Deadline Extended: 2012 "Best AEC Firms to Work For” Awards

We’re looking for firms that create truly positive workplaces for their AEC professionals and support staff. In other words, this awards program will recognize those AEC firms that nurture and develop their most valuable asset—their people.

October 29, 2012 |

Building Design+Construction's

“Best AEC Firms to Work For” Awards


Please submit your entry by November 27, 2012




Is your AEC firm a “Best AEC Firm to Work For”?

Building Design+Construction is looking for the “best AEC firms to work for” in the worldwide AEC industry—the firms that excel in innovative recruitment and retention practices, professional development, social and corporate responsibility, workplace environment, compensation/benefits, and business practices. Previous winners are not eligible, only new entrants, please.

We’re looking for firms that create truly positive workplaces for their AEC professionals and support staff. In other words, this awards program will recognize those AEC firms that nurture and develop their most valuable asset—their people.

Winning firms will be featured as case studies in an upcoming issue of Building Design+Construction.Winners will not be ranked: All will be designated equally as BD+C“Best AEC Firms to Work For.”

“Best AEC Firms to Work For” may come from the following fields related to the AEC community:

  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Construction management
  • Design/build
  • Engineering (M/E/P, structural, acoustic, etc.      
  • Project management

Note: Firms whose work is primarily related (i.e., more than 50% of revenues) to single-family housing or civil engineering are not eligible

Qualities and Characteristics We’re Looking For

  • Innovative recruitment and retention practice
  • Professional development, education, and training
  • Social, environmental, and corporate responsibility
  • Workplace environment
  • Extraordinary compensation and benefits practices
  • General business practices (profitability, business sustainability)
  • Public perception of your firm or company

Entries will be judged by the editors of Building Design+Construction, whose decisions are final.

Be sure to include:

  • Descriptions of the firm’s recent work or projects
  • Firm brochures and promotional materials
  • Reprints of articles about the firm or the firm’s work
  • Testimonials from clients or others familiar with the firm’s work
  • Awards received
  • Mission Statement, Core Values, Vision Statement

Entry fee:

$150 for firms with more than 100 employees

$100 for firms with 100 employees or less

Entries must be received by November 27, 2012.

Send Entry Materials and address all questions to:

Tim Gregorski, Senior Editor

Building Design+Construction

3030 W. Salt Creek Lane, Suite 201

Arlington Heights, IL 60005-5025



Note: By submitting your entry, you give permission to Building Design+Constructionand SGC/Horizon, LLC to publish information from your entry and contact you via email. You may mark specific sections regarding confidential information for discussion of disclosure with the editors. Information about firms that are not selected will be kept confidential by BD+Cand SGC/Horizon, LLC.

Competition Rules and Guidelines

1.    Your entry must reflect practices across the entire firm, not just individual offices, divisions, or departments.

2.    Only factors over which the firm has control will be given consideration by the judges. For example, claiming that your firm is a great place to work because it is “located in a temperate climate” would not count. However, if you had a policy to “locate all firm offices near public transit” to encourage use of rail or bus by your employees, that would be of interest (especially if the firm also subsidized those employees who used public transit).

3.    Please back up your claims with data, examples, proven results, etc. For example, if your firm has a “high retention level,” we want to know the % of voluntary retention and specific reasons why retention is high. If you have an “award-winning” in-house university, tell us the number of CE units taken last year, the % of employees participating in the program, the amount allocated per employee, etc. In other words, we want PROOF.

4.    This awards program does not recognize routine practices related to compensation or benefits. We assume that you pay your people fairly and offer reasonable benefits. We’re looking for what you do beyond the ordinary, and what impact such efforts have in creating a better work environment for your employees. Therefore, to be chosen, your firm has to be “the best” at employee relations, not “routine.”

5.    “Best AEC Firms to Work For” is not a design, engineering, or construction competition. It is about your internal environment, and only implicitly about your work product. Therefore, it is not necessary to submit a portfolio of your firm’s work, unless it illustrates a key point in your entry.

