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Tradition, Appreciation for Millennials or otherwise.

Posted by on December 9, 2015

Doesn’t it seem that we are being flooded with ‘everything you ever wanted to know about millennials but were afraid to ask?’ Just how ‘should’ we send them our holiday greeting? What makes the perfect gift? Oh and what about all the ‘other people’ out there? Fruit cake and note cards?


If it feels right, do it. But, whatever the reason and whatever the holiday, your number one goal should be to say “Thank YOU!” An authentic, heartfelt “thank you.”

A tradition that I have is to take every one of our employees out to breakfast. We gather in a room, eat, and visit one another (especially nice since many of our staff don’t work in the same buildings.)

An employee is predetermined as the “emcee” and we work with them to craft a message and flow for a presentation. Today we had opening remarks from our senior mortgage staff member noting our commitment to excellence in the bank, the amazing way we give back, and involvement with veteran’s day followed. That was followed by a fun video by another employee who traveled over 24,000 miles to bring “home to our military men, women and families” while they are stationed in the South Pacific.

More good news was shared by all of our departments including welcoming of 23 new employees, by name, since April.

I then had the opportunity to say thank you – to everyone. I noted our accomplishments like amazing, steady growth, going over 1.2 billion in assets, increasing over 32% in our mortgage department, giving back to our communities, and having fun.

I called on each sales driven team and asked them to stand. We ALL clapped. I called on all support staff. We ALL clapped. Not one person in the room left without receiving a thank you. It’s that important to me.

Another tradition I have, for millennials or otherwise, are hand-written notes, to each employee, on their birthday. I really like doing it and is one small way to let them know that I remember them. As a bank, we also are able to let them take their birthday off of work to enjoy it as they wish. We also list them on our intranet, to be sure that everyone is celebrated, bank-wide.

November is a big month for lots of people to say thanks, we are no different there. But, Bank of Ann Arbor is different in how we say it. We have created our own November holiday; “Banksgiving” where our sales staff hand delivers an apple pie, to a customer. We have done this for years and people come to look forward, with great anticipation, their delicious (locally made) pie. It’s a lot of fun starting with the large delivery truck that shows up around 8:30 am on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Hundreds of cases are unpacked by our suit-wearing assembly line of bankers. Each sales person has their stack of pie, slides then into their trunk and off they go. Many take the opportunity to wear an “ugly Christmas sweater” or incredibly over-done holiday tie. You know, with blinking lights, crazy color and sound! We end up seeing lots of photos on social media of people enjoying their pie, empty tins, and boxes set out to take to dinners. Imagine getting a thank you for a thank you!

These bank traditions have not only been great for our customers but our employees have voiced their appreciation too. We have won, twice in three years, American Bankers Best Bank to work For in the United States while receiving comments from employees like:

“Great community of employees. Excellent work ethic across the board. We truly feel as a team working toward a common goal with mutual respect for everyone, from the lowest paid to the highest”.

“The culture is terrific. People work hard but there is always an element of fun. Collaboration, encouragement, and appreciation are tenants of the bank. In addition, the bank is high performing and enjoying significant growth. All of us enjoy being on a winning team”.

“Bank of Ann Arbor is a leader in the market, not only with its financial services, but what it does in the way of community involvement. Our employees are active in the communities we serve. A great team that cares about our customers, the community, and each other”.

As a wrap-up – say thank you. Be authentic. Take someone out to eat, give them a shout-out on your website or social media, give them a treat or simply remember someone’s birthday. If you like sending emails, send them. As long as it’s coming from your heart, you think about each word, the message will be received.

I sincerely wish you joy this holiday season and success throughout 2016.