Evolution of an award

Mar 13, 2022

Kyle Ahern

One of Zweig Group’s landmark awards has evolved into a powerful tool that couples celebration with data-driven change.

I just passed my seven-year anniversary here at Zweig Group. I can’t believe it has already been that long. It seems like only yesterday I was walking into this company not knowing a whole lot about the industry we serve. I have learned so much in the last seven years and I am still learning something new almost daily. I have seen changes not just within Zweig Group itself, but also around the industry. One change in particular, an evolution in my mind, has been the change centered around our Best Firms To Work For Award.

When I first started in my current role, Best Firms To Work For was solely an award. By no means is this a bad thing! Firms need to celebrate their workplace. They should be proud of the hard work that goes into creating an outstanding culture, having tremendous compensation and benefits, providing top of the line professional development, and making the work lives of their employees better. This is so important to remember. In fact, Celebrating is a pillar of Zweig Group’s vision to Elevate the Industry. It is the reason we have these industry awards and put on the best conference and awards show in the industry! But, Best Firms To Work For has now evolved into something greater.

The AEC industry has always embraced the use of data to make business decisions, but the type of data available and considered in these decisions has evolved. As firms continue to celebrate, as they should, when they win a Best Firms To Work For Award, they are now also using the vast amounts of data that come with just participating. Each firm that goes through the award process is given an Employee Survey Report when they have reached the minimum threshold to participate and are satisfied with their participation level. This report contains the averages of each ranking scale question (there are more than 100 in the survey), as well as open responses and supplemental comments. It has become an extremely powerful tool for HR and firm leaders as they plan for the future of their workplace.

More and more firms are recognizing how valuable employee surveys can be. They show your people that you care enough about their open and honest feedback that you want to give them a mechanism to give that feedback beyond their yearly review. The intel you can garner from employee surveys can highlight strengths and weaknesses within your organization. It can help shape policies that can help retain current employees and attract new ones. This is such a huge need given the challenges in the labor market right now.

The Best Firms To Work For employee survey covers a huge array of topics that are important to employees and firm leaders alike. The employee survey reports offer an in-depth view of employee sentiment that has become a major building block for strategic planning efforts for firms. Zweig Group is continuing our effort to present this data in more meaningful ways as well, creating tools to take deeper dives into the data. Being able to separate the data by demographics without compromising the anonymity of respondents and using our years of experience to offer meaningful insight are a couple of ways we have tried to offer firms even more through the award.

We recognize how powerful this data can be for firms just like we recognize what being named a Best Firms To Work For can do for a firm’s brand. Coupling celebration with data-driven change has been an evolution of this award that I am personally very proud of, and one that I hope the industry recognizes and embraces even more than it already has. If we celebrate improving the lives of everyone in our organization while also using the information gathered in the process to make our firms even better, then there is no doubt we are all well on our way to Elevating the Industry. 

Kyle Ahern is awards manager at Zweig Group. Contact him at kahern@zweiggroup.com.

Best Firms To Work For Award The Best Firms To Work For award recognizes the top AEC firms in the U.S. and Canada based on their workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates, and much more. All entries will include the Open Response Report, allowing firms to see all comments and responses to open response questions. The deadline to participate is May 6, 2022. Click here to learn more!

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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.