Workers return in droves to businesses across the U.S.

By Hannah Flanders

Across the U.S., employers are seeing workers return following a mass reshuffle in employment. Beginning in 2021, the year following the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of employees began seeking new opportunities with different companies or shifting entirely to different industries. However, as competition continues to grow and COVID precautions subside, many are beginning to return to their previous employers.

COVID Gives Way to New Opportunities

The Great Resignation, spurred by aspects of the pandemic, gave individuals a push to reconsider their employment. The combination of COVID stimulus checks, early retirement, lack of childcare, and reluctance to return to the office caused many — over 47 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — to voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021.

While many of these individuals — 53%, according to Pew Research Center — did not completely exit the workforce, workers seeking higher pay orgreater benefits — including remote options — were presented with a greater opportunity to find a new employer.

Not What They Expected

The beginning of 2022 marked a new wave for employees — the Great Regret — or the reversal of the Great Resignation. Some in client-facing, technology, and consumer industries quickly realized that new roles or companies may not have been the best fit. With increasing turnover, onboarding within many companies became less personal and individuals were often not allotted enough time to get comfortable in their new environment. In addition, remote work offered fewer social interactions and work-life balance sometimes took a backseat.

Seventy-two percent of employees surveyed by Muse in early 2022 stated that they had experienced surprise or regret in connection to what a new job opportunity led them to believe. Of the 2,500 individuals surveyed, 80% stated that it would be acceptable to leave a new job before six months if it didn’t meet initial expectations.

Additionally, as widespread access to COVID-19 vaccination continues, businesses and schools across America have re-opened their doors and many individuals are reconsidering their desire for fully remote work. A survey conducted by PwC reported that around 83% of employees have already returned to the office at least two days of the week.

Boomerang Employees

Each year, the number of boomerang employees — or those who return to a previous employer — continues to rise. In 2021, according to data presented by LinkedIn, 4.3% of all new hires were previous employees whereas 10 years prior, these individuals only represented around 2% of new hires.

Rehiring former employees is strategic for both the employer and the employee, but it’s important to consider why they departed initially. While the business regains knowledgeable talents who may not need extensive onboarding, the employee often returns with a higher salary or new position (given their gained experience during their departure and increased negotiating power) and is familiar with the workplace culture.

According to Glassdoor, recruiting former employees could save organizations up to $20,000 per hire. While of course not every former employee may be the perfect fit for the position, considering boomerang employees could tap Wisconsin businesses into “new” candidates that have the ability to fill important positions and reduce costs in today’s competitive job market.

Returning to the Workforce

As pandemic precautions subside and employees rethink previous career changes, many individuals are returning to their previous employers. According to a study conducted by Joblist, more than one in four people who quit their previous job regret their decision.

Although boomerang employees remain a small but growing percentage of new hires each year, the Great Regret has shown the return of many individuals who had previously left the workforce due to the pandemic, including those lacking childcare or entering early retirement.

Be it to combat rising inflation or to explore new opportunities outside of the home, 2022 has shown millions of individuals returning to work. Just this year, unemployment rates in Wisconsin hit record lows thanks to more individuals feeling comfortable with returning to the office, parents sending their children back to in-person classes, and previously retired Americans rejoining the workforce in droves.

Whether it be considering “boomerang employees” or welcoming back those who exited the workforce as a result of the pandemic, businesses throughout the state are seeing more opportunities to regain workers lost to the Great Resignation and benefit from the growing talent pool.

How Wisconsin employers can best invest in the security of their team

By Hannah Flanders

As inflation and the cost of living across the country continue to rise, more employees are feeling the increasing strain of financial burden in their day-to-day lives. While some individuals may choose to seek higher paying positions to combat this stress, many are looking to their current employer to assist them in finding new solutions to managing these burdens.

Financial stress is often defined as any emotional tension an individual may experience related to money, debt, or upcoming expenses. According to a survey by Purchasing Power in March 2022, 97% of all full-time employees reported that they experience financial stress.

While monetary stress manifests in many different ways, employers should be concerned that these stressors weaken productivity, negatively impact company culture, and decrease overall talent retention.

What Can Employers Do?

According to the 1,100 full-time employees surveyed by Purchasing Power, 57% say the benefits their employer offers have a major to moderate impact on their decision to stay at their current job. While unemployment rates return to pre-pandemic lows, employers must develop attractive benefit packages that not only meet the needs of incoming talent but set current employees up for success.

These benefits — ranging from health insurance and vacation time to retirement planning and financial wellness programs — impact overall employee satisfaction, both personally and professionally, and save businesses billions of dollars each year.

In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), money stress experienced among Americans registered at its highest recorded level since 2015. By regularly reassessing employee benefit plans, businesses are better able to accommodate for common stressors — such as retirement and emergency savings — in relation to current events. Additionally, these opportunities allow greater chances for Wisconsin employers to integrate new, relevant, and cutting-edge tools for members of their team.

The Importance of Financial Wellness Programs

More than ever, employees consider it the employer’s responsibility to help employees with their financial well-being. In addition to providing employees the resources they need to feel secure, businesses that invest in financial wellness programs are more likely to retain current talent and save on the cost of recruiting and training.

Today, wellness is no longer determined solely by physical health. In order to wholly provide for employees, employers must account for all aspects that create tension in one’s life. By promoting resources that help employees stretch their dollar, employers are increasing productivity, engagement, and attendance among those who may otherwise be severely impacted by their financial worries.

PwC’s Employee Financial Wellness Survey, conducted in early 2022 on over 3,200 full-time employees, highlighted that among the 29% of employees currently looking for a new job, 65% cite money as their primary reason. However, both financially stressed and non-stressed individuals surveyed reported being more likely to accept a position or stay with a company that they feel cares about their financial well-being.

