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Cultivating Culture

BRIDGEWATER BANK CREATES A POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT

Partner Content Bridgewater Bank

Article by Graham Johnson

Photography by Lauren B Photography & Steve Silverman

Companies create a culture and work environment for their employees in a lot of different ways. A key aspect of creating that culture is how new employees are hired, trained and onboarded. Karin Sissel, who started in March of 2020 as a Client Specialist at Bridgewater Bank, shares her experience about what working at Bridgewater is really like. 

With a background in database analysis, and a career stretching across several companies, “4 kids, a bunch of cities, and a couple of countries,” says Karin, she left the field to become a stay-at-home parent for her family. When a friend told her she might be a good fit at an open position at Bridgewater Bank’s Greenwood branch, Karin eventually took the job of Client Specialist in mid-March of 2020.  And then, the world shut down due to Covid-19.

“I started on a Wednesday and my last day was that Monday,” says Karin. With only three days into training, Bridgewater Bank had to close its doors due to the pandemic. It took about a month for Karin to return to her position. “My 1st day was in March of 2020, and my second 1st day was in mid-April,” she says. 

But Karin speaks highly of that time, and after finishing up her training, the Bridgewater Bank Greenwood branch re-opened its doors to the public. Karin quickly got to know clients well, which is “Definitely a hallmark of Greenwood branch.” She also took time to learn the ropes of opening CDs, taking deposits, and the many other responsibilities that come with working with clients at Bridgewater. 

(Pictured Above: Karin Sissel, Account Executive at Bridgewater Bank)

Bridgewater Bank’s culture is also highlighted in their mentorship program. This optional program is built upon the ideology that, “Everyone wins if the right person is in the right seat,” says Karin. This program pairs new team members with more seasoned members “to meet up with and offer guidance or just have fun,” says Karin. The mentorship program is one of many Bridgewater programs that connects its employees together. For Karin these programs to connect branch to branch and employee to employee are important.

“There’s an effort to make sure nobody feels like they are out in the wilderness or not part of the team,” she says. 

She specifically cites her position on Bridgewater’s Health and Wellness Committee as a real connecting point. This committee puts on events company-wide like frisbee golf and pickleball to, “Connect with people who are outside of your branch and outside of your function,” says Karin. A recent event she sponsored was paddleboarding on Lake Bde Maka Ska this past summer. “It started that we were going to have 25 people, and it turned out to be a lot more than that!” says Karin. These events are intended to bring employees together outside of business and job functions. 

Since her first days, Karin has become an Account Executive, a “fancy title,” (as she puts it) for a banker. Now Karin knows the ins and outs of running transactions, opening accounts, and according to her, the most important task of “Ordering snacks.” But two years later, those same culture-building events are still important. Events beyond the Health and Wellness Committee also include summer happy hours that happen the third Thursday of every month. Even larger meetings that connect several branches like the Bridgewater Bank quarterly meetings are a chance for her to, “Check in with everybody and learn how the last couple of months have gone.” Each are important for getting to know those people who she might not see day-to-day. 

Between customized events and team building best practices, Bridgewater Bank creates a cohesive culture across its branches.

That is something Karin specifically appreciates to this day when she says, “I don’t feel like I’m just working here in this tiny branch and there’s this corporate somewhere in the distance. I feel like it’s very well connected, and they try to build the Bridgewater culture that we are one bank and know each other and like each other.” 

(Pictured Above: Bridgewater Bank team members enjoying summer on their rooftop patio in St. Louis Park)

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