It’s safe to call Jordan Burroughs an expert on young professionals in the credit union industry.
For one thing, Jordan — vice president of member engagement at the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates — could herself be defined as a “young professional.” For another, she’s been immersed in the League’s Young Professionals Group for the past five years.
“I officially took over as the LSCU YPG ‘person’ in January,” she said.
LSCU’s Young Professionals Group is made up of young credit union professionals — 40 years of age and younger (or at least 40 at heart…) — working to positively affect the credit union movement and the communities they serve through networking, membership and collective action. Along the way, the group helps develop these largely millennial professionals so they can one day become the next generation of CEOs and leaders in the credit union movement.
But the group also provides invaluable insights useful to credit unions hoping to attract and maintain young talent, Jordan said. Here are some lessons she’s learned about young professionals in the credit union industry during her time working with YPG:
- YPs are more hardworking and engaged than you might think. Older generations tend to think of young professionals as belonging to the Millennial generation (although, you may want to look out for Gen Z…they’re more grown-up than you think.), and a stigma of laziness and self-entitlement tends to loom over that title. But Jordan said she urges credit unions to give eager young employees a chance to make a project their own. “When these younger employees feel they have the green-light to affect change, they tend to seize the opportunity,” Jordan said. “At the Young Professionals Think Tank recently, the YPs created their own fundraiser for our federal PAC. During that one-day event, they raised $950. It was seriously impressive to watch them work.”
- YPs are cause-driven. Jordan said she’s noticed that YPs tend to feel motivated when they feel like they’re a part of a movement working toward some kind of greater good. That’s promising news for credit unions. Jordan said she recommends exposing promising young employees to programs — including LSCU’s YPG — that shows them how they fit into the credit union mission. “Experiences like YPG shows employees what’s going on beyond the four walls of their credit unions so they can see and understand that they’re working for a larger cause,” Jordan said. “We want to give them a world-view of the credit union movement.”
- YPs like to know the logic behind decisions. Engaged young professionals may ask a lot of questions before completing a task. They may want to know why they need to complete the task, how the task fits into the credit union’s goals and whether the task can be completed in a different way. Sometimes, older generations can confuse this curiosity as entitlement and a questioning of authority. But Jordan said it’s more indicative of a young employee’s desire to understand the logic behind how your credit union works. “They want to be involved in decision-making and things like that — they want to know why things are the way they are,” she said. “The more you can show them that, the better equipped they’ll be to become a credit union leader one day.”
- YPs can give your credit union renewed energy. Don’t be afraid to hire and empower those young whippersnappers! They might recharge the vibe in your credit union. “They just have a renewed sense of energy and excitement about things that a person who has been in the industry for a long time may think really isn’t that cool,” Jordan said. “Seeing them explore the credit union movement for the first time is like seeing a kid on Christmas morning — it can give older employees a renewed sense of purpose, because they’re suddenly seeing the industry through the YP’s fresh eyes.”
- It’s not all about craft beer and selfies. Jordan said it’s important to let young professionals network among each other on occasion; and to trust that they will have productive and thought-provoking interactions. “I feel like a lot of times there’s the idea that young professionals only want to get together and drink,” she said. “But really, YPs are serious about developing themselves professionally. I mean, don’t get me wrong — they definitely love a craft beer — but they are more interested in learning and growing in their careers.”