Wisconsin employers who are not doing so already should consider adopting financial well-being into benefit packages and adding financial education opportunities such as private coaching as resources for every employee. As housing costs, gas prices, and living necessities skyrocket around the country, individuals are seeking additional initiatives that aid in overcoming the recent additional stress.

A Growing Need for Assistance

Similar to how the nature of work and its demands have evolved over the last three years, workers too are reassessing their financial priorities.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that, according to the most recent census data collected in 2020, Wisconsin’s median household income is $63,293, over $4,000 below the national average. Although the importance of establishing and ensuring a health emergency saving fund has been emphasized even more since the onset of the pandemic, a quarter of consumers still have no savings set aside for emergencies, according to the 2022 Emergency Savings and Financial Security report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Additionally, 39% have less than a month’s worth of income saved for emergencies.

This lack of funds directly originates from, according to the CFPB, an individual’s knowledge on how to save. Whether it be lack of information relating to saving or financial constraints, those without emergency saving funds are nearly three times as likely to “not know how to save” than those who have a fund of some proportion.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states that while upwards of 95% of organizations offer retirement savings plans, less than 35% offer financial planning/ coaching, and even less (15%) offer emergency savings funds or payroll advances, causing many individuals facing an emergency to charge a credit card, borrow money, or cut other expenses.

However, as the prices for necessities such as groceries, shelter, and gasoline rise — more Wisconsinites than ever are struggling to set aside funds for emergencies, their future, or even other commodities. In addition to setting a 40-year record for total increasing prices (a 9.1% increase since June 2021), both food and energy prices increased by 10.4% and 41.6% percent, respectively, in the last 12 months. These skyrocketing prices represent the largest price jumps consumers have seen since the early 1980s, according to data presented in the June 2022 Consumer Price Index.

Resources Available

Financial wellness programs, such as America Saves and Wisconsin Saves, not only help employers meet the growing demand for budgeting tools, but these campaigns also build consumer confidence, assist individuals in reaching their financial goals, and save businesses added expenses caused by absenteeism or low productivity.

America Saves and Wisconsin Saves provide individuals with the tools and education needed to effectively approach savings goals such as retirement, debt repayment, or vacations. Be it a long- or short-term goal, America Saves supports low- to moderate-income households in saving money, building wealth, and preparing for the unexpected.

The Wisconsin Saves initiative, brought forth by a coalition of Wisconsin organizations including the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), promotes automatic saving opportunities through split deposit. The program, launched in 2021, encourages small- and medium-sized employers to promote the ease and benefits of saving automatically for emergencies through split deposit.

By promoting the success of these programs, encouraging employees to take the America Saves pledge to access additional resources, or motivating teams to split their deposit into a savings fund — Wisconsin businesses can play an important and impactful role in helping their employees improve their financial well-being.

Join Wisconsin banking leaders in education and networking opportunities

Banking leaders from throughout Wisconsin will once again reconvene in Wisconsin Dells for a two-day event focused on education and networking. WBA’s Management Conference, beginning on September 13, is a must-attend event for CEOs, CFOs, CCOs, HR leaders, and other members of the bank’s management team.

An optional, pre-conference golf outing is scheduled for September 13 at Rock Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells. Bankers interested in additional opportunities to connect with their banking peers and event sponsors should plan to attend. Following the outing, the event will kick off on Tuesday night with a dinner program recognizing individual bankers who will be receiving WBA’s 30- and 40-year Lifetime Service Awards. Bankers interested in receiving this recognition or honoring an individual who meets the service award criteria should visit to complete the nomination form by August 19, 2022 to be included in the program.

On September 14, bankers will have the opportunity to attend two general sessions and two rounds of breakout sessions that include four management-related tracks including credit/lending, human resources, finance, and general bank trends.

In addition to networking among peers, Wisconsin bankers will hear from Sarah Sladek, founder and CEO of XYZ University, LLC during her keynote session on managing and leading during the new era of workplace shift that has recently emerged. While preparing for increasing innovation, shifting values, global connectivity, disruption, and opportunity, Sladek will assist bank leaders and organizers in understanding why they may be struggling to lead a high-functioning team as well as provide insight into how bankers may best be able to usher in a new generation of talent.

To learn more and register for the upcoming event in Wisconsin Dells, visit Questions regarding the conference can be directed to WBA’s Lori Kalscheuer, director – education.

WBA’s Management Conference Returns to Wisconsin Dells in September

Join over 150 banking leaders for WBA’s annual Management Conference September 13 and 14 in Wisconsin Dells. C-suite and HR professionals will enjoy several general sessions, breakout sessions, and opportunities to network among Wisconsin banking peers and over 50 conference sponsors and exhibitors from across the U.S.

The conference, to be held at Glacier Canyon Conference Center, will officially begin on Tuesday night with a dinner program and ceremony recognizing individual bankers who will be receiving WBA’s 30- and 40-year Lifetime Service Awards. Bankers are encouraged to attend this program not only to celebrate these milestone achievements, but for additional opportunities to network with banking peers. Bankers interested in receiving this recognition or honoring an individual who meets the service award criteria should visit to complete the nomination form.

Management Conference Banner

Before the dinner program on Tuesday, September 13, bankers looking to make the most of their time out of the office will also enjoy an optional pre-conference golf outing at Wild Rock Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells. Join WBA, your banking peers, and several sponsors at this unofficial kickoff for an additional opportunity to connect with banking leaders from around the state.

This year’s conference will focus on taking banking to the next level. By investing in opportunities to network with other community bankers and dive into topics that will help your bank succeed as a business, leaders are able to reinvest the skills and knowledge learned at the conference into every member of their team.

WBA encourages all bank management teams to take advantage of the four management-related breakout session tracks — including credit/lending, human resources, finance, and general bank trends — for the benefit of every leader, their team, and the continued success of their institution.

To learn more and register for the upcoming event in Wisconsin Dells, visit Questions regarding the conference can be directed to WBA’s Lori Kalscheuer, director – education.

