansing area helps to create a vibrant community.”

This attitude is true to the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” MSUFCU is interested in what they can offer their workers as much as they are interested in what their workers offer the credit union. They understand that offering employees opportunities and benefits enriches the community and surrounding areas.

“With the diverse perspectives of our employees, including our millennials, we are more in-tune with our members’ needs and able to provide a superior level of service throughout their various life stages, creating lifelong members,” said Davis.

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