HKS Reviews | Glassdoor

HKS Reviews

Updated October 5, 2017
107 reviews

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4.3
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HKS President and CEO Dan Noble
Dan Noble
54 Ratings

107 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • HKS cares about their employees work/life balance and I don't feel like I'm working in a sweatshop (in 10 reviews)

  • HKS proved to be a great place as a young professional starting my first job in an architecture firm (in 8 reviews)

Cons
  • Pay is low, health insurance is terrible (in 6 reviews)

  • In order to function effectively as a large firm there are number of rules and guidelines (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (1)

    "Excellent firm, culture and people!!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architect in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Architect in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at HKS full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    There's alot of talent here and the people are great to work with. Although it's a big firm, it's a warm and welcoming environment where you're not just a number. Upper management cares about their employees and the CEO is awesome. HKS cares about their employees work/life balance and I don't feel like I'm working in a sweatshop. Of course there will be deadlines that require working long hours, but for the most part I have a life outside the office. The company understands our personal needs and allows flex work schedule. They also provide laptops to all employees to access technology from anywhere. The firmwide and office resources are excellent. They also pay for parking and transit subsidies. Other benefits such as 401k, health/dental, etc are pretty much on par with other large firms. Oh and they even offer pet insurance!

    Cons

    There's always going to be pros and cons at every office. I think there are way less cons at HKS than at other large firms I've worked at. If had to think of some, it would probably be the benefits. They have a good vacation/sick policy which adds up to about 5 weeks total whereas other firms only provide only 3 weeks PTO for vacation/sick. My biggest complaint would be the dental and health insurance. They only offer HDHP/HSA health insurance plans which I suppose is becoming the industry standard. The HMO dental insurance is cheap but not all that great in terms of their in-network dentists...however the PPO dental insurance is expensive. Other than that I don't have many complaints.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work and continue listening to your employees. Happy employees make HKS great which result in well executed projects and happy clients. As Richard Branson says..."If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients"


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Great Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Dallas, TX
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Dallas, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at HKS full-time

    Pros

    Good working environment. Good benefits.

    Cons

    Bad and expensive health insurance.

    Advice to Management

    Listen more to the forums employees. They have much to offer...

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Mentorship / Retaining Talent"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Designer
    Former Employee - Designer
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at HKS full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    HKS proved to be a great place as a young professional starting my first job in an architecture firm. I was given the mentorship I needed to learn the skills that I developed over the last few years. Working in the commercial sector, I had the valuable experience of working on a campus headquarters project from start to finish. I was also given experience with other projects that had faster timelines and smaller scale; so the variety was educational. Felt that I was given the opportunity to grow, learn, and enhance my career here.

    HKS also provides amazing opportunities to use your talents to give back to the world in a philanthropic manner. I enjoyed working on several pro-bono projects, knowing that my efforts were in charity and providing a greater good.

    I also thoroughly enjoyed my coworkers and felt that HKS hired a cohesive and talented group of individuals, many of whom I call friends in my personal life now.

    Cons

    Leadership talks about the importance of helping young designers become well rounded with a wide variety of experiences, but in practice wasn't always the case. There is a tenancy for individuals to become "pigeon-holed" as a young designer. I saw this in an array of ways; while I think it's valuable to hone a craft and become skilled; it is crucial for young designers to be offered an array of tasks, as their career is in its early development.

    Work/ life balance was also not seen as valuable in my experience. I was told by upper management that more hours in the office can be better. It seemed that more hours worked are seen as someone who is working harder. I disagree and value the efficiencies that we may achieve through proper training and technology. The industry has grueling deadlines, but for this to be a norm did not agree with me.

    Low salary compared to other firms.

    Corporate culture- in the sense that there are 1400+ employees, and some small-scale decisions or movement require a large chain of decisions and command.

    Advice to Management

    Trust in younger employees and invest in them. They are the future of the firm. Look to compete more evenly in salary with other firms in respective cities across the country. Train upper management and project leads in communication and leadership skills. I think senior designers can be severely lacking in this necessary skill. Align leadership, and make sure they are all on the same page.


  4. "architect"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architect in Atlanta, GA
    Current Employee - Architect in Atlanta, GA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at HKS full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    well paying for being an architect

    Cons

    work is not very interesting.


  5. "I'm Empowered."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Dallas, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Dallas, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at HKS full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    World-Wide Office, Small Office Feel
    Work From Anywhere, BYOD
    Open Office Design Encourages Communication
    Very Inclusive and Sensitive Office Culture
    Bonuses, Raises!
    Maternity & Paternity Leave
    Leaders with Open Doors, Literally.

    Cons

    IT works FOR the firm and is at the architects' whims. Instead of 80% normal and 20% special case IT work, it's 80% special case fires to put out and 20% of "normal". This can be frustrating sometimes because the firm tells IT the standard instead of the other way around.

    Advice to Management

    Require job-specific, on-going training where it pertains to IT and make it as mandatory as an architectural license! A great architect that cannot effectively navigate a computer is not "the whole architect". It is technology that keeps us competitive, not drawings.

    And, don't forget to ask IT what WE need and have our backs when we make a decision. Our goal is never to say no but to PREVENT issues. We know a little something about that. :)


  6. "Eye opening"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at HKS full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Working on really great projects and contributing to some really beautiful buildings. People are kind and you don't have to go far to find a great mind and smart input which helps you learn and advance in your career. Direct/Team management that I've had the pleasure working for are great mentors and leaders. HKS provides you with great industry experience.

