Q&A with Linda Armyn of Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Senior VP, Corporate Affairs
Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Overall, what has changed the most about Bethpage’s operations since March 2020?
What has not changed may be easier to answer! All kidding aside, our office operations have changed the most, as has the ways in which we serve our members. Adding a virtual option for branch appointments, loan closings, seminars, bank at work orientations and our Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) provided a great deal of flexibility for our members. We also recently launched a virtual credit counseling pilot that should fully roll out by March 2022, and we are developing a virtual branch market expansion plan to test later in the year.
Given the importance of remaining open to serve your members throughout the pandemic, how does Bethpage continue to maintain a safe working environment for staffers both in your branches and in your corporate offices?
Bethpage has prioritized safety for its employees and members since the start of the pandemic and continues to do so. We believe a combination of many efforts has helped us keep as many safe as possible.
We’ve maintained plastic barriers and social distancing efforts throughout our offices and all of our branches. We continue to require mask wearing by both members and employees and have purchased a large supply for both.
We started a vaccine requirement for all new hires and for the 23% of unvaccinated staff who have been grandfathered, we test twice weekly. In September, we held a vaccine day for employees and members and hosted four booster shot days at our headquarters for employees and their family.
In the branches, especially in the last month, we have worked hard to keep our offices open. Like many companies, this Omicron spike has been challenging with teammates sick and others quarantining. While closing a branch is a last resort, it is sometimes necessary to keep everyone safe.
In our offices, we offer a flexible workspace program which has been well received by our staffers. More than half of our office staff have elected to work full time at home and a little less than half are working hybrid schedules between their home and the office. We have a small group working full time in the office.
During the holidays, our various departments held virtual parties and we purchased tickets for employees and their families to attend the Jones Beach holiday lights show for some holiday cheer. We also moved our annual employee appreciation party to the summer and are hosting our employee awards night virtually. Combined, these efforts have made a great impact.
A large percentage of your staff are Millennials and Gen Zers, two generations that continue to juggle with young children and schooling throughout the pandemic. How has Bethpage supported these employees throughout the pandemic?
Bethpage instituted a flexible work plan that allows for employees to work from home, hybrid, remote out-of-state, or full time in the office. Many of our teammates have young families and as long as their position allowed for it, they have been working from home. This has helped
our teammates tremendously, being relieved of commuter stress and are now able to be home when their children are home.
We also have employees who don’t have children, or have adult children living out of their homes, who have also chosen to skip the commute. They too say working from home has relieved some of their stress and they also say they feel more productive.
In my opinion, employees who have opted to work a hybrid schedule have the best of both worlds. Going into an office a few days per week provides a great change of pace from being home full time, although the puppies don’t love those days as much! We do have a few employees that prefer to be in the office full time, and we are happy to accommodate them as well.
On top of flex space, we also have some employees that work flex hours to support family situations. Those are approved on a case-by-case basis with their managers. If the work gets done, we have learned being flexible makes sense for our team and our business.
Realizing that Bethpage is a strong supporter of the Long Island community, what specific programs that the company is involved in have made the most impact since the start of Covid?
I am proud to say our support for the community has remained strong throughout the entire pandemic. While we didn’t enter as many new commitments as we normally do, we did make sure to support our existing partners and provide extra support for those offering Covid relief.
One of the programs that really took off during the pandemic and even expanded was Bethpage Ride, our bike share program in partnership with Suffolk County and Pedal Share. We had nearly 4,000 people riding 150 orange bikes throughout seven towns in Suffolk County. For families wanting to get outdoors, Bethpage Ride was a great source of recreation.