TFNB Your Bank for Life: Where the staff takes ownership

TFNB Bank Leadership, McGregor, Texas
From left to right: David Littlewood, president and CEO; Jason Lavender, senior vice president and director of strategic initiatives; and Gretchen McCormack, creative and social strategist.

Name: TFNB Your Bank for Life
Assets: $700 million
Location: McGregor, Texas

At TFNB Your Bank for Life in McGregor, Texas, employees have a financial stake in the bank’s success.

Once an eligible employee has worked at the community bank for one year, TFNB fully funds their participation in its employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The ownership structure not only benefits employees, says David Littlewood, president and CEO, but also the $700 million-asset community bank.

“Having an ESOP is monumental in building buy-in and ownership” in the bank’s performance, he says. That feeling of ownership also translates into a very supportive culture at the bank.

“The ideal is to always respect each other and to actually be friends,” Littlewood says. “At a minimum, it means to treat each other like we treat customers. Every employee is a customer to another employee. That is our philosophy.”

“This is a very affirming workplace. Our bank is just very relationship-based, both internally and externally.”
—Gretchen McCormack, TFNB Your Bank for Life

It’s no surprise, then, that employees gave a 100% score to our survey question, “Would you recommend your bank as a workplace to others?”

Who else won?

See the other Best Community Banks to Work For winners. Or see what trends came out of our survey.

Employees also gave top scores for TFNB’s competitive compensation and benefits package, which includes a 5% match to employees’ 401(k) plans and a robust health plan that the community bank has self-insured for 20 years.

“Five years ago, we added a mental health component in which employees can obtain psychological or psychiatric care once a week if needed, for just a $30 copay for each visit,” Littlewood says.

The community bank also offers a well-being program that includes both physical and mental wellness initiatives. TFNB offers up to $80 a month that each employee can spend on the gym of their choice.

The bank also has what Littlewood calls “a very generous” paid time off package, plus paternity leave for fathers to be home with their newborns, similar to its maternity leave benefit.

“When we hire, we want people to know that they are valued and accepted,” Littlewood says, “because that’s how they’re going to give you everything they’ve got.”

Flat decision-making structure

Jason Lavender, senior vice president and director of strategic initiatives, says the ESOP enables employees to have a vested interest in the bank’s continued growth.

“A lot of organizations have stereotypical hierarchies, but we are very intentional about not having those hierarchies,” Lavender says. “We certainly have supervisors and executives, but all employees are empowered to help make decisions.”

The ownership culture also fosters an atmosphere of recognition, not only from management but also among employees, says Gretchen McCormack, TFNB’s creative and social strategist.

McCormack, who came to the bank in 2018, says she immediately felt respected and valued for the outside expertise she brought. “This is a very affirming workplace,” she adds.

Management takes additional measures to ensure employee needs are taken care of, McCormack says. For example, to limit exposure during the height of the COVID-19 shutdown, employees who needed to work on premises were provided free lunches from restaurants—customers of the bank—that were struggling due to the shutdown.

“Our bank is just very relationship-based,” McCormack adds, “both internally and externally.”

Top Tip: TFNB Your bank for life

At TFNB Your Bank for Life in McGregor, Texas, culture is everything. “Culture isn’t just about people, it’s about the environment; we all co-exist together,” says Jason Lavender, senior vice president and director of strategic initiatives.

Lavender says TFNB’s culture encompasses “the entire environment,” both at work and in the way employees interact together outside of work. Staff members participate in community activities together, whether it be nonprofit fundraisers or other charity events, sporting events, speaking engagements, school functions or church events.

“All of those activities also really speak to our culture,” Lavender says. “We are all wired to want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. When you are outside the working environment, doing something both you and your coworkers feel really passionate about—it’s really fulfilling. Plus, we just really enjoy one another.”

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a writer in California.