By Kelley Himmelberg
VP, Director of Human Resources
On a Thursday morning in late spring, Natalie Dodson was up early to exercise before packing her kids’ lunches. She had a full schedule of appointments and closings for her career as a mortgage lender for INB, but she arrived at the office early to complete all of her work, allowing her to attend her first-grade daughter’s field trip later that day.
“Then I knew I would need to get back on my laptop on Sunday evening to finish what I need to before the next week began,” Natalie said. “We’re extremely blessed that INB values family time, health, and balance between our careers and our family commitments.”
For many in the ambitious workplace culture in the United States, work-life balance seems to be more myth than reality, especially because technology often finds employees tethered to their devices returning just one last email. But INB recognizes the value of investing in our employees, both on and off the clock, and for us, making sure that our employees have work-life balance is essential to our company culture and serving our customers in the best way possible.
What we’ve found is that prioritizing both work life and home life positively affects not only our employees but our company as well. Our employees are more satisfied in their careers, they value the autonomy and flexibility given to them, and their loyalty to INB is heightened.
INB Values Talented Staff
“Our most important asset is our people, and we have been able to hire and retain some of the hardest working, smartest and most caring people,” said Sarah Phalen, president and CEO. “In order to attract the very best people to our team, we know that giving them flexibility is a top priority for most employees.
“We have even had employees who chose to leave INB because another firm offered more money, but they quickly learned that not all banks are the same. The difference in culture can be extremely important, and working at a place where you are not appreciated, listened to, given opportunities or given flexibility is negative for your family and your mindset. We have had employees ask to come back to INB after such an experience, and they are some of our biggest and most loyal employees who value our culture and flexibility.”
Sarah’s own personal experiences have deepened her belief that finding balance between family, personal life and work invigorates employees. She and her husband Pat, executive vice president of INB, were self-proclaimed workaholics until they began having children.
“School activities, field trips, award ceremonies, school parties and kids sporting events became abundant. But, we – like the rest of INB employees – sometimes come in very early, come in late at night, work on weekends and do conference calls from the hospital…when you have two teen boys, there are lots of broken bones!” she laughed. “We feel our organization succeeds when our employees are engaged and excited rather than weary and disenchanted. Flexibility allows us to be there for our family as well as our work family, and work is still fun.”
Flexibility Means Family Time When Needed
Charlie Kerwin has certainly found this to be true. Charlie works as vice president for information technology at INB, and he is also the father of five children who range from 13 to 4 years old.
“Our son has a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and prior to his diagnosis, he would often get sick, sometimes a week at a time. While we were going through the process of getting his diagnosis figured out, we had to make multiple trips down to St. Louis,” Charlie recalled. “INB was very flexible about me taking the necessary time to either stay with him when he was sick or make the trips down to St. Louis, and I was grateful to be there when my family needed me.”
While Charlie prioritizes his family, he is also devoted to giving his best to the IT department at INB, which often demands odd hours and trouble-shooting any issues that arise. Recently, the IT team was working on a Sunday and ran into unforeseen issues that forced them to continue.
“It had already been a long day, and suddenly we had a major issue just as we were getting ready to wrap up. Our goal is to always minimize these outages so when our employees come in the next day, they don’t know there was an outage. So, several of us ended up staying another eight hours to get everything up and running,” Charlie said. “My wife, Kimberly, and my kids brought some dinner in for us, and we put in the time to get it figured out.”
Natalie says that INB’s priority on work-life balance strengthens her personal productivity and work ethic. Not only does Natalie have two busy children and an active life beyond her job with professional and social events, but her husband also is regularly deployed as a member of the United State military. Her secret?
“I’ve learned to take advantage of every single second I have,” she said. “If I have to drive to a closing 20 minutes away, I jot down notes so I can make calls to mortgage clients on the way. I’ll get my daughter on the bus in the morning and often make calls to clients who are early risers while I finish getting ready for the day. And on days when I don’t work out, my husband and I will get up early and compare schedules for picking up the kids, discuss what’s for dinner, and anything else going on, so that we don’t have to think about those details while we’re working.”
Home and Work Families Often Come Together
Charlie has found that the family values instilled in INB’s staff lead to better community among the employees.
“Our IT team really does act like a family and does a good job of watching out for each other and helping each other out,” he said. “If someone needs to head out early for a family event, we’ve got it covered! If they need to come in on an evening or weekend, we try to be flexible with time later in the week. Being able to work remotely also makes a huge difference, especially when we’re working on changes late in the evening!”
When an employee joins INB, it’s “not simply an individual – it’s their entire family,” Sarah pointed out.
“We love to go support employees who are enjoying other parts of their life with their friends and family as they sing, dance, model, play in a band, do work for a community group or raise money for a non-profit. We love to have siblings, spouses, partners, children and parents attend our functions, take part in our running groups, work with us on projects and just generally be involved,” Sarah said. “It gives our employees the opportunity to share their work with their families, and it gives INB a chance to get to share in the other parts of their lives.”