Watermark Credit Union Honored for Workplace Practice

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Watermark Credit Union was presented with a Best Practices Honor from the American Psychological Association (APA) at the annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards ceremony held March 1 in Washington, D.C.

Watermark Credit Union was presented with a Best Practices Honor from the American Psychological Association (APA) at the annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards ceremony held March 1 in Washington, D.C. The organization was recognized for its employee-developed and -supported plan that lets employees help improve the operations of the nonprofit financial institution and be rewarded for productivity gains, also known as gainsharing.

Named EPIC for its elements of Equity, Participation, Identity and Competence, the plan is an example of employee involvement - one component of a psychologically healthy workplace. Watermark Credit Union was one of ten organizations to receive the Best Practices recognition at the ceremony. The organization is a previous winner of the Washington State Psychological Association's State-Level Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award, qualifying it to be nominated for APA's Best Practices Honors.

"Employee input is essential to our success here," said Sabrina Stabbert, vice president of human resources and training. "We don't just want to say we have an open culture, one of our goals in creating the EPIC plan was to ensure it happens. Employees have a way to speak up and impact the business."

Designed and implemented by a team of employees and management, EPIC provides tangible rewards, as well as opportunities for training, education and employee development. Staff is kept informed through a quarterly newsletter and meetings with the CEO to discuss the results of gainsharing and the financial health of the organization. Employees are encouraged to provide management and the EPIC coordinator with direct feedback about the plan.

The gainsharing plan has been win-win for Watermark and its employees. Suggestions from staff have saved the credit union money and helped increase efficiency. Employees say they feel involved in their jobs and take pride in their work, which improves member service and employee loyalty. In the past three years, overall employee satisfaction has increased, and in 2008, employee turnover was at a low 15 percent.

Employees give the credit union high marks in terms of participation, competence and trust, and report feeling like they have a personal stake in the success of the company. For this credit union, the productivity increases that its gainsharing program has produced have delivered solid bottom-line results.

"In these tough economic times, a healthy, productive workforce is more important than ever," says David Ballard, PsyD, MBA, APA's assistant executive director for corporate relations and business strategy. "Employers who embrace the connection between health and well-being and organizational performance are better able to develop a high-performing workforce that serves as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Watermark's EPIC plan demonstrates that involving employees can help optimize outcomes for employees and the organization, alike."

The Best Practices Honors is a national recognition that highlights those local Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winners with a single program or policy that contributes to a psychologically healthy work environment and meets the unique needs of the organization and its employees. Nominees come from a pool of previous local winners and are selected through a competitive evaluation and judging process.

More information about the Best Practices Honorees and APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winners is available at http://apahelpcenter.mediaroom.com. Organizations interested in learning more about creating a psychologically healthy workplace or applying for an award in their state, province or territory can visit http://www.phwa.org.

Founded in 1938, Watermark Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution based in Seattle, Washington. With $543 million in assets and more than 75,000 members, Watermark Credit Union is ranked in the top 15 credit unions in Washington State in terms of assets. Watermark Credit Union offers a wide range of personal and commercial banking services, with branches in Bellevue, Burien, First Hill, Lynnwood, Redmond, Seattle, Shoreline and Southcenter. Membership is available to anyone who lives or works in the state of Washington. Watermark Credit Union prides itself on remaining true to the original purpose of credit unions--people helping people--to make certain that all members have access to the best products and services, and receive sound financial advice from professionals they trust.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

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Sherry Lotze
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