Sponsored content by UnitedHealthcare, a WBA Associate Member

Now’s the time to start thinking about your employee benefits package and how an Associated Health Plan (AHP), serviced by UnitedHealthcare, could help you save. Gain similar purchasing power advantages and options that larger employers receive when you join other Wisconsin banks by enrolling in our AHP.

Through your enrollment in an AHP, your bargaining position is strengthened to help you obtain more favorable rates. A variety of flexible plan options are available to help balance costs and your administrative costs can be reduced through economies of scale.

And your employees will benefit too. They’ll have access to UnitedHealthcare’s provider network – the largest in Wisconsin – resulting in less disruption and a smoother transition. Wellness programs designed to motivate healthier habits and cost estimator tools to assist with making more informed care choices will help your employees with their overall health and budgetary goals.

The advantages don’t stop there. If you’re looking to add vision to your employee benefits package, UnitedHealthcare has you covered. Like their medical network, UnitedHealthcare has one of the nation’s largest vision networks. That means your employees will have the freedom to visit their favorite provider or retailer for vision services and eyewear needs. Alliances with Warby Parker® and are included.

Learn more by visiting

Vieau and Endres on Farm

By Cassandra Krause

Ask anyone from out of state what the first thing that comes to mind is when they think of  Wisconsin, and they’re likely to respond “farms” — and for good reason. Wisconsin farmers work hard to put food on tables across Wisconsin and the globe. Fondly known as “America’s Dairyland,” Wisconsin is also a leading producer of cranberries (the state fruit), soybeans, potatoes, ginseng, corn — the list goes on and on.  

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), agriculture is a major economic driver, contributing $104.8 billion annually to our state’s economy. The state is home to 64,100 farms on 14.2 million acres (the average farm size in Wisconsin is 222 acres). For those working in the industry, farming is not just a profession, but a way of life — one that poses unique stressors and challenges.

Tough Times Made Tougher by the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. farmers were already dealing with damaging weather conditions, increased global competition and tariffs, and falling commodity prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), citing data from the Federal Reserve, reported in July of 2021:

Clear signs of financial distress had emerged among U.S. farmers even prior to the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. Investment in equipment was down, farmer debt was up, and so was borrowing against land. By the end of 2019, the delinquency rate on commercial loans hit a six-year high, and the delinquency rate on farmland loans was at its highest level since 2013.

When COVID-19 began rapidly spreading and parts of the global economy shut down, the food system was hit by major supply and demand shocks. For example, when demand for milk from restaurants and schools plummeted due to closures, producers were forced to dump milk. Meanwhile, milk supply on grocery store shelves was sparse for consumers purchasing for their homes, and prices rose.

Sara Kohlbeck

Sara Kohlbeck
is the director of the Division of Suicide Prevention at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a researcher on farmer suicide in Wisconsin.

Especially on small farms, many families rely on income and benefits from jobs outside of the farm and were hurt by job losses due to the pandemic. In addition to the financial stresses of running a family farm, interpersonal issues often come into play between spouses and family members who work together. This is particularly evident when it comes to succession planning and the legacy of a longstanding family tradition.

A 2018 survey from the National Farm Medicine Center, headquartered in Marshfield, showed that 29% of farmers suffered from depression and 35% suffered from anxiety. The National Farm Medicine Center conducts a wide range of research ranging from topics such as child rearing and women on farms to veterans who become farmers. More can be found at

Sara Kohlbeck is the director of the Division of Suicide Prevention at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and is researching farmer suicide in Wisconsin for her doctoral dissertation. “Just about every farmer I talked to mentioned finances as a stressor,” said Kohlbeck of interviews conducted for her research. A small, organic farm may be one hailstorm away from being wiped out, and a larger farm may be millions of dollars in debt — the farmers’ entire livelihood can be at stake. While suicide is a relatively rare outcome (about 190 farmers are reported to have died by suicide from 2004–2018), Kohlbeck emphasizes that, “even one is too many.” Suicide rates are disproportionately high among farmers (about 2% of total suicides in Wisconsin, while farmers make up about 1% of the labor force), pointing to a larger mental health concern.

Resources for Farmer Wellness

Wisconsin Farm Center and Farmer Wellness Program

  • Farm Culture Training for Ag Lenders and Ag Service Providers
  • Online Farmer and Farm Couple Support Groups
  • 24/7 Farmer Wellness Helpline | 888-901-2558
  • Tele-counseling | 888-901-2558
  • Counseling Vouchers | 800-942-2474

DATCP’s Farm Center started during the farm financial crisis of the 1980s, when farmland values dropped up to 60% in some areas of the Midwest. At its onset, the Farm Center strengthened relationships between ag lenders and farmers. It has since expanded its consulting and referral services to include financial consulting (reviewing balance sheets and cash flow, analyzing profitability and viability, analyzing debt structure, etc.), transition/succession planning (financial stability, operating agreements, tax implications, etc.), and farm mediation (dispute resolution).

The Farm Center’s Farmer Wellness Program began with $200,000 of funding in the 2019–21 biennial state budget and is now in addition funded by USDA grant money and other sources.

Vieau and Endres on Farm

Penn Vieau and Karen Endres are hosts of the “Rural Realities” podcast and recently brought their wellness messages to the stage at the WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference.

The Farmer Wellness Program offers services including a 24/7 Wisconsin farmer wellness helpline (888-901-2558), tele-counseling, and counseling vouchers. It also hosts online farmer and farm couple support groups. All of the resources are free of charge to Wisconsin farmers and their families. The services are there for those who are experiencing anxiety or depression, or just need a welcoming ear to talk to. Karen Endres, Farmer Wellness Program coordinator at the Wisconsin Farm Center, explained that the program was designed with the “4 A’s” in mind: affordability, accessibility, acceptability, and awareness. “Our most important resource is our mind,” said Endres. “We need to do a better job of taking care from [the neck] up.”

