Top 25 Best Places to Work in Hawaii Part 2
13. Bank of Hawaii
The state's second-largest financial institution knows the value of investing, and every year it reaches deep into its own proverbial pockets to invest in its 2,782 employees. Take the company's three-part individual retirement savings plans, for example. Bank of Hawaii doesn't just match 100 percent - it matches 125 percent of an employee's 401(k) contribution, up to 2 percent of their salary. It then kicks in another 50 percent match on the next 3 percent. On top of that, Bankoh annually contributes 3 percent of eligible employees' salaries into their retirement plans (employees are eligible after one year of employment). And, as if that weren't enough, the company also has an aggressive value-sharing program, which, last year, issued 4.18 percent of salary to every eligible employee. That means, even employees who contributed nothing to their own retirement plans last year, still earned 7.18 percent of their salaries toward retirement. Moreover, 2004 was the year Bank of Hawaii vested the restricted stock grants issued to all employees in 2001. Each eligible employee received a minimum of 100 company shares, which, as of mid-March, were trading at around $47 each.
We know you're already wondering where you can sign up, but hold on, we haven't even gotten to the job training and health benefits. Every six months, the company publishes an extensive training catalog, with courses ranging from half-day computer classes to extensive programs aimed at improving sales and service techniques. Bank of Hawaii encourages all employees to build their skill sets through training, for potential movement within the company.
Bankoh also pays for the majority of the medical, vision and dental costs for employees, their families and even their domestic partners. It also provides basic life insurance coverage and short-term and long-term disability benefits, all 100 percent company paid. Bankoh employees also get sick time, vacation leave, holiday pay, five days of dependent care, 10 directed holidays and two floating holidays every year. Forget about the Benjamins. Bank of Hawaii is all about the benefits, baby!
FUN FACT: Bankoh CEO Allan Landon uses Web broadcasts to stay in touch with his employees. It's a little thing he likes to call getting "personAL."
14. Servco Pacific
As a mechanic for Servco Pacific, Paul Madolora appreciates the little details. His job depends on it.
Madolora works at the company's vehicle processing center on Sand Island, where he outfits Toyota cars and trucks with optional equipment before they are sent out to car dealerships across the state. Every year, on the anniversary of his employment, he gets a handwritten card from company president Mark Fukunaga. Madolora's legal name is Stefan. It's what is on his paycheck and in the company computers, but, without fail, his annual card is addressed to Paul, the name by which he prefers to be recognized.
"I know the card comes from Mark, because he knows me as Paul. That is cool," says Madolara. "It's great that they notice how long you've been working for them and it's cooler that they never get it wrong."
What employees think and say is very important at Servco. The satisfaction and involvement of its more than 900 empl-oyees are at the foundation of "Team Servco," a rank-and-file effort to identify, communicate and perpetuate key guiding principles for the company.
"You have to be explicit about what your company stands for," says Fukunaga, who is also Servco's chairman of the board and chief executive officer. "If the company doesn't make that clear and then walk the walk, then the implicit values take hold."
According to Fukunaga, recognizing, empowering and challenging his employees isn't just good for morale, it helps build a more capable staff. Doing a job well involves good processes, good judgment and commitment, the last two clearly in the hands of employees.
"So much of the work and so much of the world is unscripted," says Fukunaga. If you don't have the commitment, you're not going to have people who will go the extra mile when something is unscripted."
FUN FACT: At Servco Pacific, upper management stays in constant touch with its employees. In addition to dozens of incentive lunches, in which management waits on staff, everyone on Servco's executive committee is required to spend a whole week working at a frontline, entry-level position.
15. Hawaii Modular Space
At Hawaii Modular Space, the old adage about giving being better than receiving isn't some Christmas-time cliché, it's a way of life and a way of doing business. The small general contractor, which distributes mobile and modular buildings, gives in a big, big way. Since 2002, the company has sponsored both the women's and men's Molokai-to-Oahu outrigger canoe races, the Na Wahine O Ke Kai and the Molokai Hoe, respectively.
