Nusenda Credit Union employees say a sense of being valued sets their workplace apart.
The company, which employs 608 New Mexicans at 22 locations, has ranked on the Journal’s Top Workplaces list for nine years, and this year ranked first in the large workplace category.
“I love my job because I feel valued,” one staff member wrote. “Each day I feel like I am making an impact in the community, in the organization, and in my department. Nusenda has done an amazing job of putting employees first during the pandemic and I am so grateful for everything they have done for us and the countless hours spent to ensure ‘The Power of WE’ did not fall to the side.”
“I am valued and have the opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas without hesitation,” another employee wrote.
“I am appreciated for what I contribute,” a third wrote. “My voice and opinion is always heard. My boss and senior management team genuinely care for my well being.”
President and CEO Joe Christian told the Journal the company has always been committed to treating employees like families. In the past 18 months, that’s meant adjusting to and embracing the rhythms and quirks of remote working — including learning to welcome videoconferencing cameos from staff members’ furry friends.
Can you talk a little generally about how your organization responded and adapted to the pandemic?
“Very early on, we were trying to predict what the pandemic would do to our employees and … not just their work life, but their personal life. … So what we tried to do was be as open-minded as we could, and actually show a lot of grace in terms of … you may be talking to an employee that has a young child sitting in the background working on homework, or, you know, their, their cat … may want to participate. … At first … that was unusual and uncomfortable for everyone, but eventually … we kind of rolled with it and embraced it, to the point that … we had employees sharing their home office or their pets.”
What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as an employer during the pandemic?
“I would say it’s just … the ongoing fight for talent. … It’s just more obvious that you have to retain and attract the top talent and you need people who are committed to your organization and people who are willing to be a little bit more versatile and kind of look around corners in terms of what the future may have in store for us.”
How has your workplace’s culture shifted since COVID started?
“The shift has been more towards empathy and communication and openness. You know, so we understand what our employees need, so we understand what our members need and what people are going through and really just trying to be there. … When you frame things, as … ‘We’re a family, and we’re going to get through this, and we’re going to chip in where we can,’ you see some really amazing, amazing kindness and creativity.”
What makes Nusenda a good place to work?
“The way I like to describe it to people is, you know, we work hard and we play hard. … We come to work every day with the thought of how can we make our members’ lives better? What do our members need? And … what is the right thing to do for membership?”
Why do you personally still work there?
“I’ve been with the credit union … a little over 35 years now. I started fresh out of graduate school in a role in the data processing department. But throughout the years, it’s like I’ve had maybe five or six careers at Nusenda. … The credit union has invested in me and I’ve invested in the credit union, and … I’ve experienced a great deal of professional growth here. And I’ve also contributed to some of the growth of the credit union … in collaboration with an awesome board of directors and a … tremendous senior leadership team. … This may sound a little trite, but when work and play kind of meld, like work and passion, it’s like it doesn’t feel like work.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story misquoted Joe Christian, president and CEO of Nusenda Credit Union, when describing where he worked when he first started with the company. The story should have said he worked in the data processing department. The story has been updated.