I am proud to announce that PenChecks Trust® has been recognized as a Top Workplace for 2021 in the San Diego Union-Tribune’s (UT San Diego) annual “Top Workplaces” contest. We’ve worked hard to make PenChecks a great place to work. And now, thanks to our awesome employees, all of San Diego will know about it.
UT San Diego Top Workplace rankings are determined through a survey conducted by Energage — a Philadelphia-based firm that conducts Top Workplace surveys for media outlets throughout the U.S. In 2020, more than two million employees representing about 7,000 organizations participated in the surveys.
When a company is nominated for the contest, Energage conducts anonymous surveys with the employees, asking a series of questions and ratings regarding how they feel about the company and working for the business. Energage sends the results to UT San Diego, which evaluates and compares the data against other nominees to determine the winners in each category. We are especially honored to receive this recognition during a time when the workplace environment has changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Importance of Culture and Connection
As a Fintech service provider, we built our business around ongoing innovation and superior customer experience. When the pandemic hit, we faced many unprecedented challenges, including trying to figure out how to sustain our collaborative, service-oriented culture in a more remote work environment. We invested a significant amount of time and resources in developing solutions to meet the challenges, and our employees spearheaded and embraced much of that effort.
One of PenChecks’ most important goals is to make complicated things simple – for our clients and our employees. During the disruption of the pandemic, we put extra emphasis on making things as simple as possible for our employees to work remotely so they could continue to deliver a high level of service to our clients and still have the flexibility to address personal and home issues that arose from the pandemic.
Thanks to our highly efficient technology, we were able to set up most of our employees to work at home fairly quickly. We then focused on communication, a vital element for any business but especially when almost everyone is working remotely. We also wanted to keep two key elements of PenChecks alive and well – the collaboration and connectedness of our culture.
We changed our standard All-Staff meeting from once a month to weekly, with the goal of communicating more frequently in the face of a rapidly changing, and uncertain, social and economic landscape. When conducted via video, the ability to see each other supported connection. During the meetings, selected employees gave short presentations on what our cores values mean to them and how they were trying to emulate those in their new work environment.
The energy, enthusiasm and creativity exhibited during these presentations was amazing. Some employees told funny stories. Others related experiences that brought tears to the eye. They all reminded us of values and standards we want to hold ourselves to – whether working at home or in the office – and reinforced the bonds among our team.
Since coworkers could no longer visit face-to-face, we set up every employee with Microsoft Teams to enable anytime, immediate video calls with team members. We also created team channels so people could share social news within the company. On their own, employees formed teams that focused on their children, cooking and other fun themes.
We began sending care packages to employees. These ranged from fruit baskets to packages of gourmet hamburger patties to a 500-piece custom jigsaw puzzle (that featured a montage of pictures of almost every employee in the company). Everyone loved the care packages and appreciated being reminded of how much we value their hard work and ability to adapt to difficult circumstances.
How do you know if you have a great place to work? You’ll see it in the attitudes and behaviors of your employees. You’ll see it in the way they treat your customers. You’ll know when job seekers contact you before you reach out to them.
The hiring and recruiting process has changed dramatically over the past few years. You no longer hire workers; they hire you. When you become known as an employer of choice or a top place to work, talented people will seek out your business because it offers what they want in a work environment.
You can also tell by how long employees stick around. At PenChecks, our total employee turnover rate is 11.6%, compared to the national average of around 22%. In 2020, our voluntary turnover rate, those who choose to leave the company, was 3%. The national average in 2020 was 25%. Roughly one-third of our employees have been with us for seven years or more. Twelve have stayed with us for more than 10 years, eight of which have 15 or more years.
We also have many “newbies”, employees who have been here only a few years or less. Our rapid growth over the past several years created the need for more staffing, and bringing in new blood has benefited PenChecks through new ideas, fresh thinking, and different perspectives. The result is a blended marriage of up-and-coming stars and seasoned veterans who understand and drive our family culture and our business.
From Check Writer to Fintech Provider
As PenChecks continues to grow, we want clients and potential clients to see us as a true Fintech service partner that does a lot more than just write checks. We’re approaching this goal in several ways.
In the midst of the pandemic, we launched a new distribution processing platform, called Amplify, to streamline and simplify the process of managing distributions. We’re continuing to grow our employee footprint outside the San Diego area. We opened a new call center in South Dakota to improve customer service throughout the U.S. We continue to grow our sales and relationship manager functions, and have begun using remote employees in states outside of California.
This kind of growth requires a workforce where people are excited about coming to work every day. When they feel this way, they tell friends, colleagues, acquaintances and job seekers what a great place PenChecks is to work. Now our employees have told the San Diego Union-Tribune how they feel about working here, and as a result, we have been honored with a Top Workplace award. People expect companies to say they offer a great place to work. When the employees say it, you know it’s true.
On behalf of myself, the Board of Directors and the entire PenChecks leadership team, we thank all our employees for making it fun and rewarding to come to work every day.
Spiro G. Preovolos
President & CEO, PenChecks Trust®