PeoplesBank Makes a Game-Changing Decision

by Mark Daniel Suwyn

“We had a new chief executive officer, a new chief financial officer, and some really big decisions to make.”

How the commitment to employee engagement helped PeoplesBank prosper during turbulent times.

It took PeoplesBank 123 years to reach one billion dollars in assets. That was 2007 and things were going well. But when the financial crisis hit, the bank’s future was in doubt. “Our financial future was cloudy,” said Janice Mazzallo, executive vice president. “We had a new chief executive officer, a new chief financial officer, and some really big decisions to make.”

When times got tough, PeoplesBank made a game-changing decision.

They opted to remain a community bank—and to invest heavily in its employees. “It really is a story to be excited about,” said Mazzallo, who also is the bank’s chief human resources officer. “Our approach to employee engagement had to be systemic and it had to start at the top. We know we needed to have the right tools—and the right metrics—in place.”

Starting with a reliable, action-oriented employee engagement survey was key.

PeoplesBank was already familiar with the WorkplaceDynamics employee engagement survey. They had used it to assess the organization for eight years. They were also named a Boston Globe Top Place to Work the past four years. “Having an annual employee engagement survey gives us a reality check that allows us to fine tune our expectations for behavior and the use of discretionary energy and thought,” said Mazzallo.

PeoplesBank doubled its assets in just seven years.

Seven years later, and with the banking crisis in the rear-view mirror, PeoplesBank is harvesting the benefits of its investment. As the company celebrates its 130th anniversary, PeoplesBank has achieved two billion in assets. A key driver of their success? Leadership points to employee engagement. “Our employee engagement scores have increased in parallel with our financial growth,” commented Mazzallo.