Feb. 2, 2023

This paid piece is sponsored by The First National Bank in Sioux Falls.

The Sioux Empire Society for Human Resource Management recently presented its 2022 Workplace Excellence Awards to honor outstanding businesses in the Sioux Falls area.

Among the winners was The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, which took home the Workplace Excellence Award for Culture.

“In my opinion, culture is one of the last true competitive advantages,” said Chris Ekstrum, president and CEO of First National Bank. “We are proud of our culture at FNB, and this award is an excellent recognition of our teammates.”

Throughout its 138-year history, the local bank has understood the importance of a strong workplace culture in obtaining and retaining top talent and being able to serve its customers at the highest possible level.

SESHRM said it best in its call for nominations: “These workplaces build their business strategies around their employees — ensuring each worker is positioned to drive business outcomes and serves customers with excellence. By doing this, their employees come to work each day engaged and ready to push boundaries.”

Here are the business strategies that helped First National Bank build its award-winning culture:

Sending new employees to Culture Camp

When a new employee joins the bank, they get sent to camp.

No, not the kind of camp where you pack a sleeping bag, stay at a cabin in the woods and sing songs around a campfire.

At this camp — called Culture Camp — the bank’s newest teammates are led by Sally Chapman, FNB’s top-tier employee development administrator, to learn about the history of the bank, receive overviews of each department from managers and executives, and play games like FNB Family Feud.

The program consists of three sessions over a six-month period.

“We’ve seen great success with Culture Camp over the years,” Chapman said. “It’s a fun way to immerse new teammates in our culture and help them to better understand the role they play in it.”

Championing employee well-being through a Wellbeing Committee

Not only does the bank have an employee-led Wellbeing Committee that serves as the guiding force in its culture efforts, but it has gone so far as to make this well-being task force a strategic priority for the organization.

Members of this committee plan and host internal events — like office Olympics — and surprise teammates with treats — like a Scooter’s gift card on National Coffee Day — to reinforce that every employee is valued by the organization and, of course, that work can be fun.

The best example to sum up the Wellbeing Committee’s efforts is its yearly food truck event — a favorite among FNB teammates.

For one day in the summer, the committee brings local food trucks to the parking lot of the bank’s downtown branch, and all teammates get a lunch from a truck of their choice, courtesy of the bank.

Teammates then enjoy their meals picnic-style with their co-workers at tables set up in the parking lot.

“It’s such a rewarding experience to bring teammates from different departments together to have fun, get to know each other and build those internal relationships,” said Jodie Forstein, auditor and former member of the Wellbeing Committee.

Promoting a culture of giving back with VTO

As employees of a community bank, FNB’s teammates understand the importance of giving back to and supporting the community.

The bank assists its employees in their stewardship efforts by providing each of them with 12 hours of volunteer time off, or VTO, a year, which allows them to take paid time off for volunteer activities.

Teammates are welcome to use these volunteer hours for bank-organized opportunities or for their own personal volunteer activities.

“I love to volunteer, but finding time outside of busy work and personal schedules isn’t always easy,” said Stacey Bartlett, a client service associate with First National Wealth Management. “FNB not only encourages us to be involved, but they literally provide the opportunity for teammates to take time out of our workday to volunteer.”

Celebrating employee success with Years of Service and Coins of Excellence

Culture is nothing without the employees who sustain it.

That’s why FNB recognizes its teammates’ tenures through its Years of Service program.

Every teammate receives a gift for their second, fifth, 10th, 15th and so on anniversaries, and all are recognized and presented with their gift by Ekstrum at the bank’s quarterly all-teammate meetings.

But employee recognition doesn’t stop there.

To celebrate the outstanding things FNB’s employees do for the organization and its customers, Ekstrum hands out Coins of Excellence to teammates who go above and beyond.

“There’s a limited number of coins in existence,” said Ekstrum, “so earning a coin signifies your excellence as part of an elite group.”

Defining outstanding culture with FIRST Values

Family, Independence & Innovation, Relationships, Stewardship, Teamwork — these are the values that guide First National Bank’s culture, and they apply to all employees without exception.

“Our FIRST Values are not just written on the walls of the branches,” said Lexis Cramer, FNB’s 57th Street branch manager, “but also on the hearts of the employees.”

From Culture Camp to Coins of Excellence, the bank’s FIRST Values have a hand in every single one of the aforementioned strategies.

To sum it up, these FIRST Values are the secret sauce behind First National Bank’s award-winning culture.

“One of the ways we define excellence at First National Bank is by our values,” said Jennifer Reecy, the bank’s chief employee experience officer. “This award goes to all of our teammates who uphold our FIRST Values day in and day out, prioritize well-being and engagement in the workplace and are just generally amazing leaders, teammates and people.”

You can learn more about First National Bank’s award-winning culture and browse career opportunities here.

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