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Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel is No. 1 in Top Workplaces large category

An annual top finisher in the Top Workplaces survey, Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel has done it again. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Even though the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel has nearly 1,000 employees, the administration strives to make sure each one feels like vital, contributing member of the enterprise.

That helped make the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel No. 1 large-size business for the Albuquerque Journal’s Top Workplaces 2019.

Offering a Vegas-style casino experience, a sportsbook, entertainment, lodging, several fine dining restaurants and even bowling, the disparate areas of the casino still reflect the cultural authenticity and timelessness of the great Southwest.

The central mission of the casino hotel is to help Santa Ana Pueblo. So tribal members are granted hiring preference for all open positions.

This expands employment opportunities and allows tribal members to work in an environment that is sensitive to their cultural needs and responsibilities. In keeping with the cultural necessities, tribal employees are granted paid administrative leave for tribal events and observances as a way to encourage and preserve the tribe’s culture.

A server at the Cantina Rio restaurant in the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel delivers a meal. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

The casino hotel is operated by executive leadership as a “flat” organization. This helps emphasize the contributions of every team member and casts each person’s role as important and necessary.

As a way to further this dynamic, John Cirrincione, casino hotel chief executive officer and general manager, meets with every employee whether during Team Member Orientation or in the employee dining room during lunch – no one is overlooked.

“I enjoy my Team Members and their efforts, which motivate me to want to make my contributions,” one of the survey respondents said. “With the success of the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel, I feel that I am contributing to that success and I am acknowledged and respected by my Team Members for my contributions. I enjoy the feeling of being part of something bigger than the individuals.”

Employees receive medical, vision and dental insurance, including long-term and short-term disability benefits, life and accidental life insurance. Both full- and part-time team members participate in the 401k profit-sharing plan. Team members are eligible to participate in the medical and dependent care flex spending program. Team members are given a free meal per shift when at work as well as a paid lunch. SASCH offers eight paid holidays, and two weeks of paid time off for maternity leave.


The Nor-Lea General Hospital District in Lovington. (Courtesy of Nor-Lea General)

DESCRIPTION: The Nor-Lea Hospital District includes a 25-bed, Medicare-certified Critical-Access Hospital serving southeastern New Mexico and west Texas. Nor-lea also manages medical clinics in Lovington, Tatum, and Hobbs, offering a range of outpatient, specialty, imaging and infusion services. The surgical and endoscopy suites are state-of-the art and are instrumental to delivering the power of choice for patients when it comes to close-to-home service. Nor-Lea’s mission is to provide each patient exceptional service and fulfill the vision of enhancing the lives of everyone who walks through its doors.


N.M. LOCATIONS: 1 hospital, additional sites in Lovington, Hobbs, Tatum

TOP WORKPLACES: 6 consecutive years

FROM THE COMPANY: Nor-Lea Hospital District received the Zia Award from the 2018 New Mexico Performance Excellence Awards Program. This recognition is based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework, which is recognized worldwide as the standard for organizational performance excellence. The Zia Award is the highest honor of the NMPEA and there has not been a Zia Award recipient in six years.

FROM THE EMPLOYEES: “I feel valued and respected,” a survey respondent said. “That gives me a desire to give all to my job and that fulfills a need inside of me. I receive exceptional consideration for personal needs. The staff here are genuine. We are allowed to keep our small town personalities and don’t allow a culture that promotes an unhealthy I’ll run you over and I do not care type competition. We work together and want each other to succeed. WHO DOES THAT? I love my job and my work environment.

Employee health benefits include group medical, dental, vision, Hartford Life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment, Prudential 403(b) and AFLAC Cafeteria Plan.


A sign outside one of the many Nusenda Credit Union offices in Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Nusenda )

DESCRIPTION: The credit union delivers no-cost financial literacy education at in-person workshops, on-demand podcasts, real-time webinars, a website resource library, and more. The goal is to positively impact the communities the credit union serves — most notably through the Community Rewards and employee volunteer efforts.



TOP WORKPLACES: 7 consecutive years

FROM THE COMPANY: Since 1936, Nusenda Credit Union has operated under a fundamental principle: do well, in order to do good. With 200,000-plus members and 20 branches, Nusenda is the largest not-for-profit financial cooperative in New Mexico. Sound business practices and solid fiscal performance let Nusenda be a trusted financial resource for the members. Nusenda recognizes that interpersonal communication can either derail or facilitate shared understanding within teams, in meetings and across organizations and effective writing supports shared understanding as it reflects the ability to provide context and demonstrate critical thinking skills.

FROM THE EMPLOYEES: The 522 employees have a benefit package that includes medical, dental and vision coverage; flexible spending/health savings accounts; short- and long-term disability; life insurance; and maternity/paternity leave. We have a matching-contribution 401(k) plan and a 100% employer-paid pension plan.

The no-cost employee wellness program tracks physical activity and nutrition and provides health/fitness education and coaching. The paid time off plan includes 15 days in the first year, plus nine paid holidays per year, and the employee’s birthday.