Endres noted that rural areas lost some of their sense of community during the pandemic as people were no longer seeing each other at coffee shops, card clubs, and so forth. The Farmer Wellness Program’s farmer support groups have served to combat the isolation felt by many farmers and have the added benefit of connecting farmers from around the state who may not otherwise have met but have much in common. Every session is facilitated by a licensed mental health provider with experience serving farmers and/or a trained peer leader.

The helpline, tele-counseling (via phone or Zoom), and vouchers for in-person counseling sessions all connect farmers and their families with licensed mental health professionals. The counselors can help bring control to farmers in navigating challenging situations. One farmer caller who sought mental wellness counseling for the first time through the program said, “please tell every farmer there is hope.”

Shifting the Mindset

Endres teamed up with mindset coach and former banker Penn Vieau to produce the Farm Center’s ‘Rural Realities’ podcast, which provides expert advice that can help farmers reduce stress, improve finances, implement effective farm family communication skills, and more. Vieau recently addressed the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) Agricultural Bankers Conference on the power of a positive mindset and is scheduled to speak at the upcoming WBA Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) Summer Leadership Summit, June 9–10, 2022 in Wisconsin Dells. He discussed how the stigma of mental health in farming communities can be a barrier to getting help. “Stress does not equal crazy,” said Vieau. “When stress is too much to bear, talk to somebody.”

A 2019 American Farm Bureau Federation study revealed that a majority of farmers/farmworkers think the media (72%), people in their local community (58%), and their friends (56%) attach at least a fair amount of stigma to mental health.

How Bankers Can Support Farmer Mental Health

Agricultural bankers are part of rural communities and have strong ties to the farming industry — many grew up on or live on farms themselves. MCW’s Kohlbeck said bankers may be coming into contact with farmers more often than their doctors. “We’re not expecting them to be therapists, but in some ways, bankers can be nontraditional helpers,” she said. She said the most important ways bankers can help are 1) sharing resources and 2) understanding the red flags and what to do about them.

Karen Endres

Karen Endres
Farmer Wellness Program Coordinator
Wisconsin Farm Center

Endres underscored, “bankers are relationship people, and they want to do what’s best.” She recommends the Farmer Wellness Program’s online farm culture training for agricultural service providers. It is a free, virtual course to help ag lenders and other service providers understand the unique stresses and challenges of farming, handle difficult conversations, and recognize signs and symptoms of stress with farm clients. More information and the link to register are available at

One piece of advice Vieau offered the attendees of his presentation was to create a “personal board of directors” for their mental wellbeing — in other words, identify a group of close contacts to serve as trusted advisors and consultants. He pointed out that a banker is most likely already on a farmer’s “personal board of directors,” so the banker has a unique opportunity to share a flyer or card for the Farm Center’s services. “Bankers are always offering a value-add, like sharing trending reports,” said Vieau, and likened the practice to hospitality staff offering tips on local attractions. He said it’s a great idea for bankers to use the resources and information offered by the Farm Center for themselves personally and as an added service for their clients.

To learn how to spot the signs of distress in farmers, bankers and community members may participate in gatekeeper training for lay people. The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is one example of an organization that offers free, one-hour training sessions online and in person.

The Outlook

All of the experts interviewed for this story agreed that more can be done to build more supportive communities and policies for farmers. “Instead of expecting farmers to reach out, we need to reach in,” said Kohlbeck. “Farmers are proud. For policies on things like climate change, don’t put the onus on farmers to solve the problems on their own.”

Penn Vieau

Penn Vieau
Professional Speaker and Coach

Vieau noted, “we spend a lot of time with [corporate] executives doing leadership training, and we need to do the same to break the stigma with farmers, who are independent businesspeople.” He highlighted that this focus is also important in encouraging the next generation of young people, who prioritize mental wellness in their careers, to become farmers.

Similarly, Endres expressed the need for everyone to look out for our farmers, who are stewards of the land and grow our food. She encourages community members to talk to one another and direct those who could benefit from a resource or service on how to access it.

“If one person shares a resource and saves a life, that’s a pretty great day,” concluded Endres.

If you are thinking about suicide or are concerned about the wellbeing of someone you know, call the Wisconsin Lifeline at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), the Wisconsin Farmer Wellness Helpline (888-901-2558), or 911.

Nearly 100 Employers Have Joined Statewide Effort to Encourage Employees to Save Automatically at Work 

America Saves Logo Wisconsin Saves Logo

In an increasingly competitive labor market, Wisconsin business owners are working to set themselves apart from other employers by offering a financial wellness benefit to employees: the ability to save automatically through their paycheck using the established practice of split deposit.  Nearly 100 small to mid-size employers in Wisconsin representing approximately 14,000 employees are now part of a statewide campaign to encourage workers to save automatically through their paycheck.  The Wisconsin Saves Automatic Saving Initiative encourages the use of split deposit in order to prepare for unexpected expenses including home repairs and car maintenance as well as fun opportunities like last minute travel.

The campaign was launched in April 2021 and is led by Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Secretary-designee Cheryll Olson-Collins; President and CEO of Wisconsin Bankers Association Rose Oswald Poels; Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Cooperation (WWBIC) President Wendy Baumann; and America Saves, the leading national campaign in promoting savings.

