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“One Less” – An Introduction to Our Green Initiative

By Mindy Carver

Last year, I was binge-watching Mad Men.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a TV series about a fictional advertising agency set primarily in the 1960s.  I loved the show even with its cringe-worthy, old-school stereotypes of social norms.  How far we’ve moved the dial in society over the last 60 years is quite stunning, and I’m not just speaking about human resource principles.

I’m speaking about new social norms in regard to how we treat our environment.  It’s inarguable that we all want clean air, water and litter-free streets.  We would be shocked to walk into an office setting where someone was lighting up a cigarette and pouring a scotch on the rocks before getting ready for the video conference call to start!  Most are shocked if they see someone toss garbage out the car window while cruising down I-90 in this day and age.  That’s Mad Men-era stuff.

It was in the 1960s when plastic consumption started to become popular with consumers. Single use plastics are so convenient! Out of sight, out of mind, right?  How many of you use and throw away or “recycle,” at least once a week, a plastic bottle, disposable cup, lid and straw from your local Starbucks, single-use sandwich, grocery plastic bag or single-use plastic utensil?  Are you still printing on one side of the paper? Still printing, period?  We’re destined to continue to move the social norm dial for the environment’s sake.

PayneWest is initiating a concerted effort to have our colleagues reduce, reuse, recycle and RETHINK our choices in regards to simple decisions we all make on a daily basis.  We’re choosing to go “ONE LESS.”  We’re asking you to drink “one less” disposable plastic bottle of water. (Of course, you still need to hydrate, but there are plenty of other options!) We’re asking you to use “one less” single-use fork or spoon during the week.  For you Toby Keith fans, use “one less” red solo cup!  The list goes on—one less plastic bag, one less ream of paper, one less disposable coffee cup, lid and straw.

With 750 colleagues across the Northwest, our impact can be significant.  Every week, if we all use “one less” disposable plastic water bottle, disposable coffee cup, lid and straw, plastic bag, single-use utensil, we’d saving nearly 200,000 items from the landfill in a single year!

Be on the watch for additional challenges, campaigns and reminders about our “Green” initiative.  We’ll be asking for input and involvement as we evolve into our environmentally friendly, new workplace norms!


Everything Counts – Mona Heck

Mona Heck, IT help desk coordinator at PayneWest, has worked in insurance since 1997 when she came on board at Western States Insurance as a producer. Work as a producer involves helping customers find and utilize the most appropriate insurance policies for their businesses and personal lives. Mona loved this work, but what she wasn’t expecting was a call from the president of the company to join a whole different department.

“I got called upon to join the IT department because the president had heard about my customer service style,” Mona said. “At the time, we had one guy as the support staff, and he was pretty crabby and would put you off for a couple of days before he’d help you.”

Mona had a distinctly more user-friendly way of doing things.

Her customer service skills were something of legend, and her ability to make everyone’s day a little brighter had shined all the way to the top of the company. Even if she didn’t have an IT background, she certainly knew how to help people, and she ran with this new opportunity and never looked back.

Even after Western States became a part of PayneWest Insurance, Mona continued to shine in her role, and she’s not ready to slow down any time soon (even as she nears retirement age). She’s constantly learning, growing and sharing knowledge with her team so no one person holds the keys to any particular type of problem.

You’ll understand how great it is to have a presence like Mona in IT if you ever have to give them a call for a lost password or a troubling software update. She’s ready to help you with your issue and anything else that might happen. Mona’s probably the one you’ll get on the phone or through a support ticket on nights or weekends, too. It’s just how she wants to help.

“Be available, approachable and discuss the problem to find the right answer,” she repeats. “No one person has the solution. If you get everyone together you’ll find one.”

Mona’s ability to bring together her team and raise up the feelings of self-worth within each individual are magical. Mona gives out praise, but she also receives it. Her coworkers, in fact, talk about her good deeds all the time.

“When I first started my job at PayneWest, I was just getting started in IT,” said Ruth Dresser, PayneWest senior help desk support specialist. Ruth has worked with Mona for over ten years. “Mona will really work with you closely,” Ruth said. “You feel like she really wants to see you succeed in your role. It’s not just top-notch customer service. It goes deeper. Part of the Everything Counts theme is sharing more high fives,” she said, “and Mona brings so much by acknowledging how much everyone contributes. It makes the IT team stronger with that ‘Can Do’ attitude.”

Her ability to unite, educate and brush off the stress of a service call are almost unbelievable, but her coworkers are quick to say that they’re 100 percent true.

“Mona is an absolute expert,” said Kyle Brucker, IT managing director at PayneWest. “She’s the real deal. One thing you realize very quickly about Mona, is that she’s all about customer service. She feels it’s the most important part of her job.”

As her coworkers point out, you can’t forget that all work is essentially customer service work. You might say, “Well I don’t deal with customers, so it doesn’t really affect me,” but you’d be wrong.

Mona points this out to new employees when she offers them some tidbits of orientation at PayneWest. “I say, you are our client,” Mona related. “That’s what we do. That’s the company we work for. We service you.”

“Everything’s connected–even if you don’t think you’re having an impact, it’s all about helping,” Kyle added.

And at the core, that’s what Everything Counts is all about, too. Never forget that everything you do can help or it can hinder. Mona wants to make sure she’s always helping. And she’s not done yet.

“It’s just been a challenge and a joy to work for this company,” Mona said. “I’ve embraced it and I feel like it’s the best decision I ever made. When I do retire, I want to leave feeling confident I’ve done everything in my power to make it a top-notch team,” she added. “I want to make sure they’re known as hard working and committed to success.”

Everything Counts, after all.


Service Mastery

We held our sixth Service Mastery class at Northern Quest on March 7-8th.  The group of 21 colleagues learned about communication, time maximization, team dynamics, leadership, business and technical acumen and more.  The class entails a lot of collaboration and lively group discussion.  It is a great venue to learn from each other with guided teaching.

Service Mastery is a professional and personal development program for our non-sales colleagues. It is a two year program with two live classes and quarterly webinars. There is an application process as we like to keep each class around 20 colleagues.  We will be sending applications out at the end of the year. Contact any Client Relations director for more information.

Earned Designations and Completed Programs

  • Linda Clark, Agribusiness and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS)
  • Karla Gastel, Small Business Coverage Specialist (SBCS)
  • Leigh Hunt, Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR)
  • Joel Higgins, Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)
  • Alison Koch, Personal Lines Coverage Specialist (PLCS)
  • Zach Kunze, Small Business Coverage Specialist (SBCS)
  • Bre Lassiter, Health Insurance Associate (HIA)/Healthcare Customer Service Associate (HCSA)
  • Lauren Marsh, Associate in General Insurance (AINS)
  • Marci Neighbors, Commercial Liability Coverage Specialist (CLCS)
  • Jessie Stigen, Commercial Liability Coverage Specialist (CLCS)
  • Sam Stych, Agribusiness and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS)
  • Susan Tangmo, Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR)