In this issue, we find out what Michelle Dearholt, SVP of Human Resources, Training, and Quality Management at Nusenda Credit Union, has to say about your credit union.
Q. What was your path to where you are now?
A. I began working for Nusenda Credit Union in 1998 as a teller at our University location while attending the University of New Mexico (UNM) for my undergraduate degree. When I declared human resources as my business major, I asked my manager if I could do an internship in our Human Resources department, which she accommodated for several months. Shortly after I completed my degree, there was an opening in the department and I became an HR Generalist. After five years at the credit union, I left to experience Human Resources in other industries, moved into management, and obtained an MBA from UNM. After experiencing other companies, I missed the credit union, what we do in the community, and who we are as an employer. Then, as luck would have it, in 2007 there was an opening for a Human Resources Manager, and I was fortunate enough to come back – now part of a group called the boomerang employees! Since that time, with a lot of hard work and support from the organization, I’ve received the opportunity to oversee additional departments, adding Training and Development in 2009 and Project and Process Management in 2012.
Q. What’s one highlight from Nusenda Credit Union’s commitment to the community that stands out for you?
A: I’m really proud of our high school internship program. We’ve partnered with local schools and programs for over 10 years to support over 100 student internships. Today, our partnerships include the Career Enrichment Center (CEC)’s Powering Success class and Running Start for Careers, Financial Services Career Exploration classes at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). Both programs introduce high school students to different in-demand career options in financial services.
The credit union provides financial capability instruction to students in Running Start for Careers at CNM and guest speakers to CEC, and students interested in pursuing a financial careers’ internship may apply for one at Nusenda Credit Union. We have provided more internships to both programs than any other participating industry and were recently recognized by the White House for our involvement in Running Start for Careers.
Nusenda Credit Union’s Human Resources department coordinates the internships each semester, finding branches and departments willing to support an intern. They also coordinate guest speakers and prepare students for workplace and interview success, including conducting mock interviews. Interested students then apply and are interviewed and qualified just like any other employee. For those selected for an internship, we fully train and integrate these students into our culture. I have long insisted that the value of this internship is that it’s a real-world experience. They receive all the responsibilities, training, and coaching, as we would provide any other employee, even if this includes performance counseling. Over 30% of these interns have been hired on permanently with the credit union and are successful in their careers today! Running Start for Careers and Powering Success are key to supporting education, student retention, graduation rates, and New Mexico’s future.
Q: What are some of the things that make Nusenda Credit Union stand out?
A: Let’s see, well, our credit union was recently honored by Albuquerque Journal readers as “Best Credit Union”, our second consecutive year. We’ve also been named Top Workplaces, Best Places to Work, and Healthiest Places to Work for several years as well. That says a lot! We like to say that we offer big bank services without a big bank attitude. Our members matter to us. We care about them, and we make a difference in their lives. I’m really honored that our community and employees feel the same way and named us as the best.
Q: Nusenda Credit Union was also named a top workplace; can you tell us about that?
A: That’s right, we have been named in the Journal’s “Top Workplaces” for multiple years! The people who come to work for us genuinely love assisting our members and giving back to the community. Our highest rated categories in employee satisfaction are our emphasis on providing exemplary member service and the organization’s strong reputation in our community. Executing on our cooperative principles, helping others achieve financial success, and giving back to the community really makes you feel good about what you are waking up to do each morning.
The cause is great and so are our benefits! We have a great health and wellness package, comparable to much larger organizations, plus we offer more than just the basics. For example, we still have company parties and family picnics, enrichment programs such as motivational speaker events, leadership training, education assistance and an evidenced-based wellness program. The Journal’s award is based on employee surveys, and I’m proud that our employees love where they work!
Q: How did Nusenda Credit Union become a "Healthiest Workplace"?
A: Albuquerque Business First partners with a national organization, Healthiest Employers, to evaluate and compare New Mexico companies’ wellness programs and practices. If the results of the program components rate above the national norm, the company is recognized as exceptional. We were among only 13 companies in our state!
One of the strongest programs that Nusenda Credit Union offers our employees is our Wellness Program. Offered during each of the past five years, we have partnered with a wellness vendor, Nuvita Wellness, to help improve employees’ health and lifestyle. The program is voluntary and includes biometric screenings, personalized coaching with registered dieticians and exercise physiologists, heart rate tracking devices, online portals for tracking, education lessons, free onsite gym privileges including fitness classes, discounts to local gyms, and incentives and awards to celebrate success. We’ve developed an enduring culture of wellness and our employees’ overall well-being and productivity have improved while health-related expenses have gone down.
Q: What is your organization’s wellness philosophy in one sentence?
A: By treating our employees well and providing them with the opportunities to achieve a healthy work and lifestyle balance, we are generating positive energy within the work environment, enhancing our ability to do good by our members and in the community.
Q: What have been some of your results from the wellness program that stand out to you?
A: In 2014, we celebrated amazing totals: a staggering 161,000 cardio minutes tracked, total weight loss of 275 pounds, and a decrease in risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Over the years, we have witnessed life-changing transformations. We have not only seen dramatic weight loss, but stress reduction, elimination of maintenance medications, entry into competitions, and sharing of a healthier lifestyle with family and friends. I believe that creating an environment that not only assists employees in focusing on our core mission but also on their personal wellness boosts their abilities in all aspects of life. We become a beneficiary of this improvement, translating to improved engagement, teamwork and, most importantly, the best member service in the state!!