Stories of Kindness from Around the World

A Bank That Pays-It-Forward

--by Terry, posted Aug 6, 2008
You think everyone would have something they dislike about their job - with the notable exception of the people at State Bank and Trust in Fargo, N.D., CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

"What do you hate about this company?" Hartman asked some workers.

One said: "I haven't found anything yet."

Another: "No, this is a good place to work?

"What do I hate about management? They're just too nice!" One worker said.

Another worker said, "They care about their employees."

The conclusion: Take this job and love it!

Another worker's reaction to Hartman's question, what do you hate about working here, was: "I have to go home."

State Bank chief operating officer Michael Solberg said, "That's our mission statement: happy employees, happy customer."

What, is this McDonalds?

To accomplish the company's mission, Solberg says the bank gives a year-end bonus of about 5 percent of salary. They contribute 15 percent of salary to the 401-K, and do a full 20 pounds on the holiday turkey. But the best perk by far is the company Christmas party.

In '06 they staged a game show with COO Solberg as the bald host of Deal or No Deal.

The $500,000 prize was split equally among the bank's 500 employees. That meant everyone got $1,000.

Again this Christmas, the bank gave everyone another $1,000.

But this time the money came with a clever little catch. No, the didn't have to pay it back. But they did have to pay it forward.

"There were three rules. You can't give it to your family. You can't give it to a co-worker. And you have to document your good deed. Other than that, the sky's the limit," Solberg said.

The tapes are just now starting to roll in, and they run the gamut: from the woman who paid for an abandoned kitten to get a life-saving surgery to the guy who gave the money to a friend whose car got stolen.

One worker bought DVDs and DVD players for the local cancer ward while another turned her check over to a young, struggling, brand-new widow.

And what did the workers get out of it?

“Just a real good feeling of giving," one said.

Another: “You actually truly see the benefit better by doing it yourself.”

And another: “It actually gets to the people that we know in the community that need it.”

Employees say this gift of giving is truly the best bonus they've ever gotten. And they're already counting the days 'til next Christmas.

“Now the pressures definitely on to come up with something good," Solberg said. "We’re working on it.”
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Readers Comments

Rajni wrote: State bank and trust in fargo, n. D is molding their employees attitudes to be kinder and compassionate. This is very good for the community and humanity at large.

Hopefully, in the future, the bank employees will live by the famous quote:

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. ~albert einstein
thaata wrote: Yeah i would like to work free for this compnay. Kind heart in an individual is good but a kind heart in a corporate has the potential to change society alround.
HayKay wrote: Well of course this amazing story would come out of north dakota! I am not kidding we visited north dakota and i am my family could not get over the great spirit of the people. Down too earth and they are really good neighbors. This story really touched my heart and all can say as pay it forward should be a lesson too all of us who know the value and the return in someone elses life! I wonder if i can open an account with this branch?
jinpa wrote: The boss must be a river,ever flowing bringing nourishment to all he touches along the way to that infinite pool.
MakeSomeoneSmile wrote: That is awesome! Everyone can make a difference. It is great when a company finds ways to not only make a difference but help their employees pay it forward too!
Shirley Marsh wrote: Wow! A dream come true! Wish they had a bank like this near me - i'd switch in a heartbeat!
Peacehunter wrote: Gives me a lil faith back in big business. :)
twinkle wrote: That is really lovely - i think about how many of my friends like their job - not many!
Stuart Young wrote: Now that's what i call employee engagement! More companies could take a rule out of this book - more, more, more please. :)
Aurelia wrote: I'm speechless! This is to good to be true. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us.

The neat thing is, you don't have to give $1,000 dollars away to get the same feeling they did. It can be a simple hug or holding the door for someone coming in behind you. So thanks for the inspiration. :0) ~aurelia
Smiles are contagious

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