Problems at the Bank

Let's get to the moral of this story right up-front: Valley National Bank thinks a happy employee is a puzzled employee.

The behemoth of local banks is trying to get its 7,000 employees' attention by giving them puzzles--jigsaws, Rubik's cubes and the like. The idea is tied to their prize-winning ad campaign of "Solutions. Not problems." Not everyone, however, is getting the same message.

"I see these puzzles," gripes one employee, "and I get frustrated. What does this prove?"

The employee adds, "If they're going to give out these things, they should give them to their customers. Let them see what the bank is spending its money on."

Some employees apparently are wondering if these puzzles are a stress-reducing device. "If they wanted us to relieve stress," says one, "they ought to get us a fish tank. Aren't those supposed to be calming?"

Stress has nothing to do with it, says VNB spokesman Steve Roman, who's getting stressed out just talking about it. He explains the puzzles are supposed to remind bank workers to think "solution" when they're confronted with a "problem." "We're trying to get our employees to stick to a problem and solve it," he says. "It is not something sent out to relieve tension."

Sounding slightly defensive when told of complaints, Roman says, "You're certainly going to have some employees who do not understand or who are disenchanted." He adds, "I would not be surprised that there would be some people we have not done a proper job of communicating to."

Oops, that's another problem.

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Ward Harkavy
Contact: Ward Harkavy