Communication is top benefit at Arizona American Water

At Arizona American Water, HR goes “overboard” with employee communication, says Senior HR Manager Linda Stillman, sending electronic newsletters around the office, paper newsletters to employees’ homes and setting up teleconferences to share information.

In addition, the organization’s CEO visits employees to talk about what’s going on at the utility, and managers regularly sit down with each employee to discuss goals and expectations.

HR also keeps in touch with employees through surveys, which it conducts every 18 to 20 months. The surveys, says Stillman, help managers gauge employee satisfaction and determine which benefits are most valued.

Last year, tuition reimbursement stood out as a favorite, and the program paid out 40% more than in 2008.

HR Specialist Laura Minder says the organization emphasizes education and makes training available to all employees, from meter readers to managers to engineers.

In addition, the firm allows employees to participate in community work, and sponsored a contest among departments to encourage employees to donate food to a local food bank. Employees also raised money for water programs in Third World countries and bought toys for needy children.

Linda Stillman at, or Laura Minder at