Family-friendly fun at work for the Hinshaws

There had been whispers about Pam, a supervisor, and Terry, a second-shift custodian. Pam would often stay late, run into town, and pick up dinner at Taco John’s for the two of them, which they would eat together in the cafeteria during Terry’s “lunch” every day at 6:30 p.m.

Eventually, one employee got the courage to speak up to management.

“You know, I think they have a thing going.”

“I think they do, too,” said the manager.

“They’re married.”

And they had been married for eight years before Terry started work at Grinnell Mutual. (They just celebrated 36 years of marriage in January.)

A family-friendly workplace

The Hinshaws had their only child, Alice, in 1993. They discovered that Grinnell Mutual’s support for them was more than just a paycheck. Pam had returned to work after maternity leave and wanted to continue breastfeeding. Her bay had a darkroom — a just-right space for expressing breast milk.

“My AVP, Ray Spriggs — he was all for that. He was very supportive,” said Pam. “As an outgrowth of that, it kept going forward and he made sure we had the mother’s lounges. There’s more of them now.”

“You’re a pioneer!” Terry added.

(He may be right: Federal law did not require breaks and spaces for expressing breast milk at work until 2010.)

Terry and his supervisor also worked together to have a flexible work schedule so he could help care for his daughter.

“He didn’t have to let me flex my schedule that much, to that degree,” said Terry, “but he did.”

“We always felt we worked really hard and gave our best to the company, but that the company was there for us, providing support,” said Pam, now director of document services.

Today, Grinnell Mutual offers parental leave and infertility treatments are covered under its benefit plan. Family members on the company’s self-insured health plan can use the onsite health clinic at the Larry Jansen Wellness Center — a perk used by their daughter, Alice.

“Policies keep evolving and getting better,” said Pam. “A lot of companies say they’re family-friendly but Grinnell Mutual has always acted family-friendly.”

Even before it was cool.

Keeping work at work

Combined, the Hinshaws have over 60 years of service at Grinnell Mutual. And while they appreciate the benefits of sharing the same employer — having the same paid days off — it’s unlikely you’ll see them together at work.

“We don’t want to eat lunch together,” said Pam. “We’re family and all that but we feel like we need to focus on our jobs while we’re here. When we go home we try to leave work behind.”

“If I’m in her office, that means something is wrong,” said Terry, now a facility services assistant.

They even drive to work separately.

“On the rare occasion — an oil change or something — I have to ride with him. It’s a real sacrifice, Pam said, laughing.

It’s fine with Terry, too. “When I want to leave, I want to leave. I want to hit the road,” he said. Otherwise I’d be waiting in her office, staring at her.”