In addition, for the past two years, Modular Space's Makana Hui foundation has dispersed $10,000 to charities and nonprofit organizations on the Leeward Coast, which promote health and the betterment of women and children. This year, the program will be doubling its contributions. A committee of employees directs the company's charitable giving.
Moreover, president Mike Fox gives every one of his 38 employees $100 to donate to a charity of their choice. The money can be donated to large nonprofits, a child's soccer team or even an ailing relative.
"It may be the first time that many of our employees are introduced to giving back to the community," says Ann Martin, Hawaii Modular Space account executive. "It instills a little community spirit in all of us, and I think it makes everyone feel good."
According to Fox, he and his company also benefit from the largesse, learning skills that they wouldn't pick up on the job and creating important bonds with the community at large.
"Our community service hasn't translated into sales per se," says Martin. "But Mike and this company have great reputations, so I'm proud when people realize the work we've done."
Says Fox: "It's about being a good corporate citizen and being involved with the community. But it's also about building a culture in which people are proud of what they do and where they're at."
FUN FACT: If the company reaches its sales goal for the year, it closes its doors for two days and Fox takes everyone to Las Vegas. Fox picks up the tab for airfare and accommodations for the three-day stay on the Strip in addition to paying for a company-wide dinner and a show.
16. Hawaiian Electric Co.
Ursula Kuiee realized, upon applying for a job, that Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc. was an employer of choice. Instead of the 200 people she had expected to compete with for a position at a HECO cattle call back in 1990, she found herself among a crowd of more than 1,000 hopeful applicants. It wasn't until landing a job in the mailroom, however, that Kuiee discovered just how likable the company actually was. "You can tell a lot about a company by the way they treat entry-level employees," says Kuiee, now a purchasing clerk for HECO. "Whenever I did a mail run, everyone, all the way up to corporate, was very warm and cordial. They were excited to talk story with me."
Talking with employees is one major factor behind HECO's exceptionally low turnover rate of 2 percent. "It might be kind of a cliché, but the company believes that people are its greatest asset. So it's very open with the employees, and has a lot of venues to keep them informed about what's going on here, as well as encourage the employee to voice any concerns," says 20-year HECO veteran and Manager of Customer Service Darren Yamamoto. Maintaining constant communication with the firm's 1,383 employees is no small feat. HECO management posts updates, job openings and all of the minutes from executive staff meetings on a company Intranet. In addition, it publishes hard-copy newsletters, distributes announcements via email and the entire executive team, including CEO Mike May, meets annually with the staff to discuss goals and strategies.
Also online is the company's Managing Your Career program, which helps employees do just that. Yamamoto, who himself moved from the construction and maintenance department into customer service two years ago, says the great potential for movement within the company is a big draw for many employees. "The company offers tremendous opportunities for career development, by way of apprenticeship programs, on-site training, educational assistance, training for programs outside of your department if you want to move within the company," he says. "You have to want it and seek it out, but, if you do, they'll definitely support you."
FUN FACT: In an effort to help promote a healthy workplace, Hawaiian Electric once offered to cover startup costs for all employees interested in joining 24-Hour Fitness.
17. Hawaii District Navy Exchange
Jen Brewster's first job was at a small military post exchange on the Mainland. It wasn't a good experience. So when her father was stationed at Pearl Harbor, she hesitated to apply for a job at the base's Hawaii District Navy Exchange. With more than 1,200 employees, who accommodate nearly 5 million visitors every year, Pearl Harbor's exchange is the largest and busiest in the world. What a big, uncaring place it must be, she thought.
However, much to her surprise, Brew-ster, 20, found a warm, caring atmosphere, where people look out for each other and managers are intent on developing their associates. Three years ago, Brewster started at the exchange as a cashier. A couple of years ago, she moved off the floor and became an operator. Today, she is a payroll clerk, the best job she's had in her young career.
"You would think that at a large place people wouldn't care about each other, but that's not the case," says Brewster.
Brewster isn't alone in her feelings. In 2001 and 2003, the Hawaii District won the coveted Bingham Award, an honor bestowed to military exchanges that takes into account associate and customer satisfaction, along with gross revenues. District manager Michael Cottrell attributes the Hawaii District's success to his staff's shared sense of mission. In a post-Sept. 11 world, that mission is pretty clear: serve the men and women, and their families, who are fighting the war on terror. Cottrell says that the exchange tries to attract military dependents such as Brewster, who understand the trials and tribulations of military culture.
"About 40 percent of our employees come from military families. We can't get it much higher than that, because people are always rotating in and out," says Cottrell. "We support the best patrons in the world. This is their store. These are their people."
But merely signing them up isn't enough. Cottrell and his managers have fashioned a transparent organization, where sales and policy information are shared freely. Every morning, employees are notified about the sales plan for the day. Every month, they are informed about how the store did relative to past month and the past year.
"The secret is to get everyone's ego involved in your collective success," says Cottrell. "When people believe that they are involved in something they know well and believe in, it catches."
FUN FACT: Since it is a federal organization, none of the Hawaii District Navy Exchange's funds can go toward extracurricular activities. Instead, the exchange forms its own entertainment committee, which holds fund-raisers to offset the cost of the store's Christmas party. What might be a source of contention in other companies is actually a team-building endeavor at the exchange.
18. Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing
Among Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing's (AHFI) biggest strengths is its ability to promote altruism in the office. As a pacesetter for the Aloha United Way, AHFI has developed some of the most imaginative in-house fund raisers around. It does a pancake breakfast, a big-ticket auction (people have donated their parking spaces, vacation homes) and a "Stuart Little Road Race," in which employees race a Stuart Little radio-controlled car through an obstacle course of law books and office supplies. Perhaps the biggest fund raiser of them all, though, is the one in which employees buy the rights to dress down on Aloha Fridays by donating a set amount to AUW. The result? The firm regularly exceeds its fund raising goals, employees form bonds that money can't buy and there's an overwhelmingly casual look to the office on Fridays.
Another important key to AHFI's success as an employer is the value it puts on quality of life for its staff, which is validated by the firm's incredibly low turnover rate of 1 percent. To combat stress and beat burnout, the firm makes sure there's always something fun going on for the employees and their families. Every Friday, the company hosts employees and guests for pau hana and, once a month, it hosts a catered lunch for all staff. The company throws a big party once a year at the Lanikai home of one of the partners and, every so often, if there's a hot family movie (think Harry Potter), AHFI will rent out an entire theater for its staff and their families.
"We do these things because it's very important to us not just to be good lawyers," says partner Louise Ing, "but good family members and good citizens in the community."
FUN FACT: Each year, employees who don't get sick and who plan their vacations in advance receive $100 and a Perfect Planner award.
Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) may be one of the biggest and fastest growing companies that you've never heard of. The research and engineering firm, which is listed on the Fortune 500, has more than 45,000 employees in offices in more than 150 cities worldwide. In 2004, SAIC earned revenues of $6.7 billion, a 14 percent increase over the previous year. At the same time, the price of SAIC stock rose 11 percent, to $40.55.
SAIC's Pacific operation, which is headquartered in Honolulu and has more than 400 employees, earned $60 million in gross revenues last year. In 1997, the branch pulled in just $6 million.
SAIC employees don't have to read the annual report to learn about the company's impressive performance. All they have to do is take a look at their paychecks. SAIC is the largest employee-owned research and engineering firm in the country. Company stock is given as compensation as well as offered as a part of incentive programs.
"Employee ownership is part of our culture. Generally, people who own the company will do better work for it," says Thomas Woosley, vice president for operations, Pacific Solutions Operation. "If you work at SAIC, one way or another you'll end up being an owner, whether you want to or not."
