Hero Image

Creating a People-First Culture

Article by Mary Jayne Crocker, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

What is the ideal culture for a business? Is it having a non-hierarchical, productive, and engaging environment? Is it having good communication and being transparent at all levels? For us at Bridgewater Bank, it’s all of that and more because we believe in a culture where people come first. Our number one priority is taking care of our employees because the success of our business largely rests on their shoulders. If you are serious about serving your clients well, you must start by looking internally and establishing a people-first culture.

What is a people-first culture?

A people-first culture recognizes that everyone has different strengths and needs. By taking care of our people in the right way, we give them the tools to take care of the business and clients. Company leaders with this type of culture know that it’s the people who make their company successful. When everyone feels valued and empowered, they do their jobs with more engagement and satisfaction. If you want to start creating a people-first culture, here are a few steps you can take:

1. Be Open and Honest 

Being open and honest with your team can mean a few different things in business. One example is being forthright when something goes wrong. This will help you build trust, and when you achieve that trust, powerful relationships are formed.

Being honest also means being transparent. At Bridgewater, we are open with our employees about what we want to accomplish and what challenges we may face getting there. Because we have strategic planning meetings each trimester, every team member gets access to the business, our vision, goals, and how we are performing on key metrics. People feel close to the business and appreciate this level of trust. This kind of trust will foster loyalty.

2. Take Care of Your Employees

It’s important to prioritize the well-being of your employees and understand their needs extend beyond the workplace. For example, it’s important to us that we provide top-tier benefits, so our employees don’t have to worry about what they will do if challenges arise. Your team wants to know they have the necessary tools to support them in their time of need.

We also prioritize our employees' well-being by fostering a supportive and transparent environment. Our non-hierarchical structure encourages open communication and feedback. Additionally, our Health & Wellness Committee actively promotes a healthy lifestyle through on-site health screenings, discounted gym memberships, meditation events, and a variety of other wellness initiatives.

3. Empower with Opportunities 

Not only is it important to ensure your employees are properly compensated with a good salary and benefits for their hard work, but you also want to provide them with opportunities for growth. For example, through our mentorship programs, our team has the option to invest in and learn from one another while seeing how different levels of our bank are run.

From day one, our employees also know that Bridgewater is a place where they can thrive for much of their careers because of the many opportunities for advancement and growth. Providing employees with these opportunities shows them that you care and want to keep them as a member of your team.

4. Encourage Team Bonding

Building a strong bond and trust within your team is crucial, and what better way to achieve it than through engaging activities? At our company, we go the extra mile to create unforgettable experiences, from rooftop happy hours and foosball tournaments to exciting outings and holiday celebrations. We can assure you these investments have a strong return.

Not only do these events create lasting memories, but they also foster deep connections. And when your team feels connected, they become more productive, fulfilled, and healthier. At great companies, employees pour their hearts into their work, and it's important for them to recharge by relaxing and having some fun together, too. If your employees can both work and play together, you know you have a fantastic team.

A people-first company takes care of its people and creates a culture that people want to be a part of. Building a strong and people-focused culture takes intentional effort, but it is well worth the reward. When your employees soar, your business will reach new heights. We invite you to join us on this journey and experience the benefits of prioritizing people and cultivating an award-winning company culture.