WorkplaceWritten by Jason Ubay On 19 August 2011
Best Places to Work: The University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus

COMPANY: The University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus

BEST PLACES TO WORK 2011 RANK: No. 3, Large-sized companies (250 employees or more)



SPECIAL MENTIONS: Top 3 Healthiest workplace in the large employer category and No. 1 Family-friendly workplace in the large employer category.

BENEFITS: Company offers an employee stock option plan; 401K match; offers tuition reimbursement

Not only do employees receive a 100 percent tuition waiver for associate, bachelor and graduate degrees at the University; their eligible dependents receive tuition assistance as well. That’s one way to stimulate enrollment. Ivy Wong, Project Manager at UP breaks down the company’s benefits for furthering education:

  • Eligible dependents receive an 80 percent tuition waiver for enrollment in any associate or bachelor’s degree program;
  • For graduate programs, full-time regular employees receive a 100 percent tuition waiver up to $5,250 per year;
  • For doctoral programs, full-time employees receive a 75 percent tuition waiver up to $5,250 per year; and
  • Eligible dependents receive a 43 percent tuition discount for graduate and doctoral programs.

Being recognized as a healthy workplace was easy with their frequent wellness challenges, such as weight loss challenges for employees to keep each other accountable for their health goals and “walking meetings.”

MORALE BOOSTERS: University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus started a “Freddie” board at each location in 2010. It’s an employee recognition bulletin board where staff can post kudos to co-workers. The idea was established because many campus staff read “The Fred Factor,” written by Mark Sanborn. The book inspired the campus to recognize employees who perform extraordinary work that impacts the student experience and those who show passion and commitment to the University’s mission.  All recognition notes on the board are collected at the end of each month and an email is sent to all staff summarizing all the kudos.

There is also a peer-recognition coconut that is passed from employee-to-employee at each campus. This “peer recognition” goes out as soon as the owner finds a staff member who did something extraordinary. The owner tells the campus what the new recipient did to deserve the award and the coconut is passed, to be proudly displayed on the employee’s desk.

Staff and faculty are motivated most by giving back to the community. There is a Community Enthusiasm Committee that organizes events for the employees to do together. They have participated in beach clean-ups, 
benefit walks, 
Boys and Girls Club tutoring and much more.

“Giving back brings more joy and esprit de corps to the staff than any incentive could bring,” Wong says.

AWARDS AND HONORS: Above and Beyond is an employee recognition award program offered at University of Phoenix. Employees are nominated by campus management and are awarded at various levels based on their exceptional accomplishments and excellence in customer service. Depending on the award level, employees can select from a variety of merchandise on the award website.

Length of service with the organization also is recognized in various increments and monthly anniversary lunches are held at the campus to ensure that employees are honored each year on their anniversaries with the University.

WHY ARE YOU A BEST PLACE TO WORK? University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus celebrates student and employee successes. “The campus takes pride in its employees and relishes the opportunity to recognize them,” Wong says. “The campus culture empowers staff to excel beyond professional and academic achievements by providing holistic wellness programs and community involvement opportunities.”

In April, Hawaii Business released the results of 2011’s Best Places to Work in Hawaii.

Since this assessment is only conducted once every year, we wanted to follow up with some of the companies to see how they are keeping business booming and employees happy. Check out other spotlights on Hawaii’s Best Places to Work.

Is your company a Best Place to Work? Register for free at

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About Author

Managing Editor, Hawaii Business magazine. He's also representing the mag on Facebook and Twitter at @hawaiibusiness. You can follow him on Twitter at @jubay.

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