Flexibility key to change • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Flexibility key to change

Crisis brings lessons in resilience, charity, community, as we hold fast to core values during difficult times

Series on Pandemic ResponseAt Peoples Bank, our mission is to help our customers and communities be more successful. For 110 years, we have maintained our commitment to our customers and the communities we serve. That mission has been a common thread as we have grown to serve both Northwest Indiana and South Chicagoland.

As the world has become more uncertain, we know that our customers need us now more than ever. In these times of adversity, Peoples Bank is guided by our mission and our values.

Benjamin Bochnowski
Guest columnist: Benjamin Bochnowski

When COVID-19 arrived, we looked to our internal business continuity planning to make sure we were a stable presence for our customers. Like many companies, we had no real-world experience with operating during a pandemic. We had to make decisions as the situation evolved and had to balance the customer experience with heightened concerns for everyone’s physical health and well-being.

As we navigated changing conditions, our company followed three directives, in this order:

  • Ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities
  • Ensure stability of operations
  • Manage risk for future stability

Even before the pandemic was declared, our business continuity team continually monitored the situation and charted a course forward. The goal was to incorporate safe practices, avoid service disruption and continue to provide the best banking experience possible.

The pandemic upended our normal operating rhythm, and like others, we had to adapt to a decentralized work environment.

Our IT department worked tirelessly to equip our workforce for remote work. Employee health and safety continues to be our top priority as we start to get “back to business.”

Similarly, we saw an increased demand for online at-home banking services. We invested time and resources in our digital and mobile banking products to meet the needs of our customers. We created digital bank-at-home kits for consumers and business owners to help navigate their accounts online, and to help them be more successful in a turbulent time. We focused on making the transition as easy as possible, even reengineering our daily operations, so that customers could focus on what mattered most to them.

COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders took a heavy toll on local communities and businesses, and we developed programs so we could all be stronger together.

Our Peoples Bank Hardship Relief Program helps our customers who experienced a financial hardship due to the onset of COVID-19. Many business owners were faced with difficult decisions that affected the livelihood of their employees.

As a certified SBA lender, the loans that Peoples Bank made through the Paycheck Protection Program helped stabilize the local economies throughout Northwest Indiana and South Chicagoland, supporting more than 10,000 jobs that would have otherwise been lost.

The crisis has certainly brought about much change.

We have learned many things about ourselves, our customers and what is most important in life. We have learned how strong and resilient we are as a community, and how people are willing to help each other out in times of need. We have learned just how powerful we can be when we believe in each other and live through our core values of stability, integrity, community and excellence.

In the midst of our local battles against COVID-19, we find our nation battling an even greater challenge: inequality. Healing the economy will only be possible by an inclusive, unified effort from everyone in our community. The more people who participate in the recovery, the more prosperous we will all be, and we at Peoples Bank are committed to doing our part.

The banking industry is not impervious to the effects of crisis, but Peoples Bank has prevailed by staying true to our mission, maintaining our values, and keeping the promises we make to our customers, communities and stakeholders each and every day.

We are united in our mission and values and will remain committed to our customers and communities to provide the best possible banking experience — even if it is a bit different from what we are all used to.

Click here to read more from the August-September 2020 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.


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