Gamification Strategy Best Practices to Engage Credit Union Employees

By Patrick McElhenie, Director of Product Management & Lender Development Program Support for CUNA Mutual Group.

Gamification is an innovative workplace strategy designed to engage employees through game-like scenarios in real-life settings. The strategy behind gamification is the usage of game mechanics (or the elements that make up games) like points, levels, rewards, and leaderboards, in an office setting.

How can credit unions use gamification?

Many credit unions already use gamification in their interactions with members. Strategies like loyalty programs, affiliate rewards, and coupons all use elements of gamification. So the question we’re really after is this: how to translate this gamification into a way to engage credit union employees?

One way is leaderboards. New gamification technologies allow for near real-time feedback on employee performance. This feedback is reported as a leaderboard – a way for employees to see where they stack up against their coworkers. As employees are working, they can see how they’re progressing, whether they’re trying to reach a certain sales goal or trying to attain another metric. Multiple leaderboards provide the opportunity to measure different benchmarks.

What are gamification best practices?

If you want to see if gamification is right for your credit union, you could start by first speeding up your feedback, especially positive feedback. Keep score of how your employees are doing, and do it publicly so they can see their progress. A leaderboard is one way you could accomplish this. A gamification partner can help you provide near real-time feedback to your employees.

In addition, allowing optional competitions between your employees can encourage friendly competition to hit their goals. Help your employees focus by giving them specific goals and objectives, and then give them a way to see their progress towards their goals and objectives.

Finally, take the time to celebrate successes. Make sure to recognize your top performers publicly and communicate “wins” to your team when they’ve done a good job. Don’t forget – if you’re implementing gamification correctly, it should provide near real-time feedback, keep your employees focused, and most importantly, it should be fun for your team.

For more information about gamification, including additional best practices and key research findings, listen to Real Time Engagement Drives Credit Unions’ Success, the second installment in a two-part series about gamification.

If you missed the first part of our two-part series, listen to How Much Are Disengaged Employees Costing Your Credit Union? during which we explained the elements of gamification in more depth and discussed common pitfalls in implementing gamification.

CMG logoCUNA Mutual Group is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for TruStage® Auto & Home and Life Insurance Products and Mortgage Payment Protection. More information and educational materials are available at



Top 3 Things Credit Unions Need To Know About Gamification

By: Patrick McElhenie, Director, Product Management, CUNA Mutual Group.

Engagement is the name of the game for gamification. Nearly 70% of US employees report that they are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work.i With disengagement costing US employers $550 billion per year, having engaged employees is key for your credit union’s success.ii For the in-depth conversation about how much disengaged employees cost your credit union, listen to the podcast in full here

 What is gamification?

Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game situations to engage audiences and solve problems. It’s not creating a game, but rather, looking at the elements of a game structure and applying them to the real world.

Gamification is all around us. A popular example of gamification is Fitbit fitness trackers. Fitbit users can check in on their goals, their activities, and their progress at any time, receiving instant feedback about their performance. Another example is loyalty programs in which customers earn points for their interactions with a company. Customers acquire points through purchases which they can then exchange for a reward after they meet a certain threshold.

How does gamification create engagement?

Engagement is a key component of the game structure. Games are extremely engaging and can hold a player’s attention for a long time. Engagement is created through clear objectives, scores, and rules. The player is never confused about what they have to do or how well they are doing.

Games avoid predictability and monotony while maintaining the element of surprise. There are also often social elements and competition. These elements are translated to the workplace in gamification. The goal is to get employees ultra-engaged and having fun by working to solve problems and achieve objectives.

What are the benefits of using gamification?

Gamification utilizes both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation methods to create engagement in the workplace. Extrinsic motivation speaks to a hierarchy of motivators, such as stuff, power, access, and status. Status is the most effective reward because it is cheapest to fulfill and “sticky”. An example of status would be publicly recognizing an employee as a top performer.

Intrinsic motivation is all about driving an internal desire to be better or to be recognized for being better. It’s all about autonomy, the feeling of being able to control your own outcomes. In the workplace, there can be barriers that make employees feel they can’t control their own success. This is where gamification can help. Gamification provides near-real-time feedback, allowing employees to always know how well they are performing and what they need to do to achieve their objectives.

For more information about gamification, including how credit unions are using gamification and common pitfalls in implementing gamification, listen to How Much Are Disengaged Employees Costing Your Credit Union? the first installment in a two-part series about gamification.

