How much does workplace culture matter? Consider this: the average American spends 90,360 hours at work within the course of a lifetime. That is around 35 percent of our total waking hours over a 50-year span.
Given those statistics, one should consider that finding an organization with leadership that solicits and listens to employee feedback, actively seeks workplace excellence, promotes a progressive culture and works toward continuous improvement is like hitting the employment jackpot. TwinStar Credit Union recently received the second annual Nancie Payne Workplace Excellence Award, which recognized them as just such an organization with all of those characteristics.
“TwinStar has a longstanding and well-respected reputation for supporting community activities, their membership and their employees,” says David Schaffert, president and CEO of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and a board member of Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, which issued the award. “Their core values of integrity, open two-way communication, rewarding work environment and service of excellence are more than just words on a wall. They are themes that are directly spoken to and acted upon within the organization.”
The award honors Nancie Payne, a pioneer in the field of workplace accessibility and a board member at PacMtn. Dr. Payne died in 2015 at the age of 63 after a prolonged bout with cancer. “She stood for excellence, customer service and meaningful customer engagement,” explains Schaffert. “PacMtn and Nancy believed that employers are leaders in developing diverse, progressive workplace cultures in these businesses and practices that ensure strong organizations, productivity and ultimately the success of individuals.”
Nominations were sought throughout a five-county region, with businesses being able to nominate themselves. The application process included a survey of employee experiences within their organization, and reviewers assessed each nominee based on workplace excellence, customer service, meaningful employee engagement, a constructive, diverse, and progressive workplace culture and effort in encouraging continuous improvement toward mission achievement. In the end four finalists remained: TwinStar, Hama Hama Oyster Company, Belco Forest Products, and Scott Homes. “Reviewers were greatly impressed with all the finalists,” says Schaffert.
TwinStar’s culture won the day. The company has a Positive Employee Relations Committee that plans and organizes social gatherings and is responsible for business-wide safety and accident prevention. Each year, the committee sponsors a conference that encourages employee communication with senior leadership. “TwinStar really cares about their employees,” suggests one staff member. “It’s like having a second family.”
Employees can participate in the company’s Toastmasters club, which promotes effective communication, and the Imagination Lab, where employees work as a team to research new products, services and efficiency models. “That’s what is the essence of TwinStar and why PacMtn is recognizing them as this year’s recipient,” says Schaffert.
Matt Devlin has been with the company for 14 years, currently as vice president of marketing and business development.
“One of the things I’ve noticed is the respect for every employee. As a result, we get a lot of good ideas that have bubbled up from the front lines and have allowed us to remove roadblocks and reduce friction in how we interact with our members.”
Devlin also notes that employees enjoy each other’s company. “We have some fun. We like the idea of having a party. It creates a good bonding experience and a great place to work.”
That would have been music to Dr. Payne’s ears. By the time of her death, she was a nationally recognized leader in creating pathways to the workplace for those with non-apparent disabilities. “Nancie was known throughout the Washington workforce system for her tireless leadership and her vocal insistence that all services should be accessible to everyone who seeks help, regardless of their barriers and their challenges,” says Dru Garson, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. and another PacMtn board member. “She believed we could make the world of work, workplace and economy part of the good life for everyone.”
Dr. Payne was the president of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, a member of the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE), a board member for both the Thurston County Economic Development Council and PacMtn and an active member of the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Consortium (CASAS).
Payne’s impact across the region was huge, but if you listen to those who knew her, it is clear that she had an equal effect on individuals. At the 2017 Regional Economic Forecast & Innovation Expo, Schaffert talked about his connection with Dr. Payne.
“I’ve missed the marathon conversations she and I would have at least twice a year,” he says. “They would generally be two to five hours long and revolved around what defines learning disabilities and how youth are special people trying to figure out their course in life. We would look at how we want to approach that from the business engagement side, especially for those who have particular barriers. This award is offered as a tribute to Nancy and all she stood for.”
For more information about Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council visit www.pacmtn.org or call 360-704-3568.