Communicating openly and honestly Creating an awesome work environment By Susie McCormick November 7, 2023

Walktober is for Wellness

While Walktober may be one event, Nelnet was recently named a top 100 healthiest employer, thanks to its comprehensive wellness program.

Nelnet was recently recognized by Healthiest Employers, ranking 58th in their Top 100 list for 2023. That impressive recognition doesn’t happen without a wellness program that scores high in the assessment’s six categories of:

  • Culture and Leadership Commitment
  • Foundational Components
  • Strategic Planning
  • Communications and Marketing
  • Programming and Interventions
  • Reporting and Analytics

Walktober – an annual event that encourages associates to walk with senior leaders and executives each Wednesday midday in October – is just one small example of Nelnet’s culture of wellness. What does this event really say about the importance of wellness at Nelnet?

Walktober is about improving your health, connecting with peers, and enjoying some fresh air while creating work-life balance during a busy day. It’s also about getting to know the senior leaders and executives who participate in Walktober because they value the benefits of walking at work, getting exercise in general, and learning more about the people who work with them each day. Walktober represents not only Nelnet leadership’s approachability, but their commitment to leading by example when it comes to wellness and creating an awesome work environment.

Like leaves blown off the trees far too quickly, Walktober is now over and what are we left with? All the other amazing opportunities for Nelnet associates to stay healthy all year round with a comprehensive, nationally ranked wellness program.

Here are just a few of the opportunities available to associates:

Wellness Incentives. Using coaching and support or tracking daily habits such as steps, activities, sleep, and more in Nelnet’s wellness app, Virgin Pulse, allows associates who reach 10,000 points quarterly to earn $100 cash quarterly (if they’re not on Nelnet benefits). For associates who are on Nelnet benefits, they can earn money toward their Health Savings Account ($225 quarterly if on individual benefits or $450 quarterly if on family benefits).

Healthy Me Buck$. Each associate can be reimbursed up to $300 per year for wellness-related activities, fees, programs, or equipment. Gym memberships, weight management programs, fitness trackers, home fitness equipment, stress management programs, community supported agriculture, and more qualify for Healthy Me Buck$.

Discounted Health Premiums. Nonsmoking associates receive discounts on the next year’s health insurance premiums based on achieving each of four wellness goals (body mass index; blood pressure; cholesterol; and blood glucose) each year. A health improvement program allows associates who fall outside a wellness goal range to achieve 5% improvement on that goal to earn a $5 discount on their premium for making the improvement.

Prizes for Quarterly Wellness Champions. Associates who log 15,000 points in Virgin Pulse each quarter are entered in drawings for quarterly prizes that are awarded.

Virtual Fitness Classes. To make it easier for associates to fit wellness into their workday, Nelnet offers multiple classes at various times throughout the day and week – from Zumba to yoga, tabata, mindfulness, and more.

Elite Wellness Experience. Associates who are nonsmokers, meet all four wellness goals, and log 20,000 points in Virgin Pulse in the first quarter of the calendar year qualify to be randomly selected for this annual experience. This all-expense paid trip provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for associates to push themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Past trips have visited the mountain ranges of Colorado and Utah.

Nelnet Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board Mike Dunlap is always an active participant in the Wednesday fall walks. “With Walktober, I really appreciate the opportunity to get out and meet some associates I don’t know or talk with those I don’t see very often. I’m excited about the recognition our wellness programs have received, but when I get out there and participate in things like Walktober with associates – that’s when I see that wellness has really become part of our culture and what makes it great to work here,” said Dunlap.




Susie McCormick

Senior Corporate Communications Writer