No one seems to be complaining. Currently, SAIC experiences a mere 12 percent voluntary turnover rate, an unusually low number for a company in the high-tech industry, which normally sees skilled workers jump from one company to another. However, Woosley believes that it's not only compensation that keeps SAIC employees from wandering. The company is large, expanding and encourages its employees to grow with it.
"It's really a meritocracy at SAIC," says Woosley. "I tell people every day that, if you want to be a division manager, create one and I'll help you manage it. People have really taken to it. I get business opportunities brought to me every day, because it's in their best interest."
FUN FACT: If all things go according to plan, SAIC employee/owners will be enjoying a big payday soon. Ken Dahlberg, SAIC's CEO, has pledged to double the value of the company's stock in two years.
20. Enterprise Rent-A-Car
According to Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the company is the single largest buyer of new passenger vehicles and light trucks in the United States and one of the largest sellers of used vehicles in the country. It is also the largest rental car company in North America, in fleet size and locations.
The Hawaii office opened in 1994 and has since grown to 25 offices and about 150 full-time employees. Enterprise's Hawaii vice president and general manager, Wayne Tanaka, has been with the company 20 years, nine years longer than the company has been in Hawaii. He started with Enterprise fresh from the University of Hawaii with a degree in marketing.
Tanaka says, "Originally, my plan was to get some experience at Enterprise and go do something better, but I was getting promoted and I was getting more money and so it took me about two years to say, 'Wow, this company has everything I need. Why look elsewhere?'"
Julie J. Serrao, group daily rental manager, adds, "None of us went to school intending to rent cars, that was never our goal. But we luckily fell into this company … and if you take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you, it's endless."
All management trainees start out in the rental operation. There are merit program increases - $500 upon completion of the first exam and $2,000 upon completion of a second.
Human Resource Manager Delores "Dee" Lim adds that promotions at Enterprise are based on performance, not tenure. "That gives an individual a level playing field to take their career as quick and as far as they'd like to go," she says.
To Chris Quezon, car sales account executive, the company has meant more than professional opportunity. When he and his wife divorced, "counseling was made available at no expense to me, so personally, this company took care of me," Quezon says.
Lim adds, "It's still a family-run business. It's privately owned and the reason why it's still that way is because [the owners] want to make sure it still has that feel."
FUN FACT: Every other year Enterprise Rent-a-Car hires an independent research company to conduct a confidential employee survey. Employees credit that survey with getting them their 401(k), flexible working hours and a top-performer recognition program.
21. Alstom Power Inc.
The 27 employees at Alstom Power in Campbell Industrial Park run a 24/7 power plant for Kalaeloa Partners, which provides electricity to Hawaiian Electric Co. and steam to Tesoro Inc. Everyone benefits from a safe, uninterrupted operation in more ways than one. For every 500 days that the plant runs with no lost time, each employee receives $50.
At the time of this writing, the next milestone was to be April 17, 2005, which would mark 1,000 days with no lost time and would mean $100 for each employee. "Every person gets a gift certificate]," says plant manager Ziad Khalaf. "What that does is tie a financial incentive to simple behavioral things that people need to keep doing, like wear your hard hat and safety glasses, which you have to do so that you don't get hurt, but now, on top of looking out for yourself, you are going to get money for it."
Khalaf has tailored the policies of the $20 billion French corporation for its Hawaii operations. "The 'important people' are 6,000 miles away," he says. "So, we are pretty much an independent group and we're left alone. One of the best things that we do for our employees is the flexibility that we offer."
That flexibility extends beyond working schedules (many opt for the 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift), to use of the company's equiment, which ranges from tents and chairs to Alstom's cement mixer. Khalaf says, "If somebody was building a house or if somebody was pouring a slab for their house, they just borrow the stuff from here."
Health and safety coordinator Emerson Lee says, "The financial incentives are good, but these awards and rewards are not enough. I think it's the good environment. It's the people."
