Gate City Bank

Wellness is deeply ingrained in the culture at Gate City Bank. And for the team members especially, well-being takes center stage.

Their comprehensive wellness program covers five essential dimensions of health:

  • Physical health
  • Mental well-being
  • Financial stability
  • Social connection
  • Environmental engagement

This holistic approach benefits team members not only while working at Gate City Bank, but in all aspects of life.  

Gate City Bank’s Heather Rye, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, explains more:

How did worksite wellness become a focus at Gate City Bank?
The emphasis on worksite wellness stems from our core mission - For a Better Way of Life™. Former President & CEO, now Chair of the Board, Steve Swiontek, along with our current President & CEO, Kevin Hanson, share a passion and dedication to wellness. Their leadership sends a powerful message to our team, as they affirm that prioritizing well-being is not just encouraged, but also valued within our culture.

What are some ways you’ve implemented a culture of well-being?
Gate City Bank tackles the stigma surrounding mental health organically through our culture. We offer a wide range of tools and resources that can be customized to fit individual needs. Our mental health framework encompasses six key areas:

  1. Work environment
  2. Community and connection
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Sense of purpose at work
  5. Digital well-being
  6. Opportunities for personal growth.

For instance, we provide unlimited volunteer time to strengthen community connections. Not only that, but we’ve also seen that giving back reduces stress and fuels personal development.

Can you briefly explain how Gate City’s participation in the BCBSND Elevate program helped turn worksite wellness into more than just a concept?
The BCBSND Elevate program helped educate our leaders on what it means to actively engage in wellness initiatives and lead by example. Witnessing leaders prioritize their own health and well-being has had a ripple effect, inspiring others within the organization to follow suit.

The program’s success is evident based on the numerous success stories shared by our leaders. They have integrated newfound knowledge into their own wellness journeys. They regularly share these insights with their teams during various gatherings, further fostering a culture that portrays wellness as a genuine priority.

What benefits have you seen across your organization that stem from focusing on wellness?
Focusing on wellness has led to additional benefits, which have proven incredibly valuable for team members.

For example, last year President & CEO Kevin Hanson provided all team members with free subscriptions to a wellness app for guided meditations, music, mindful movement videos and relaxing sleep stories. Everyone loved it so much we extended the subscription through 2024.

Another program that has been successful is Disconnect to Reconnect. It allows our team members to have their email and phone communications temporarily disconnected or rerouted while they take leave. This program has been extremely well-received as it has allowed team members to return from their time away without the stress of catching up on things that happened while they were away.

How do you educate employees on what resources are available?
We’re proud to have a centralized wellness hub on our company’s intranet platform. It serves as a one-stop shop for details on benefits and other wellness-focused content such as articles, videos and podcasts.

We also facilitate various lunch-and-learn sessions, wellness challenges, newsletters and interactive games. These resources are strategically designed to educate and empower team members.

What tips do you have for other employers looking to make worksite wellness part of their company culture?
The biggest tip would be to prioritize holistic well-being. Wellness goes so far beyond just physical health. Mental, emotional, social, and environmental health have become essential factors, as well.

Offer diverse resources tailored to assist team members at various stages of their wellness journey and regularly educate them about the benefits available to help them make informed decisions.

Additionally, securing leadership buy-in is key. When leaders are heavily involved in wellness initiatives, it sets a powerful example and reinforces the importance of all team members’ well-being.

Would you like to add anything else?
I want to emphasize the importance of not delaying the integration of wellness into your organizational culture. Even if you're starting from scratch, begin with small steps and gradually expand your efforts over time. Our partnership with BCBSND has been invaluable in this regard, offering programs such as Elevate and Learn to Live that have greatly enhanced our wellness initiatives.

Gate City Bank employees smiling
Gate City Bank employees sitting and talking at round table

Heather Rye joined Gate City Bank in 2014 and was promoted to Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer in May 2023. She provides leadership and strategic direction for the bank’s human resources initiatives, strengthening team members and empowering them to help grow the company’s culture.

She’s been a certified human resources professional for 16 years. She earned a degree in business from the University of North Dakota and an MBA from University of Mary.