Safety before business, then lots of business, at BFCU

Serve, and protect: Employee and member safety come first at BFCU, which hasn't missed a beat during the pandemic, according to President and CEO Wayne Grossé.

The last six months gave us all the chance to take a step back and look at things differently. Central to all decisions, however, was and continues to be the issue of safety.

When it comes to business and the coronavirus pandemic, business leaders are responsible for the health and safety of their employees, their customers and the greater community in which they operate, even if that means putting business plans on hold while fighting through the disruption.

While we at Bethpage Federal Credit Union initially faced a plethora of issues as a financial institution, we quickly pivoted almost all business departments to address these issues and opportunities, while centering on safety as the common thread.

After 21 years with Bethpage, I have seen firsthand the essential role of a positive, motivated workforce. I’ve learned that employees are a business’ most valuable and precious resource, especially when that business operates in the service industry of a tightknit community, like Bethpage does.

Wayne Grossé: Safety officer.

Keeping our teammates safe means keeping our members safe, and keeping our business intact means we can continue to support our members.

Clearly, the last six months brought on unforeseeable challenges, but mirroring those challenges were opportunities. Opportunities for teammates to refocus on the tasks at hand. Opportunities for them to take projects in house and knock them out of the park. And opportunities for our various teams to jump in, roll up their sleeves and, for some, launch a new department to help over 1,000 small businesses apply for federal loans.

Consumers are understandably stressed, but for our members who count on us to support them during a bad financial time, we couldn’t skip a beat.

By keeping our employees safe, satisfied and employed, we altered our normal routines and serviced the community in an unprecedented time. Examples of best practices included keeping our employees’ full salaries intact while reducing their work hours if needed, training staffers to temporarily take on new roles and, still intact today, encouraging all of our office employees to remain working at home.

While we never had 100 percent of our workforce out of the office, strategically we were well prepared, with years of crisis planning exercises in place. In fact, in 2018, we focused on virtual bandwidth and remote work. This work proved to be beneficial as we activated the majority of our workforce from the office to their homes.

As a business with more than 750 employees and 400,000 Bethpage members, preparedness and swift decision-making challenged our staff to step up to new opportunities that have paid of tremendously in our efforts to serve our members during this time.

If this past six months taught us anything, it’s that our employees are as committed to their jobs and the community we serve, just as much as we are to them. Moving forward, we will continue to do everything we can to protect our employees, our members and our family, friends and neighbors, until the day we can greet them with open arms.

Wayne Grossé is president and CEO of Bethpage Federal Credit Union.