How to Build a Best Place to Work
Creating a Best Place to Work is not brain surgery, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This year, only 70 companies and nonprofits in Hawaii made the grade, but the years of effort by each of them to build such a workplace pays off every day.
Those that made the grade this year and every year followed our selection process. First they provided email addresses for their employees to the Best Companies Group, the national experts who vet nominated companies for Hawaii Business Magazine and for over 60 similar programs across the country and internationally.
Best Companies Group then conducts a confidential survey of those employees that measures satisfaction and engagement in eight categories. Because the survey is confidential, employees are honest and forthcoming: They reveal the good, the bad and the ugly about the organizations they work for.
The results of those surveys account for 75 percent of a company’s score. The other 25 percent of the score is based on the employer questionnaire filled out by the company’s HR managers that details benefits, workplace rules and other factors.
Peter Burke, president at Best Companies Group, says this year’s 70 winners have employees whose level of “emotional connection” to their employer is extremely high. That means that on average those employees:
- Plan to stay with the organization at least two more years, which reduces turnover and ensures stability.
- Are willing to recommend their workplace to a friend or relative.
- Are willing to recommend the company’s products and services to a friend.
- Are willing to make an extra effort to help the organization succeed.
- Look forward to going to work most days, which means enthusiasm and effort on the job.
- Believe their jobs provide meaning and purpose.
- Are proud to work for the organization.
- Feel the organization has created an environment where employees can do their best work.
I bet that sounds like a place where you would want to work.
I asked Burke about the confidential survey of each company’s employees: Which factors are most important in determining whether a company becomes a Best Place to Work? He says the top 10 factors change little from year to year. Here’s what they are for this year’s list:
- I feel part of a team working toward a shared goal.
- I have confidence in the leadership of this organization.
- I like the type of work that I do.
- Overall, I’m satisfied with this organization’s benefits package.
- Most days, I feel I have made progress at work.
- This organization treats me like a person, not a number.
- There is room for me to advance at this organization.
- At this organization, employees have fun at work.
- My supervisor handles my work-related issues satisfactorily.
- I’m satisfied with the amount of vacation (or paid time off).
The top 10 drivers for Millennial employees in Hawaii are the same, with two interesting exceptions that did not make the overall top 10 list for all employees. No. 1 on the Millennial list is: “I feel I am valued in this organization.” And No. 10 is: “This organization provides the technology, equipment and resources I need to do my job well.”
I don’t know about you but I am going to keep all of these key factors top of mind as I lead my team this year.
Want to Know What Your Employees Really Think about Your Company?
You should nominate your company for the Best Places to Work if:
- You think your company is or might be a Best Place to Work; or
- You want to know what your employees really think about your company so you can make it a better workplace, no matter how good it is already.
The Best Places to Work survey will also tell you how your company stands in relation to important benchmarks in your industry and in Hawaii – invaluable information if you are going to compete in a local environment where everyone is trying to recruit the best workers.
Register for the 2020 program at BestPlacesToWorkHI.com.
Large Companies – 250 or More Hawaii Employees
No. 1: Bayer
Headquarters: Leverkusen, Germany
Employees: 576 HI
Employees participate quarterly in “Safety Olympics” where they play safety related games for half a day. Wellness program participants can be rewarded with financial incentives to encourage healthy lifestyles. Team members bond through end of year luncheons, Super Bowl cube-gating and beach park events.
No. 2: Hyatt Resorts Hawaii
Employees: 2,571 HI
The company pays 75 percent of medical, dental and vision premiums for employees and their dependents. Financial benefits include an employee stock ownership plan, a 401(k) and a pension plan. Colleagues of the year and leaders of the year win an extra week of vacation, airfare for two, a six-day stay at a Hyatt and more.
No. 3: Hawaii State Federal Credit Union
Employees: 323 HI
An annual wellness fair, flu shots and an on-site fitness center promote a healthy staff. The Learning and Development Department offers regular in-house training on topics such as emotional intelligence and sales and leadership strategies. Exemplary employees can win quarterly and yearly “Red Pants” awards. Medical, dental, vision and long-term care premiums are 100 percent covered for employees and 50 percent for dependents.
