HKS Reviews | Glassdoor

HKS Reviews

Updated September 25, 2018
133 reviews

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4.0
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HKS President and CEO Dan Noble
Dan Noble
71 Ratings

133 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 11 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 7 reviews)

  • "Maintaining a work/life balance is imperative" (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (2)

    "Sky is the limit"

    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

    I've been with HKS for a while now and I love the freedom you are given to take on new initiatives and make your job what you want it to be. The CEO encourages an entrepreneurial spirit and it shows with the specialized groups and offerings they have. Employees can participate in an exchange program where they live and work in another HKS office in another part of the world. Or they can get involved with highly specialized teams in research, computation or sustainable design. But what I like most are the people at HKS. They have truly become a family to me and it's a place I want to stay.

    Cons

    Parking is pretty rough downtown. I wish parking benefits were offered to everyone instead of just titled employees.

    Advice to Management

    Keep encouraging the type of leadership you want to see and develop those people. And keep weeding out the bad. A few bad managers can really tarnish the experience for people on their team.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Lucky to be an Architect at HKS"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Junior Architectural Designer
    Current Employee - Junior Architectural Designer
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    After reading many of these reviews below, I find myself disappointed in many issues listed. There have been many occasions where I have found myself unhappy with a situation or project task at hand, but at no point have I found HKS’s leadership or overhead has not heard me or reached out to connect and changed the outcome as fast as possible, if not immediately.
    Architecture is a proactive environment and with that comes the expectation for the employees that keep the engine running to be proactive as well. I'm sure that many problems mentioned happen in various large and small firms, as I have interned in many myself. I have experienced no other firm that will have your back during sick leave or a time of hardship, advance employees’ salaries based on overtime hours, and place employees in any number of outstanding studios ranging from hospitality; sports; healthcare to aviation at a moment’s notice.
    Has the firm been led by men in the past that are still in positions are leadership? Of course. But, as research shows, it's not just HKS, it's a problem across the entire architectural profession. (I read articles daily, it’s not just a gender issue in architecture it’s a broad range of diverse issues as well.) Architecture must be more progress to keep pushing for women and the diversity of all people to be elevated to the level at which they deserve. I believe our CEO and executive committee are working to make these changes as fast as they can, and none of these efforts can happen overnight. I would love to see diverse roles in leadership across the board tomorrow, but I know these things take time and of course acceptance from firms that have been stuck in their ways for an extended period. Times must change, and we are in the process.
    Most importantly, HKS is a family, my family, and I say that with all sincerity, no one put me up for this review; I felt obligated to write it. These people have been there for me since the day I started my career, and I hope they are here until I step out and retire. Not every firm fits every person; I believe overtime is to be expected. I did it in architecture school and my professors warned me the professional world would be the same if not worse. Why now would I expect anything less of this demanding profession? I put in the overtime because I care about the success of my projects, my team, and my firm. If others don't feel the same way, I'm sure there are other firms that don't put the same expectations on you, this one will at times of necessity, and if you are available for it, embrace it. Those overtime hours are helping each person next to you receive a better bonus check that each of these people below keep referring to so often. I encourage you to find your place of work that feels like home; HKS is certainly mine, and I would gladly share my family with anyone that walks through the door.

    Cons

    I believe my statement above expresses the cons that need to be addressed in the firm as well as the industry.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to listen to your employees, be bold and take on the harder challenges in the industry to make the firm progressive and set the industry standard for diversity and design. I believe courageous moves encourage courageous employees that will stand behind the right leaders with the right ethics.

  3. "Good work-life balance"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architectural Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Architectural Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good work-life balance. Everybody is genuinely nice. There's many opportunities to grow as a young professional here. Lots of perks with being part of a larger corporate network. There's always somebody in the bigger HKS who can help if you ever get stuck. Very supportive work environment.

    Cons

    Not a diverse office especially for the Bay Area. I'm not talking about women to male ratio. Upper management plays favorites and the promotions process is 100% based on who the favorites of the principles are regardless of skill. Designers in the office are stuck in their way of doing things using their preferred programs causing everybody else who works with them to be un-productive. This office needs more PA's. The PM's are spread too thin, and the majority of those PM's lack technical knowledge. Pay is low, and health insurance is terrible!

    Advice to Management

    Try having a genuine conversation with others besides your favorites. Keep the communication open.


  4. "HKS Architects"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at HKS full-time

    Pros

    Phenomenal design work, with some of the best designers and architects in the world.

    Cons

    A hostile and competitive workplace with a tenancy to hire and fire when the needs arise.


  5. "Good"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Lots of free time fun

    Cons

    Not paying as much as others


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Progressive But Not Cohesive"

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

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

    Pros

    HKS is a relatively progressive firm and always trying to be a better example of a corporation to it's employees and community.
    Benefits are pretty good.
    Always a highly ranked and well respected firm.
    Architecture and interior studios work in tandem which is unique and beneficial.
    Fun company culture opportunities from sponsorship of local events and organizations to beer Fridays.

