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While it is important for banks and credit unions to consider the needs of consumers, it’s also important for FIs to take employee needs into consideration as well. Michelle Dearholt, SVP of Human Resources at Nusenda Credit Union discusses how recent healthy initiatives have helped employees at Nusenda Credit Union improve their lives, both at work and outside of work.

In a few sentences, please tell us a bit more about Nusenda Credit Union.

Nusenda Credit Union has been serving our community for over 75 years as their trusted financial services provider. We serve over 150,000 New Mexicans, with 17 locations and over $1.5 billion in assets. We are based in Albuquerque, and our employees perform like a family working together with the cooperative philosophy of “people helping people,” which benefits our members and the communities we serve.

What is a recent initiative Nusenda Credit Union has implemented to benefit employees?

We recently entered our ffith year of partnering with Nuvita, a leading wellness provider, in order to gain the benefit of working with registered dieticians, exercise physiologists and access to many other wellness professionals, to identify key strategies for maintaining a strong wellness program. Together, we developed a comprehensive plan around these key strategies. Some of the key components of our plan offered to all employees include:

  1. Biometric screening
  2. Individual goal setting sessions
  3. A twelve week program with personalized coaching, health education lessons and cardio/activity tracking devices (Garmin)
  4. Discounts to local gyms
  5. A variety of cardio, yoga and strength training classes facilitated by certified coaches
  6. Incentives, awards and end of program celebrations

Employees who participate in the program and successfully complete it are eligible for medical premium discounts, program fee refunds and incentives throughout the program ranging from gift cards, fitness gear and healthy lunches.

Why did Nusenda Credit Union see a need for creating these types of health-conscious initiatives for employees?

When initially implemented, the rising cost of healthcare was a national concern. Wellness programs were implemented as a proactive approach to minimize rate increases and maintain affordable plans to our employees, which has been successful for us.  The initiative has not only met that objective but complements our focus on employee success and has continued to be an important part of our culture.  It’s a way we show our employees how much we value their contributions to our organization and their own personal wellness.

Why is it important to Nusenda Credit Union to offer health and wellness programs to employees?

We 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, member service. We also discovered that, on average, wellness participants have 50 percent fewer unscheduled absences than those not participating in the program and the overall hours used of unscheduled absences per employee has decreased by 29 percent. Since inception of our wellness program, we have saved the organization over $140,000 in health care expenses through provider discounts awarded upon renewal and throughout the year.

What feedback have you received from employees on these programs?

After each year’s program, surveys and focus groups are offered to all employees. Responses from both program participants and non-participants assist us in determining program changes for the following year.  96 percent of responses in 2014 indicated our wellness program had a positive impact on their health. Survey comments from the program include:

“I am glad that we have this program. It helps me to keep on track and maintain health & fitness. The insurance discount is appreciated, as well as the participation refund.”

“I thought the classes were such an added benefit to inspire you to work out during the week … saw a good transformation.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Our organizational participation level surpasses the national average by over 15 percent (Rand Employer Survey) and after reviewing the results from the 2014 program, we found that 93 percent of enrolled participants at Nusenda Credit Union successfully completed the program with an overall engagement level of 85 percent.  Our employees exercised a total of 161,277 minutes in their cardio zones, and they lost a total of 275 pounds.  Additionally the participants experienced a decrease in all risk factors including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, blood pressure risk, cardiovascular risk, obesity, and body composition.  These results have become our norm since inception and continue to improve year over year.

To learn more about Nusenda Credit Union, please visit their website.

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James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.

Brad Strothkamp