The Remaining Large Companies Are Listed Alphabetically
American Savings Bank
Employees: 1,146 HI
Top performers are invited to ASB’s Hawaii Curling Club tournament, where they learn from members of the USA Olympic Curling Team. Wellness benefits include free fitness classes, health workshops and “weekend warrior” hikes. An entire month each year is spent celebrating staff with bankwide challenges, giveaways, potlucks and a party.
Central Pacific Bank
Employees: 824 HI
Team members hike together, go to movies and participate in organized sports to build camaraderie, morale and fitness. Office perks include a business casual dress code, a flexible work schedule and a holiday party. Employees are given three paid days off per year to serve and support their community.
Child & Family Service
Headquarters: Ewa Beach
Employees: 359 HI
Programs for employees include a leadership academy, catastrophic leave program and flexible work arrangements. In addition to getting 15 paid holidays, employees receive a day off on their birthdays. Medical, dental, vision, long-term care, life insurance, short- and long-term disability and pet insurance are offered. Employees are automatically enrolled in a 401(k) plan.
City Mill Co. Ltd.
Employees: 360 HI
Subsidized tuition helps team members pursue college degrees and professional certifications. “Make It Better Bucks” that can be redeemed for store merchandise are given to excellent workers. Employees are offered a 401(k) and a profit-sharing plan. Birthdays, retirements and awards are celebrated with potlucks and singalongs. Over 100 songs have been created by staff for events.
First Hawaiian Bank
Employees: 2,037 HI
Employees enjoy food, fun and live music at holiday parties and family picnics. Stellar employees win retreats to places like Tokyo and Whistler, British Columbia. Fully or partially paid parental leave, child care assistance, lactation facilities and adoption assistance are provided. Two on-site fitness centers and a local produce delivery service promote healthy eating.
First Insurance Co. of Hawaii Ltd.
Employees: 340 HI
Tai chi, hand massages, walks and other stress-relieving activities are available during the lunch hour. The “Annual Big Bumboocha Weight Loss Challenge” also promotes wellness in the company. The company matches 5 percent of the first 6 percent contributed by employees to their 401(k) plans. Community volunteering opportunities are frequently available.
Island Palm Communities LLC
Headquarters: Schofield Barracks
Employees: 404 HI
Every morning the maintenance teams stretch and do breathing exercises. Employees can nominate their co-workers for monthly, quarterly and annual Pookela Hoku Awards. Eleven paid holidays as well as paid time off for volunteering are provided, and company events include Ohana Day at the water park in Kapolei, quarterly breakfasts and a holiday party.
Employees: 325 HI
Sales team members are recognized and receive cash incentives monthly. Employees can also participate in sales contests, Toys for Tots and food drives. Staff are given seven paid holidays and celebrations on their milestone anniversaries. Life insurance and short- and long-term disability insurance are 100 percent paid for by the company. A 401(k) is available.
Panda Restaurant Group Inc.
Headquarters: Rosemead, California
Employees: 674 HI
Associates can receive financial support to pursue continuous learning through the offered learning benefit and scholarship programs. Perks include a concierge service and free or discounted tickets to family entertainment and sporting events. Outstanding associates are recognized at leaders conferences held every other year. An employee stock ownership plan is available.
Parents and Children Together
Employees: 322 HI
Team members are recognized for their years of service and given gift cards on their birthdays. Benefits include lactation facilities for breastfeeding mothers, fully or partially paid parental leave and a family-friendly office environment. Medical, dental and vision premiums are 75 percent covered. Employees also enjoy 13 paid holidays.
Servco Pacific Inc.
Employees: 1,095 HI
The company’s wellness center has a basketball court, fitness equipment and free fitness classes. Activities include Bring Your Dog to Work Day and an annual celebration dinner. On Servco Family Fun Day, the company reserves the 50th State Fair exclusively for employees and four of their guests. A generous insurance package is provided.
Medium Companies – 50-249 Hawaii Employees
No. 1: Edward Jones
Employees: 116 HI
Forty percent of associates are part owners of the firm; newbies can join them after three years. Biometric screenings, premium discounts and health and weight-loss coaching are included in a company wellness program, and adoption assistance, elder care assistance and discounted tuition are provided. Every trimester, employees can earn bonuses, gift cards and food gifts.
