APA Center for Organizational Excellence: National Winner

The Awards

Small For-Profit Category

University Health Alliance

Insured by Integrity

Hawai’i – A leading Hawai’i health insurer, Honolulu-headquartered University Health Alliance (UHA) provides medical, drug and vision plans to employers from small family businesses to large companies spanning multiple locations. It was founded in 1996 by a group of physician-teachers from the University of Hawai’i’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. UHA credits its remarkable staff for the company’s greater-than-90-percent average in customer service satisfaction ratings seven years running, while simultaneously and consistently growing revenues year after year.

Employee Involvement

In 2014, UHA adopted non-competitive, conversation-based employee coaching to replace traditional performance management systems. The employees are empowered to drive the process by actively engaging with their supervisor/coach. Here they can explain what they value, what they want, where they want to grow and how they wish to develop with no fear of punishment or reprimand. And by separating pay from performance, coaches are comfortable providing honest, tailor-made feedback without generating resentment.

Health and Safety

Maintaining health and preventing illness are embedded into UHA’s culture. There are fresh produce deliveries each week and a multipurpose onsite Wellness Institute room holding daily fitness classes and other employee-directed activities. The Wellness Bucks Program reimburses employees up to $75 per month (and their family members up to $25 per month) for gym memberships, personal trainer fees, exercise classes and massage. UHA pays 100 percent of medical, drug and vision insurance premiums – plus, immunizations, screening tests and disease management – for employees and their entire family, including reciprocal beneficiaries, domestic partners and civil unions.

Employee Growth and Development

With regular quarterly appointments on the books, coaching has been instrumental in increasing employee morale, productivity and growth. Coaches give employees interested in expanding their professional expertise challenging stretch assignments. Furthermore, succession is an ongoing priority whereby management identifies high potential employees and gives them the tools to grow their competencies, reimbursing fees and tuition for continuing education and certification updates. And as a matter of course, UHA avails staff of mainland conferences, internal brown bag lunch sessions, full-day trainings and webinars.

Work-Life Balance

With the Hawai’i community average of 16 days off per year, UHA employees start at 20 days of paid time off. Staff and family members enjoy legal, financial and referral services for childcare and eldercare, among other things, at no charge as part of the employee assistance program. On company time on the company dime, the organization grants 2.5 hours of paid leave a week for anyone who wishes to work out, get a massage or take preventive health classes. Where practical, and job allowing, telecommuting and flextime schedules are options provided to employees.

Employee Recognition

When the team wins, everybody wins. UHA’s Annual Incentive plan has two components, fixed and discretionary incentives. Employee incentives are activated when the company achieves a profit goal of 80 percent or more. Quarterly company-wide meetings are the venue for a whole host of awards – such as an Annual Service Award with a gift and handwritten note by the CEO, and the CEO Shining Star Award for those who have provided excellent service or have contributed to the outside community, rewarded by a monetary gift and profile on the company intranet.

The Bottom Line

These are not easy times for either insurance buyers or providers. UHA has been recognized consistently by Hawaii Business Magazine as one of the top 100 companies in the state. Many businesses are confused about the ever-shifting sands of Affordable Care Act legislation and the impact these will have on their company’s health insurance coverage. Keeping up to date on these issues and more, UHA delivers top quality service while at the same time taking superb care of its employees. When it comes to looking after its own, UHA walks the walk, delivering on its tagline — Better Health, Better Life.

"Many of our organizational values focus on employees, with a goal of maximizing quality service to our community. This award illustrates our level of commitment to providing our employees with a healthy workplace, both physically and mentally."

Ed Everett
City Manager
Redwood City, CA