By NASH NUNNERY
A new age is dawning in the banking world, and it doesn’t involve the last word in mobile banking apps or ATM machines.
“Engagement and reward” is the latest buzz phrase. From flexible work schedules to bonuses to use of lavish ballpark suites, banking institutions are re-investing in their employees.
Last month, three Mississippi-based banks garnered recognition and a Top 40 ranking for providing an extraordinary work experience for their associates.
Industry publication American Banker ranked Ridgeland-based Metropolitan Bank No. 13 on its 2016 “Best Banks to Work For” list, with Community Bank and BankPlus coming in at 36th and 38th, respectively. Rustin, La.-based Origin Bank, with branches in Mississippi, was also on the list. American Banker collaborates with Best Companies Group to analyze bank employee surveys about workplace policies and practices.
Founded amid the worst financial crisis in the U.S. in generations, Metropolitan Bank – which in March celebrated its eighth birthday – has grown its assets from $243 million in 2008 to 1.1 billion in 2016.
The Metropolitan Bank culture is built upon six ‘pillars’, including growing personally and professionally, according to group administrative officer Leanne Stamper.
“Not many companies can boast on such things but when your end game is to do what is right for the client, everything else falls into place,” she said.
One of the more popular perks enjoyed by Metropolitan’s 159 associates is the “free breakfast Fridays” that feature doughnuts, bagels with cream cheese and homemade casseroles. The bank also holds a “March Madness” competition each spring, with teams earning points by exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of water, meditating, getting at least seven hours of sleep and reading a wellness book.
Members of the winning team receive a $25 gift card.
Metropolitan also offers a bonus/incentive program, whereby full-time employees are eligible to receive cash and stock awards based on individual performance and the bank meeting overall goals.
“I think one of the things that makes Metropolitan such a wonderful place to work is that the ideas of each associate are valued as well as encouraged,” said loan operations coordinator Jamie Johnson.
Institutional courtesy and transparency are the rule rather than the exception, added managing director Josh Poole.
“All banks play by the same rules, and these rules often induce a culture of hierarchy, secrecy and small thinking,” Poole said. “Metropolitan fiercely defends a culture of trust and accountability that has proven to yield high performance.”
Like Metropolitan, BankPlus offers associates a plethora of employee-friendly benefits, including use of the bank’s suite at Mississippi Braves home games, a paid day off for a “Healthy You” medical checkup and full insurance benefits paid for employees that participate in the Wellness Plus program.
A bank spokesman said one of the more popular perks is the Tele-Health program, a partnership with the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Eligible BankPlus associates who have become ill or suffered a non-life threatening injury may consult with a physician via video chat in real time.
“BankPlus has a small town feel to it. We are not a big, corporate bank in multiple states with thousands of employees, and I like that,” said Christy Martin, who works at a Clinton BankPlus. “Anytime I have had needs or requests out of the ordinary, they’ve been accommodating and understanding.”
This marks the fourth consecutive year that BankPlus garnered a ranking on the national “Best Banks to Work For” list.
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