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The Psychologically Healthy Workplace 

Tetra Tech 
2006 Award Winner: Small Business Category

Tetra Tech has 23 employees based in Honolulu, part of a large 'Non-Corporation' of more than 9,000 employees.

"Take Your Passions and Follow Your Path" is the motto of this environmental consulting firm. It is dedication to protecting the environment is mirrored in their dedication to their employees. The name derives from the founders, five in number, who were all working for a stuffy corporate culture after graduating. One evening after another rigid day at work, they met in a bar and dreamed of what they would do if they ran the company. They drafted eleven principles (on a napkin) that promoted collaboration, team work, openness, flexible scheduling, and equality among all employees. They dismantled the corporate ladder, and did away with a hierarchy. Their dream came true and today the 'Legend of the Napkin Principles' lives on in their unique culture of collaboration. There are no bosses, there is no time clock, everyone is as valued as the next, and employees are valued above profits. There are no office politics because there is no one to kiss up to. 

There are more than 10 Awards given annually that reward everything from 'Team Spirit' to teaching and mentoring. There is a "Risky Business Award ' given to those who had the courage to take calculated risks to pursue a new business opportunity. 

There is strong family support that is reflected in their 'artwork' on the walls of their 'boardroom'. The flex-time work environment promotes time with family. Employees do not have to 'ask' for leave, they simply let others know; they can work at home if needed. No one is counting hours. If someone needs additional time for family they can 'buy time'. An adoption assistance program is available to each employee who chooses to adopt. 

The ohana environment is seen in the shared office space. One office, referred to as 'the boys room' because three younger consultants work there, looks like a college dorm room and sports a foosball table in the middle. 

The Honolulu Tetra Tech matches monetary contributions made by employees to any nonprofit organization and is proud to win the yearly award (on a regular basis) for donating the most money to charities even though they have fewer employees than other branches. A Philanthropic Fund provides grant money to the community project of those employees who volunteer at least 10 hours monthly for 6 months. The Tetra Tech Humanitarian of the Year Award recognizes employees who demonstrate commitment to a worthy cause. 

New employees often take awhile to adjust to this unique culture. They are used to reporting to a boss, a corporate ladder, or a time clock. But once they relax and adjust, they enjoy the freedom and security the Napkin Principles provide. 


Hawaii Psychological Association
P.O. Box 833
Honolulu, Hawaii 96808
ph: (808) 521-8995
hpaexec@gmail.com

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