Stephanie Winkler – Wescom Credit Union

HR leader connects staff by working out and giving back

Prior to having an established wellness program, many Wescom Credit Union employees were active and into fitness. Groups got together outside of work to walk, run and cycle.

Stephanie Winkler, the company’s vice president of human capital and development, says it was only natural to reward people for staying healthy by creating a wellness program. In addition to earning points for working out, the program encourages good mental health care, as well as financial and social wellness.

Wescom partnered with a third party to build the structure for the program because “we had the drawers, but not the cabinets,” Winkler says. Now, employees can earn points, which reward them with  prizes or money, for working out, meditating, taking financial courses and even volunteering in the community.

Stephanie Winkler | Vice President of Human Capital and Development | Wescom Credit Union

Stephanie Winkler | Vice President of Human Capital and Development | Wescom Credit Union

The program is available to employees regardless of location or ability, and ties in to Wescom’s mission, which is “to exceed expectations in everything we do,” Winkler says.  The credit union, based in Pasadena, California, has always prided itself on caring for employees, as well as members and the community at large, she adds.

“We wanted to make sure there were options for everyone and that it wasn’t just physical because that’s limiting,” Winkler says. “This is well-rounded and can work for everyone while allowing them to connect with each other, the community and our mission.”

Breaking down barriers

In addition to improving employees’ health and happiness, Winkler says the program has increased productivity and satisfaction at work. Since the program started in 2016, the number of health claims has decreased, and annual surveys have shown employee satisfaction increasing, as well.

The health program has provided many employees with something they’d been requesting: a deeper connection with colleagues in other departments outside of work, whether for a walking group or volunteer activity. Wescom recently participated in a charity bicycle ride to raise money for people with multiple sclerosis.

Stephanie Winkler | Vice President of Human Capital and Development | Wescom Credit Union

“It helps everyone see people as people instead of as their titles,” she says. “It creates a stronger sense of community because it shows people that they belong here and have a voice here, regardless of their job title.”

These connections then lead to collaboration at work, she says. For  instance, the program led to a job shadow program where employees shadow someone in a different department to better understand their work and how their own department can offer more support.

“This not only improves our internal working relationships, but it strengthens the experience for our members,” Winkler says. “Making sure that employees feel comfortable and happy allows them to deliver incredible member service.”

Welcoming environment

Making employees feel comfortable also means ensuring the workplace is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. Winkler says many employees said in a recent survey that diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are important to them.

She adds that Wescom has practiced equitable pay and progressive hiring practices for years, but that it hadn’t engaged in more overt discussions of race and diversity. Given the racial reckoning the country has been experiencing, she says it’s time to be more proactive and transparent.

Winkler has completed a diversity, equity and inclusion certificate program from Cornell University that the human resources business partners are now taking. Some s taff  will begin a “train the trainer” program next year through Wescom University, the company’s training department, so they can teach all staff on diversity, equity and inclusion practices.

Stephanie Winkler | Vice President of Human Capital and Development | Wescom Credit Union

“The trainings will make employees more inclusive with each other, which will also impact our members and how welcome they feel,” Winkler says.

She adds that mangers are also learning how to foster inclusive culture remotely and, in a few months, they’ll go through a training on microaggressions. Wescom is also forming a diversity, equity and inclusion committee that will review employee surveys to determine what changes they want to see at work. The surveys will also help to form employee resource groups based on what types of resources and support people are seeking.

“We want this to be a continuous process so we’re always growing and reassessing on how we can do better,” Winkler says. “It’s important that we listen to what employees need and let them guide the way.”

Culture of change

Being able to create positive change and be of service to others is a main reason she was interested in working at Wescom Credit Union. Her mom worked in human resources and Winkler says she was raised to help other people. Despite this, she didn’t imagine she’d follow so closely in her mom’s footsteps.

She previously worked in the billing department of a medical company where she learned a lot about benefits. From there, she worked for almost 13 years at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California, as a benefits manager, where she helped launch an employee wellness program. In 2009, Wescom recruited her.

Stephanie Winkler | Vice President of Human Capital and Development | Wescom Credit Union

“It was easy to get behind an organization that does so much for its members and the community,” Winkler says. “Wescom believes in being of service.”

She says her favorite part of the job has been not only helping the company grow, but helping employees be successful and fulfilled. She also loves that she gets to help members, even if her impact is indirect. She helped create the company’s audio-visual department, which makes online training videos to improve financial literacy.

“Our CEO loves innovation, so there’s always something new for me to work on,” Winkler says. “You don’t get bored with your job if you do something new every day. Some people don’t like change, but I’m not one of those people.”

View this feature in the Vision Vol. 1 2022 Edition here.


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My experience with the team at Vision was great. Their professional and courteous staff took every opportunity to make the production of our article a real pleasure. From the initial contact, through the interview and all the way into production, the process was easy and fun. On behalf of the members of Anza Electric, thank you for highlighting what we do here to make rural living and cooperative membership more valuable in our community and across the country.
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