Earlier this year commercial loan specialist Crystal Bernier received an email from a customer of Zions First National Bank requesting a wire transfer of nearly $34,000. Bernier knew the customer, but the wording of the email made her suspicious, so she called to ask him if he had made the request, which he hadn't.

Bernier's quick thinking saved Zions from a five-figure loss. It also earned her recognition from the bank as a "Value Star" employee for the week of April 7.

Value Star is a program the bank launched more than a decade ago to recognize employees for putting in extra effort to help customers, co-workers, the community or the bank itself. Sometimes nominations come from management, but most come from co-workers.

Rob Brough, the bank's head of marketing, says that the program was designed to encourage employees to pull for one another. Honorees receive a $100 bonus and are recognized in an internal newsletter.

"We wanted to provide an opportunity for employees at all levels of the organization to acknowledge and recognize their peers for what they do to create value," says Brough. "It's very grassroots."

The camaraderie that Zions fosters within the workplace is also evident in the community. Each June, the bank has hosted a paint-a-thon in which employees meet after hours to fix up the homes of low-income elderly residents in its markets. The event was started by Chairman Harris Simmons as a way to bring employees together for a cause. Today, Brough says that nearly all employees participate in the paint-a-thon.

Zions' workers have spruced up more than 1,000 homes over the past 25 years, including 46 this year. Two of the most enthusiastic participants are Simmons and Chief Executive Scott Anderson. "They are right there with their paint brushes, along with everyone else," Brough says.

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