Vancouver-based iQ Credit Union’s philosophy of “people helping people” applies to not only its members, but also its employees.
The financial institution’s emphasis on staff wellness, career development, and job flexibility has earned IQ Credit Union the honor of being named a Top Workplaces winner
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iQ Credit Union, established in 1940 in Clark County, Washington, by a group of teachers who pooled their money, has grown to 90,000 members and 16 locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. Its annual Form 990 tax returns over the past decade also show steady growth in revenue, from $26 million in 2011 to $68 million in 2019, the most recent year available.
Today, the organization has 325 employees, who often sport their signature red-and-black Pacific Northwest buffalo plaid at community events or volunteer opportunities.
At the heart of iQ Credit Union’s workplace efforts is a nine-member, employee-run wellness committee that operates based on four pillars: social connectedness, physical fitness, mental and emotional well-being, and nutrition. From gratitude journals to stand-up paddleboarding, the committee plans activities that foster camaraderie among employees.
During the pandemic, wellness events moved to virtual formats, allowing staff to continue to see one another and engage in community-building.
“We’ve really been leveraging the technology we have access to,” said Shelan Stritzke, vice president of human resources. “I feel like I see people from other locations more often than I would have. From that aspect, in some ways, it allows us to even stay more connected.”
Danette LaChapelle, senior vice president of marketing, said that iQ Credit Union had already initiated conversations around the possibility of remote work about a year prior to the onset of COVID-19. When it came time to take most operations online, iQCU was ready, and the transition was swift.
“Nobody was let go during the pandemic,” LaChapelle said. “We just retrained, gave opportunities in different areas, and found ways that worked for everybody.”
In fact, according to Stritzke, more than 20% of employees were promoted in 2020, and this year the team is on track to comfortably exceed that number.
The financial institution’s commitment to adaptability continued well past the initial days of the pandemic. In October 2020, the executive team made offers to team members who wanted to commit to working from home long-term.
“We gave folks a choice,” LaChapelle said. “Now, we have a lot of staff that can continue working from home, regardless of what’s happening with the pandemic.”
LaChapelle added that the credit union’s flexibility, as well as its emphasis on providing career paths for employees, likely contribute to the long tenures of many employees.
“I have been here 26 years,” said LaChapelle, who joined iQ Credit Union in the marketing department doing classroom presentations. “There are people who have been here much longer than me.”
“We hire from within,” she added. “There are lots of opportunities to grow.” LaChapelle said that a robust training department and job shadowing options contribute to employee retention and advancement.
Some current managers got their start at iQ Credit Union’s high school campus branch, started in 1996. Through the pioneering program, students experience running a live branch as part of their curriculum, working lunch hours or on weekends.
Other efforts also demonstrate iQ Credit Union’s commitment to community engagement. Employees receive paid time to volunteer during work hours, as a department or as individuals. iQ for Kids is the credit union’s non-profit fund that raises money for local charities; employees have the opportunity to participate in fundraising and to contribute to the cause.
“My experience has been that we really center the work that we’re doing at iQ around the member experience, the employee experience, and our community-building efforts. Those things have a lot of synergy,” Stritzke said. “I feel our executive team truly believes in making IQ a great place to work.”
See more Top Workplaces coverage at oregonlive.com/topworkplaces.