Focusing on one client enables Wymar Federal Credit Union—the 2019 small/medium-sized companies Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge winner—to create a more rewarding experience for its customers and employees.
Serving the employees and immediate family members of BASF’s Geismar site, Wymar Federal Credit Union is rare in its mission to serve a single employer. This intentional approach to doing business, focused more on the financial enrichment of members rather than on growth for growth’s sake, also extends to the way Wymar FCU has created a strong workplace culture.
Wymar FCU was started 61 years ago by employees of then-Wyandotte Chemicals Company in Geismar, who believed they had a better alternative to banking. BASF acquired Wyandotte in 1969, and while many credit unions nationwide expanded to incorporate customers outside the single employer, Wymar did not. It still serves BASF Geismar’s site, one of Louisiana’s largest employers with 26 production units and nearly 1,600 employees. Wymar has been lauded for its support of its members, earning a national third-place ranking by the Credit Union National Association for Benefits of Membership, saving the average household $699 a year.
With an onsite branch and a staff of 17, Wymar provides BASF employees a comprehensive lineup of banking products and services. Executive staff, led by CEO Ronnie Stephens, has been intent on creating a workplace culture that fosters team spirit and invites growth.
“We really believe in making sure everyone on staff has a chance to grow personally and professionally,” says Stephens. “We do a lot of employee training and we believe in breaking down silos.”
Training opportunities include skill-building directly related to job performance as well as personal enrichment. Stephens organizes a monthly book club that includes both self-help and industry-specific titles. Employees participate in Dale Carnegie classes and take personality tests to learn more about their work styles. Team members are invited to participate in online or face-to-face courses that beef up their job skills or make their personal lives better.
“One employee wanted to get certified in CPR and we said ‘sure,’” says Executive Vice President Stephanie Frederic. “If employees feel good about their lives at home, it makes them happier at work.”
In fact, employees can opt for a flexible schedule that allows them to spend more time with family, while also getting their work done. They’re given a competitive benefits package that includes two weeks of vacation with a third added after year three, personal days, health, vision and dental coverage and an employee assistance plan that includes different forms of counseling. The health insurance plan features a points system that allows employees to get a break on their portion of the premium through various healthy behaviors.
Recognizing staff accomplishments is also commonplace. This month, employees and their significant others will gather at Sno’s Seafood and Steak to celebrate a 40-year employee. And they also support each other if challenges arise. When an employee was diagnosed with breast cancer, the team provided meals and emotional support.
Company-wide training sessions are often followed by something engaging, like a trip to the 13th Gate Escape Room or serving together at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Regular days at the office are often punctuated by spontaneous events, like bringing in tacos for National Taco Day, or handing out pink-wrapped chocolates for breast cancer awareness.
“Any excuse to have fun,” says Frederic. “We really enjoy each other and want to create an environment that shows that.”
Amid the play, the staff is also focused on being productive and hitting target goals.
“We set six or so goals at the beginning of the year and meeting them has a lot to do with how the board decides bonuses,” says Stephens. “We keep it top of mind, so that everyone on the team has buy-in and the same focus.”
Rounding out the top five…
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