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Greenville Business Magazine

Top Workplaces No. 1 Large Company: United Community Bank

By David Dykes

In April, when United Community Banks Inc. (NASDAQ: UCBI) reported first-quarter financial results, with solid year-over-year loan and deposit growth, Chairman and CEO Lynn Harton said, “While I am pleased to report a solid quarter in a difficult environment, I am most proud of how our employees are delivering for our customers during this public health crisis. We consider ourselves ‘Financial First Responders’ and feel privileged to take care of our customers in this time of significant stress.

“Among other things, we were able to help support our small business clients who have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 by offering loan deferrals as needed, and by participating in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.” 

Inspiring performance, and getting results, made United the No. 1 large company on the fourth annual Top Workplaces list.

United is a bank holding company headquartered in Blairsville, Georgia, with executive offices in Greenville. It is one of the southeast region’s largest full-service financial institutions with $13.1 billion in assets, and 149 offices in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

It operates principally through United Community Bank, its bank subsidiary, which specializes in personalized community banking services for individuals, small businesses and companies. Services include a full range of consumer and commercial banking products, including mortgage, advisory, and treasury management.

Harton says United has performance standards and goals to attain, but he also wants an environment where employees enjoy coming to work and the people they work with.

“We don’t want to be the great place to work for everybody,” he says. “We want to be a great place to work for great people.”

The company does all-employee surveys and works hard to ensure employees trust each other, operate as a team and remain in “a state of reality,” Harton says.   

“We’re not just here to bank; we’re here to make lives richer, places better and days brighter,” bank officials said in their Top Workplaces profile. 

Said one employee, “At United, I know that I am not just a number. United has shown me the value of having leadership that truly cares about the employees and not only talks about the core values but demonstrates them.”

Said another: “I feel as if I am part of something that matters, something that has a purpose.”

United’s employee appreciation day is a company-wide, annual event where employees are celebrated and appreciated. 

One company-wide wellness challenge, initiated by the CEO, resulted in 2,378 pounds lost, 10,776 miles walked, and 9,320 gallons of water consumed by employees. The challenge was special, company officials say, because employees participated with an accountability partner within the company to create a support network for employees to be successful. 

Among other organizations, United supports United Way and Relay for Life on a large scale through employee donations and fundraising; but more uniquely, the company says, its banks are given autonomy and budgetary support to conduct community activities specific to their market's needs. 

In concluding comments about United’s first-quarter results, Harton said he was “tremendously proud” that for 2020, Forbes recognized United for the seventh consecutive year on its list of the 100 Best Banks in America. 

Additionally, United received the 2019 Greenwich Excellence Award for overall satisfaction in Middle Market Banking in the South, and Small Business Banking Excellence Awards for both overall satisfaction and cash management in the South. 

“These honors are remarkable and are only achieved through the dedication of our bankers to build a company where great people can build fulfilling careers through helping our customers reach their financial goals,” he said.