CMG logoCUNA Mutual Group is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for TruStage® Auto & Home and Life Insurance Products and Mortgage Payment Protection. Learn more about our Preferred Partner at


i Gallup, Employee Engagement Is Stagnant in 2015, 2016
ii, The Cost of a Disengaged Employee, 2015


5 Emerging Risks and How to Mitigate Them

By Joe Luedke, Risk Consultant – Emerging Risks, Risk & Compliance Solutions, CUNA Mutual Group.

With each technological advance emerges new risk. Think about it: Every technology upgrade, new mobile device and new payment method brings exposure that wasn’t identified previously.

The real threat occurs when these risks aren’t anticipated or communicated within your organization.

Here are five emerging risks every credit union should have on their radar right now:

  1. Social media. Employees posting comments on social media that are inaccurate or appear incomplete or disparaging can threaten your organization’s reputation. Be careful when taking disciplinary action, as the National Labor Relations Board can classify social media activity as “protected concerted activity.” Mistakes here can lead to retaliation, wrongful termination claims and expensive litigation.
  2. Internet of Things (IoT) era. The IoT offers new tools and technologies that provide constant connectivity. It also creates new opportunities for data compromises. Workplace devices – like printers, clocks, break room appliances and TV – and employee devices – like watches, Bluetooth headsets and fitness trackers – are all susceptible to hacking, which can lead to unauthorized access to your network.
  3. Bitcoin and blockchain. Members may already use bitcoin and blockchain for fast and unregulated transactions, sometimes associated with nefarious activity. Unfortunately, about a third of bitcoin trading platforms are hacked.
  4. Ransomware. Today’s phishing attacks can restrict access to files and threaten disruption or permanent destruction of sensitive information unless a ransom is paid. Ransoms can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and they are typically payable in bitcoin.
  5. SMiSHing and website spoofing. As demand for mobile access grows, members don’t think twice when they receive texts claiming to be from their credit union. These fraudulent texts can infuse malware or redirect members to spoofed websites that allow fraudsters to capture or confirm personal or account information.

Credit unions must be ready to deal with emerging risks like these, while still tending to familiar threats. So, the bottom line is, don’t be complacent. Start implementing basic steps – like the following – today, so you don’t fall victim:

  • Educate staff and members about spam, shams and other scams. Ensure they understand how to identify fraud. Teach them what to click and what not to click and how to use proper technology etiquette to keep themselves – and your credit union – out of harm’s way.
  • Stay in the loop, as executive involvement is critical to success. Remember, when risk management is effective, nothing bad typically happens and the status quo is maintained. But, when you’re blindsided by a problem, poor risk management usually takes the blame.
  • Follow a process that includes risk mapping matrices, risk heat maps and process mapping to help uncover potential risks, quantify their potential impact and keep leadership aware.
  • Implement risk and compliance best practices, including policies and procedures to reduce potential loss. A number of great resources in the credit union marketplace are available to help, including those in CUNA Mutual Group’s Protection Resource Center.

As technology continues to evolve, risks will continue to emerge. So, do your best to visualize, track and communicate risk at your credit union. Once you identify an emerging risk, you can begin taking action to mitigate it.

Learn more about emerging risks by watching our recent webinar “Emerging Risks on the Radar.”

CMG logoCUNA Mutual Group is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner Mortgage Payment Protection. Learn more about our Preferred Partner at


Insurance for Mortgages May Confuse Members

By: Ben Weismer, Mortgage Payment Protection Product Manager, CUNA Mutual Group.

If you’ve talked with members who can’t make their mortgage payments because they’re temporarily disabled and can’t work, you may have heard something like, “I thought I had insurance through work for this,” or “I thought PMI covered this.”

It’s heartbreaking. And, it’s predictable. Just look at the products and programs members might think are covering them in case they can’t work due to illness or injury:

  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI)
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Short-term or long-term disability insurance
  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Mortgage payment protection

Mortgage transactions are already complex.  Members may struggle to understand the key differences between the items listed above.

However, at some point before closing, it’s a good idea to ask them how they’ll pay their mortgage if their breadwinner loses his or her paycheck. Be ready to clarify key aspects of these products and programs. Here are a few points that can help you clarify the differences:


PMI protects lenders, not homeowners if you stop making payments on your loan. It will not make your mortgage payments.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ comp applies only to work-related illness or injury. This is rarely the cause of long-term disability. In a survey by the Council for Disability Awareness, fewer than 5 percent of the workers who claimed disability benefits from 2009 through 2013 also received workers’ comp benefits.1

A 2015 report 2 by ProPublica and NPR detailed the steady erosion of workers’ comp benefits. According to this analysis, many states have not only shrunk the payments to injured workers; they’ve also cut them off after an arbitrary time limit—even if workers haven’t recovered.