6.    Your firm does not have to be the best in every category to be recognized. Therefore, you don’t have to tell us about every item in the suggested checklist. Concentrate on what you do well. What makes your firm stand out?

7.    Remember, if more than 50% of your firm’s revenue is derived from single-family or civil engineering, your firm may not be eligible. Exception: A homebuilding or civil engineering firm with a completely separate commercial division may be eligible, provided the commercial division follows the same HR policies as the main firm.

8.    The selected firms will be featured as case studies in an upcoming issue. Winners will not be ranked.

To view past “Best AEC Firms to Work For” winners, go to:


Building Design+Construction's


“Best AEC Firms to Work For”


Nomination Form

Please submit your entry by November 27, 2012


NOTE: There are 5 steps involved in submitting:

STEP 1.  Tell us who you are. [All fields are required.]

Name of Firm:_________________________________________________________




Postal/ZIP Code:________________________________________________________

Country (if not U.S.):____________________________________________________

Main Phone Number:____________________________________________________

Web Address:__________________________________________________________

Name of Person Submitting Entry:__________________________________________

Organization (if different from firm):________________________________________

Title or Position:________________________________________________________




Postal Code:___________________________________________________________

Country (if not U.S.):____________________________________________________

Direct Telephone Number:________________________________________________

E-mail Address:________________________________________________________

Please check the AEC firm’s primary professional area:

[ ]    Architecture

[ ]     Construction

[ ]      Construction management

[ ]      Design/build

[ ]     Engineering (M/E/P, structural, acoustic, etc.)

[ ]      Project management

Note: AEC firms whose work is primarily (more than 50% of revenues) related to single-family housing or civil engineering may not be eligible. For a ruling on this issue, contact: Tim Gregorski, 847.954.7941,

Please give your firm’s Mission Statement, Core Values, or Vision Statement (as stated either publicly or internally to staff), if you have such a document.



[ ] Firm does not have such a policy or document (not required, and not a negative factor in judging).

Step 2. Tell us the 3 most important things about your firm and why it is a “Best AEC Firm to Work For”.

Summary (very important!)

Please state the 3 main reasons your firm should be named a BD+C“Best AEC Firm to Work For”:

  1. ____________________
  2. ____________________
  3. ____________________

STEP 3.  Tell us why yours is a “Best AEC Firm to Work For.”

Written Statement of Support

Please include a written statement with your entry, using the following as suggested topics. You are not required to discuss every item, nor must you limit your statement to these factors. We recommend, however, that you give adequate attention to the “3 chief factors” listed in your entry.

Innovative Recruitment and Retention Practices

  • Recruitment: What unique or unusual methods do you use to attract the best and brightest? What is your “hit rate” in recruiting at various levels? Do you have different methods for recruiting experienced staff vs. new graduates?
  • Retention: How does the firm keep people happy and enthusiastic? Do you have programs to reduce the stress of today’s work environment? What is your record of promotion from within? Is your retention rate declining? Why? How do you make sure you’re not keeping people you shouldn’t be keeping? Are there clear lines of career development and opportunities for advancement? Do you offer special benefits for long-term service? Do you have a mandatory retirement age? Do you encourage staff to stay on beyond normal retirement age?

Professional Development, Education, and Training

  • Career Development: Are there clear lines of career development and opportunities for advancement? Is this communicated to professionals and staff? What unusual programs or initiatives do you have in place to help employees move up the ladder? How do you measure the success of these initiatives?
  • Education and Training: How does the firm promote lifelong learning and professional development? Is training and education linked to the firm’s mission, values, and client needs? Does the firm offer tuition reimbursement? Does it reimburse employees for Learning Units? Do you have an in-house continuing education program? Does the firm solicit ideas and assess needs for training and education from the staff? Approximately how much does your firm spend annually per professional employee on continuing education or training? How does this compare to what other firms are doing? Does your firm measure the effectiveness of continuing education or training and its impact on actual practice?
  • Mentoring: Do you have a formal mentoring program? Do you have any evidence that it produces positive results? Do you have alternatives or supplementary programs to more traditional mentoring?
  • Performance Recognition Programs: How does the firm acknowledge the contributions of its best employees? Do you have any measure of the effectiveness of your performance recognition efforts?

