coping with financial stress Source: Shutterstock.

As COVID-19 ravages the nation’s physical health, it’s also playing havoc with credit union members’ emotional relationship with money, according to results from a Gallup poll that found prioritizing financial well-being is crucial.

When Gallup quizzed a random sample of 3,183 Credit Union Consortium members about how hopeful or worried they were about finances between March 17 and 23, stress had already crept in.

The percentage of credit union members who described themselves as “thriving” in February dipped from 40% to 36% by mid-March, according to the data, as more participants looked to the “struggling” and “suffering” categories.

The poll also suggested members were hit harder than the average American, 70% of whom reported experiencing a fair amount or great deal of COVID-19-induced disruption mid-March. Meanwhile, the same was true for 76% of credit union members.

What Should Credit Unions Do?

Now looking to their credit unions to reduce unnecessary stress and increase peace of mind, members highlighted three key needs: Crisis relief, answers and advice, and easy access to staff, tools and explainers.

As this is “probably just the beginning” of a decline in financial well-being for credit union members, according to Gallup, the way members feel about their credit union now could affect how loyal they are after COVID-19 — and how they compare their credit union to competitors.

But the more disruption members experienced, the less likely they were to report feeling properly supported by their credit union.

Just 21% of those going through “a great deal of disruption” strongly agreed that their credit union was looking out for their financial well-being, while 32% of participants experiencing no disruption said they felt fully supported.

The poll also revealed a connection between members’ financial well-being and engagement. Eighty-nine percent of members who felt completely supported reported being “fully engaged,” while only 28% feeling unsupported said the same.

Gallup’s Credit Union Consortium represents 3.2 million credit union members in the U.S., and those surveyed came from eight different credit unions.