What It’s Like to Work at a Company Where Management Has Your Back

A positive workplace culture leads to better employee engagement and well-being, according to a Gallup poll and Harvard Business Review research.  On the other hand, a negative workplace culture can lead to stressed employees and high turnover.


According to Harvard Business Review, six key components of a positive workplace culture are:

  • Caring for colleagues as friends
  • Providing support for one another
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes
  • Inspiring one another
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity

More than words in a magazine, those components drive interactions with fellow employees and members at Northwest Federal Credit Union. Employees appreciate being part of a team that works together to serve, inspire, and transform lives.

The credit union’s core values of coming together and serving the community have been shining brightly during the COVID-19 crisis. No one is being left behind. Jeff Bentley, president and CEO, made it clear the credit union has the resources to weather the pandemic together. In fact, instead of pulling back, Northwest shifted some marketing event funding to charitable gifts, helping local organizations survive the increased need for assistance.

Especially during this pandemic, people are pitching in to accomplish goals in their own work groups and across the organization. For example, the commercial loan department has been swamped as businesses signed up for the federal government’s PPP loans, branch manager Apurvi Patel said. That department normally has only a few employees; 30 other credit union employees volunteered to help out to expedite the loan process, Patel said.

“The more loans we can offer and process, the more businesses in the community are going to have funds for payrolls to support their employees, the more employees will continue to have jobs,” Patel said. “There is a snowball positive effect.”

Unlike large banks, Northwest has a family vibe. Workers know they are more than cogs in a machine. Cutthroat competition is not a thing here.

“Here at Northwest Federal Credit Union, we enjoy a family environment,” Patel said. “At the banks where I worked in the past, it was cutthroat competition. We focused on goals—daily, weekly, monthly—which led to product pushing. Even within teams, each person would fight over opportunities. Here at Northwest, our goals are purpose driven. We work together as one team with the purpose of touching people’s lives. Here, it’s never about the numbers.”

Speaking of family, Doug Chamberlin, systems architect at Northwest, appreciated the support when he and his wife had their first child. He was able to take paternity leave, secure in the knowledge that his team would handle any issues that came up with a big data project he was working on.

“At the end of 2019, I had my first kid. The support I got from my bosses and the rest of the team I work with was just excellent. I was able to take the time I needed to go to the doctors’ appointments and be there for my wife. I was not worried about having to leave my family to support a system I had been working on. My team stepped in and took care of things until I got back."

Chamberlin and Patel both appreciate the opportunities to learn new skills and the encouragement to think outside of the box.

“One of the biggest things for me is the support that I get from my boss and my boss’s boss on learning new things, advancing my knowledge, and advancing my career,” Chamberlin said. “If I want to look into cybersecurity as opposed to system architecture, they’ve been supportive of me learning more. It’s nice to know the company will support you with training and time to do your training.”

When Patel was interested in learning more about underwriting, she was given the opportunity to shadow people in the underwriting department.

“I felt comfortable asking my boss,” she said. “She welcomed my suggestion. Everybody is allowed to think outside the box. That means a lot to me.”

The company culture also reflects a strong commitment to the community. Northwest gives every employee 24 paid hours to volunteer for non-profit organizations. In 2019, employees contributed more than 9,000 volunteer hours. Employees also participate in community activities organized by Northwest Federal Credit Union Foundation which focuses on supporting youth in the community and also provides college scholarships.

In one program launched in 2020, credit union executives gave each employee $100 with instructions to give the money to someone in need within the year, Patel said.

As part of an effort to support local businesses, credit union leadership gave each employee a $20 gift card to spend in a local business as a way of giving back to the community, she said.

Finally, Northwest is a fun place to work, Patel said.

“People at Northwest don’t come in stressed. This is their happy place” she said. “They get up, and they come here, and they’re happy to assist members and happy to change their lives. They leave for the day, happy to know they have made a positive impact on members and their community.”

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