First Bank rates as top workplace

Scott Harvard

First National Corporation announced that “Virginia Business Magazine” has recognized Strasburg-based First Bank as one of the “2015 Best Places to Work in Virginia.”

For five years, Virginia Business Magazine has conducted a survey among Virginia employees to rate their company on leadership, training, pay, benefits and overall employee engagement. First Bank was one of 150 companies that participated in the survey.

Scott Harvard, president and CEO of First Bank, said he is “really pleased” with the results and to be recognized as one of the best places to work in the commonwealth.

“I think it’s a real positive reflection on the company, our team and the markets that we serve,” Harvard said. “We consider ourselves a people business, so it means a lot to us to be recognized for our people being happy where they work.”

Harvard said he looks at the recognition as not a reflection of management’s relations with employees, but of the overall company’s performance and environment.

“We look at it as a reflection of a really good team in its entirety,” Harvard said. “We have great people at every branch, through our call center right up to the leadership team. I’m just really proud the whole group is recognized.”

The bank’s competitive pay, generous health benefits, paid time off and employee bonus plan based on company performance are contributing factors to employee satisfaction, Harvard said. However, he said its employees cherish the bank’s “family atmosphere.”

“We talk a lot about banking being a people business … the fact that our employees appreciate the family atmosphere and feel that the bank is a place where people care about one another really reinforces our core values,” Harvard said.

Harvard said the family atmosphere is achieved through an annual company picnic, a Christmas gathering, a monthly employee newsletter, with sections devoted to employees telling tidbits about themselves, and a company-wide gathering with all 150 employees on President’s Day.

“We try to have fun and build relationships, like with pot luck lunches and what have you … I guess it’s part of our culture to share and take care of one another,” Harvard said.

The boost in morale also translates into a boost in workplace productivity, Harvard said.

“Anywhere you go, when the person you’re dealing with is happy, you can feel it,” Harvard said. “When our employees are happy and that smile transcends over to the customer, it becomes a good customer experience and everybody is more successful and productive.”

Harvard also said the good morale leads to many employees staying with the bank for more than 10 years.

“Over the last year, we had two or three employees who retired after 30 or more years of service,” Harvard said. “It was really interesting to hear at their retirement parties that the company is like family. It’s neat to see that from long-term employees.”

Harvard added, “I think it bodes [well] with our employees and our customers, because the longer term employees we have, the better served our customers are.”

While Harvard said the bank did not receive “any negative feedback” in the survey results, he and others in management have strived to improve communication with employees.

“A big challenge in any institution is communication because employees want to know what’s going in the company,” Harvard said. “That’s one of things we worked really hard on over the years.”

Harvard said the newsletter is a part of that effort, as well as email updates and a quarterly meeting in the lobby to deliver company news in person.

“We’re always trying to find out what employees want and try to improve on areas and deliver to them,” Harvard said. “We’re going to be conducting an internal survey ourselves.”

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com