The 99 employers are: Adams Transit Inc. ■ Aloekui Handmade Soap ■ Amcor Flexibles North America, Inc. ■ Apache Stainless Equipment Company ■ Apple Tree Educational Svc LLC ■ AppleTree Credit Union ■ AstroJun LLC ■ Badger Globe Credit Union ■ Bank of Kaukauna ■ Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce ■ Bierock ■ Blumenfeld & Associates ■ Bluff View Bank ■ Breaking Barriers Mentoring Inc. ■ BSI ■ Cesarz Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home ■ City of Mayville ■ Class A Cleaning ■ Clinicare Corporation ■  Community First Credit Union ■ Cream City Caramels and Confections ■ CultureCon ■ Dairy State Bank ■ Dane County Credit Union ■ DCC ■ Don Johnson Motors ■ Edmund Mitchell Corporation ■ en.courage Nutrition ■ Evergreen Credit Union ■ F&M Bank – Kendall ■ First Community Bank ■ First State Bank ■  Fond du Lac Credit Union ■ Food is Fuel LLC ■ Fort Community Credit Union ■ Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce ■ GreenLeaf Bank ■ Heartland Credit Union ■ Hometown Pharmacy ■ Horizon Electric Company ■ Hurley Burish, S.C. ■ Indianhead Community Action Ag ■ Jan Pro Cleaning ■ Johnsville  ■ Kathy’s 2nd Chance Plants ■ Johnsville ■ lac courte oreilles ojibwe college ■ Lawrence University ■ Lee Hemp Farm, LLC ■ Los Parbulitos Daycare ■ MACHA ■ Madison Development Corporation ■ Madison Innovation Labs, LLC ■ Marie Hunt Beauty ■ Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry ■ Marquette County ■ Mound City Bank ■ Mount Horeb Area School District ■ North Shore Fire Department ■ Organic Valley ■ Office of the Wisconsin State Treasurer ■ PCM Credit Union ■ Pindel Global Precision ■  Port Washington State Bank ■ Qlink  ■ Ripco Credit Union ■ Royal Credit Union ■ School District of Bayfield ■ School District of North Fond du Lac ■ Schuk Law, LLC ■ Securitas ■ Serigraph, Inc. ■  Specialty Coating Systems, Inc. ■ Summit Credit Union ■ TechLogix Networx ■ The American Deposit Management Co. ■ The Galleria of Tile ■ The Human Service Center ■ The QTI Group ■ The Stephenson National Bank & Trust ■ The Wisconsin Credit Union League ■ Town of Grand Chute ■ Train Up a Child Learning Center, LLC ■ UnitedOne Credit Union ■ Valley Packaging ■ Vesta Memory Care ■ Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin ■ Village of Frederic ■ Village of Saukville ■ Waukesha County Business Alliance, Inc. ■ Westbury Bank ■ Westby Coop Credit Union ■ WICPA ■ WiLS ■ Wisconsin Bankers Association ■ Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions ■ Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce ■ Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation

Recognizing that employers can serve as a powerful source of information for their workers, Wisconsin Saves helps support small to mid-size employers as they promote the ease and benefits of split deposit to their employees.  Often, these businesses have limited resources to focus on issues outside of their core business.  This effort empowers employers by equipping them with easy-to-use resources for their employees.

“Our goal with Wisconsin Saves is to help more Wisconsinites build emergency savings and save for the future,” said DFI Secretary-designee Olson-Collins.  “We know that saving automatically is the easiest and most effective way to save.  That’s why we enlisted the support of employers from all over Wisconsin to help promote saving automatically through split deposit.  This helps financially prepare more Wisconsinites for unexpected expenses and build financial security.”

Employers can sign up to participate in the Wisconsin Saves Automatic Saving Initiative at

America Saves is a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America that uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to motivate, encourage, and support low-to-moderate income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. America Saves encourages individuals and families to take the America Saves pledge and organizations to promote savings year-round and during America Saves Week. Since its inception, over 12,000 organizations have participated in America Saves Week to promote savings to their communities. Learn more at

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Adriene Wright

Adriene Wright

By Hannah Flanders

Adriene Wright not only brings more than 25 years of retail banking experience to her students, but she also mentors and supports them through the BankWork$ program and beyond. As an instructor in the program partnered with Employ Milwaukee, CareerWork$, and the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), Wright is able to provide individuals the banking 101 entry-level training needed to fill positions with numerous partner banks.

Wright began her retail banking career as a teller and progressed to a learning and development instructor training new hires. Not only did this role prepare her for her transition to BankWork$ in terms of her retail banking abilities, but it gave her the opportunity to give back to her community and the industry.

“Through the [program’s] eight weeks of training, practice, coaching, and feedback, the students graduate with a clear knowledge of [the] expectations to be successful in banking,” says Wright. “This includes the topics of banking 101, professionalism, attendance, dress code, customer service, rapport, public speaking, technology, team building, sales skills, building relationships, resume building, and interviewing skills.”

Currently, the BankWork$ program in Wisconsin has 14 partner banks and growing interest throughout the state. This could potentially result in growing class sizes, more locations, and new partnerships. BankWork$ recruits from diverse communities with an emphasis on underserved, low-income, and unemployed individuals who are looking for the opportunities to grow and have a successful career. This means not only that these young adults bring “a fierce commitment and drive to never give up,” according to Wright, but their wide range of education, work experience, and languages introduce important factors of diversity and inclusion that align with banks’ missions.

Many BankWork$ graduates are successfully retained and often promoted from their entry-level positions to roles in supervision or management. When these individuals have the ability to provide for themselves and their families, they are able to begin imagining their future and setting goals.

Building confidence, banking knowledge, and providing students with both in-person and virtual skills is critical in ensuring that students feel prepared to put their talents into practice on their first day on the job. In their partnership with 13 other sites nationwide, Wright and her fellow BankWork$ instructors have the ability to make a substantial difference for employers with positions to fill. The role of BankWork$ instructors is unique and impactful in that they help employers, job seekers, and their communities.

Wright’s passion and experience in helping new hires become successful in the banking industry has touched the lives of many in the Milwaukee area. Beyond her compassion for her community, Wright aspires to prepare her students for a stable career and opportunities rather than just a job.

By Daryll Lund

The Wisconsin Bankers Association Employee Benefits Corporation, Inc. (WBA-EBC) was formed in 1982 and as our Association Health Plan (AHP) begins its fourth year, I would like to thank each WBA member that has chosen to trust us for their insurance needs.