Short- and Long-Term Disability Coverage

It’s important for members to double-check with their employers (unless they’ve purchased private policies) about this type of coverage.

It generally applies to non-work-related disabilities. But, it’s easy to misunderstand how much of a paycheck these coverages actually replace, when they kick in and how long they last.

Members may be surprised to learn the limitations of this coverage—or worse: They may discover they don’t actually have one or both of them.

Social Security Disability Insurance

If you’re permanently disabled, this coverage may be provided as a Social Security benefit. The most recent statistics available regarding Social Security Disability Insurance claims show that the rate of denial has climbed every year for the last six years. And, it topped  70 percent in 2013.3 It’s important to note that these claims typically take a long time to process—long enough for an unpaid mortgage to go into default.

Mortgage Payment Protection

Mortgage payment protection products vary; but, in general, they have some key advantages:

  • Mortgage payment protection benefits aren’t reduced by other benefits, such as workers’ compensation or long- and short-term disability. So, they can supplement these benefits. This can be critical if the other benefits fall short of replacing the member’s full paycheck.
  • These benefits typically kick in after only 30 days of a disability, but other types of benefits may not kick in for several months or longer.

Helping members protect their ability to pay their mortgages supports both members’ and your credit union’s bottom line. Remember, it’s definitely worth having a brief conversation about disability protection before you close a mortgage. That can help you avoid much more difficult conversations later.

Learn more about common misperceptions members could have about insurance for mortgages and how this could lead to falling behind on payments because your members thought they had coverage by listening to our recent podcast Mortgage Insurance Can Make A Member’s Head Spin.

CMG logoCUNA Mutual Group is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner Mortgage Payment Protection. Learn more about our Preferred Partner at


12014 Council for Disability Awareness Long-Term Disability Claims Review
2“The Demolition of Workers’ Comp,” March 4, 2015, ProPublica and NPR
3SSI Annual Statistical Report, 2014


Four Emerging Risks Challenging Credit Unions Today

By: Roger Nettie, Senior Risk Management Consultant, CUNA Mutual Group

As the risk landscape continues to shift and evolve, cmg risk blogcredit unions face two challenges: Staying current with risk trends and integrating risk management into their day-to-day plans and operations.

New risks can present themselves at any moment. So credit unions have to deal with familiar threats while recognizing new ones.

At the upcoming NAFCU Risk Management Seminar in Denver, I will speak about four emerging risks and provide action steps credit unions can take to mitigate and minimize exposure. These include:

  1. Wire transfers and ACH. Wire transfer fraud has been an ongoing problem with HELOC accounts, and fraudsters are evolving their attacks through email impersonations and by targeting real estate closings. ACH origination fraud has also become a new issue, as members and fraudsters are finding ways to take advantage of account-to-account transfer capabilities. Electronic payment systems are a favored target since large quantities of money are moved quickly, increasing the difficulty of retrieving it.
  2. Overdraft fees. Overdraft fees have generated class-action litigation, with members seeking monetary damages, restitution, punitive damages and injunction relief. Plaintiff attorneys are arguing that the calculation of overdraft fees isn’t adequately disclosed.
  3. Collection letters. Post-repossession collection letters have caused the most class-action claims against credit unions in recent years. Attorneys have successfully challenged the fact that many of the letters fail to meet the requirements of state laws that call for disclosures of the terms of sale of repossessed collateral. Damages and/or penalties for failing to adhere to these requirements are generally not insurable.
  4. ATMs and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. This is a hot-button issue as of late, and it has generated lawsuits. ATMs must be accessible to everyone. Some requirements include: detectable warnings (truncated domes) in place on ramps leading to and from ATMs, volume control, tactile symbols for function keys, privacy options, and Braille instructions. Credit unions have been found in violation of ADA laws for failure to comply with these requirements.

Interested in learning mitigation tips for these emerging risks? Join my session, titled “The Unique Footprint of Emerging Risks,” at NAFCU’s Risk Management Seminar on Wednesday, August 10, from 9 – 10 a.m. MT to hear more.

Roger Nettie is a senior risk management consultant for CUNA Mutual Group. Contact him at

CUNA Mutual Group is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Mortgage Payment Protection. For more information please visit

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Credit Unions should contact their own legal counsel for advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.