The 2022 ‘Great Resignation’ prompted many local businesses to gain a better understanding as to why so many people were leaving their jobs and how to do a better job retaining valued employees and recruiting others. Understanding larger trends affecting employment, both here in Island County and across the country, was key to the development of new programs and our approach to employee recruitment and retention at Peoples Bank. What we found was that more often than not, people were leaving their jobs not for better pay, but because they didn’t see room for growth within the company where they were employed.
In response, we created a program called Peoples Bank Pathways, which educates newer employees about the different departments within the Bank and the skills required for various positions. Long-tenured employees also participate to share their career paths at the Bank and insights from their experiences. The goal of this program is to create an opportunity for employees to visualize their career path within the Bank. We’ve had a very positive response to this program and are excited to continue and build on it.
Identify Employee Needs
Peoples Bank’s Human Resources department is focused on three main areas as it pertains to hiring and retention: improving employee growth and development, enhancing the candidate and employee experience, and deepening employee engagement. The first step in attaining those goals is the same: Ask questions.
The reasons employees leave their employer will be different in every industry, so it’s important to understand your business and industry first. Your employees are a great resource for that knowledge, so hearing from them first-hand is critical.
Peoples Bank uses surveys to gather information about things like remote work preferences. We have also started using focus groups, bringing a diverse group of people together to discuss a specific topic. These efforts have influenced one-on-one interactions too, making managers and their teams more comfortable having direct conversations about what they need to be successful.
Ask, Listen, Act
Once you ask employees to share their needs, management teams must listen and be ready to act on that information. If you ask for engagement and do nothing with the feedback it can have the opposite effect of disengaging your employees.
When we surveyed employees about returning to the office after working from home, many departments requested a hybrid model. Utilizing staff input, our management team worked hard to create a flexible hybrid model for non-customer facing teams, setting a standard for how much time should be spent in the office, then empowering supervisors to make their own teams’ schedules. We understand how important it is for us to be together to collaborate, but also want to give employees the option of a flexible work schedule.
By creating this flexibility, we strive to recognize the employee as a whole person. Whether they’re taking care of children or aging parents, or are dealing with other unique situations, we understand our employees are more than just their work at Peoples Bank. We want to do all that we can to recognize and support them at work and at home.
Building Company Culture
Shared values create a company’s culture, and Peoples Bank looks for candidates with similar values during the hiring process. When we ask long-term employees why they’ve stayed with us, they often say it’s because their personal values aligned with the Bank’s, so we know this is very important.
We have also revamped the onboarding process, starting with the welcome email new hires receive immediately after accepting a job offer. That email includes information that makes their first day at the Bank easier, but we have also created a support system that continues throughout the entire first year of employment. This level of organization – and commitment to the employee – is also a reflection of the Bank as a whole, which translates to our ability to execute on our promise of delivering a higher level of service to our customers. Delivering on this promise starts with understanding the needs of our employees and creating an environment where they can bring their best to work, and to their customers, every day.
Understanding employee needs and preferences is crucial to create a strong company culture that retains and attracts talented employees. Peoples Bank’s approach to employee engagement, flexible work culture, and building a shared value system can serve as a guide for other businesses to recruit and retain top talent.