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Workplace Practices that Drive Success at KEPHART

Jennifer Dodge

By Jennifer Dodge, HR Generalist, KEPHART

KEPHART is proud to have been named by the Denver Business Journal as one of Denver’s Best Places to Work for five consecutive years based on feedback provided by our employees. While we largely attribute that recognition to the strength and character of the KEPHART team, we also have established policies and practices to foster employee engagement and thereby improve the retention of our valued staff. Though we are committed to constantly evolving and refining our policies to better accommodate the needs of present and future staff, here are a few fundamental principles that we have found to be successful.

Creating Connections

KEPHART is a people-first organization. We value relationships and look for others who do too, from the beginning of the hiring process. While finding someone who can fulfill the job requirements is important, ensuring a qualified candidate also fits the company culture and is aligned with our core values is key. We seek out like-minded, curious people to help ensure that cultural fit. From day one, we work to foster connections for our employees. New employees spend their first week shadowing with each member of the KEPHART team; this shadowing process — an introduction to the company through a series of meetings with small groups of current — is unique in that the focus is to get to know the entire team on a personal level rather than simply diving head-first into a project. We have found this process to be well worth the time spent, as it helps establish trust and communication between team members.

Encouraging Growth

We believe another key to successfully retaining employees is providing consistent opportunities for individuals to grow both professionally and personally. KEPHART’s Education Committee ensures that we provide year-round continuing education opportunities through bi-weekly Leadership-led training sessions, quarterly team-building events, continuous mentorship from our Principals, and by encouraging staff attendance at industry events and participation in professional organizations. We work to accommodate each individual’s area of interest – from affordability to sustainability – and to provide them with the resources and opportunities needed to pursue those interests.

For those who have the desire to advance their career to associate or principal level at KEPHART, we have structured a leadership career plan. As a part of the plan, individuals receive mentorship from senior members of the firm and are exposed to firm operations, allowing the individual to gain a clear understanding of the expectations that must be met to advance their career to a leadership level.

We also invest in personal growth. We value the Enneagram as a communication tool and utilize it frequently within our office. With the help of a Leadership Development Consultant, we host office-wide Communication Corners once a month to provide employees with the tools to communicate and collaborate successfully both inside and outside of work.

Feedback and Flexibility

And finally, but perhaps most importantly, we are constantly reevaluating our best practices in fostering employee engagement and satisfaction by asking our team for feedback that we use to grow and improve. Among many other topics, we survey our staff about where and how they work most effectively and how the office could be redesigned to accommodate that. We take feedback seriously and acknowledge that in today’s ever-changing professional environment, professionals have differing — this requires us to be flexible. We recognize that while five days a week in the office might work for some, it certainly does not work for everyone. We encourage employees to determine the work schedule and location that best suits their needs, along with the needs of the project team, and support the strategy and goals of the company. We believe this flexibility, and consistent reevaluation of what’s working well and what’s not has contributed to the happiness and healthy work-life balance of our team.

While we are always working to improve, we are proud of the company we are and believe that these ideas have helped us become one of Denver’s Best Places to Work. We know that it’s the people that make a workplace great, so it is important to seek out only those who align with and strengthen the culture, and to then invest in them by creating opportunities for growth, and by taking their feedback to heart.

Founded in 1974, KEPHART is a Denver-based nationally recognized architectural design and land planning firm that provides a full range of personalized, professional services to effectively guide its clients through each stage of the development process. The firm’s accomplishments include the design and planning of over 400,000 living units ranging from tax credit projects to single family homes, townhomes, condominiums, retirement communities, apartments, mixed-use developments, transit-oriented communities, renovation, and urban infill.

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