“It makes a big difference when you’re happy to come to work,” says Sigma Consulting Group President Miles Williams.
The privately owned, Baton Rouge-based engineering and surveying company has made a priority of creating a positive workplace culture for its employees since its founding in 1987.
“Retention has never been a problem,” Williams says. “We’re interested in doing great work for our clients and in our employees’ being satisfied. “What’s in the best interest of the employee is in the best interest of the company.”
A team of about 40 engineers, draftsmen and administrative staff work from the Baton Rouge headquarters and offices in Mandeville and Pensacola, Florida.
Williams, who joined Sigma a few years after it opened, says the company has never been a place ruled by the punch clock.
Instead, employees create schedules that work best for them and their families within reasonable confines. Some opt for working four 10-hour days, with Fridays off.
“As a single dad, that kind of flexibility is really important to me,” says Michael Somme, Sigma’s project manager and business development coordinator.
The company also offers profit-sharing, generous benefits, bonuses, and a 401(k) program that delivers a 3% contribution that is not dependent on an employee match.
Moreover, an employee is considered fully vested from the time he or she starts work at Sigma. “We believe they’ve earned those dollars,” Williams says.
Employee continuing education and training is a priority, as are social events, such as an annual crawfish boil and holiday party, and dinners to celebrate the completion of big projects.
With so many long-term staff members, many at Sigma have watched each other hit personal milestones, like getting married and starting families, Williams says. The company has screened photos of all the children born to staff.
Sigma makes time available for philanthropic endeavors as well. Employees have participated in American Heart Association runs and drives for school supplies and holiday toys.
Leadership is spread across the organization, with employee committees monitoring projects and issues, and making suggestions on continuous improvement. The company’s health is transparent at all times, Williams says, with staff invited to management meetings that reveal financial targets and productivity.
“It’s a place where your employer is genuinely interested in you,” says civil designer and 18-year employee Donnie Thymes. “You’re not treated like a number, and there’s no one standing over your shoulder telling you what to do.”