HR Strange But True!
January 03, 2008

Santa has a hard time driving his sleigh in Central Florida. However, the Fairwinds Credit Union may save him the trip--it grants employee holiday wishes itself!

The credit union, started in 1949 for civilian employees of the U.S. Navy, has undergone several name changes, but has successfully expanded to 33 branches and 600 "friendly and knowledgeable 'crewmembers.'"

Fairwinds has continued to be in the 35 percent of U.S. employers that give holiday bonuses, but 5 years ago, Larry Tobin, the new president and CEO, added something new--granting special "holiday wishes" to selected employees--no matter how much they cost!

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, the Holiday Wish program begins in mid-November, when employees can post their wishes on the company intranet. Requests can be accessed by all employees, who then may choose to fulfill a small request themselves, such as purchasing a live Christmas tree for an employee's family.

Tobin himself reads all postings, this year numbering over 200, and then decides which larger requests the company can easily fulfill. The choices are usually "deep needs ? that personally touch me," Tobin explains. Recent wishes granted include reuniting an employee with her husband still in Mexico or getting an Xbox for an employee's son who has learning disabilities.

Employees like having the opportunity to give back to their co-workers during this time of year, often donating their own bonuses to help pay for a wish.

One recipient, who had a debt from a parent's health problems repaid by the company and fellow employees, said "It restores your faith in humanity and humankind. It's wonderful."

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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