Creating an awesome work environment By Susie McCormick September 7, 2023

Valuing New Voices in Company Culture

The Nelnet Enterprise Culture Council is giving new power to every associate.

Established in March 2022, the Nelnet Enterprise Culture Council was formed in response to the company’s annual culture survey. The group was created to be a proactive force, addressing company culture issues or ideas founded in the survey.

Since “Creating an Awesome Work Environment” is a core value at Nelnet, this group of 14 leaders from across the company was created specifically to make sure thoughts and feedback from all associates at all levels is heard, considered, and (with proper vetting) implemented.

This is another way for our company to say “We hear you” to our associates at every level of every division. We do a culture survey as a first step to let every associate voice their thoughts and wants and needs, and we’ve now built the Enterprise Culture Council to more proactively put all that input into action.

Jeff Noordhoek

Nelnet CEO

At launch, the group was focused on a handful of priorities designed to make Nelnet a more accommodating and attractive workplace for people in all roles and positions – while also helping Nelnet grow as a thriving workplace. At founding, the council’s priorities included:

  • Giving associates opportunities to create meaningful connections within the organization.
  • Conceiving new competitive, engaging, and differentiating associate benefits offerings.
  • Conceiving new ways to easily recognize and reward associates.
  • Recruiting top talent for the organization.
  • Creating a positive, cohesive onboarding experience for new hires.
  • Increasing retention at Nelnet.
  • Recruiting top talent for the organization.

The work from the Enterprise Culture Council didn’t take long to make a meaningful impact. In its first year of work, the group made significant progress on:

  • New Onboarding Process: The onboarding process for new associates was reviewed, and a list of possible improvements was outlined, with an action plan for execution.
  • Nelnet Culture Survey Leadership Series: Intended for directors, managers, and other people leads, this new series of articles and presentations was developed to address any issues identified within the Nelnet Culture Survey.
  • Culture Pulse Surveys: : The launch of a new series of short, two or three-question surveys to help the company keep its finger on the pulse of key culture themes. Pulse surveys are issued periodically in support of the annual culture survey.

For many associates, the work of this group is most visible in new benefit offerings that have been added to the Nelnet benefits package in the last year.

  • Enhanced Parental Leave: Thanks to the passion of Nelnet Diversified Services (NDS) Product Owner Alex Ricuarte, an enhanced Parental Leave Policy was rolled out in November 2022. The new plan offers ten weeks of paid maternity leave, four weeks of paid paternity leave, six weeks of adoption leave, and four weeks of foster placement leave. After reviewing Nelnet’s prior policy and comparing it to other employers, Alex partnered with the Enterprise Culture Council to gain executive approval and implementation – in less than nine months
  • Associate Care Fund: When an unmet need for employee assistance was brought to the attention ofthe Enterprise Culture Council, a new Associate Care Fund was created. Administered by a third-party organization, this fund gives associates facing financial hardship an opportunity to anonymously apply for up to $2,500 of financial assistance from Nelnet, to overcome setbacks like medical hardships, housing challenges, and more.

Seeing our work turn into concrete improvements for our company’s workplace culture has been such an energizing experience. There are so many ideas we can start acting on right now.

Natalie Artibee

Nelnet Enterprise Culture Council Member

In addition to a quickly growing list of accomplishments, the Enterprise Culture Council has a roadmap for future impact, along with a short list of priorities currently being addressed. This included a culture idea intake form, a Nelnet Social Committee, a performance management toolkit, stay interviews, and more.

With a system that can create so much change in just a year’s time, the group has big plans for the culture – and the future – of Nelnet.




Susie McCormick

Senior Corporate Communications Writer