The importance of employee dividends

Mar 06, 2022

Employees of firms are in many ways stakeholders of an organization’s success, and they can reap the dividends in a variety of ways.

For much of Urban’s first half-century, our company culture grew organically by project driven teamwork. Our culture rewarded anyone who valued transparency, accountability, and consistency. Each employee has been empowered to take ownership in their ideas and collaborate with their colleagues, chipping in to work whatever hours were necessary to see projects finished and clients happy. There was an understanding that infrastructure was necessary to American success. Each employee’s contribution to a project was important.

Over the last decade, it has become important to my firm – as well as many others in the AEC industry – to develop a more inclusive culture. A culture with a foundation in delivering consistently competent work, empowering employees to lead professionally, and giving flexibility to employees to integrate the demands of life. It is important that firms in our industry support employees regardless of personal circumstances or goals. A strong, diverse culture comes from empowered employees who value their work but can also pursue and support what is important at home.

Just like Fortune 500 companies, AEC firm’s dividends are a key value to its shareholders. Employees of firms are in many ways stakeholders of an organization’s success as they can reap the dividends in a variety of ways. These dividends are reinvested back into the company as employee benefits which are intended to enrich our culture. The focus of these benefits includes three main aspects:

  • Wellness. At Urban, we believe employee wellness is essential. Healthy employees are not just happier, but they are also more productive. Our firm not only promotes the importance of physical fitness, but also understands how crucial mental health is as well. This includes benefits that encourage healthy work-life balances. Wellness is achieved through a variety of ways, including flextime, competitive healthcare benefits, free health seminars, on-site fitness centers, extracurricular sports, and even on-site massages.
  • Community. We have a saying at Urban Engineers: “We don’t just do well, we do good.” We believe that we have an obligation to actively maintain the health and well-being of the communities in which we do business, and we enjoy giving back to the places that give so much to us. Our employees strive to make our communities better places to live through their projects and volunteerism. We promote service to our communities and professions as a way to translate our values and standards into visible action, adding value and depth to the communities in which we live.
  • Additionally, our firm provides internal vehicles to promote community within the organization, as many firms in the AEC industry have begun to offer. These include the Urban Young Member Forum, Urban Women’s Professional Network, and a new Diversity Committee. These groups develop leadership opportunities within the firm and will foster innovative best practices for the future of our business.
  • Education. By promoting educational opportunities, my firm is not only a company of learners and innovators, but a developer of leaders. At Urban’s core, our training department provides every employee educational classes for free. Recognizing our own expertise within the industry, many of the Urban Training Institute’s courses are taught by in-house instructors. Beyond the institute, Urban offers generous tuition reimbursement programs to help accelerate one’s career. We also support numerous memberships to various organizations throughout the country so we can collaborate with our peers and help propel our industry forward. 

Jennifer Waters is an associate vice president and office manager for Urban Engineers’ Philadelphia and Montgomery County locations. Contact her at

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