No. 2: Bowers + Kubota Consulting
Employees: 194 HI
This employer pays 100 percent of medical, dental and vision premiums for employees and their dependents. Through its employee stock ownership plan, this 100 percent employee-owned company shares its profits with all employees with more than a year of service. Tuition toward a degree is reimbursed by up to $4,000 per school year.
No. 3: Austin, Tsutsumi & Associates Inc.
Employees: 66 HI
Employees are provided with a profit-sharing plan as well as an employee stock ownership plan. The company encourages and pays for continuing education credits and certifications such as LEED and CMAA. After completing large projects, employees are rewarded with restaurant lunches and downtime. Compressed workweeks are also allowed.
The Remaining Medium Companies Are Listed Alphabetically
Employees: 89 HI
Friendly competition is encouraged with monthly contests such as lei designing and pumpkin carving. Seventy-five percent of medical, dental and vision premiums are paid for employees and their dependents; life insurance, short-term disability and long-term disability premiums are 100 percent covered. Ergonomic furniture and standing desks are offered to promote comfort in the office.
Alert Alarm Hawaii
Employees: 161 HI
The employee of the month is rewarded with a bonus and a special parking space. An employee-appreciation barbecue and a Christmas party, including a raffle for employees with $6,000 in prizes, are hosted every year. A wellness program and flexible hours are also offered.
Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union
Employees: 155 HI
Medical, dental, vision, life insurance and short-term disability premiums are 100 percent covered. This company gives back to the community by supporting the Kapiolani Children’s Miracle Network, the Honolulu City Lights celebration and high school financial fairs. Employees are given flexible schedules and 12 paid holidays per year.
American Carpet One Floor & Home
Employees: 122 HI
Up to three of the best employees are rewarded each quarter for following corporate principles. In addition, top employees are recognized during the annual President’s Awards. Employees also benefit from discounted gym memberships and pet insurance. Medical, dental and vision premiums are 100 percent covered by this employer.
Atlas Insurance Agency Inc.
Employees: 104 HI
Employees can contribute to their retirement plans after six months of service and have access to a profit-sharing plan. The company’s wellness program includes a summer exercise boot camp and heart-healthy activities. In addition to office activities such as casual dress day and movie day, the company sponsors community service projects.
Employees: 199 HI
Company fun includes parties, and dress-up and pumpkin carving contests. Crazy Shirts reimburses employees up to $50 to register in races, including marathons and swimming events, to promote a healthy lifestyle. Employees can bring their children to work on days when school is not in session.
Employees: 105 HI
Employees are given between $500 and $1,000 per year to further their education. Every five years, employees receive length-of-service awards. Children are often in the office doing homework or relaxing by their parents’ desks. A Wellness Committee and a Fun Committee emphasize a healthy work-life balance.
Hawaii Community Foundation
Employees: 69 HI
At “Board Bento Hour” lunches, board members and staff discuss how they can help the community. Parties, social hours and office decorations are organized by the staff. Exceptional employees are rewarded with spot bonuses and monthly appreciation. Employees also have a pension plan and 14 paid holidays.
Hawaii Dental Service
Employees: 109 HI
The company’s Fun Committee plans monthly events such as Family Movie Day so employees can socialize and have fun. A massage chair and quarterly discounted lomilomi massages help employees relax. Medical, dental, vision, long-term care, short- and long-term disability and life-insurance premiums are all 100 percent paid by HDS.
Employees: 99 HI
The Cookie Nacapuy “Spirit of Excellence” Award is given annually to honor the legacy of a former employee. Spot bonuses are also given. Holidays and birthdays are celebrated with decorated lunchrooms and potlucks where executives serve the food. The company participates in local fundraising events such as the Arthritis Foundation Walk.
Hickam Communities LLC
Employees: 89 HI
The company covers 75 percent of the medical, dental and vision premiums for employees and their dependents. The Winners Circle Award is given annually and the ACE: A Commitment to Excellence award is granted quarterly. Employees are treated to employer sponsored lunches, picnics and daily morning stretching.
Employees: 162 HI
Every five years, employees are honored for their service with a ceremony and up to $500 in cash. Retiring employees are rewarded up to $2,500. Medical, dental and vision premiums are 100 percent paid for employees and 50 percent paid for their dependents. On-site Zumba, tai chi and massages promote employee wellness.
Leahi Swim School Inc.
Employees: 73 HI
Awards for excellent work include the President’s Award, Employee of the Year and Employee of the Month. Company hosted parties and luncheons occur often to thank staff. A flexible work schedule as well as a relaxed, fun work environment help employees thrive in their jobs.
Nordic PCL Construction Inc.
Headquarters: Edmonton, Alberta
Employees: 124 HI
After one year of full-time service, salaried staff may purchase shares in the company. A wellness reimbursement program and a weight loss/weight maintenance challenge support staff health. Seventy-five percent of medical, dental and vision premiums are covered for employees and dependents. Free coffee, tea and snacks are provided at the office and job sites.
Employees: 92 HI
Employees give their co-workers “shaka shoutouts” that lead to quarterly Top Shaka Awards. On employment anniversaries, staff members receive a gift certificate and a personalized note from the company’s president. Benefits include a great insurance package, nine paid holidays, substantial discounts on company products and an employee fuel discount.
Pacific Whale Foundation
Employees: 137 HI
Employees perform meaningful work and experience life-changing encounters with marine life. Up to $2,000 toward the lease or purchase of a partial zero emission vehicle is provided. Certificates are given out monthly for employees and their families to experience eco-cruises. The office environment is informal and child-friendly.
Employees: 77 HI
Employees are supported through monthly coffee talks with company leadership and team member recognition. Tickets to UH games, pizza parties and movie days are also provided. Employees benefit from adoption assistance, lactation facilities and fully or partially paid parental leave. Seventy-five percent of medical, dental and vision premiums are paid by the company.
Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union
Employees: 77 HI
A social events budget is used for regular activities, games and contests. Paid social events include a meal and alcoholic beverages. Dental, medical and vision premiums are covered 100 percent for employees and 75 percent for dependents. Employees receive recognition for attendance, referrals and longevity.
Premier Restoration Hawaii
Employees: 134 HI
Employees and their families can engage in quarterly fun events. Gift cards and prizes are awarded throughout the year in companywide contests. The company sponsors parking lot barbecues on Fridays and provides breakfast before monthly meetings. Professional growth is encouraged with ongoing skills and workplace training.
Premier Solutions HI LLC
Employees: 59 HI
Employees benefit from a pension plan and a 3 percent match on their retirement plan. Mini golf, spontaneous lunches and birthday celebrations contribute to a happy work environment. A flexible work schedule as well as 10 paid holidays are also provided. Medical, dental and vision premiums are paid in full.
Employees: 243 HI
Employees receive a 50 percent match on the first 8 percent of their retirement plan contributions. Exemplary employees win “ProStar” Awards. Student loan repayment assistance as well as professional development and certification assistance are provided. Medical, dental, vision, life insurance and short-term disability premiums are 100 percent covered.
Headquarters: San Francisco
Employees: 138 HI
Employee Excellence Award winners receive cash bonuses, and vacation days are increased on employees’ fifth, 12th and 20th service anniversaries. Team members bond through escape room challenges, golfing and an annual softball tournament. Pūpū and drinks at quarterly pau hana get-togethers are paid by the company.
The Howard Hughes Corp.
Employees: 95 HI
Education programs include tuition reimbursement, student debt management and a personal growth fund. Employees can apply for a 10-day all-expenses-paid Discovery Tour to the destination of their choice. At the Ward Village office, employees can access surfboards and showers during their lunch breaks.
Employees: 113 HI
Employees are rewarded quarterly based on their performance. On “Sales Manager Sundays,” staff go on a team building outing while managers work for them. Benefits include a company-matched 401(k) and 75 percent coverage of medical and vision insurance premiums. Fully or partially paid parental leave is also available.
Small Companies – 15-49 Hawaii Employees
No. 1: Express Employment Professionals
Employees: 17 HI
Employees get annual increases in paid time off and vacation time. A healthy work-life balance is encouraged through flexible hours and allowing children and pets in the office. Wellness is promoted through subsidized gym memberships and healthy lunch days. Achievements and birthdays are celebrated with employee and family karaoke parties.
No. 2: Hawaii Energy
Administered by Leidos
Employees: 24 HI
Employees can win group, operations and program awards. Yoga and meditation breaks, and gym membership reimbursements promote wellness. Perks include free parking, bus passes and mileage reimbursements. The company also coordinates officewide activities such as holiday crafts and after-hours social activities.
No. 3: Integrated Security Technologies Inc.
Employees: 21 HI
Employees are updated quarterly on company goals and finances. Benefits include elder care assistance, counseling and after-school and summer programs for employees’ children. Additional perks include free tickets to entertainment and sporting events and gift cards for top employees. The company has an office dog named Hunter, and Nerf gun fights break out regularly.
The Remaining Small Companies Are Listed Alphabetically
Ala Moana Dental Care
Employees: 46 HI
Employees are rewarded with certificates of achievement in training and development, monthly department bonuses and a quarterly outstanding employee award. Family dinners and hikes are organized outside of work for staff and families. The company also sponsors a book club for professional development.
Allana Buick & Bers Inc.
Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA
Employees: 15 HI
Employees enjoy weekly lunches, Halloween pumpkin carving and an ugly sweater contest and are recognized and awarded on their service anniversaries. Adoption assistance and lactation facilities are provided. Additional perks include healthy snacks and gym and Costco memberships.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
Employees: 27 HI
Staff are treated to surprise gifts of bubble tea, sushi, gelato and massages. Self-directed brokerage accounts allow for investment flexibility. The company, which has in-office concierge service and catered meals, promotes wellness with a biggest-loser weight loss challenge. Employees also attend company Christmas parties, beach cleanups and cocktail parties.
Brett Hill Construction Inc.
Employees: 27 HI
Family obligations come first for employees. Events such as mall shopping day, bowling afternoon, movie day and holiday dinners occur frequently. Rewards include cash bonuses for client recruitment and gifts for exemplary performance. Additional perks include flexible work schedules, storage space for surfboards, and exercise equipment and showering facilities.
CW Associates, CPAs
Employees: 48 HI
The company covers 100 percent of medical, dental and vision premiums. Cancer insurance, life insurance and supplemental insurance are also included. Team bonding is encouraged with annual family fun days and team building workdays. Employees enjoy flexible spending accounts and profit-sharing plans.
EnviroServices & Training Center LLC
Employees: 41 HI
The company contributes to an employee’s retirement regardless of whether the employee makes their own contribution. The least amount contributed last year was 9 percent of an employee’s salary. Employees receive flexible spending accounts and AFLAC supplemental health insurance in addition to 100 percent coverage of medical, dental and vision premiums. The design thinking project of the year winner enjoys a $6,000 bonus.
Gourmet Events Hawaii and Staffing by GEH
Employees: 37 HI
Employees have free access to Audible books and a company library for personal and professional development. Potlucks are hosted frequently and other employee events include charity races, barbecues and pau hana events. Concierge services such as dry cleaning, meal catering and child care arrangements are offered in addition to discounted gym memberships and massages.
Hawaii Information Service
Employees: 16 HI
This company matches the first 4 percent contribution that employees make to their retirement plans. Employees have fun with super casual Fridays (employees wear slippers, shorts, T-shirts and hats to work), potlucks and birthday celebrations. Rewards for top employees include performance bonuses and prizes.
Hawaii Mortgage Experts
Headquarters: Hawai‘i Kai
Employees: 40 HI
On average, 30 percent of employees win trips provided for excellent performers. A monetary bonus is given to the three top performers. In addition to hosting an annual party, the company gives employees cards and gifts on their birthdays.
Employees: 28 HI
Company-hosted events include holiday potlucks, all-company retreats, biking pub crawl and an annual party. Employees can give back to the community every year through blood and food drives and by donating school supplies. In addition, 16 hours of paid time off are provided for community volunteering. Employees’ birthdays, anniversaries and promotions are celebrated.
Employees: 39 HI
Exceptional work is rewarded with bonuses and certificates. Full or partially paid family services include elder care, child care, adoption assistance, and after-school and summer programs. Activities for employees and their families include beach days, outings, concerts and tickets to sporting events.
Integration Technologies Inc.
Employees: 23 HI
Service awards are given out at the company’s annual holiday party and employees enjoy quarterly outings such as bowling, paintball and UFC events. The company covers 100 percent of employees’ medical, dental and vision premiums. Membership to the Financial Peace University and quarterly incentive pay are also provided.
