Human Resources

Staff's Great Service Rewarded with Great Service

United FCU's concierge service runs errands for employees, free of charge.

March 25, 2014
KEYWORDS employees , service
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Have you ever daydreamed about someone else taking in your car for an oil change?

Or counted the number of hours you’ve lost from your life while dropping off and picking up dry cleaning?

Or wished you could figure out a way to avoid dragging little Johnny past the candy aisle in the supermarket, just this one time?

Employees at United Federal Credit Union now have at their disposal a tool that can spare them some of life’s everyday frustrations.

The $1.6 billion asset credit union, headquartered in St. Joseph, Mich., recently contracted with Best Upon Request to provide concierge services for its roughly 425 employees in six states.

CEO Gary Easterling seized on the idea as a means of rewarding staff after United Federal garnered the Michigan Credit Union League’s Outstanding Credit Union of the Year award in 2013 and also grabbed a national honor.

What better way to reward great service than with access to great service?

“In striving to meet the needs of members over what has been a stressful last few years, it never ceases to amaze me how much our people give of their time,” Easterling says. “So, when this idea was presented to me, my first thought was, ‘Man, this is a way to give some time back to my people.’

“And when all is said and done, time is probably the most precious commodity all of us have.”

Oh, and did we mention employees get this perk for free?

United Federal picks up the concierge tab, so employees only pay what they would’ve had they run the errand themselves.

“This does not move the needle very much on total benefits cost,” Easterling says. “For what I think this’ll do for our team, it’s not that much money to potentially make a big impact.”

The soft rollout in December got off to a good start with complimentary gift -wrapping.

Although services vary by region, Easterling says Best Upon Request aims to fulfill errand requests whenever possible, in addition to event planning and information research services.

Also, the concierge staff has been known to solicit company-wide wish lists for major runs to wholesale retailers like Sam’s Club or Costco.

It didn’t take long for Easterling to witness the payoff . A United Federal team leader got swamped one afternoon and forgot to fulfill his wife’s request for an item—but remembered in time to ask a concierge to pick it up for him before his evening commute.

“I’m going home a hero,” the employee told Easterling, “and I didn’t do a thing.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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