Note from Charlie – Nov. 5

November 5th, 2015 Charlie Funk
Charlie Funk

Providing an excellent environment in which to work is of the utmost importance to MidWestOne and fits with one of our operating principles, which is to “hire and retain excellent employees.” Of course, all companies will say that their “people are the most important assets,” but we all know that not every employer is willing to make the necessary commitment to its work force to achieve and sustain an excellent work place.

At MidWestOne, we believe that it is very important to measure the satisfaction and engagement of our employees. We do this in several ways, but one of the most valuable tools that we use is to encourage each employee (anonymously) to participate in the Des Moines Register’s survey that measures the Top Workplaces in Iowa. The feedback we receive from this survey allows us to be better managers and leaders and more responsive to the things that are in the forefront of our employees’ minds. It is not an exaggeration to say that the insight we gain from this survey is much more important to us than the overall ranking and recognition.

MidWestOne Bank was recently recognized as one of the top 100 workplaces in Iowa. This was the third consecutive year for MidWestOne to make the list. The 2015 result was our highest ranking yet, and of all the banks that completed the survey this year, MidWestOne was the highest rated bank on the entire list.

Let’s step back for just a moment. Why is this important to you as a customer or as a shareholder? We believe in the old adage that happy (and engaged) employees lead to satisfied customers. More than that, an engaged work force leads to customers who become advocates for the bank and who recommend us to others. Said differently, a bank with a “special” culture is one that sets itself apart from its competitors.

I am occasionally asked “how do you do that?” There is no magic formula here. One answer lies in trying to take the long term view when making decisions.  For example, during the dark days of the Great Recession in 2009-10, MidWestOne did not cut a dime from its training budget. Why? We understood that we had to continue to give our employees the best tools to succeed in the marketplace. That would have been a short-sighted decision! We also did not abandon the communities we serve and only incrementally reduced our charitable giving during these difficult years. In fact, we actually maintained giving levels in more than 90 percent of the communities we serve. It is my view that our employees saw this and that these actions served to cement employee loyalty to this company.

Two other notable examples of going above and beyond for our employees lie in “Extraordinary Additions” and in Rally Day. The former is what is commonly known as new employee orientation. We have worked hard on our “onboarding” process for new employees. This culminates in a day when each employee comes to our headquarters to spend a day hearing about our company and meeting its key leaders. Few companies that I know of invest this level of commitment to assure its new hires get off to a fast start. We receive many flattering comments from persons after they have gone through this process.

Rally Day is simply that. We close our offices on Columbus Day each year and we bring all of our employees to one location to celebrate successes, to laugh, and to talk about our future. Although not an inexpensive proposition, internal surveys put the “approval rating” for Rally Day at more than 90 percent.

No, we aren’t perfect. We know that. And that’s why we will continue to invest our resources to make MidWestOne a terrific place to work and to grow. Our customers, shareholders and communities expect nothing less.

Charlie Funk

About the author

Charlie Funk is President and CEO of MidWestOne Bank. He works with the MidWestOne team to oversee the daily operation of the bank.

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