The flexibility of our high-quality health benefits (dental insurance, medical insurance, prescription drug plans, and vision) as well as life and disability insurance are typically reserved for large employers but — through the purchasing power of WBA-EBC — are offered exclusively to WBA members at preferred prices. In the last three years alone, our member banks have collectively saved $1.8 million thanks to their member-driven AHP.

This year we are pleased that nearly 40 banks throughout the state have chosen the WBA-AHP through UnitedHealthcare for their health insurance program. Through your enrollment in our AHP, 1,800 members will have access to affordable, high-quality benefits and insurance throughout Wisconsin. In addition, our partnership with Lincoln Financial provides life and disability coverage for 10,000 members and our Delta Dental plans cover 7,000 members.

I, along with WBA-EBC vice president Brian Siegenthaler and our dedicated team look forward to continuing to assist you and your employees through our one-stop-shop for members enrollment and administration. We thank you once again for choosing WBA-EBC to provide for the wellbeing of all employees in your organization.

As labor shortages wear on and baby boomers retire in droves, every industry is facing the issue of how to approach the younger generation, and banking is certainly no exception. Raised on technology and emerging trends, there is no doubt these kids know our future. After all, they are it. Each day, it becomes increasingly more important to reinvest our efforts into making sure our future is prepared to take on important roles in our society.

The trouble however is not understanding why banks should hire new, younger talent; they understand future technology and have the ability to use vast experiences to provide a non-banking perspective. The question remains how do banks promote careers in banking to a Gen Z.

Jim Johannes, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business professor emeritus of banking and finance, knows firsthand the way his students see banking: an app on their smartphone or a teller behind a screen. It’s a difficult task to grasp every aspect of banking without the ability to experience it directly. According to Jessica Fox-Wilson, director of Career Works at Beloit College, college students are impressively passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, and their lack of preconceived notions also makes them to be far more adaptable to an industry than a seasoned veteran may allow for.

Although, students typically don’t gravitate towards a career in banking, Kim Huntley, senior vice president of human resources at Waukesha State Bank, understands that new graduates from high school and college aspire to make lasting impacts on the communities; a trait perfectly aligned with the banking industry. Through community service and the ability to help foster growth in individuals and businesses in the community, banking offers just the type of rewarding work younger generations strive to achieve.

It’s difficult for many non-bankers to truly grasp the full scope of the industry without experiencing it directly. This means that “telling the banking story” (or, allowing those interested in the industry to fully see their impact) becomes that much more important, according to Johannes. Investing time to give interns the opportunity to allocate capital and see their work in action will make them much more invested in the functions of the job.

When drawing awareness to the different opportunities offered, it is important to consider the different skills that lend themselves to the banking industry. While accounting, finance, and mathematics remain as popular as ever, more and more students are graduating with focuses on communications, business, and computer science. Fox-Wilson highlights Beloit Colleges’ four core transferable skills that, regardless of the major, are evident in every college graduate: communication, collaboration, problem solving, and agility. Individuals who possess traits such as service and detail-orientation also hold the abilities that allow for a strong foundation. This means community banks are able focus their time on task-specific training.

Over the past few years, discussions regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been important to helping grow the banking industry. By making clear efforts into hiring talent from a broad range of experiences, banks will not only emphasize the potential in every person but allow for a collaborative and innovative environment where employees are invited to enact change through their own perspective. As Gen Z is known to value inclusivity, employers that demonstrate inclusive culture also become attractive employers. Striving to diversify the talent within banks ultimately leads to greater innovations and a well-rounded team.

While the public sees banking as mainly tellers, using opportunities when interacting students while guest speaking or at job fairs to highlight the many facets of the industry including IT, marketing, and human resources may convince the otherwise skeptical that a career in banking could be a good fit for them. Not only are these positions necessary to the bank, but they are also of increasing interest to graduates. Simply informing students of available opportunities can be a great way to drum-up interest in a specific industry.

New graduates are extremely motivated by advancement opportunities and is a major advantage to beginning a career in community banking. “Community banks are small enough to give employees opportunities to grow in several areas of the bank and would prefer to promote employees from within the bank before searching outside of it,” says Huntley. The benefit of learning and growing your career quickly is highly sought-after by younger, bright-eyed graduates, especially when skills learned on the job are applicable to other aspects of banking or their career.

Banking typically isn’t conceived by younger generations as a “glamorous” or trendy career choice, which makes it a bit trickier when convincing younger generations that they make a great fit for the industry. “If you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s just a great career,” says Johannes. “You make a difference in your community in meeting and interacting with a lot of very different people and you’re able to serve a huge social function by allocating credit and preserving the payments mechanism.” Banking also provides stability and work-life balance that is unlike many other industries. Highlighting benefits that resonate with new graduates, such as generous time off policies and the ability to spend holidays with family, help the industry stand apart.

Of course, the answer to how to recruit for banking careers is multidimensional. In working alongside schools and institutions of higher education to promote an accurate image of the full banking industry, community banks would have the ability to create connections and highlight the applicability of a wide range of skills in addition to financial literacy. By having a deep understanding of the career paths that would allow each employee to be successful, banks are able to equip employees with the needed skills in their career path long before openings arise and through creating DEI missions that not only found a thriving community outside of the bank but encourage the same community involvement within. Ultimately, banks can benefit from fresh perspectives and understanding that are brought by individuals who represent the broader community in which the intuition serves.

By Hannah Flanders


What does onboarding look like in your organization? What do you want it to look like? Onboarding should not be an afterthought as it is the new hire’s first impression of the company they are going to work for.

How do you check all the required boxes while still maintaining the interest of your new hire? Wow them with a genuine interest and care in their success with your bank. Learn how to excel at new employee onboarding seeing everything through the lens of the new hire.

