CH2M HILL

  www.ch2m.com
  www.ch2m.com
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5 people found this helpful  

Longtime employee of who contributed to and observed the company and business group grow from 4000 to 30000 staff

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Chief Technologist -- Transportation Business Group
Current Employee - Chief Technologist -- Transportation Business Group

I have been working at CH2M HILL full-time (more than 10 years)

Pros

My review reflects my experiences within the Transportation Business Group. CH2M HILL has evolved and developed into a company with some common but many differing cultures, reputations and management styles. Some reflect inherent differences in businesses (we now have many blue-collar staff in addition to the professional engineering, scientist and planning professional staff and how these folks are all managed clearly differs); some reflect differences in the leadership running each BG. Readers of reviewers are cautioned to pay attention to both the type of work and the person writing the reviews. Experiences about growth and development and what the company is all about will clearly differ for someone who is an admin or IT support person vs someone who is in an engineering or project management position.

The company (at least TBG) is widely recognized as among if not the absolute best in what we do. This is not by accident but rather reflects the culture of TBG leadership. We strive to create opportunities for staff growth and development through a unique technology career path (we worked with the Water Business Group in the formation of that years ago); we emphasize personal growth through active participation in external professional activities and we have policies that support this. We work hard at mentoring and leadership development. I will note that how well such policies are administered will vary by office and also the skills and passion of mid-level leaders will vary, but in my experience TBG does a much better job at this than any competitor.

We have a culture and business model that promotes work sharing across offices. The outdated and frankly counterproductive practice common in our business of treating offices as profit centers went away years ago. We create events for folks to develop their own internal networks, have communities of practice, and work hard to break down barriers to work sharing. it is one reason we are very good at what we do.

The employee ownership model is a unique benefit that is not well understood. It is not an ESOP as some assert but rather an open model in which one can choose or not to participate. Any staff person who wishes to share in the financial success of the company can readily do so through payroll deduction stock purchases that are supported by the company. Many of us who have worked for many years are seeing great benefits of this program.

We attract staff who are passionate about their career, who collaborate and are team players for the most part. The company culture itself is collaborative to a fault; but frankly comments in other reviews about back-stabbing, poor ethics, etc. I simply do not see.

Cons

One gets what one should expect from a large company. Career growth opportunities and relationships with direct supervisors can and do vary. It is much harder to be noticed in a large company and we are no exception.

Things are indeed much more hard-nosed and financially driven than they were 15 years ago -- that is when we were a smaller firm run by engineers with marginal profitability. 2008 changed many things and for us to compete as we do now with the AECOMs, URSs, etc required many difficult policies to be implemented. I agree with those who say the company is different. The old CH2M HILL could not survive in this environment.

Having said this, we do have problems of our own making. We have a business model that places a whole separate overhead group in charge of office decisions -- where, layout, etc. They have one and only one mission -- to place professional staff in as small and cheap space as is practical. This group does not bother to ask or find out what we do (every offices business needs reflect their client base and work done, but these folks dont know nor care). They push the now thoroughly discredited 'open floor' concept that destroys privacy, creates unnecessary conflicts, hurts productivity, and often does so with no cost savings.

A few years ago senior management undertook a revision to the bonus program in which fewer staff are deemed eligible so that more meaningful bonuses to just the few could be paid out. I did not like this at the time (despite the fact that I actually benefit) and still find it disappointing. This approach devalues very senior technical and client project management staff who in many cases are more worthy of a bonus than the spreadsheet readers they report to.

Our collaborative and conflict avoidance culture has created situations in which clearly incompetent senior folks have not been ousted but rather assigned to different roles. It took far too long for us to deal with one major area in TBG that was run by incompetents. We have a tendency to believe that a manager can manage anything, whether or not the individual has any background in that business or not. We seem oblivious to what message that sends to mid-level staff forced to teach the new 'leader' the ropes.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Get out of the palatial corporate campus and spend some time working in offices with folks jammed next to each other in low walled cubes. Work harder to promote from within. Open up the bonus program to more mid-level staff.

End the quarterly roundtable events -- the agenda, presentations, and planted softball questions are really too much to take anymore. Replace it with meaningful dialogue aimed at the employee owners. I would like to see something like a 2-hour conference call akin to those management gives to analysts of publically traded firms regularly. Direct and specific information; meaningful questions without ducking the hard answers.

Be aware that there remains widespread skepticism of the long term viability of the employee ownership model. I know that work has been done about this and that management has ideas -- so why in the world would you keep it a secret? It is our company.

CH2M HILL Response

Jan 6, 2014Talent Acquisition

Thank you for the feedback. We appreciate the time you took to review CH2M HILL. We will send your feedback to Senior Management.

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