This amounts to a kind of virtuous cycle. Says Khalaf: "To get the dedication and support of the employees is really the most rewarding thing. If I have a problem here at the plant, if there's an emergency, I know there's going to be a whole bunch of people that are willing to come in here to take care of things. So it adds to the success of the business and everyone else shares in our success."
FUN FACT: Employee bonuses at Alstom have averaged 6 percent to 8 percent of an employee's base pay over each of the past four years. Employees may also earn a writer's bonus of $1,800, if they have a technical paper published or presented at a conference.
21. Na Hoku
Even though Na Hoku is a family-owned business, Chief Executive Officer Ed Sultan thinks of his company as more like a team than the proverbial family.
"Every family has that one brother or sister who keeps on screwing up. But you keep them close and love them anyway," says Sultan. "However, if you have a shortstop who is making all kinds of errors and you're losing games because of his play, then you have to replace him. It's just good business."
This is not to say that the local jewelry company doesn't maintain some familial ties. When senior developer Robert Brey needed some time off to work through some personal issues, company officials allowed him to work as an independent contractor. A year later, they welcomed him back into the company fold.
"[Management] accepts that there is an ebb and flow to life," says Brey. "I started 22 years ago in an entry-level position. I worked my way up to department head. When I wanted to do less, they brought in a new head and I got to write code."
According to Brey, this flexibility and understanding is made possible by a lean and forward-thinking management team that can make decisions on the fly, without having to sort through company red tape and politics. The result is a company that is quick on its feet and populated by more than 300 employees, who aren't afraid to make mistakes.
"I think our people realize that we give them a lot of autonomy," says Sultan. "We believe sins of omission are more serious than your sins of commission. We learn from our mistakes."
Hmm. Sounds like something a father, not a coach, would say.
FUN FACT: Every Na Hoku employee get a substantial discount on the company's merchandise. It's a perk that comes in handy during gift-giving time.
23. Hale Ola Kino
"Carnival" is probably one of the last words you'd expect to be used to describe the atmosphere of a nursing home. But that's precisely the word human resources director Jolene Kageyama chooses to describe the environment at Hale Ola Kino (which means house of wellness), a 32-bed, skilled nursing facility located at the One Kalakaua Senior Living complex. "It really feels like a carnival sometimes," she says. "In many ways, our staff is like family to our residents, so we plan a lot of fun, festive events for the residents and staff to interact. Every month, we've got something going on."
Actually, on the average, employees and residents have at least three themed festivities to look forward to each month, according to the company's event calendar. In February, staff and residents team up for a Valentine's door-decorating contest. In August, an entire week is dedicated to "beating the heat," which means a different icy cold treat each day of the week. The company has even managed to turn mandatory industry training into a festive affair, by creating a themed fair with interactive training booths.
But it isn't all about fun and games over at the house of wellness. Kageyama says that, while the activities are entertaining, they're also designed to boost morale and develop teamwork skills. Other perks that help motivate the staff are eight days of paid time off (on top of vacation and holidays), monthly catered luncheons, during which facility administrator Cole Marvin openly addresses staff concerns, and negotiated group discounts on items ranging from televisions to toilet paper. Also, because the company is all too familiar with the rising costs of healthcare, Hale Ola Kino offers a cash-in-lieu benefit, whereby employees who already have health insurance, and thus forego Hale Ola Kino's medical coverage, are given $120 cash back each month.
"It's nice to be able to offer good benefits and competitive salaries, because this industry is plagued with turnover - we hear about the nursing shortage all the time," says Kageyama. "But [retention] is about more than benefits and money. If you foster a high level of trust and communication with your staff, and provide them a fun, exciting environment, they'll be happy employees."
FUN FACT: Federal law mandates companies with 50+ employees provide 12 weeks of unpaid family medical leave to its staff. Although Hale Ola Kino doesn't quite meet the minimum requirements, it still provides this benefit to its 42 employees.