    Cons

    People at the top get great benefits and bonuses, an exponential reward model. The problem with this - people at "the bottom" - forum members especially - are left behind. Pay is lower than the industry average, which bonuses are meant to compensate for, however that doesn't add up until you have sacrificed a decade or more to the firm. You are expected to work a minimum of 40 hours a week, which really means you will likely work 50 or 60 hours each week (more at big deadlines), and you can't take time off the next week to adjust for the extra time you've put in (free and underappreciated labor). The company does not offer enough PTO. Lower level staff have about 2 weeks/year. And you will probably work two 80 hour weeks before you go anyway to make sure your projects don't fall behind. People are burning out. Staff with more experience are burnt out, and it's no surprise some of those people have stopped carrying their load, which younger staff are then expected to pick up the slack, burning them out even faster. Endless cycle. Not to mention no one produces their best work in those conditions, which is what we need to really let HKS shine through the untapped potential of their tired employees.

    Under all of this, people has become complacent to blame these conditions on the industry, and I have seen several bitter and judgemental employees complain that someone else isn't working enough because they only worked X hours of OT and it was less than their own, etx. But it's the company's fault to not create their own signature work standards, despite the demands of an industry. The company has made large profits, but it shouldn't be at the expense of taking away from the personal time these employees have earned in their lives outside of the office. Working in this field has been eye opening to me, as I absolutely love the work I do, but question myself every day - is it worth it? I'm not the only one thinking that in this company, and it scary to think that it may not get better, or when it does, most of the good years of my life will be gone. I don't think that just because we work in this industry that it means we should all be willing to waste our years over-working. What's it all for? I shouldn't have to ask myself that question in a firm I want to stay with through retirement.

    One last thing - the congestion of working downtown dallas is not for everyone. It can also be a bit more unsafe and downright depressing, especially when working late for those who ride the rail. The CEO has mentioned that departments can be more flexible with work at home opportunities, but not every department or team manager has been flexible wth this change and usually only offers it for limited times during the week, limited emoloyees, and/or for employees with families only.

    Advice to Management

    - 40 hours/ week average should be a company standard to encourage work-life balance. This means that if an individual works 60 hours the week of a deadline, the following week they should only be expected to work 20 hours, or provided the option to add an additional 20 hours to their PTO bank. This ensure you are not taking advantage of your staff and blaming it on the industry, which we are tired of hearing. We are simply - tired.

    - Increase the amount of pay, bonuses, PTO and other unbalanced benefits that younger/lower level staff are able to take. When the company model follows a linear increase reward progression (vs. Exponential/top heavy), you will be rewarded with a more dedicated staff in for the long haul.

    - More consistency with work at home opportunities in ALL departments. When it's left up to each individual manager, and some employees get left behind in those opportunities.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Vision vs. Reality"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Forum Member in Dallas, TX
    Current Employee - Forum Member in Dallas, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at HKS full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Hands on/ hit the ground running approach has yielded an immense amount of opportunity to "touch" many different projects cross sector. So much opportunity to learn! People genuinely seem like they want to be team players and share the burden of work load when deadlines get tight. CEO Dan Noble and other leaders like Kirk are passionate and real - whenever I have the chance to listen to the vision that they have for the firm, I am re-energized.

    Cons

    There is a lot of untapped potential and talent among the "younger staff" (i.e. Under 40). Middle management has a hard time letting go and there is a general mistrust that causes a "versus" mentality rather than a "us" mentality. The passion and vision that the CEO has is not trickling down to regional offices and is not reflected in office managers - this causes a misalignment in the culture and values between Dallas HQ and everywhere else.

    Advice to Management

    Embrace Dan's mantra of "ask for forgiveness rather than permission" and engage forum and young associates more holistically throughout the project process and decision-making. You will get a whole lot more out of people when you tap into their true potential. Encourage more communication and clarity in project teams so there is a more lean approach. Encourage ideas from all members of the team.

    HKS Response

    Sep 13, 2017 – Manager, Global Talent Acquisition

    Thank you for your review and insight into the untapped potential among our younger staff. The individual personalities of each regional office should be unique, while being consistent with the... More

  8. Helpful (1)

    "A company that is evolving, but still has a long way to go! Company over hired and now layoffs!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Dallas, TX
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Dallas, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at HKS full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Beer Fridays and other company events geared toward improving the office culture that needs serious work.

    Cons

    You have to pay for parking everyday! Health benefits suck! No time for a life outside of work! If you are new good luck on getting anywhere with this company!

    Advice to Management

    The reason the office culture sucks is because some of the colleagues that have been there for ages refuse to take on new and fresh ideas. I like the company, but unfortunately if you do not kiss up to the tenured people then you will never go far here!

    HKS Response

    Sep 13, 2017 – Manager, Global Talent Acquisition

    We are sorry to see that you were unhappy with your experience working here at HKS Dallas. We are unaware of plans to layoff staff at this time. Regarding parking, we are constantly working with... More


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Great work environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architect in Detroit, MI
    Current Employee - Architect in Detroit, MI
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at HKS full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good office atmosphere. Team members willing to work together and pitch in to get the job done.

    Cons

    Could hire more staff to equalize the workload.

    Advice to Management

    Provide opportunities for all staff members to feel a part of the continuous improvement process.


  10. "I believe we are the best at what we do. Our talent and passion is unmatched."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Vice President in Atlanta, GA
    Current Employee - Vice President in Atlanta, GA

    I have been working at HKS full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great culture. Endless opportunities. The firm resources are outstanding. The leadership is approachable and engaged. HKS is a great place to work.

    Cons

    As one of the many "H" firms in our industry, it's frustrating that we aren't as well known. We are consistently ranked as a top firm but still, HOK or HDR seem to be more recognizable.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to hire great talent but don't forget the value of the ones who never left.


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