    Cons

    HKS has a reputation for low salaries... it's true.
    There is a lack of cohesion between the many studios and departments... a lot of leadership seem very disconnected and rarely in the office. Which causes frustrations with and in management.
    Be prepared to work overtime, it's expected.
    A lot of projects seem disorganized.
    Project team structure is unclear


  7. Helpful (3)

    "A chance to challenge myself"

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

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

    Pros

    HKS has given me the opportunity to stretch my wings and lead. I’ve found it to be a place that’s open to taking chances. I’m incredibly proud of the work I’m doing here. I’ve found leadership at the corporate level to be wonderfully supportive. At the local level, there are some leadership weaknesses. But overall, it’s a great place to work and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talented team.

    The Chicago team has great talent, and enormous potential. The office itself is fantastic, achieving LEED platinum, ENERGY STAR and in pursuit of WELL gold.

    I’m particularly proud of the investments the firm makes in Citizen HKS (check out the work we did at Lane Tech) and the research program. The push to become more sustainable and support well-being is also a big plus.

    Cons

    Needs to push harder to become more diverse, in many ways. Talking is a start, and needs to be substantiated with an action plan, measured progress, and investment in leadership training.

    Advice to Management

    360 degree reviews for leadership and a more deep and meaningful investment in HR across regions would help immeasurably. Introducing firm-wide, interdisciplinary leadership development programs would reap bountiful rewards.

    HKS Response

    Sep 5, 2018 – Principal, Global Head of Human Resources

    Thanks for your feedback! It’s wonderful to hear that HKS has encouraged you to spread your wings. We’re proud of our supportive culture, and we’re thrilled that you are thriving. Thanks for... More

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Wonderful Place to Work!"

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

    I have been working at HKS full-time

    Pros

    HKS truly cares about its employees! Just one example of this includes how leadership encouraged me during my transition back from maternity leave. HKS is wonderful at supporting all employees and their loved ones. HKS is a family!

    Cons

    I believe most of the cons I see have to do with the architecture industry, not HKS. HKS is a leader in taking our industry to the next level with benefits and equity.

    HKS Response

    Sep 5, 2018 – Principal, Global Head of Human Resources

    Welcome back! It’s great to hear that the transition following your maternity leave has been seamless. As you noted, we truly do care about all of our team members and are proud of our... More


  9. Helpful (6)

    "Don't"

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

    I have been working at HKS full-time

    Pros

    Like anywhere you might work, there are some truly lovely people here, committed to helping each other and very nice. I agree with another review here that Marketing and Research are great departments to connect with, and the xChange program does a good job of connecting offices (though you'd better have an in with someone to get into it).

    Cons

    There's no way to outline it all here. Stifling hierarchy. Unrelenting favoritism. Good employees constantly being forced out of the firm by someone who feels threatened and has the "power" to get you out. "Utilization rate" is king and nothing else matters, no matter what they say. If you are in a branch office (anything other than neck-deep in the good 'ol boys club in Dallas) you are highly expendable. Diversity is a joke. Constant issues with firm communications being tone deaf to all types of diversity and inclusion perspectives, to an absolutely laughable degree. Health insurance is absolutely awful--expensive and pays for almost nothing, so you'd better hope you don't get sick. A cap of 3 weeks on leave, ever, so hope you don't have much of a desire to have a life--between that and the overtime you won't have one. If you bring any issues up, there will be total denial and they'll start crowing that their diversity, benefits, design, whatever--is the best in the industry, and they certainly won't listen. Constantly culling to "fit the culture", meaning if you don't think like us and kiss butt, you're out.

    Advice to Management

    Some very, very deep soul searching is necessary here. The hierarchy of this company is stifling. The favoritism and backstabbing rampant. Promotions is a closed door non-merit based process, and all your claims to the contrary ring so thoroughly hollow--claiming it is not harms you more, each and every time.

    You would be better off owning what you really are--a hierarchy of princes (perhaps a princess or two, though the misogyny really keeps all of that to a minimum). A commodity architecture firm only focused on utilization rates and providing as little compensation and benefits to the employees as possible to keep your ranking and profits up. You will not be a design firm within this generation in your current track. Just own it, and move on, and stop frustrating so many by claiming you are or want to be anything else. Everyone will be far less frustrated that way.

    And no--I do not want to speak to HR. No one does, so stop leaving those BS responses. We all know that speaking to HR is what gets you laid off, we've seen it plenty.

    HKS Response

    Aug 27, 2018

    We appreciate your comments and thoughts, but are also disappointed with the culture and experience you’ve described. The topics you mention are all vital to the success of our firm and we’ve made... More


  10. Helpful (7)

    "Women are not respected, terrible benefits, unusual pay structure."

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

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

    Pros

    Some great projects and people.

    Cons

    Management has little respect for women, even those with a lot of experience. Little diversity, and many women and minorities are pigeon-holed. Benefits are the worst in the industry, but when questioned, management says they're as good as every other firm in the industry. Pay structure is strange, with a low base and potential for a large bonus. But the bonus structure is never explained., so you have no idea how much money you will earn each year.

    Advice to Management

    Offer better benefits. Make the bonus system more transparent. Train management!

    HKS Response

    Jul 2, 2018 – Vice President, Director of Human Resources

    It is certainly our intent to have a diverse workplace where all are valued for their contributions. If that is or was not your experience, we encourage you to contact a member of the HR team... More


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