Employees of Boiling Springs Savings Bank say they love their employer for things like the annual picnic, the holiday party and wellness clinics.

But the credit for those events really goes to their co-workers, rather than their bosses.

The CHEER committee — meant to promote camaraderie, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm and recreation — consists of about 10 volunteers. It's been pursuing a mission of making the thrift a fun place to work for about a dozen years.

The committee gets a budget of $30,000 a year from Boiling Springs to organize events for its 200 employees. About half of the money gets spent on the annual holiday party, but the rest is stretched to subsidize events throughout the year. These include the annual summer picnic, pumpkin patch trips, Super Bowl parties, wine tastings, and bus trips to Atlantic City and to New York to see Broadway shows.

"Our people are our biggest assets, so we want to make the environment here as enjoyable as we can," says Robert Stillwell, the thrift's president and chief executive.

The idea for the committee originated with Acela Roselle, the human resources director. She joined the thrift in 1999 from the health care industry and her previous company had a CHEER committee.

"It makes such a difference because there can be so much stress with your work," Roselle says. "It is nice to come together and have a good time."

Both Roselle and Stillwell emphasized the importance of making the employees feel empowered to make decisions. "I try not to be involved," Roselle says. "I don't want it to be my committee, I want them to know it is their committee."

In addition to the fun stuff, the CHEER committee also focuses on wellness initiatives, such as its annual biggest loser contest. The winner gets a gift card to a spa.

The contest is a way for employees to "encourage one another to not necessarily lose weight but to be healthier," Roselle says.

It can bring out a competitive streak in people too, she adds. "You even see employees trying to sabotage each other by leaving candy on desks. But it is all in fun."

Stillwell estimates that active members of the committee dedicate a couple of working hours a month to it and says the board is supportive. Since Boiling Springs is a mutual organization, its board might be more willing to set aside money for such a committee than one with shareholders.

"Other banks have brought in things like chief culture officers," he says. But being a mutual "has helped set us apart. There is a difference in the climate and there is a genuine sense of camaraderie."

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