All four corners

Dec 31, 2018

Do you want to lead a firm where people come and stay, and where employees are always striving for improvement?

One of the best parts of my job is working with the winners and other top firms in our Best Firms to Work For award. Seeing what they are doing that works, and how they continually try to improve, has been a great tool for me as I continue to learn and grow in this industry. These firms are never satisfied and are always looking for ways to improve, something we all should be doing.

Here is a look at the four areas where the Best Firms are outpacing the rest of the field, and how they are achieving those results:

  1. Training/mentoring. This is something most employees rank as very important to them. It can help in recruiting new employees, retaining key employees, and showing that your firm is invested in their future by providing training, mentorship, or both. These can be formal or informal: Lunch-and-learns, corporate universities or formalized training programs, coaching or mentoring on the path an employee wants to take, or giving incentives for reaching benchmarks. All of these are examples of what the top firms are doing in an area that employees really appreciate.
  2. Communication. The top firms focus on communicating with their employees to make sure they are continuously improving the workplace. First it takes input from your employees to know what they like and what they want to see changed. Second, it takes communication from management to let them know that you are listening to what they are saying, and that you are laying out your vision to implement the changes that employees want to see. When a change might not be in the best interest of the company, communicating the reasons with the employees is another great tool rather than just ignoring the requests. Open communication goes a long way for the Best Firms.
  3. Flexibility. Being flexible enough to change your policies also helps. The top firms are flexible enough to improve their healthcare benefits or their maternity and paternity leave policies because that makes their firms better. With a changing workforce that has changing wants and needs, it’s important for firms to be flexible enough to continuously improve, making their firm stand out as a great place for people to work.
  4. Compensation. The top firms received outstanding marks for salary, bonuses, and benefits. They are making sure they are competitive locally, regionally, and nationally. Keeping their compensation competitive with, if not better than, their competition is great for recruiting new talent and keeps established people from wondering if there is something better out there. They are pointing out everything that is included in the compensation, not just base salary. They educate their employees, new and current, on the total compensation package.

Benchmarking your firm against the best is a great way to improve your own firm. Take steps to improve your training/mentoring, communication, flexibility, and overall compensation. Being a Best Firm to Work For improves the lives of your employees, attracts new employees, and shows your clients you care about the people who work for you.

Kyle Ahern is awards manager at Zweig Group. Contact him at To learn more about the Best Firms To Work For Awards click here.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.