Ever wonder what you would do if you became CEO for a day? Meriwest Credit Union Collections Manager Julie Jaquith recently got to find out.First launched last year, the annual CEO for a day program is part of the San Jose, Calif.-based credit union’s employee appreciation efforts. Employees submit their names and the winner is selected in a lottery draw. The winner not only attends meetings but is also granted input at the highest level. In addition, the CEO for a day gets to put a policy in place or announce an event to serve the interests of all Meriwest staffers.“The CEO for a day program gives one of our employees a tremendous learning opportunity.” said Meriwest CU President/CEO Christopher Owen.Jaquith kicked off her day taking over the role as CEO for the meeting of over 200 Meriwest employees at the monthly all-staff meeting. The balance of her day was spent working directly with Owen observing him in meetings and in interactions with the executive team.According to Community Relations Manager Gregory Meyer, now more than ever it is important to show staffers they are appreciated and truly a valued, vital part of the organization. In addition to the CEO for the day, the credit union hosts monthly employee meetings where Owen talks about everything from the financial status of the credit union and personnel issues to housekeeping issues and celebrating anniversaries. Employees are also treated to breakfast each month.In addition, on a quarterly basis on a Thursday or Friday, a coffee cart is wheeled in so staffers can enjoy a free latte or espresso in the lobby.“It’s a nice treat for employees and when you have great talent you want to retain, it’s the little gestures or acts of kindness that deliver the biggest impact,” said Meyer.“A little appreciation goes a long way, and employees have been excited about the latest program, particularly since it’s more involved than just observing and following someone all day since the selected individual can leave their mark on the organization.”Jaquith couldn’t agree more and said the experience provided her a deeper understanding of the organization and a unique perspective to the inner workings of fulfilling a leadership role.“I was thrilled to win this and truly appreciate the time that Mr. Owen and our executive team have spent with me, teaching me the ropes of upper management.” said Jaquith. “As for my legacy, the 20th of March will be Pacific Autism Center day at Meriwest Credit Union. So on that day, employees wishing to wear jeans can donate $5 toward the cause of fighting autism and supporting the autism center in our community.”Meyer said plans are underway to continue the CEO for a day program.“Julie turned out to be a great fit, and I’m hoping that next year we’ll get a winner from the front lines at the branches,” said Meyer.–[email protected]

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