Think of Salary Expense as an Investment

by Laurie Willoughby

Personnel expense is by far the largest non-interest expense for a community bank. It is critical that the costs be managed in a way that ensures profitability and delivers value to our shareholders. In many organizations, this daily battle between cost and profit is too frequently won by profit and the result is an unengaged workforce that feels unappreciated. The philosophy of The Hardin County Bank is the exact opposite! We believe that investment in people will result in higher profit as well as increased value to shareholders, improved service levels, engaged staff and all around happier people.

A culture of learning has been developed over time and is cultivated on a daily basis. Our bankers are encouraged to pursue outside education and training as well as to participate in frequent on-site sessions. Investment in time and money in an employee who desires to learn has proven to return dollars to the bottom line. We invest in each employee because they matter and each brings something special to our team. This begins in the hiring process. Applicants are not hired because they have a degree from a tier 1 university or because they have vast banking experience. Those who join our team are a fit for our culture and commit to a lifelong learning process. The investment is in making each person the best they can be and giving them freedom to grow in the organization. A strong management commitment to employee involvement, open communication and a positive environment, combined with this learning culture results in a high performing organization where people actually enjoy being at work.

The mantra of many businesses today is for their employees to “act like owners”, well we are owners! Each employee has “skin in the game” because we are an ESOP bank, with the largest shareholder being our employees. We are a business for profit and all understand this in a meaningful way. We also understand delivering value to our shareholders is achieved by delivering exceptional value to our customers. The more educated we are about our business, the more value we deliver to our customers and the more value we deliver to our shareholders. The virtuous cycle continues; so in the end, results matter to everyone!

When your desire is to deliver positive results, profits, and a great culture; investment in people makes all the difference. Investing time, money, and education in the right people creates a high performance team that delivers results. Our community, balance sheet, and stakeholders see those results. Sometimes you hire because the right fit walks in the door, but is not necessarily an immediate need.

Our methods are a little unconventional, and we have turned the conventional expense paradigm on its head. But, the results speak for themselves. If not in your people, where better to make an investment?

Laurie Willoughby
VP Human Resources
Hardin County Bank