RISING THROUGH THE RANKS

By Janelle Hanson, campus and community communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications

The University of Utah ranked 32nd on Forbes “America’s Best Employers 2016” list, jumping four spots from last year.

And for loyal U employees like Whit Hollis, director of the A. Ray Olpin Student Union, it’s no surprise.

“I came to the U 15 years ago fully expecting to last about three to five and move on. I expected to find a very conservative, nonflexible community. What I found instead, was a caring community open to new ideas,” Hollis says. “Administration that did all it could to give me the tools to succeed. I found an environment where faculty staff and students worked together to solve problems, build community and where your efforts are appreciated and applauded.”

Forbes polled more than 30,000 workers across the U.S. compiling the top 500 employers spanning 25 industries, ranking the U above Stanford, Harvard and Cornell universities in the education category.

“We’re excited [about the ranking]. It recognizes what we’re trying to do at the University of Utah and it’s nice to have validation that we’re moving in the right direction,” says Chief Human Resource Officer Jeff Herring.

The survey targeted employees in large companies with more than 5,000 staff members. They were asked on a scale of zero to 10, to anonymously answer questions about how likely they were to recommend their employer to someone else and how they felt about other employers in their industry.

Opportunities are one of the things U employees and leadership both feel are important to employee satisfaction at the state’s flagship university.

“We’re trying to recognize employees, take care of them with benefits and health care options, develop employees by giving them personal and professional growth opportunities,” says Herring. “The more we can help employees figure out the part they play in the student experience and research, the more connected they become and that’s what we’re really doing that sets us apart.”

Jennifer Nozawa, public relations specialist for the College of Social Work agrees with Herring. “I’ve had plenty of opportunities for training, advancement and promotion, as well as opportunities to learn from and with my talented counterparts across campus,” she says. “Working here has even afforded me an opportunity to go to grad school and the workplace support I needed to succeed in that endeavor.”

The ranking is a byproduct of the good work being done at the U, Herring says, and that’s always going to be a focus and what makes it a good place to work.

“I have had many opportunities to go elsewhere,” Hollis says, “but it didn’t take long for me to realize this is where I wanted to be.”