When Jamie returned to the front desk, she reached for her purse. It should have been sitting out of sight, on the floor by her chair. But it wasn’t. She leaned down to see if she’d bumped it to the side, or maybe tucked it somewhere else. Eventually, the truth was unavoidable: the purse had been stolen. Now what?
This story could have happened anywhere, to any person working at the front desk of any office. And the story would have probably ended much the same way — with tears or a distraught phone call to relay the news.
At Kasasa, it sparked a very different chain of events. All because of a simple and powerful core value: Love. We’re not talking about a fuzzy, “trust fall” type of love. For Kasasa employees, Love (with a capital “L”) refers to a posture of looking out for the best interests of the company, the employees, clients, and consumers. It encompasses the importance of extending grace and delivering well-intentioned criticism.
Love is one of four Kasasa “Patch” Values, including 5-Star Leadership, Badassitude, and Interdependence. The Patch is the foundation of our company culture and equips every employee to become much more than a cog in a machine. By living the Patch Values, we become warriors, innovators, collaborators, and advocates. And nearly 15 years since the founding of our company, the effectiveness of the Patch is no longer a theory, it’s the bedrock of our success.
So, when other employees heard about Jamie’s tragedy, they talked about what could be done to help. The loss of a purse (or wallet) is a blow in the best of times; in this case, that purse had held the money Jamie needed to visit family in a distant part of the state. There was no way to replace the purse, but cash is easy enough. So Kasasa employees started a collection to replace the stolen funds, gathering more than enough.
Thus, the first act of the “Love Fund” was completed: Employees looking after each other and stepping in with practical support and encouragement — donating their own money to help and building a reservoir of funds to be used later. Jamie, the receptionist whose purse was stolen? She made the trip home and continues to serve Kasasa to this day.
Today the Love Fund has gone through many upgrades and formal changes. At its heart, it’s still an employee-led initiative to listen for and respond to the personal needs of the Phalanx (the term we use internally when referring to the employees as a group).
The Fund is intended to help employees, their family, and even friends who find themselves facing hard times. Employees are able to give at any time or can contribute directly from their paychecks if that’s more convenient. All donations are completely voluntary, and each dollar contributed is automatically matched by Kasasa.
The money is managed by members of the Love Fund, who are chosen for a two-year term by anonymous selection — this ensures that people from every background and role within the company have a chance to serve.
Whether it’s a death in the family or a medical emergency that brings unexpected costs, Love Fund dollars are used to help the people we love through tough times. From providing meals to covering unplanned medical expenses, Love Fund contributions have allowed recipients to maintain stable lives in times of extreme stress. Contributions may help our team members deal with the illness of a loved one or unexpected economic hardships that might otherwise keep them from fulfilling the company mission of serving community financial institutions.
Although many businesses expect the workplace to be insulated from the dramas and challenges of our personal lives, the reality is very different. Misfortune doesn’t respect the boundaries of work and personal — it strikes without rhyme or reason, affecting the highest executive and the newest team member alike. The added stress can grind a great employee into a pile of anxiety and depression.
We believe that by respecting and supporting our employees as whole people, with competing personal and professional demands, that we can create a peaceful, loyal culture that is renowned for delivering exceptional results. We also believe this idea can transform other organizations who want to transform their culture into something that potential employees and clients seek out.
In an industry that often feels dominated by numbers and spreadsheets, it’s good to be reminded that love doesn’t make your business soft or unrealistic — it makes your business stronger.