Raise the bar when it comes to engaging and training new hires. Aimed at management and anyone that hires, trains, and onboards new employees.

What we will cover:

  • How to set the tone for success
  • Creating an engaged environment from the start
  • Best practices for successful onboarding
  • Set the stage for employee engagement
  • Customizing the new hire experience
  • On-going coaching and support – what does this look like?
  • Review a template that works

Target Audience:  All managers and supervisors who hire and onboard employees. Anyone responsible for the onboarding process.

Presenter: Vicki Kraai, InterAction Training

Registration Option: Live presentation $330

Recording available through January 5, 2023

Are you worried about your digital future? Have you put the time, effort, and investment into your digital transformation (DT) only to see less new revenue than expected? If so, you are not alone. Wipro found that half the companies they surveyed in 2018 said they failed to execute their DT strategies despite demonstrated efforts and investments.

What’s behind this? Isn’t DT all about picking the right technology? Well, only partly. The reality is it is a “Tech-enabled” transformation. The transformation part is certain. The buy-in and commitment aren’t. Creating buy-in is probably the most difficult work during DT. So how do you create the buy-in to execute your strategies? Come for an interactive and lively conversation to find out how.

Target Audience: Any individual wanting to further their communication skills

Presenter: Nan Gesche, University of Minnesota

Registration Option: Live presentation $330

Recording available through January 25, 2022

Haggling isn’t negotiating. Negotiating is trying to find creative ways to satisfy the different interests of those involved rather than just split the difference. The goal is to manage our emotions and the tension between building deals that satisfy both parties’ interests, while maintaining a healthy working relationship. If you want a few tips on how to make smarter moves and set the stage for more productive interactions, join us for this session. You will gain techniques to keep you focused on the end game while resisting old behaviors such as threats or demands.

Target Audience: Any individual wanting to further their communication skills

Presenter: Nan Gesche, University of Minnesota

Registration Option: Live presentation $330

Recording available through December 29, 2022

This program will step you through the best practices of hiring for the right fit. Being intentional about training managers and supervisors on the hiring process is key to creating stellar teams.

What’s our end game? Hire right, coach great, and build strong teams. This program will step you through the best practices of hiring for the right fit. Being intentional about training managers and supervisors on the hiring process is key to creating stellar teams.

Raise the bar when it comes to best practices for hiring for the right fit. Aimed at management and anyone that is involved in the hiring process, the interview, and selection of new hires.

What You will Learn:

  • How to set the tone for success — seeing everything through the lens of the candidate
  • Establishing desired attributes for the individual positions we are hiring for
  • Preparation involved in conducting interviews
  • Learning from recent hire decisions — are the right people or the wrong people leaving?
  • Understanding the importance of being an employer of choice
  • Considering cultural fit in the hiring decision
  • Best practices related to the candidate evaluation process

Target Audience: Human resource officers, supervisors, CEOs

Presenter: Vicki Kraai, InterAction Training

Registration Option: Live presentation $330

Recording available through March 1, 2023

Banking needs strong women leaders in the industry! Encourage the next generation of women leaders at your bank to take their leadership role boldly and confidently into the future with this inspiration program. Marcia Malzahn shares her successes and struggles as she navigated through the financial services world — not only as an immigrant but as a woman leader. She shares why she’s so passionate about helping other women leaders succeed and encourages attendees to take their leadership role seriously and inspires them to lead with boldness and confidence.

Learning objectives for your attendees:

  • Traits of successful leaders — including how to be a successful follower.
  • Life balance and success — Ten tips to help you achieve balance in your life.
  • Keys to become a successful woman leader

Target Audience: Any women that aspires to become a stronger leader

Presenter: Marcia Malzahn, Malzahn Strategic

Registration $330

Recording available through: February 8, 2023

Recent studies have shown emotional intelligence to be a key factor in leadership effectiveness. Emotionally intelligent leaders of teams create psychologically safe workplaces that lead to improved employee job satisfaction, retention, creativity, performance and well being.

Session Highlights

  • Explain what emotional intelligence is and the difference between IQ and EQ
  • Review the 5 key components of emotional intelligence
  • Understand why emotionally intelligent leaders are more effective
  • Explain the role of emotional intelligence in building high-trust relationships
  • Review strategies to motivate and response to the needs of your teams
  • Use emotional intelligence to become a more effective leader
  • Leave you with some everyday tools to use in your leadership journey

Target Audience: Anyone who is in a leadership position

Presenter: Vicki Kraai, InterAction Training

Registration Option: Live presentation $330

Recording available through February 4, 2023

Retaining and engaging in a new world of work — does this sound like something you can relate to? The Great Resignation has disrupted employers and in turn negatively impacted organizational engagement and culture. The employee “experience” is just as important today as our “customer” experience. What if we saw everything we did through the lens of our employees? Would that make or break our current practices related to engaging and retaining?

In this session we will peel back the layers and ask the right questions about engagement and retention in our current environment above and beyond the topic of compensation. Believe it or not, money isn’t always the number one reason people leave their current employer.

What we will cover:

  • Review the 6 primary reasons employees leave
  • Create an engaged culture from the new hire experience and beyond
  • Engagement is not a once and done — sustainable strategies
  • Wait — it’s not a one size fits all?
  • Create a motivating environment — Just Ask!
  • Who is successful with engagement and retention and what can we learn?
  • ROI — Ultimately, your employees’ success will drive business success

Target Audience:  Human resource officers, supervisors, CEOs

Presenter: Vicki Kraai, InterAction Training

Registration Option: Live presentation $330

Recording available through January 26, 2023

Nobody likes to fail. While we all know the importance of learning from our mistakes, both individuals and teams can struggle to bounce back when they miss their mark. Bouncing back means learning to identify where things might have gone wrong, and knowing what to do to help your team recover.  In addition, how we define the failure determines how we feel about it — whether we continue taking action or stop dead in our tracks. In this session, we develop a formula to keep going and eliminate the risk of it happening again. 