Maui Resort Rentals
Employees: 29 HI
Employee-led yoga and group meditations promote wellness in the company. Healthy beverages such as nitro cold brew coffee, kombucha on tap and coconut smoothies are available. Medical, dental and vision premiums are 100 percent covered. Additional perks include competitive pay and 15 paid holidays.
Na Alii Consulting and Sales LLC
Employees: 48 HI
A safe harbor retirement plan is offered after 90 days of employment. Employee recognition bonuses and end-of-year bonuses are given to excellent employees. This company prides itself on fostering strong relationships between management and employees. Medical, dental, vision, long-term care, life insurance and short-term disability premiums are completely covered for employees.
Northwestern Mutual Hawaii
Employees: 47 HI
Associates who achieve production over $4,000 are given an all-inclusive trip. A foosball table and basketball hoop generate friendly competition and laughter in the office. Other perks include a pension plan, monthly luncheons, a hiking club and a walking group.
Okahara and Associates Inc.
Employees: 26 HI
The yearly Christmas party brings Honolulu and Hilo staffs together. The company pays 100 percent of medical premiums and for backup child and elder care. The company has an employee of the year program, and professional license renewals and membership fees are compensated.
Pacific Administrators Inc.
Employees: 47 HI
In addition to receiving 14 paid holidays, employees enjoy a 35-hour workweek with competitive pay. During breaks, staff can relax on recliner massage chairs in the “quiet room.” The employee of the quarter wins a $75 gift card. On their birthdays, team members are given an apple turnover and a personalized birthday card.
PacRim Marketing Group Inc.
Employees: 19 HI
Employees enjoy 35 paid days off per year and a Halloween costume contest. In addition to having flexible work schedules, employees are reimbursed for career development programs and education. This company pays 100 percent of medical, dental, vision, long-term care and life insurance premiums.
Ronald N.S. Ho & Associates Inc.
Employees: 49 HI
This employee-owned company provides a stock ownership plan as well as a profit-sharing plan. Employees benefit from technical and educational training. Team members bond during annual holiday lunches, outings and barbecues. The company also participates in community service projects.
Employees: 15 HI
Employees are eligible to invest in a SIMPLE retirement fund after six months of employment and Servpac will match 3 percent of their salary. Pau hana and pingpong and dart challenges encourage a fun work environment. The company supports its staff with kudos at meetings, a stocked fridge and Fitbits for everyone.
Employees: 16 HI
Years-of-service awards are accompanied by gifts such as koa engraved pen sets, koa clocks and Apple Watches. Activities include pizza parties, potlucks, singalongs and an end-of-year celebration. Employees are rewarded $100 for keeping the store accident-free for 300 days. Paid time off is given for scheduled colonoscopies to encourage early colon cancer detection.
The Hawaii Group Inc.
Employees: 26 HI
Every quarter an employee is awarded between $200 and $1,500 along with a plaque and formal recognition for their contributions to productivity. Bonus incentives are given to employees who refer new employees or businesses. Other benefits include paid sabbaticals, assistance with continued education and free massages every week in the office.
Vivial Media LLC
Employees: 44 HI
Top performers earn incentive trips. Company activities include beach days and a rewards dinner, employees receive free or discounted tickets to local family entertainment and sporting events, and hard work and achievement are rewarded with a compensation plan. The company pays 75 percent of medical, dental and vision premiums for employees and their dependents.
Employees: 22 HI
The associate group gives out a “Bustin’ Butt” award at least once a quarter that is accompanied by a cash prize and praise from leadership and peers. Spot cash bonuses and annual performance bonuses may also be earned. All employees become company owners after two years.
Employees: 18 HI
Employees are praised for their good work with years-of-service awards, paid lunches and weekly recognitions. An open-door policy ensures employees’ ideas are heard and valued. Monday morning yoga, games during breaks, a fantasy football league and pets at work are all aimed to be fun morale-boosters.
WestPac Wealth Partners
Employees: 38 HI
After-hours social outings promote camaraderie among employees. If production requirements are met, employees win all-expense paid trips to California, Las Vegas and other destinations worldwide. Employees can also win a trip for being recognized in the Leaders Club and President’s Club. Monthly leaders are recognized during regular meetings.