24. First Insurance Co. of Hawaii Ltd.
Like many other big businesses, First Insurance Co. of Hawaii Ltd. offers its employees certain requisite benefits, such as competitive pay, comprehensive medical coverage and tuition reimbursement for career advancement. But employees of this 94-year-old firm say it's the company's more creative, personal benefits and programs that really make it a Best Place to Work. "Our employees work hard, and have a high level of commitment to the firm, so in turn, we try to create an environment that's also fun," says Karen Street, vice president of organizational development.
First and foremost, the company stresses a balanced lifestyle for its employees. Whether it's their families, hobbies or communities, First Insurance employees are given the flexibility to manage their personal priorities. Those with families, for example, can utilize sick leave to care for a sick child. Those interested in philanthropy can get involved with the company's Community Action Team (CAT), which participates in a different community service activity each month. And for those looking to pick up a few new talents to better achieve balance, First Insurance hosts a monthly "Balance Life" lunchtime series, during which employees are taught a variety of skills, ranging from practical to unusual. Through the program, employees have learned calligraphy, flower arranging, elder care techniques, healthy cooking, yoga and even proper gift-wrapping. "The series serves a dual purpose. Our employees can learn a new skill, and it's something personal, that gives them a breather from work," explains Street. "But the focus is really on getting our employees to lead a balanced life."
Part of a balanced life includes a successful career, and First Insurance provides its employees guidance and flexibility in that area, as well. Every year, First Insurance associates are required to develop an individual development plan, outlining new or existing skills or competencies they'd like to grow. Whether it's by way of schooling, a mentoring process or attending seminars or training, the company provides time and resources for each employee to fulfill his or her plans. Street says: "Part of the reason we do some of these more creative programs is that our employees work hard. So we try to interject some fun and creativity, which I think most employees appreciate."
For those who could care less about those things, First Insurance remains among the handful of businesses still providing its retirees with a healthy pension fund.
FUN FACT: One year, following the company's annual spring cleaning, First Insurance employees were treated to free massages to reward them for their hard work.
25. Castle Medical Center
Adele Hoe feels so strongly about Castle Medical Center, she came in for this interview (even though it had been set up with someone else in her department) just 10 days after her son, 1st. Lt. Nainoa Hoe, was killed in Iraq. Hoe was teary-eyed at times, but the long-time employee and Castle's director of human resources, made a strong case for her company.
Says Hoe: "I've been here for 31 years. I've had the opportunity to work with many executive teams. I've done some consulting for other facilities as well. What I have so much respect and aloha for is that our executive team, no matter who they were in all the years I've worked here, didn't just talk the talk. When they said that our employees are our No.1 asset - they ARE our No. 1 asset."
New Chaplain David Rasmussen felt that way shortly after arriving at Castle in August, when he noticed a patient who was not doing well, because he didn't like the hospital's food. Rasmussen recalls, "He said, 'It's just not like home.' They were cleaning out some of the coconut trees out front. So, I was able to go out and get him a coconut. …We took it to him and he drank it. It was the first real food that he'd had in a couple of days. I could never do that back in Chicago."
Rasmussen says he was very quick to feel comfortable with being creative and innovative in his job.
Hoe says, because of this freedom and empowerment, Castle is a fun place to work. Her proof, she says, is that it is one of the few nonunion hospitals in the state. Hoe says, "I'm not saying that unions are bad, but we know that unions represent employees. My point is that employees always feel a part of [Castle]. They don't have to have anybody representing them. They always have a voice."
She also has the numbers to back up that assertion. Every other year, employees are surveyed and are asked to score their place of work on a scale of one to five, with five being high, if they strongly agree that it's a best place to work. Castle Medical Center has consistently scored 4.5, the best score of the 21 hospitals in the Adventist Health Corp.
FUN FACT: The 400 employees who participate in the Castle Employee Wellness Program receive free YWCA memberships as well as discounts at local health food stores.
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