Social, Environmental, and Corporate Responsibility

  • Social Responsibility: How is the firm involved in community outreach, public service, charitable work (esp. pro bono), etc.? (Note: Donating money to charity does not count.) Do you have any special programs for women, minority, disabled employees, or military veterans?
  • Environmental Responsibility: How does your firm “walk the talk” regarding the environment? How do you stress environmental responsibility within the firm’s own practices?
  • Corporate Citizenship and Industry Leadership: How does the firm contribute to its respective AEC industry and professional societies? In what extraordinary ways does the firm contribute to the local economy or business community?

Workplace Environment

  • Work Environment: What do you do to make your workplace more creative, stimulating, professionally rewarding, and fun?
  • Working Conditions: Do you provide the tools your people need to do their jobs? Are there any extraordinary efforts to make the workspace environmentally sound (e.g., indoor air quality, daylighting, temperature control, acoustics)? Are employees’ workspace needs given priority? How does the firm evaluate employee satisfaction with their working conditions? Do you act on employee recommendations?
  • Work/Life Balance: How do you help your professional and support staff deal with stress on the job? What programs do you have in place to balance work and home life (e.g., flex time, job share, sabbaticals, etc.)? Note: Compliance with government-mandated programs does not count.
  • Nontraditional Benefits: Does the firm offer benefits that go beyond the ordinary; for example, on-site daycare, priority parking for hybrid vehicles, personal finance counseling, special services for employees in distress (divorce, death in family, etc.)? Have employees initiated any efforts to help co-workers in distress or with special needs?
  • Internal Communications: What extraordinary or unusual ways do you employ to keep your employees informed about the firm’s activities? How do you assess employee attitudes and needs? How does the firm communicate its mission, values, and goals? How do you know these efforts are effective?

Extraordinary Compensation and Benefits Practices

  • Compensation Programs: What innovative compensation schemes do you have in place (with evidence of their effectiveness)?
  • Health-related Benefits: In-house fitness center? End-smoking campaign? CPR training? Other benefits innovations?

General Business Practices

  • Management Practices: Is the firm financially sound? Is it profitable? Do people get paid on time? Is the firm growing? Is market share increasing? Is there job stability? Is your business expanding? Are you entering new markets or expanding existing markets?
  • Reputation: Does the firm have a strong reputation in the business community, with clients, in its professional association, etc.? How much repeat business do you get from clients? Note: You may list appropriate awards and supply other evidence or testimonials of peer perception, client satisfaction, or professional image.

Public Perception of Your Firm

  • How is your firm perceived in your community or nationally? Has your firm or company been recognized by community organizations, public entities, or the media?
  • Note: If your firm or company has won “Best Firm (or Company)” awards from other publication or organization, you may include this material with your entry; if possible, include judging criteria.]

STEP 4. Send us “hard copy” of your entry.

Please send a printed copy of your Written Statement of Support and any additional materials that support your entry to: Tim Gregorski, BD+C “Best Firms Awards,” 3030 W. Salt Creek Lane, Suite 201, Arlington Heights, IL 60005-5025.

  • Descriptions of the firm’s recent work or projects
  • Firm brochures and promotional materials
  • Reprints of articles about the firm or the firm’s work
  • Testimonials from clients or others familiar with the firm’s work
  • Awards received
  • Mission Statement, Core Values, Vision Statement

STEP 5. Select method of payment.

Method of Payment

  • Check enclosed (payable to “Building Design+Construction”)
  • Credit Card Payment (complete and submit form below)


  • $150 (firms with more than 100 employees)
  • $100 (firms with 100 employees or less)

Credit Card Payment Form

(This information will be kept confidential).

1. Project/submission name:

2. Submitting firm:

3. Name on card:

4. Card Type (MC, Visa, or Amex):

5. Card number:

6. Exp date:

7. Billing address:

8. Billing City:

9. Billing State:

10. Billing Zip:

11. Billing Country:

12. Phone Number:

13. Confirmation e-mail: 

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