APA Center for Organizational Excellence: National Winner

The Awards

Large For-Profit category

ARUP Laboratories

A Culture of Respect

UtahARUP Laboratories prides itself on having established and sustained a work environment that supports family, health and education and promotes integrity, open communication, mutual respect, compassion, creativity and innovation. The result is a balanced workplace that not only promotes the health and well-being of employees and their families, but also enhances the quality of services ARUP provides its customers. According to ARUP’s Chief Executive Officer, Carl R. Kjeldsberg, M.D., “ARUP recognizes that if our employees are to exhibit a caring attitude and strong commitment to patients and physicians, ARUP needs to set an example by showing a caring and respectful attitude to our employees.”

Click here to watch a video clip about ARUP Laboratories.

Employee Involvement

ARUP engages its employees in a variety of ways, from surveys, suggestion boxes and an official open-door policy to town hall meetings and “brown bag” lunches where executives answer employees’ questions. Since even the best workplace has opportunities for improvement, ARUP’s Continuous Quality Improvement Program encourages employees to contribute to teams charged with addressing quality issues affecting both internal and external customers. Involving employees from all levels eliminates boundaries often imposed by organizational structure and fosters a vibrant exchange of ideas.

Health and Safety

ARUP’s free on-site health clinic is just one example of the company’s emphasis on employee health and well-being. Open six days a week, the clinic provides employees and their families with healthcare services that range from preventive to urgent care. Approximately 300 patients are seen each month at the clinic, where employees can typically get an appointment the same day they call. This saves employees both time and money and encourages them to seek treatment earlier, rather than waiting for the problem to become more serious. ARUP also provides a free 24-hour wellness center that offers the benefits of a full-service fitness center, including convenient “mini exercise classes” during breaks as well as formal courses on topics such as strength training, Tai Chi, yoga, cancer prevention, weight management, smoking cessation and healthy eating habits. ARUP offers low-cost medical, dental, vision and prescription drug insurance to employees who work more than 20 hours per week and life, disability and accidental death and dismemberment insurance at no cost to all employees. Benefits are also available to employees’ family members and domestic partners.

Employee Growth and Development

To help employees broaden their professional knowledge, ARUP’s Institute for Learning (IFL) partners with the University of Utah’s Department of Pathology to offer a broad range of continuing education opportunities including lectures, conferences, professional publications, on-site training, and academic fellowships. Regardless of their role within ARUP, employees can count on the IFL’s career counseling resources to help them customize their individual career paths and design a sound strategy for developing competencies and moving up in the organization. ARUP also reimburses employees for 75 percent of tuition in any degree-granting program and 100 percent for degrees vital to ARUP’s business operations. After an employee has been with ARUP for two years, the employee’s spouse and dependents are eligible for 50-percent tuition reimbursement. Additional opportunities for personal development include life skills training in such areas as parenting, financial planning and debt management, and special interest clubs for various sports and recreation activities.

Work-Life Balance

ARUP offers a variety of flexible job schedules along with a number of innovative benefits, including free lab testing for employees’ families and pets, supplemental newborn screening, a lactation room for nursing mothers, pet insurance, and personalized financial counseling. Employees may use Personal Time Off (PTO) for any reason and ARUP maintains a “catastrophic PTO pool” to which employees may donate extra time for co-workers in need.

Employee Recognition

ARUP offers a generous pension and profit-sharing plan as well as quarterly cash bonuses where excess profits are split 50/50 with employees. Employees who refer new technologies to ARUP receive cash bonuses, and any employee who generates a way to save money receives 10 percent of the savings for one year. ARUP regularly presents awards for both individual and team performance and service recognition and reinforces the company’s emphasis on health and well-being with its monthly “Dr. Kjeldsberg Award,” given to an employee who has made a significant healthy lifestyle change.

The Bottom Line

For ARUP, treating its employees well has paid off. High morale, improved health and well-being and employee satisfaction have translated to low absenteeism and increased productivity. Additionally, ARUP’s employee turnover rate currently sits at a low 14 percent, which falls in the bottom quartile for the lab industry. In a recent survey, a majority of employees cited ARUP’s benefits package as a strong influence on their decision to join and remain with the company.

As an employer of choice, with more than 14,000 job applications received last year, ARUP is able to selectively hire the very best employees. ARUP’s outstanding efforts to foster employee health and well-being and enhance organizational performance have not gone unnoticed. ARUP was recognized in a recent G-2 Newsletter survey as having the best customer relations out of all the national reference laboratories, has been named as one of Utah’s Top Ten Employers for five consecutive years and has appeared on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to work for. When it comes to respect, there seems to be no question that ARUP is reaping what it has sowed.

"The most gratifying aspect of this award is the validation by outside experts who visit your workplace and conclude that routine practices are conducive to a psychologically positive environment. There is an enormous satisfaction in being told you are doing a lot of things right!"

Beth Taylerson
Human Resource Director
The Herald, Rock Hill, SC