Target Audience: Any team or individual or team that needs to take time to refocus

Presenter: Nan Gesche, University of Minnesota

Registration Option: Live presentation $330

Recording available through January 11, 2023

A key element of any loan decision is a sound appraisal that truly depicts the market valuation at the time of the loan. Both compliance and safety and soundness examiners are carefully scrutinizing appraisals — from policies, to procedures, to independent appraisal ordering, to appraisal reviews and more. Are your policies and procedures up to date? How will your procedures stack up to examiners’ expectations?

After This Webinar You’ll Be Able To:

  • Understand the appraisal rule and USPAP requirements
  • Discover examiner expectations for your appraisal policy and review process
  • Distinguish when a full appraisal is required (versus an evaluation)
  • Implement a strong appraisal review process for real estate appraisals
  • Recognize potential fair lending issues with automated valuation models
  • Use the provided tools to thoroughly review a real estate appraisal

Webinar Details
It is essential that financial institutions employ effective, independent appraisal and evaluation processes within the lending function. Appraisers engaged to conduct appraisals and evaluations should have the knowledge and expertise to perform reviews in accordance with regulatory guidance and sound banking standards. Appraisals need to be independently assessed to ensure the quality is commensurate with the complexity of the subject property and risk of the transaction.

This session will delve into a sample residential loan appraisal and identify what you need to look for and what may cause concern. You’ll be guided through sample written policy, procedures, and checklists, and learn how to identify and correct common mistakes made during the review process.

Who Should Attend?
This informative session is designed for loan officers, loan operations staff, compliance officers, and anyone responsible for ordering and reviewing appraisals at your institution.

Take-Away Toolkit

  • Real estate appraisal checklist
  • Real estate appraisal review checklist
  • Sample real estate evaluation
  • Employee training log
  • Interactive quiz
  • PDF of slides and speaker’s contact info for follow-up questions
  • Attendance certificate provided to self-report CE credits

NOTE: All materials are subject to copyright. Transmission, retransmission, or republishing of any webinar to other institutions or those not employed by your agency is prohibited. Print materials may be copied for eligible participants only.

Presenter Bio

Dawn Kincaid – Brode Consulting Services Inc
Dawn Kincaid began her banking career while attending The Ohio State University. She has over 20 years’ experience in client service, operations, information technology, administrative and board relations, marketing, and compliance. Most recently Kincaid served as the Senior Vice President of Operations for a central-Ohio-based community bank, where she created and refined policies and procedures, conducted self-audits and risk assessments, and organized implementation of new products and services. Kincaid has served in the roles of Compliance, BSA/AML, CRA, Privacy, and Security Officer. She has led training initiatives, prepared due diligence information, completed a variety of regulatory applications, coordinated internal and external audits and exams, and presented for numerous state associations.

Registration Options

  • $245 – Live Webinar Access
  • $245 – OnDemand Access + Digital Download
  • $350 – Both Live & On-Demand Access + Digital Download

Frontline BSA compliance is essential to a successful examination. Training is critical, but training must evolve with the times. Is your training comprehensive enough and does it contain emerging money laundering red flags? Join this webinar to get expert insight into BSA training for the frontline!

After This Webinar You’ll Be Able To:

  • Identify potential money laundering scenarios and understand the reporting requirements for suspicious activity
  • Discuss the new FinCEN advisory on elder financial exploitation issued June 15, 2022
  • Understand the five pillars of an effective AML (anti-money laundering) program
  • Explain due diligence and account opening requirements for legal entity customers under the beneficial ownership rules
  • Distinguish between normal and suspicious activity based on the risk profile

Webinar Details
Job-specific BSA training has been emphasized in the BSA Examination Manual for several years. The frontline’s BSA responsibilities are a huge part of a successful examination. However, simply doing the same training program each year is not adequate. Money laundering activities continue to evolve and frontline training must keep pace with emerging risks. This session will cover the basic expectations for completing CTRs; scenarios for reporting suspicious activity and recent trends in SARs; and the framework for an effective customer identification program for opening new accounts. Join us for a fast-paced review of the basics and also learn about emerging money laundering red flags in 2022.

Who Should Attend?
This informative session will benefit all employees who open and service accounts. It is designed for tellers, new account representatives, customer service representatives, call center employees, loan officers, loan assistants, branch managers, BSA officers, BSA support staff, and anyone involved in the BSA program.

Take-Away Toolkit

  • SAR checklist to identify, monitor, and report suspicious activity based on BSA exam procedures and the risk assessment process
  • Sample BSA responsibility matrix, including SAR monitoring and CIP
  • CTR compliance review checklist
  • Employee training log
  • Interactive quiz
  • PDF of slides and speaker’s contact info for follow-up questions
  • Attendance certificate provided to self-report CE credits

NOTE: All materials are subject to copyright. Transmission, retransmission, or republishing of any webinar to other institutions or those not employed by your agency is prohibited. Print materials may be copied for eligible participants only.

Presenter Bio

Susan Costonis, CRCM – Compliance Training & Consulting for Financial Institutions
Susan Costonis is a compliance consultant and trainer who began her career in 1978. She specializes in compliance management along with deposit and lending regulatory training. Costonis has successfully managed compliance programs and exams for institutions that ranged from a community bank to large multi-state bank holding companies. She has been a compliance officer for institutions supervised by the OCC, FDIC, and Federal Reserve. Susan has been a Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager since 1998, completed the ABA Graduate Compliance School, and graduated from the University of Akron and the Graduate Banking School of the University of Colorado. She regularly presents to financial institution audiences in several states and “translates” complex regulations into simple concepts by using humor and real-life examples.

Registration Options

  • $245 – Live Webinar Access
  • $245 – OnDemand Access + Digital Download
  • $350 – Both Live & On-Demand Access + Digital Download