A ‘relaxed’ environment where employees work and play hard is a key to the success of Gresham Smith, the 2019 large companies Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge winner.
From flexible work schedules and on-the-spot bonuses, to leadership development and lively social activities, Gresham Smith has created a boutique workplace culture within a 935-employee company. The architectural, engineering and design firm has 26 locations in 13 states across the south.
The Baton Rouge site is home to one of Gresham Smith’s engineering divisions. Sixteen staff members focus on transportation issues, including roads, bridges, alternative transportation and safety. The team serves public and private clients in Louisiana and across Gresham Smith’s other sites.
“Gresham Smith’s work environment is relaxed, supportive and full of people who like to work hard and play hard,” says Louisiana state leader Bert Moore. “Everyone in the company really goes out of their way to make you feel comfortable, and we really value each other as people.”
Socializing and team-building events are commonplace. The Baton Rouge staff gets together every other month for activities that have included competitive bowling, Painting with a Twist and escape rooms. In the office, they field fantasy football teams and organize Final Four brackets. And in the community, they participate in philanthropy projects like sorting cans at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, building gingerbread houses with kids at Big Buddy and wrapping Christmas presents for foster children through the nonprofit, Braveheart.
The company offers amenities aimed squarely at recruiting and retaining younger workers, including four different flexible work schedules of choice. Staff members are encouraged to achieve high quality work, and when they do something particularly notable, they might earn a “spot bonus” of $500 to $1,000. Off the bat, they have three weeks of vacation, and can roll over accrued hours from year to year.
Transportation engineer Rebecca Murray, on staff since 2015, says she looked at several employers before enthusiastically accepting a position at Gresham Smith.
“I interviewed a lot of places and felt like it was a great fit,” Murray says. “There’s a lot of support, and I feel like they really care about you as a person.”
A “Build You” portal enables staff to log into a company-wide platform and participate in webinars on leadership, negotiating and other skills. Employees are also encouraged to join professional organizations to build networks and hone leadership skills. For example, Murray is an active member of the Baton Rouge chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar International, a professional organization for women in the transportation field.
“The company is very receptive to additional training,” adds Murray. “I have access to any technology or training that I want or feel like I need to do my job better.”
The physical work environment is also a big deal at Gresham Smith. The Baton Rouge location was one of the first to adapt an open floor plan in its second floor Perkins Rowe offices. Well-lighted work stations with low barriers make it possible for each member of the team to get things done, while easily collaborating with colleagues. The office will soon add another company-wide convenience—standing desks.
In fact, wellness is encouraged. Staff members throughout the company can receive $100 toward a gym membership, which is easier to visit thanks to flexible schedules. To ensure employees are taking full advantage of their benefits packages, each Gresham Smith office is assigned its own employee advocate, an HR concierge who explains health care, retirement and employee assistance programs and how to use them.
While the company is spread across the southern U.S., top brass makes a point of connecting with folks on the ground. New hires spend several days at the headquarters in Nashville, and the executive leadership rotates regularly to each site to meet all team members face to face.
Rounding out the top five…
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